This was posted today on the blog of a guy that I look to for help and guidance. I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing his teaching that I feel as if he were a personal friend. Read and enjoy!
An atheists’ explanation for killer quakes on Ray Comfort’s blog:
An atheist can’t blame God for the earthquake that recently took so many lives in Japan. As much as he would like to, he can’t say “God-did-it!” because he thinks there’s no evidence for God. Blaming Him for it would make as much sense as his blaming Snow White for a snow storm.
But atheism says that there is a good reason for the 8.9 earthquake killer quake and the horrific Tsunami that followed. It is nature making improvements. Everything is getting better. People being crushed to death or drowned in a Tsunami is just part of the work of nature.
Also, cancer, suffering, pain and death are nature improving things through evolutionary change. It was evolution that improved nature when it gave the leap to the frog and the bark to the dog. It gave oxygen enriched air to the lungs, the wings to the bird, and brains to the nerd. It also gifted us with the four seasons, myriads of colorful flowers, the snow-caped mountains, the cool running streams, music, love and laughter. It all started with nothing, and over millions of years, here we are in this wonder called “life.” That’s evolution for you…making things better.
So if you have tragically lost loved ones through cancer, atheism says that you will just have to deal with it because it’s all working for the good of…well…nature. It’s like a beehive, or communism. If you have to be stung to death for the good of the hive, or shot to death for the good of the State, it doesn’t really matter because you are nothing more than a very small cog in a big wheel. You are part of a species that will fail to survive. Richard Dawkins was right when he said “Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but indifferent.”
If it sounds hopeless and depressing, it is. Evolution has left you as nobody among billions, on a dot of a planet among trillions, waiting around for the pains of life and ultimately death. You don’t know where you came from, you don’t know what you are doing here, and you don’t know what happens after death. But that doesn’t matter to an atheist. All that really matters is that you are free to enjoy yourself here and now by throwing yourself into fornication, adultery, pornography or homosexuality. Anything goes, because there is no God and no Hell. Probably.
The Christian world-view is a little different. It says that when there are killer earthquakes, or tornados, or hurricanes that ravage humanity, it’s a confirmation that we live in a “fallen” creation (see Genesis 1-3). When cancer kills hundreds of thousands each year, or when a loved one dies, it just confirms the truth that we live in a fallen creation.
It also confirms that God is not the smiling divine butler He’s made out to be. He is angry at humanity for all its evil. Disease, pain, suffering and death endorse the biblical account of both man’s sin and God’s holiness.
Despite our sinful rebellion, God is rich in mercy and will grant everlasting life to all who will repent and trust in the Savior. The cross of Jesus Christ is proof that the most vile of us has great worth in the sight of Almighty God. Jesus took punishment for our sins, and rose from death to save us from Hell. He paid the fine so that we could leave the courtroom; such is the love of God.
So there you have it. You can choose to believe that nothing created everything, that you are no body waiting to die, and enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and end up in Hell. Or you can obey the gospel and get right with God, find everlasting life, have a reason for life, and then enjoy “pleasure forevermore.”
So Christians should ask why God murdered those 10,00+ innocent people in Japan?
I think the misconception here is in who is innocent. Your stated assumption is that the 10,000+ people so far who have died by this tragic event were innocent. Out of the 10,000+ victims, you realize that it’s actually more likely a cross-section of humanity. Are you presuming that none of those people have ever committed any crimes? Sure, there are mothers, fathers, children, etc. in that number, but if it’s a true cross-section, then there were also murderers, rapists, thieves, and child pornographers. Where do you draw the line on innocence?
In Hugh-land, where you determine your own morality, these may not be high crimes. The problem, however, with determining our own morality is that the goal posts are always moving. Murderers feel justified in their actions and therefore their crimes are not morally reprehensible. Thieves who break into someone’s home while they’re away and pilfer their belongings are doing so not because they think it’s wrong – no one does things simply because they know it to be wrong to do them. They’re doing it because they believe it to be a morally excusable act.
