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May 14, 2013

Comments

If God sovereignly created all of nature, then can there really be an "unguided natural process"? That is to say, once God creates the rules for the universe, God should also be aware of anything that will result in that universe.

In this way, any time an atheist were to say "here is an unguided natural process that truly explains the universe", it would be trumped by a Christian belief that there are no truly unguided processes in the universe.

"Wow, look at this watch on the beach! Clearly, it stands out as an example of design!"

"How can you tell? The beach was designed too."

Hi Mr. Wallace,

I really appreciate this post, as it is something which I have been grappling with for years. I think that the main issue within Christian circles is "what is the priority of the doctrine of Creation?" Daniel Wallace, a scholar who I greatly respect has proposed four main categories for doctrinal priority:

1. Those doctrines which are necessary for the life of the Church.

2. Those doctrines which are necessary for the health of the Church.

3. Those doctrines which are necessary for the practice of the church.

4. Those doctrines which are mainly speculative.

The higher the priority, the more important it is to wrestle within the Church in an attempt to get it right. I would personally put the question of "how" God created into the 4th category, though I think some people would disagree with me. Frankly, I think the subject is fascinating and worth studying, but not at all an essential issue for salvation.

Best,
Austin

Mr Wallace first of all I highly regard what you , Greg and the staff at STR do for the world of apologetics. With that said I have to disagree with you on the importance of origins. The mere fact that you bring it up says to me that it is a battle that rages on and hits home with many people. It hits home with me for example becuase it was precisely the origins debate that brought me to God. At one point I thought I was special in this matter but after years of studying the science behind long age thinking I have convinced myself that it is a very important matter. After all we are talking about the very beginning of the Bible. The first part of the book that almost everyone would read. When Gods says he created it in six days.. this is what most of the translations say... people tend to drop out there. It sounds like a lot of mythology. The world is telling them one thing and then the Bible tells them something different. Why would they trust the Bible? I would say that only refers to those people who have never spoken to a living soul about God but there is a book called Already Gone that shows that even people who have been a part of the faith in their life have walked away becuase they did not trust what they were told growing up. You should read it. You are a man who likes good evidence but you also know that evidence has to be intrepreted. "Already Gone" has a lot of interesting statistics but I wouldn't stop there. Read more of the eividence that scientific organizations like ICR.org and AnswersinGenesis.com have to offer. I think you might change your mind.

Do no Christians agree with my view that it doesn't matter how we interpret Genesis? The essence of Christianity has nothing to do with how the stars and planets were formed, or how animals got here. You guys are going off on the wrong track!

God can still love us and be sovereign even if He didn't literally create us in a human-comprehensible sense. Maybe God and the universe came into being simultaneously. Maybe evolution is an inherent part of God's nature.

My point is that these questions are irrelevant to Christians. You just need to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. And follow all the commandments and confess your sins and receive forgiveness. None of this requires you to study astronomy or biology. All this worry about scientific things is blinding you to the key truth of the Gospel.

John,

Who is this God you claim to love? What are his character traits? Is he creative? Is he just? Is he orderly? Is he communal? Is he social? Is he personal? Is he awe inspiring?

Whatever your answer regarding God's character, how do you know? Did God reveal these things to you? Of course he did, and he left a written record. One part of that record we call the book of Genesis, and answers to the questions above are provided their. That written record made very good sense at the time in which it was written, but is more difficult today.

So what do you say, can you refrain from judging how I love God with all my mind? Please.

Hi John,

A god that did not create the universe, but came into being simultaneously cannot be perfectly sovereign by definition. It's part of the story, so it does matter -- Creation, Fall, Redemption, Re-creation.

I don't think very many Christians would say that God did not create the universe though, so it's a bit of a moot point. Perhaps the closest would be Mormons who hold that "god" created the earth out of pre-existing matter.

Hi William,

I think you have it backwards. The reason people leave the Church, or are hesitant to join it, in the case of your example, is probably because Christians make too big of a deal about a less essential doctrine. If they saw that there was room for alternative interpretations (understanding that one interpretation must be right, but being wrong on that specific doctrine is not damnable), they might feel less uneasy.

So the question comes down to "how important of a doctrine is our view of creation?" If it is not essential, then it is OK to discuss it and have disagreements. See my priority categories in the above comment. I would absolutely say that it is not essential for salvation-- meaning, if someone is wrong on their view of the doctrine of Creation, this doesn't negate Christ's atonement for their sins (provided that they believe in it). It is likely that you will disagree here, but I would challenge you to tell me what grounds you have to do so?

Hi Mr. Wallace,

I came across the STR web site for the first time today, and this post the first I've looked at in detail, so please forgive me if I raise a question that may have already been dealt with. Among your set of points on which Christians and atheists essentially agree, #3 was: "Humans appear later in history relative to the appearance of other animals."

But, given the general consensus on that point (which, in the atheist perspective, is firmly supported by evidence), how do we reconcile it with the 2nd chapter of Genesis, in which the wild animals do not appear until verse 19, significantly later than the creation of Adam in verse 7? (There's the further complication about man and woman being created more or less at the same time in Gen.1:27, but Gen.2:22 seems to put Eve's creation at virtually the opposite end of the process relative to Adam's creation.)

I'd be grateful to any reader of this thread who can help me understand.

Otto,


Look at January 14, 2013, "Understanding the Creation Account in Genesis (Video)".


The thread following that video looks at your question and others.


And Time? Well, what is Time? It is but the slave of Consciousness. Nouns and Verbs forever exist both inside and outside of Time. We all have our necessary One Everlasting Actual Actuality regardless of perspective; but there is no such thing as that One Uncreated Actual Actuality void of what Consciousness terms Noun, void of what Consciousness terms Noun’s Verb, void of Word. Not ever. A static state just will not negate be-ing. God is Love, and, “Time is too slow for those who wait - Too swift for those who fear - Too long for those who grieve - But for those who love, time is eternity.”

Austin,

First let me make clear my beliefs. I do not believe that interpreting Genesis correctly saves you. I believe that Jesus is the only one who can. On that same note I have to look at what it means to interpret it differently. If your just reading through Genesis for the first time and you see six days... well you see six days. There is no getting around that fact that it has been interpreted that way for a long time. Interpreted correctly I might add. So if I am reading through and I see that the "Word of God" says he created it in six days I either have to believe that he did it in six or I somehow have to interpret those days as long periods of time. That throws a wrench into the cogs so to speak. You see if I can change how Genesis is interpreted what is stopping me from changing how the rest of the Bible is interpreted. We see it being done by people like Rob Bell and many others. It is all changed by man to try to understand the world they see based on the science they have uncovered. Instead of trying to understand the science through the Bible everyone is trying to change the Bible to fit the science. It's a matter of consistency. You want to speak highly of the Bible then make it the priority. The science that talks about long ages for the world and the universe are all based on evidence that can't be proven. After all you can't prove anything historical absolutely. You can infer based on evidence but that evidence has to be interpreted as well. As an example scientists have said for more years than I have been alive that Dinosaurs existed more than 65 million years ago. If this were truly the case and it was a proven fact then how is it that they are finding soft tissue in some of these bones. It is much easier to interpret that from a biblical point of view than trying to prove it from a long age point of view. After all how can soft tissue survive that long.
I trust the Bible from the very first word and I don't need to interpret it differently to bring people to the gospel. I think more people would be more effective in bringing people to the gospel if they didn't waiver when it comes to God's word.

Hi William,

It's easy for me to go off topic, so I will organize my thoughts in a number of separate points:

1. I appreciate your charity in agreeing that interpreting Genesis correctly does not save one. If I had to guess based on your response, you would put Genesis in the 2nd doctrinal category: "Those doctrines that are necessary for the health of the church." So you would probably say that even though it is not a salvation issue, it will have a huge impact on other doctrines which one draws from scripture.

2. I am sympathetic toward your concern that this is a slippery slope, and that you want to uphold Biblical Authority at all costs. This is a very important issue with which to grapple. I would caution you not to take an absolute, all-or-nothing, stance on what is taken literally in the Bible ("if we don't take X in the Bible literally, then why should we take Y literally?"). What makes the Bible unique is that God speaks through a collection of different books, written by different authors at different times, with different purposes. The context of those separate things must be known to correctly interpret scripture-- you would not read a Psalm the way you would read the Book of Acts. While Luke declares in Luke-Acts that his intention is to give a historical account, the Psalmist's main intention is to emotionally/spiritually grapple with God and God's sovereignty (he worships and praises God, he questions God, he cries out to God for aid, etc). This is evidence to me that each portion of the Bible needs to be evaluated separately in terms of how it should be interpreted.

3. You asserted that the first few chapters of Genesis have been interpreted "literally" (6 actual days) for a long time, and that people are only pushing for other interpretations because of what science has supposedly discovered. This is simply not true. There are many examples of ancient Church leaders who have held to a view of Genesis other than a "literal 6 days" approach-- the most obvious is Augustine of Hippo (arguably the most influential man in the history of Christianity since the original Apostles). In his book, ironically called The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, he argued that God created everything instantaneously and that the days in Genesis provide a logical framework for the relationships between different aspects of creation, rather than an actual timeline. He was obviously not influenced by modern science (since he lived in the fourth century AD), yet held that an interpretation other than "six actual days" was reasonable and true. The organization Biologos argues that so-called Young Earth Creationism wasn't really an accepted interpretation until the Seventh Day Adventist movement in the late 1800s.

