Intelligent Design

Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky was NOT an orthodox Christian believer!

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I cannot believe I am hearing this nonsense again! The debate over the teaching of purposeless evolution in the school system retails more urban legends than a group of high school girls smoking in the women’s can.

In the Correspondence section of Nature, we can read, from U Kutschera , Institute of Biology, University of Kassel, Heinrich-Plett-Strasse 40, D-34109 Kassel, Germany (Nature 443, 26(7 September 2006) | doi:10.1038/443026b), yet another defence of Theodosius Dobzhansky, as a Darwinist poster boy for theistic or even Christian faith, sort of:

Dogma, not faith, is the barrier to scientific enquiry

[ … ]

He collaborated for many years with Ernst Mayr, who, when asked about his religious views, replied: “I am an atheist. There is nothing that supports the idea of a personal God. On the other hand, famous evolutionists such as Dobzhansky were firm believers in a personal God. He would work as a scientist all week and then on Sunday get down on his knees and pray to God” (Skeptic 8, 76-82; 2000.

In about 1950, Dobzhansky and Mayr founded our modern ‘atheistic’ evolutionary theory. Their work showed that Christians and atheists can cooperate to develop scientific theories, as long as religious dogma is not mixed up with facts and experimental data. Unfortunately, this is exactly what young-Earth creationists and intelligent-design theorists are doing. They should read the 1973 essay in which Dobzhansky – an open-minded, non-dogmatic theist – thoroughly refuted their irrational claims.

Dobzhansky was, of course, free to believe whatever he wanted, but in what sense was he a Christian or a theist?

Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones, who keeps up with these things better than anyone I know, has the goods on Dobzhansky’s real state of faith. He writes me,

Dobzhansky really was an orthodox believer. That is, if you don’t count “fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death”!:

and quotes :

Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has progressed from primitive forms of life to mankind. Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution has transcended itself into the realm of self-awareness and culture. He believed that somehow mankind would eventually evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity. He was a metaphysical optimist.” (Ayala, F.J. & Fitch, W.M., Genetics and the origin of species: An introduction,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 94, July 1997, pp.7691-7697, p.7693.

Now, I have to admit, I smile when I think of the middle Americans who go away from a meeting with the Darwinist spokesfolks, vastly relieved to hear that Dobzhansky was a “religious man,” and then they can go back to sanctified materialism with a good conscience. They certainly do not want to know that Dobzhansky’s views would hardly qualify him to be considered a Christian, let alone Orthodox, because the basic statements of the Creed stand in fundamental opposition to them.

Steve Jones offers some more information that might help:

Those who really understand Darwinism, but still have spiritual inclinations, have the option of making a religion out of evolution. Theodosius Dobzhansky – Gould’s prime example of a Christian evolutionist – actually exemplified the religious dimension of Darwinism. Dobzhansky discarded the traditional Christian concept of God, followed Teilhard de Chardin in spiritualizing the evolutionary process, and worshipped the glorious future of evolution. … See Francisco Ayala, `Nothing in biology makes sense except the light of evolution,’ _The Journal of Heredity_, vol. 68, pp.3, 9 (Jan.-Feb. 1977). Ayala described his teacher’s religion as follows: `Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has progressed from primitive forms of life to mankind. Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution has transcended itself into the realm of self awareness and culture. He believed that somehow mankind would eventually evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity.'” (Phillip E. Johnson, “Response to Gould”, Origins Research, Access Research Network, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1993, pp. 10-11. )

also from Johnson:

The leading Darwinist authorities are frank about the incompatibility of their theory with any meaningful concept of theism when they are in friendly territory, but for strategic reasons they sometimes choose to blur the message. When social theorist Irving Kristol published a New York Times column in 1986 accusing Darwinists of manifesting doctrinaire antitheism, for example, Stephen Jay Gould responded in Discover magazine with a masterpiece of misdirection. [Gould, S.J., “Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory,” Discover, January 1987, pp. 64-70] Quoting nineteenth century preacher Henry Ward Beecher, Gould proclaimed that ‘Design by wholesale is grander than design by retail,’ neglecting to inform his audience that Darwinism repudiates design in either sense To prove that Darwinism is not hostile to ‘religion,’ Gould cited the example of Theodosius Dobzhansky, whom he described as `the greatest evolutionist of our century, and a lifelong Russian Orthodox.’ As Gould knew very well, Dobzhansky’s religion was evolutionary naturalism, which he spiritualized after the manner of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. A eulogy published by Dobzhansly’s pupil Francisco Ayala in 1977 described the content of Dobzhansky’s religion like this: `Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has progressed from primitive forms of life to mankind. Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution has transcended itself into the realm of self- awareness and culture. He believed that somehow mankind would eventually 44 Darwinism and Theism evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity.’ [Ayala, F.J., “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” Journal of Heredity , Vol. 68, January-February 1977, pp. 3, 9] Evolution is thoroughly compatible with religion-when the object of worship is evolution.” (Johnson, P.E., “Darwinism and Theism”, in Buell J. & Hearn V., eds., “Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?” , Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1994, pp.43-44.)

So now you know what to think when you hear someone retailing this “Dobzhansky as believer” nonsense.

55 Replies to “Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky was NOT an orthodox Christian believer!

  1. 1
    Carlos says:

    In other words, Dobzhansky was “no true Christian,” right?

  2. 2
    EdH says:

    Carlos, to be a Christian, you pretty much have to belive in the Christ, the messiah, the Son of God. Christ is the root word of “Chrisitan” after all. It is hard to see how someone can be a Christian and then reject the concept of Jesus coming down as the personal human incarnation of God, and reject that He is the messiah, or savior, which will save one bringing them to eternal life after death. From the post above: “Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death.”

    This has nothing to do with the No True Scotsman argument. To call someone who rejects a personal God and life beyond physical death a Christian makes about as much sense as calling someone an evolutionist that rejects the natural selection, change over time and mutations parts.

  3. 3
    Carlos says:

    There’s a long tradition of Christian mystics who have held that God can’t be a person, in any ordinary sense of person (and if not in an ordinary sense, then in what sense?). Consider, for example, John Scotus Erigena or the Cloud of Unknowning. Are they Christian? It would seem so. But their views seem no less heterodoxical than those of Dobzhansky or Teilhard de Chardin. Would you insist that Chardin, a Jesuit, was not a Christian?

