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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, June 05, 2006
The Scales...
Most of us, prior to reading the bible, subscribed to a commonly held myth about how a person "gets to heaven." Frankly most of us would have preferred for God to give us invulnerability/immortality - after which he could drop dead for all we cared - we just did -NOT- want to go to hell, if such a place really existed.

Our understanding of "fair" typically involves a 50/50 split - half for me, half for you. When we think of tests and what not - we only need 50% to pass, etc. So at first it seems reasonable to us that if "evil deeds" makes you go to hell, "good deeds" should be able to balance out the evil - and if you have more good deeds than evil deeds, God won't send you to hell.

On the surface that seems pretty "do-able."

After all, most of us have never killed or raped anyone - we haven't been to prison, and we generally subscribe to the golden rule (Do unto others what you would have them do unto you). If we have lied, or stolen, it has been "harmless" little things that wouldn't get you thrown in jail - and those things that would get us thrown in jail - well, there aren't too many of those.

When we examine ourselves this way - we have to admit, we aren't really that bad - surely, we aren't as bad as some people, and according to our own estimation, we are at least as good as the next guy, and probably a teensy bit better - but just a teensy bit.

We don't relish the idea of dying, but should we drop dead right now, we figure we have a fighting chance of avoiding hell. Surely God is "fair" and being fair, he wouldn't send us to hell for just a few minor things. We could even think of the good things we do. Didn't I sponsor a child from Africa when I was dating that person in College? Didn't I give to the Jerry Lewis Telethon a couple of times? If someone really looks down and out on the street - I have given them money on occasion. In fact, there were times in my life when I was quite magnanimous. I am not the most charitable person - but I -am- a little charitable.

So we imagine our wicked deeds as being those things which are so foul that they cannot be overlooked - and as such there are very few if any - but our good deeds, however trivial - we imagine must outnumber the wicked such that if we put them together on a balance - the good on the one side and the evil on the other - that the good should outweigh the evil - or at least they should be close, that is, if we found out we had a terminal disease, we would probably think of padding the "good deed" side a little more - just to be sure.

Even if we don't believe in all that heaven and hell stuff - we still rest assured that if we are wrong about that - we are probably going to go to heaven anyway - since we were only being honest with the "information we had" - that is, having seen no miracles, we really can't be expected to believe in an invisible God - and if there was a God, He would understand and probably commend our "intellectual honesty."

But... if the bible is actually true in what it says, we owe it to ourselves to examine whether this "scale" model is correct.

We recognize immediately that nowhere in scripture does God consider "sincerity" an excuse for ignorance. In fact scripture speaks this way about men who deny the reality of God: "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - that is, no one alive today can claim that they didn't have enough information to realize that there really was a God - what they regard as "intellectual honesty" - God regards as a stubborn, willful denial of what is obvious - that creation had a Creator.

Okay, so no one will be able to use the "ignorance" excuse. But we still have the scales right? Good deeds vs. Evil deeds? Scripture teaches us that it doesn't work that way - but let's pretend that it did - just for the sake of this argument.

If the bible is true, then this is true - it is evil to fail to do good. (c.f. James 4:17), in fact, it is evil to fail to love everyone else - and especially to fail to love God. Putting all your petty thefts, lies, and whatnot aside - each and every day of your life when you failed to love everyone and God - you were piling up stuff on the "evil side" - every time you had the opportunity to do good, and snubbed it because you didn't feel like it - heap it on. Really, if we include all the stuff that you knew was wrong - with the rest, we would have to admit that you do evil continually, and have done so almost every day of your cognizant life. The "evil" pile is sky high.

Now lets look at your good pile. Let's imagine that you have been a Gandhi, or a Mother Theresa - you begin in the morning to do good deeds, and continue to do so until you fall asleep exhausted at night. Scripture says, that all of the good deeds that we do are "unclean" - that is, they don't count as good deeds - but in fact are tainted - and could just as easily be heaped on the evil side.