In the Bible things are very different. God, the creator of the universe, this world, the laws of nature, physics, thermodynamics, etc – He is the one who determines what is good. He has created us and informed us of what is good and what is evil – not only in the Bible, but also in our hearts. He’s provided us with a conscience (meaning with knowledge) so that we can know what is right and what is wrong. He’s also codified that for us in the ten commandments (Exo 20:1-17). How many times have you lied in your life? How many times have you stolen things (taken anything that doesn’t belong to you – downloading music without paying for it counts the same). Have you always honored the God who gave you life and who, by His good grace still supplies you with air to breathe (which He created) and food to eat (which He owns)? As Jesus stated, “you’ve heard it said of old, you shall not commit adultery, but I tell you that even if you look at a woman to lust after her you’ve committed adultery in your heart” (Matt 5:27-28). Yes, that includes pornography. This means that God not only weighs our actions against us but our intentions and our uncommitted acts. Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? That’s blasphemy and God says that He will not hold anyone blameless who uses His name in an unworthy manner (Exo 20:7). How many people in the world do you think look at pornography, or lie to one another, or steal even little things from work like paperclips or post-it notes, or time spent on personal things when they’re on the clock? Before God, all of these crimes are worthy of death because He is far holier than you could ever imagine.
Think about it this way: If I steal candy from a baby, the baby has no recourse against me. If I steal money from my boss I could get fired. If I steal money from a bank I go to jail. If I steal something from the Oval Office, I’m never going to be heard from again. The crime is the same, but the punishment changed. What caused it to change? The person against whom I have committed the crimes has increased in power. Now God, who appoints all the world leaders and as the author of all knowledge and creation, who informed us in our minds through our conscience that we should not break His laws, is far higher than anyone previously mentioned. Crimes committed against Him are equally heinous due to His righteousness.
Therefore, who is innocent before God? Honestly, no one. We could have a discussion regarding children and how innocent they are before God, but as a whole, no one who is capable of weighing their own decisions and acting on them is able to stand before God and say “I live lived a sinless life before you”. We’re not wired for righteousness, and He knows that. This is why He took the initiative and sent Himself as a representative who could live the perfect life that you or I could never live so that, through His sacrifice on our behalf, we could walk free. Jesus the Christ, God’s chosen Savior, literally God in the flesh, died on the cross, having committed no crimes before God or man, willingly gave His life as a substitute so that you would not have to enter into God’s punishment. In an eternal mindset, this world and our time here is a drop in the ocean when compared to eternity, but what we do with Jesus has a huge impact on our time in eternity. Jesus paid a price far greater than what we see in Japan today so that you would be able to spend a hundred thousand lifetimes with Him in Heaven. In order to receive this gift, all you need to do is to repent of your sins (apologize to God and surrender control of your life to Him) and to trust in Him that His sacrifice on your behalf was sufficient. Do that and you will move from the line of those billions who stand guilty before him, waiting for judgment to come, and are instead transported and secured in the Heaven – the record of your sins before God is transferred to Jesus and his record of righteousness is transferred to you.
Please consider these things today.
People know things happen. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, cancer etc. But just as ther is biological evolution, there is spiritual evolution as well. You can see that when someone offends, hurts, becomes remorseful and vows never to offend again. He changes. He ‘evolves’ into a better person. zpain and suffering is something we all have to experience. But from pain and suffering if we do it right something better will emerge. Don’t be fooled by what you see. That’s just a cammoflage for what’s really going on.
As a former atheist, I think this post is a rather inaccurate portrayal of the atheist worldview, and verges on scientific illiteracy. Evolution doesn’t “make things better”, and things don’t happen “for the good of nature”. That is the author’s teleological biases showing through.
See, I can’t see using the term “evolution” for a transformative experience. That either implies that all of the abilities are there for the change in the first place and that there’s only the need for a catalyst of some sort (pain, death, etc) or that the quality of a man is always changing. As a man who has gone through a lot of that myself, tried to change myself numerous times, experienced horrible things, done horrible things, and never, ever was able to do it – it’s hard for me to believe that. I’ve known a hundred so called Christians who have had an emotional experience and changed for a while, then when things get hard they slip right back into drinking, pornography, abusive patterns, etc. Like they “tried Jesus” but it just wasn’t enough to keep them on the straight an narrow. The real difference here is that there was no real transformative experience. It was all smoke and mirrors, camouflage and deception. They were doing nothing more than deceiving themselves, thinking that they could be something they are not. As I’ve explained this before, a man who claims to be a Christian is no Christian at all if the character of his life and the fruit that his life produces are in opposition to the life of Christ and don’t reveal evidence of this transformed life.