4. I think the "plain reading" method fails due to a number of difficulties that modern Christians face. For one, most of us have access only to English translations of a book that was written predominantly in Hebrew and Koine greek. While I think biblical scholars do a fantastic job of correctly interpreting the Bible into contemporary English, there are small discrepancies between translations, and I believe that some nuances are lost in translation.

We are also very far removed from the Ancient Near East culture in which these ideas were written, and I think that has a large impact on our understanding of the text. Greg (Koukl) offered an analogy one time, which was similar to the following: suppose a man living in the distant future discovered a newspaper clipping from the present which translated to "Minnesota Vikings Slaughter Chicago Bears!" If the futuristic scholars applied the "plain reading" heuristic here, they would have to assume that a group of actual Vikings from Minnesota killed a number of actual bears! But we know that this would be absurd! In the same way, I think moderns need to do work to discover what the text meant in the original context before trying to apply any kind of contemporary standards to it. I think the evidence shows convincingly that Genesis was not intended to be a science text, so comparing it to modern scientific claims is simply misguided.

5. While I disagree with some of your scientific claims, I would like to keep this discussion about the biblical text and what readings it allows or does not allow. It's tough for anyone (including myself) to look at a set of evidence without bias when we are convinced a priori that things are a certain way. So I don't know that it will be very beneficial for us to get too far into the scientific evidence.

Best,
Austin

The problem with Mr. Wallace's post is that he gives us no argument or reason as to why the origins debate is unimportant. He just assumes that the areas of disagreement are unimportant and the areas of agreement are of greater importance. But why should we think that?

Mr. Wallace points out that on all sides of the origins debate we agree, for instance, that God created everything. Well so what? Jehovah's Witness also have this in common with Christians. Does that somehow indicate that the areas of disagreement between a Jehovah's Witness and a Christian are unimportant? Of course not. But I'm afraid many laymen will be duped by such a post as this into thinking otherwise--at least in regards to origins. But it just doesn't logically follow. Mr. Wallace has only told us that (1) persons involved in the origins debate have some points of agreement (so what?) and (2) apparently he doesn't think the points of disagreement are important (why??).

Austin said:

>>"Frankly, I think the subject is fascinating and worth studying, but not at all an essential issue for salvation."

Your remarks vaguely mirror Michael Patton's recent erroneous excursions into this topic. The question isn't "Do I need this to be saved?" Rather, the question is "Does God's Word teach this?" As Christians we are to submit ourselves to God's truth revealed in Scripture. We aren't at liberty to pick and choose which doctrines we think are essential for us to getting a ticket to heaven.

If that's your attitude, you've got an entirely misguided (maybe even dangerous) focus.

John Moore says:

>>"The essence of Christianity has nothing to do with how the stars and planets were formed, or how animals got here. You guys are going off on the wrong track!"

It's entirely out of line with the core teachings of Christianity to treat with flippancy any teaching you don't deem to be the essence of Christianity. And we can easily define the essence of Christianity differently depending on how "essential" we want to get. One thing that makes the origins debate important is what it reveals about our underlying hermeneutic and theology. If one adopts a Darwinian view of origins simply because (1) that's what science says and (2) what the Bible says on this issue isn't essential to Christianity then it's obvious such a person off on the wrong track--even though they would happen to be on your track!

John Moore says:

>>"My point is that these questions are irrelevant to Christians. You just need to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Yet apparently you don't think loving God involves treating with all seriousness what He teaches us regarding our origins? Funny...

Austin says:

>>"If they saw that there was room for alternative interpretations (understanding that one interpretation must be right, but being wrong on that specific doctrine is not damnable), they might feel less uneasy."

But first one would have to establish that there were legitimate interpretations and demarcate these. So this requires one to treat the origins question as an important issue for discussion and debate.

Hi, I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here. I’m a young Earther myself and I’ve done a fair bit of debating with Old Earthers on FB on the age of the Earth with its implications.
These debates sometimes caused more heat than light, and I’ve now taken taken myself away from this area of dialogue as this issue of young Earth and Old Earth comes up fairly regularly on the FB fanpage I was on. (I’ve also taken a break from FB in general for other reasons too.)

But looking down through the comments I’ve noticed a comment by Austin who says “The mere fact that you bring it up says to me that it is a battle that rages on and hits home with many people.” I think this is very true as there is something about this particular doctrine that touches a nerve in many believers.
I think this is true for many reasons, but I won’t go into them here as it would only start another debate.
But this is where I give Mr. Wallace credit… Jim talks about the things we can agree on.
You see, there must and has to come a time when all of us who are in Christ both OECists and YECists come together because of the things we can agree on and ultimately because we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ and we all share in the one Holy Spirit and have one Heavenly Father.
We can all still hold to our cherished beliefs, but we must not let these beliefs destroy the cherished Unity that should exist in the Body of Christ.

I think Jim has this bang on here!

I don't think all atheists agree with points #1 and #4 as you've asserted. For the first point, science has yet to provide solid evidence for where a Big Bang could have come from, or how that began. It would even be false to say that all physicists--let alone all atheists--agree that all matter came from nothing in two senses: 1) some argue that the existence of matter/energy in some form pre-dates the Big Bang, and 2) the perfective tense marking on "came into existence" would imply a finished process, when many suggest that positing a continual process of coming into existence from nothing is necessary to explain some real-world phenomena, and that this might be directly observed. I don't know what to think of it, but I think it's inaccurate to say that atheists agree on that point. As for the fourth, it is widely argued by biologists that the consciousness with which humans are endowed may only be different in degree, and not in type, from other species. Researchers have, for example, shown evidence of meta-cognition and language among bonobos. Whether humans are quite as "special" as we'd like to think we are or not is a very open debate. Declaring that all atheists agree on that point is a risky, falsifiable, and, in fact, falsified statement.

With all due respect, regarding The Janitor's reference to "an entirely misguided (maybe even dangerous) focus," the irony is stunning.

Would it not be the case that to fully accept The Janitor's injunction ("As Christians we are to submit ourselves to God's truth revealed in Scripture. We aren't at liberty to pick and choose which doctrines we think are essential...") is to commit to the need for conducting animal sacrifices as prescribed in Leviticus, and to forgo the use of vaccines and antibiotics, because illness must be caused by demons rather than by viruses and bacteria?

Must Christians utterly renounce their ability to use reason and evidence? Must they profess as true that man was created before plants (as per Gen.2) AND plants were created before man (as per Gen.1)? Or must they somehow insist that these verses be understood as both literal and not literal? both vague/metaphorical and not vague/metaphorical? How is it that this kind of "focus" is not "misguided (maybe even dangerous)"?

Having looked at the video and discussion from January that was recommended to me (thanks for the pointer), I realize that any suggestion of potential error in scripture is anathema to most participants in this forum; likewise any hint that the Bible is on a par with the Koran, the Vedas and Upanishads, the Book of Mormon, the Avestan Gathas of Zoroaster, the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, etc, all of which qualify as human guesswork about things that were actually beyond the comprehension of their authors (and have remained beyond comprehension for believers).

To the scriptural "inerrantists": I do trust that your faith will sustain you (in combination with the indulgence you need from other people on whom your comfort depends). It's all too likely that your willingness to dismiss, distort and equivocate about evidence-based truth would not sustain you - bare reality tends not to be so indulgent.

As for myself, there's plenty I don't know or understand; I'll continue to learn what I can, such as the awe-inspiring breadth of evidence that demonstrates the common ancestry shared by humans, other primates, and indeed all mammalian species. But I hope I never claim to know with certainty things for which there is no reasonable or verifiable supporting evidence.

Just one more comment, regarding Mr. Wallace's "agreed-upon" Christian premise #3:

God prepared everything in the universe as a home for mankind, the last of his creation

Man's arrival on the scene has indeed been quite recent in the overall scheme of things, but it is in the nature of all living things that we are not "the last of ... creation" - everything continues to be in flux, and humanity itself continues to change, just like every other form of life.

However, to say that "everything in the universe" exists for mankind's benefit is to express an extremely presumptuous sense of hubris. This concept is of course rampant among countless varieties of supernatural belief systems and mythologies in a vast majority human cultures. But it has always been conceived in settings where people really had no idea how vast the universe really is, and how utterly inaccessible and inhospitable (indeed, deadly) it is outside the astonishingly thin veneer of our planet's biosphere.

If there is some particular purpose for the existence of "everything in the universe", that purpose is so far outside our reckoning that any guess we might venture about it is patently, inescapably ridiculous.

We can justifiably seek to comprehend what purpose there may be for our own existence - indeed, it strikes me as incumbent upon us to establish a purpose for our existence, even if that means defining it for ourselves (and I submit that this is something we can and should do). But it would be imprudent (to put it mildly) to inflate our own importance to cosmic dimensions.

