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David vun Kannon’s question on the rift between ID and Creationist communities

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The readers at Uncommon Descent are often a good source of feedback for the topics which interest them. To that end, I’d like to address a question asked by one of our readers, David vun Kannon, about the rift between ID and Creationist communities.

Here is the post where David asked his question: Bergman’s List, Post #4

David quoted me as saying:

there is still a bit of a rift between the Creationist communities and the ID communities

David then asked:

I saw a similar reference to a separation between ID and Christian faith groups on another of your recent posts. As a relative newcomer to following ID issues, I have to say I’m surprised to hear this. For the sake of the general public’s understanding of ID as a scientific enterprise, this should be openly discussed and better understood. Can you make a separate post on this topic?

There are many reasons for the rift, but let me highlight two individuals symbolic of the reasons why there is a rift.

On the Creationist side, here is one of the foremost Creationists arguing how origins should be discussed. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (the world’s leading YEC organization) said:

Don’t let Bible be let out of the conversation

Argue from the authority of the Bible

Don’t let young age of the Earth be conceded as that’s how you’ll lose the argument

The problem is world views

In contrast, the father of Intelligent Design, Phil Johnson (who is a professing Christian) said:

get the Bible out of the discussion

From this, one can see what the root of the rift is. To be fair there are Creationists like myself, johnnyb, Paul Nelson, Nancy Pearcy, David Coppedge, probably D. James Kennedy and others who are friendly to ID. In fact, I identify more with the ID community than the Creationist community.

However, some YECs actually consider me and those like me as second class Christians for our being so friendly to ID and our willingness to applaud those who accept an Old Earth. So, I would probably be placed in the ID camp more so than the creationist camp even though I accept the special creation of life and am sympathetic to a Young Earth as outlined on purely scientific grounds by Walter Brown, PhD, MIT in Creation Science.

Also, David Snoke a premier physicist and elder in my denomination wrote: A Biblical Case for an Old Earth. Within our denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), there has been a group known as the Westminster Presbytery that feels Snoke and myself are heretics for our friendliness toward Old Earth. I myself have come around to think the Earth could be young, but I’m not dogmatic about it. But my moderate view would be considered too compromising by the Westminster Presbytery who probably, if they had their way with the rest of the denomination, would put Snoke and church officers who share my views on church trial. See the exchange:

Westminster Presbytery Condemns most of PCA as Heretical

Potomac Presbytery Responds to Charge of Heresy

I am part of the Potomac Presbytery as well as several members and supporters of IDEA at GMU (IDEA at GMU is a secular organization, and has members of all faiths, but I just thought I’d point it has several members who are in the Potomac Presbytery). The rift between the presbyteries is symbolic of the wider rifts happening elsewhere.

It is this theological and cultural rift that tends to separate some YECs from the rest of the world. There is so much more on this topic, but I thought that would at least set the stage.

Reciprocally, the ID community does not want YEC dogma invading the ID community. The ID community has agnostics and even atheists in their camp (like Frank Tipler). Furthermore the YEC community has such an unsavory reputation that the ID community is pressured to distance itself from it:

ID Coming Clean by Bill Dembski

Theists of all stripes are to be sure welcome. But the boundaries of intelligent design are not limited to theism. I personally have found an enthusiastic reception for my ideas not only among traditional theists like Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but also among pantheists, New-Agers, and agnostics who don’t hold their agnosticism dogmatically. Indeed, proponents of intelligent design are willing to sit across the table from anyone willing to have us.

That willingness, however, means that some of the people at the table with us will also be young earth creationists. Throughout my brief tenure as director of Baylor’s Michael Polanyi Center, adversaries as well as supporters of my work constantly pointed to my unsavory associates. I was treated like a political figure who is unwilling to renounce ties to organized crime. It was often put to me: “Dembski, you’ve done some respectable work, but look at the disreputable company you keep.” Repeatedly I’ve been asked to distance myself not only from the obstreperous likes of Phillip Johnson but especially from the even more scandalous young earth creationists.

I’m prepared to do neither. That said, let me stress that loyalty and friendship are not principally what’s keeping me from dumping my unsavory associates. Actually, I rather like having unsavory associates

Major ID proponents and sympathizers who accept an Old Earth are:

Michael Behe
David Berlinski (ID sympathizer)
Gerald Shroeder (who converted Antony Flew)
William Dembski
George Gilder
Guillermo Gonzalez
Jay Richards
Phil Johnson
Walter Bradley
Frank Tipler
Michael Denton (ID sympathizer)
John Barrow (ID sympathizer)
William Lane Craig
David Snoke
Henry “Fritz” Schaeffer
(the list goes on)

Technically, people like Walter Bradley would be called Progressive Creationists, and David Snoke a Day Age Creationist. They are still considered what AiG calls Old-Earth Compromisers (OECs). Thus AiG would not view them as true creationists. Furthermore, they would certainly have heartburn over the large number of non-Evangelicals and non-Christians within the ID community. But I point out, ID as a theory is a theology-free scientific hypothesis like thermodynamics is a theology-free scientific hypothesis. The questions it explores are very narrow.

Hopefully that highlights some of the reasons for the rift between Creationists (really YEC creationists) and the ID community.

Finally, ID is a theology-free theory much like any other scientific hypothesis (like thermodynamics). But ID is special, in that even though it is theology free, it has been called, The Bridge Between Science and Theology.

60 Replies to “David vun Kannon’s question on the rift between ID and Creationist communities

  1. 1
    jaredl says:

    “But ID is special, in that even though it is theology free, it has been called, The Bridge Between Science and Theology.”

    Except, as I have noted to both Drs. Dembski and Wells in person – ID doesn’t support classical theology, which theology, in the end, must and always shall rest upon counter-inductive claims, none of which are necessitated by the text of the Bible – specifically, God as the grounds of all being, creation ex nihilo, information ex nihilo (or due to the eternal nature which conditions God, take your pick).

    All that aside, Dr. Cordova, would you mind asking Dr. Collins the question I posed in your post on GMU?

    Thanks!

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Jaredl,

    I’ll try to get an answer to your question.

