science

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Sunday Quote!- Methodological Naturalism Makes a Farce of Empirical Investigation?

ddd-klinghoffer

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Methodological Naturalism Makes a Farce of Empirical Investigation?

I’ve been reading through Debating Darwin’s Doubt, which is a collection of essays responding to various critics of Stephen Meyer’s major work arguing for intelligent design within biology, Darwin’s Doubt. In one of the essays, Paul Nelson, a philosopher of biology, directly addresses whether methodological naturalism–the notion that science must offer always and only physical, material causes as explanations–is a viable restriction on scientific inquiry:

[Methodological naturalism] “…makes a farce of empirical investigation, because the outcome of any research could never be in doubt: some material or physical cause must be affirmed as the explanation. If you don’t find one, try harder; just keep looking until you do. (288, cited below)

The point that is being made is that methodological naturalism is itself a limiting factor imposed upon scientific inquiry, rather than something that is required for scientific inquiry. I sympathize with this critique, to be frank. Whatever one thinks of the merits (or lack thereof) of the notion of intelligent design, I think that the sheer possibility of using inference to best explanation to detect intelligent agency is not itself anything to undermine scientific inquiry. Indeed, why should said inquiry be limited unnecessarily? Reject those theories which do not have the evidence to support them; but I don’t think we should do so simply by ruling out some varieties of theory a priori.

Debating Darwin’s Doubt has been an intriguing read so far.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Paul Nelson, “Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys” in Debating Darwin’s Doubt edited David Klinghoffer (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2015).

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 8/28/15- The Socratic Method, Planned Parenthood, science, and more!

postI have put together another slew of reads with which you, dear readers, can engage. Here we have evidence for God, Planned Parenthood, Peter Boghossian’s “Street Epistemology,” evaluating scientific discoveries, and boys and girls. I hope you enjoy them! Let me know your thoughts, and be sure to let the authors know as well!

Can the Evidence for God Have Other Explanations?– Natasha Crain, a Christian apologist focused on putting together apologetics for parents and children, answers a question from a skeptic about the evidence purporting to show the existence of God having other explanations. Short answer: of course it might have other explanations; the problem is whether these explanations are better. Check out her post for elaboration.

A Response to “Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts, You F*****g Idiots”– In the typical, well-reasoned manner of those who support abortion on demand, a”Skepchick” published a profanity-laden video and a shortened blog-version of the same response to those asking questions about Planned Parenthood. Here is a response to said video.

Boghossian’s Street Epistemology is Not the Socratic Method– Peter Boghossian attempts to reason believers out of their faith, largely by defining faith however he wants. Here is an analysis of his “Street Epistemology” and its attempts to use the Socratic Method against believers.

Girls’ Area– All the recent discussions about boys and girls and whether we need labels for boys’/girls’ toys and bedding has some farther reaching consequences. Here’s a post which highlights how perceived gender roles can impact children.

How to Evaluate Certainty in Scientific Discoveries– A good discussion of the use and importance of error bars in calculations, with the expansion of the universe as a case-study.

Really Recommended Posts 3/20/15- Blood Moons, Jupiter Ascending, and more!

postWhat’s this!? Weather that is above freezing? I cracked my windows last week when it hit 33 degrees Fahrenheit  because I was warm. Then it hit 65! SCORCHING! I think maybe I’ve adapted to life in Minnesota. Anyway, I also took the time out of this beautiful week to provide you, my dear readers, with what I hope will be some most edifying material. Here we have posts on Blood Moons, women’s church history, creationism, Jupiter Ascending, and (!) a great apologetics resource.

Jupiter Ascending– A worldview-minded look at the flick “Jupiter Ascending.” Largely blasted by critics, the film is an attempt at a science fiction fairy tale. What does this “fairy tale” about the future teach us?

Trillions of Stone Artifacts: A Young Earth Anthropology Paradox– Are there more human artifacts than there should be, if we grant young earth creationist assumptions about the age of the Earth? Check out this post for an interesting challenge to this paradigm from the perspective of anthropology.

Blood Moons: An End-Times Sign?– Should we view the fact that there are Four Blood Moons happening as a sign of the end-times? Here’s an examination of the claim that we should.

Women’s History Month: The Early Church– Here are some women in the early church who had profound impacts on the faith.

Apologetics 315– Here’s a site to follow if you don’t already. It features interviews with top apologists, book reviews, resource links, and more! It is one of the first sites I ever followed and it still pays dividends.