Otto,


It seems you hold that any created actuality is, for the Christian, Man-Centered and exists for man. That is because you make the same error which I myself often make and which many others tend to make: you take a sentence in a discussion (or verses in scripture) out of the whole context of the entire story Love is telling. Where Genesis is concerned, your use of bolded and’s makes this mistake in your reasoning quite obvious. Clearly you misread January’s dialogue. I won’t bother dissecting it here with you. Any reader can go take a look at the whole thread; not a few sentences you will feel tempted to plug in here. I do not believe, and I do not know of any Christian who believes, that man was created before animals “and” “also” created after animals. I am not sure why you would employ such a grand stereotype of misrepresentation. As for Love’s purpose, it seems that it must be the Materialist who must find his way out of an enslaved genome-driven appetite that just is Self perpetuation at all costs to Other. Perhaps you cannot see in God what is Love’s move away from the Self and into the Other because you cannot see but one sentence at a time, or one verse at a time, in your rush to dismiss. That terrible task-master we call the Law bleeds endlessly into terrible failure and terrible pain and this is Love’s Own testimony of the Old birthing into the New. You will have to look further should you wish to see Love’s distaste, but such would require a certain embrace of more than a chapter or two, more than a sentence or two, and I suspect you are not up to such an investment. Well then, there is an easier way.


In Love Himself we find within Uncreated Word and ultimately within Word transposed into the Corporeal that peculiar sacrifice, in fact that peculiarly Eternal sacrifice of Self unto, into, and toward Other for within Him we find that motion of You and not I, of Thine and not Mine and this in joy’s delight. As for Creation we find love’s image simply, or ultimately, repeated as All-Sufficiency spreads His arms wide and pours Himself into that In-Sufficiency He calls the Beloved, and the Beloved, thus filled, in delight loves Love Himself and therein finds an odd abandonment of Self into, unto, and toward that Uncreated Other. Such is Love. “~~ You and not I, my love ~~” As for Tooth and Claw, where the Self who Survives is King, where the Other must die that Self may live, well, I’ll leave that fantasy for you to believe in, to cling to, if you wish. Necessary first principles within both Logic and Love lead me elsewhere. As for Uncreated Actuality, we find Uncreated Love’s necessarily triune interior there amid Actuality’s uncreated Duo of Self-Other and therein that Third Distinct of Love within Their eternally begotten embrace we taste within the Singular-We where it is the Self who Dies who is King. Circularity’s deaths are thus quenched wholly and utterly as in Him we find the Eternally Sacrificed Self forever emptying out and the Beloved therein being forever filled up. This we find forever happening within Him for this we find happening forever within Love’s Triune as love just is this triune topography amid the I and the You and the singular We. In that embrace that just is the singular I-You of my wife and I, I find myself forever emptying, forever filling. Amid myself and her I find that love just is I, just is Her, and just is that singular and third distinct which is none other than Us. And so Genesis tells us the truth of all things as this Self-Other wherein we find the One and Singular We is that peculiar and Singular-Us, that peculiar and Singular-Our we find in Genesis Who creates Man in His Singular Image.


All regresses which die the death of circularity are swallowed up whole in the One Uncreated Actuality as within Him there is no beginning for Love-Him-Self is being forever emptied out and in within Him there is no end for the Beloved is thereby being forever filled up inside of Love Himself and thus too within all that is the Uncreated’s Delight here within the Immaterial’s Corporeal. Love is, that is to say, God is, Other focused both within Himself and within His Creation as Word transposed spreads His arms wide and pours Himself out for His Beloved. Love’s cry of Thy and not My is thus found uncreated and eternal, and mankind, should he be thus filled, finds within himself that certain delight to in like manner move toward, not his own created Self, but Love’s Uncreated Other. We are forever filled, and we are forever emptied. In that singular embrace that just is the I-You of my wife and I, I find myself forever emptying, forever filling. This is what love looks like. This is what God looks like. This is what God’s ultimate creation looks like. This is what scripture’s whole show looks like. And thus your impression that the whole show leaves the Christian, leaves man, self-focused is obviously baseless. And shall you find that in fact the whole show leaves man God-Focused you will no doubt accuse God of taking such attention from us and of being an egomaniac for so insisting. But of course Love does not take. It is Tooth and Claw which take for the Self must come out on top and therein “love” is but a “tool” based in Self’s Tooth, Self’s Claw and this all without a choice free from the determined slavery of quantum forces. To the contrary, within Uncreated Person we find that Love merely pours out. Empties. And this forever within Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, arms spread wide, high on that Hill. And the Beloved is therein forever filled, and, being thus filled, in delight thus too spreads her arms wide, and forever pours out, unto, into. And so then the Groom. And so then the Bride. And so on and so on worlds without end. Such is God. That is to say, such is Love.

scbrownlhrm,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful and thought-provoking reply. Be assured that I will spend more time and carefully try to understand what you're saying.

In the meantime, I'd quickly like to clarify that your reference to "Tooth and Claw, where the Self who Survives is King, where the Other must die that Self may live" bears absolutely no relation or resemblance to my views regarding the human condition.

Based on the evidence available to us, there is no denying the fact that interactions among individuals, among groups, and among species can be perceived and practiced as a kind of "zero-sum" game: the sustenance and growth of one comes at the expense of diminishing or eliminating another. (This same perspective can be seen to operate in the theater of competing religious doctrines and scientific explanations.)

But a more careful and thorough consideration, encompassing a broader range of evidence, makes a far more compelling case for perceiving and practicing mutual interdependence, in such a way that the largest possible proportion and diversity of participants can benefit, and life as a whole, in all its prolific variety, can expand. This has in fact been the general trend most of the time - even in predator-prey relationships, the truly successful ones are those that yield a net mutual benefit to both species. Among the more sentient and intelligent beings (not just humans!), affection and devotion have emerged as crucial elements in promoting collaborative behaviors and constraining selfishness, yielding a stable net growth wherever the environment has been sufficiently supportive. (Obviously, this is not to say that extinctions never happen, but even when they do, it's often a matter of new opportunities arising for novel forms of life, many of which may well have much in common with their predecessors.)

It's important to consider how the collaborative, interdependent nature of life applies in the realm of ideas, and I haven't pursued this avenue myself yet as much as I would like, but here's what I can say at the outset:

Objective evidence is the most essential nutrient: the more we gather and comprehend, the more robust and successful our ideas will be. When new evidence uncovers a deficiency or error in our current understanding, old ideas may may evolve or may go extinct - although when we lose the necessary diligence and accumulated history of experience, it's entirely possible to see a fresh emergence of "new" theories (effectively, a regression to old ones) for a flat earth, a geocentric universe, or a cosmology that only extends as far back as a limited imagination can reach.

Otto,


It seems you and I speak of two very different things when we speak of love. The love you describe within naturalism is wholly choice-less as there is no physical system (what we pretend is choice) free of the Net-Sum-Force determining the itch the naturalist thinks is voluntary love, or voluntary thought, or voluntary reason, and so on. If we grant that consciousness is free of all things "out-there" (which the naturalist cannot compel one to believe as he is without evidence for such physical systems) then we are still left with an inherently open door to violence. Lots of ugly things are increasing in frequency and what natural selection values is, according to this theory of yours, valuable. And these ugly things do increase the probability of survival.

To repeat and modify a few nuances elsewhere: Such Love as Love Himself is immutable and everlasting and therein makes a distorted oddity out of that mutable and inconsistent self-serving love found in mere natural selection and its slave named nurture. Nurture pretends it is “free” of genome’s mere intention-less psychic phosphorescence to comfort itself that it is not but a deterministic dance to another’s music rather than its own music but in naturalism there just is no such thing “free” of the bedrock of intention-less which we call genome. Ages ago when the genome was valuing anything but its current choice-less form of love, and was, on the whole in most places valuing war, and slavery, and power, and tooth, and claw, yes tooth and claw in that climb out of the slime, ages ago back then when Ugly was the Norm, when the bite won out, Love Himself held still, yet Immutable, yet Love. That was then. But what of Now? Well nothing has changed. Love Himself, yet immutable, remains unchanged, but not so with the genome and its slave named nurture, for in the now we find the world’s oldest profession doing what every father’s daughter ought not dream increasing in frequency worldwide in most places as prostitution betrays the fact that the genome’s appetites which perpetuate it are alive and well. Natural selection is shouting valuable! for such perpetuates the genome rather robustly. And in the Now we find yet another dream which no child ought have increasing in frequency worldwide in most places as porn addiction betrays the fact that the genome’s appetites which perpetuate it are alive and well. Natural selection is shouting valuable! for such perpetuates the genome rather robustly. And in the Now we find yet another dream which every child ought not dream increasing in frequency worldwide in most places as sex trafficking betrays the fact that the genome’s appetites which perpetuate it are alive and well. Natural selection is shouting valuable! for such perpetuates the genome rather robustly. Yes, you are correct when you say, “Objective evidence is the most essential nutrient”. Indeed, the evidence of naturalism’s valued and valuable is all around us. In measurable quantities. The genome does get it Self along, and by whatever means necessary. But all of this was Then and is Now, but what of Tomorrow? It is all the same, as more human beings killed more human beings in wars between 1900 and 2000 than all wars combined prior to yesterday, and, unless Mankind enslaves every collapsing galaxy and enslaves every expanding supernova he finds himself fated to his sinking ship as the pathetic cry of his Mantra “Survival! Survival!” will be, eventually, merely a Falling Flag behind which to hide his face from the delusion of self-comforting autohypnosis that is the Mantra of the naturalist.