    PS
    By the way, I’m not a PhD or Dr., yet 🙂

  3. 3
    jaredl says:

    Well, Mr. Cordova (then!) – I may have phrased the question poorly. The issue is that the laws of nature cannot be shown to be designed for the simple reason that we can’t know that they could have been any different. This knocks out the probability aspect of the design inference. The laws certainly are specified, in that they are algorithmically compressible, but that’s not sufficient to show design. Collins’s view that the laws of nature are designed is therefore without espistemic support, taking Dembski’s work on the design inference as normative. Moreover, Collins rejects the design inference with respect to biology, even though it can be shown rigorously that long, biologically functional sequences of DNA are both highly improbable and are specified. The issue then is does Collins reject Dembski’s work on the design inference, and if so, what justifies his stance that the laws of nature are designed?

    Thanks!

  4. 4
    Mats says:

    The rift exists bkz each comunity wants the other to do what is not their intended goal. As long as YECers realize what ID is all about, and IDers realize what are the goals of YEC, the “rift” will be gone.
    Problems arise, however, when IDists demand that YECers abandon the “dogmatic” view of the age of the earth, and when YECers demand that ID be more Biblical.

  5. 5
    Gods iPod says:

    Crazy!

    I am a YEC-leaning believer.

    I run a Christian ministry that promotes listening to the Bible.

    I am the intern and PA for one of the most sought after Bible teachers in the world.

    Ken Ham’s staff in Australia has attacked me via email for supporting ID.

    If ID is true, it does not need the Bible’s help in proving that.

    I want the Bible OUT of the discussion.

  6. 6
    scordova says:

    For what it’s worth, I believe there is strong scriptural support for Phil Johnson’s position and actually against Ken Ham’s position.

    There is a time and place for everything under the sun, even a time for servant of God to serve God by being silent….

    John 10:38 says to me if one cannot accept the Words of the Lord, they are invited to accept the works. I believe that Romans 1:20 indicates that Nature will testify of the designer independent of the scriptures.

    I delight in beginning my talks with an atheistic-materialistic metaphysical assumption as a starting hypothesis and showing via proof-by contradiction it is unsustainable theoretically and empirically. Nature is so carefully architected to testify of design that the work of nature will speak of itself and thus the promise of Romans 1:20 is fulfilled. That is how I can speak before a mixed crowed of atheists and evangelical Christians. I tell the Evangelical Christians about Romans 1:20 and then I proceed to assume (only for the sake of argument), the atheistic metaphysic (which is agreeable to the atheists).

    I disagree with Ham that it’s about world-view. The evidence in nature is strong enough to over come any world view. If one is being run over by a truck, one’s world view is irrelevant. Brute facts will prevail in the end, not dogma.

    For more on the topic of ID and theology, see The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence by Bill Dembski

  7. 7
    Joseph says:

    From what I have heard calling “God” a “designer” is a Bozo no-no.

    JaredL:
    The issue is that the laws of nature cannot be shown to be designed for the simple reason that we can’t know that they could have been any different.

    Just what are the options for the existence of those laws? Sheer-dumb-luck? POOFED into existence? Intentionally designed? Always were? Just are?

    Of Newton, Kepler, & Galileo in the book Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty by Morris Kline, Kline states that these scientist-mathematicians believed that “God had designed the universe, and it was to be expected that all phenomena of nature would follow one master plan. One mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern all related phenomenon.”

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    From what I have heard calling “God” a “designer” is a Bozo no-no.

    See Stephen Meyer’s Response on the Identity of the Designer, Nightline Interview

    Question: You’ve drawn no conclusions on who you think the designer is?

    Stephen Meyer’s answer: I think the designer is God

    ID theory does not identify the Designer, but it does not preclude personal opinions from being offered.

    IDEA Center website Affiliations:

    The claim that life was designed by an intelligence is a scientific claim, while the claim that the designer is God, or specifically, the God of the Bible, is a religious one.
    ….
    we consider it reasonable to conclude that the designer may be identified as the God of the Bible, while recognizing that others may identify the designer in a different way

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    I am a YEC-leaning believer.

    I run a Christian ministry that promotes listening to the Bible

    Ken Ham’s staff in Australia has attacked me via email for supporting ID.

    Sheesh!

  10. 10
    jaredl says:

    Joseph,

    You comment, Just what are the options for the existence of those laws? Sheer-dumb-luck? POOFED into existence? Intentionally designed? Always were? Just are?

    Actually, that’s my point – we cannot know. Without being able to show that one possibility was realized to the exception of a LOT of others, we lack one of the two key ingredients for inferring design – demonstration of improbability. Hence, the design inference with respect to the laws of nature is necessarily vacuous.

  11. 11
    David vun Kannon says:

    Sal,

    Thank you for addressing my question in such depth, and with sensitivity to the differing opinions and perspectives.

    David

  12. 12
    Joseph says:

    Just what are the options for the existence of those laws? Sheer-dumb-luck? POOFED into existence? Intentionally designed? Always were? Just are?

    JaredL:
    Actually, that’s my point – we cannot know.

    Perhaps but we can infer.

    JaredL:
    Without being able to show that one possibility was realized to the exception of a LOT of others, we lack one of the two key ingredients for inferring design – demonstration of improbability.

    Right but we do have experience with designers designing parameters- specified parameters.

    Also, from “The Privileged Planet”:

    Imagine you’re taken captive by some powerful aliens, like Q on [I]Star Trek: Generations[/I], a group of highly intelligent if utterly obnoxious beings who exist as a sort of unified community called the Q continuum. Among their many qualifications, the Q can travel back in time. In the story we’re concocting, imagine that the Q transport you back to the moment of the Big Bang. After arriving, one Q takes you to a spacious room, with a large, complicated device on one side, adorned with scores of enormous dials not unlike the dials on a Master padlock. On closer inspection, you notice that every knob is inscribed with numbered lines. And above each knob are titles like “Gravitational Force Constant”, Electromagnetic Force Constant”, Strong Nuclear Force Constant”, and “Weak Nuclear Force Constant”.

    You ask Q what the machine is, and after some snide and dismissive comments about the feebleness of the human mind, he tells you that it’s a Universe-Creating Machine. According to Q, the great collective Q continuum used it to create out universe. The machine has a viewing screen that allows the Q to preview what different settings will produce before they press Start. Without going into detail about it works, Q explains that the dials must all be set precisely, or the Universe-Creating Machine will spit out a worthless piece of junk ( as shown on its preview screen), like a universe that collapses on itself within a few seconds into a single black hole or drifts along indefinitely as a lifeless hydrogenated soup.

