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The New ‘Two Cultures’ Problem: Theological Illiteracy of the Atheological


In 1959, the physicist-novelist-UK science policy advisor CP Snow gave his famous Rede Lecture at Cambridge, where he canonized ‘the two cultures’ , a long-standing and — to his mind at least — increasing distinction between the mindsets of those trained in the ‘arts’ (i.e. humanities, social sciences) and the ‘sciences’ (i.e. natural sciences, engineering). Even back then, and certainly more so now, there was another ‘culture’ that was increasingly set adrift from the rest of academic knowledge — theology.  For example, it would be interesting to learn whether most academics believe that theology constitutes a body of knowledge — and, for that matter, whether most theologians themselves believe that their knowledge applies to more than just fellow believers.  After all, most biologists believe that Darwinism is true even though most people in general — and perhaps even in the academy — don’t seem to share that belief.

I raise this point because of a remarkable piece that appears in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, the weekly newspaper of American academia. The piece is called ‘Monotheism was a Civilizational Advance Because _______’ and it’s by David Barash, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Washington who has a regular column in their ‘Brainstorm’ section. (Well, at least only the brain is credited here — rather than the entire mind…) I suppose the piece is meant to be a cute way of showing that what kids learn in school about the formative role of the Abrahamic religions in world culture is an old wives’ tale.  Thankfully, a couple of the respondents pick up on the science-religion link that Barash appears to have forgotten (or never to have learned), but the overall display is not edifying.

What always strikes me about these Darwinian dissings of religion — especially theology — is that theologians rarely fight their corner or, if they enter the fray, they end up conceding most of the relevant ground and aim for a NOMA-style settlement. (Whatever one makes of the details of his own theology, William Lane Craig is a very honorable exception to this tendency.) I sometimes wonder whether theologians are simply ashamed to defend their own knowledge base, as if they half-believe what their opponents think of them.

I say all this because ID has a tricky relationship with theology.  Many people in both the ID and anti-ID camps seem to think that admitting any theological support for ID is tantamount to denying its scientific merit.  Again, this suggests that such people have their doubts about theology as a body of knowledge. Yet, it is equally true that ID has had a long and productive relationship with theology — indeed, with ‘natural theology’, which Craig has done much to revive in recent years, especially with this book, and that Darwinists in particular have an elective affinity with an atheistic metaphysics.

When these background beliefs are put on the table, even though the discussion can soon become anxious and heated, it also becomes clearer why both sides assign different weights to different sorts of evidence. In the end, appeals to evidence can settle arguments only if the two sides agree to weight them in roughly the same way.  And clearly that’s not happening in the current state of the debate.

‘Monotheism was a Civilizational Advance Because it provided the backdrop upon which natural theology - the father of modern science - was build upon’ So it appears that that this barach character is lacking some substantial historical knowledge. Maybe instead of filling his head with darwinian myths he could invest perhaps a few hour to learn about the progress of Western culture and thought? above
---markf: "Because many of the ID proponents on this forum seem to believe they represent a popular movement which recognises the truth despite being oppressed by a Darwinian elite. I haven’t see any evidence for this as yet." ---bornagain77: "Here you go: Slaughter of The Dissidents [Paperback] Dr. Jerry Bergman --Markf in response: "Wow, given this new evidence, I am going to have to revise my position." Just kidding. Mark didn't really say that. He just continued on as sleek as ever--as if no refutation had occurred--as if the same kind of evidence had not already been presented by Ben Stein--as if we didn't have the testimony of numerous ID advocates. Let me try to anticipate Mark's response: "I apologize for not being more clear. I wasn't really challenging the evidence for Darwinist oppression so much as I was pointing out that ID advocates believe ......" How am I doing, Mark. Does that pretty much cover your style?--to act as if the refuted claim wasn't really your claim at all? StephenB
Paragwinn: Theology seeks to cast light on the nature of being, as opposed to the nature of nature. Theology can be compared to the process of scientific discovery when its observations are testable. For instance, theology might tell us that the way to have a more abundant (satisfying) life is to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ’s example of living a life of love. This is a testable proposition and can lead to an improved understanding of being. Christians believe that everything that exists was created through “the word” and reflects its eternal qualities. They also believe that “God is love” and directly intervenes in our existence according to his own purposes. If all of this is true, then it should be possible to detect the influence of God on being by following the prescriptions found in the Bible about how to lead a good life, all of which are based on sincere love. For example, if God created the heavens and the earth, and is sovereign in them, then the advice found in Proverbs is good advice, even though much of it seems counterintuitive—viz., “the race is not to the swift.” In the Christian worldview, there is a higher order of reality than what we can know immediately through our senses. For the fun of it, let’s call this higher reality “being.” It is life as we experience it and know it through our minds, and yet it is not the same thing as our minds, since others share roughly the same reality. It can perhaps be described as the context of our minds and thinking. This higher reality, this context, if it exists, cannot be known through science, since it is not made of matter or subject to natural laws. It is said to have its own laws, however, in which case it is testable in other ways. Since it purports to be the context of life, the only way to test it is to live it. That’s where theology can be compared to the scientific method. Spiritual laws can be applied in our lives in practical ways. It is quite possible to “know God” by loving one another. Do note, however, that the Bible brings up its own epistemology caveat. It seems only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to detect this higher reality. The rest either choose not to see and hear or, like Pharaoh, have had their hearts hardened against seeing and believing. allanius
F/N: Overnight, my attention was drawn to two significant references on the subject at the heart of this thread:
1: Paul Herrick's "Job Opening: Creator of the Universe—A Reply to Keith Parsons," a powerful essay on the question as to whether modern origins science in effect puts God out of a job. 2: The current issue of the peer reviewed phil journal, Philosphia Christi, Vol. 12, no. 2 - Winter 2010: On Theism and Ultimate Explanation.
