Monthly Archives: December 2015
My wife’s cousin, an academic historian, was staying over Christmas. We were watching the news, of which the first half was about the severe storms causing extensive flooding in northern England and southern Scotland, and the the second half about unprecedented snowfall and tornadoes sweeping the United States. Cousin suddenly remarked, “I think God’s trying to tell us something.”
Back in 2012 I posted a piece about the views of the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius on creation. The start of my argument was that the still-prevalent semideistic “freedom of creation” teaching amongst theistic evolutionists is most logically taken as a projection of the Arminian teaching on human free-will.
Holly (this growing on our spread) – a most fallen plant by Genesis literalist standards, being both poisonous (like the ivy, in fact) and thorny. But it is undiminished, nevertheless, in its Christmas appeal and the allegorical lessons to be learned from the English folk carol first published in the early nineteenth century. And so it’s clearly an integral part of Christ’s good Creation. Have a good Christmas all – we’ll be back soon.
Wherever one happens to glance, it seems, evolution is not quite as we are taught to be fact. I went to Wikipedia for a picture of a cheetah, and found instead the deconstruction of another Kiplinesque story – that of the cheetah-gazelle arms race.
I want to present an important distinction that’s been made clearer to me during my reading of N T Wright’s magisterial series Christian Origins and the Question of God. And that is the importance of history to a truly biblical faith.
One of the questions that exercised the rabbis in the discussion of the general resurrection of the dead, even before the Christian era, was the question of continuity. The school of Shammai, working from Ezekiel, believed that God must clothe the dead bones (hence the need for careful burial, and even careful execution of criminals). The school of Hillel, working from Job, believed God would work inwards, filling the skin with new life.
This is picking up some themes from a post in October. I always remember a conversation I had with my friend Tim on “A” staircase of Pembroke College, Cambridge, back in 1971. We were discussing some current issue over coffee, and I screwed up one eye sagely and said, “Ah, things would be different…”, expecting him to fill in the gap mentally with “…if it weren’t for the Lefties,” or “…if my parents had loved me” or some other amusing platitude.
Nearly two years ago I wrote on the difficulties evolution presents to philosophical realism – the existence of universals like “human nature” – and what it would take for us as Christians to be able to hold the first without losing the latter. It’s a real philosophical problem, and involves who we are. Another recent conversation with Timothy Hicks relates to that issue.
No, I know that’s not a subject closely linked to creation teaching, science and so on, but it’s just for this once and it does kind of connect to my post on Jesus’s prophecy about Jerusalem. But an interesting post by Jonathan Bernier on the dating of the Letter to the Hebrews gives me an excuse. When John A T Robinson wrote his book suggesting a radically early date for all the New Testament writings, he was (as an outsider) astonished at the shaky case made by New Testament scholars for late dates. That remains much the same situation today.
Every couple of days, it appears, the “God of the gaps” argument is mentioned in comments at BioLogos, usually with reference to its alleged use by Intelligent Design proponents, but often in an attempt to steer round it whilst still acknowledging a truly theistic understanding of creation and evolution. It seems to function in a kind of negative capacity, in the same manner as discussions of immigration or terrorism that begin, “Of course, I’m not a racist, but…”