    “Well how precisely do the knobs have to be set?” you ask. With some embarrassment, Q tells you that, so far, they’ve only found one combination that actually produces a universe even mildly habitable- namely, our own. “So”, you ask, “do you mean that there are only two habitable universes, the one the Q exists in, and ours that you have created?” In a volatile mixture of anger a chagrin, he admits, “Um, no, there’s just this one.” This arouses your suspicions: “Now, what sort of bootstrapping magic allowed you to create the universe you live in?” Crushed by your keen command of logic and highly sensitive baloney detector, Q finally admits, “Well, we didn’t actually find the right combination ourselves. In fact, the machine doesn’t exactly belong to us. We merely found it, with the dials already set. The machine had done its work before we arrived. Ever since then, we’ve been looking for another set of dial combinations to create another habitable universe, but alas, so far we haven’t found one. We’re certain that other habitable universes are possible, though, so we are still looking.”

    This fanciful story illustrates one of the most startling discoveries of the last century: the universe, as described by its physical laws and constants, seems to be fine-tuned for the existence of life.

    IOW it certainly appears there is a probabilty issue.

    JaredL:
    Hence, the design inference with respect to the laws of nature is necessarily vacuous.

    Not at all. We know the laws exist and how they came to be is most definitely of interest scientifically. That is if science really cares about the reality to our existence.

  13. 13
    David vun Kannon says:

    Jaredl:
    The issue is that the laws of nature cannot be shown to be designed for the simple reason that we can’t know that they could have been any different.

    I don’t think that is correct. Physicists do calculate what the effects would be of differing sets of laws. I remember reading an article in Scientific American a few years ago with a chart that explored the ramifications of different numbers of spatial and temporal dimensions. All of the arguments about the weak and strong anthropic principle revolve around calculating other universes and showing they don’t last long enough for us to evolve.

    It’s just like geometry – choose a different set of axioms and you’ll get a different geometry – Euclidean, Riemannian, etc.

  14. 14
    jpark320 says:

    Well here is my take on someone who is a YEC more on Ken Ham’s side theologically (actually I should side my self w/ Dr. Jonathan Safarti, but I’m sure they agree on most tings) and I’m very sympathetic to ID also. I think I can shed some light on this topic for everyone here since I am almost right down smack in the middle (okay so I tip to the YEC, but I have mostly ID books so there 🙂 )

    Sal says:

    John 10:38 says to me if one cannot accept the Words of the Lord, they are invited to accept the works. I believe that Romans 1:20 indicates that Nature will testify of the designer independent of the scriptures.

    I agree w/ you, but Romans 1:20 is talking most definitely of the Triune God specifically ie His invisible attributes, eternal nature, divine – not some other “Designers.” Also John 10:38 is talking about the miracles Jesus preformed and that they (and His words) confirm His deity and messiahship.

    Thus here is where I believe why there is a big split.

    ID in its pure sense, wants to only go so far as to show that nature in fact has a teleology and wants to change Academia to adopt the correct scientific paradigm and move out the old ie Darwinism. ID cannot show who the designer is by name. But those verses claim not simply that a designer can be shown, but rather the works and nature speak specifically of ONE designer. In fact Romans 1:20 says we can see from the creation His INVISIBLE attributes.

    As a Christian who identifies highly from that camp i want to ask, “Why stop there so often at any old designer when you should just name the Deigner!”

    Now to my other fellow Christian brethren here, if you are fighting for ID mainly b/c you believe its a very powerful apologetic to bring people to Christ that’s noble, but sometimes we (YECers) don’t see that message get across.

    Now I’m a Calvinist and presuppositional apologists so I disagree w/ this method, but I know the main intentions for someone like Dr. William Lane Craig (and perhaps Dr. Dembski?) who is an Arminian classical apologetics does exactly that. Once again I disagree that is the most effective method, but nonetheless his main intentions are for the furtherance of the Gospel .

    Okay, so as YECer why am I so heavily involved with ID you ask? Same thing to enhance my witness and always be prepared (I most humbly acknowledge that all this obviously takes a back seat to the Gospel) just like every single other facet of my life. But as a scientist who wishes to pursue research, I don’t want to be bogged down by faulty science.

    It is akin to the conversion of Newtonian to quantum mechanics transition – why be held down by an old paradigm that cannot and will not take you as far as you need to go. However many of my YEC brethren erroneously see it as more of a geocentric to heliocentric transition – that its science PLUS theological ramifications.

    In college and med school we get to challenge our test questions if we feel that the professors erred and we were right. That’s how many Christians in the ID view it – We just want the right answer geez! And when ppl say its “Bible free” they mean that we don’t have to go to the prof. w/ the Bible, however I think the “Bible free” gets misinterpreted often as “We don’t need the Bible at all not even for our movitations.” But as Sal pointed out (in fact he quoted the Bible and publically professes his faith often 🙂 ) it is not that his intentions are out of the Biblical boundaries or “Bible free”, but the manifestations of those intentions can be argued upon on a purely scientific basis ie that is the “Bible free” I believe he is talking about.

    Sorry for my ramble.

  15. 15
    Ben Z says:

    I have a question…

    If some physicists can agree that there must be multiple universes or “something spooky going on”, I don’t understand why such precluding the option of natural laws can’t be applied to nature. Entailing either there’s multiple universes or something spooky going on.

  16. 16
    jpark320 says:

    If I’ve misrepresented anyones view I’m sorry 🙁

  17. 17
    johnnyb says:

    Of course, I think we can avoid most difficulties with most parties if we simply take ID as a theory of causation. Creationists tend to have a problem seeing that.

  18. 18
    idnet.com.au says:

    I wonder if YEC is mainly a theological position. It seems to be largely held by faith. It seems to many to be necessary to maintain traditional Christian theology like sin and atonement.

    Bill Dembski’s essay earlier this yeaar seems to me may have solved the theological difficulty of OEC. “Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science.” Everyone should read it through.

    http://www.designinference.com.....eodicy.pdf

    If the evangelical YEC and OEC sectors of the ID community can accept that they both hold to the essential theology, then perhaps we could stop arguing about young or old earth in the context of ID, and leave it to somewhere else.

  19. 19

    Speaking as an interested outsider, it seems to me that the rise of ID within the “creationist” community indicates that the YEC position is on its last legs, at least insofar as it is held by people who have any understanding of science. To me, Dembski and Behe’s theoretical work point directly to (indeed, are predicated upon) the operation of macroevolutionary processes operating in deep evolutionary time; they just hypothesize different mechanisms that do mainstream evolutionary biologists. This therefore implies that if the ID position does indeed become the predominant one among people in the Abrahamic faith communities, it will spell the end once and for all of the YEC position and the end of Biblical literalism.