Yet Love Himself, that Immutable and Everlasting Love continues on, for Love was, Love is, and Love will be, and this forever. And we His Beloved thus too, there within His Passion.

Otto,


You mention this: “Among the more sentient and intelligent beings (not just humans!), affection and devotion have emerged as crucial elements”. Once again the naturalist borrows from the God of Genesis, that Singular-Us who fashions all life as it was and will be again. The naturalist is slowly catching up with the Hebrew and the Christian in his worldview as, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Again, in your natural selection we find all sorts of unnatural things valued and valuable right before our very eyes yet the “un” is wholly irrational within its own system of presuppositions while it is wholly rational within another set of First Principles and Presuppositions. This is the oddity we find in the naturalist: he claims the genome determines valuable, but he does not value what the genome values. And he cannot explain how his dance is not the dance of the very same genome he wishes to claim freedom from. To paraphrase Lewis, "You can't, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with anyone if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of the person and of the character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by blind forces constraining reverberations of photons, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from a deterministic dance to blind, indifferent genes. You can't go on getting very serious pleasure from music, or displeasure from Injustice, if you know and remember that their air of significance are both pure illusion, that you like the one, or dislike the other, only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like the one or dislike the other."

scbrownlhrm,

I suppose you'll chalk up this response to my obviously limited attention span. Oh well, suit yourself.

You seem to be taking the discussion in so many directions, with so many obscure references to even-more-obscure entities in ponderously abstract assertions, that your net effect is obfuscation. I realize now that your first post in this thread was symptomatic (despite its admirable brevity). I wonder if this is a typical treatment for non-believers who venture into this forum. ("Oh, another atheist... just wait till scbrownlhrm does a few rounds with 'em, and they'll go away.")

It's not that I find myself incapable of discerning your apparent meaning. I expect I'm no more (or less) likely to mistake your gist than any average Christian, though I must confess to having trouble with a chestnut like this one (it's certainly not the only one, but at the risk of being charged with habitually "taking things out of context", I'd rather avoid too much verbose repetition):

In Love Himself we find within Uncreated Word and ultimately within Word transposed into the Corporeal that peculiar sacrifice, in fact that peculiarly Eternal sacrifice of Self unto, into, and toward Other for within Him we find that motion of You and not I, of Thine and not Mine and this in joy’s delight.

Actually, I do have to ask: am I correct in suspecting there's a grammatical or typographical error - perhaps an incorrect insertion, omission or substitution of a word - within the phrase "and this in joy's delight"? I do know in detail what is involved in parsing sentences, and, quite apart from the obliqueness of your many Capitalized Nominal References, that sentence, taken as-is, invokes outrageous contortions of syntax and pronominal reference. In particular, what exactly does "this" refer to? (Never mind - don't feel obliged to explain it.)

Was that C.S.Lewis you were "paraphrasing"? (I wonder why you didn't just "quote" him.) The statements you presented in that part are misguided and misleading, and it wouldn't surprise me that C.S.Lewis thought them up.

You continue to miss (and misrepresent) my points, and your own diversionary points don't stand up to closer scrutiny. Yes, a couple world wars within a single century, and all the atrocities concomitant with those wars (Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's purges, the destruction of whole cities by American bombs) is absolutely a nadir of human history; but the Black Plague was many times worse in terms of raw numbers of deaths, and vastly worse still in terms of the proportion of the population affected (and that was truly a case of action by an "intention-less genome", from which we now have natural means for successfully protecting ourselves).

Yes, we are seeing the deleterious effects of drug and alcohol addition, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, but these effects increase wherever the root causes have not been addressed by rational education; the presence of churches on every other block of every community has been ineffective. (The rate of sexual deviance among clergy has certainly hindered progress.)

Well, you and I have gone way to far afield of the thread topic here. I apologize to the other readers (and I think you owe them an apology too).

Be well, and do try to be more coherent.

(Oops - I meant to say we've "gone way too far afield..." -- and really, I do get the part about "and this in joy's delight", but I think there is such a thing as striving too hard to be poetic. Best regards.)

Otto,

To be honest I’ve been waiting for you to follow through with a reply to any number of my replies to your initial statements in your post of May 18, 2013 at 12:00 AM and so on.


“Must they profess as true that man was created before plants (as per Gen.2) AND plants were created before man (as per Gen.1)?”


I went here: “It seems you hold that any created actuality is, for the Christian, Man-Centered and exists for man. That is because you make the same error which I myself often make and which many others tend to make: you take a sentence in a discussion (or verses in scripture) out of the whole context of the entire story Love is telling. Where Genesis is concerned, your use of bolded and’s makes this mistake in your reasoning quite obvious. Clearly you misread January’s dialogue. I won’t bother dissecting it here with you. Any reader can go take a look at the whole thread; not a few sentences you will feel tempted to plug in here. I do not believe, and I do not know of any Christian who believes, that man was created before animals “and” “also” created after animals. I am not sure why you would employ such a grand stereotype of misrepresentation.”


And regarding that initial misrepresentation and your misrepresentation about what the Law of Moses is within the whole journey described within scripture, from Genesis through Revelation’s various end-points, I went here: “You will have to look further should you wish to see Love’s distaste (Task-Master of Law / Sin / Pain…. Etc), but such would require a certain embrace of more than a chapter or two, more than a sentence or two….” As you simply meandered away from such replies, I assumed you had grown disinterested with them.


You asked this: “We can justifiably seek to comprehend what purpose there may be for our own existence” and also misrepresented Christianity as being “Man-Focused” and of all of creation being man-focused, which of course is taking a sentence or two rather than that whole-show in which various statements are made. To which I simply described what the “whole show” is (what purpose is) within the framework of “God is Love” and contrasted it to what must necessarily be a very odd endeavor of the naturalist with the paragraph which has this: “This is what love looks like. This is what God looks like. This is what God’s ultimate creation looks like. This is what scripture’s whole show looks like. And thus your impression that the whole show leaves the Christian, leaves man, self-focused is obviously baseless………..”


But, as with the initial question on Genesis, you have elected to meander away from this question on seeking or defining “purpose” as well.


I don’t mean to replay any of January’s thread and I’ll let you (if you decide to) cherry pick a sentence or two from that thread and comment here, but I don’t intend to reply as it’s a long thread and the notions of chronological takes and other such things are already available there. Your reply of telling me that I believe man was created before plants and, also created after plants is a fair picture of what I will run into with you should I replay January’s thread here with you. It’s like the Law of Moses; if you take it outside of the whole-show it just goes no-where. But, of course, that is exactly where God said it would lead: that terrible taskmaster bleeds, and bleeds endlessly, into terrible frustration and terrible pain.


So then you brought up animals being loving. Well, okay. So I eluded to the very truth-hood of that reality, agreeing with you, already described by those odd Hebrew sojourners long ago. The Naturalists is, on that count, catching up with Christian thinking.


But, like all the other replies, that too went nowhere. As have replies on natural selection because you have yet to embrace the fact that natural selection values and is valuing rather ugly things as a means of self-perpetuation. In your set of Presuppositions and First Principles, there is no moral distinction, no un-natural-ness amid and between these appetites and symbiosis and love. In my set of Presuppositions and First Principles, all animals, mankind, and so on, first begin, and then end, within the context of Love, and these appetites are wholly un-natural.


You seem to be saying, or you seem to be trying to smuggle in the notion that the “itches and drives and appetites” which are driving sex trafficking: 1) have not been valued, and thus retained, by natural selection, and 2) arise from some place other than natural selection’s valuing of them, and 3) continue to exist now not because natural selection values them but for some other mysterious reason.


Where do “itches and drives and appetites” arise from if not from our genome? And whence the genome’s array of components if not from gamete mutation? And whence their continued company but for natural selection atop those mutations embracing, valuing, them? And what is natural selection other than irrational conditioning? Is it “rational reason” which the gamete uses to mutate toward the drive of the male to so misuse and abuse the female counterpart? Is it “rational reason” which wind and weather use to hammer away at those males who are not so inclined to misuse and abuse the female counterpart? I see no way out of C.S.’s analogy for the naturalist. “Beauty”? “Good”? All is the illusion of irrational cascades reverberating aimlessly. The drives and itches of the male to so misuse, to so abuse, the female counterpart is a grand testimony of just what natural selection’s irrational conditioning “likes”, what its irrational conditioning calls “good”, what its irrational conditioning considers “beautiful” on the world stage of survival, and what its irrational conditioning thus values. As we follow the regress of these aimless reverberations of photons ever backwards, not only does “good” die the death of irrational physical systems enslaved to blind quantum forces comprising intention-less photon fluxes within “psychic phosphorescence” but so to Reason, and so to Thought, and so to Thinking, and so to Love. Moving forward we must build our house upon a foundation which “values” or “celebrates” or “embraces” the arrival of the male thus conditioned to so misuse, so abuse, his female counterpart. Wither such a road built atop such a foundation as this will ultimately take us is anyone’s guess. Our reason can never drive it, but it forever drives our reason, and so forever until that day when expanding supernovas and collapsing galaxies mock our irrationally conditioned nihilistic cry of Survive! Survive!