I only call myself a Christian man today because I’ve experienced this personally. I’ve seen God working in my life and in the life of those whom I love. My transformative experience wasn’t a mere change in view but a surgical procedure by which the man that I used to be was surgically removed from me and I am now a new man with new desires. As my wife put it, I went to be the same jerk she’d known for the last 5 years and I woke up as the man she married.
@ JS Allen:
I’m not sure what you mean. Are you disagreeing that from 10,000′ naturalistic evolution states simply that anything that produces a new, better man is for the benefit of the greater genetic pool? Heck, I learned that in high school – I was taught that I was nothing but glorified slime, a mere genetic accident that exists as a stain on mother Earth – a toxic weed in mother nature’s perfect garden. From an evolutionary standpoint, once we are born and breed, there is nothing more that we can add to the genetic pool and, if anything, at that point we become a hindrance as we strip away resources from the good breeding stock. Any intellectually honest evolutionist will agree with that.
All that it logically leads to is that we are only worth anything while we are able to provide for society as a whole.
How do you see the end result of an evolutionist mindset?
Yes, I disagree with that 10,000′ portrayal, and I reject the claim that “any intellectually honest evolutionist” would agree with it. There is literally not a single sentence in that description that is correct; every single sentence is wrong. I don’t doubt that someone taught you that in high school, but you were severely misled.
This is a subject I have a significant amount of expertise in, including professional experience, so I’m happy to explain why each sentence if wrong, if you’re interested. But for purposes of this comment, suffice it to say that the portrayal of evolutionary theory is entirely inaccurate, and unlikely to resonate with anyone who actually knows what evolutionary theory is. In fact, portrayals like this are very likely to damage Christians’ credibility when the person hearing it learns the truth about what evolutionary theory actually says.
I am now a conservative Christian, but one of my major reasons for rejecting Christianity was the way that some Christians were so hostile to science, yet so confused about it. I felt that I would be forced to parrot all sorts of ridiculous and illogical things (“if evolution is true, why don’t women have monkeys for babies?”), or else reject Christianity.
Now I look back fondly on some of those old Christian teachers and think they had their hearts in the right place, even if they were confused about what evolutionists actually believe. And I realize that Christianity’s truth doesn’t rise or fall on the intellectual competence of her defenders — even if some Christians are saying terribly inaccurate things about their perceived enemies, that doesn’t mean that Christianity itself is false. But I think Christians need to be careful, to avoid making claims that can easily be seen to be false.
To answer your question about how I see the end result of an evolutionist mindset: evolutionary theory doesn’t predict an ultimate end result, nor does it make value judgments about the relative “worth” of one organism versus another. This isn’t to say that there is no such thing as relative worth, just that this isn’t the domain of evolutionary biology.
Think of it like this. You believe that people’s bodies and brains are composed of cells, right? Now, imagine that you’re being confronted by a person who doesn’t believe that we are composed of cells. He argues with you, saying, “My biology teacher taught me that I’m nothing but a bunch of cheap chemicals, like so much primordial ooze. A collection of mindless cells. A bag of mostly water.” When you explain that biologists don’t really believe that way, he retorts, “How do YOU see the end result of the cellular biology mindset?”
How do you answer a person like that?
Nice to see some respectful dialogue. I have been changed by personal experience and some of my ‘harder traits’ are dead and gone. I know I have evolved in a spiritual way and this is quite a revelation coming from a former Atheist.
I do not believe we just stay the same, or only temporarily change through personal experience. There is a permanent change in many people and I see it every day as people continue on their journey through the chool of hard knocks.
@ JS Allen:
Please forgive me. It’s been a while since I’ve had someone try to debate me on the meaning of words. Before we begin I’d like to point out that you are presuming that I lack knowledge of the process of atheistic Darwinian evolution and that was merely misled, whereas your intellectual understanding is, if not perfect, then certainly better than mine. That is a lot to assume about someone whom you’ve just met and based on a few brief paragraphs.
That said, let’s define the terms, shall we?