    That is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too…

  20. 20
    jpark320 says:

    Dr. MacNeill,

    I think you’ve confused ID for OEC perhaps and failed to realize that a lot of the YEC have jumped on the bandwagon of ID since it is friendly to all people who believe in design. ID just has been a more successful push (most likely b/c its relgiously neutral) and its goal purely academic instead of evangelistic.

    btw the cake tastes good … 🙂

  21. 21
    scordova says:

    Even though YECs have promoted ID arguments for a long time, the modern version (which de-emphasizes religion) emerged in the OEC and secular community. Three major works are considered the starting point of modern ID:

    1. Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984) by Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen (OECs)

    2. Evolution a Theory in Crisis (1985) by Denton (agnostic)

    3. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1987) by Barrow (Theistic Evolutionist) and Tipler (provisional Atheist)

    A few years later, the rest of the Old Earth pro-ID community joined in who were not from YEC backgrounds. Some of the Major names I listed above.

    As far as the Discovery Institute, to the best of my knowledge, the YECs are:

    1. Nancy Pearcey (maybe)
    2. Paul Nelson

    Jonathan Wells last year at an IDEA meeting at GMU said he is neutral on the issue.

    Practically all the YEC organizations, despite their complaints about ID carry ID materials. If one visits the AiG and ICR bookstore, one will see ID titles, even those they would deem heretical theologically (like Denton and Gonzalez and Behe).

  22. 22
    Larry Fafarman says:

    Richard Dawkins said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” So maybe it could be said that intelligent design makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled creationist. LOL

    Despite this “rift” between the ID and creationist communities, Judge Jones (Kitzmiller v. Dover) and many other Darwinists insist that ID and creationism are inseparable. Darwinists have even coined the term “intelligent design creationism.” Also, someone called ID “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”

  23. 23
    lucID says:

    Just in case anyone is interested in reading my personal opinion!

    I guess I lead a somewhat schizophrenic existence when it comes to the ID/YEC/evolution debate. More simply I hold a dual ID-YEC perspective, which are completely separate. I am quite comfortable switching hats between the two depending on the situation.

    In the everyday secular environment I hold to the broad ID theory that doesn’t stipulate the designer and I’m very insistent that purely ‘science’ and not the bible be used to prove that random blind chance can’t account for diddly squat. People should be persuaded from a mathematical and scientific viewpoint and not a religious one that evolution is a crock of #$%@. There has to be separation of church and state and a biblical perspective cannot hold sway in a secular environment.

    In my personal capacity as a Christian I hold that the bible must hold ultimate truth and I view it through somewhat of a YEC perspective. Here I choose to go beyond where pure science halts and points to what faith reveals to be true i.e. the bible and that the designer is God in the Judeo-Christian fashion.

    I find this works quite well for me!

  24. 24
    bevets says:

    I am a YEC and I am very happy with ID — as long as IDers remain silent on theology. My impression is that IDers are eager to make much out of little in order to distance themselves. I think this is unfortunate.

  25. 25
    Rowan says:

    It seems to me that these problems occur because people don’t appreciate the limited scope of ID theory. Unlike OEC or YEC, ID is not a theory of origins, or even a counter-theory to Darwinian Evolution. ID as I understand it, just gives us a scientific framework for hypothesizing and testing the presence of design in the world around us. One can be many things and a believer in ID at the same time.

    As sympathetic as I am to Biblical Creationism, it worries me sometimes that ID might be hijacked by well-meaning but over-zealous creationists.

  26. 26
    SuricouRaven says:

    “Unlike OEC or YEC, ID is not a theory of origins, or even a counter-theory to Darwinian Evolution. ”

    On paper, this is true. But a quick browse of most threats and topics here reveals that many ID proponents dont see it that way – there is constant talk of ‘darwinistic dogma’ and attacks on evolution in general. For most ID proponents the scientific implications of the idea are secondry to its religious or philosophical implications – most notably, its potential use as a ‘proof’ of God’s existance.

  27. 27
    Joseph says:

    Allen MacNeil:
    Speaking as an interested outsider, it seems to me that the rise of ID within the “creationist” community indicates that the YEC position is on its last legs, at least insofar as it is held by people who have any understanding of science.

    But there are still mant scientists who are also YECs.

    Allen MacNeil:
    To me, Dembski and Behe’s theoretical work point directly to (indeed, are predicated upon) the operation of macroevolutionary processes operating in deep evolutionary time; they just hypothesize different mechanisms that do mainstream evolutionary biologists.

    Perhaps but we also know that just adding “deep evolutionary time” to variation is NOT scientific.

    Allen MacNeil:
    This therefore implies that if the ID position does indeed become the predominant one among people in the Abrahamic faith communities, it will spell the end once and for all of the YEC position and the end of Biblical literalism.

    That is a big if and also very doubtful. Ya see ID would be OK if YEC was shown to be indicative of reality. IOW ID is NOT a refutation of YEC.

    As for people conflating Creation and ID- that is their problem and just exposes their lack of integrity as well as their anti-intellectual agenda.

  28. 28
    David vun Kannon says:

    Sal,

    Do any of those books use or define the term “intelligent design”? What is the first use of that term as it is presently understood?

  29. 29
    bFast says:

    Bevets:

    I am a YEC and I am very happy with ID — as long as IDers remain silent on theology.

    ID may need to be silent on theology, but IDers are humans first, and as such we will have an opinion, a voiced opinion, on theology. You may as well get used to it. BTW, I presume that you believe that you have the right to speak on the subject of theology; on what grounds would you suggest that IDers such as myself do not have that right? Is there some threshold of knowledge on the topic of theology that must be attained before one can address the issue? Or must one hold your particular theological perspective to gain the right to speak?

    I do think that in this statement you communicate clearly biggest issue IDers have with the YEC crowd. Its been appropriately labeled “holier than thou”.

  30. 30
    todd says:

    My $0.02:

    One of the things I learned long ago when evaluating claims of empirically unprovable ultimates is to assume the claim(s) to be true, contrasted by facts and reality. Additionally, I learned the importance of human perspective and that wisdom begins knowing how little we know.

    So, I assume God to be real and look to the scriptures for key descriptives to aid my perspective.

    God is eternal.

    What does eternal imply? Timeless.

