Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why dreams are irrational

It’s a constant source of wonder to me how dreams succeeed both in evoking the familiar and simultaneously cutting swathes through reality. One dreams of finding a lost room in one’s familiar home – only to wake up to realise the familiar home itself, in all its detail, was fictional. One enjoys dream-time with an intimate friend – or weeps inconsolably at their death – and finds on waking they were a complete stranger, whose face one nevertheless can still picture.

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Nature – the director’s cut

The time has come round again to register ambivalence about the latest technically wonderful, and in many ways aesthetically stupendous, David Attenborough series, Planet Earth II. My criticism isn’t far removed from the fact that the title itself is in the style of a Hollywood Blockbuster franchise. I voiced a similar concern back in 2013, referencing criticisms of a similar series about the anthropomorphism, and perhaps emotional manipulation, of the stories, and mentioning the riposte that anything that makes people more aware of the plight of wildlife in such a visually stunning way has to be a good thing. That’s true, of course, and one might add to that the … Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Politics and sociology, Science | 6 Comments

Science and faith – as easy as riding an epicycle

Engaging with a Young Earth Creationist at BioLogos recently, Chris Falter raised the examples of Calvin, Luther and other Reformers opposing Copernican cosmology on the basis of biblical literalism. His aim was to show that this is a dangerous pursuit, and likely to pit theology unnecessarily against science, since nobody now thinks that modern astronomy contradicts the intent of Scripture.

Posted in Creation, History, Science, Theology | 22 Comments

The Hump goes providential

With the number of posts on The Hump now exceeding 900 I’ve added a “random post” facility in the sidebar to keep you amused for hours. I must note, given one of our perennial subjects, that “random” here means “epistemologically random”, not “ontologically random”. The widget is in fact governed by some kind of clever algorithm that simulates randomness: the posts actually appear according to deterministic criteria. That doesn’t preclude them, of course, being providentially tailored to your particular interest and needs. Isn’t theology wonderful?

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Progressive Creation = Evolutionary Creation

Before it got diverted on to US party-politics, Joshua Swamidass’s thread on BioLogos¬† looked for common ground between the four common Christian origins positions (YEC, OEC, ID and EC). This was in the light of bridgebuilding discussions he has set up between representatives of all but ID (so far – given that many IDists are also believers in evolution, this ought not to an irremediable omission).

Posted in Creation, Science, Theology | 6 Comments

The clarity of mud

Last week’s Royal Society symposium – on whether the Evolutionary Synthesis should be extended, or whether (as some appeared to imply) all the dramatic new mechanisms found recently were successfully and silently subsumed into standard population genetics several centuries ago -had a slide that caught my attention. It caught the attention of ID people in the audience as well, which is how I came to be aware of it. It was in Andy Gardner’s talk expounding the virtues of “weak adaptationism”. Here’s the pic:

Posted in Creation, Philosophy, Science, Theology | 8 Comments

A History of Providence – Part 3

In the last post I sketched in a few gaps in James Penman’s account of the doctrine of providence in the biblical and Patristic periods. In the past I’ve done some work on the mediaeval view, in the shape of Thomas Aquinas, and in perhaps drawn some more surprising conclusions from the writings of Jacobus Arminius (given the not infrequent assertion that universal providence is incompatible with libertarian freedom of the Arminian type).

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A History of Providence – Part 1A

These next two posts are a reply to the claim that the extent to which God is involved providentially in the world has always been a matter of uncertainty within Christianity, and that we can’t decide from the faith whether, for example, God actively governs which species arise by evolution or largely leaves it to nature. This is not uncommonly expressed in terms of an age-old “freedom v determinism” debate in theology. Several years ago now a conversation with erstwile fellow Humpist James Penman (the pseudonym of a professional church historian) led us to conclude that the common doctrine that the natural creation is fallen together with mankind is of … Continue reading

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Looking for autonomy in the Bible

I was gratified by the comment made by Jay Johnson recently, apparently concurring with me that some commonly voiced positions in “Evolutionary Creation” present a significantly different view of God from that historically associated with Christianity: Many so-called Christian understandings of evolution are based more on philosophical reasoning than on anything resembling a biblical concept of God.

Posted in Creation, Theology | 19 Comments

His own received him not

Back in March I did a piece arguing against the univocity of God’s being and ours (as the root of many current theological evils), and used the metaphor of those authors who have appeared as characters in their own fiction, but can never truly be seen as occupying the same world as their creations. It’s a useful analogy, I think. I was reminded of it again last weekend when, waiting around for news of our daughter’s new baby (It’s a girl! It’s a girl!), I was re-reading G K Chesterton’s excellent introduction to Geoffrey Chaucer. Chesterton writes how Chaucer, in Canterbury Tales, is another of that select band of authors … Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Philosophy, Theology | 6 Comments