A money cite-cluster from the former: _______________ >>Is modern science in the process of rendering belief in God logically unnecessary? Does the success of science at explaining the world mean that it is no longer reasonable to believe in God? This is the issue . . . . It is important to keep in mind that explanatory arguments are always inductive and never deductive. That is, in an inductive claim the conclusion is always probably true if the premises are true; it is never the case that the conclusion must be true, or is certain, if the premises are true. (A deductive argument is one in which the conclusion must be true if the premises are all true; that is, an argument in which if the premises are all true, then the conclusion cannot possibly be false. Inductive arguments make a weaker claim, namely, that if the premises are all true, then the conclusion is probably true.) Since the important arguments in this paper will be explanatory and thus inductive, it is worth keeping in mind that most of what we know about the world is known ultimately on the basis of explanatory reasoning—including most of what we have discovered through the application of the scientific method . . . . If science were to reach a point where everything has been explained by a completed and well-confirmed physics, in such a way that nothing is left unaccounted for, then there would indeed be no explanatory need whatsoever to suppose that God exists. That is, belief in God would not make sense of anything at all, and thus would not be logically needed to make sense of the world. In that case, a Creator would indeed "have nothing to do." One reason this is such an important issue today is that many people would find the following inference extremely attractive: If science explains literally everything, so that belief in God is no longer needed in order to explain or make sense of anything, such as why the universe exists or why anything within the universe exists, then belief in God does not make sense of anything, and therefore belief in God just does not make sense . . . . Would anyone have any good reason to continue believing in God if cosmologists one day achieve a well-confirmed grand unified theory of physics, one that combines in a logically consistent way general relativity theory and quantum theory, and eliminates an initial singularity or an absolute beginning point of space and time, thereby accounting for all known particles and forces within one comprehensive explanatory framework? In light of the rapid progress physics is making toward this goal, this is certainly one of the greatest questions of our day. Is belief in God destined to go the way of other once widespread beliefs overthrown by the advance of natural science, for instance, belief in the existence of elves, fairies, leprechauns, and witches' spells? . . . . philosophical theism, far from being vulnerable to the continued progress of science, rests on a rationally satisfying and philosophically attractive logical basis that cannot, in principle, be overturned by the continued progress of natural science. Theism cannot even be overturned by the "Holy Grail" of contemporary physics: a completed, well-confirmed grand unified "theory of everything" that harmoniously unites general relativity and quantum theory so as to account for all known particles and fields (i.e., for all quantities of mass-energy) . . . . Cosmologists have explained, in scientific terms and in precise step-by-step detail, the physical reactions and transformations that took already existing matter from a uniform soup of elementary particles dominated by radiation (during the Quark-Lepton era) to the present state of the universe containing electrons "orbiting" atomic nuclei composed of protons and neutrons (both of which are in turn composed of quarks). However, nobody has any idea how to get (through scientifically explainable steps) from a state of pure, absolute, brute nothingness to matter existing . . . . I submit that examination of our ordinary explanatory practices shows that explanation is transmitted from one state of affairs to another in a manner resembling the transmission of epistemic justification from one belief to another. Just as belief A does not transmit conclusive epistemic justification to belief B when A is itself unjustified, so potential explanans A does not transmit conclusive explanation to potential explanandum B when A itself is not fully explained. This is simply the way our explanatory practices work, the logic of ordinary explanation. (In an explanatory context, the explanandum is the object that is to be explained, and the explanans is that which does the explaining.) Perhaps this is the point of the famous (but probably apocryphal) story of Bertrand Russell and the turtle lady. According to one version of the legend, shortly after publication of Russell's book on the subject, Russell was giving a public lecture on Einstein's general theory of relativity. The question came up: What holds the Earth in place in space? A woman in the audience offered: "The Earth rests on the back of a giant turtle—that's what holds the planet up!" When Russell asked, "But what holds the turtle in place?" she is said to have answered: "The turtle rests on an even bigger turtle under it." Humoring her, Russell is said to have replied: "But what holds that turtle in place?" She answered: "An even bigger turtle under it." After several iterations, when Russell asked her again, "But what holds up that turtle?" she is said to have replied, "Sonny, it's turtles all the way down." . . . . When the first turtle was proposed to account for what holds the Earth in place, why did Russell ask, "But what holds that up?" Because the first turtle was not by itself a conclusive explanation. For essentially the same question that started the explanatory regress arose again with respect to the turtle: a turtle sitting there in empty space is as much in need of explanation as is the Earth. Why did Russell keep repeating the question? ("What holds that one up?") Because each new turtle added to the lineup ("It rests on an even bigger turtle") was also inconclusive in itself. You might say that each new explanatory step made zero explanatory progress. So, on reflection, it seems pretty clear that if a series of explanations of contingent things regresses to infinity—whether the contingent things be turtles, planets, or what have you, with each contingent thing's existence explained only in terms of some previously existing contingent thing—then no conclusive explanation of existence is given, no matter how far back one goes. This is the reason, I believe, why the eternal universe hypothesis advanced by Parsons and Hume fails, and why the atheist's explanatory enterprise, at least as presented by Parsons and Hume, is explanatorily unsatisfactory . . . . What if there is a way to provide a rationally conclusive explanation for the existence of a contingent universe? On purely rational grounds, wouldn't this be preferable to an infinite regression explanation? It would seem so; isn't it always reasonable to prefer a complete over a partial explanation? The history of science makes no sense otherwise. Later in this paper I will argue that classic philosophical theism provides a conclusive explanation, which in turn renders belief in God, as defined within classical theism, rationally preferable to an atheistic eternal universe hypothesis . . . . Every explanation in science clearly contains an explanans that is brute for the purpose of the explanation. (And that means that science alone will never answer all questions of existence.) But it is not at all obvious or self-evident that this is true of all explanations, such as philosophical ones. Thus an argument is needed for the universal claim.[17] Consider one way in which the universal claim that all explanations must leave something completely brute in their wake might be false. Suppose there were an existentially self-subsuming explainer—an explainer of existences whose own explanatory field curves around to account for its own existence (and other existents explained in the explanandum). In that case, the hypothesized existence of the existentially self-subsuming explainer could serve as the explanation for the existence of a whole realm of things without leaving its own existence brute (and thus without leaving any irreducibly brute facts of existence in its wake). This idea may be summed up by saying that such an explainer would be a "self-explaining explainer." We are considering a self-explaining explainer of existence only as a theoretical possibility at this point. I am not claiming that there is such a thing. My point is that such an explainer, although unlike anything ever encountered in physical or natural science, would be a counterexample to Mackie's assertion—unbacked by argument—that all explanation leaves behind something brute in its wake. Wouldn't it? Since nothing Mackie says rules out the theoretical possibility of an existentially self-explaining explainer, and since the concept is not on its face self-contradictory, it would seem to behoove the honest seeker of ultimate explanation to ask: Is such an explanation possible—an explanation of existence in terms of a self-explaining explainer, an explainer whose explanatory field leaves no purely brute existential facts in its wake? . . . . I appreciate that Parsons at least mentions in passing the explanatory strategy of grounding the contingent in that which is necessary. Such "necessity grounded explanation" actually has a long and venerable provenance in the history of both philosophy and mathematics. I only wish he would have pursued the idea a little, for the trail does not grow cold. Rather, I shall argue, reasoning about it naturally leads to a fascinating and rationally satisfying solution to the ultimate problem of existence—a self-explaining explainer that logically entails philosophical theism. The investigation of self-subsuming explanation thus ends naturally in an explanatory argument for God's existence . . . . for ourselves and for the ordinary material things around us, existence hangs by a thread. Existence is for us a precarious, insecure affair, constantly under the threat of nonbeing. This is truly "existence on the edge." For this reason, the adjective contingent (signifying dependency) is certainly an appropriate one for the type of existence we share with the ordinary material or physical things around us—a type of existence that is radically