That shouldn't be too hard to understand if you have the right perspective. Consider the husband who goes out and buys his wife flowers. Isn't that nice? No - ultimately it is self serving. He knows that being nice to his wife will result in a better relationship between them - and since he desires a better relationship, he is serving his own agenda - his being nice purchases something for himself - and as much as we would like to deny it - that is the root cause of all our good deeds - we do them so that we can be serviced by them in some way. When we understand this fully, we can let go of the idea that there is anything good in us - scripture teaches that there isn't - that there is not even one person on earth who is righteous - that every one of us is wicked from tip to toe, and has been since the cradle.

So if we want to continue using our scale model - we would have to take every "good deed" - and reason that they are in fact selfish acts - and place them on the "evil" side.

If we imagine that we can avoid hell by being good - we are following what scripture calls worldly and demonic wisdom - a lie designed to coddle sinners into hell.

If you refuse to believe that there is a God - that is your prerogative, but I encourage you to reflect upon this inescapable truth - if the bible is correct, you are indeed a sinner - and you need not hold out any hope of avoiding hell - scripture tell us plainly that everyone who does not believe is condemned already.

If that bothers you, there is a link on my left menu - "How to be a Christian" - you should click it and learn more about it.

posted by Daniel @ 10:21 AM  
16 Comments:
  • At 12:06 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Solid.

     
  • At 1:10 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    I agree and it seems that James 2:8-11 is applicable for this situation... :)

    "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law."

     
  • At 2:22 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    It's a shame that you stopped "believing" in evolutionary theory.

     
  • At 3:08 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I don't mind when a person doesn't accept the idea of a Creator. There is nothing however, that demands a person believe in evolutionary theory.

    It isn't an either/or scenario - that is, if you reject God as creator, you don't automatically have to cow to the evolutionary camp. There are plenty of intellectually honest atheist scholars who flatly reject evolution theory.

    Would you still find it a shame that I rejected evolutionary theory, if I only did so in order to pursue some other secular explanation for reality? That is, do you just hate God, or do you really love evolution?

     
  • At 4:38 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Exist-dissolve

    Laying aside the Creator idea, do you believe that we will evolve out of our sinful nature, or predilections, as you might want to call them?

    Not just what I might call sin or evil, but what you would, like murder, etc.? Or are there anything items that aren't up for grabs?

    I am genuinely curious. Do you believe we are getting better? Not just on the social, no-slavery, women's rights, etc., etc., kind of thing, but are we getting better with what is in our hearts? Greed, lust, anger, etc.?

    Maybe those aren't "sins" in your book, well then what is? And are we going to evolve out of those things? if not, what then of evolution, simply Nietzche's "will to power"?

     
  • At 6:48 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    daniel--

    You said:

    I don't mind when a person doesn't accept the idea of a Creator. There is nothing however, that demands a person believe in evolutionary theory.

    It isn't an either/or scenario - that is, if you reject God as creator, you don't automatically have to cow to the evolutionary camp. There are plenty of intellectually honest atheist scholars who flatly reject evolution theory.


    I agree that there is no necessary link between athiesm and evolutionary theory. However, it works the other way too--i.e., the affirmation of a Creator by no means necessitates that one reject evolutionary theory.

    You said:

    Would you still find it a shame that I rejected evolutionary theory, if I only did so in order to pursue some other secular explanation for reality? That is, do you just hate God, or do you really love evolution?

    No, I find it a shame that you feel that evolutionary theory and theism are incompatible. You are creating a dichotomy between theology and science that does not exist. Moreover, it is perspectives like this which, in my estimation, make Christianity look utterly foolish in light of substantiated theories about the nature and processes of the universe in which we live. While Christianity does not need to accomodate science, there is also no need to create incompatibilities where none actually exist.