Hi scbrownlhrm,

My apologies for the delay in responding... I appreciate your continued interest in the dialog. Regarding your notion that I 'misrepresented Christianity as being “Man-Focused” and of all of creation being man-focused,' I'll just point out that I am not the one who came up with this phrase:

God prepared everything in the universe as a home for mankind, the last of his creation

That comes from Mr. Wallace's opening post in this thread, and he claims it is a point of general consensus among Christians. (Pardon me for quoting just the one phrase - it does strike me as sufficient, given the context.)

If you consider Mr. Wallace to be mistaken, then perhaps your own position is one that I myself would consider less implausible. (Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if there actually is a lack of Christian consensus on that point, despite Mr. Wallace's claim.)

Regarding "the Naturalist ... catching up with Christian thinking," I hope you're not suggesting that the origin of Abrahamic theism is also the origin of mankind's recognition (dare we say, comprehension) of devotional love. That would be outrageously presumptuous, ignoring a vast and deep range of evidence that this is a cross-cultural attribute, accessible and apparent to humans in all places at all times. The Hebrews did not have any special claim on understanding it, and it doesn't seem to rise to any exceptional prominence in the Old Testament (relative to other competing religious texts of the same period).

Obviously, Jesus presented a radically different perspective relative to the OT, to the extent that all the assertions about how the Old and New Testaments form a coherent whole are effectively untenable. The relationship between them seems to reside only in the fact that Jesus and (most of) his disciples were raised in the Jewish tradition, and made constant references to Jewish scripture in drawing analogies, setting up parables, and justifying their innovations (just as Buddhists would make references to Hindu mythology, because that was the shared frame of reference for them).

In any case, the Naturalist has far surpassed Christian thinking when it comes to understanding what is really true about this reality that you call God's creation. The Naturalist doesn't know what else to call it, other than "reality", but the point is that the Naturalist understands its true dimensions, the true magnitudes and true properties of its components, including the parts that are too small or too large or too far away or too deeply hidden to be observed directly.

So this leads me to ask you: if you don't comprehend these dimensions, these magnitudes and properties - indeed, if you are inclined to deny them outright (i.e. if you believe the earth cannot be 4.54 billion years old, the universe cannot be 13.8 billion years old, man cannot share a common ancestry with all other mammals, etc) - how can you possibly claim to know anything valid about this God who supposedly created it all? If you are inclined to treat the flood story (Gen. 6-9) as literally true, then you have allowed some ancient Hebrews (who were simply adapting a familiar myth common to neighboring cultures) to obstruct your view of the much grander truth that is plainly evident.

Regarding your further discussion of C.S. Lewis's views, this is a matter of C.S. taking a far too superficial view of nature and naturalism, and "taking things out of context." There actually is more to evolution, by its nature, than mere happenstance and accidental coincidence. The emergence of life, and its natural trajectory of adaptation (when it is able to continue existing), entail an inexorable progress. It's not that every step in the trajectory can be labeled "good" or constitutes "progress" - as with all trial-and-error processes, regression and failure make up some proportion of the process. But in the aggregate, the alternatives that promote life, that are good for life in the broadest, most all-encompassing sense, will endure and expand.

So far, this progress has yielded at least one species capable of social collaboration, compassion and empathy, deliberate intent, conceptions of and devotion to ideals, and crucially, a capacity for communication that allows for shared understanding across individuals, across cultures and across generations. These are all natural consequences, which could have been predicted the moment life began to embark on the path of metazoan forms. No special, supernatural intervention is required. Love, even the Love of which you speak, is a natural outcome, and I'm at a loss to understand how anyone would think that it cannot have arisen naturally.

I have no argument with the Deist who says there is a conscious, deliberate creator who set it all up to play itself out this way - there's no evidence for or against it, and the position simply, intrinsically does not connect with any evidence-based consideration. The Deist at least makes the sensible and useful admission that supernatural meddling is not part of the ongoing process.

As for claims of miraculous interventions that bend or circumvent the laws so firmly obeyed by everything we observe, those go on a shelf with misperceptions, misapprehensions, misrepresentations, and fabrications. Such claims are the natural result of wishful or fearful thinking, which is neither sensible nor useful.


Otto,

"(Pardon me for quoting just the one phrase - it does strike me as sufficient, given the context.)"

Yes indeed, as if the whole-show told in scripture is all about me. You're taking things out of context of "the whole show" as described from Genesis to Revelation's various end-points. God-Focused and Man-Focused, or simply, Love-Focused, patterns were described earlier so I don't see a need to repeat it here.

"I hope you're not suggesting that the origin of Abrahamic theism is also the origin of mankind's recognition (dare we say, comprehension) of devotional love"

No, not at all. That was in reference to your fascination with animals (species other than mankind) being grounded in, and destined for, love's pattern. You seem to think "animals can be social" is a sort of neat idea. It's really just an old one prophesied long ago in the Old Testament. The naturalist's recognition of such patterns laced within nature is simply the recognition of Truth.

"to the extent that all the assertions about how the Old and New Testaments form a coherent whole are effectively untenable".

That is because you do not like what the NT says about the OT and you do not like what the OT says about its own eventual termination as the Whole is brought in later. It is inconvenient to take the whole-show en-mass. It's an old story though, the Old and New I mean. The Law of Moses is destined to bleed, and bleed endlessly, into terrible pain. The OT itself prophesies of the end of sacrifices and of when all nations (no longer just the Hebrew) will be brought into the whole-show. Never mind what the NT says about such things. I won't dissect all this here with you as you don't want to see the whole-show and instead prefer to cherry-pick a chapter or two, a verse or two, and so on, as you did with Mr. Wallace's few sentences without regard to the rest of his theology.

"if you are inclined to deny them outright"

I have no idea what you are referring to. What did I deny? Again, I don't mean to re-play January's post referenced earlier. It's there for anyone who wants to read it. I have no problem with old and new earth items. Time is a funny thing relative to nouns and verbs existing and carrying on, but that is a whole other discussion.

"It's not that every step in the trajectory can be labeled "good" or constitutes "progress".

I have no idea how you define "good" here. I thought "survival" was "good"? I know what you mean though. There are things which transcend mere genome, mere nature. That's why I don't appeal to natural selection to define "good". It is you who do that. You cherry pick there too though as you just can't shake the truth of the matter, for some ugly itches are serving life's sustenance quite well. Yet you call them "bad". You are not consistent within your own terms, Otto. An incoherent worldview inconsistent within its own set of embraced presuppositions and first principles is not very convincing.

And you still have not broken free of deterministic enslavement to quantum forces giving you only volition-less behavior in all arenas from reason to love to spear throwing. You have yet to show us a "universal good". "Survive"? On what grounds? Volition-less whim? Eternal life is a neat idea, but hardly a new one. In fact, its even an idea for which the naturalists mock non-naturalists, all the while claiming it themselves. A system which values the in-human itches described earlier (which are increasing in frequency) as much as it values other itches gives us no "universal" value to life in general and to person especially. The child is a substrate by which the genome can traffic its own perpetuation. It may even toughen the child up for future benefits to genome pro-creation and thus foster yet more of the same. Perhaps that is why such behavior-sets are increasing in allele frequency upon the world stage. An incoherent worldview inconsistent within its own set of embraced presuppositions and first principles is not very convincing.


Otto,


"this is a matter of C.S. taking a far too superficial view of nature"


As I said in my last post, you still have shown us how you have broken free of the psychic phosphorescence he describes. It’s not just CSL who patterns that, but naturalists themselves often feign a contentment with this and then proceed to dialogue as if volition is left intact.


Deterministic cascades of quantum forces just "is" the Net-Sum-Force of the naturalist's entire reality.

Hmmm, make that "you still have not shown us.....

Otto,

To clarify,

I stated, "....you don't want to see the whole-show and instead prefer to cherry-pick a chapter or two, a verse or two, and so on, as you did with Mr. Wallace's few sentences without regard to the rest of his theology...."


But that I mean the various end-points which Christianity offers as to why God creates and of His own end-points for us and also of His Own purposes; some of which are clearly stated and others of which are only hinted at. We find in Love both that focus which is Other (You and not I) and we find that focus which is Self (I and not You) and we find such in both Him and in Man (ultimately) which is the avenue (Love is the avenue) where we find both the Man-Focused and the God-Focused housed within such a marriage. Amid the Singular-Us that is my wife and I there is that which is wife-focused, there is that which is husband-focused, and there is that which is we-focused. Such is Love. And such is His Creation. Many things we are called to do are God-Focused, for Love loves the Beloved. Many things which Love Himself does are Man-Focused,for Love loves the Beloved. At the same time many things we are to do are Man-Focused, just as many of the things He does are God-Focused. Such is Marriage, such is Love, and such are Love's various creations.

To clarify,


I commented, “You seem to think "animals can be social" is a sort of neat idea. It's really just an old one prophesied long ago in the Old Testament. The naturalist's recognition of such patterns laced within nature is simply the recognition of Truth.”