    I would say that he was responsive to certain metaphysical worries that only a Christian would feel and that he responded to those worries in a way that would only make sense to a Christian. That’s enough to make him a Christian in my books, because being a Christian isn’t the sort of thing that has necessary and sufficient conditions. (A Christian is not a natural kind, if you will.) One is a Christian if the personal story one tells about oneself only makes sense in light of the world-historical narrative of Christianity — likewise for other large and complex concepts that figure prominently in personal identity, such as “straight” or “Jewish” or “feminine.”

    I think that’s enough for de Chardin to count as a Christian, and Dobzhansky too.

    The real point at stake here is that in order to continue to count as a Christian, Dobzhansky nevertheless had to think about how to re-conceptualize what it means to be a Christian in light of evolution. But that’s not a deal-breaker, either. Previous generations of Christian theologians and lay thinkers have had to think hard about how to reconceptualize what it means to be a Christian in light of heliocentrism, the demise of Aristotelian metaphysics, the difficulties in a literal interpretation of the Bible, etc. So it’s not really clear to me why de Chardin and Dobzhansky are all of sudden considered to have wandered off the reservation, so to speak.

  4. 4
    StuartHarris says:

    Denise,

    Your analyzing and questioning of the faith of someone who claimed to be a Christian is completely out of bounds. Especially given that he’s dead and can’t respond. I’m Eastern Orthodox and I know I cannot judge the sincerity of someone else’s faith. I can judge their ideas, but the only one who “has the goods on Dobzhansky’s real state of faith” is Christ.

    Stu Harris
    http://www.theidbookstore.com

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    Ed

    Carlos, to be a Christian, you pretty much have to belive in the Christ, the messiah, the Son of God. Christ is the root word of “Chrisitan” after all.

    When one loses one’s faith he is not automatically ejected from his Christian church nor is he encouraged to stop calling himself a Christian. IMO there’s a lot more about being a Christian than unquestioning faith that Christ is the Son of God incarnate. One can believe, as I do, that Christ set an example in moral behavior for us to follow in our lives and regardless of divine origins or not the example is worthy in and of itself. I daresay most of us that are middle-aged or older were raised as Christians in North America and some of us have lost our faith for one reason or another but still try to conduct ourselves according to our upbringing in moral matters. We still have Christian weddings, Christian funerals, baptise our children, and otherwise participate in church activities and rituals. I know many people who fit that description. Moreover, I was taught as a youngster in Baptist bible study that once you’re saved it’s irrevocable. Is that not true?

  6. 6
    Ekstasis says:

    In defense of the original premise, the point is not to judge one’s soul. Nor is it really even about Theodosius Dobzhansky. Rather, it seems more about the tactics of the Materialist elitists. They appear to waffle between the following strategies:

    A. “We are smarter and better than you, the unwashed, superstitious (religious) masses, so we could care less what you think”.
    B. “We are just like the common folk, so much so, that we even have “Christians” in our ranks. So, now you common folk need to believe what we say, because, you see, we stooped down to your level (at least we pretended to for the moment).”
    C. “We are so smart that we can be inconsistent, in such a clever manner, and you will not even notice. That is why we pontificate one moment that religion is for the weak and unknowledgeable (i.e., less evolved) and completely irrational. And the next moment we point out that religion is consistent with our material beliefs, as long as the religion fits our criteria for what form it takes, and who is approved to believe it.”

  7. 7
    JasonTheGreek says:

    I think most of you are missing the point. The point is that Darwinists use him as a tool to say- ‘look, he was a Darwinist and a Christian, when in fact he wouldn’t fit any definition of Christian that makes sense to me.’ If you deny the very basic tenants of the faith, are you really part of it? It’s silly. Like someone above said- it’s like saying you’re an evolutionist but denying common descent, mutations, selection, etc.

    I don’t think Denyse is indicting his soul or his faith- she’s indicting those who use him as a tool to claim ‘look- you can be a Christian and still believe in a purposeless, pointless, unguided process that brought you here, even though it’s completely oppisite of what the entire bible teaches.’

    The creed is what you go by. The fathers of the religion said A, B, and C need to be met to be labelled Christian. If not- why bother? If you believe Christ was a cool guy and a moral fellow- that’s great and all, but if you deny he was the son of God and rose from the dead, as Paul himself said- your faith is meaningless and worth nothing. The premise of ‘he’s a moral guy but not God’- that’d make Christ, in your mind, a lunatic, as he claimed he IS God. Is a lunatic really a moral compass to follow?

    Point, I think, trying to be made was- Darwinists use him to say ‘ look, a Darwinist Christian, no worries, you can buy into NDE yourself.’ when in fact the guy wouldn’t meet the definition of a Christian that the apostles themselves put forth.

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    Ekstasis

    I think it’s kind of comical when they cop those attitudes. I live in (liberal compared to the rest of the state) Austin, Texas in an upscale neighborhood where it seems everyone but me goes to church on Sunday. Most of my social circle is composed of very successful, well educated Christians. In fact now that I think about it the less successful tend to be the ones who don’t regularly attend church – I’m the exception to the rule. I think Christian culture, as opposed to Christian faith, imparts a discipline that leads to success in life. My faith is in the culture rather than the divine masthead and that’s what leads me to defend the faith, so to speak, with vigor.

  9. 9
    DaveScot says:

    Jason

    I don’t deny Christ’s divinity. I’m unsure of it. My mind isn’t wired in a way that I can accept things as unquestionaly true that are not firmly rooted in empiricism. If that bars me from the pearly gates there’s nothing I can do about it. Fake faith is no faith at all and I can’t believe that a loving God would give anyone a rational mind then punish them for using it.

  10. 10
    Ekstasis says:

    Carlos,

    Your comment “There’s a long tradition of Christian mystics who have held that God can’t be a person, in any ordinary sense of person (and if not in an ordinary sense, then in what sense?).”

    This is a bit misleading. It is not that Christian mystics believe that God does not have the characteristics of a person, e.g., love, intention, will, a mind, etc. Rather, they believe that, to truly “know” God, one must go beyond mere senses and reason. This is achieved by meditation and allowing God to reveal Himself through our silence and listening with spiritual ears. In other words, they believe that God, as He truly is, goes far beyond all material things.

    Therefore, Christian mystics are as far as one can get from Materialistic thinking. And, they do not, generally speaking, have any reason in their methods and views that make it necessary to violate the basic tenets of Christianity. The original piece makes the point that Theodosius Dobzhansky, in his own statements, may have contradicted the tenets in a fundamental manner. As to what the tenets of Christianity are, the Apostles’ Creed may serve as well as anything.

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    If you believe Christ was a cool guy and a moral fellow- that’s great and all, but if you deny he was the son of God and rose from the dead, as Paul himself said- your faith is meaningless and worth nothing.