     
  • At 7:00 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    even so--

    You said:

    Laying aside the Creator idea, do you believe that we will evolve out of our sinful nature, or predilections, as you might want to call them?


    As I explicitly reject that sinfulness is a biologically heritable phenomenon (which is gnosticism, really), there is no actual connection between human sinfulness and biological evolution. Moreover, social "evolution" and biological evolution are two entirely different concepts which have little or no actual connection with one another.

    You said:

    I am genuinely curious. Do you believe we are getting better? Not just on the social, no-slavery, women's rights, etc., etc., kind of thing, but are we getting better with what is in our hearts? Greed, lust, anger, etc.?

    I don't understand where this idea of "better" comes into the picture...Evolutionary theory is not about things getting "better"--rather, it is a framework for
    describing the changes which occur between species. But again, what you are talking about has nothing really to do with biological evolutionary theory. You are talking about anthropology and sociology. Therefore, the categories of discussion are entirely different. With that being said, I do not think we are necessarily "better" in these ways. Humans are still dysfunctionally related to God and others, and this dysfunction is manifested in myriad ways and is perpetuated through the violence which we exact upon one another on a daily basis.

    You said:

    Maybe those aren't "sins" in your book, well then what is? And are we going to evolve out of those things? if not, what then of evolution, simply Nietzche's "will to power"?

    Once again, you are wrongly equating sociological theory with biological evolutionary theory. If sin were a biological problem, then perhaps evolution would solve it. However, as I reject this notion (that of the biological nature of sin), I would not say that we can "evolve" out of it in the way that you are speaking of evolution. Nietzsche, in speaking of the "will to power" and the ubermensch, was not talking about humanity evolving biologically to another, higher physiological state of being. Rather, his idea was that of the existential conquering of the weak gods which humans have constructed for themselves and which bind the human heart and will to fear and submission. To Nietzsche, the overman would still be physiologically human, but would have overcome the weaknesses of the "human" spirit to live in the perfect freedom of the will to power.

     
  • At 9:16 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    I understand the categories, glad for you to point this out.

    I realize that Nietzsche didn't agree with Darwin on some points, but he isn't left with many choices, if "God is dead".

    These social, moral items and evolutionary theory do become linked, one feeds into the other. Perhaps this isn't what you are talking about, but that is why we discuss, to more clearly define terms, etc. Perhaps, given the limited interaction here, and no prior knowledge of each other, we have not understood where we are coming from, per se.

    Thaty being said, my point is, evolutionary theory has no basis for sociological or moral progress, save the ongoing biological construct, with its survival of the fittest.

    If Nietzsche believes that we are to existentially overcome in our minds the false constructs, isn't this still a process of biological function? Especially since man has not been endued with a soul? If there is only man with its physical state, no soul, etc., how can we mentally, existentially achieve without it being a biological phenomena also?

    Does FN, or you, believe that we have something inherent within us other than mere physical parts. If so what are these things? I am no biographer of FN, if you could, please explain how he might justify this apparent dilemma. Maybe you haven't read him thoroughly enough, I am not sure. How does he define "spirit", as non corporeal, when all he has is evolution, and biological processes, with nothing greater than the physical world itself?

    I am not saying that you cannot be a Christian and believe in a Theistic evolutionary model; is that what you are contending for? If so, then a different ballgame. Help us understand your position with regards to theism; you did mention our relationship to God. Whom is your God?

    However, regarding traditional evolutionary theory, "better", as I have termed it, is indeed "survivial of the "fittest". Besides total chaos, which we do not have, (I would agree to anyone who might say we have seen some advancement in "civility"), how is society to go on, morally speaking?

    How is it that we achieve any "betterment" at all, or who defines it as such? Vox Populi, Vox Deus?

    I for one do not believe the consensus of the people will continue, or even has done so at all, to guide us into a utopian ideal. It is without hope at its core, the only hope being that those who "deserve" to survive, long term, will.

    Won't go on any longer, what say you?

