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Friday, February 29, 2008

More from Before Darwin

Another lovely tidbit from Thomson's wonderful book Before Darwin p. 200 in the chapter "This is Atheism":

Atheism in the form of evolutionary ideas opened the door for the discovery and investigation of second cause mechanisms flowing from the properties of material nature ... Evolution was always more than a purely scientific notion, however, and both before and after Charles Darwin its consequences were felt in a larger political context than the narrow debate over Genesis.

Evolution basically refers to change. Whether as an actual mechanism or a metaphor, evolution was an attractive notion to political theorists ...

The final part of the quote reminds me of what Stephen Gould has said, that evolution has more to do with 19th C predilictions than science.

The first part is congruent with Thomson's other 'natural a-theology' comments (that is, evolution couples with atheism inevitably).

But, Thomson is wrong, and I suspect, tendentiously so, in splitting the flowering of modern science from Genesian belief.

The split that had to be made was from Aristoteleanism, with its demands for stasis and a rigid and abstracted notion of perfection, which was then read back into what God 'must' have done. It was this that held back science.

Early modern scientists who took Genesis at its word were not kept from investigation, but were free to openly enquire. One of the great falsehoods of modern paganism (athesim, humanism, materialism versions) is that free enquiry came from itself. It did not, paganism produces an intellectual introversion which stifles enquiry with dogma. The early modern scientists, driven by faith in God's creation, and putting creation into the realm of objective knowledge (which Genesis 1 does), were able to 'open it' to their investigations and could fearlessly go anywhere, knowing who God is as revealed to us definitively in the incarnation.

Jensen at Abbotsleigh

The Lord Archibishop of Sydney (Anglican) recently spoke at that centre of Anglican humility and equity Abbotsleigh girls' school in the very ordinary working class suburb of Wahroonga . . . hang on, no I got that all wrong. It should be:

True to the Anglican obsession with privilage, wealth and elitism, Peter spoke at the exclusive and very expensive Anglican girls' school Abbotsleigh, which is impossible for ordinary folks to use, breeds a contemptuous and unbiblical superiority and keeps Christian families from being an influence in public schools . . .that's better.

He was on the subject of 'The Holy Spirit' [I always regarded the Spirit as a person, not a subject!]. He said:

If the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth, think how you can depend on the bible. If you get the big picture straight, you won't be led astray as easily by the details of Scripture.

Except of course, when you read Genesis 1, the meaning of which is only available to the highly schooled academics at Moore, not ordinary folk.

Now, when ordinary folk read Genesis 1, they pretty much think that the Holy Spirit wants us to understand that God created the world by fiat in six days. We read other parts of Torah, and find out that he wants us to understand that the creation event occured about 6000 years ago.

Assuming that the Holy Spirit does everything on purpose; I expect he wanted Genesis 1 to say what it says on purpose: for our instruction, not as a distraction.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Natural a-theology

The debate has raged over the place of natural theology, but the SADists to a man have failed to give us anything about the impressive success of natural a-theology.

I hope to say more about it soon, but in his book Before Darwin, Keith Thomson plots the course of an emerging natural a-theology that set the face of intellectual enquiry determinedly away from a God who has spoken in our time-space and gives materialism the ascendency. This materialism finds its home in its own 'natural theology', with astounding success.

Natural theology is, of course, eschewed by the SADists, in fear of the success of materialism, I daresay; but in that fear, they remove God from this world and make the incarnation impotent.

Blockish Brick-makers all?

The SADist disdain for Genesis 1 is not new.

John Edwards had this to say about the removal of Genesis 1 from the real world: "the fond Notions which had possess'd some men's heads, and had been divulg'd by their pens, viz. that Moses is not to be understood according to the Letter, that he speaks to the capacity of Blockish Brick-makers that were recently come out of Egypt, and scarcely understood common sense, and therefore any Story of a Cock and a Bull would serve them... we must not think that he would trouble the brains (if you can suppose they had any) of a company of Dull Slaves with Natural Philosophy."

(Against William Whiston in 1697 in Thompson, "Before Darwin", p. 160)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Not happy Gordon!

