Monthly Archives: February 2013
The post I did on the limits of human freedom attracted a good discussion, as I suppose one might expect. Much of it revolved around the “problem”, in one way or another, of God’s knowing the future. The useful online Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy describes the real underlying difficulty people have with this: Theological fatalism is the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free.
OK – let me build on some recent posts to look at what seems to be the state of theistic evolution in our time. First, some basic definitions derived from Francisco Ayala. For the purposes of this discussion: Final causation = external teleology = design (not taking design in the more restricted sense of engineering metaphors, etc) This cluster is opposed to chance/necessity, seen as the outworking of the laws and initial state of the Universe. Thus Ayala would see the fine-tuned constants, etc, as final causation/external teleology/design, but nothing in evolution downstream of them as such. It’s a useful distinction that fits well with my previous piece. To clarify … Continue reading
Readers of this blog will be familiar with my antagonism to the “freedom of nature” school of theology seen in much theistic evolution and, notably, on BioLogos, where I’ve been critiquing it for the last eighteen months and failing to get any reply (at all) to my invitations to justify it. My latest attempt was on a post by Dennis Venema on evolution basics, in the comments of which he posted his clearest “statement of TE faith” to date. It’s here: Dennis’s comment is #76597, and mine #76711, though you should note that comments are now being removed at BioLogos after 180 days, which is a shame as it hides … Continue reading
Michael Ruse, in his book Debating Design, quotes (as have many others) a letter from Charles Darwin to Asa Gray about why he cannot see the hand of a good creator in nature. The interesting thing is how he presents his argument. I’ll summarise it.
In retrospect I studied zoology at a time when one of biology’s disciplines was on the cusp of change. In the sixth form we looked at ecology as a branch of biology (a rather boring one compared to all those interesting animals, I thought at the time). By the time I was doing medicine at Cambridge it had become a branch of sociology, to do with how “the ecology” gets polluted by us. By and large, the latter approach has predominated in the public eye, with most of us being more concerned about global warming messing things up than by how they work in the first place.
There’s an illuminating video on YouTube by specialist on the Resurrection, Dr Gary Habermas, entitled The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars. Well worth the investment of 90 minutes. In it he outlines what he calls “the minimal facts approach” which has shifted the centre of balance in New Testament studies from skepticism to acceptance that the bodily resurrection of Christ belongs to the earliest strand of Christianity. So we have even unbelieving scholars like Bart Ehrman placing the tradition within a year or two of the crucifixion, and other leading scholars like James Dunn reducing that to as little as six months. There may still be a … Continue reading
Following some links through from Bilbo’s blog there’s yet another discussion about the limitations of Jesus’s human existence here. I’ve touched a little bit on the “fallibility” of Jesus here and here because it seems to be a growing assumption amongst “post-evangelicals” that Jesus sometimes got things wrong. Firstly it follows from kenotic models of the incarnation – in which Jesus empties himself of his divinity to enter our world (which I hope I’ve dealt with in the second of my linked posts above), and secondly, as the first link shows, it’s projected from general principles – in this case from (over)interpreting the Chalcedonian definition – if Jesus is like … Continue reading
In the discussion on my last post GD took the discussion into the area of human freedom (which, as usual in discussing origins questions, I had avoided because of the TE tendency to conflate free-will with free-nature, whatever they mean by that). But having raised it maybe looking at some aspects of free-will itself may be of value to some. The discussion between penman, GD and myself suffers the disadvantage that we all agree, I think, on a classical theological concept of human freedom as being within, and subsumed by, God’s overarching sovereign purpose. But that’s not the commonest view nowadays. So I want to set up some questions and … Continue reading
A good video of William Dembski with rubbish sound is posted on UD here. It confirmed to me the conclusion that the divisions in the science-faith spectrum are usually drawn in the wrong places. There are really only two important positions, corresponding to design and non-design. Period.
I’ve been reading a book brought to my attention by Penman (you might want to add some thoughts of your own, if you’re around, P), called Adam’s Ancestors by David N Livingstone. It’s a history of the various theories about pre-adamic man since the idea was first suggested by Isaac La Peyrère in the 17th century, which if it seems esoteric, is. It was of interest to me in general because of modern attempts to retain a historical Adam in an evolutionary scheme, on which I thought it might cast some light.