     
  • At 11:38 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    exist~dissolve --

    You said:

    I agree that there is no necessary link between athiesm and evolutionary theory. However, it works the other way too--i.e., the affirmation of a Creator by no means necessitates that one reject evolutionary theory.

    I agree. The affirmation of a Creator by no means necessitates that one reject evolutionary theory.

    Notwithstanding, if a person affirms that scripture is without error it would be impossible to embrace the notion of evolution while maintaining any semblence of intellectual honesty.

    Paul, in the new testament refers to Adam many times as a literal, historical figure, Jude also refers to Adam thus, as does Luke - as do the old testament scribes and prophets. The writers of scripture refer to Adam as an historical person - so it behooves me to do likewise.

    Given therefore that scripture teaches that sin entered the world through the historical pserson we know as "Adam" - and given that Scripture teaches that death only entered into the human race through this sin - we must conclude that if men evolved from soup - every iteration between soup and man would still be living right up until death entered the world.

    Consider therefore how inconsistent the evolutionary model becomes when we try and marry it to the idea that death doesn't exist yet. Without birth control, and presuming that the aging process is arrested at maturity - we should expect a mated couple to produce millions of offspring in each evolutionary iteration. The population growth would be mathematically "insane" - that is:

    Even if we only had any one species alive on the earth at a time, without death the world would over populate long before the first million years were up.

    Really, in the last 10,000 mankind has grown from a very small base (I would say two people, but let us say it was an hundred thousand or so) - even with periodic bouts of war and pestilence the population of human beings has flourished to billions. Imagine if no one ever died in that time? The population would be far more - and that is just 10,000 years. Looking only at the current "iteration" of the premised human evolutionary chain, we project from this rate of growth that in another 10,000 years the earth will be populated by several quadrillion people. That population growth forecast is derived from the growth rate of a population that dies (typically) every seventy years. So the numbers, should no one ever die - would be far greater.

    I hope that you will see, that even if there were only five links between soup and man, and even if it only took 100,000 years between each evolutionary jump - I doubt that there would be enough space on the earth to house even the offspring from the first 100,000 years in the first link of the evolutionary chain. By the next 100,000 years, I expect that the mass of these two iterations growing together would be greater than the mass of the earth - and by the third iteration, we would already be displacing much of the solar system.

    I hope you will see that evolution doesn't add up unless you set aside the notion that death didn't exist until Adam - that is, in order to accept evolutionary theory as "biblically compatible" I would have to compromise on (deny) the straight forward teaching of scripture. To do so, I would have to accept myself (or someone else I admire) as an arbitrary authority for determining exactly what in scripture can be believed, and what can be discarded.

    I reason that if any of the bible is false - it may as well -all- be false since lacking an objective way to determine what is true I have no real authority to believe any of it - and if I cannot be sure any of it is true, it seems arrogant (at best) to presume any of it is true.

    I agree, evolutionary theory doesn't need to be the antithesis of creationism - but I put forward that it is necessarily incompatible with a Christianity that holds the bible as entirely true and without error.

    Evolutionary theory is, I believe, only compatible with that variety of Christianity that on the one hand says we can believe the bible, yet on the other subjectively dismisses whatever truths are inconsistent with competing and favoured secular systems or genesis.

    I think that insisting that the bible is on the one hand reliable, and on the other unreliable is not only unacceptably inconsistent - but it makes those who articulate this view look confused (at best).

     
  • At 11:41 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    even so–

    You said:

    I realize that Nietzsche didn't agree with Darwin on some points, but he isn't left with many choices, if "God is dead".

    To Nietzsche, the idea that “God is dead” is not an ontological proposition, as if God has ceased to exist in being. Rather, “God is dead” because the God of pity, the God of weakness (which to Nietzsche is the God of Christianity) has ceased to be an answer to humanity’s existential dilemma. Therefore, this is not actually an atheism, but rather a critique of what he believed to be Christianity’s emasculating ethic of love and self-sacrifice.