    Paul isn’t God.

    The premise of ‘he’s a moral guy but not God’- that’d make Christ, in your mind, a lunatic, as he claimed he IS God.

    Your evidence that Christ claimed to be God is based on secondhand reports thousands of years old, correct? Maybe he was misunderstood. There are a lot of language barriers and opportunities for revisionism along that path. Or maybe he had to make the claim in order to be taken seriously and given the number of Christians 2000 years later I’d say it was genius not lunacy if what he wanted to accomplish was transforming the world. Or maybe he said it and it was true. I don’t know. What perplexes me most about the whole thing is why God seemingly needed human messengers and scribes when he could have published the ten commandments engraved on the face of the moon in any number of written languages. In any case I was saved as a child according to the tenets of one large Christian denomination and once saved is saved forever. Is that not true? You don’t believe God is an indian giver do you? Or do you dispute the tenets of the church I attended as a child?

    Paul isn’t God.

  12. 12
    Carlos says:

    they [i.e. Christian mystics] believe that, to truly “know” God, one must go beyond mere senses and reason. This is achieved by meditation and allowing God to reveal Himself through our silence and listening with spiritual ears. In other words, they believe that God, as He truly is, goes far beyond all material things.

    Fine enough, so far as it goes — but that’s consistent with thinking that, with respect to “all material things,” NDE is the best theory we’ve got so far. I don’t know if Dobzhansky himself would have put it that way, but I don’t see why one couldn’t put both think that and be entitled to consider himself a Christian.

    As I said before, Christian is not a natural kind that can be defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. The Creeds are one way of defining what it means to be a Christian, and they’ve acquired a weight and authority for those who identify with the historical narrative of Christianity.

    But in the history of any complex social movement that ranges widely in time and space, there will be vexed issues, bones of contention, fuzzy boundaries, etc. — and it’s important that we attempt to sort this out, and impose some conceptual order on the social and political chaos — but the chaos always comes back. We’d be much better off if we acknowledged that right off the bat, I think, than think that someone is not a Christian/Jew/American/etc. if they don’t meet the criteria on the check-list.

  13. 13
    SteveB says:

    While there are lots of theologies out there and many flavors of “Christian,” the New Testament definition has to do with establishing a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ. To cite just one of many possible references, Romans 3 says, “But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight–not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.”

    Pretty cool, actually. Note in particular the “not by obeying the law… but by trusting in Christ…” distinction. In spite of the fact that this is a fairly common view, doing good works to somehow earn god’s acceptance doesn’t cut it. Faith/trust/belief is all that’s required to enter into this relationship–what he calls, “being right in his sight.” This tends to cut through a lot of the clutter: Ritual, church attendance, moral behavior, or association with this or that tradition become either irrelevant or secondary.

    So was Dobzhansky a Xian? Because the definition is primarily an internal matter of the heart only G can ultimately determine whether someone believes or not. On the other hand, is it likely that certain Darwinists drop his name in a disingenuous attempt to score points with theists? I think this is likely.

  14. 14
    Fross says:

    Sorry, I’ve never heard of the guy. It’s not like it’s hard to find a Christian who accepts Darwin’s ideas. This post makes it seem like there’s just this one fella, and now that’s even being questioned. heh

    sorry the evolution=atheism thing is just so far out there and wrong.

  15. 15
    Mats says:

    Wasn’t Dobzhansky the one who said that evolution is a process that didn’t have Man in mind? If so, how does that harmonize with Biblical Christianity?

  16. 16
    Smidlee says:

    “It’s not like it’s hard to find a Christian who accepts Darwin’s ideas.”

    It’s not hard to find someone who call themselves christian who cheats, steals and lies either.

  17. 17
    russ says:

    “In any case I was saved as a child according to the tenets of one large Christian denomination and once saved is saved forever. Is that not true? You don’t believe God is an indian giver do you? Or do you dispute the tenets of the church I attended as a child?”

    Dave, I don’t think God breaks his promises. But I think his salvation promise assumes a certain level of commitment. Was the original “conversion” valid if there is little or no evidence of ongoing Christian faith and commitment? Every Christian needs to ask him/herself this same question, whether they are regular church attenders or simply make an intellectual assent to Christian ethics.

  18. 18
    BarryA says:

    This entire discussion has been confused. No one is focusing on the real issue, which is one of meaning. What does the word “Christian” mean? Before we can answer that question we have to decide what it means to mean. I prefer Wittgenstein’s take on that subject. Meaning is usage. There is no Platonic form for the English word “Christian,” which is what some of the commenters seem to assume when they say “Christian means X and nothing else.” No, in current English usage “Christian” has a wide variety of meanings, each of which is perfectly valid for the purposes for which it is used.

    One meaning of the word is what I call “cultural Christian.” DaveScott appears to fall within this category. A cultural Christian may not accept the tenants of the historic Christian faith, but he continues to call himself a Christian and has Christian weddings, funerals, etc.

    Another meaning is what I would call traditional Christian. This is a person who accepts the basic tenants of the 2,000 year-old Christian faith. EdH seems to fall within this category. What does it mean to accept the basic tenants of the faith? It has been formulated as those tenants that have been confessed everywhere, at all times, by all Christians. In our pluralistic society, this formulation certainly does not work as well as it did 100 years ago. In the event, I think Denyse proposed a perfectly valid line of demarcation in her post. A traditional Christian is one who subscribes to the great creeds of the faith.

    Carlos has suggested another meaning, what I will call the “mystic Christian.” He defines this category as “anyone who is “responsive to certain metaphysical worries that only a Christian would feel and [who responds] to those worries in a way that would only make sense to a Christian.” OK, its a free country and Carlos can use the word any way he chooses, though I suspect few people would find his definition very helpful in figuring out what a Christian is.

    Now the problem to which Denyse is alluding in her post is not a problem of classification or meaning. It is a problem of equivocation. Carlos’ formulation to the contrary notwithstanding, when most people use the word “Christian,” they do not use it to describe people who believed as Dobzhansky evidently did. And Denyse is calling the letter writer in “Nature” for equivocating and trying to make people believe that Dobzhansky was a “Christian” as they understand the word, when he clearly was not.

    Stu Harris is worried about judging someone else’s salvation. This is a valid concern, and only God knows the condition of Dobzhansky’s soul. However, I think the point of Denyse’s post is that she uses the word “Christian” to mean a person who subscribes to the great creeds, and by his own admission Dobzhansky did not fall within that category, so she is not judging his salvation.

  19. 19
    Fross says:

    remember back in the day when the I.D. movement was trying it’s hardest to hide the Christian foundation of its agenda? I’m glad to see it’s all out in the open now.

