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stoolpigeon's Journal: Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople 24

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It's a bit of a joke (among other things) at most of the places I hang out on-line, the stance many evangelicals take with regards to creation vs. evolution. I understand that and I am quite sympathetic with those who find creationists to be at best incomprehensible.
But there are lots of folks out there, probably a lot like me, who were raised to view a literal creation account as absolutely key to their entire world view. It's not something to take lightly, throwing out one's world view based on a single piece of information. The whole thing created for me a place of tension and a desire to learn and try to put it together. The problem is, it's not easy to find information that's not from a 'camp' that has a dog in the fight.
This is probably difficult for someone on the outside to understand. I would look for sources of information that didn't seem to have an agenda and desire to push or pull me in one direction or another. I needed someone other than a Dawkins or ICR to help me work through the issues. I haven't found many that fit the bill and so I've been left to muddle through it all on my own.
As I've weighed it all in my mind there has been one real problem that has hung me up. Death.
The view I've always taken is that death is the result of sin. Before sin there was no death, spiritual or physical. The problem should be easy to see here. With evolution it is required that there was death before original sin. This has always hung me up when looking at anything other than a creationist view. My life is a lot simpler if the universe was created in 7 days. The problem is, the historical record doesn't look to back that up.
All this to say that a white paper written by Dr. Tim Keller, "Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople" has really been very helpful to me.
I've had the immense pleasure of hearing Dr. Keller speak and enjoyed his books very much. I think "Prodigal God" influenced me more than any other book I've read in years. I hold him in high regard and that he wrote a paper that feels as if it were penned specifically to deal with my concerns doesn't hurt my admiration. I often feel like the token fundie around here, but there might be others that would find this to be a valuable resource.

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Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople

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  • Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <> on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:15PM (#31661578) Homepage Journal
    token fundie

    That ain't you, at least not here. I think of you more as "token Intelligent but Devout Christian who should be held up as an example to ALL".
    • That's kind - though I'd never suggest anyone use me as an example. But I do appreciate the encouraging words.

      And I guess for various values of fundamentalist I don't match. But my theology is pretty conservative in certain regards. It's just my application of that theology doesn't map to what is seen as fundamentalist actions/views I guess.

      • though I'd never suggest anyone use me as an example.

        I know you wrote that with absolute sincereity, but I would wager that that is the exact quality that Captain Splendid is pointing to: humbleness. Jesus preached it A LOT, but that seems to be lost on the louder elements of the Christian Right. At least IMHO...
        • Thank you as well. Anything I say may come across as just trying to illicit more of the same so I'll just stop with thanks.

          Humility tends not to be boisterous so it makes sense that what we see being loud and getting a lot of attention is just the opposite. I kind of expect that from the talking heads, it just bothers me when people who ought to know better follow those idiots.

          I could go on about that for a while, but I'll just leave it there. I do think, on the upside, that many young Christians see it

          • A devil writing to his associate (excerpt from "The Screwtape Letters", C. S. Lewis)

            Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, "By jove! I'm being humble", and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don't try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      The word "fundamentalist" if often misunderstood. One of the original authors of the book that gave us the word "fundamentalist" -- "The Fundamentals" -- was a scientist and former Christian Darwinist who later rejected Darwinism, and he, George Frederick Wright, wrote in The Fundamentals, 100 years ago:

      ... at best, [Darwin's] theory can enlarge but little our comprehension of the adequacy of resident forces to produce and conserve variations of species, and cannot in the least degree banish the idea of de

  • You know my point of view and you know which camp I chose. Yet, I can fully understand that you look for an unbiased source, which I fear will be a hard task because the issue pretty much demands you take a choice.

    In a certain point of view, I'm in the same boat as you. My wife isn't exactly the most scientifically minded person around and has pretty much only grasp of basic maths (God bless, excuse my expression, liberal arts education). I tried formerly to get her acquainted with science involving only

    • You'll never tick me off just pointing out sites, resources, etc. So never worry about that.

      I watched Cosmos a long time ago when it was on tv and enjoyed it thoroughly.

      One does have to make a choice, but the second question Keller handles is the nature of what that choice implies.

      His second question he answers is "If biological evolution is true—does that mean that we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?"

      His short answer is, "No. Belief

      • I can understand.... One thing just from my world view (and you can do whatever you want with it): If natural selection is not "the answer"[*] to the complex sociological behaviours (I mean this very broad, from altruism, over morality, to Religious beliefs themselves) that we observe, then there must be another explanation. What this explanation is, I'll leave in the middle, but just filling in those gaps with God(s) are not answers. Not "answers" in the scientific sense. They might make you feel good

        • I don't see God just in the gaps, I see him in everything. I view him as the unmoved mover, and so finding a natural mechanism for anything doesn't remove God from the picture.