    You said:

    These social, moral items and evolutionary theory do become linked, one feeds into the other

    Yes, I do recognize that some have preempted the independent disciplines and used biological evolutionary theory as a paradigm for sociological development and change. Moreover, I also believe that there some potential correlations in describing social development through biological metaphors. Nonetheless, I do not think there can be a wholesale application of evolutionary theory to sociological disciplines, and attempts to do so have often been quite destructive. However, the fact that this has been inappropriately done does not invalidate either evolutionary biology nor sociological studies.

    You said:

    That being said, my point is, evolutionary theory has no basis for sociological or moral progress, save the ongoing biological construct, with its survival of the fittest.

    While I do not agree that it has “no” basis, I will agree that the blind application of biological evolutionary theory to sociological/ethcial disciplines is improper.

    You said:

    If Nietzsche believes that we are to existentially overcome in our minds the false constructs, isn't this still a process of biological function? Especially since man has not been endued with a soul? If there is only man with its physical state, no soul, etc., how can we mentally, existentially achieve without it being a biological phenomena also?

    On one level, you are right. As mentality cannot be bifurcated from physicality, there is a sense in which evolution of the human species would concomitantly involve a mental evolution. However, I do not think Nietzsche would reduce the origination of the ubermensch to biological change/evolution. Rather, for Nietzsche, the “becoming” of the ubermensch is an act of the will, not of nature. For Nietzsche, the natural course of the will has created the oppression of the Christian ethic. Therefore, for Nietzsche, the ubermensch will never come about through biological/mental evolution, but rather originates in the crisis of the act of will over and against the dehumanizing existential dilemma of religioned, conditioned humanity.

    You said:

    Does FN, or you, believe that we have something inherent within us other than mere physical parts. If so what are these things? I am no biographer of FN, if you could, please explain how he might justify this apparent dilemma. Maybe you haven't read him thoroughly enough, I am not sure. How does he define "spirit", as non corporeal, when all he has is evolution, and biological processes, with nothing greater than the physical world itself?

    As far as FN on the subject, I am still unclear as to that. Personally, I am a monist. In other words, I think human persons are body/soul, an indivisible unity. I think such an explanation makes intelligible the fact that we are more than matter, and yet maintains the reality of and meaningfulness of resurrection.

    You said:

    I am not saying that you cannot be a Christian and believe in a Theistic evolutionary model; is that what you are contending for? If so, then a different ballgame. Help us understand your position with regards to theism; you did mention our relationship to God. Whom is your God?

    I am a Christian who affirms the historic creeds of the church. I also fully affirm the idea of Big Bang cosmology and evolutionary biology as functioning as helpful and reasonably accurate paradigms through which to understand the way in which the universe developed and came to be what it is today. .

    You said:

    However, regarding traditional evolutionary theory, "better", as I have termed it, is indeed "survivial of the "fittest".

    I don’t think this is an accurate description of evolutionary theory. While the “fittest” who survive may be “better” than those who don’t, evolutionary theory is not dealing with individual organisms. Rather, it functions on the level of description of the changes that occur between species. Therefore, when I disavow the idea of “better,” I am speaking from the perspective of evolutionary theory which is looking at species as a whole.

    You said:

    Besides total chaos, which we do not have, (I would agree to anyone who might say we have seen some advancement in "civility"), how is society to go on, morally speaking?

    How is it that we achieve any "betterment" at all, or who defines it as such? Vox Populi, Vox Deus?

    I for one do not believe the consensus of the people will continue, or even has done so at all, to guide us into a utopian ideal. It is without hope at its core, the only hope being that those who "deserve" to survive, long term, will.

    Won't go on any longer, what say you?


    As I do not advocate evolutionary theory in sociological/ethical disciplines, I’m not sure how to answer this in light of our discussion about biological evolutionary theory. Like you, I disavow the idea that the will of the mass of humanity will lead to an utopian ideal.