I was referring to the fifth sense of evolution, namely atheistic macro evolution, which is built on the ideas of Lamarckism and the requirement of spontaneous generation or some sort of panspermia (which is nothing more than an attempt to sidestep the troubles found in spontaneous generation). Evolution in this sense hinges on the idea that natural selection weeds out the (to use a very Darwinian term here) “lesser races” while those that are superior begin to take precedence in whichever region they happen to exist. There are three apparent drives for organisms (human or otherwise) under this theory – sustenance, shelter, and procreation. In the terms of the first two, these all are maintained outside of the organism itself and are therefore resources that need to be managed, whereas the third is something that the organism contributes to its regional society. As more evolved beings there is a fourth “drive” that is necessary to include here – that being the ability to procure and secure the first two areas mentioned above. While not really necessary, it is helpful in this context.
Now, let’s look at how this plays out for a person born to a small tribe on an isolated island in the ocean. The child is born and is immediately a hindrance on the tribe. It eats their food, takes up valuable space in their shelter and is in this position for many years. By the age of five or six it can start to help out, but certainly not enough to break even. At ten or twelve they’re active members of the tribe and are finally able help as much as they take out. The tribe is most efficient when there are fewer people competing for the same resources. When the man becomes injured or old, he can no longer contribute and therefore becomes a hindrance again, stealing resources from the tribe instead of contributing.
The idea of atheistic macro evolution states that once you are born, you are the very best, most evolved form of man to exist. The most important thing you can do for the good of your community is to become useful as quickly as possible, breed, then die. When coupled with an atheistic worldview, that when you die it’s like turning a television off, and the overall lack of a sense of history, the only worthwhile thing that a child can bring into the world is its own genetic seed, as its life will be a futile waste of days and it will promptly be forgotten. If you have trouble reconciling this as you consider your own mortality and presumed worth, remember that your father has or has had that same mindset, as your grandfather, and great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. Can you tell me the most important addition your great-great-grandfather has provided to society? No? Neither can anyone else. If history is our guide, and atheistic evolution rules the day, then as Paul says in 1 Cor 15 in relation to the futility of life without the resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Now, let’s look at your position: You state that you rejected Christianity originally because of the bad comments by weak Christians. Given that Christianity does not rise or fall on your conclusions, then this is a moot point. Christianity is truth based on the claims of its originator to be the creator of all life, the example of his perfect life that neither of us could ever live, the proof of his divinity as shown by the miracles he produced, the substitutionary atonement whereby he appeased the wrath of God for all those who trust in him for salvation, and the resurrection by which we see that God the Father not only accepted Jesus’ sacrifice but that it was accepted in full. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that there are multiple ideas that people can hold on any wide range of ideas, but if you hold fast to the primary issues of the faith (virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, divinity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, infallibility of scripture, etc) then the rest becomes secondary – including views on evolution. Rejecting faith in Christ because of a few bad arguments from one or two presumed adherents is like saying that a king is cruel and ruthless because of few of his peasants are jerks.
Could you elaborate on this a bit further? My dad was once an abusive drug addict who then moved to alcoholism and now, through the power of AA has become a virulent atheist who has swapped his drug of choice to caffeine. Every time he “changes” it’s more of a shifting of priorities to more of the same. I’ve found that secular or even pagan transformations are merely the acts of people who are trying to fit in with society better and have curbed their more violent tendencies and replaced them with more civilized ones like internet pornography and alcohol. Even if a “regular Joe” with no previous experience with grievous societal sins goes through some sort of personal transformation, if he does so outside of the salvation that is present in a transformation of the heart that accompanies a true conversion to Christianity, then it’s all for naught.
Ian, I don’t think there is much to “debate” about, since I’m making only two very minor claims:
Claim 1) I am an authority on what practicing professional evolutionists believe, since I and most of my friends and colleagues fit this category. It’s my milieu, and I know it fairly well. In contrast, you are not an authority on what we believe. Your portrayal of what evolutionists believe is wildly inaccurate. To me, it’s similar to the atheist cranks who come to my blog and tell me that Christians are cannibals because we eat the body and blood of Christ — I figure that they’re ignorant about what Christians really believe, and that they’re trying to score rhetorical points.
