Category Archives: Theology
In the light of my previous post on methodological naturalism, Ian Thompson kindly made me aware of a book on the Victorian debate between the majority of theistic scientists, such as James Clerk Maxwell, and the naturalists such as Thomas Huxley and the X Club, who eventually triumphed in establishing their programme. It’s an enlightening read.
I think my reply to the last critique made by Jay313 to my recent C S Lewis post warrants a longer treatment than an inline comment. So here it is as a post.
Here’s another small piece of corroborative evidence for the plausibility of the Genealogical Adam Hypothesis (that Adam is not the sole genetic ancestor of modern humanity, but is nevertheless our common genealogical ancestor, with all that entails for our spiritual solidarity with him as federal head).
In his 1947 book Miracles, C S Lewis presents an argument against naturalism that has become one of the most influential philosophical arguments of its type of the last century. Very briefly, it says that under naturalism, mankind evolved purely by natural selection, for survival alone. His brain, therefore, could only (by the very tenets of materialistic evolutionary theory) be orientated towards survival, and not truth. There is no way then, under naturalism, that one could rely on human reason to discover truths about the world – including, of course, naturalism itself.
As I’ve been studying the overall “shape” of biblical theology, in the light of recent work by Evangelicals like John Sailhamer, Seth Postell and a bunch of others including N T Wright, one of the common themes is that the ancient prophets had a much fuller grasp of the universal scope of salvation – we may even say, in a qualified way, of the gospel – than has been recognised either by older scholarship or “the man in the pew.”
Although week by week I play mostly modern songs in church, on guitar, it’s the hymns of my distant childhood that still resonate most with my theology. One I learned, and loved, at primary school was Immortal, invisible, God only wise (number 407 in The English Hymnal – even that fact has deeply lodged in my memory for 60 years! Here it is for those only familiar with Hillsongs:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Let’s start with a really basic Christian truth: “No man comes to the Father except by me.” Or from another text, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Now one of the challenging things about the Christian narrative is why, if sin is so deadly and Christ’s work so necessary, the history of salvation seems to unfold so slowly.
The revelation that senior figures from the major relief charity Oxfam, whose income is £400m annually, engaged in prostitution and possibly the abuse of minors whilst doing relief work after the Haiti earthquake, has shocked the nation. That’s especially so as it emerges just how many other major charities have experienced the same, and largely winked at it, over recent years. Some in the know speak of deliberate infiltration of the charity industry (sic) by abusers.
In my last post I pointed out the close match between the description in Genesis chapter 10 of the migration of Semitic peoples to lower Mesopotamia, and the story of the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the great, and also the general correspondence between the table of nations and the western (but not eastern) Neolithic radiation. I suggested how this was an indicator that the writer of Genesis must have been fully aware that non-descendants of Adam existed at this time, and quite plausibly in the time of Adam himself, given his habit of ignoring outsiders.
Genesis chapters 1-11 continue to intrigue because, for all their “under-determination” of meaning for us moderns, and their mythic style, they keep resonating with details of the most ancient human history. And so, quite apart from any theological reasons, I can’t go along with those who regard them as ahistorical, nor have much sympathy with the idea that they are purely late, exilic, additions – they wear their great antiquity prominently.