    Can the human mind wrap around timelessness? I think not, for our entire existence is shaped by beginnings and endings – indeed, our languages reflect our perception of past, present, future.

    An eternal perspective by definition is not bound to the present, so God does not foresee the future, but exists in it. He does not remember the past, but exists in it. From where we sit (and all authors of scripture) such a thing is impossible to understand and any views imparted to us from that perspective are going to be translated into that which we relate.

    To illuminate this point, imagine a 2 dimensional being existing on a plane in our 3 dimensional reality, call him Harvey. During the course of Harvey’s life, his view is constrained to width and length. Now one day along comes a 3-D investigator, who has a device which allows him to see Harvey’s plane, despite it having no discernable thickness. He lights up the plane and sees Harvey, who is talking with a friend while walking to lunch one day, and pulls him out of his plane to examine him further. Harvey’s friend is baffled – one minute they are talking, next minute both are bathed in a strange light and two roundish things appear around Harvey and he disappears. After examining Harvey this way and that the PI places him back where he found him and turns off his machine to make notes.

    Harvey’s reappearance startles his friend, who wants to know where he went. Harvey, having no experience of height, he cannot describe what he say as he passed through many planes. Harvey saw his friend from another plane, but didn’t realize it because he had never seen him from above.

    This is how we relate to an eternal perspective. When I read scripture, I keep this in mind. If the author is describing an event witnessed by others in time, I tend to favor the literal. When authors describe a future or past event as revealed by the eternal God, I tend to favor the figurative. Were any of the prophesies considering the Messiah literal? What did the literalists of the time, looking for a Messiah-King to overthrow Rome, do when Jesus showed up? I believe they sought to have him killed.

    I look at the Genesis myth (and I mean this in the Tolkein sense) knowing those events preceding human observation and imparted by God to the author are likely to suffer from the author’s human perspective. Moses purportedly wrote much of the pentateuch in the tent of meeting, where he had fellowship with God and where, I presume, God showed him the creation. Suppose on the first day, God showed him the beginning void and spoke “Let there be light” and Moses ‘saw’ the begining of the cosmos. He wrote it down, went to sleep and God then showed him the next part on the second day and so on.

    This understanding is why I don’t hold YEC as dogma in the way the AiG crowd does. However, it also means that our perception of OEC may also suffer from our limited views, so my eyes and mind remain open.

    Anyway, we all have a tendency to fancy our own understandings above others and if being right is more important that knowing the truth, such understanding is corrupted to dogmatism and learning ceases.

  31. 31
    jerry says:

    Allen MacNeil,

    Here is how I see ID. It subsumes all mechanistic explanations of evolution including neo Darwinism, modern genetics, the various theories of evolutionary biology etc.. ID has no quarrel with any naturalistic mechanistic explanation for changes in allele frequency or the creation of new alleles.

    What ID says is that there are some events in life’s progress which cannot be explained by any naturalistic explanation and are best explained by the input of an intelligence.

    We can argue over just what those events are but the likely suspects are the origin of life itself and the appearance of a number of bilogical systems that seem to defy any naturalistic path.

    Again we can argue just what those events are or that in fact there are no such events but that is what ID is.

    As far as its implications for religious dogma, there is none except what each individual chooses to make of who the intelligence was and what motives the intelligence might have but each of these is separate from ID itself. Obviously many here and other places make their own subjective estimates of the who, why and how of the intelligence.

    Personally, I don’t think ID undermines YEC. I think geology does a marvelous job of that.

  32. 32
    jaredl says:

    As far as its implications for religious dogma, there is none except what each individual chooses to make of who the intelligence was and what motives the intelligence might have but each of these is separate from ID itself.

    ID has theological implications, alright. As I have noted elsewhere, physics implies matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Design theory, as promulgated by Dr. Dembski, implies intelligence cannot be reduced to matter. We are therefore left with an ontology, upon scientific grounds, where intelligence and matter are both eternal. This implies that creatio ex nihilo is false; this also implies that God is not the ground of all being.

    Further, consider the information problem facing classical theology. Intelligences, in our experience, never create new information in a vaccum. Intelligences, in our experience, utilize background knowledge, which is a product of past experience, in order to create new configurations of information; this is, according to my understanding, a core assumption in Dembski’s theory of the design inference. This assumption, however, fails with respect to the God of classical theology, which begins utterly alone, and is unconstrained and unconditioned (frankly, from this perspective, I can’t see the difference between classical theology and the idea that the universe began as set-theoretic operations on the empty set). Whence the background information necessary to create the specification to which creation has been conformed?

    In sum – ID has profound theological implications, some of which are unfriendly to the theology of the biggest ID supporters – orthodox, creedal Christianity, as well as any variant of classical theology (Judaism, or Islam, to name two others).

  33. 33
    David vun Kannon says:

    OT – sorry

    Todd:
    What did the literalists of the time, looking for a Messiah-King to overthrow Rome, do when Jesus showed up? I believe they sought to have him killed.

    I’m not sure who you think these literalists were. There were many Jewish sects active at that time.

  34. 34
    todd says:

    David,

    I meant those who were expecting a literal physical king.

    Jared,

    If we are images of God, who is eternal, then the difference is that the intelligence we observe is time bound – moreover, do we really ‘create’ information or do we discover that which is already there? Did Michealangelo create the sculpture David, or did he reveal what was there all along?

  35. 35
    todd says:

    The only place we can create ex nihlio is the printed word – and those creations are not manifest physically.

  36. 36
    todd says:

    Strike that last one, we can create with our words period. Interesting parallel with the first chapter of John, no?

  37. 37
    David vun Kannon says:

    Todd:
    Suppose on the first day, God showed him the beginning void and spoke “Let there be light” and Moses ’saw’ the begining of the cosmos. He wrote it down, went to sleep and God then showed him the next part on the second day and so on.

    I understand this is called a revelation-day approach, which I had never heard of until this week!

    In the Jewish tradition, there are several relevant principles to Biblical interpretation. One is “the text never loses its plain meaning” (which sounds obvious enough, but gets tricky when applied to poetry and non-legal, non-narrative material) and another is “the Torah speaks in the language of Man” (which acknowledges that the text had to make sense to the people it was given to at first, and to general human sensibilities).