Claim 2) As I said, I agree 100% that Christianity’s truth doesn’t hinge on the bad behavior of her defenders. That’s why I’m a Christian today. However, we should “adorn the gospel”, and we don’t want to give people a reason to believe that Christians are ignorant and dishonest. IMO, the atheists who call Christians cannibals undermine atheism, and the Christians who propagate inaccurate stories about evolutionary theory equally undermine the Church’s credibility.
There are some addictive traits that are tough to beat for sure. But what I am referring to is when someone who shows no compassion learns to become compassionate.
Someone who was once arrogant learns to become more humble. Life can throw curve balls our way that make us think and reflect or ‘soul-search’ and change our ways accordingly. I have seen changes in people that are for the better. I have gine through such changes myself. This is the ‘spiritual evolution’ I am referring to. I’m not saying I’m right, but that’s my observation.
Sweet – I used to be an evolutionist too. Actually, I grew into a militant nihilist who physically assaulted creationists for their stupid stance and launched into long debates with them on all kinds of topics including microbiology, geology, radiometric dating, cosmology, etc before God transformed me. I was more of a Saul toward creationists then and not a Paul – converted and still reaching out to those who are trapped as I once was. Now, here’s the question I have for you – since you call yourself a Christian and an evolutionist, there seems to be a bit of a separation in views here. This is why I defined my terms. Are you a proponent of atheistic macro evolution, theistic macro evolution, or creationist micro evolution (variations in kinds)? As I mentioned above, my stated view was in line with atheistic macro evolution (AME) yet you claim that it’s just not true of “evolution” as a whole.
What you’re claiming is akin to me stating that I’m a Ford Focus driver and that all Ford Focus drivers drive at less than 65 miles per hour on all surfaces because that’s what I drive, without recognizing the rally or touring car circuit where these cars race at considerable speeds on all surfaces. Could you please define your terms?
Is it your opinion that I am ignorant and dishonest? In my view, it’s the hypocritical Christians who don’t follow the tenets of their claimed faith that are the ones that cause the most damage to the credibility of Christianity in the world. For what it’s worth, I don’t see myself as someone who is propagating inaccurate stories about evolutionary theory. In fact, I am stating not only what I used to believe but what I was trained to believe by my professors and that they believed themselves.
As a man who has gone through a lot of this myself, it’s hard for me to agree with you. I’ve personally seen the fruit of failed transformations not only in my own life but in the lives of my friends and family – people who have tried to change their ways and, while succeeding in the smaller areas of their lives, ultimately failing in the larger areas. In Christianity, I’ve learned to trust in God for everything. Not because of anything I’ve done but because no matter what I’ve failed at he’s been absolutely faithful – coming through for me in everything He’s promised and more. The more I’ve learned about myself, the more I’ve found that I am incapable of doing anything correctly, or with the right motives, or with the right intentions in mind and even what I do complete it’s barely resembling anything that I’ve thought it would be from the get-go. For instance, when I was 7 my dad (who is REALLY into the Navy) bought for me a bunch model ships to put together. We even had one that had motors and batteries and everything. After building a few of them we got the hang on it and just started to crank them out. After completing the superstructure on the first set, however, and comparing it to the box, we realized that we had assembled the whole top of the ship backwards. It was perfectly symmetrical but the smoke stacks were facing the wrong way and glued into place. The more familiar I became with the process the more I began to ignore the rules and just do it on my own. From here, in my life, it seems that I’m much better off when I let God have control of everything.
OK, if you’re talking about people like your old self, who run around picking fights with creationists, or who write books “debunking” Christianity, then you might be more of an authority on what they believe than I am. However, I would caution you against extrapolating your singular experience to others. For example, Richard Dawkins would absolutely disagree with a number of the claims you made, and I haven’t read a book by a single popularizer of evolutionary theory who would agree with your portrayal. It’s possible that you’re faithfully representing some small subset of evolutionists who I’ve never encountered, but I don’t consider it likely. At this point in my life, I’ve only ever heard portrayals like yours coming from other Christians.
Did you actually say that stuff when you were an atheist and “evolutionist”? If you actually believed that, and still defended it, that’s quite remarkable.
In any case, I’m talking about people who are trained as scientists and who do this in their day jobs, and who don’t see it as a religious calling. They don’t go around debating or advocating. I realize that there are a spectrum of possible attitudes toward evolution, but not a single person I know would agree with even a single one of the comments you made about evolutionary theory.