dependent on external conditions from start to finish, and at every turn. Thus we get the strict definition of a contingent entity or being: there are possible circumstances in which it would exist, and possible circumstances in which it would not exist. To which it is seems logical to add: If certain conditions had not first existed, then it would never have come into existence; and if certain conditions fail to obtain, its existence is toast, snuffed out like a candle in the rain. This is the miserable contingency, the "might-not-have-been-ness," that is our lot, and that is the lot of all the mundane or material things around us, from atoms to molecules, chemicals, rocks, lakes, mountains, planets, stars, galaxies, and so on . . . . the easily conceivable concept of contingent being has an opposite, a logical counterpart that reflection is bound to discover if pushed far enough. Abstracting from the concept of contingent being, we naturally reach the concept of noncontingent being. Since "necessary" means "cannot be otherwise," the term "necessary existence" or "necessary being" is appropriate for this theoretical category or mode of being. Just as "top" cannot ultimately be admitted without "bottom," and just as "fast" cannot be fully grasped without reference to "slow," the concept of contingency cannot be fully grasped until it is understood as the immediate logical counterpart of necessity. Necessity is the logical opposite of something that might not have existed had circumstances been sufficiently different; it is something that could not possibly have not existed. And so the philosophical mind, upon sustained reflection, reaches the refined and exalted concept of necessary being. So, whereas a contingent being typically owes its existence to some external circumstance, entity, or process that preceded it in existence and caused it to be (for example, you received existence from your parents), a necessary being would owe its existence to absolutely nothing external to itself . . . . Now imagine a necessary being with certain features: sufficient power, knowledge, and will to create a universe; free will in the normal, everyday-language sense of the term "free" (i.e., the power to initiate a course of action, to make a choice that is not necessitated, caused, or predetermined by the sum total of all antecedent conditions and external circumstances or forces); and the will to freely give the gift of existence to a world of creatures, either directly by divine fiat, or through an independent evolutionary process. It seems crystal clear that, hypothetically, that sum total—a free act of creation by a sufficiently knowledgeable and powerful necessary being—would all by itself constitute a logically sufficient causal condition for the existence of a contingent universe. (Roughly, S is a sufficient causal condition for some phenomenon P if and only if the fact that S obtains logically implies that P is the case. In other words, P must be the case once S is the case.) Of course, such a being would logically have to be personal in nature, given the definition of a person as a being capable of (among other things) making consciously willed choices.[22] Suppose that a necessary being with the requisite powers described above exists and freely wills that a contingent universe exists. Then it would logically have to be the case that a contingent universe exists: a necessary being with the requisite powers (for instance, omnipotence) choosing to create a universe is all you need to get a universe. That is, a universe follows if such a choice by such a being is made. It is a matter of strict deductive logic: That the stated condition obtains—a sufficiently knowledgeable and powerful necessary being chooses to create a contingent world—logically implies that a contingent universe exists. Thus, the necessary being hypothesis provides a sufficient cause, a sufficient reason, or sufficient explanation (depending on your preferred terminology) for the contingent existence of the material universe as a whole. This is a very significant result. A sufficient condition would produce or result in the existence of the item in question. Citing a sufficient causal condition for the existence of something X that stands in need of explanation (a "sufficient reason" or "sufficient cause" for X) is one important way we explain things in science, philosophy, and many other explanatory contexts. (Of course, we also need to rule out other possible explanations for the existence of X before we finally conclude that we have found the actual cause of X.) There are exceptions (which I will explain below), but in many explanatory contexts, to find the sufficient casual condition or sufficient reason for something X simply is to adequately explain the existence of X. And note: The sufficient cause or reason for something is normally considered to be a rationally satisfying explanation for its existence . . . [read the whole paper, it is well worth the time]>> _______________ So, we see that the inference ot an eternal cosmos with an infinite regress of contingent creatures is explanatorily grossly inferior to an explanation of the contingent cosmos by a necessary being powerful enough to design and implement it. That is hitghly significant, as we are looking at inference to best explanation. And since a necessary being fulfilling that description would credibly be God, then theology -- here, the study of the possibility for God, assessing the evident actuality of God, and the elaboration of the terms of our creaturely relationship with God in light of his self-revelation -- has a significant task in the field of knowledge. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
TGP (& Matteo): It is arguable that we cannot put any of the major aspects of philosophy out of balance: especially, metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics. Taking any out of context is like taking a part of a bridge away -- dangerous and unwise. For,
a: to deal with worldviews [the focus of metaphysics, sometimes called first philosophy], we need b: logic [starting with the first principles of right reason], c: epistemology [to assess where knowledge claims are adequately warranted to be credible], d: ethics [as our knowledge that we are morally obligated creatures is a pivotal consideration], and e: aesthetics [as, our sense of beauty and pained joy in that points to an undiscovered country, as in C S Lewis' surprised by joy, the serious business of heaven]
When we look at the whole, putting no part our of balance, the force of CH's point to paragwinn in 79, begins to surface: It [theology] provides a real explanation of nature, whereas science only provides descriptions. For, we are contingent, our world is contingent, and our observed cosmos is credibly also contingent [and exceedingly finely balanced at an operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life such as ours, where also the best sites for such life will invite exploration of the cosmos]. So, we ask: why? Science answers how and what, theology (with its handmaidens philosophy and history), answers to why. In a nutshell -- cf 58 - 61 above for more details and onward links: 1 --> Our radical contingency points to a cause of our being beyond ourselves and our cosmos, one that is at root a necessary being. 2 --> The fine tuning of the cosmos points to a designer intent on creating the sort of life we exhibit, and 3 --> that life in turn has in it ever so many signs of design, starting from the digitally coded specifically functional, complex algorithmic information in DNA. 4 --> That we do find ourselves under the force of ought, points beyond ourselves to a world in which ought is real. 5 --> That means the foundational IS behind the world and behind us in it as conscious, minded, enconscienced creatures, is not only powerful and intelligent but good in essential character. 6 --> That is, there is an IS who can adequately ground OUGHT. An IS who is also intelligent, powerful and creator. 7 --> An IS who is also Artist. 8 --> An IS who we recognise and have a name for: God. __________________ Beyond that, we are now in a position to evaluate the historic claims of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, especially the claim that Messiah has been among us, as wounded healer, redeemer and liberator. (I suggest one should start with the issues addressed in Ac 17 which recounts what happened when Paul went to Athens, and with the so-called minimal facts method of addressing the historicity issues underlying 1 Cor 15:1 - 11.) And, a glance back above shows that at each stage the challenge of adequate warrant on principles of evidence and logic is being addressed, and arguably met. So, we may freely conclude: serious theology has a legitimate claim to be a discipline that produces and responsibly addresses knowledge, even as science claims to give us knowledge even though its methods are inherently provisional and limited. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
StephenB @ 44 "As a consistent and dependable resource for life changing information, you are absolutely amazing. I don’t know how to sufficiently express my gratitude." I was just thinking the same thing myself in regard to BA77. Thanks for saying it. I have often wondered HITH (how in the heck) did he find or even know of that?? tgpeeler
Matteo @ 14 Way, way behind here but hope not too late to join the party. "The idea that epistemology is senior to all other inquiries is the poppycock that has caused Western philosophy to run aground. Edward Feser makes a very strong case for this thesis in The Last Superstition. Putting epistemology ahead of ontology puts one directly on the path to sophistry." Matteo, I'm fascinated with this particular subject. It seems to me that logically, the first thing to be decided is "what exists?" But immediately on its heels is the question "how do I know?" I think what has caused philosophy to run aground, not just Western, is its abandonment of the first principles of rational thought. Thus we have the spectacle of materialists claiming to be creatures of reason, attacking Christians who are commanded to be grounded in reason, for being unreasonable or irrational (certainly some are) when it doesn't even exist in the materialist ontology. Go figure. tgpeeler
I’m puzzled. Lacking any religious upbringing myself, I would like to know what kind of knowledge does theology, natural or otherwise, provide? How is it comparable to scientific discovery?