Really Recommended Posts 10/3/14- Profanity in the Bible, Earth’s Age, “Uglies” and more!

postHere we have another round of links for your perusal, dear readers. The topics include the age of the Earth (you really must read this), interpreting the Bible, YA Literature, apologetics, and profanity in the Bible. Oh yeah, you read that last one correctly. Check the posts out, and if you liked them be sure to let the authors know. Let me know what you think in the comments here!

Smoking Gun Evidence of an Ancient Earth: GPS Data Confirms Radiometric Dating– People who deny that the Earth really is billions of years old often do so by trying to undercut radiometric dating. But what if we were able to independently confirm radiometric dating? That’s actually what scientists have been able to do, thus confirming the ancient age of the Earth. Check out this post to see the evidence.

What the Bleep does the Bible say about Profanity?– I found this to be a very thought-provoking post on how Christians should think about profanity. I don’t agree with everything here, but it certainly got my brain working. What are your thoughts on this issue? Be sure to read the post, as it gives some great insights.

Uglies, Pretties, and Specials: Scott Westerfield’s Brave New YA World– Young Adult Literature is one way to get our fingers on the pulse of the culture. Here, Anthony Weber (whose awesome site you should follow!) looks at Scott Westerfield’s look into a future in which physical beauty is even more important than it is now.

Are We “Standing Over” Scripture When We Interpret It?– Sometimes, people express concern with the need to read the Bible in its context and work with interpreting a passage. Shouldn’t it all just be clear? Are we placing ourselves over Scripture? Check out this brief post on this concern.

Christian apologetics: Is there, besides current popular approaches, another way to “take every thought captive”?– I have often thought of the need for an integrative approach to apologetics, which looks at the various methods holistically instead of atomistically. Here, someone who seems to favor the presuppositional method looks for the possibility of reconciling various apologetic methods.

The Need for Psychological Apologetics– It is important to realize that psychological issues impact people from all backgrounds. Here, Pastor Matt Rawlings argues that we need to awaken to the need for psychological apologetics.

Really Recommended Posts 9/26/14- Jesus Seminar, atheists and kids, and creationism!

postFirst, I gotta brag: I have a son! He was born 9/17 and he’s just the cutest darling ever. Yay! I’ve been greatly blessed.

Now, I have still put together some awesome posts for your persual, dear readers! Here we have a nice variety of topics from the need to realize the dangers of a hardened heart to the Jesus seminar to talking about atheism with kids (I’m sure this last one won’t be controversial). Check them out and let me know what you thought!

Chemostratigraphy: silent objector to ‘Flood Geology’– Young Earth Creationists often argue that the Noachian Flood is to be seen as the explanation for the layers of sediment we find all over the planet. Can this claim stand up to scrutiny?

Who Were the Jesus Seminar? Should anyone have taken them seriously?– Christians have long faced challenges thrown at the historical faith by historical critics like those in the Jesus Seminar. But should the Jesus Seminar really be (or have been) taken seriously? Check out this post which addresses some issues related to this group.

14 Ways for Christian Parents to Teach Kids about Atheism– How might we as Christians approach the topic of atheism when speaking with children? Natasha Crain provides some much-needed insights into this area. I think this is a must-read even for those who are not parents so that we can think about how to interact in age-appropriate ways.

The Dangers of a Hardened Heart– The heardening of one’s heart presents a number of dangers for both a life of faith and a life without faith. Eric Chabot addresses these dangers in this thought-provoking post.

Is Your View Falsifiable?–  Luke Nix points out a number of helpful ideas regarding whether one’s view is falsifiable. Does this matter? Read the post for many insights related to falsifiability and the Christian life.

Really Recommended Posts 5/23/14- Handel, Asteroids, Alcohol, and more!

postI read all kinds of awesome posts this week and have gathered them here for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think in the comments, and be sure to tell them too! This week we have alcohol, Handel, asteroids, embryology, and young adult fiction. How’s that for an assortment of topics!?

How Evangelicals Lost Their Way on Alcohol– How should Christians think about alcohol? Here, Thomas S. Kidd argues that some have lost their way in the debate over Christianity and alcohol. What are your thoughts on this topic?

George Frideric Handel- Things you may not know– Handel is one of the most amazing composers of all time. I know I have benefited greatly from his “Messiah.” But there are some things you may not know about the man himself. Read this post to test your knowledge, and maybe learn something new.