As for the question of how I square evolutionary theory with Christianity, I hope this isn’t the point where you claim that it’s impossible for me to be a Christian and believe that God uses evolution as an instrument.
To summarize very briefly, I don’t believe that God needs to violate the laws of nature to achieve His ends. He created nature, and all of nature reveals His will. The idea that the laws of nature were pre-configured to bring forth mankind, Christ, and all of the Apostles speaks of an awesome and wondrous God. To me, that God is far more impressive than a God who created things, and then, after the fact, had to intervene and do something different to create mankind.
You’re making a lot of accusations which I personally don’t appreciate, especially as you have no information as to me, my history, or my formal training. I merely stated my personal history, what I was taught, and the path which I followed. You, attacked my history and me personally. Given that you claim to be a Christian, I’m going to abandon this line of questioning so as to not lead you into sinning.
Not at all. I believe strongly in micro evolution, though I prefer the term “variation in kinds”.
So many questions… Does God supercede the laws of nature or is He limited by them in what He does? If so, how did Jesus spontaneously regenerate limbs for people when He healed them, or how did He walk on water? The laws of nature state that it is impossible for either of those things to take place. When people were healed, how did they know how to walk after being born lame and living for 40 years with limbs that were incapable of functioning? Was God, in your opinion, just the guy who kicked off everything by initiating the big bang, then stepping away until life erupted? For Christianity to make sense, there has to be an offended party (God) and a reason for Him to be offended (His laws were abandoned and man decided to do things his own way), then Jesus (as God in flesh) to come to Earth and make restitution on our behalf. The problem of sin and death, as shown in the Bible, is related directly to the conflict of a perfect God and sinful man, as sin brought a separation from God and death is the consequence of sin. Jesus, as our redeemer, was born of a virgin so that she would be free from the sinful seed of Adam, fulfilled the law of God perfectly in thought, word, and deed, then took our place on the cross in substitutionary atonement. By so doing, He fulfilled the requirements of a just God and allowed people to be redeemed through His life through repentance of our sins and trust that his work in our place was sufficient to pay for all of our sins. If man evolved from primordial goo and through trillions of successive imperceptable changes into fish, then reptiles, then mammals, then apes, then to mankind, where upon God finally stepped in and made His first covenant with man (from which man rejected God and did his own thing), how is it that death is a consequence of sin when it existed long before man was even possible? Please understand that I’m not by any means being rude here – I really want to understand this. There have been many theistic evolutionists whom I’ve met who have held this stance but none that I think could answer these questions with any authority. I’m fascinated and I would like to know more.
From a theological standpoint, I’d like to take a far more simplistic approach and while I can imply what I think your answer would be to this first question, I’d rather not put words into your mouth and instead hear it directly from you. Do you believe in the creation narrative found in Genesis and, if not, why not? Which is your master text? That of modern science or that of the Bible? Carrying that thought forward, if part of the Bible is accurate and part of it is fairy-tale, how do you determine which is which – what determines your hermeneutic presuppositions?
You made some broad claims about what people like me believe, and about what current evolutionary theory says. I’m telling you that your portrayal of me, and of most evolutionists, is slanderous and inaccurate. I explained that your attack against evolutionists was wrong. I was simply trying to set the record straight, and didn’t intend to make you feel victimized. I’ve made myself clear, so we can move on.
To answer some of your questions about theology, it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just respond in the order that the questions were presented.
God *created* the laws of nature. Every moment of every day is a continuous miracle, wherein God sustains creation through his power. Why would He create laws that didn’t fulfill his will?
Huh? Where are you getting that? Is there a “laws of nature” book that says these things are impossible? Thomas Jefferson thought it was impossible for rocks to fall from the sky, but now we know that the “laws of nature” are compatible with meteors. My grandfather was pronounced dead, put in the morgue, and came to life 2 days later. What do scientists say? Scientists will sat that it was possible according to the laws of nature, since it happened.
Of course not. As any competent Christian theologian will tell you, God created time and exists outside of time. Christ is the alpha and omega; the beginning and the end. Every moment is sustained by God. Saying that God superseded nature at the beginning, but not after, shows a deep confusion about God’s relation to time. God is *always* super to nature.