  20. 20
    O'Leary says:

    From Denyse: Some, above, have apparently confused my doubt whether Theodosius D’s faith can properly be called Christian with questioning the state of his soul – which my Christian faith forbids and for which, in any event, I have no relevant skills.

    Essentially, those who insist that the world think Dr. D. a Christian have the clear purpose of reassuring us all that one can be a good Christian and a good Darwinist at the same time.

    Thus, it is relevant that Dr. D’s student, Francisco Ayala, thinks that Dr. D. believed neither in a personal God nor in life after death. In that case, he was not a good Christian, in the sense that he could not have affirmed any orthodox Christian creed that I know of.

    Of course he may have been a much better person than I will ever be, but that bar was not set very high.

  21. 21
    jpark320 says:

    @ DaveScot
    ***What perplexes me most about the whole thing is why God seemingly needed human messengers and scribes when he could have published the ten commandments engraved on the face of the moon in any number of written languages. In any case I was saved as a child according to the tenets of one large Christian denomination and once saved is saved forever. Is that not true? You don’t believe God is an indian giver do you? Or do you dispute the tenets of the church I attended as a child?

    Paul isn’t God. ***
    Before, I give a reply, I won’t assume you haven’t heard what I’m about to say before, but I’d like to hear your responses. I’m betting you have investigated the rebuttal of what I quoted from you comment, but just in case here it goes!

    Well, your right God didn’t need human vessels, but he chose “Earthen Vessels,” as Paul puts it so that God gets all the glory. For ex., if God were to have a basketball team you might think he would clone 5 Michael Jordans, but he’d prb come w/ five, 6-year old girls in order to show that it was something else (ie God) that enabled them to win. Second, you (and actually almost 99% of the world) are working of the premise that God owes them something, like the 10 commandments on the moon as opposed to a manuscript written by a Jew (Paul) or a fisherman (Peter). It can be most clearly seen when people say “Why does God send anybody to hell?” You NEVER see someone complain “Why does God let anybody into heaven?” People assume (as I believe it is our sinful nature) that they and many others don’t deserve hell, but assume to have no prb w/ going to heaven.

    Paul, isn’t God, but he came w/ many miraculous deeds to prove/vailidate his ministry. Is it really up to us to decide who God uses? I think Paul supplied enough proof miraculously and his writings has stood the test of time to be validated as genuine apostle of Christ. My question to you is, there are many, many, old Greek manuscripts that indicate that it was faithfully recorded. Things like the Muratorian Canon, the writings of the Apostolic fathers, pretty much bode well that there was a faithful rendition of the New Testament. What except speculation makes you doubt and what evidence does God owe you to make you believe (esp in the light that there are millions and millions who say God has indeed given enough)? I suppose you don’t have to believe it all, but to say it wasn’t faithfully transferred or that God hasn’t given enough proof is another thing, is it not?

    God is not an indian giver indeed, it probably means that you didn’t count the cost to be an disciple of Christ when you were a kid! That happens very often in Christianity and is most def. not an isolated experience. Plenty of people have heeded “altar calls” as children only to later realize as adults they were not really saved at the time.

  22. 22
    Joseph says:

    Fross:
    remember back in the day when the I.D. movement was trying it’s hardest to hide the Christian foundation of its agenda?

    ID doesn’t have a Christian foundation. I am not a christian yet I am an IDist. And if ID did have a Christian foundation I would be getting into more arguments than I do already.

    Christians can be IDists, sure. So can followers of Islam, Buddha, Tsaoism and agnostics. IDists being religious has about as much impact on ID as atheists have on evolution.

  23. 23
    Ryan says:

    I think the point of Denyse’s post was to counter the argument used by the NCSE and Kenneth Miller crowd that one can be a Bible-believing Christian and believe in Darwinism at the same time. It’s interesting to note that all the so-called “Christian” Darwinists believed (and still believe) in the greatest heresies of theology proper: theosophy (Dobzhansky), deistic tendencies (most of them), and process theology (Miller). All of these beliefs are clearly contrary to both very clear statements in Scripture as well as all the major Christian creeds throughout the centuries. So, unless you want to define the word “Christian” in a very post-modern sense in which an idol-worshipping Hindu can be called a Christian, then these guys are certainly not orthodox.

  24. 24
    JasonTheGreek says:

    Fross- unfortunately, with comments like the last you made, you seem to be giving credence to the popular idea that darwinism is atheistic.

    Surely, someone who believes in God will be more open minded in regards to design, which leads to the philosophical question of who was the designer (which isn’t part of ID, but it leads to philosophy which can extend the ideas into that realm.) Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc- will all, no doubt, be more inclined to accept the evidence for design. An atheist is going to deny evidence for design until the cows come home, because of the fear that that design might come from a higher designer he might be accountable to.

    In the end- we can turn your comment around. If you read PT, AntiEvolution, many of the other sites, you will see most of these people are most likely atheists. I guess that means that since most who believe an unguided, purposeless process brought about all of life are atheists then NDE= atheism and Darwinists should stop hiding that fact. Myers, Dawkins, and others are at least honest about the ultimate implications of a purposeless, unguided, accidental universe full of trillions of happy accidental creatures.

  25. 25
    Carlos says:

    Myers, Dawkins, and others are at least honest about the ultimate implications of a purposeless, unguided, accidental universe full of trillions of happy accidental creatures.

    Yeah, they don’t like theistic evolutionists too much over there. Not like here, where we get a warm welcome.

    I’m not a theistic evolutionist, but I play one on the Web.

  26. 26
    Rude says:

    Agreed–I’ll take a Dawkins any day over those slippery fense straddlers. What Denyse decries, as I see it, is deceit—deliberate or unintentional. There’s not a dimes worth of difference between a Dobzhansky’s theism and a bona fide atheist’s atheism. He may have stood in awe of nature, of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (or something like that), but so do many atheists. So what’s the purpose of bringing up religion?

    Carlos says that “Christian” is not a “natural kind”—let me suggest that the category is vacuous when you include all those who appropriate the label (and so I don’t)—but if you’d like to be a little better forearmed for those “semantic” arguments that so often erupt, why not familiarize yourself with a little Prototype Semantics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype_semantics).

  27. 27
    Carlos says:

    An atheist is going to deny evidence for design until the cows come home, because of the fear that that design might come from a higher designer he might be accountable to.

    Not if intelligent design and theism are really as detachable as people around here want to admit. All that an atheistic IDer need say is that the intelligent designer was not supernatural. There could have been an advanced alien race which was responsible for producing us, such as the Progenitors. (Note: I’m referring to the Star Trek Progenitors, not to David Brin’s Progenitors. Do not be confused!)