    I’ll stop for now, as I need to get to lunch.

     
  • At 12:13 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    exist~dissolve:

    I appreciate the time taken. As far as the bifurcation of physical and mental (or spiritual), was FN a monist? Do you see it as Nietzsche v. Skinner, perhaps?

    I just don't believe you can divorce the beliefs from the consequences in this case. We have seen the fruit. As for indivisible nature, it is debatable, for sure, both ways, of course. It does seem ironic with your name (dissolve).

    Thanks again, glad to hear you affirm creeds (Nicene? WCF?). Now let me hear you confirm Christ: as the only way to God, and that He and God are of one substance, that we are created, and that God is BOTH immanent and transcendent, and I will be happy.

    Not to be demanding, but to know if we are truly on at least some of the same pages. When Paul says that in Him we live and move and have our being (no matter whom he was quoting), what do you take this to mean? Some, (some!) monists are akin to panentheists, I hope this isn't you.

     
  • At 12:16 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Daniel

    Sorry for the rabbit trail. It can be a good thing, though. Even if we just rehash old stuff, not all who visit here will be familiar with the particulars, so it is in a sense a good thing to trot out the trail, as it were.

    Hopefully, some will be edified. I will stop on your request, or when I get tired, ha ha.

     
  • At 3:57 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    daniel--

    You said:

    I agree. The affirmation of a Creator by no means necessitates that one reject evolutionary theory.

    Notwithstanding, if a person affirms that scripture is without error it would be impossible to embrace the notion of evolution while maintaining any semblence of intellectual honesty.


    Well, this seriously depends upon how one defines “without error.” After all, the way in which one interprets the Scripture will determine very much what is and is not error. And speaking of “intellectual honesty,” it is difficult to understand how those who deny evolutionary theory and big bang cosmology in preference to a “literal” interpretation of Genesis can honestly believe what they do in light of the evidence of the natural world in which we live which rests in favor of evolutionary theory/big bang cosmology. Such a perspective of Scripture, in my view, requires that one completely ignore the testimony of the universe in which we live. This cosmos-denying philosophical orientation smacks very much of gnostic inclinations.

    You said:

    Paul, in the new testament refers to Adam many times as a literal, historical figure, Jude also refers to Adam thus, as does Luke - as do the old testament scribes and prophets. The writers of scripture refer to Adam as an historical person - so it behooves me to do likewise.

    These same also probably thought a lot of rubbish about the natural world at which we would, today, scoff. I am fully willing to acknowledge that all of these thought that Adam was a historical person. However, I hardly see why this is important for the message which they were teaching. After all, unlike modern interpreters of the Scriptures, the biblical writers were hardly concerned with “historicity” in the same way that we are–the non-contextual utilization and quotation of OT passages in the gospels and throughout the Pauline writers makes this extremely clear. To these writers, the fact that Adam could be verifiably identified as an historical person is not the central issue; rather, it is the meaning embodied by Adam that is central to the thoughts they are communicating. Unfortunately, modern interpretations often miss this key issue.

    Given therefore that scripture teaches that sin entered the world through the historical person we know as "Adam" - and given that Scripture teaches that death only entered into the human race through this sin - we must conclude that if men evolved from soup - every iteration between soup and man would still be living right up until death entered the world.

    You should be careful about the applications which you apply to the biblical texts, especially the creation narratives. I would assert that the meaning of the creation narratives–and Paul’s subsequent conjuring of their images–is intended to communicate that the problem of sin is a human, relational one. For example, in the creation narratives, the problem of sin is located in human pride and self-assertion over against the divine will. It is this, within the myth, which shatters the “goodness” of creation. This stands as a fairly significant polemic against other creation narratives of the day which would have located sinfulness and the “badness” of human life in the capriciousness of the local deities. And in Paul, this argument about the origin of sin is used not as an abstract dissertation on theodicy, but rather in relationship to an incarnational and soteriological discourse about Christ. It is a means of contrast, showing the means by which Christ is the sole, yet universal savior for humanity.