Christ was, emphatically, NOT a plan B. It’s not as if God said, “Oh, drat! I never expected that! Time to figure out a way to respond to Adam’s rebellion!” There is no place in Christian theology for the heretical notion that Christ was a plan B; theologians throughout the ages are consistent on this point.
No evolutionist believes this; it’s incompatible with the idea of natural selection.
As we already discussed, God doesn’t “step in”, and there are no “Plan B”s. God was there all along.
What does it mean to say, “before man was even possible”? Before He created time, God knew your name. The “possibility” of you, Adam, or me existing was already there, long before the first life, let alone the first death. And God knew that we would sin.
The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and that sin entered the world through Adam. What more do you need?
Of course I do.
The Bible is the infallible word of God on all matters of theology, so that’s the master text.
I don’t think that framing makes any sense. Although the Bible was never intended to be a science textbook, it is never a “fairy tale”. It is authoritative in its entirety. We don’t get to pick and choose pieces.
I have no beef with you. We’re golden.
I was referring to the spontaneous regeneration of matter – I can’t find a single natural law that dictates that process, and only those that state the exact opposite.
Just getting your stance on origins.
I totally agree. God created the universe to display His communicable characteristics of long suffering, justice, love, etc. The plan from the very beginning was that of a course of redemption. Christianity as a religion hinges on the fact that God was offended (by design) through man’s rejection of His perfect law (only codified in the ten commandments some 3,000 years later) and the redemption that was promised to Eve was presented through Christ who is present in the old testament through types, shadows, prophecy, and Christophanies. The good news that God has made peace with mankind (specifically with those whom He has elected to salvation) through Jesus means nothing if no one has sinned before Him. Fwiw, I’m also an adherent to the doctrines of grace.
So, outside of those evolutionists then…
As a covenantal Christian I see that God has made numerous successive covenants with mankind, some where He is the one who promises to do things (Abrahamic, Noahic, and Davidic Covenant) and others where man is the one who needs to either do or not do certain things (Adamic and Sinatic covenants), all superseded by the Covenant of Grace as initiated and maintained by Jesus. I wasn’t stating a “plan b”, but rather God interacting with mankind to provide context and direction in a specific circumstance.
This is in reference to an atheistic evolutionary mindset whereby man was an evolved creature. Most theistic evolutionists that I’ve encountered (49/50) believe in the basic tenets of Darwininan evolution with the mere addition that instead of the requirement for spontaneous generation of life from non-living material that God stepped in and inserted the “seed of life” from which all life on this planet erupted. Therefore, mankind is a descendant of apes. Apes are descendants from some form of mammal who was a descendant from some form of aquatic creature who was a descendant from some form of simpler life form, etc. Death is a requirement in this context as the new creatures would not be able to survive if every preceding life form were still alive and fighting for the same resources. Does that make sense?
Again, we’re golden. This defines everything I need to know about your view on theology.
OK, good. I’ve followed your blog for quite some time, and I was pretty sure we weren’t too far apart theologically. FWIW, I consider classical Arminians to be Christian brothers, but am Calvinist myself.
Right. The changes you were talking about, which lead to speciation, are not the “slight” changes, though. They are the “substantial” changes. The changes that lead to speciation are not typically considered to be “imperceptible” in any way.
Right, there are lots of things that naturalistic science can’t explain yet, but science will happily accept a theory as soon as it “saves the appearances”. Regeneration of limbs doesn’t seem too high a bar for science to eventually accommodate, since some animals regenerate limbs. There is probably a higher hurdle to clear in the spontaneous generation of life. Vic Reppert had a good post on this. Al Moritz, who appears in the comments, is a practicing biochemist and Christian, and has written a really interesting paper on the topic.
I think the current theory is that men and apes came from a common ancestor — not that men came from apes. But it’s roughly the same difference. At a minimum, modern science would agree that we share a common “ancestor” in the mud.
So, here’s the way I think of it. It’s clear that some people opposed to Christianity are determined to use “science” to claim that the Bible is wrong. If the Bible talks about an earth that is flat, or about a sun that revolves around the earth, then we can just throw out the whole Bible, they say. IMO, it’s very foolish for Christians to accept these rules of engagement and insist that the Bible must harmonize with the scientific theory du jour. As soon as we engage in these debates, we’ve implicitly validated the claim that the Bible is a science textbook, or that the Bible derives its authority from it’s consistency with naturalist science. To me, that’s a terrible trap to fall into. We become complicit in undermining Christianity.