It provides a real explanation of nature, whereas science only provides descriptions. Clive Hayden
#76 How is the business about Darwin and TEs connected with misleading expectations? Timaeus - I am sorry, my fault entirely, I was not at all clear. My point was that most of your reasons for expecting various people to reject Darwinism appeared to be based on how it is incompatible with their religion. I just wanted to point out that people find ways of making their religion compatible with Darwinism such as TEs. markf
markf (72): OK, I understand your first point. You want Steve Fuller to present formally crunched data from countries outside the USA. Fair enough. I'll leave that part of the discussion to him, since he probably is much more aware of all the surveys that have been done around the world than I am. Regarding your second paragraph: "You write a lot about what you and I would expect. I have expected and been wrong too many times. Bear in mind that many people find ways of combining their religious beliefs with a belief in Darwin in the manner of the TEs." I understand the first two sentences. I admit of course that my inferences based on "reasonable expectation" could lead me astray. I understand why you want confirmation. However, I don't understand your last sentence: "Bear in mind that many people find ways of combining their religious beliefs with a belief in Darwin in the manner of the TEs." I understand the contents of the sentence (regarding TEs and Darwin), but I don't understand its connection with the previous sentence. I don't get the "bear in mind" part. How is the business about Darwin and TEs connected with misleading expectations? You'll have to spell this out for me stepwise. I apologize in advance for my density. T. Timaeus
I'm puzzled. Lacking any religious upbringing myself, I would like to know what kind of knowledge does theology, natural or otherwise, provide? How is it comparable to scientific discovery? paragwinn
F/N: Wiki has a table of major religious groups by estimated number of adherents, which is genrally consonant with my rough numbers above. Of course due to overlaps, neither of the estimates will not add up to 6.5 bn, the estimated current global population. For example, a good slice of Christians and Muslims will also have significant animistic influences, and there will be influences from the impact of evolutionary materialistic scientism. kairosfocus
O/T: Let us pause and reflect for a moment on the events of yesterday in Arizona, and if we are so inclined, pray for the victims and their families. Let us hope and work for the best for them, and for our civilisation. For that, it is well worth noting the wise counsel of Richard Hooker that John Locke cited in ch 2 s 5 of his 2nd essay on civil govt, to ground liberty and lawful order in the community:
. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant.
In short, the key law of nature in view is that once we recognise the fundamental equality of others, we have a mutual duty of respect and fairness, i.e. loving one's neighbour as one loves oneself [the Golden Rule]. In this general context, then -- that is an argument in the explicitly Christian and Biblically based framework of creation and mutual obligation -- Locke infers that:
The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions . . . . so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he as much as he can to preserve the rest of mankind, and not unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another . . . . In transgressing the law of Nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men for their mutual security [i.e. we see here the right to self-defense for the community, and also the individual, as is discussed at length in the work], and so he becomes dangerous to mankind . . . . [Ch III, S 17] he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power [i.e. to tyrannise upon another, by force, fraud, usurpation or invasion] does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it.
Sobering words, and words we need to heed. kairosfocus
Onlookers: In a certain sense, it is hard to continue to comment on this topic when we have a case of a plainly demented shooter whose chaotic violence has seized headlines. (It is sad to note how, long before credible facts began to emerge, there was a lot of polarising, "all angels on my side, all demons on yours" projection. That is itself a sobering warning on where our civilisation has reached. That worrying polarisation is not without relevance to the issues in this thread, and this blog.) However, this topic is one of the most significant topics ever raised at UD, on the subject of origins science in society. (Which is of course Dr Fuller's angle on the subject.) Now, just above, we see how MF continues his tangential arguments, even while -- having been corrected -- he still fails to acknowledge that there is a serious problem of persecution of those who dissent from Darwin. (He needs, at minimum, to read the Amazon reviews of Bergman's Slaughter of the Dissidents.) In fact, the evidence is pretty clear that canonical darwinism is evolutionary materialistic in emphasis, on an a priori dogmatic commitment, and that it is forced to disguise the fact in dealing with the general public or even policy makers and judges such as Mr Jones over in Dover PA. Namely, the use of the flawed concept of methodological naturalism, can be seen as an attempt to sell the materialism without having to announce it explicitly. That is itself telling on the overall balance of views. Evolutionary materialism is plainly dominant in key institutions (to the point of persecuting dissent), but cannot be openly announced as established fact to the general public. And, in a context of institutional hostility, many who are theistic or deistic in their thoughts, find themselves impelled towards various "compromise" views. One such attempted compromise is the heretical form of darwinist thought that has been described as Christian Darwinism. But, as history tells us, heresy is tolerated at sufferance, when we have a dogmatic and amoral or abusive reigning orthodoxy. The abusiveness needs to be exposed, and the flawed dogma needs to be corrected. In particular, the self-referential incoherence and selective hyperskepticism that prop up the institutional dominance of evolutionary materialism need to be corrected. A good test for that, will be the day when the compelling evidence that makes belief in God plausible to many, can again be heard in the academy without contempt and hyperskeptical dismissal. That is why Dr Fuller's question on whether theology is seen as a serious knowledge-making enterprise is a very good one. When it comes to the wider picture, we do not have adequate global surveys of views on origins science, but we do have a global picture of basic worldview commitments. That picture is -- or should be -- clear enough:
1: Theism in the Judaeo-Christian tradition is the single most common worldview, with some 2 billion adherents globally. And while many in the West may think in terms of an old earth, and some form of evolutionary account of the origins of the species, that view is not canonical, evolutionary materialistic darwinism. 2: The next biggest worldview bloc, is Islam, with perhaps 1.5 billion adherents. In that bloc, a staunchly creationist view under the Quranic tradition is plainly dominant, with Yahya's efforts in Turkey showing the likely response to efforts to promote evolutionary materialism in that world. 3: The various South and East Asian traditions, such as hinduism, tend to be pantheistic and would be more accommodating to evolutionary views, but not to evolutionary materialism, as can be seen here. This probably adds, in aggregate, another 1.5 billions, pushing us well past 1/2 the world's population. 4: Animist views, another major -- well past the billion mark -- bloc (but not one that can easily be quantified, as it is so syncretistic) see life forces in all sorts of things, bur also an overarching usually remote High God. Adherents will be intimidated in contexts where materialism is a reigning orthodoxy, but he beliefs will be quite hardy. As a Cuban colleague once told me, it would have been most unwise to announce that one believed in spiritual realities in Cuba, but that did not prevent the vast mass of the people from doing so. 5: Paganism, classical and neo, is a relatively small viewpoint [especially when one distinguishes animism from it]. Such views spiritualise the world, and are again inconsistent with materialism, as opposed to evolutionism. for instance, nazism was in large measure neo-pagan, and blended evolutionary ideas with a vage, somewhat animistic or pantheistic spirituality -- e.g. the superior lost aryan man race to be recovered by eugenics means concept owed a lot to the sort of neopagan advocacy of madame Blavstsky and others like her, as much as to the darwinist view of evolution of the higher through breeding and survival of the fittest.
