- The world as a global app. 24/03/2017
- Secularism, autonomy and the loss of self 21/03/2017
- How I became a societal misfit 18/03/2017
- The distinguishing marks of the impossible 15/03/2017
- Minor Theological Footnote to a Good Series on BioLogos from Snobelen and Davis 12/03/2017
Category Archives: Science
I recently noticed one of the “Christian scientists” (not “Christian Scientists”, you understand, which are a different thing) on BioLogos replying to some ID poster with the remark that the genome shows every sign of being cobbled together by chance and circumstance rather than being designed for a purpose. I suppose it drew my attention because it’s one of the common atheist arguments for a purposeless and undirected version of evolution, but used by a Christian it gave pause for thought.
I’ve often criticized BioLogos on this site, but, wishing to give credit where credit is due, I can recommend the latest series hosted by Ted Davis, written by historian of science Stephen Snobelen with some bits of introduction and commentary by Ted. It examines the claims of the New Atheists and connects their work to the “Warfare Thesis” of White and Draper. There are plenty of quotations, links, etc. to enable non-historians to get up to speed on what Snobelen is talking about. It’s a great takedown of the New Atheists as well as of the Warfare Thesis.
Deistic and semi-deistic accounts of God’s creation of the natural world still appear to have much appeal for “sciency” types nowadays, and especially for Evolutionary Creationists. Even in “moderate” minds, which judge God capable of determining, or at least foreseeing, the outcomes of evolution in particular and world events in general, there appears the need to retain an unbroken lawlike chain of material causes. In other words, science must be able to give a more or less complete account of God’s works, at least in the “natural creation”. For God to “interfere” with that chain must be considered at best rare, but in reality a rather distasteful concept altogether.
Lamentably our old friend James Penman has been unable to contribute here for a good while, for various reasons. But he has continued to send me a trickle of old sources on one of his church history interests – Christian beliefs about extraterrestrial life. I guess this is because it’s widely thought that Christian doctrine excludes life on other worlds (enabling atheists to anticipate, with bated breath, the first actual bacteria found on Mars as a final debunking of the Gospel). But it ain’t actually so.
Science, we are often reassured, has absolutely nothing to say for or against the supernatural, and Christians therefore have nothing to fear from knowing more about science. That is absolutely true in principle, not least, as I have been exploring in detail here recently, because science’s methodology excludes the supernatural from its purview, “supernatural” being however defined according to arbitrary and culture-bound criteria. This is of course simply to limit science’s reach to a humanly-constrained part of reality.
I recently discussed with Chris Falter at BioLogos the vagueness of the term “natural causes” used in the science/faith arena, drawing overtly on C S Lewis’s work on the word “nature”, implicitly on Jonathan Bartlett’s discussion of the protean nature of methodological naturalism over the centuries, and more generally on the thoughts we’ve been tossing around here forever. Chris asked me to define nature in a way that scientists of all persuasions could use profitably, and it proved quite easy to do, or to put it another way, methodological naturalism can be liberated from the bias towards metaphysical naturalism completely if one is more careful to define “nature” adequately. Since … Continue reading
It’s a fact little known to all but a very few Molinist philosophers that, before God created the Universe, he did R&D work on some small offline models. Like any software engineer or web developer, he designed these very small universes to test subroutines that would be incorporated in the full release version.
Last month I wrote a post arguing against the neo-scholastic belief (often shared with less than clear understanding by Evolutionary Creationists) that God’s activity cannot on first principles be observed in the world, lest he be regarded as just another cause within the causal system of the cosmos. I argued that though the principle of God’s radical separateness from his Creation is sound, the conclusion that the Creation must be causally complete within itself is not. I argued from the Genesis creation account that established secondary causes are not, theologically, necessarily sufficient to explain all we see around us.
I’ve been interested to see discussions from time to time about what it is that causes the Intelligent Design pioneer Michael Behe to be excluded from the “broad church” of theistic evolution by those within the “Guild”. It’s not just that he happens to be in a different denomination, but that he attracts regular opprobium, even scorn, for his ideas, and particularly for irreducible complexity.
Over at BioLogos, a vigorous discussion is going on under the column entitled “Signal and Noise”. Cornelius Hunter has returned to debate the soundness of evolutionary theory, and, predictably, he is being ganged up on by all the usual suspects.