This is simply a reference to the mindset of man 5 or 10 or 50 thousand years ago when it comes to life forms other than mankind as contrasted to the mindset of the Old Testament prophesies and today’s naturalists. Eden’s necessary topography is simply the same as the latter two, and, the latter two stand in stark contrast to the general mindset of mankind 5 or 10 thousand years ago overall when it comes to rabbits and monkeys and wolves and lions and human toddlers. Love’s Topography there in scripture tells us that such a destiny is simply inevitable. How about we send our toddlers out to play with lions and monkeys and wolves? Well, the naturalist will laugh at such a suggestion. But, he is only behind the times now in that laughing, just as mankind was behind the times of Love’s prophesies eons ago. The naturalist likes to pretend his toddler can go out and play with the baboons and wolves, but the slaughter before his face reminds him of the Tooth and Claw which he so desires to distance his philosophy from. Deep inside, he still feels compelled to appeal to some sort of condition reflective of Love’s prophesies on the matter of species eons ago. The naturalist appeals to love among species though the evidence of slaughter irrefutably contradicts him. He won’t send his toddler out to play with the “loving” baboons and wolves. But the Christian ought not chastise the naturalist on these points for the God Who is Love actually agrees with the naturalist here as He prophesied to us of such inevitable end-points eons ago. Such is the endpoint racing towards us. Or we towards it. Either way, the Ultimate Ethic is Love for Ultimate Reality just is Love Himself.

To clarify,


I commented, “Eternal life is a neat idea, but hardly a new one. In fact, it’s even an idea for which the naturalists mock non-naturalists, all the while claiming it themselves.”

This of course is in reference to the naturalist’s claim that Life ought Go-On, and On, and On. This is the Golden Calf of the naturalist who is determined to find some way to philosophically distance himself from the slaughter abounding because of the work of, the product of, natural selection (oddly, all of which is void of Volition). Well, what of “Life”? The naturalist just foists his opinion that Life is inherently better than no life into the discussion though we are given no grounds upon which to believe this assertion, especially where the universe as a whole is concerned. And what of Life enduring? Now there is an odd idea. And an old idea. Enduring Life. That is supposed to be, according to the naturalist, somehow “better” or somehow “good” or somehow “desirable”. Yet the naturalist gives us no reason to believe this is necessarily, immutably the truth of the matter where the universe as a whole is concerned. Prior to the Big Bang, was such a Life-Less condition somehow “bad” or “worse” or “less desirable”? On what grounds? Was there a moral gap longing to be, or needing to be, filled there in the Pre-Big-Bang setting? What moral law was being insulted back then, if any?

Well, of course there was nothing inherently and immutably (what philosophy calls necessarily) better or worse of that lifeless condition or of this current condition of genome perpetuation by tooth and claw nor of some future condition should life see its end via various collapsing galaxies and expanding supernovas and so on, all of which seems very probable to occur on the terms of much of today’s trajectories in current evidence. And thus this is all the delusion of the naturalist’s own fantasies reverberating within his skull, and not some immutable goodness which precedes his volition-less thinking enslaved to deterministic cascades of quantum forces temporarily bubbling up through the lipid bi-layers of his neuron’s psychic phosphorescence.

But the Christian ought not chastise the naturalist on these points, for he (the naturalist) is simply talking out of that which he cannot deny: the immutable and enduring goodness of Life. And here Life Himself has yet more vectors by which the everlasting truth of Uncreated and Necessarily Enduring and Immutable Life lies at the bitter end of the naturalist’s intellectual and philosophical regress. And it is even worse for the naturalist, for he does not stop at just the mere presence of Life, but he goes on to insist that Life also be laced with love and unity. The Singular-Us of Genesis’s God, that of Love’s E Pluribus Unum there amid Love’s necessarily Triune I-You-We breaks through in yet more vectors within the naturalist’s philosophy. The naturalist comments, “……compelling case for perceiving and practicing mutual interdependence, in such a way that the largest possible proportion and diversity of participants can benefit, and life as a whole, in all its prolific variety, can expand.”

The god of the naturalist is such:


Life
Love
Enduring Life.
Enduring Love
And Necessarily so given his insistence.

Yes, Love Himself, Life Himself lies at the end of all of the naturalist’s final regresses despite the mammoth anthology of scientific evidence to the contrary. But, of course, such evidence really is not to the contrary, for all the evidence found at the fingertips of the naturalist testifies to him of the inevitable endpoints of everlasting life laced all through from top to bottom with everlasting unity and love and such is not mere mutable and temporary volition-less whim, but is the end of all his philosophical regresses, and is thus necessary and is thus the bedrock of all his First Principles and Presuppositions. The naturalist is, on all these points, slowly catching up to those vectors which testify to mankind of that Triune God Who just Is Love’s E Pluribus Unum, that Singular-Us found in Genesis, in Whom everlasting Life is laced all through with everlasting Varity amid everlasting Unity there within the embrace of everlasting Love’s Trinity of Distincts amid the I, the You, and Love’s Third Distinct, the I-You which is that eternal embrace which forever begets Love’s Singular-Us.

Wow, scbrownlhrm - that's a remarkably large train-load of "clarification" - unfortunately, it's prone to going off the rails. We've both been guilty of committing excess verbiage, so I'll try (but probably fail) to be brief, and won't try to respond to all your points.

When I asked whether you deny the scientific consensus about the age of the earth and universe, I wasn't responding to any specific statement of yours on that topic - you hadn't said anything about it yet. But because you referred me to that STR thread from January, where several people posted explicit rejections of that consensus (and others expressed ambivalence), I wanted to know your thoughts on it. I did try to study your own responses on that thread, but it wasn't helpful. (To put it bluntly, a statement like "Nouns and Verbs, and even Adjectives and Adverbs precede Time." is no more meaningful than "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.")

If you accept the science, and don't agree with the YEC deniers of science, you should be arguing with the YECs, not with me. If you really don't care either way, that's fine, and I'm happy to leave you alone about it - just don't pretend that the YECs "could" be right, because, honestly, they really aren't. It's not a matter of obeying the dictates of scientists. It's a matter of comprehending the self-evident truths of reality.

And when we try to express the self-evident truths that we comprehend, it should be the case that our statements are consistent not only with the evidence we have available, but also with each other. It should never be the case that a statement in one part of our account is in direct contradiction to a statement elsewhere in the same account. When there are contradictions, it means there are conflicting accounts.

Now, if one part of the Bible tells us God is jealous and vengeful, and another part says God is compassionate and merciful, shall we conclude that jealousy and vengeance equal compassion and mercy, or should we admit that the Bible contains conflicting accounts about God's character? (Or maybe we should just recognize that this is nothing more than a projection of human qualities, which we know are prone to be conflicted, onto an imaginary entity, in a facile attempt to express different "explanations" about our existence and our character.)

CSL's description of "psychic phosphorescence" is about as meaningful as Nouns and Verbs preceding Time. There's plenty of misunderstanding about "volition" ("free will" vs. determinism vs. pre-determinism, etc), and I think this is actually orthogonal to the theist-naturalist debate. A naturalist can at least say for certain that there is such a thing as "learned behavior", which differentiates those beings that learn from those that do not, in very significant ways. Learning entails the ability to store memories of past experience, and to draw abstractions from those memories that will influence behaviors as new events and conditions are met. We can also say for certain that there is such a thing as "social communication", which also significantly separates "those that have" from "those that have not." Here, the entailment is that the abstractions from one individual's experience can be communicated to other individuals, and groups of individuals can form collaborations to reach or sustain a desirable goal or state of affairs.

Obviously, what qualifies as "desirable" (or "good") changes drastically depending on the range (in quantity and variety) of beings we are discussing. One individual or group may well desire something that will be damaging to other individuals or groups, and the damage inflicted may far exceed the benefit derived. We are still (and I expect we'll always be) limited in our ability to determine what would be "good" in the broadest possible sense, in terms of doing the least damage and imparting the most benefit to the broadest, most inclusive set of beings - and here I must point out that only some parts of your Holy Scripture are helpful, and even those parts only serve as a starting point - there is still so much that we need to figure out on our own, and we should be using honest, empirical methods in order to make honest progress.

Let me close by saying I'm surprised at your confidence in describing "the mindset of man 5 or 10 or 50 thousand years ago...", since they left no explicit record expressing their thoughts or beliefs. (This at least seems to set you apart from YECs - that's good.) I'm afraid I wasn't able to parse some key sentences there, or resolve what some expressions were supposed to refer to (e.g. "the latter two", "Love's Topography", "such a destiny"). In any case, I certainly don't know of any naturalist who "likes to pretend his toddler can go out and play with the baboons and wolves," except in cases where members of those species have been domesticated - i.e. raised in a manner such that they learn behaviors that include doing no harm to our children. Indeed, it has been amply demonstrated that dogs can be fiercely protective of human children, and they are direct and recent descendants of wolves (in fact, some dogs and wolves can still mate and "bring forth"); the case with baboons, apart from being much rarer, is also trickier: they're trainable, but they also have cognition that comes closer to our own capacities for stubbornness, selfishness, and emotional outbursts. We know the survival of predators depends on prey, and it's silly to suggest that "The naturalist appeals to love among species though the evidence of slaughter irrefutably contradicts him."

By the way, is English not your native language? Please understand that I'm not posing this question to be derogatory - your English usage shows ambition and daring, and I'm intrigued by the challenges it poses. There are only a few places where you fail due to carelessness, such as on May 19, when you said, "... you brought up animals being loving... So I eluded to the very truth-hood of that reality, agreeing with you..." (emphasis added) - I couldn't help chuckling at that one, because your answers do indeed tend toward being elusive.) And I'm sorry to point it out, but your first post of May 23 ("..various end-points which Christianity offers...") was incoherent.

