Author Archives: Jon Garvey
Someone has lent me Creation by Claus Westermann, a name familiar to me from my days of biblical studies in the psalms. In some ways it’s a bit disappointing, dating from 1971 and therefore, hailing from Germany, rather too assured of the “assured” results of the documentary hypothesis and history of religions theory. He actually uses that adjective “assured” – I’ve been looking for some source that didn’t use it merely ironically for years!
At the beginning of last month I did a brief series exploring how, expanding an existing modern account of biblical theology, there is really no conflict with the general outline of human history uncovered by the sciences. I particularly suggested how the writer of Genesis might have fully intended 1:1-2:4 to speak of creation, and Genesis 2:5ff to move the subject on to a new initiative of God towards man.
One interesting aspect of Dante’s Divine Comedy (around which to reading I’ve finally got…) is to see the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas being applied just a few decades after his death, when it was still new and controversial. Thomas actually makes an appearance in heaven, but spends the majority of his speech eulogising St Francis of Assisi, which is not improbable given the priority he put on faith over philosophyat the close of his life. One thing that Dante deals with is the Great Chain of Being, a key mediaeval idea which I wrote about here.
All the main participants in the “two person bottleneck” thread on BioLogos have, as I write, gone to lick their wounds in teaching or research. It’s going about as inconclusively as I predicted here.
One of the several taboos that appears to separate theistic evolution (in its modern, “Evolutionary Creation”, form) from the “uncleanness” of Intelligent Design is the idea that God could not be “just another cause within the universe”. This precludes at a stroke allowing God to be involved in any chain of efficient causation amenable to observation (and particularly, of course, scientific observation).
I mentioned briefly in my last post one of the things that struck me most from reading Perry Marshall’s Evolution 2.0. And that was the fact that intrinsic teleology and external teleology are not mutually exclusive, and yet might not be easy to distinguish.
On his blog Shadow of Oz, biologist Wayne Rossiter, a principled opponent of theistic evolution, notices a re-posted BioLogos article by, ironically, the editor of Rossiter’s own book critiquing TE, Robin Parry. Rossiter’s post points out the fatuousness of the following argument:
I’ve commented before on “reading serendipity” – how things one happens to read consecutively bring together disparate ideas one would not have associated otherwise. In this case it started with a C S Lewis essay to which I was pointed by reading a quotation in an article. The essay in question is Bluspels and Flalansferes, which like the excellent book Studies in Words arises from Lewis’s professional life as a philologist.
There’s something of a clash of the titans going on over at BioLogos, where Dennis Venema is defending his claim in the book Adam and the Genome that science makes belief in a single original human couple untenable. In the blue corner is Richard Buggs, of Kew Gardens and Queen Mary College, London and, ruining the boxing metaphor somewhat, Steve Schaffner (“Glipsnort”) is doing expert computer simulations on the side within his sphere of undoubted expertise.
For some reason, Bilbo started a thread on BioLogos directed at me, in which (as far as I can tell) he argues basically, “If God can create free wills that make decisons without reference to him, why could he not create random processes that similarly cause things without reference to him?” Many cans of worms open because of that, which you can read about on that thread. Here I just want to deal in more depth than is possible there on the question of whether the comparison between free-will and randomness is actually a valid one. I suspect it isn’t, except at the most superficial level.