Rewinding the Clock: An Asteroid Family History– Interestingly, asteroids give us a lot more information than one might think. Some of this information is a challenge to a young-earth paradigm. Check out this post to see how the development of asteroids shows that our universe is very old.

Did Washington Post Check the Science?– Clinton Wilcox comments on a recent opp ed over at the Washington Post which claimed to check the science to see if life begins at conception. Wilcox’s commentary is enlightening. Check it out.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)– Anthony Weber’s site, Empires and Mangers, provides readers with numerous reviews of YA literature and movies from a genuinely insightful Christian perspective. Check out this post to see his look at a recent (and popular) piece of YA lit, and follow his site to see much more where this one came from.

 

Sunday Quote!- Does Science Limit Exegesis?

brt-youngstearleyEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Does Science Limit Exegesis?

I’ve been rereading The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth, a monumental book I would consider necessary reading for anyone interested in the debate over origins within Christianity. Anyway, I came upon a quote I found pretty striking and thought I’d share it:

[T]he claims advanced in favor of a young Earth or Flood geology remain unacceptable to the scientific community. Thus their claims should also be unacceptable within the church, which… ought to be committed to truth and reality–for the simple reason that the young-Earth creationist claims lack scientific credibility. (161)

Now I think this is a pretty obviously controversial claim for a few reasons. First, the immediate question is how broad Davis and Stearley are intending this to be. After all, one might say that God creating the universe is “unacceptable” depending how one defines the scientific community. Of course, they do qualify the statement by noting that what they mean is that the evidence young earth creationists put forward can often, in principle, be tested for; and when tested, it fails muster. In this sense, I think that one might say the statement is acceptable.

Second, one may object to this noting that science often changes consensus, so what is “unacceptable” today becomes in vogue tomorrow. A problem with this claim is that it flies in the face of the real, overwhelming evidence for an ancient Earth. I’ve examined this and many other arguments YECs put forth in my post on YEC arguments.

Third, one might wonder exactly how Davis and Stearley think science and exegesis are supposed to interact. Though this is a far cry from the purpose of their book, statements like these beg the question of whether science really does limit exegesis.

What are your thoughts?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Answering Common Young Earth Creationist Arguments– I evaluate a number of arguments for young earth creationism. There are a large number of biblical, philosophical, and scientific arguments briefly answered here.

What options are there in the origins debate? – A Taxonomy of Christian Origins Positions– I clarify the breadth of options available for Christians who want to interact on various levels with models of origins. I think this post is extremely important because it gives readers a chance to see the various positions explained briefly.

Source

Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley, The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008).

Sunday Quote!- The War Between Science and Religion

ia-adEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The War Between Science and Religion

I recently finished reading Imaginative Apologetics: Theology, Philosophy, and the Catholic Tradition. I have a review of the book coming in some time, but for now I’ll say it was an uneven experience. Lots of high points; many low points. One high point was Alister McGrath’s discussion of science and religion and the alleged war between the two:

This conflict is often expressed more generally in terms of the phrase ‘science and religion’, which unhelpfully reifies both notions, attributing concrete identity to abstractions. Science and religion are not well-delimited entities, whose essence can be defined; they are shaped by the interaction of social, cultural and intellectual factors, so that both notions are shaped by factors that vary from one cultural location to another… the historical evidence suggests that it was actually [two 19th century works not by Darwin] which crystallized a growing public perception of tension and hostility between science and religion. (144, 145)

I think this quote is particularly thought-provoking due to its two pronged approach to the “science vs. religion” mentality. First, I think McGrath is certainly correct to note that the reification of the terms is unhelpful, to say the least. People often say things like “science says ___” or “religion says ___.” Such statements turn either science or religion into separately existing, distinct entities which somehow make proclamations. In other words, they remove either concept from the people putting for the concepts under the umbrella terms “science” or “religion.” I find this unhelpful, and as McGrath later notes, only use the terms out of convention.

Second, exploring the historical origins of an idea like the “war” thesis between science and religion often has astonishing results. One finds, often, that one’s assumptions are challenged and even overthrown by the evidence.

What do you think? What other concepts might we unintentionally reify through our use of terms? How might we seek to avoid doing this?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Source

Alister McGrath, “The Natural Sciences and Apologetics” in Imaginative Apologetics: Theology, Philosophy, and the Catholic Tradition edited by Andrew Davison (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011).