  28. 28
    Carlos says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at prototype theory; thanks for the link!

  29. 29
    Ekstasis says:

    Now, it seems to me that all of these great comments, with all the diverse perspectives, illustrate the deep and burning desire that we humans naturally have to be morally right and justified, or to address how the problems of our wrongs can be resolved and swept away.

    So, how does the Darwinian evolutionist explain this human obsession with rightness and judgment? Oh sure, they will raise the usual suspect social evolution hypotheses — but does it not strike one as a bit implausible? I mean, shouldn’t we be much more focused on the sorts of things that will see our genes safely to the next generation?

  30. 30
    Carlos says:

    Organisms do all sorts of things that ensure the continuation of the species. Why can’t “the human obsession with rightness and judgment” be one of those things?

    (I think that the story is much more complicated than that, because I do think that culture has permitted us to partially transcend the constraints of strictly Darwinian evolution. But since culture is itself an adaptation — and a highly successful one, within a very narrow range of environments — anything like an adequate story which could integrate nature and culture would have to be much more complicated.)

  31. 31
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Ekstasis writes:
    “So, how does the Darwinian evolutionist explain this human obsession with rightness and judgment? Oh sure, they will raise the usual suspect social evolution hypotheses — but does it not strike one as a bit implausible? I mean, shouldn’t we be much more focused on the sorts of things that will see our genes safely to the next generation?”

    Ekstasis,
    What’s wrong with the evolutionary explanation of our “obsession with rightness and judgment”? Why do you think such a sense is not the sort of thing that will “see our genes safely to the next generation?”

    Homo sapiens is a species which practices reciprocal altruism. Given that, it makes perfect sense that we humans will:

    1) carefully track who is to be trusted, and who isn’t;
    2) move people from the first category to the second when they behave against one’s interests;
    3) move people from the second category to the first when they “earn one’s trust”;
    4) pay attention to other people’s assessments of an individual’s trustworthiness;
    5) make pariahs of those who consistently betray us or our friends;
    6) feel bad when we behave in a way that hurts our friends or makes us appear to be untrustworthy;
    …and many others.

    Skeptical? Take each of the above characteristics, imagine a population without it, and then imagine what will happen if you introduce some individuals having a genetic predisposition toward the characteristic in question.

    For example, suppose we have a population of cooperating people who don’t keep track of who can they can trust and who they can’t (let’s call them “gullibles”). In such a population, “cheaters” will arise, because a cheater can get the benefits of cooperation without paying the costs. Since nobody notices or keeps track of their untrustworthiness, the cheaters thrive at the expense of the gullibles.

    Now introduce a genetic variation into the population which makes some individuals better at tracking and remembering who is good to them and who isn’t (let’s call them “trackers”). These individuals will quickly cease cooperating with the cheaters, because they will notice and remember the consistent cheating. Instead they will cooperate with others who cooperate with them.

    The cheaters get the benefits of interacting with the gullibles, but are rejected by the trackers. The “gullibles” benefit when they interact with the “trackers” or with other “gullibles”, but pay when they interact with the cheaters. The trackers benefit in almost all of their interactions, once they’ve paid the price of figuring out who the cheaters. The result is that the trackers come to dominate the population.

    Try it with some of the other traits I listed.

  32. 32
    Ekstasis says:

    Karl Pfluger,

    While in theory what you say seems to make sense, it seems to have some weaknesses:

    1. It assumes that, through undirect, random mutations the human brain could develop the capacity for the sort of capabilities you raise, e.g., tracking, assessing honesty, and creating methods to penalize such behavior. While this may seem simplistic because we practice it every day, the actual mental steps that must be put together is staggering. In fact, one would suspect that irreducible complexity may come into play. And, this cannot simply be cultural adaptations, it also requires a hard-wired capacity in our brains to allow such thinking to take place.
    2. While humans are certainly concerned about what others think and what consequences they may bring about, our obsession appears not to limited to this. We truly are concerned that, somehow, our behavior is judged in a universal sense beyond the opinions of others, whether that be a personal God or the universal force as defined by Buddhists. Now, of course our sense could be fictional, imaginary. But then, why does this fiction exist?
    3. Some people still violate the standards of right and wrong, as held universally by all societies and cultures at all times, e.g., murder is wrong. Only those who violate and get away with it would succeed. So, we should find a strong correlation between intelligence and criminal behavior, i.e., criminals should tend to be the most intelligent individuals. Yet, if anything, we find the opposite correlation.
    4. While your theory could possibly explain why people would refrain from wrongdoing in advance of the act, how would it explain our tremendous guilt after the fact, even if we are not discovered. In fact, we feel more guilt when not discovered. Darwinian evolution should instead reward us for getting away with it. After all, those who get away with it are more likely to send our genes into the next generation.

  33. 33
    Ben Z says:

    Ah, it always warms my heart when non-Christians lecture Christians on who is and isn’t a real Christian because they happen to be the experts in the matter.

    Nevermind that the topic title says ORTHODOX.

  34. 34
    Ben Z says:

    And Thomas Aquinas says that it’s better to leave the Church if you don’t agree with one of its teachings, because even if you’re wrong it’s just a failor of logic and not of morality, as in if you had stayed in the Church.

  35. 35
    avocationist says:

    Someone said,

    “in which an idol-worshipping Hindu can be called a Christian,”

    Since there are no Hindus here to defend themselves, I’d like to point out that Hinduism ultimately is the most monotheistic religion of all, teaching that Brahman is the “One without a second.”

    It is questionable to me whether anyone has ever truly worshipped idols. Competing groups like to defame one another. If Hindus are so accused, so must we accuse the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. I have revered and kissed and lit candles and prayed before many an icon, but I never confused that conduit to the members of the “church triumphant” or the divine with the painted wood itself.

  36. 36
    Carlos says:

    It depends on what one means by an “idol,” right?

    Historically, idolatry is bound with unquestioning obedience to authority; the Canaanite gods, for example, as depicted in the Old Testament, or the gods of the Egyptians. (OK, not exactly an unbiased source, but still.) The Greeks praised the Olympian gods who were basically themselves, idealized and perfected.

    Spiritually, lots of people believe that they are worshipping the true God when in fact their hearts are given over to worship of an idealized self-image, or idealized daddy-figure, or an idealized version of their particular community or nation. They find it unimaginable that God could want for them anything other than what they already want for themselves. That is idolatry, and no one is immune to it.