  38. 38
    scordova says:

    I think, lest anyone think, a YEC or other kind of creationist (OEC) upbrining was influential to the formation of the modern ID movement, one would do well to hear personal publicly available anecdotes of the major ID proponents like:

    Michael Behe
    William Dembski
    Phil Johnson
    Frank Tipler
    Michael Denton (ID sympathizer)
    Dean Kenyon

    Probably more. NONE of them were creationists in the YEC sense, some would not be classified as creationists today. Denton was an OEC.

    I find it distasteful that Barbara Forrest applies tabloid scholarship and keeps pushing the label intelligent design creationist. That label may be appropriate to people like me, but certainly not the rule for the ID movment.

    In Darwin’s Nemesis Paul Nelson and Marcus Ross give a beautiful description of the relationship of YEC and ID. It gives a definition of ID and traces a bit of the history. The sailient point by Paul Nelson was that ID, in its modern formulation, makes no appeal to the authority of scripture.

    I have said before, one can formulate ID formally from existing scientific disciplines of Information Science and Modern Physics without any reference to theology. I personally will discuss theology because it’s on so many peoples minds in order to give context to ID, but ID can stand on its own without reference to theology.

  39. 39
    scordova says:

    David inquired:

    Sal,

    Do any of those books use or define the term “intelligent design”? What is the first use of that term as it is presently understood?

    The most common definition is from the discovery institute website. The first time I’d seen it in literature akin to the modern form was in Behe’s book Darwin’s Blackbox.

    There was the statement in 1987 Pandas and People which is totatlly different than ID of today.

    For comparison:

    Discovery Institute:

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. Some scientists have arrived at this view since fossil forms first appear in the rock record with their distinctive features intact, rather than gradually developing. ”

    and Barrow and Tipler in 1988 based on quantum physics offered there “ID” theory in the form of the Final Anthropic Principle

    Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out.”

  40. 40
    David vun Kannon says:

    Sal,

    I think it is this historical relationship that made me surprised by the existence of a rift between ID and YEC groups. But beyond YEC, is there really any difficulty getting other Christian faith groups behind ID? Was there anyone at Maclean Bible Church (as an example) that was antagonistic to ID?

  41. 41
    todd says:

    David:

    Revelation-day approach is what it is called? And to think I thought it was my own idea! It occurred to me some years ago in the midst of an argument with another layman who was of the naturalist bent.

    As I said, I won’t make book on it being Truth, because I’ve been wrong before, but it does make the 7 day account logically fit.

    Here’s a question to YECers to which I’ve never received a satisfactory answer: Genesis says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” and after light and dark are named night and day, “the evening and the morning were the first day” – so, when did that first day begin and how long did it take? Questions like this come out my meditations on perspective.

  42. 42
    todd says:

    David,

    Moses Maimonides has some great writings on interpreting the Torah (he was a rabbi). If you’ve never read his Guide for the Perplexed (http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/index.htm), I highly suggest it.

  43. 43
    Paul Nelson says:

    David asked:

    “But beyond YEC, is there really any difficulty getting other Christian faith groups behind ID?”

    Sure. Go here, for instance

    http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa

    and read the traffic. Defenders of ID are very much in the minority, among an active group of Christians in the sciences. I lecture every spring at Wheaton College in Illinois, where most of the science and philosophy faculties (while friends of mine) are highly skeptical of ID.

  44. 44
    jaredl says:

    Mr. Cordova,

    I understand ID in the same sense – that it makes no appeal to theology. Lest I be misunderstood, I think ID, while not arising from religious premises, profoundly impacts religious positions.

  45. 45
    Paul Nelson says:

    Forgot to add: Wheaton College is an explicitly evangelical (Christian) institution.

  46. 46
    jaredl says:

    Here’s what I don’t get – which aspect of the design inference do they (religious opponents of design theory) reject?

    Is it just me, or do very few – if any – actually address the logic of the design inference?

  47. 47
    scordova says:

    David,

    One of my responses to your question is trapped in the spam queue. So I have to wait for a moderator to clear it.

    is there really any difficulty getting other Christian faith groups behind ID

    Yes, there is some. I pointed out the Westminster Presbytery in my denomination would have issues with ID. Last year I was “shown the door” by one individual in the Harrisonburg, Virginia Valley Family Forum because I dared to say evidence for OEC was reasonable (even though I lean toward YEC). He wanted to invite me to speak about creation science but wanted to dictate what I said. I said, “forget it”. He said, IDers should not be teaching the church….

    AiG has this talk by Dr. Georgia Purdom (whom I’m mentioned in the thread about Bergman):

    ID is it intelligent, is it Christian?

    But the issue is not getting them just to like the theory, it is getting them ENTHUSIASTIC! It is getting them to invest time pushing and coordinating the dissemination of information. For example at McLean Bible, even though the have an $90 million church building, I don’t think they have budgeted to give ever high school kid in the congregation Unlocking the Mystery of Life and Privileged Planet. That’s the sort of thing that needs to be done since it’s not likely to get taught in the public schools

    If Case for a Creator is a smashing success, we’ll probably try to get it in the hand of even more students rather than Unlocking the Mystery of Life and Privileged Planet. If it’s a great video, I can envision it being shown in the Sunday schools, but even in McLean, some of the youth leaders are reluctant to show it. They sometime wonder of it’s relevance I suppose….

    Was there anyone at Maclean Bible Church (as an example) that was antagonistic to ID?

    Not that I know of, but it was news when I discovered there were people seriously interested in the topic. The pastor, Lon Solomon, a PhD from Johns Hopkins and a converted messianic Jew is a creationist and former drug dealer. Here is his story A Pastor With a Drive to Convert

    On Capitol Hill, Christian Embassy, which is backed by McLean Bible and whose leaders attend the church, drew 100 members of Congress to Bible studies in the exclusive Family Room off the floor of the House last year. The group’s other meetings attract high-ranking officers from the Pentagon, foreign diplomats and administration officials.

    It would be important for ID then to win the leadership over in churches like McLean, to get them enthusiastic for the project. Two of their volunteers are now helping me promote ID and creation science in Virginia. There are 30 universities in the area and a core of pro-ID high tech scientists here. We will try to get as many churches on the same page as possible.

    Ironically, in churches like Caroline Crocker’s (Truro Episcopal), the views are mixed, and the pastors apparently wish to be neutral. In my own Potomac Presbytery it’s been a challenge, but I was thrilled they supported the showing of Privileged Planet in Mclean PCA. I was very thrilled when D. James Kennedy (PCA) came out with a story on George Mason IDEA and Caroline Crocker.