With all due respect and gratitude, this will be my last post on this thread. Go ahead and enjoy your show.

We really have not seen anything in all this pontification which tells us how it is, in a naturalistic set of presupositions, that human personhood has intrinsic worth, nor, for that matter, life in general. Nor have we been presented with a moral law which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big-Bang, and so on. Nor have we been shown how volition within Consciousness is free of physical systems.


I think that is the only issue in play here. Without Immutable and Everlasting Love within Personhood, one's regress ends in rather loveless places for atheism and for naturalism's necessary regress.


As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus actually, that is to say, Actual Actuality, and is thus, utlimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.

Touched on elsewhere but perhaps helpful: That some truth about actuality must be taught seems an odd reason to insist that such a truth cannot be a truth. We must learn all sorts of things which are true it seems.



And it seems both naturalism and idealism reveal some fundamental propositions which support a set of first principles which testify of Uncreated Personhood there within the texture of Word which is Love amid Personhood, amid Mind.


The naturalist’s regress, as noted, fails, ultimately, to show us how it is, in a naturalistic set of presuppositions, that human personhood has intrinsic worth, nor, for that matter, how it is that life in general has innate worth. Nor has it presented us with a moral law which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big-Bang, and so on. Nor have we been shown how volition within Consciousness is free of physical systems. It seems consciousness itself, thinking itself, love itself, volition itself, innate worth of person itself all die necessary deaths by such necessary regresses as are found within a purely naturalistic set of presuppositions.

Finally, naturalism gives us no “reason” to think that some statement which must be learned is, on the grounds that it must be learned, either necessarily true or necessarily false. Observational reality cannot move out of observational reality and into real truth nor out of real truth where actuality is concerned. “I-Exist” demands it embrace incoherency if it means to yet continue its insistence of such cannot-know-reality presuppositions, but that is another topic.


Idealism must be careful not to succumb to the temptation to pull back away from those nuances of Word into some other some-thing which would become, with such a move of timidity, mere materialism as some thing would thus become the “thing” which serves as Consciousness’ precursor. But if it does not pull back, we find in idealism its final regress to Mind, and worse, to an ontological topography weighing in on idealism’s necessarily triune epistemological regress to Mind for Self/In Knows and Keeps-On-Knowing both in and by Other/Out which thus too Knows and Keeps-On-Knowing too both in and by such embraces for these forever embrace within Mind’s necessary Self-Other which brings yet that Third Distinct which just is the Singular-We and Mind thus Knows, thus Tastes, thus Sees, and so forever as Knowing just does exist in, among, and by these three, amid I-You-We and thus idealism testifies to us of Uncreated Mind’s necessarily triune epistemological bedrock.

Short of Immutable and Everlasting Love within Personhood and Uncreated Mind’s I-You-We one's regress ends in rather loveless places for atheism and for naturalism's necessary regresses and it ends in the self-contradiction of simple materialism for the timid idealist.

As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood, of Mind, and thus of Ontology and of Epistemology all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus Actual Actuality, and is thus, ultimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


God is Love. Logic and Love are eyes by which we see this Ultimate Actuality.

Otto,


“scientific consensus about the age of the earth and universe”


As I noted in my reference to January’s thread, I find no difficulty with the Genesis account; your both/and references to man being made both before and after this or that is a misrepresentation, as demonstrated in January’s reference. Whether young or old, I find tenable constructs in both directions and as such I am “bothered” by neither. I lean toward an old earth as I sway in the wind.


“"Nouns and Verbs, and even Adjectives and Adverbs precede Time” seems to have confused you. Well, it is simple really as it is a reference to what both naturalists and theists agree on; that “something” was “there” before the Big Bang. The notion of a static state does not null and void the fact that “something” (Noun) was (prior to the Big Bang) “being” (Verb) and all of that was occurring without Time. Thus we do not need Time to account for Things-Happening. Now, this is all quite obvious and I am a bit confused as to why you seem to disagree with this; unless of course you hold that there was NO-thing there, and in fact everything truly did come out of NO-thing at all.


“if one part of the Bible tells us God is jealous and vengeful, and another part says”


I already described your insistence (pathology really) on taking a chapter or two here and there and trying to look at the Whole-Show in isolated sections rather than as the Whole-Show. Yes, vengeance against evil is a good thing. Yes, love’s jealousy for the beloved is one of the vectors which demands such justice. You won’t demand justice if your child is raped? Of course, love’s jealousy also leads Love to embrace the Beloved even should she be the one doing the evil: thus Grace. Thus vengeance, love, love’s jealousy for its beloved, justice, mercy, and grace are all linked quite easily in a singular whole. If you cannot see this even in our own fallen version of love, then I have nothing more to offer you. We’ve already been over this tendency of yours to misrepresent via verse-and-chapter isolation though: It’s like the Law of Moses; if you take it outside of the whole-show it just goes no-where. But, of course, that is exactly where God said it would lead: that terrible taskmaster bleeds, and bleeds endlessly, into terrible frustration and terrible pain.

“CSL's description of "psychic phosphorescence"


You have given us no natural explanation to counter his description of thoughts, feelings, itches, appetites, and so on as utterly enslaved to physical systems; you simply continue to bemoan this description (I think this is your second or third time now?) without coming forth with a reason for us to believe it is invalid.
You have given us no reason to believe that our gametes use “rational” appeals to mutate. You have given us no reason to believe that wind and whether us “rational” appeals to defend, to value, and to maintain those males who are conditioned to abuse their female counterparts. You have not shown us how it is that these itches in the male have come from some other mechanism other than natural selection. Natural selection is (and you have yet to show us otherwise) wholly an irrational process which values only self-perpetuation at any cost. We described the appetites which exist because of this irrational process pushing the increasing frequency of sex-trafficking but you have yet to speak toward these appetites and their value on the world stage of survival where the genome is concerned. Perhaps that is because you cannot find a reason that is consistent within your own terms by which to denounce such drives, itches, and appetites?

“Learning entails the ability to store memories of past experience”

Yes, it seems we agree.

“there is such a thing as "social communication"
Yes, it seems we agree.

“We are still (and I expect we'll always be) limited in our ability to determine what would be "good"


That animals do more than kill each other is quite a hook to hang all your hope for love’s value on, Otto. And a bit of a silly hook as it is inconsistent in just so many other itches, drives, and appetites. On your own terms “good” must embrace all the “ugly” stuff too, Otto, but we have yet to hear you call those “ugly” things which are, right before our eyes, benefiting life and survival, “good”. You seem to transcend the genome in your need to move towards love. And, again, you keep foisting that life’s proliferation is “good”. Yet you give us no reason, no innate law to appeal to other than a sort of “I-Feel” within your own set of preferred definitions by which to base this on. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which would be, should life one day end (a highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about. You just keep appealing to “what happens is good” but then you refuse to be consistent on these terms when there is no life, or when “ugly” itches and drives are obviously valued by natural selection on the world stage.


You are not consistent at all in your definitions and seem unable to stay within them. Nor do you give us any reason to think your definitions weigh in on life-less-ness in any way at all where the universe as a whole is concerned.


“the mindset of man 5 or 10 or 50 thousand years ago”


This was in reference to what man has seen in the animal kingdom for eons: danger. We don’t let our children play with lions. Now, scripture foretells of a time when such Unity Amid Diversity will in fact occur. No one 10 thousand years ago (this is my guess, feel free to disagree) assumed such would be happening (toddlers, lions, etc). But it is interesting to note that all your pontification here in the Now, say, 10 thousand years later, are beginning to insist that all vectors move toward such E Pluribus Unum. The naturalist now is beginning to contradict the thinking of mankind 10K years ago and is beginning to agree with scripture’s description of various end-points found within Love’s Singular-Us there inside of the Triune God.

“I wasn't able to parse some key sentences there, or resolve what some expressions were supposed to refer to (e.g. "the latter two", "Love's Topography", "such a destiny")”


Well, I just described it again for you so you can I suppose see the paragraph immediately above (where it starts with ‘This was in reference to what man has seen….’).


“I certainly don't know of any naturalist who "likes to pretend his toddler can go out and play with the baboons and wolves”


Nor do I. In fact we don’t even like our toddlers to be around those sex-traffickers which natural selection is yet valuing on the world stage of genome perpetuation. Yet you keep talking about “love” and “natural selection” as so beautiful in all its “loving” manifestations. This is merely a reference to bring attention to this contradiction within your philosophy: you have yet to show us why these are present if natural selection has not deemed them “valuable”. And, it is to bring attention to that fact that you and I agree on at least one thing: the end-points of scripture do end in Love’s Triune topography of Unity amid Diversity as found there within the Triune God and your own endpoints (despite the evidence of continued slaughter) lead to the same topography. Slaughter right before our faces does not seem to sway either of us from our beliefs that there is, even now, a Good which simple natural selection continues to violate.

“We know the survival of predators depends on prey, and it's silly to suggest that "The naturalist appeals to love among species though the evidence of slaughter irrefutably contradicts him."