A Solar System and Cosmos Filled With Life? – A reflection upon Ben Bova’s “Farside” and “New Earth”

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Ben Bova’s contributions to science fiction are monumental. A six-tme Hugo Award winner (!!), he is established as one of the most successful and entertaining authors of our time. I have quite enjoyed a number of his works, though I have at times been critical of his portrayal of religion. Bova’s major series, the “Grand Tour,” follows human exploration of the solar system (and at some points, beyond). The series is constructed in such a way as to not require readers to follow it chronologically. They are interlinked and interrelated, but not interdependent. Here, we’ll look at two recent books in this series which look at the discovery of an Earth-like planet. There will, of course, be major plot SPOILERS for both books in what follows.

Farside

After telescopes on Earth discover an Earth-sized planet relatively local to our own Solar System (ten light years away), the race is on to learn more about this planet. Farside portrays the struggles of a number of people in their efforts to build an observation base on the dark side of the moon. Jason Uhlrich seeks his Nobel Prize in his attempts to be the first to observe and chart the planet.

Life has already been found within the Solar System, and now two rivals rush to be the first to discover it in the great beyond of the stars. What is interesting is to note some of the assumptions that go into Bova’s characterization of life beyond Earth. First, one primary assumption seems to be that where there is water, there must be life. Second, life should be expected in all corners of the universe.

These assumptions are the subjects of much debate within the scientific community around the possibility of life on other planets and the origin of life. Regarding the former, there are those who do believe that life will be found in abundance throughout the universe. After all, given that we exist, life cannot be all that improbable, right? The other primary way of thinking is to argue that life is, in fact, quite rare in the universe and our own existence is a wonderfully improbable jackpot win.

bb-neNew Earth

New Earth picks up some time after the events of Farside. Humanity has sent an expedition to “New Earth.” Upon arrival, there is a great mystery: “New Earth” is eerily like Earth itself. It turns out that a machine known as a “predecessor” has created the planet and grown these human-like aliens as a way to break it to humanity that there is, in fact, more intelligent life “out there.” Moreover, there is a catastrophic event coming towards the whole arm of the Milky Way which will wipe out these intelligent species, and humanity needs to help preserve themselves and the other species.

Though skeptical, ultimately all the members of the expedition are convinced, and the book ends with the message reaching Earth and the gearing up to proceed on this mission given by the Predecessor.

Reflection

There are, of course, any number of things that one could nitpick regarding the plausibility of the scenarios Bova envisions (one would be the rewiring of Uhlrich’s brain to “see” via hearing and touch… how does that work?), but here we’ll focus on two aspects of the work: the plausibility of life outside Earth and the mythos of the benevolent alien.

In Farside, readers who haven’t surveyed the body of Bova’s work discover that the Solar System itself teems with life: life once flourished on Mars, and its vestiges remain; on Jupiter, creatures soar in the skies; life is found elsewhere throughout the System. Bova’s vision of the origin of life seems to be that if there’s water, there may be life. Yet one has to wonder about the plausibility of life forming on a planet like Jupiter. How might biochemical interactions with delicate balances of material be maintained for long? What of the distance to the sun? The origin of life requires all kinds of factors to be “just right” and it simply is not enough to fudge the numbers by saying “It could have happened this way.” To develop a hypothesis around ad hoc assumptions is faulty.

Intelligent life, as explicated in New Earth, is even more problematic. It is easier to have single celled organisms than to have the complexity needed for intelligence. Even granting a naturalistic scenario, the conditions must be even more tuned for life and allow for the nurturing of that life for extremely long periods of time. The universe is indeed huge beyond belief but one has to wonder if even that immensity is enough to repeat the conditions which occur on Earth.

Of course, in the end, one must acknowledge that these are tales of science fiction, not proposals about how science fact might be. There is a certain sense of awe and wonder involved in considering whether life could exist all over the Solar System. It seems to me, however, that if that is the case, it probably got there by means of Earth–blown off the surface of our planet by an asteroid and traveled through space to Mars and possibly beyond.

Another major theme found in both books is what I dubbed the “Myth of the Benevolent Alien.” There is a kind of pervasive battle in science fiction between the notions that aliens want us dead or that aliens are going to be ultimately some kind of saviors of humankind. New Earth brings this benevolence front and center: some unknown life form created these “Predecessors” to find and aid intelligent life. It’s a scenario filled with wonder and hope. But it’s also a scenario which I’ve found time and again in materialistic literature.