    In the Catholic Churches, we probably still get lukewarm reception. I’ve had some success with Pentecostal churches and lots with Baptist churches.

    So, in sum, I think it is still early to tell where all this will go. Two college Inter-Varsity organizations gave me a very cold reception on the topic of ID even though their publishing house is instrumental to promoting ID.

    PS
    For the record, I am a member of Gainesville Presbyterian, but in 2000-2001, I was a regular at McLean Bible Church and am on very good terms with them still. When Geoff Brumfiel mentioned my concern for a certain missionary or two at my church in the article in the prestigious scientific Journal Nature mentioned here, one of the missionaries in question was from McLean Bible, and she was briefly world famous when she was rescued from Afganistan by Army Rangers: Heather Mercer. It was because of the issue of Heather Mercer and another missionary that I got involved with ID. Brumfiel reported that in his article with relative accuracy.

  48. 48
    mike1962 says:

    todd: “Genesis says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” and after light and dark are named night and day, “the evening and the morning were the first day” – so, when did that first day begin and how long did it take?”

    Interpreting Genesis at best is a slippery business. What fascinates me is that some people claim that the text is “God breathed”, and that they “accept the text” as it is. But I find that they often cannot do it without introducing ideas that are not in the text. For example, the sun and moon are set in place on the fourth day, yet three evenings and mornings have occured. How can that be if 24-hour solar days are implied? One proffered answer is that the sun was really setup on the first day but it wasn’t visible by earthlings until the fourth day because of some “firmament” blocking a direct view, etc. Very well, then. There must be gaps in the text. But if there are gaps in the text one might just as well fill them with other kinds of explanations instead of that one.

    Point is, it seems to me that Genesis was never intended by it’s writer(s) to be taken as the final and complete word, but was a terse narrative contra all the pagan mythologies extant in and around the Lavant, where astronomical bodies where worshipped as gods, and the high creator god(s) created out of primordial chaos monsters, etc.

    If there is a god, I think he/she/it would be much more interested in us treating our naybors the way we wished to be treated, than going to fist city over 3000 year old texts that have very obvious gaps in the narrative. As one of my friends used to say, “Genesis was never meant as a science text book.”

  49. 49
    antg says:

    Sal,

    I am interested to know: do you think it is right and proper for people to lobby for ID/YEC (or NDE) inside churches? I think the pastors of the Truro Episcopal church got it just right -leaders should be neutral on issues like these.

    My problem is that these are areas outside the core of Christian teachings and having church leaders endorsing a particular position on origins,etc is fundamentally unhealthy.

  50. 50
    todd says:

    Mike,

    How did all those first century christians get along without a canonized King James Version? How can anyone truly be saved without the ability to grok ye olde english? 😯

  51. 51
    todd says:

    antg,

    Shall church leadership also remain silent on origins questions which imply they should know better than to believe in God?

  52. 52
    scordova says:

    David,

    One of my posts above regarding your question was released from the spam buffer a few minutes ago. Take a look above.

    Sal

  53. 53
    scordova says:

    Sal,

    I am interested to know: do you think it is right and proper for people to lobby for ID/YEC (or NDE) inside churches? I think the pastors of the Truro Episcopal church got it just right -leaders should be neutral on issues like these.

    It’s not my place to speak about other church’s business. It is for the pastors and parishioner’s to decide, but I will “knock on their door” (so to speak) and let them know if these materials exists, the discussion may be relevant, and if they need help assistance can be provided.

    That’s not to say, I don’t have a strong opinion. For example, regarding teaching NDE from the pulpit, I would have major issues with that. Some churches did exactly that on Darwin Day with music and candle light. PUKE! Gag me with a spoon, PUKE! But that’s their right. If people want to attend the Church of Darwin, well hey, it’s a free country….

    But regarding the teaching of ID, Bill Dembski said it well:

    The creation of the world by God is the most magnificent of all acts of creation. It, along with humanity’s redemption through Jesus Christ, are the two key instances of God’s self-revelation. The revelation of God in creation is typically called general revelation whereas the revelation of God in redemption is typically called special revelation. Consequently, theologians sometimes speak of two books, the Book of Nature, which is God’s self-revelation in creation, and the Book of Scripture, which is God’s self-revelation in redemption. If you want to know who God is, you need to know God through both creation and redemption. According to Scripture, the angels praise God chiefly for two things: God’s creation of the world and God’s redemption of the world through Jesus Christ. Let us follow the angels’ example.

    In light of that, I can’t imagine Pastor’s not wanting to proclaim God’s creation and His Intelligent Design of the universe to their parishioner’s. But again, if they opt not to, I’m not going to go out of my way to complain….that’s there business what they say on Sunday morning. And if they choose not to praise God for the thing which angels praise Him for, that’s their business.

    The big confrerence in McLean Bible will try to persuade pastors that it is proper and highly relevant. It is for them to decide. I think the new Illustra Media video is highly oriented to deliver ID to the Christian Sunday Schools and Pulpits. We will see.

    PS
    For the record though regarding Truro:

    At Crocker’s church, Dr. Paul Julienne a NIST Physicist and co-worker with Nobel Laureate Bill Philips give a Francis Collins type talks at Truro Sunday Schools. See a blurb about Julienne and Crocker in the Washington Post here. Furthermore, it may even be Caroline Crocker’s desire that the church be neutral on the issue. I don’t know. For what it’s worth, it is public knowledge in the newspapers that Caroline Crocker’s husband is one of the priests at Truro. It was my understanding that scientists attending Truro were involved in getting pro-ID materials in Crocker’s hands 6 years ago, and two books in particular changed her mind: Darwin’s Black Box and ID Bridge Between Science and Theology.

    The Episcopal Church had a conference where Julienne participated. See A Catechism of Creation

    Here is another article about Julienne from Science and Technology News: The Daily Dose: Episcopalians look at science-and-religion.

    For me personally, I don’t care so much about whether a reconciliation with theology is possible, I care about what is true. Theology should be in line with the facts. A Theology that is not is perhaps not worth having faith in….

    Also, I want to make clear that Paul had attended several of our IDEA meetings at GMU and one is his children is a very close family friend, so I hope my mention of him will not be seen as overly negative. I think he is sympathetic to ID, but he does not hold the level of contempt for Darwinism that many of us here at Uncommon Descent do.