This is of course, a summary based on well known facts and trends, and it was already mentioned in this thread above, but was unfortunately ignored by MF. However, with the global balance of major worldviews in mind, we should be able to put the persistent distractive side track to rest and focus on the main -- and crucially important -- issue set in the original post. Namely, is it intellectually -- epistemologically -- credible to speak of knowledge in the context of dealing with God. That is, is there a sound foundation for theism, the premise of theology? I believe so, as was presented already at 58 - 59 above. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Timeaus #62
I’m not quite sure what your complaint against Steve Fuller is. Is it that you think he has generalized beyond the American situation to the rest of the world, without empirical evidence for doing so?
Yes.  I admit it borders on nit-picking but Steve is an internationally recognised professor of sociology.  If he asserts something is the case then others will assume there is solid evidence behind that assertion. Soon, what is conjecture gets the status of a proven fact.
Well, let’s say for the sake of argument that he has. But is it not likely that his generalization is a valid one?
You write a lot about what you and I would expect.  I have expected and been wrong too many times.  Bear in mind that many people find ways of combining their religious beliefs with a belief in Darwin in the manner of the TEs.  markf
PS: Onlookers, in my online critical survey of origins science, here, I have a suggestion towards a unit on science methods, here. That may be a good first point for looking at the issues on scientific knowledge claims, their strengths and limitations. Similarly, the module on science in society will have some reflections that we all need to look at very carefully, as we can see how our understanding of science, history of the debate over origins, and linked issues for our civilisation has been distorted by the agenda to promote evolutionary materialism. In a 101 level survey of theology course now in development, I have a module that looks at the theology side, starting here. kairosfocus
4] Timaeus, 65: Obviously, one such area is “origins science”, which Protestant theologians have been rapidly divesting themselves of, handing it over to evolutionary biology and cosmology. (It is no accident that the TE movement, despite the odd outlier such as Ken Miller, is overwhelmingly Protestant.) Again, quite right -- and it is no accident that someone like SB is plainly Roman Catholic, as is Mrs O'Leary. Abdication of responsibility, in the teeth of say Rom 1:
Rom 1:18 . . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse . . . [NET]
And yet, the scientific evidence has continued to mount up that our cosmos is designed, and that it is designed to facilitate life, which in turn is full of signs of design. That evidence, as I discuss here, is suppressed through the imposition of worldview level question-begging a priori Lewontinian materialism. 5] I am not sure that I agree with Dr. Fuller in his suggestion that ID people should embrace theology more explicitly. Aside from the legal/constitutional problems with that when it comes to science education, the fact is that many ID proponents are agnostics or Deists or Jews or Muslims or otherwise non-Christian, and a Christian theological orientation would make it hard to hold the big tent together. This is a serious issue, and Null has raised some important related points. My own thought is that the rhetoric of distractive smearing is now an established talking point, and has to be exposed. Indeed, above, the implication of MF's refusal to address unjustified career busting, denial of the reality of academic persecution of dissenters form evolutionary materialistic orthodoxy, and pretence that the evidence -- unless we can show otherwise on surveys acceptable to him and ilk -- suggests that most people are evolutionary materialists, is subtly loaded. Going further, we need to highlight the epistemological questions of science, and of origins science in particular. That way we set epistemology of science on a humbler, but sounder basis. And, instead of indoctrinating the public and students in school in an electronic version of Plato's cave, we will actually seriously and honestly educate in science. In that context, it will be obvious that it is legitimate to investigate the possibility and actuality of empirical signs of design, and to raise the issue of the importance of inference to best explanation in scientific work, especially on origins science. That will go a long way to correcting the damage, and it will make it plain that canonical evolutionary materialistic darwinism is an ideological aberration, not sound science. In that context, it will be evident that themes closely related to the sorts of theological concerns and claims by Paul in Rom 1, are legitimate projects for serious study. The proper subject for such study -- which can be objective, thank you -- is Theology. 6] overall TE theology is pathetic, embarrassingly amateurish and shallow, as the writings of Collins and Miller almost every single column ever published on Biologos demonstrates; but ID is crippled to offer an alternate theological vision because it has willingly restricted itself to the critique of Darwinism and arguments for design detection. ID could become more impressive *as theology* if it adopted Dr. Fuller’s advice. I think here that qua scientific project, the question of science and epistemology linked to the warranting of scientific knowledge claims, are a proper priority. In that context of objective warrant, the point Paul raised in Rom 1 -- an epistemologically risky and testable claim -- will return to its proper place in theology, by natural force. That is, once Darwin's project to put design out of the scientific picture is properly faced and addressed on the merits, then the implications of design as a legitimate point of scientific thought will tell for themselves. Of course, a new generation of theologians will have to awaken and cease from being intimidated by the cultural power of evolutionary materialistic ideology and its thralldom over science. But, I do not think that discussions over the worldview import of scientific findings are a proper topic of science as science. The right head for that is philosophy of science. But, in that regard, we must not forget that for a Newton, the investigation was an exercise in philosophy of nature, leading to well warranted empirically anchored [albeit provisional] findings that could then be called knowledge. We have put the cart before the horse. The solution is that science education needs to have an honest, standard unit on the epistemological foundations of science and its methods, and which can discuss the worldview level issues connected to such science methods, their strengths and limitations. G'day GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Timaeus (welcome, too, Null): The above should make it clear that my goal was not to "pull . . . away" from a side issue to simply the main one for the thread, but to highlight something that is pivotal for our civilisation's central project of exploring knowledge. (Let us not forget that the very name, science, is a word for knowledge.) Let me take up several points, enumerated step by step, from your post at 65 (which has the same effect as a block of short posts while addressing the structure of your remarks): 1] I’m not sure in what sense Platonism is relevant to responding to Dr. Fuller’s column. As I just highlighted, I think we can start from Plato's Cave. (Some years ago now, that is where I started a survey course on phil.) 2] Most academics today do not regard theology as a body of knowledge. They think of it as a largely subjective indulgence, along the lines of a preference for country music or Bauhaus architecture, which one can engage in at will, but which has no track record of objective knowledge such as is found in physics . . . Of course, my base discipline is physics, and I have a significant interest in phil and theol. Your description of the current state of the academy in Europe, North America and extensions thereof, is quite correct, and in light of my just above, very portentous, and not in a good way. For, the current state of play is in my considered opinion, a relflection of the corrosive effects of selective hyperskepticism, the rise of evolutionary materialism [which has had the rhetorical effect of creating the perception that God is out of a job -- as Darwin intended], and the consequences of just such evolutionary materialistic thought, as Plato himself pointed out in his The Laws, Bk X, c. 360 BC:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . . [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them.
