Excommunicated Gnats, Ordained Camels

So let us talk about C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright and the topic of human evolution. I have recently taken N.T. Wright to task for his take on those who oppose his approach to theistic evolution. As it happened, just after posting that well-thought out epistolary sunbeam of mine, I was listening in my truck to C.S. Lewis's treatment of theistic evolution in The Problem of Pain. And lo! His was a position like unto Wright's. What now, Dougie? Well, it seems to me the thing to do is offer up a blog post touching on the three key differences between Lewis and Wright related to this issue. In outlining these differences, I do not mean to indicate that theistic evolution is okay for anybody. It is not okay when C.S. Lewis does it, it is not okay when Tim Keller does it, and it is not okay when N.T. Wright does it. But apart from the general not-okayness, it remains true that when C.S. Lewis does it, we generally don't get an entertaining (to some) blog rant from me about it. So why is … [Read more...]

And All God’s People Said, “Wut?”

Adam and Eve finding out they get to be people.

So I ordered John Walton's book The Lost World of Adam and Eve because I saw that it contained an excursus on Paul's use of Adam by N.T. Wright. I received the book yesterday, read Wright's contribution, was suitably appalled, and have come here to tell you about it. The first thing to note is that I am not being a troubler of Israel. I am not going off on a heresy-busting jag. The hard words, and the heresy hunting, is being done by Wright, not by me. I have merely been guilty of noticing what he is doing. "If we can study Genesis and human origins without hearing the call to be an image-bearing human being renewed in Jesus, we are massively missing the point, perhaps pursuing our own dream of otherworldly salvation that merely colludes with the forces of evil. That's what gnosticism always does" (p. 179). Gnosticism? Colluding with evil? I will leave you to parse out who the bad guys are here, but I can give you just one hint. In Surprised by Scripture, Wright says that … [Read more...]

The Prophet Sober and the Culture Drunk

Well, it is Monday morning, so let me write something outrageous. We can sweep up the pieces later. But also keep in mind the fact that just because something is outrageous, it does not follow that it is untrue or unnecessary. In fact, now that the cultural headquarters of our republic has been transferred to the National Zoo's central monkey house, every day that goes by makes normality more and more outrageous. So there's that. Worldview thinkers know that everything is connected. The world is all of a piece, and in the final analysis, the long war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is an interpretive war over the whole. The seed of the woman seek to understand the world as the Creator of it understands it, and the seed of the serpent seek to understand it in evolutionary terms, which is to say, on its own terms. The cosmos is here because God put it here. Or, taking the other route, the cosmos -- in some form -- was always here. Either God is eternal, or … [Read more...]

Evolution and Age

I want to begin by thanking Gavin Ortland for his friendly rejoinder to my recent piece on young earth creation. In the spirit of encouraging all such friendly rejoinders, let me here supply a few of my own. I will just locate a few brief comments under his numbered items. 1. First, writing as one who accepts microevolution (variation within kinds) and who does not accept macroevolution (transition from one kind to another), I cheerfully grant his point that some old earthers reject the same kind of evolution that I reject. Not every old earth creationist is a theistic evolutionist. I am happy to acknowledge that, and not begrudgingly either. At the same time, my post was part of a series responding to BioLogos, which does support theistic evolution, and which has somehow attracted significant evangelical support. Theistic evolution of this kind creates enormous theological problems (all connected to "what is an Adam?"), and I would welcome the participation of creationist old … [Read more...]

Until Someone Unsettles It

The creation account in Genesis is read in different ways. It would be easy therefore, to jump right into the Genesis text and show that I read it in one of those different ways. I do read it in one of those different ways, and bringing out arguments accordingly would be easy. Before getting to my main set of points, let me give just one example. All sides agree that the Hebrew word for day -- yom -- admits of different meanings, just as the English word day does. For example, I could say, "Back in my grandfather's day, he was a champion at picking corn, and, while it was day, could average ten bushels a day." Now several things are true about this. One is that my grandfather really was a champion at picking corn, but that is another story for another time. The second thing is that day has three different meanings in the course of just one sentence. Day first means time, "in my grandfather's time." Second, it means "while the sun was up," day as opposed to night. And third, it meant … [Read more...]