So, when I’m reading the Bible, or using day-to-day language, I say that the sun rises and sets. But if I were asked to design a guided missile, I would say that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun. Of course, the Bible is infinitely more important to my life than the guided missile is, but I’m not convinced that it’s a sin to design navigation systems that treat the earth as if it revolved around the sun. For most matters in life, we say the sun rises and sets, and we are justified in mocking or ignoring anyone who wants to force a false dilemma between the two ways of looking at things.
Likewise with evolutionary theory. For the most important purposes in life, death entered the world through Adam’s sin. It’s pretty simple. But when I’m predicting viral loads in patients infected with a retrovirus, I take the DNA similarities between apes and humans seriously, and I benefit greatly from models derived from evolutionary theory that show how things adapt under selection pressure.
Overall, these examples are all instances of a larger issue. The issue is that modern science is fiercely reductionist, and the reductionism works well for the limited goals of science. But you always have a choice of looking at things in a more or less reductionist way. In one sense, it’s accurate to say that humans are “made of meat”, or “bags of mostly water”, or “collections of body parts”. If you’re performing neurosurgery, you have to think of my wife as a physical object composed of neurons and other things. But at another level, my wife is a person, and this means far more than the component parts.
So who is right? Am I foolish to consider my wife to be a person who was formed in the image of a Person? Should I allow the reductive “collection of body parts” stance take precedence over the soul? Emphatically, no! When doing surgery, we take the reductive stance, of course. But it is always subordinate to the stance that takes the person as primary.
First, I’d like to apologize that it took me so long to reply. Work, homeschooling, outside projects, and our family functions have played a heavy hand this week and it’s been hard to keep up.
Do you know my Dad? Seriously?
I totally agree. Science often contradicts science – by equating science with the Bible we’re placing it on a level playing field. The Bible is God’s written word, recorded through man. If I take anything as a superior text, it’ll be that one.
Similarity in function and design is one thing. Presuming heritage is another.
Again, I totally agree with you here.
My question was directed toward those who hold to a stance of atheistic evolution when it comes to origins, yet hold to a theological stance of theistic evolution and its implications on the Gospel. Not those who use genetic similarities to track disease, nor those who are involved in animal testing of drugs, nor, well, anything else. I wholeheartedly agree that great science can be and has been accomplished on the basis of using human analogues for specific testing and ideas. I do not, however, agree that we are ancestrally related to apes. God, in His wisdom, has created many things in this world and has done so with much variation while utilizing the same general overarcing design. Could God have created us such that we breathe through our hands and expel waste through our eyes? Yes, but is it necessary? Similarity implies similarity, not heredity. That’s my view.
OK, I agree with this. While I think it’s perfectly OK to hold to evolutionary origins when we’re adopting the reductionist stance and doing naturalist science, I don’t think it makes sense to take a “theological stance of theistic evolution and its implications on the Gospel”. If we’re going to take the theological stance, we need to do it all the way.
We can be in the reductionist stance, or we can be in a theological stance, and we can alternate between these stances depending on whether we’re doing science or theology, but we can’t be in the middle. To me, the people who want to smuggle naturalism into their theology are just trying to bend their theology to remake it in their own image. You see a lot of that these days, even with people who don’t hold to theistic evolution. People are so accustomed to deconstructing and objectifying the world that they think they can do it with theology.
FWIW, even under a completely naturalistic and atheist worldview, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to talk about us sharing heritage with the apes. The staunchest atheists will admit that our capacity for 4th and 5th order intentionality is unique and definitive to humans and places us on an entirely different plane of existence. We share heritage with apes in the same way that apes share heritage with plants, or that plants share heritage with chemicals.
BTW, although I’ve said that the strident YEC advocates are unwittingly complicit in undermining Christianity, I wouldn’t be too upset if my kids ended up believing in YEC. I think YEC are right about theology and wrong about science, and I think the “theistic evolutionists” who want to modify our theology are right about science but wrong about theology. I believe it’s possible to be right about both, but if my kids have to be wrong about one or the other, I’d rather they end up wrong about science.