Perhaps then I need to detract my prior assumption on your belief in “good” as somehow above slaughter. Perhaps you really do believe that such slaughter is, also, “good”. Well, those itches, drives, and appetites, as ugly as they are, are certainly valued by natural selection, and are thus, by that definition, “Good”.


“By the way, is English not your native language”


My background is only in English. Even that is work too of course. I’ve not been as gifted as others perhaps. I do apologize to you for this defect. I suppose on your terms such would seem to devalue my utility. Well, then, I think we disagree here on “good” and on “value”. When Love comes, He comes for the defected, the sinful, the thieves, the whores, the rejects. His only words of wrath are for those who are “self-righteous”, those who pray, “Thank you God that I am not as weak and ugly as that one”. Loves comes with tenderness to those who instead pray, “God, have mercy on me, this ugly me”. Well, I think you see where this leads us, where Love and “toughness of mind” is concerned. It seems to me that where blogs are concerned, it is the overall argument being discussed which matters, and to draw attention to inconsistencies in each other’s lines of logic is called for. It seems drawing attention to other, perhaps uncommon, typos, misspells, and so on tells us more about the particular person calling such attention to such things than about our various arguments we are attempting to dissect.


“various end-points which Christianity offers...") was incoherent”


That is because you want to insist that Scripture (or Christianity) is either ALL man-focused, or, it is ALL God-focused. Again, your pathology of taking a verse or two, a chapter or two, rather than the whole-show. Scripture itself points us towards marriage as a pattern as to how God, how Love, how this reality we wake to find ourselves in actually works. If you cannot see in marriage that which is innately husband-focused, that which is innately wife-focused, and that which is innately We-focused (that singular-we which is the “Us” of husband and wife, of “This-That”, of Self-Other) then I will have to await your experience of such a wonder, such a beauty of Love and its Beloved. The end points of scripture all lead to those patterns. God focused “issues”. Man focused “issues”. And, the third endpoint: God-In-Man, or, Man-In-God “issues” as the Singular-We of Love’s embrace there within Love’s innate “Self”, innate “Other”, and innate, and singular, “We” are finally, fully, begotten there in our Final Good, our Final Felicity, our Soul’s Bliss: Love.


As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood, of Mind, and thus of Ontology and of Epistemology all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus Actual Actuality, and is thus, ultimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


God is Love. Logic and Love are eyes by which we see this Ultimate Actuality.

Wow, there are a lot of comments here, so forgive me if these questions have already been addressed, but, I have a few regarding other theories that are not "seven actual day" theories. And here they are:
1. Doesn't the Bible tell us that death entered the world through one man, Adam?
2. If death and decay (meat-eating animals, extinct species, etc...)were happening long before man was created, what exactly was the "curse" that Jesus came to free us from?
3. Are death and sin not so tightly wound in these other theories?
4. Did Jesus come to free us from the "natural order" of nature? Or from the curse that came because of sin?

I haven't yet read an article that touches on these questions. Could you recommend one?

Cate,

Great question.

There is this:


On the day Adam sinned, God had said of that day, "On the day....you will die..."


Of course, Adam did not physically die that day.


Nor did he live a million years. He lived about a thousand. Thus "day" obviously did not mean 24 hours, nor billions of years on the dot, nor 1000 years on the dot, nor any specific number as we think of it, but simply means what we see referrenced frequently in scripture: Ages.


Jesus speaks often of ages coming and going. "Seasons" would be more tuned to our English.

There is the body. There is the soul. There is the spirit. It would seem the curse was not in referrence to the body specifically.


In fact, Jesus, who is Word-Flesh, dies in body.


His resurrected body eats fish.


There is a body which does not taste death anymore.


We need to remember the Two Trees in Eden here....we find Life's Tree again in Revelations. Some say we could have eaten of it there in Eden, some say not. Either way, it seems Man will taste of it.

We're told of what lies over that horizon (the next 'Age') very little, only that it will suprass our current understanding of things, even what we can imagine, thus it seems but guesswork to attempt trugh claims about what is found up ahead (after this world passes and the new creation is fully birthed).

But, we know Love's footprints will lace its seashores........

Cate,


On the day Man sinned, God had said of that day, “In “the day” you eat of it you will die….” Not on the day, but in or within a certain actuality which He calls “the day”. Of course, Man did not physically die that day. Nor did he live a million years. Nor did he live a thousand years. Now the Natural Order here is not referenced specifically. There is the body. There is the soul. There is the spirit. It would seem the curse was not in reference to the body specifically. Our Fall was not a Fall into, say, cancer, but was instead a Fall into sin and this nature is in reference here, rather than our physical-order or natural-order. In our Fall the Created Self (Man) there motioned into itself in isolation as an isolated “I” or “Pure-Self” rather than into that embrace of I-You or “Self-Other” whereby it would be joined to All-Sufficiency Himself, and, with such a motion, such a fall into isolation, Man could thus only know insufficiency from that point forward (thus Death and not Life on all fronts). The Tree of Life is there, from before the foundation of all of these things, and will be there always, all the way to Love’s End-Points in Revelations, but that is another part of His story not addressed here (but that is the Story Love is telling). It seems, here, "day" did not mean 24 hours on the dot, nor a million years on the dot, nor 1000 years on the dot, nor any specific number as we think of it, but simply means what we see referenced frequently in scripture: Ages. Jesus speaks often of ages coming and going. "Seasons" would be more tuned to our English. The causal ebb and flow of Eternity Himself seems far too unhurried to us. “What’s taking Him so long?” Of course, He has all the time in the world, literally, and then forever too to do just any action, motion here within Time. It’s frustrating for us here inside of Time.


It is helpful to look at the use of ages and times in scripture as all are often referenced in “days” and “the day of” and so on. Of course, once “God Is” is permitted then Logic and Reason allow the whole show to be done in but a moment there in Genesis and Time becomes but another subtext, like Distance….. as both Point A and point B in any physical system will immediately upon being birthed reflect either distance, which will imply time, or, such systems will reflect time which will imply distance, or, both will be “on the spot” immediately present. We think too much of our perspective within our Isolated-Self, within the In-Here. There is far more within the Self-Other, the In, the Out, and the In-Out, so to speak, but that’s another story on the necessarily triune topography of epistemology, of how Mind Knows what it Knows.


Where Ages and Times and Days and Creation and Evolution and so forth are concerned there are some helpful places to look at these topics where Genesis is concerned.

The book Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science by John C. Lennox looks at the notion of Ages and of Days specifically. The book God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? by John C. Lennox both look at Creation in general and other things.

Here on STR you can look at January 14, 2013, "Understanding the Creation Account in Genesis (Video)". The thread of questions following that video looks at your question and others. It should be at the Link here.

William Lane Craig has a few essays that may be helpful in a few of his “Q&A’s” at his website. Q&A 272 has an interesting quote, “…..C’mon Man!” You know better than that. You can be a theist and a Christian and accept the documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch as well as a Darwinian theory of evolution, if you think that’s where the evidence leads……” at the Link here. The overall approach to our thinking on origins in general have some interesting nuances in Q&A 253 at the Link here and also in Q&A 269 at the Link here.

Regarding the Natural Order, we must look at Scripture’s, that is to say, at Love’s various end points there in Revelations. It’s not as if the Tree of Life is an afterthought. It is there from “Day One through Seven”, and, in fact, it is even there from before the foundation of the world. So much for Time and Eden. Man’s journey to that End-Point of Life’s Tree far outstrips any concern we may have with our temporal or natural order of purely physical systems (which includes Time). “Let Us create Man in Our Image”. Well? Whence the Image of the Triune where God and Man are concerned? Love’s Image is ultimately birthed as the Bride and Groom by embrace beget that amalgamation of In-Sufficiency and All-Sufficiency as God-In-Man, Man-In-God, Word’s Corporeal is finally begotten, birthed. One way or the other, either Tree there in Eden, it seems (others disagree) bring what cannot be otherwise for that Eternally Sacrificed Self is Man’s Destination wherein Insufficiency will be known and All-Sufficiency will be beheld and in simple Delight each embraces the other within Love’s Self-Other which thus begets Revelations End-Point of Love’s Passion which just is the Singular-We of Man-In-God, God-In-Man and thus the Triune Image of Self-Other and their embrace which forever begets the Singular-We within the Triune I-You-We is finally fashioned. Love Himself thereby begets yet more Love. That’s what Love does. The Uncreated, it seems, must spread His arms wide, and pour Himself out, and offer the All Sufficient Cup, and the Insufficient, having thus swallowed up, and having been thus swallowed up by, All-Sufficiency, then finds in itself a Sufficiency of which it had not formally known. Why does Love create? Love creates for Love begets yet more Love, and so on forever, worlds without end.

Jim, I know I am late to this conversation, but I disagree with one of your points of "agreement" between Christians:
You say "God prepared everything in the universe as a home for mankind, the last of his creation."

Can you give a scriptural reference for this? I don't know of anywhere in the Bible that it says that this universe was created as a home for mankind. Earth, maybe yes. But the universe? And secondly, I don't know of anywhere that it says that humans are the last of God's creations? Could God not be at work in some other form of life in another distant corner of the universe? Lewis had a lot to say about this topic. I think he would strongly disagree with you on this statement.

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