  37. 37
    Carlos says:

    Ah, it always warms my heart when non-Christians lecture Christians on who is and isn’t a real Christian because they happen to be the experts in the matter.

    I very much hope that you weren’t thinking of me when you said this, Ben. While I was denying that there are necessary and sufficient conditions for someone’s being a Christian (let alone a “good Christian”), the same holds true for all socio-historical identities.

  38. 38
    avocationist says:

    Carlos,

    I agree and said the same on our other thread. But – unquestioning obedience to authority demanded by Caananite and Egyptian deities? Methinks thou ought to read the OT again, with a less partial eye, toward the words and actions of Jehovah.

    I have to tell you the truth. I think a lot of the reason for the terrible confusion of the ancient Greeks, and also our own, comes from the strong possibility that there were human-like extraterrestrials on this planet for thousands of years who took a hand in genetically creating us and completely enthralled us. That is why the gods were so similar to us, so capricious, and why nearly all ancient empires considered their kingship line to have come from gods or demigods, with small g’s of course – it was because they did. And why they all married their half-sisters to try to keep up the line.

    Later, the concept of divine got supernaturalized when the time of the ‘gods’ became more of a distant memory, so they were considered a fantasy of our stupid and credulous ancestors. Also, the antics of these high-tech aliens got built up until they merged with the capability of the Supreme Intelligence and Creator of the universe.

    The real God has suffered much insult from the awful comparison.

  39. 39
    Carlos says:

    Avocationist,

    But – unquestioning obedience to authority demanded by Caananite and Egyptian deities? Methinks thou ought to read the OT again, with a less partial eye, toward the words and actions of Jehovah.

    I was thinking that one might object along these lines. In response, consider Abraham’s argument with God in Genesis 18. The Bible at least begins a moralization of religion — though it hardly ends there — and arguably the real moralization of Judaism only gets underway after the destruction of the second Temple, and when study and prayer take the place of sacrifice at the heart of Jewish life. The NT does something similar; consider, after all, the line from Matthew: “it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out” (Matthew 15:11).

    I think a lot of the reason for the terrible confusion of the ancient Greeks, and also our own, comes from the strong possibility that there were human-like extraterrestrials on this planet for thousands of years who took a hand in genetically creating us and completely enthralled us. That is why the gods were so similar to us, so capricious, and why nearly all ancient empires considered their kingship line to have come from gods or demigods, with small g’s of course – it was because they did. And why they all married their half-sisters to try to keep up the line.

    Uh, isn’t the premise of Stargate SG-1?

  40. 40
    Zero says:

    My post just bounced, my first to do so. I suppose because
    I quoted Zec 9:9 so I’ll try again with it modified.

    **********************************************************

    I believe in an IDOL, Intelligent designer of life.
    The post below is CSI, a clear sign of ID.
    As I have said on this sight before, “IMO, the best
    proof of ID is symmetry.”
    If you want to bother, it’s on the “cutting room floor”.

    Painting a picture by numbers:

    Jesus said, “I have chosen you twelve.” (one is a booger)

    The first 12 = 3 x God

    The second 12 = 3 x Jesus

    The first, second, and third 12 total 666 ( 9 x Jesus )

    The first 12 + the third 12 = 6 x Jesus

    12 + (6 x Jesus) = 12 x gold (God + 12)

    The 3rd 12 + 12 foundations = (6 x God) + (3 x Jesus) or 3 x AZ

    The first, second, third, and forth 12 (666 +12) =
    (3 x God) + (3 x Jesus) + (3 x AZ)

    Check out a roulette table.

    Exd 28:29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel
    in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto
    the holy [place], for a memorial before the LORD continually.

    I = the first letter in the bible.
    N = the second, and also the last, letter in the bible
    I = 9
    N = 14 (I + 5)
    9 x 14 = 126 (AZ)
    AZ = alpha & omega
    AZ = first x last
    AZ = beginning x end
    I + N = end
    I + N = I Am
    Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

    AZ = God between God (126)
    Exd 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune
    with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims…
    God + 12 = Gold
    Exd 25:17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat [of] pure gold: two cubits and a half [shall be] the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

    (AZ + half AZ) x (AZ + Love) = IRON (I x R x O x N) 34,020
    The above numbers and the bible verses below all paint the same picture:

    Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.
    Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should
    make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land,
    that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
    Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an AZ, and upon a colt the foal of an AZ.
    Mat 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (AZ under)

    “Word” x 3 AZ = Love x G x O x D or AZ x IT or AZ x (AZ + love)
    Jhn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Blessings
    Zero
    Ps Jesus said, “There shall be one fold.” Jesus “folded” = 37 See Psa 37:37
    AZ folded once = booger
    7 fold/2 = zero

  41. 41
    BarryA says:

    Avocationist, you’ve been watching too much Stargate SG-1 on the SciFi Channel.

  42. 42
    Zero says:

    “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!”

    Yes, three times, but it hasn’t been posted.

    Zero

  43. 43
    Ben Z says:

    “I very much hope that you weren’t thinking of me when you said this, Ben. While I was denying that there are necessary and sufficient conditions for someone’s being a Christian (let alone a “good Christian”), the same holds true for all socio-historical identities.”

    I was thinking of you, but not just you. C.S. Lewis wrote about words becoming meaningless and the word Christian. If the word Christian can be wahtever someone wants it to be, such as the word gentleman has turned into (a word that doesn’t really describe anything, but is more like a judgement) then I’ll agree with you.

    But that “No True Scotsman” argument is referring to a term that describes geographical location. You’re a “scotsman” based on birth, and the fallacy is obvious. Christianity is a term that has real criteria. If someone is Christian because they define themselves that way, and can give up ANY belief and still be a Christian, it’s meaningless.

  44. 44
    Zero says:

    My post to this thread didn’t even make it to the “cutting room floor”

    I posted it in my blogs:

    http://www.bloglines.com/blog/hereoisreal

    Blessings

    Zero

  45. 45
    BarryA says:

    Ben Z,

    No, the problem is not that “Christian” is meaningless. The problem is that it has too many meanings depending upon how it is used. See my post in 18.

    The key is to distinguish between a class of people whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (a finite number of people, the identity of whom God alone truly knows) and the class of people encompassed by the word “Christian” in modern English usage. They are not the same thing.

    You lament the fact that if we do this the classification ceases effectively to classify. Yes, that’s true, but to a large degree that is what has happened — just as with the word “gentlemen” to which you and Lewis allude – and English speakers as a whole appear to be quite indifferent to your (and my) lamentation (and to His Lamentations for that matter).