The way this story goes: wherever possible, life is certain. It’s a kind of appeal to a fantasy of a godless universe wherein it may be possible to find hope and meaning in the stars. As one character (I believe it is Grant) said in Farside: Ad astra! (To the stars!). Second, the actual inherent implausibility of life both leads to this longing (we don’t want to be alone) and to a search for meaning (how did we get here?). My own answer is that theism provides a more plausible explanation of both the longing for meaning, meaning itself, and the way in which life arose. Interestingly, however, the atheistic accusation that theists are engaged in wishful thinking is perhaps mirrored through various declarations made by naturalists themselves (see the post linked above and in the links below).

Bova’s novels thus serve as a way forward in this discussion. By illustrating our longing and loneliness through the fulfillment of our desires (the discovery of life and the notion that we are not alone), Bova grants readers their wishes. However, we ultimately come to realize that these are indeed just wishes. Perhaps, one day, a “New Earth” will be discovered. But even if that happens, it will not be enough to satisfy our loneliness, nor will it answer our ultimate questions. Theism is the ultimate antidote to loneliness, the ultimate answer for our questions.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Materialists: Where is hope? Look to the stars!– I analyze one aspect of materialism: the way that some look to hope in the “beyond” of the outer limits of the universe. Hope, for materialists, may come from the stars. Our salvation may lay beyond our solar system, in benevolent aliens who will bring great change and advances to us.

Our Spooky Universe: Fine-Tuning and God- The incredible circumstances which allow for life to exist and thrive on Earth are the cause for not merely fictional speculation, but actual reflection upon our place in the universe and how it might relate to the transcendent. Check out this post which surveys the evidence for the existence of God found in “fine-tuning.”

Sources

Ben Bova, Farside (New York: Tor, 2013).

Ben Bova, New Earth (New York: Tor, 2013).

SDG.

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What options are there in the origins debate? – A Taxonomy of Christian Origins Positions

Trilobites_in_the_Mineral_Museum_in_SiófokThe origins debate within Christianity is often viewed through the lens of a very narrow spectrum. Most recently, this was demonstrated in the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye.  I also demonstrated this recently by answering questions for old earth creationists (see the first and second parts): some people tend to see the only options available for Christians as either young earth creationism (the earth was made in six 24 hour days 6-10 thousand years ago) or theistic evolutionism (God set it up, then evolution accounts for diversification). These perspectives, though showing a few of those available to Christians, do not actually reflect the whole realm of possibilities for Christians.

More thoughtful Christians tend to think of the perspectives as threefold. There are theistic evolutionists, young earth creationists, and then in between there is a kind of amorphous glob of people who hold to an “old earth” without expressing it in strictly evolutionary terms. Here, we’ll explore this amorphous glob (as well as the extremes) to show that there really is a range of options. I’m writing this mainly to clarify for many some of the difficulties in commenting on creation issues without such a taxonomy.

Gerald Rau’s Mapping the Origins Debate

If I could recommend one book to anyone who is going to get involved in creation issues, I would have to say I’d recommend Gerald Rau’s Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything. I’m not recommending it because I think it is the best book on creation issues. Rather, I’m recommending it because I think anyone who is going to interact with these issues must be able to make distinctions between positions. Rau’s work is helpful because he has laid out many of the main categories for belief. There is, however, a downside to his work: it is necessarily simplified. He did an adequate job showing the major positions available, but the fact remains that even within each position he dilineated there are more divisions to be explored. Moreover, there are views which simply don’t fit into any specific group. That said, I think his work is extremely useful and so I’ll start with his organization as a way to introduce the taxonomy.

Rau’s Taxonomy

Rau divided the major positions on the origins debate into a sixfold division (see Rau, 41):

Naturalistic Evolution- On this view, there is no God and no purpose in origins. The process for the origin of species and its diversity is “spontaneous.”

Nonteleological Evolution- On this view, there is a creator, but there remains no intervention in the natural process which yield life and its diversity. Thus, the “conditions necessary for life” were “established at creation.” However, evolution is still without purpose and the creator did not specify its parameters.

Planned Evolution- On this view, there is a creator who had a purpose for life and its origin. This purpose is through a “perfect creation” which “naturally fulfills God’s purposes.” Thus, the purpose which the creator had was essentially front-loaded in at the moment of creation. There is no direction during the process.