    You said:

    Consider therefore how inconsistent the evolutionary model becomes when we try and marry it to the idea that death doesn't exist yet. Without birth control, and presuming that the aging process is arrested at maturity - we should expect a mated couple to produce millions of offspring in each evolutionary iteration. The population growth would be mathematically "insane" - that is:

    Even if we only had any one species alive on the earth at a time, without death the world would over populate long before the first million years were up.

    Really, in the last 10,000 mankind has grown from a very small base (I would say two people, but let us say it was an hundred thousand or so) - even with periodic bouts of war and pestilence the population of human beings has flourished to billions. Imagine if no one ever died in that time? The population would be far more - and that is just 10,000 years. Looking only at the current "iteration" of the premised human evolutionary chain, we project from this rate of growth that in another 10,000 years the earth will be populated by several quadrillion people. That population growth forecast is derived from the growth rate of a population that dies (typically) every seventy years. So the numbers, should no one ever die - would be far greater.

    I hope that you will see, that even if there were only five links between soup and man, and even if it only took 100,000 years between each evolutionary jump - I doubt that there would be enough space on the earth to house even the offspring from the first 100,000 years in the first link of the evolutionary chain. By the next 100,000 years, I expect that the mass of these two iterations growing together would be greater than the mass of the earth - and by the third iteration, we would already be displacing much of the solar system.

    I hope you will see that evolution doesn't add up unless you set aside the notion that death didn't exist until Adam


    Yes, this is precisely what I would do. Despite interpretations of Scripture to the contrary (and the subsequent deployment of this philosophical presupposition as a tenable scientific methodological principle), both cosmological and terrestrial history reveal explicitly and incontrovertibly that death and decay are part and parcel of finite reality. The very constitution of the human person, in fact, requires the organism’s continual “death” in order that life might occur (i.e., the replication, division, and death of cellular material, etc.).

    You said:

    - that is, in order to accept evolutionary theory as "biblically compatible" I would have to compromise on (deny) the straight forward teaching of scripture.

    I would question what you claim as the “straightforward teaching of scripture.” Such a claim seems to ignore the fact that one inevitably begins with a presupposition about the nature and function of Scripture and arrive at a particular conclusion which is surprisingly consonant with the beginning presuppositions.

    You said:

    To do so, I would have to accept myself (or someone else I admire) as an arbitrary authority for determining exactly what in scripture can be believed, and what can be discarded.

    Are you, and all of us, not this already? Do you really think it is possible to arrive at an “objective” interpretation of the scriptures? Such a perspective, in my estimation, overestimates the readers ability to accurately engage the original intention of the writer. Moreover, as authorial intent is virtually impossible to objectively gauge, it is more likely that subsequent claims of “objectivity” are self-invalidating, for in claiming such, it appears that the reader has simply substituted their own presuppositions about authorial intent and called it “objective.”

    You said:

    I reason that if any of the bible is false - it may as well -all- be false since lacking an objective way to determine what is true I have no real authority to believe any of it - and if I cannot be sure any of it is true, it seems arrogant (at best) to presume any of it is true.

    I don’t understand how the propositional statement that “the bible is 100% true” equates to having an “objective way to determine what is true.” It seems, rather, that you have simply defined the terms of truth for yourself and made universal claims about it. In my understanding, this is the same as your fear about seeming arrogant.

    You said:

    I agree, evolutionary theory doesn't need to be the antithesis of creationism - but I put forward that it is necessarily incompatible with a Christianity that holds the bible as entirely true and without error.

    The usefulness of “inerrancy” aside, I still do not see how evolutionary theory invalidates inerrancy.