    The answer to all of this is when you use the word you need to make sure people know in what sense you are using it, which brings us back to the original reason for this post – i.e., Denyse calling down a writer who was trying to deceive by equivocating.

  46. 46
    Zero says:

    Ben Z,
    No, the problem is not that “Christian” is meaningless. The problem is that it has too many meanings depending upon how it is used. See my post in 18.

    The key is to distinguish between a class of people whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (a finite number of people, the identity of whom God alone truly knows) and the class of people encompassed by the word “Christian” in modern English usage. They are not the same thing.

    ***************************************************

    How can one “follow” Christ or “know” Christ if God’s son “Christ”
    is not yet born?

    Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.
    Jhn 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow,
    because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered
    of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish,
    for joy that a man is born into the world.

    It’s not over til’ the fat lady (pregnant wife) sings:

    Isa 54:1 Sing, O barren, thou [that] didst not bear; break
    forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou [that] didst not
    travail with child: for more [are] the children
    of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

    Isa 54:5 For thy Maker [is] thine husband; the LORD
    of hosts [is] his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One
    of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

    Life is all about home and family.
    The Lion has a wife and the Lamb has a mother.

    Blessings

    Zero

  47. 47
    avocationist says:

    First off, Carlos and BarryA

    I do not watch television, except the occasional animal planet. I do not know this stargate you refer to, but I do read books.

    Ekstasis,

    You state what Christian mystics think, but I am a Christian mystic, and I deeply question the kind of personal God most people talk about, and yet you then equate this with materialism, which shows you have misunderstood completely. The doubt about ascribing personal characteristics to God have to do with seeing that if God is infinite, he cannot be an ego, as that is a contradiction of terms. If God does have “love, intention, will, a mind,” it is in a different sense than we imagine.

    I do not think that Jesus claimed the kind of divinity that has been ascribed to him. There are many who argue thus, and it is certainly true that many early churches did not have the modern understanding of his divinity.

    BarryA,

    Another meaning is what I would call traditional Christian. This is a person who accepts the basic tenants of the 2,000 year-old Christian faith. EdH seems to fall within this category. What does it mean to accept the basic tenants of the faith? It has been formulated as those tenants that have been confessed everywhere, at all times, by all Christians.

    I basically agree with your arguments, which is why I generally don’t call myself a Christian, but my readings have shown me that there was great disagreement and revision of beliefs, and that which we call the creeds was voted upon, argued over, fought about even violently, backpeddled upon and etc. for centuries. Ditto for scripture. And, one reason I don’t call myself a Christian is that I don’t agree with the Trinity doctrine, yet even there the creeds do not specify that God is three persons. And anyway, there was a change to the accepted creed by the Catholic church regarding the trinity, which so upset the eastern Orthodox that in 1054 they split over it, as well as over papal assertions.

    SteveB,

    Romans 3 says, “But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight–not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.”

    MY Romans 3 doesn’t say anything quite like that.

    FRoss,

    remember back in the day when the I.D. movement was trying it’s hardest to hide the Christian foundation of its agenda? I’m glad to see it’s all out in the open now.

    As you are aware, Darwinism has long ago sparked a disagreement of some religionists, and sometimes Darwinists point out that many evolution believers are religious. It was disingenuous to include Dobzhansky among them, thus this discussion. It does not detract from the basic premise of ID.

  48. 48
    Carlos says:

    Darwinism has long ago sparked a disagreement of some religionists, and sometimes Darwinists point out that many evolution believers are religious. It was disingenuous to include Dobzhansky among them, thus this discussion.

    Was it disingenuous of Dobzhansky to include himself among the religious Darwinists?

  49. 49
    avocationist says:

    Did he?

  50. 50
    Carlos says:

    Did he?

    I think so; at least that’s how I interpret him. Here’s a link to the text under discussion:

    Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution

  51. 51
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Hi Ekstasis,

    Let me address your points separately:

    “1. It assumes that, through undirect[ed], random mutations the human brain could develop the capacity for the sort of capabilities you raise, e.g., tracking, assessing honesty, and creating methods to penalize such behavior.”

    There’s an abundance of evidence that variations in human intelligence, personality and behavior have a strong genetic component (especially as revealed by studies of identical twins separated at birth). Regardless of how you believe these genetic variations get into the population, I think you can see that once they’re there, natural selection will favor some over others, and that the favored ones will come to dominate the population over time.

    “2. While humans are certainly concerned about what others think and what consequences they may bring about, our obsession appears not to limited to this. We truly are concerned that, somehow, our behavior is judged in a universal sense beyond the opinions of others, whether that be a personal God or the universal force as defined by Buddhists. Now, of course our sense could be fictional, imaginary. But then, why does this fiction exist?”

    If natural selections “decides” that a certain behavior is beneficial, it will encourage that behavior. What better way of encouraging people to behave a certain way than by making them feel they are being judged according to a cosmic standard? They will feel happy when their behavior is up to snuff, sad or guilty when it is not, and so they will tend to toe the line.

    “3. Some people still violate the standards of right and wrong, as held universally by all societies and cultures at all times, e.g., murder is wrong. Only those who violate and get away with it would succeed. So, we should find a strong correlation between intelligence and criminal behavior, i.e., criminals should tend to be the most intelligent individuals. Yet, if anything, we find the opposite correlation.”

    I think you would probably agree with me that intelligence is a benefit to criminals and cooperators alike. The question is, who benefits more from intelligence, the criminal or the cooperator? If it’s the criminal, then natural selection has no “reason” to turn smart criminals into smart cooperators, but every reason to turn smart cooperators into smart criminals. The number of smart criminals should increase.

    On the other hand, if intelligence is more of a benefit to cooperators, then the opposite should happen. Smart cooperators should increase at the expense of smart criminals. This is what we see in society.

    Why is intelligence more valuable to a cooperator than to a criminal? Antagonism is a zero-sum (or even a negative-sum) game. The intelligence of one antagonist is working at cross-purposes to the intelligence of the other, and they tend to cancel out.

    Cooperation unites separate intelligences in pursuit of a common goal. They reinforce rather than cancelling each other out. Cooperation thus tends to pay off more handsomely. This asymmetry leads us to expect that intelligent cooperators will be more common than intelligent criminals.

    “4. While your theory could possibly explain why people would refrain from wrongdoing in advance of the act, how would it explain our tremendous guilt after the fact, even if we are not discovered. In fact, we feel more guilt when not discovered. Darwinian evolution should instead reward us for getting away with it. After all, those who get away with it are more likely to send our genes into the next generation.”