In short, Plato -- doubtless through reflecting on Alcibiades and ilk -- anticipated (even within a pagan culture that he took pains to subtly distance himself from in his opening remarks on the topic) the precise pattern of radical denial of knowledge of God, subjectivism, relativism and amorality we see around us. 3] most theologians these days have a more subjectivist, fideist account of theology. This feeds into the NOMA partition whereby the “real” or “objective” world is discussed by science, history, etc., and the private or personal realms of “values” or “meaning” or “purpose” is explored by theology and philosophy. Thus, if there are any points at all at which theology and science might deal with the same object, theologians, especially Protestant theologians, have been very eager to strip theology of intellectual responsibility for dealing with those areas. This is again correct, and reflects a loss of confidence that traces to the injection of radical skepticism into the wider intellectual culture and specifically into theology, as I discussed in brief in the course I did, here. [ . . . ] kairosfocus
Timaeus (and onlookers): There is a key, platonic question on the table: are we -- in the name of being enlightened -- back in Plato's infamous cave of misleading shadow shows and deluded prisoners trapped in a culture of en-darkenment presented as enlightenment? In short, I believe the focal theme for the thread in the original post is doubly important, as it concerns the possibility of and recognition of knowledge (especially knowledge concerning God) in our culture. And, if God is, he is the root of existence and foundation of all knowledge. So, the radical denial of the possibility of knowing about God may have serious and devastating consequences for the project of knowledge itself. Hyperskepticism, whether global or selective, cannot safely be injected into our epistemology. And so, we are right back to the issue the Apostle Paul met when he went to Athens in 50 AD [cf Ac 17:16 - 34], and met a culture that had come to a point where it erected an altar to the or an unknown god. When the intellectual elites challenged him in the Agora and invited him to explain himself before the Areopagus Council, he therefore began from that altar, subtly reminding the Athenians -- that fountainhead city for western intellectual culture and the mother of all democracies -- that on the most important issue of knowledge, they were forced to acknowledge ignorance by building a literal monument to their ignorance. Ironically, two thousand years later our civilisation has evidently come full circle, and as Dr Fuller suggests, it is again unsure that a project of serious study of what can be known about God is possible. Even, among a large cross section of those who are in the relevant field of study, theology. But, if God is in fact the root of existence, the necessary being who is the foundation of our contingent world, and the designer behind our cosmos that has in it so many evident signs of design, the denial of the evidence and of first principles of right reason required to question the project of seeking to know about God, will have corrosive effects on all knowledge. So, the root of Dr Fuller's challenge is whether our civilisation is committing epistemological suicide. And that is quite, quite important. Okay, let me now turn to some specifics from your post, T. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
T, I am not sure that I agree with Dr. Fuller in his suggestion that ID people should embrace theology more explicitly. Aside from the legal/constitutional problems with that when it comes to science education, the fact is that many ID proponents are agnostics or Deists or Jews or Muslims or otherwise non-Christian, and a Christian theological orientation would make it hard to hold the big tent together. Perhaps it's possible to do both at once. Why can't one maintain the ID big tent on the one hand - noting the limitations of ID's inferences, the core commitments, the predictions, the interpretations of evidence, etc - and on the other hand, distinct from the ID project, figure out what role design plays in their respective theologies, if they have any. Of course the complaint may come 'If ID proponents tie theology to their scientific beliefs, their opponents will cry about it'. But then, they're going to do that anyway. Complicated question. nullasalus
T Thanks for your thoughts. G'day GEM of TKI kairosfocus
kairosfocus: If your goal was to pull me away from arguing with Mark Frank about survey data and to ask my opinion about one of issues raised by Dr. Fuller in his column, you could have done that more directly, effectively, and briefly than you did in your mammoth posts. I agree with you, however, that Mark has taken us into an ancillary discussion, and I don't intend to pursue statistical questions further (unless Mark comes up with surveys from other countries which purportedly show that a majority of people favor unguided evolution). As for my interest in Platonism, I'm not sure in what sense Platonism is relevant to responding to Dr. Fuller's column. Certainly Dr. Fuller raises a good pair of questions: "whether most academics believe that theology constitutes a body of knowledge — and, for that matter, whether most theologians themselves believe that their knowledge applies to more than just fellow believers." As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the company of both academics and theologians, I would venture to answer these questions as follows: 1. Most academics today do not regard theology as a body of knowledge. They think of it as a largely subjective indulgence, along the lines of a preference for country music or Bauhaus architecture, which one can engage in at will, but which has no track record of objective knowledge such as is found in physics, mathematics, history, geography, engineering, economics, computer science, etc. 2. Though there are some theologians, such as the Thomists, who would, with Cardinal Newman, hold out for the idea of theology as a body of genuine knowledge, or even the queen of the sciences, most theologians these days have a more subjectivist, fideist account of theology. This feeds into the NOMA partition whereby the "real" or "objective" world is discussed by science, history, etc., and the private or personal realms of "values" or "meaning" or "purpose" is explored by theology and philosophy. Thus, if there are any points at all at which theology and science might deal with the same object, theologians, especially Protestant theologians, have been very eager to strip theology of intellectual responsibility for dealing with those areas. Obviously, one such area is "origins science", which Protestant theologians have been rapidly divesting themselves of, handing it over to evolutionary biology and cosmology. (It is no accident that the TE movement, despite the odd outlier such as Ken Miller, is overwhelmingly Protestant.) I think Dr. Fuller is perceptive in noting the historically novel timidity of theologians here. He has some interesting things to say about this in various places, including his book *Dissent over Descent*. I am not sure that I agree with Dr. Fuller in his suggestion that ID people should embrace theology more explicitly. Aside from the legal/constitutional problems with that when it comes to science education, the fact is that many ID proponents are agnostics or Deists or Jews or Muslims or otherwise non-Christian, and a Christian theological orientation would make it hard to hold the big tent together. Nonetheless, Dr. Fuller makes a good case that ID might do better, at least against TE, by frankly embracing a theology of creation along Franciscan lines. There are some exceptions to the following generalization, but overall TE theology is pathetic, embarrassingly amateurish and shallow, as the writings of Collins and Miller almost every single column ever published on Biologos demonstrates; but ID is crippled to offer an alternate theological vision because it has willingly restricted itself to the critique of Darwinism and arguments for design detection. ID could become more impressive *as theology* if it adopted Dr. Fuller's advice. I'm still mulling Dr. Fuller's position over. T. Timaeus
Timaeus: Pardon, I primarily pointed out that the thread is drifting away from its prime focus. (In your responding to MF's tangent, that is what was happening. I thus invited you in effect to respond on that prime focus, knowing your Platonist background.) Having pointed to that drift, I highlighted issues relevant to that focus; in effect inviting a disucssion of that set of issues. Pardon if you find that too lengthy or involved to engage. G'day. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
