Monthly Archives: March 2013

An ally on rhetorical science

One of the best chapters in Debating Design is that by Michael Roberts. That is because he’s capable of seeing the weaknesses both of those to whom he is sympathetic and those he opposes. It’s a little difficult to parse where he stands in the “culture wars”, and that’s probably a good thing: he opposes both ID and Creationism, but hints at the weaknesses he finds in unguided evolution, whether materialist of theist. In fact the introductory chapter says he refuses to be identified with any strand of theistic evolution, though he clearly wishes his science to be rigorous. So I think he’d make for an interesting discussion partner, even though … Continue reading

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John Polkinghorne and the (slightly altered) shape of theistic evolution

The book Debating Design, though now nearly a decade old, is useful for understanding some of the main inputs to the current science-faith situation. Paradoxically I’m learning more about Theistic Evolutionists than Intelligent Design proponents from it, although it predates the foundation of BioLogos by several years. One of the most widely respected of the “serious” TE theorists is John Polkinghorne, probably because of his combination of mainstream scientific and theological credentials and his ability to write to a popular audience. His chapter supplements what I have learned from his Belief in God in an Age of Science and elsewhere, but leaves unresolved the problems I have with his ideas. 

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Unforeseen consequences of “natural freedom” theology

Before, God willing, I go on to look at John Polkinghorne’s rather more nuanced, though to me still problematic, approach to theistic evolution, I want to dwell for a moment on what is implicit in the case John Haught makes for an autonomous universe. As you’ll remember from the previous post the strongest suit in his pack is the absolute necessity, if the Creation is to be separate and more than a mere extension of God, that it be fully autonomous. At a number of points Haught points to the “deepest religious intuitions” to justify this, and particularly to the idea that infinite love must be humble and self-giving to … Continue reading

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John Haught and the shape of theistic evolution (2)

When John Haught presents his own response to the “challenges of evolution” in Debating Design  it turns out to be essentially the same as Howard van Till’s, only a little better argued. He begins: Once we accept evolutionary science in an intellectually serious way, we cannot have exactly the same thoughts about Providence as we had before Darwin. That, of course, has the effect of dismissing those who follow his first alternative (see the last post) as not intellectually serious. It reminds me of those who used to say that the Enlightenment changed forever the way modern man must view religion … before Postmodernism came along and showed that nothing … Continue reading

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John Haught and the shape of theistic evolution (1)

John Haught’s chapter in Debating Design is hardly new (2004), but as one of the original “big hitter” theologians in the science-faith discussion, his ideas have greatly influenced the current mainstream of theistic evolution. They’re therefore worth examining, adding as they do another (if similar) strand to the yarn spun by others like Howard van Till. It should be noted from the start that Haught is a Process Theologian, though of a different cast to other PTs: apart from raising the question of how his theology can be legitimately transferred to Evangelical convictions such as those of BioLogos, it makes one wonder how one should decide which type of Process … Continue reading

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Further thoughts on Newton’s God

Though I didn’t mention it in my last post (to save confusion), one of the links I used (here – tip: I could only open it by saving it and changing the suffix to “pdf”) was actually intended as a rather whimsical mathematical exercise. This was to show whether, given a God who might wish to avert cosmic disaster, he could, in fact prevent major instability by minor corrections to orbital trajectories.

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Newton and the God of the gaps

I made a gaffe in a BioLogos comment the other day by inexplicably citing Kepler instead of Laplace as the person who showed that Isaac Newton’s famous argument for divine meddling with natural laws was unnecessary and wrong. But in sorting myself out I discovered to my surprise that the whole tale, the historic basis of criticism of the “God of the gaps”, is yet another example of science-religion mythology, like Galileo’s persecution by Christianity or Bishop Wilberforce’s apocryphal remarks to Huxley. Oddly enough, or maybe not, Googling the subject took me first to the BioLogos FAQ.

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Christ and coercion

An exchange on BioLogos set me thinking – as they often do. On Ted Davis’s post about Polkinghorne  an atheist poster says: I think it is interesting that the life of Jesus did not even convince most of his Judean contemporaries that he was divine. Most Jews who lived at the time, and most who came after, did not think he was the messiah. Why is that? The redoubtable beaglelady replies: Because he condescended and veiled his divinity for his earthly ministry. Additionally, he wasn’t coercive and wasn’t interested in putting on a show. Our friend Eddie spotted, as I did, some buzzwords from the TE lexicon that remind one … Continue reading

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The relational God

Usually associated with the rhetorically attractive, but incoherent, idea of a “free creation”  is the sense of abhorrence for a “tinkering God.” Both themes predominate within current theistic evolution, and the latter is usually couched in terms such as: “Why would God be such an incompetent Creator as to have to keep tinkering with the world afterwards?”

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