Natural Evil and the Classical Christian School

One of the central arguments that materialistic atheism offers against the Christian faith is that the reality and universality of suffering is inconsistent with the doctrine that we were created by, and are loved by, a gracious heavenly Father. If we intend to do our job in training our students to be able to defend their faith as they go out into the world, it seems to me that we ought not to begin by granting the foundational premise of unbelief. Believe me, the pressing reality of natural evil is a major argument that the atheists use, and the theistic evolutionists will have to do a lot better than they have done thus far in mounting a reply. If evolution was God's means of creating, then this means that pain, struggle, suffering, agony, and torment were His means of creation, and He pronounced all of it "good." There are two kinds of evil that we have to consider -- natural evil and moral evil. While moral evil is more horrendous, it is a little easier to handle because … [Read more...]

BioLogos, Respectability, and Classical Christian Education

As classical Christian education has made it through our first round of trials, which threatened to make us fail through failure, we have now come to the much greater test, one that would make us fail through success. With hard work comes success, and with success comes respectability, and with respectability comes . . . spiritual heat death. As Cotton Mather once put it with regard to physical blessings, faithfulness begets prosperity, and the daughter devours the mother. Or as Moses put it, on the same topic, “Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein . . . thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:17). The same principle applies to the intellectual fruit of hard academic labor. Graduates of classical Christian schools are much sought after. They have been taught well, and it shows, and those of us in the movement have heard story after story of how this graduate got a high flying … [Read more...]

7 Reasons Why BioLogos Is A Threat to Classical Christian Education

Before getting into the thicket, let me briefly define my terms and say a few preliminary things about my concerns. First, by BioLogos I mean this particular project as an attempt to harmonize biological evolution and Christian faith. Second, while I believe that this attempt (however well-intentioned) is a threat to every form of Christian education, I am focusing on classical Christian education because that is where my labors have largely been. And third, nothing said here is intended to question the sincerity or niceness of any particular BioLogos brothers and sisters. I believe their vision is destructive, but if a destructive vision is being promulgated here by very nice people, it wouldn't be the first time. There are many places where I could launch this discussion, but I think I will start with the historicity of Adam and Eve. "Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago. This conflicts with … [Read more...]

Do You Believe in Magic?

Okay, so it is a bit disturbing when the head transubstantiationist says that we need not believe in magic. Now I grant that his subject was not the Lord's Supper, but rather creation and evolution, but still. His subject was God's relationship to the world, which is relevant in all things. We must keep in mind that the pontiff's remarks were run through the interpretive grid of journalism, which has an enormous capacity to muddle things, but even so, we also have to admit that these comments, taken at face value, are what analytic logicians are wont to call a "dog's breakfast." In their scramble to stay away from boo! words and phrases, respectable theologians can talk almost perfect nonsense about creation and intelligent design. "No, no, I am not a creationist. Well, yes, God did create everything . . ." "No, no, not intelligent design. All the designing occurred earlier." What it boils down to is that accomodationist Christians, who are in a state of low tension with the … [Read more...]

Their Temples of Reason

It is usually no fun when people play the race card, but when evolutionists do it, the results can be highly entertaining, at least after a few million years. My brother Gordon is Senior Fellow of Natural History at New St. Andrews. He was recently engaged to teach a one-off course in microbiology at the University of Idaho, which drew this protest, and then this one. There is a kind of evolutionist who insists that his theory can only be falsified with rabbit fossils in the precambrian, and then rests easily in the full assurance that anything with a rabbit fossil in it can't be precambrian by definition. This method works swell for them, and so they try to use a similar approach to journal articles, terminal degrees, and teaching slots. Creationists are clearly not equipped to be in the proximity of any of those things -- for are they not all cornpones? -- and so whenever they see a creationist they chase him out promptly, and then use his strange absence as an argument. His … [Read more...]

