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Monthly Archives: April 2012
I’ve been heavily involved on a sub-thread over at Uncommon Descent, basically denying the assertion that Calvin’s view of human will is deterministic. The actual point made was that this determinism renders Darwinian evolution particularly congenial to Calvinists, but I’ve steered clear of that as its logic completely escapes me. Nevertheless I’ve stuck on the thread not because I expect to persuade my interlocutor (how could I? He has written a book spelling out his own, unique, view of the Scriptures) but because other readers may find the questions raised of value, given the superficial Arminianism prevalent in Evangelicalism both in the US and here in the UK.
I was musing, not for the first time, upon how in the Science-Christianity debate, the first casualty is usually the authority of Scripture. That’s, perhaps, somewhat understandable from Catholic or Orthodox commentators, for whom the Bible has always shared its authority with tradition or the heirachy. But given that both in ID and TE discussions a majority of Christians appear to self-identify as Evangelicals, the emphasis on the human authorship of Scripture at the practical expense of divine authorship is surprising.
One of the most difficult things to get into our modern minds is that ancient worldviews were not less informed than ours, so much as simply concerned with completely different things. A statement such as “we now know life derives from a common ancestor” actually contains the unstated assumption, “We are now bothered about the ancestry of life-forms.”
I want to move now to my doubts about Sober’s contention that non-human design is undetectable. I suggested in the last post that even human design is detected by non-materialist means, though that does not exclude human design from science. In a comment on the first post, Gregory suggests that the insistence on methodological materialism is limited to some scientists even in the natural sciences, and to fewer in the human sciences. To me that would suggest that, whilst detecting non human design must be more difficult, and less reliable, than in the human sciences, it must not be precluded altogether. Though die-hard materialists would never accept it, many in … Continue reading
Let me summarise and consolidate my last post. Methodological materialism cannot detect – or even properly admit – design of any kind. Therefore the acceptance of design in the human sciences depends on treating the reality of the minds producing it as axiomatic. The question necessarily arises of the basis on which we arrive at that axiom. Elliot Sober’s objection to the design argument in nature depends on our ignorance of the nature, intentions and methods of the designer. So how much do we know of the designer in the field where design is admitted, that is the human sciences?
In Ted Davis’ conversation with me on BioLogos, he raised Elliot Sober’s objection to ID in Debating Design, which he summarises as the conclusion “that one cannot simply infer ‘design’ without some prior knowledge or assumption about the ‘designer’ coming into it.” This objection is often raised by opponents of ID from both within and without the Theistic fold. It clearly impinges, too, on the wider field of natural theology. Because I’m not sure I really comprehend it, and have a vague feeling that it doesn’t completely hold water, let’s toss it about a bit.
In reply to my last post Gregory downplays the importance of Howard van Till in the question of theistic evolution. Whether or not he is important isn’t of major importance itself, but the ideas he proposes, covering the spectrum of Open Theism, Process Theology and what I have called “hyperkenotic” views of God do seem to have a great influence on “big players” in the scientific community who subscribe to Christianity . Today I want to concentrate on one particular aspect of this spectrum, however, which is the belief that nature is a closed system, and that therefore science ought to be able to explain everything that happens within it. … Continue reading
I’m sorry to bang on about the BioLogos concept of “freedom” in nature, but I feel it requires banging on about until more people take notice. This concept is, I am convinced, the crux of the lack of rapprochement between Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution and one reason why mainstream Christianity fails to mount a united and robust critique of atheistic materialistic naturalism.
…whatever remains, however improbable, must be an unmanageable number of possibilities. I relaxed over an episode of Sherlock Holmes on the TV yesterday evening. Not that recent BBC pastiche, but the Jeremy Brett series, which for me is the definitive Holmes. I found, like most of them, that I’d seen it before, but the production and acting are so good it didn’t really matter. Sherlock Holmes is a classical creation, and so in one sense above criticism – it is what it is (as Paul McCartney said when someone was critiquing the double album: “Hey, it’s the Beatles White Album…”). But looked at dispassionately, the character actually embodies a popularisation … Continue reading