    Not necessarily. Those who get away with it once may be encouraged to try again. If they’re eventually “caught”, the price they pay in terms of punishment, ostracism, social sanction, etc., may outweigh the benefit they received from cheating (and getting away with it) in the short run. Regarding guilt, see my answer to your point #2 above.

  52. 52
    tribune7 says:

    Dave — ***What perplexes me most about the whole thing is why God seemingly needed human messengers and scribes when he could have published the ten commandments engraved on the face of the moon in any number of written languages.

    Do you really think people would obey them or believe in Him, if he did? I don’t. What you suggest is almost akin to what occurred in the Books of Moses, and Children of Israel were notably disobedient and disbelieving.

    Anyway, concerning changing images on the moon, what I think would happen is priests would use those images to terrorize their flocks and have them worship and serve them. There would be no scientific revolution or free thought.

    In any case I was saved as a child according to the tenets of one large Christian denomination and once saved is saved forever. Is that not true?

    That’s the Calvinist view. Catholics and and Arminians (which is most protestant U.S. churches) say no.

  53. 53
    EdH says:

    Dave, (man, I hope the slight HTML tags work…)

    When one loses one’s faith he is not automatically ejected from his Christian church nor is he encouraged to stop calling himself a Christian. IMO there’s a lot more about being a Christian than unquestioning faith that Christ is the Son of God incarnate. One can believe, as I do, that Christ set an example in moral behavior for us to follow in our lives and regardless of divine origins or not the example is worthy in and of itself.

    Well, you bring up a good point. But I suppose, to take things to an extreme, you could say anything and then follow up with “and I consider myself a Christian.” I think Christ set an excellent moral example for us to follow, but his teachings don’t allow us to stop there. If you believe he said and did anything as recorded in the bible, then you must conclude that he is divine and the Son of God, that he is a liar, or that he is a madman. His statements didn’t allow for middle ground.

    Back to the question of what can you call a Christian. Well, I can’t give a conclusive answer, Acts 11:19-26 is the first place you see the term “Christian” in the bible as being used to describe a disciple. Each religion or philosophy can have its disciples, but disciples of Christ, ie. Christians, are generally through to believe his doctrine, rest on his sacrifice, imbibe his Spirit and imitate his example. That brief list is taken from Easton’s Bible Dictionary, and it is pretty clear, to me at least, Luke 14:26-33 covers this quite nicely and comprehensively. John 1:12ff covers this as well. It is those that are dead in Christ that will be resurrected (1 Th 4:16), a teaching that explicitly contradicts anyone who claims there is no afterlife.

    I daresay most of us that are middle-aged or older were raised as Christians in North America and some of us have lost our faith for one reason or another but still try to conduct ourselves according to our upbringing in moral matters. We still have Christian weddings, Christian funerals, baptise our children, and otherwise participate in church activities and rituals.

    A central theme in the bible is God’s love, His grace and His sacrifice, and much of the New Testament teachings, and from Christ specifically, are to show people (the Pharisees in particular) that going through the motions of ceremony is not the point at all, It is love for God (the greatest commandment, remember?) and if you love God, you’ll have faith in Him, and if you have faith in Him, then your works will show it – James 2:14ff. It isn’t the ceremony and works that give you faith and then in turn give you love, for which you are given grace.

    I know many people who fit that description. Moreover, I was taught as a youngster in Baptist bible study that once you’re saved it’s irrevocable. Is that not true?

    Yeah, I know about this teaching and I simply cannot get behind it. First of all, even if “once saved, always saved” is true, how do you know you were saved in the past – truly saved? Only God knows if you are saved, as He knows if your name is written in the Book of Life. Now, if you assume, as I do, that God has middle knowledge, that God knows how you will act in the future, and that is part of His judgement on you. Remember, He is outside of space and time, so has already seen the end. Jesus shows a great example of this middle knowledge in Matt 11:21-22. So, if one was a saved Christian (I consider saved to be redundant) but now renounces that Jesus was divine, and is our salvation, I don’t think God is going to say “well, they were saved at one time, so they have a ticket to heaven.

    As to your personal experience Dave, I also consider a crisis of faith to be different from a loss of faith. I don’t know what you have experienced, and perhaps you don’t know either. I too have had dark times of doubt, but I must admit I have never been so much in doubt that I renounced Christ’s divinity.

    Now, before anyone goes “Whoa! Who are you to judge?!?” please note I am not judging people, but their actions, and there is a world of difference. First of all, I don’t know if Dobzhansky was a Christian. If the words Ms. O’Leary quoted from various articles she was referring to who no doubt are referring to other conversations, are true, and Dobzhansky really did believe Christ was not divine, there is no afterlife, which makes a mockery of the Gospels (Gal 1:6-9), then how can that person really be a Christian in anything but self title only? Again, am I judging? No. Matt 7:1-6 (so many stop at verse 1 here), Luke 17:3, not only give me the right to be discerning, they command it. Hos 4:14 is quite explicit in this.

    I can’t look at someone and say “You are not a Christian, and you are therefore damned.” I can look at someone though and say “your words say this, your words deny that, your actions convey this message, and those are not the actions of a Christian as Christ and the apostles and the rest of scripture teach” but I stop there. I know that no one enters heaven except through the Son, (John 14:6). I take that verse to mean not that I can get to heaven through Christ, but that through Christ, God will bring me to heaven. By that I mean, I absolutely think there will be non-Christians in heaven. Moses wasn’t a Christian. Abraham wasn’t even a Jew, nor were Noah and Adam. In the post-resurrection times though, I find it hard to believe that there will be many people who outwardly contradict the gospel allowed into heaven. I certainly think there will be those that have never heard the gospel or were never really taught it that God will bring in through Christ – Rom 1:18-23.

    Dave, I hope I have cleared up some of my thoughts on this and why I believe the way I do on this matter. I stand by my statement to Carlos, but I hope I am humble enough to recognize that I may be in error on some of the finer points and would love to discuss them further.

  54. 54
    EdH says:

    Dave – you also commented a few times that Paul isn’t God. Quite right! However, do you deny or accept that Christ himself converted Paul and used Paul for His purposes, and that if Paul or any of the other Apostles had taught a different gospel than Jesus had intended, that Jesus wouldn’t have come back and literally had a “come to Jesus” meeting with them to straighten it out? In fact, God sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles a number of times to clarify issues for them.

    Paul isn’t God, but he was God’s messenger, and I don’t think God would have allowed Paul to further his own agenda or get the message all wrong.

  55. 55
    Zero says:

    The plan of salvation is described plainly in Eze 33.

    The new birth is described plainly in Eze 37.

    Blessings

    Zero

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