Directed Evolution- On this view, there is a creator with a purpose for the diversity of life. Unlike the previous view, the creator doesn’t merely front-load design and purpose but rather intervenes throughout the course of history to bring about purpose: “changes in universe and life” are “subtly directed over time.”

Old-Earth Creation- On this view, the process by which the diversity of species came about is not through directed evolution but rather through creation over time: “major body plans” are “created over millions of years.” New diversity of life is through God’s direct creative act.

Young-Earth creation- on this view, “each ‘kind'” is “created in one week, within the last 10,000 years. All diversity of life is due to God’s creative act; any changes since then are only among the “kinds” represented on the ark.

162283main_image_feature_693_ys_4A Larger Picture

Rau’s division of these groups is extremely helpful because he hits on the major positions represented within the spectrum. Of course the only options which are available to Christians are those which do not exclude God from the picture. Thus all but naturalistic evolution remain open to the believer. Now,  the debate over how these might fit into the teaching of the Bible is not what I’m trying to dive into here. Instead, I’m simply pointing out there is diversity of views greater than the YEC/Theistic Evolutionism divide. One can see from the above that even within theistic evolutionism there is some diversity. Does evolution take place nonteleologically or did God plan it from the beginning? Perhaps God directed evolution along the way. There also is the option of Old Earth Creationism which shares many features with young earth creationism but radically diverges from the latter in many respects.

However, the spectrum opens up even more than Rau’s taxonomy depicts. The views he discusses focus primarily upon the science; that is, they are distinctions among views on the specifics of a scientific account of origins. Other views may be listed which may be distinguished by the reading of the Bible. Now, there is of course much overlap between these and Rau’s list, but I wanted to highlight a few views of interest.

First, there are interpreters like John Sailhamer in his book Genesis Unbound who hold that the text of Genesis is most specifically talking about the creation of the Garden of Eden. C. John Collins also holds to this view. They each hold that Genesis 1:1 is a kind of statement about the creation of the universe (though Collins does question whether it is explicitly about the ex-nihilo creation of the universe) and what follows as a continuous creation narrative of the land for the inhabitants. Thus, the text in Genesis does not explicitly affirm any sort of creation account and so people would be free to hold to essentially any position above apart from naturalistic evolution.

Second, John Walton’s view reads the creation account within the Ancient Near Eastern context and so he views Genesis not as a literal creation account but rather as an account showing how God is enthroned over the entire creation as King. Again, such a view would be amenable to the spectrum of views possible for a Christian as I noted.

It is worth noting that either of these is distinct from the spectrum Rau lists. They are distinct because they do not require commitment to any of the creation models. Thus, for Collins, Sailhamer, and Walton, one may simply remain open to the evidence rather than filtering the evidence through specific readings of the Genesis text. Of course, one could hold to this view and remain a young earth creationist; but none of these readings explicitly forces someone to hold to any position on the actual means of creation and speciation.

Third, there are positions related to the scientific origins which would further subdivide Rau’s categories as dilineated above. For example, young earth creationists often hold that the Global Flood can account for the fossil record and stratification. But some YECs have historically held that the Flood would have been tranquil and essentially had no impact on the Earth. Other YECs simply hold that the universe and the Earth have an appearance of age because God would have known at what age it would have needed to be in order to sustain life. There is much diversity about the mechanisms related to the Flood as well. Similarly, Old Earth Creationists exist upon a spectrum, though Rau’s principles about what unites them are correct. However, OECs are often confused with other views along the spectrum such as directed evolution. Strictly speaking, an Old Earth Creationist will not hold to the notion that speciation occurs on such a broad scale through evolution.

Conclusion

I have utilized Rau’s work to demonstrate there is a spectrum of beliefs related to the origins debate. The spectrum, I have argued, is even broader than Rau showed. Within each category he listed, there may be subdivisions. Moreover, there are some views which eschew attempts to dilineate the scientific truths but simply ascribe to reading the text. These latter views would fit with essentially any along the spectrum of beliefs so long as God is involved.

The purpose of this post is not to sow confusion for those interested in the topic of origins. Rather, it is to demonstrate that there really are more options on the table than either Young Earth Creationism or Theistic Evolutionism. Within either of those views there is much diversity, and there is a whole range in-between. Thus, let us hope that when we discuss origins we avoid falsely portraying the positions as being so limited that we fail to account for the range. Hopefully, this taxonomy will prove helpful.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Source

Gerald Rau, Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012).

SDG.

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