kairosfocus: You've addressed me by name in a couple of posts above, but I'm not sure what you expect of me by way of reply. You seem to be using me as a sounding-board for your criticisms of markf, rather than asking me any question or disagreeing with any of my points. If you have a question or disagreement, please air it. Keep in mind, however, that I don't have the patience to read posts as long as your 58 and 59 above. If you want me to respond, focus your comments and present them in just a few paragraphs of moderate length. T. Timaeus
markf: We are in agreement about the American case. Regarding other countries, I do not claim direct knowledge, as I haven't studied the survey literature. Indeed, it is probable that in many countries, e.g., Western European countries such as France, Germany, or Denmark, or countries such as Russia or China, there are not many surveys of this type, because they are to some extent driven by culture-war concerns peculiar to America. I'm not quite sure what your complaint against Steve Fuller is. Is it that you think he has generalized beyond the American situation to the rest of the world, without empirical evidence for doing so? Well, let's say for the sake of argument that he has. But is it not likely that his generalization is a valid one? Outside of formally atheistic regimes like that of China, would you expect most of the population of the world to embrace *unguided* evolution? Would you expect that of the billion or so Muslims, and of the 500 million or more practicing Hindus? Would you expect that of the conservative Christians who make up a large portion of the continent of Africa with its billion inhabitants? Or of the hundreds of millions of Catholics in Latin America (not to mention the large number of Latin American converts to evangelical and fundamentalist Protestantism)? I would expect that unguided evolution, where it is embraced outside of places like China, is embraced mostly by the intelligentsia, the upper 10% or so of the population (scientists, professors, lawyers, journalists, etc.). Another small group which probably embraces it is that group of largely young, white, single males one finds among the entrepreneurial classes, the sort who think of themselves as intellectual because they have read a book or two by Ayn Rand and imbibed her dog-eat-dog view of life, which of course fits in well with Darwinism. And then there is a small fringe of anti-religious people among the less educated, consisting of, say, 60- or 70-year-old ex-Catholics who remember being beaten by nuns in boarding school, or the like, and in anger have turned against the very idea of God, and have embraced unguided evolution as their form of revenge upon religion. Beyond such groups, unguided evolution has no natural constituency. I doubt very much that anywhere near 50% of the world's population embraces it. I'd be surprised if it reached even 25% worldwide, and if it reached more than 35% even in Western Europe. But that's just my intuitive reasoning, which you can accept or reject as you please. By the way, when you write: "My main point is that the USA is out on a limb here and it is easy for you guys to see things from a US perspective." you presume too much about the national identities of the people who post here. I'd be surprised if fewer than 10 countries and 3 continents are represented here. And I know that at least some of the columnists here are non-American as well. ID is centered in the USA, but it is an international conversation, and a rapidly growing one, as is also the international conversation critical of neo-Darwinian evolution. It is not surprising that the USA would be the center of ID, as also the center of the anti-abortion movement, and the center of global warming skepticism, because Americans are by nature more likely to be contrarians than either Western Europeans or citizens of totalitarian regimes. They have an independent streak in them which does not enjoy being talked down to by self-proclaimed experts. No doubt at its worst this American trait can turn into anti-intellectualism and vulgarity, but at its best it's a bulwark against intellectual tyranny and the monolithic acceptance of a single idea. As long as America remains true to its roots, the comfortable, conformist, secular Hegelian world-state (to which "enlightened" Western Europeans seem dedicated) will not come into being; and that's a good thing. T. Timaeus
Timaeus: Following up, if generic theism is a reasonable view, and there is relevant knowledge and there are issues and serious discussions that can be engaged, does that then extend to specifically Judaeo-Christian theology? A: In brief, yes. Indeed, this, in spite of certain trends in skeptical thought on theology, some of it in seminaries and other places that might be surprising, over the past few centuries. And, that is good news for our culture/ civilisation, and for liberty and stable democratic government. GEM of TKI GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Onlookers: I believe that with the above on the table, we are in a better position to address the key issues set in or implied by the original post. (And, that the side issue has been adequately addressed insofar as it is legitimate. Summed up: there is good reason, on the global balance of worldviews, to see that in fact Darwinist thought -- though dominant in certain powerful quarters, is by no means anything like a global consensus.) G'day GEM of TKI kairosfocus
This somewhat phil-tinged issue is deeply embedded with legitimately and primarily scientific questions on origins. (Which makes it a legitimate side topic for this blog, which has a science, worldviews and society side.) That was set on the table by no less than Darwin himself, who in a letter to Edward Bibbins Aveling (a physician and Karl Marx's Son in Law) dashed off in a train station October 13, 1880, acknowledged that de-legitimisation of the knowledge of God was a part of the motivation for his scientific work: _____________ >> . . . though I am a strong advocate for free thought [NB: free-thought is an old synonym for skepticism, agnosticism or atheism] on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science. I may, however, have been unduly biassed by the pain which it would give some members of my family [NB: especially his wife, Emma], if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion. >> _____________ The plot thickens, and the significance of the modern inference to design as a legitimate scientific project in its own right and as a scientific basis for correcting the scientific, worldview and culture agenda blunders that led to the imposition and dominance of Lewontinian a priori evolutionary materialism on science, emerges. But, the worldview case needs to be made, at least in 101 level outline. (This is after all a blog.) Excerpting again: ________________ >> On such first principles of right reason and warranted credible truths, one way to summarise the basic theistic case --the case for God as the key necessary being who is the ground of reality -- therefore, is: a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they can only be warranted on a cumulative case basis, in the context of key evidence and comparative difficulties. b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength. c: In short, it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components and/or highlighting its particular difficulties, one can dispose of and dismiss a worldview case. d: Instead, a sound worldview level thinker embarks on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where, e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked that it is] may well become one of the credible facts that has to be adequately accounted for by a credible worldview. f: In that context, we may further effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf the Big Bang theory], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause. g: At the root of that chain of cause (as already mentioned) is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates Carbon-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions. [This raises the sub-cosmos "bread factory" issue . . . what sort of super-cosmic "bread factory" is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients? Such a cosmos-bakery will be at least as much a finely tuned entity as our observed cosmos, so that it can produce a distribution of universes that will have in it at least one such as ours. The multiverse proposal does not dispose of the fine-tuning issue.] h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and there is no external, necessary physical factor that can block its emergence or switch it off. Moreover, the evident reality of our contingent cosmos warrants that such a being is