Seven Theses on the Age of the Earth

I recently came to the conclusion that it was time to set down in one place my reasons for approaching Genesis the way I do. I have noticed that the topic has become a matter of increased debate in classical Christian circles -- and because schools cannot honestly stay out of it -- it matters a great deal what we teach and why. So here are seven theses on the age of the earth. 1. First, the age of the earth, considered in isolation, is neither here nor there. The issue is always what God said, and not how old something is. If the earth is six thousand years old now, it will eventually be one hundred thousand years old at some point, about ninety-four thousand years from now. Will theologians at that time still be required to hold to a "young earth" view? So the issue is not age, or day, or young, or old, but rather the substance of what God actually said. Whatever He actually revealed should be what we use as the foundation for all our subsequent thought. After we have our … [Read more...]

Pink Entropy

I recently wrote on the subject of entropy here, and set off a maelstrom of comments. Some people just have that gift, and other people don't. That appears to be just the way it is for me, and I try to be humble about it. Sometimes I think my comments section is a good example of entropy. If I might, I would like to supplement my initial observations with a few quick follow up jabs, and see if it happens again. These are just quick responses to a couple of basic questions that were raised, and which I would like answer outside the thread. Since I speak English, let us go with a dictionary: Entropy is "a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system." Now I don't see anything in my argument or illustrations that would constitute a howler when it comes to that definition. Assuming that this is a reasonable English expression of what … [Read more...]

Building Things With Sunshine

I have said in the past that I think evolution is a hoot, and moreover, I have given reasons for thinking this. One of the reasons is that the idea of evolution runs clean contrary to the second law of thermodynamics. In response to this view of mine, an anti-theist web site (read more here) has offered the following: "To finish this argument (hopefully once and for all) I will give a similar example but in relation to life.- In 'open' thermodynamic systems energy is imported to turn simple compounds into complex ones, a perfect example of this is photosynthesis in which; water and carbon-dioxide are turned into complex carbohydrates. The energy for this is imported from the sun, because the earth is not a 'closed' system, it is an open one. If evolution is impossible relating to the second law, so is photosynthesis, which is obviously not the case." Let me go straight to my conclusion, state the problem, and then work back to the argument. My interlocutor is trying to explain things … [Read more...]

The Pigeon Forge Chapter

Okay, so the creation/evolution debate has many entries in the Annals of the Wheeze Worthy, but this is a particularly strong entry. A gent named Dan Arel has posted on why Bill Nye, the Science Guy, should not debate Ken Ham. You can read all about that here. If you choose to do so, you will encounter this . . . "To win a debate successfully you must understand your opponent's position better than they do, in fact, you should know it well enough that you could debate for them. Creationists have no rules, their dishonesty stops nowhere . . . Ham will care little for any facts or evidence and will stick to nonsense and will feed on audience ignorance and use terms like "irreducible complexity" to confuse the watchers into thinking he has made a valid point . . . This debate is being held at the Creation Museum itself and this will ensure that the brain-dead creationist zombies . . ." The good news is that Arel is telling us that he could "debate for" all of us brain dead zombies. … [Read more...]

Down the Trunk of the Jub Jub Tree

This morning, I read this little snippet at the Bayly Blog, and thought I needed to add my two cents. Here is my first penny. Note that a "first couple" is not required by the text of Scripture, but that it is required by the theologians. Well, then . . . all rise! If the theologians need a first couple, then who are we to say anything to the contrary? We are not strictly bound by what the Bible says, but we are bound by what the theologians need. And what theologians need most, as everybody knows, is a donor base that won't cut off their seminary. And this means that the words must be parsed very carefully, like a donkey eating a thistle. My second farthing is that this quote quite obviously leaves room for the first couple to be the first couple that God decided to make a covenant with, themselves descended from a long line of critters. This means that just as God called Abram out of Ur, so also He called Adam and Eve down from the trees. This is because God looked far into the … [Read more...]