Materialist metaphysics for the masses

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. Continue reading

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A coherent scientific naturalism

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 I think the work is useful, and knowing it will disappear under unrelated comments at BioLogos (and completely from there, in a few months) I reproduce the whole thing here. Continue reading

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I know but I don’t know

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. Continue reading

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Augustine, omens and divine action

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.

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Moral imperialism

Carrying on the vaguely moral/ethical theme touched upon in the last post, I noticed another long and tedious thread on BioLogos about the New Atheist meme concerning the inexcusable immorality of the Bible in endorsing slavery and genocide. You can view all the old arguments there, but I want to take a slightly different approach. Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Politics and sociology, Theology | 27 Comments

Ideological philology

Avid Hump readers (if there are any!) may have noticed in my piece on C S Lewis my passing mention of Lewis’s own philological error, or at least oversimplification, in his book The Four Loves. Continue reading

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Spot the difference

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. Continue reading

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In What Sense Does Evolution Require a Creator to “Establish” It?

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. Continue reading

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C S Lewis on current theistic evolution controversies

The excellent Preston Garrison, apart from alerting me to the review of a new book on Babylonian science that led me to a whole series of posts on the ANE and Hebrew pictures of the world, recommended an old and little-read book by C S Lewis. Studies in Words, published in 1960 just three years before his death, is a philology text for students, so not the most obviously relevant book for thinking about either “biblical science” or modern science. But it actually has some useful light to cast on both. Continue reading

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What we did on our holidays

Little time to blog this week, as I was doing marathon production sessions of the material recorded by my band The Rock Section last week. It’s a covers band, so nothing original to hear, but I was quite please with the results. A sample here, and if any one’s still interested after that, full tracks here. Back to biology in the near future.

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