required as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So, arguably, the double force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, en-conscienced creatures. i: The specific nature of that necessary being is further implied by the evident design of life and cosmos (as already outlined and/or linked), as such a being must have the attributes necessary to account for such design: extra-cosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God. j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. And when we quarrel, we constantly unconsciously testify to the consensus of mankind that we are under objective moral government. Which, invites the inference that the best explanation for that is that we are creatures of a moral Lawgiver. That is, God is moral and indeed, good. k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet, know and have their lives transformed by the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if one is offended by Christian particularism, I suggest a look here as a start.) There is, of course, "a rich literature" in critique of such a cumulative theistic case. But, what is needed is to show -- not just assume, assert or shout -- that that "rich literature" succeeds. Not, in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties across the case as a whole, atheism or the like is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones. For just one instance, if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God in the face of Christ are deluded, then on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions? >> _________________ This should be enough for a first step. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Timaeus: Pardon. You will see from above that MF has insistently ignored relevant global worldview support evidence; which would at once show that his talking point lacks warrant. (And, that evidence would also show why it is that the survey patterns in the US and the UK are as they are.) But, such a talking point is quite handy in diverting the thread from its intended focus [cf 50 above and onward links on his evident, unfortunate agenda], as already highlighted again in 51:
it would be interesting to learn whether most academics believe that theology constitutes a body of knowledge — and, for that matter, whether most theologians themselves believe that their knowledge applies to more than just fellow believers. After all, most biologists believe that Darwinism is true even though most people in general — and perhaps even in the academy — don’t seem to share that belief.
To answer to this and the underlying driving forces, we need a focus on what knowledge is, and what is happening to underlying issues. This, was done yesterday:
knowledge [practically speaking] is well-warranted, credibly true belief, which is: a] tested and reliable enough to base responsible decision and action on, but b] may be provisional in light of relevant issues on:
(i) what constitutes evidence, (ii) the first principles of right reason, and (iii) the comparative difficulties of diverse worldview positions
providing we can meet this criterion, there is such a thing as a knowledge base for Theology. Going on from this, a key underlying question, therefore, is whether it is well-warranted, and credible to believe in God. For, if there is no good reason to accept the existence of God as credible then the project of formal study of God in light of the world, ourselves and our relationship with and revelation from God across time will look like foolishness. Indeed, we have a very interesting observation and warning from C1 -- AD 55 -- on this "looking like foolishness" issue: _________________ >> 1 Cor 1: 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men . . . . 1 Cor 2: 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him”- 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.3 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. >> _________________ In short, it is no surprise that in an age proud of its enlightenment -- too often the darkness of the cave of shadow-shows is confused for true light -- the idea that knowledge of God and things of God, including those from his prophets and from his coming among us and even validating that claim by rising from death so cruelly and unjustly inflicted, turning it into the means of redemption, is a valid field of study is likely to be given short shrift. And, on their bravado and false confidence on the idea that evolutionary materialism is a scientifically valid basis for all knowledge -- in fact (as Lewontin so plainly testified) it is an a priori imposition that distorts science -- the idea that there can be knowledge of God is going to be derided. Add in the patent lack of basic broughtupcy -- a useful Caribbean folk word -- on the part of today's new atheists, and a lot of the atmosphere we see around us suddenly makes sense. But, is there a basic warrant for claiming that the study of God and things related to him could be a legitimate project of serious and confident inquiry? A: Yes, providing we start from a cumulative case view of warranting basic worldview choice and for the theistic worldview in particular. Excerpting a work in progress course: ________________ >>Building a theistic Worldview: first principles and first truths First, we must accept that all worldviews have foundational or core "first plausible" basic -- foundational -- beliefs that are not subject to further proof: they are where our proofs must start from. For, to warrant a claim, A, as worthy of trust and acceptance -- i.e. as credible, or even as knowledge -- we need B, and B would need C, and so on. In the end we face the proverbial "turtles all the way down" forever; or else circularity; or else, if we are to be reasonable, we must stop at first plausibles that are reasonable . . . . Now, a vicious infinite regress is absurdly impossible for finite, fallible thinkers such as we are: we would never get far back enough to get started with proving, nor could we trust ourselves to be right all along the chain. Looping back through "turtles in a circle" is little better: it ends up assuming what should be shown. We are thus forced to stop at some set of first plausibles or other -- that is, a "faith-point" (yes, we ALL must live by some faith or another, given our finitude and fallibility) -- and then compare alternatives and see which is least difficult. (At this level, all sets of alternative first plausibles bristle with difficulties. Indeed, the fundamental, generic method of philosophy is therefore that of comparative difficulties.) John Locke aptly summed up our dilemma in section 5 of his introduction to his famous essay on human understanding:
Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Emphases added. Text references also added, to document the sources of Locke's biblical allusions and citations.]
So, we must make the best of the candle-light we have. At worldview choice level, a good way to do that is to look at three major comparative difficulties tests: (1) factual adequacy relative to what we credibly know about the world and ourselves, (2) coherence, by which the pieces of our worldview must fit together logically and work together harmoniously, (3) explanatory simplicity: our view needs to explain reality elegantly, simply and powerfully, being neither simplistic nor a patchwork where we are forever adding after-the-fact patches to fix leak after leak. >> _________________ From this, we can see an outline foundation for the project of theology as a reasonable and credible discipline. To flesh out that outline, one next needs a cogent first level warrant for theistic worldviews, in the face of a day in which Darwinism dominated evolutionary materialist schools of thought have created the ill-founded but popular perception in key quarters that God is out of a job. [ . . . ] kairosfocus
Timaeus #56 Yes I do accept that the majority of Americans reject unguided evolution. My main point is that the USA is out on a limb here and it is easy for you guys to see things from a US perspective. In all this discussion I have only been quoted one survey purporting to show that the majority of people outside the USA reject unguided evolution. This is the Theos/comres survey in the UK which has already been referred to a few times and of which Steve Fuller said: "If Theos was trying to figure out how many people do and do not believe that life evolved, or how many people do and do not believe that Darwin is right, they failed to ask the right questions.” The Telegraph article you pointed me to is discussing the same survey. I absolutely admit there is a lack of adequate data outside the USA. I just draw the conclusion that I don't know! markf
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