    Finally, it may be tedious that I report on the minutia happening in the churches, but all this is relevant to the progress of ID. We delight in ID receiving at least a hearing in the Catholic Church, and I report on things happening in my corner of the world in Protestant circles. I continue to be amazed the Washington post seems eager to report on this minutia as well…

  54. 54
    littlejon says:

    At last we’re all getting towards an answer.

    “But my brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man”

  55. 55
    bevets says:

    I am a YEC and I am very happy with ID — as long as IDers remain silent on theology.

    bFast

    ID may need to be silent on theology, but IDers are humans first, and as such we will have an opinion, a voiced opinion, on theology. You may as well get used to it. BTW, I presume that you believe that you have the right to speak on the subject of theology; on what grounds would you suggest that IDers such as myself do not have that right? Is there some threshold of knowledge on the topic of theology that must be attained before one can address the issue? Or must one hold your particular theological perspective to gain the right to speak?

    I was not suggesting that anyone be censored. Of course IDers haver their own theology, but ID can not be tied to an interpretation of Genesis. When you offer an interpretation of Genesis, you take your ID hat off and put on your YEC/OEC hat.

  56. 56
    Rude says:

    I like what Sr. Cordova said in 53 above:

    For me personally, I don’t care so much about whether a reconciliation with theology is possible, I care about what is true. Theology should be in line with the facts. A Theology that is not is perhaps not worth having faith in….

    Let’s not be convinced that after two millennia of trying we now know it’s impossible to untangle the real meaning of Genesis. The Churches tend to have positions fixed in concrete—which reminds me of Psalms 30:7—“And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved [בַּל אֶמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם]”—which in turn reminds me of creation verses such as Psalms 104:5—“Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever [בַּל תִּמּוֹט עוֹלָם וָעֶד]”—the very verses which once led the Church to support Ptolemy over Copernicus. It turned out that the Planet moves and hence the Church had to also—on this matter. Now we know that these verses were more allegorical than concrete, where the “earth” (הָאָרֶץ) is not the planet but the land, especially the land of Israel and the Presence in Jerusalem (Psalms 125:1): “They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion; it cannot be moved [לֹא־יִמּוֹט], it abideth for ever.”

    What I’m waiting for are competent scholars, Christian and Jewish, real seekers who have not bowed the knee to Darwin and who still take the Scripture (but not necessarily cherished interpretations) seriously. I mean scholars who look at everything, all the traditions and the latest science (archaeology, linguistics, geology, physics, etc.), and who enter the fray of open debate. It’s actually already begun—David Snoke (mentioned above) and C. John Collins both come at Genesis from an ID friendly perspective—hopefully there are or soon will be others. Personally I think Genesis predicts an old earth, and I’m neither a Day-Ager or Gap-Theorist, just a heretic. Which hopefully they’re not burning at the stake just yet.

  57. 57
    antg says:

    Sal,

    Thank you for your response. On teaching about God’s intelligent design (small i&d) ie the Creation in churches – thats fine, I fully agree. However I just feel that going further into ID(capitals)/YEC/NDE goes beyond the legitimate bounds of the pulpit. My belief is that these issues should be addressed publically in university or seminaries (and blogs!) and individually within churches with members free to come to their own personal understanding. I just think there is something wrong about pastors publicly endorsing something from the pulpit that is outside their field.

    Todd,

    I believe churches should teach the eternal truths of the bible, and not react to the winds of the issues of the day. I somtimes think that some churches have been guilty of promulgating ‘fashionable doctrine’ which ID is in danger of becoming. I hope that answers your question.

    Mike, Rude

    For what its worth, I have come to the same conclusion as yourselves about Genesis. Below is a quote that pretty much sums up what I believe from someone called Paul Woolley of Theos*:

    “The biblical narrative is most helpfully read as a polemic that challenges dominant ancient assumptions about the nature of God, the world and humanity. The biblical story provides an outline of who did what, without detail of when, where or how. ”

    As such I would not call myself a creationist in any sense except in the same way that Ken Miller would call himself a creationist. However I am very interested in the concept of ID.

    *Has anyone heard of this organisation? I could not get anything via google.

  58. 58
    Rude says:

    There is a vast literature on Genesis that spans more than two millennia—probably more has been said in regard to Genesis than on any other portion of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. There are many strategies of interpretation—here’s three off the top of my head:

    1. An account of the origin of the physical cosmos—creatio ex nihilo—that (for many) is compatible with Big Bang theory. Those who hold to this view include the Young Earthers, Day-Agers, and Gap Theorists. Scholars dispute the biblical foundations for this model. According to Gerhard May (Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Doctrine of ‘Creation out of Nothing’ in Early Thought, translated by A. S. Worrall. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994) this kind of speculation begins with Philo in Alexandria in his encounter with Stoic philosophy.

    2. A metaphoric account of the future history of Adam/Israel/Messiah framed as a creation document. Though it speaks in principle to aspects of the physical creation, its details describe the future. The Talmud attributes this understanding to Elijah the prophet which, if true, makes it the oldest interpretation. Augustine gives note of it and, contrary to the common perception, never repudiated it—what Augustine rejected was the “premillennialist” understanding of the book of Revelation.

    3. A polemic against contemporary creation stories of the pagan world. Those who hold to this view generally see the Hebrew Scriptures as a human search for God and not an actual revelation from God.

  59. 59
    David vun Kannon says:

    Todd,

    It is interesting that you should choose to refer to Maimonides (aka Rambam). Rambam is probably one of the most “rationalist” of philosophers in the Orthodox Jewish tradition. His main works are legal and philosophical, not exegesis of the Bible.

    For a different perspective, consider Rashi.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashi
    Rashi’s famous comment on Genesis 1:1 starts with the question “Why start here?” Since (in the traditional Jewish conception) the purpose of the Mosaic text was to establish the legal code of the nation, the text of the Bible should really begin in the middle of Exodus with the first real commandment ( “this shall be the first of months for you…”).

    The answer given is that it is necessary to go back to the beginning to establish that, since God created the universe, He could give away parts of it to whomever he wanted – such as giving the land of Israel to Abraham’s decendents. (Genesis as title search, if you will!)If Jefferson had prefaced the US Constitution with a brief history of England, it would be a similar case.

    Though it is hard to make generalizations, the modern Orthodox position looks back to Rambam (himself a great physician) and engages the world in a spirit of Torah u’Madaah, revealed knowledge and science. This position doesn’t have a problem with Deep Time and evolution as a tool of God. OTOH, there are Jewish YECs.

  60. 60

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