Monthly Archives: October 2017
I want today to take another tilt at the question just how theory-laden our view of the world is, following a frustrating conversation with an atheist at BioLogos (whose posts were “liked” by a good number of non-atheists there). He just couldn’t see why his naturalist view of a “Nature” containing only the “material” governed by “laws” and “chance” (metaphysical concepts all) is not simply self-evident truth, into which one might somehow be able to fit a God if there were enough evidence. The “evidence”, of course, would have to be investigated using the methodological naturalism that excludes God a priori, and in the extraordinarily unlikely situation that it jumped … Continue reading
In my last post I wrote about Seth Postell’s work on the clear typological role of Adam, in relation to the over-arching message of the Pentateuch and, indeed, the whole Hebrew Bible. This message turns out to be the failure of Israel to keep the Covenant, their subsequent exile, and the promise of restoration through the coming prophet/king who would become known as Messiah. Adam’s history is closely parallel to this. I hinted that this makes Paul’s teaching on the parallelism of Jesus with Adam, as the one who succeeded where both Israel and Adam failed, a continuation of a mainstream biblical theme, and not just a convenient illustration of … Continue reading
I’ve just finished Seth D Postell’s 2011 book, Adam as Israel: Genesis 1-3 as the Introduction to the Torah and Tanakh, which although perhaps a little scholarly (ie interactive with the “academic literature”) for the average reader is a great eye opener in considering the whole question of understanding the first chapters of Genesis.
I’ve commented more than once on how the accusation “You don’t understand evolution” gets slapped on practically everybody, from Fundamentalists to senior evolutionary biologists. If you already know your ignorance you’ll be used to hearing it should you ask the wrong questions at places like BioLogos (I’ve had it thrown at me there twice this week already, though I’ve studied it a bit over the last 50 years or so). Even if you’re highly trained, though, you are not immune (as my piece linked above demonstrates). In both cases, the ultimate reason is probably the same.
In my last piece I argued that “natural evil” cannot possibly be an Old Testament doctrine because the very concept of “Nature” post-dates the major OT texts by several centuries. I also mentioned in passing that this goes along with the fact that since the idea of a “cosmos”, ie the world seen as a single, “organic” whole, is also a later Greek idea, it’s futile to ask about Israelite “cosmology”. You simply cannot have cosmology without a cosmos. Therefore no bubble floating in a cosmic ocean.
I see Joshua Swamidass posted a link to my Martin Luther King piece on the BioLogos Home School forum (now it can be told – it was he who sent me the link to MLK’s sermon). One of the first responses on his thread there, from a BioLogos moderator, challenged my point that, since Dr King attributes sin to the higher, “spiritual” aspect of man’s nature that includes his will, both the attribution of human sin to evolution, and the presence of evil in non-volitional Nature, cannot be valid. There is indeed, she said, another kind of evil apart from sin, “natural evil”.
In the light of my recent foray into the charge of racism in relation to the genealogical Adam hypothesis, a reader sent me a sermon by Martin Luther King on the nature of man. It doesn’t mention race at all, nor Adam, come to that. But there are some insights well worth drawing out, perhaps partly because of a tenuous link to the former post arising from King’s association with the history of civil rights in relation to race.
I’m pleased to hear that the Nobel Prize for Literature this year has gone to Kazuo Ishiguro. The Nobel Press Release said: “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to the English author Kazuo Ishiguro, ‘who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world’”. That description may surprise some unfamiliar with him, when they see the name, but his “Englishness” was stressed with pleasure by an erudite interviewer on the BBC.
Recent internet postings here, here and here make public a disagreement between the movers and shakers at BioLogos and Joshua Swamidass, who of course has posted here and shares our desire to see a genuine rapprochement between historic (particularly Evangelical) Christianity and science. I share his pain in finding his attempt at Peaceful Science being dragged into the culture wars. I regard him as colleague-in-arms on origins and as a brother. I even agree with him sometimes!
In the article linked from my last post, about animal suffering and therefore, by extension, about “natural evil” and theodicy in general, one sentence might have given careful readers pause for thought: It is debatable whether Aquinas understood God’s goodness to entail that He perfectly meets a certain set of moral obligations.