          This is why it doesn't bother me if we find that there is a 'god gene' or 'religion center' in the brain.

          I don't think that finding complex human behavior to have a physical cause necessarily eliminates the logical need for God. I think Platinga has done some good work in this area, even if I don't totally comprehend all of it. ( T

          • I don't think that finding complex human behavior to have a physical cause necessarily eliminates the logical need for God.

            Whoa! Stop right there.... I know I'm no native English speaker, but did you just say there is a "logical need for God"? That is a bold statement. I'd like to see that statement backed up. (The question is thus: "Why is there a logical need for God?") I am very curious.

            I might have misunderstood, hence the English remark, and it might be just in some context.

            I think the Bible is

            • You understood me correctly. I think that there are facets of our existence along with the fact that anything exists at all that make God a logical necessity.

              I don't claim to understand all the intricacies of something like Plantinga's modal form of the ontological argument [] but I think it is persuasive as a piece of a larger whole.

              I think that there is a major step moving from atheism to theism. Once that's done, then there is still a lot to work out but some of the other stuff falls right into line.

              I do

              • Ah, logic... A sure way to test logic is to substitute it with something you know to be false (or at least in your worldview is false). Let me do the modal ontological argument by substituting some premises:

                1. It is proposed that a number has maximal value in a given possible world W if and only if it is larger than any number in W; and
                2. It is proposed that a number has maximal greatness if it has maximal value in every possible world.
                3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that th
                • I'll go through all of this as I have time, but I may not respond to all of it. But I do appreciate you taking the time.

                  For what it is worth, not all of this is nearly as settled as some would like to believe. The late dates on the gospels for example. They are based on philosophical objections and presuppositions rather than historical evidence. This is the nature of higher criticism. There is quite a lot of evidence that I believe is very convincing that the gospels were written by the apostles.

      • by andphi (899406)

        I like your core approach:
        "I guess I've been looking for people who either were or are Christians who accept evolution and have found a way to fit it into their world view."

        In my case, that means my sister. She got her degrees in Biology from a state school, so she's had to confront this directly. One of her professors floated the idea of NOMA - Non-Overlapping Magisteria - which, on closer inspection just means that you leave your faith at the lab-room door and your science at the church-house door without

  • It is a puzzling situation, this tendency towards life and "evolution".

    I don't think Darwinian "natural selection" comes anywhere close to providing a satisfactory answer. Why do inorganic molecules become organic molecules, which form to create lower life forms which then result in higher life forms?

    All force of nature that I am aware of would tend to DESTROY any organized biologic construct. Leave anything organic in the sun, in the water, in the air, etc, and it will deconstruct.

    In short, why does life

    • OK, that was weak... no need to point out that there are more holes in my post than a sieve. Maybe next time, I'll put the seamless smack-down on the "natural selection is sufficient to account for life" thing ; )

      • I have a sister-in-law that is an engineer and agrees with you. It really surprised me when she told me.

        I understand the arguments against evolution pretty well, the problem is the overwhelming amount of evidence that exists in the fossil record among other things.

        The more we dig and research, the more we find to support evolution rather than discount it.

      • OK, that was weak...

        Yes, it was... Mainly because of this:

        In short, why does life violate the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of any closed system will invariably increase?

        I hope this was to troll, or just plain old basic ignorance.... The system which harbours life, also known as Earth, is not a closed system. It gets its energy from the Sun. Take away the sun, and see how long life persists on earth.

        It's a typical creationist argument (not accusing you are one, but you boug

    • I don't want get to far into this right now, but I do want to address one point

      >Why do inorganic molecules become organic molecules

      Any molecule that contains carbon is an organic molecule.

      Maybe a better way to say it would be "why do simple organic molecules become proto-biological molecules". Although that phrasing isn't completely clear or correct either (basically, you start arguing about what defines "life" or "biological", which no one has nailed down 100%).

      • The word "organic" derives from "organism". If carbon is all that is required for the label of "organic", then one would necessarily apply that label to diamond, graphite, and carbon dioxide.

        I'm not a chemist or biologist. It would surprise me, though, if they used this term that loosely. If I understand correctly, it's astronomers' use of the term that has heightened the ambiguity well beyond the original meaning.

  • An interesting paper indeed. I hardly agree with everything that he has discussed, but he does make a few very insightful observations (which made it well worth reading). It seems that he has thought about the problem thoughtfully and honestly.

    I would like to expand upon his discussion about the literal and figurative natures of the Bible. You need not share my view, but I offer it in the same spirit that you submitted the white paper to us. It's something that you can ponder as you continually refine y

  • Thank you for the link - that was an interesting paper. I did like the point he made about the theory of evolution being presented as a single package, when in fact it is two ideas: biology and philosophy. He makes a pretty good argument that Christians ought to be able to embrace the biological science and discard the philosophical propaganda.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai