Monthly Archives: April 2013
My apologies for continuing to pursue the prevalent theological view in Evolutionary Creation (aka Theistic Evolution) about a universe given freedom by God to create itself and so on, as I’ve done in recent posts and many others before. My main arguments have been, and remain, its incompatibility with the scriptural witness to creation, and the incoherence of the concept itself. But a further aspect occurs to me which may be worthy of some comment.
In the last post I suggested that “laws of nature” are better understood as the properties of the natures of entities themselves, as in Aristotelian metaphysics. Seen in this light, the concept of “freedom” in nature makes little sense, since there are no “external” laws either maintaining order or restricting freedom. Rather, everything in nature is simply created to act according to its God-ordained nature. It would be no violation of the natural order by God either to create some new type of nature in the world directly, or to act on existing forms according to their existing natures. On the other hand neither would it be a problem for … Continue reading
Freedom, in both human free-will terms and in the rather nebulous “free nature” view of modern theistic evolution, has some kind of integral relationship with God’s law. God’s moral law, especially with regard to judgement, seems largely a no-go area in the science-faith field. But “God’s law” in terms of “the laws of nature” is often referenced regarding nature’s freedom, and it’s not immediately clear how they relate. I think the mental picture is of scientific laws providing a regulated environment in which nature can prosper, much as the laws of a civilised nation, written in parliamentary statutes or town hall resolutions, permit a society free to be productive and … Continue reading
The Christian theological tradition was built on the truth of the Bible, supplemented by such things as philosophy, reason, practical experience and so on – but crucially, the Bible. That’s easily shown by reading how the theologians used Scripture. Now regarding human freedom, Scripture clearly assumed it, and specifically in the instance of accountability for sin, and therefore eternal reward and punishment. However, many Scriptures suggested very clearly that God was providentially in control of the world, and in many instances human decisions seemed to be specifically included within that.
In the comments on a previous post I suggested that: …this whole edifice of “freedom of nature” is, at root, intended to preserve the “freedom of human individuals“, understood in the post-Renaissance Promethean manner as “Libertarian Autonomy.” The “edifice” concept is a key one, since as I’ve pointed out frequently, the current approach to theistic evolution depends upon the rather contingent preferences of quite a small “science-faith” community of academics like John Polkinghorne, Robert J Russell, John Haught, Howard van Till etc, which has guided the opinions of the “foot soldiers” of TE at BioLogos and so on. Their diversity has been reduced by the fact they are small and a community, … Continue reading
I’ve now finished Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos, and it certainly is a very important book. I don’t intend to review it, as scores of important thinkers have done so already, and recently. Ed Feser has gathered these reviews, and reviewed them, starting here.
The news of the genome sequencing of the famous “living fossil” coelacanth raises interesting questions. This isn’t because of any relationship to the established Young Earth Creationist suggestion that it disproves evolution and the old earth, but because it does make for some apparent difficulties for the reigning paradigm of Neodarwinism (but what doesn’t nowadays?).
Well, I’ve been asking that question on BioLogos for nearly 2 years now, and did so again on this recent thread. For the very first time I actually got a reply – even a serious one – from beaglelady, who quoted me a parish newsletter of John Polkinghorne’s in which he cited a sort of free will defence regarding tsunamis: they are the necessary result of regular natural laws, and such interacting laws are (in a manner not explained) necessary for human freedom.
When skeptics point out apparent imperfections in creation as evidence either against God, or against his goodness, a standard response is that such “evils” are necessary for God’s greater purposes. One modern example of this is the free will defence best expressed by Alvin Plantinga (but probably much older). John Polkinghorne, for example, talks about tsunamis as the price we must pay for a universe governed by regular laws in which alone human freedom can operate.
History has long been relegated to the humanities, on the basis that it is a narrative of fortuitous events rather than a natural process amenable to scientific laws. Granted, scientific tools like methodological naturalism have been applied, but inconsistently, to exclude divine miracles but not the equally unscientific attribution of human teleology to history. Similarly, teleology has sometimes been disguised as science, for example under the banner of “Social Darwinism” where human ambition was miscategorised as historical inevitability – its failure now being obvious to all. Only now has the unfolding of history been recognised as the obvious result of a simple and self-evidently real scientific process, which I summarise … Continue reading