    You said:

    Evolutionary theory is, I believe, only compatible with that variety of Christianity that on the one hand says we can believe the bible, yet on the other subjectively dismisses whatever truths are inconsistent with competing and favored secular systems or genesis.

    But this is precisely what you are doing, only inversely. You begin with a presupposed interpretation of Scripture, and submit the whole of reality to this interpretation. Therefore, if something comes along (like evolutionary theory) that does not cohere to this presupposed conception about reality, you reject it. In doing so, however, you have set the Scriptures up to be completely invalidated, for the moment that someone can come along and fracture the “inerrancy,” the whole structure collapses and one is left with nothing.


    I think that insisting that the bible is on the one hand reliable, and on the other unreliable is not only unacceptably inconsistent - but it makes those who articulate this view look confused (at best).

    Well, this certainly depends upon the categories to which one insists the scriptures are “reliable.” If one is talking about scientific theory, the Scriptures are not reliable at all. If one is talking about history (in a modern historical/critical way), the Scriptures are not reliable. One must be very careful into which categories one wishes to press the authority of Scripture, for in some categories the entire thing may be invalidated. And if one makes strong claims about the categorical veracity of the Scriptures, one should not be offended when these same categories take out their pound of flesh on the Scriptures. Unfortunately, this is precisely what the doctrine of “inerrancy” does and is, furthermore, precisely why people scoff at the Scriptures in modern society.

     
  • At 6:17 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    even so--

    You said:

    As far as the bifurcation of physical and mental (or spiritual), was FN a monist? Do you see it as Nietzsche v. Skinner, perhaps?

    Unfortunately, I am not as well read on Nietzsche (as I would like to be) to be able to honestly answer this question. My gut instinct would say that he was a monist, but I am not positive about that.

    You said:

    I just don't believe you can divorce the beliefs from the consequences in this case. We have seen the fruit.

    Sure, there is fruit. However, that still does not mean that the equation of biological evolutionary theory and sociological studies is appropriate, nor that the conclusions are legitimate.


    You said:

    As for indivisible nature, it is debatable, for sure, both ways, of course. It does seem ironic with your name (dissolve).

    My name, actually, gets at the heart of what I believe. I do not believe that human persons (body or soul or body/soul) persist beyond death. Rather, we truly do "exist-dissolve"--this is nature of being finite. However, we do have hope of resurrection, a hope that is so far beyond us or any natural faculty that we possess that it is truly our only hope of persistence beyond death.

    You said:

    Thanks again, glad to hear you affirm creeds (Nicene? WCF?).


    No, I said I affirm the historic creeds of the Church. These, in my understanding, include all of the ecumenical councils of the Church (the first 7) and none beyond that.


    Now let me hear you confirm Christ: as the only way to God, and that He and God are of one substance, that we are created, and that God is BOTH immanent and transcendent, and I will be happy.


    Per my affirmation of the ecumenical creeds of the Church, this is already assumed, for the creeds have no other subject.

    Not to be demanding, but to know if we are truly on at least some of the same pages. When Paul says that in Him we live and move and have our being (no matter whom he was quoting), what do you take this to mean? Some, (some!) monists are akin to panentheists, I hope this isn't you.

    Well, that depends very much upon your definition of "panentheism." For example, I hold to something akin to pan-entheism, meaning that "God indwells all" while maintaining the ontological distinction between God and the creation.

     
  • At 10:23 AM, June 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    E-D -- thanks for your thoughtful response, I appreciate it.

    Given that I am coming to the table (as it were) believing scripture one way, and you are coming to scripture in another - that is, given that we disagree about the very foundation upon which our respective opinions find their source - it is unlikely that our discussion can progress beyond either gainsaying, talking above/across one another, or debating the merits and flaws of each other's base presumptions.

    I hope you will not be offended therefore, if I fail to pursue any of these avenues that are presently left open to me. ;-)

     
  • At 10:57 AM, June 07, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    None taken.

     
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