Reading the posts discussing Gordon Cheng's latest, I reflected on the circuitous route SADists must travel to talk about 'who we really are'. They cannot connect to the real world, so have to leap up into the 'noosphere', joining de Chardin in a futile 'theology-fiction' enterprise (although Sir Peter Medawar referred to de Chardin's writings as 'philosophy-fiction').

But it comes down to this:

"...the creation/evolution issue which, he says, ‘deals with the most important questions in life that every person must answer, such as, ‘Where do I come from?’ Evolution’s answer, he points out, is ultimately that ‘unthinking molecules jumped together by chance’. Biblical creation, he says, implies purpose—to love and serve Christ and our fellow man."

I picked up this very apt quote from an interview with an anatomist.

The vast spread between the two concepts and their implications for the appreciation of self exhausts the credibility, and the evangelical utility of theistic-evolution. That idea just makes its proponents fade to grey in any debate.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cheng an Embarrassment

Gordon, our old sparring partner, wrote somewhat recently in praise of Michael Ruse (see 'Dawkins an Embarrassment', Media Watch, The Briefing, 7th June 2007). Gordon reports that Ruse is convinced that many evolutionists are just as “religiously ridiculous in their zeal as the most swivel-eyed creationist could ever be.” Whether these are Ruse’s or Gordon’s exact words is irrelevant because Gordon obviously sympathises fully with the sentiment behind them. Nothing new here.

What should be embarrassing and cause for concern for the Sydney Diocese is that one of their ministers would then go on to misrepresent his supposed brothers and sisters in Christ by manufacturing an outright lie against them. If this isn’t in itself a travesty of what it means to be a leader in the Church then think about the flow-on effect for those who, as a result of reading his mendacious piffle, are drawn away from the historically orthodox truth. (Hopefully, Gordon has become so obnoxious that very few people would bother and that it’s only the sycophantic tare of the diocese who champion his miscreant ravings. Maybe little or no harm done!) What did our Lord say about a millstone, brother?

The offending paragraph is the following:
“Most creationists and evolutionists tend to distract themselves away from considering the man Jesus Christ, the only son of God, by turning to debate minutiae of sub-amoebic proportions. Small things are not unimportant, but when they stop us thinking about the gospel, they start to matter out of proportion to their size.”
First thing that needs pointing out is Gordon’s hyper-hubristic and omnisciently use of “most”. Well, even I, a now very much long-in-the-tooth creationist, have not met or read “most creationists”, and so I cannot conclude that Gordon would have super-humanly managed the impossible.

But what makes Gordon’s words so foolish is that every – let me repeat – every, creationist I’ve met or read, at some time, somewhere, will over and over again raise the absolute importance of the Gospel and the world’s need for Christ.

London to a brick, Gordon would never have heard of A.E. Wilder-Smith’s pioneering work, let alone read any of it. Wilder-Smith was quite arguably more instrumental for putting the creationist project on firm footing than any other person before or after. Contrary to Gordon’s insane libel, this triple awarded PhD scientist (sorry, Gordon, how many scientific PhDs have you earned?) never stopped talking or writing about the need for all men and women to know about the redemptive work of Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.

But if Gordon were an honest man and had wanted to know what creationists actually believed he would have at least browsed the world’s leading creationist magazine (published here in Oz!) and seen that creationists do raise the issue of the Gospel even in an ostensibly scientific publication.

Gordon is manifestly a liar or a fool, but not both. His own article clearly demonstrates this.

Connect 3009? Hmmm...Maybe?

Odd day yesterday. Called into my union office to drop off some papers for an upcoming court case against my employer and then rode past the Town Hall and saw some people handing our pamphlets to the lunch-time crowd outside that building next door. At first I wasn’t going to stop but the subject matter drew my attention: human rights for children. Something wasn’t right and I smelt Scientology at work.

I began my discussion by asking affable Nigel on what basis children should have rights. It was fairly promptly brought to my attention that they were indeed scientologists. This inevitably and quickly led to a discussion of comparing, I mean, contrasting, L. Ron Hubbard with Jesus. As it turned out Nigel was an ex-Anglican and was quite familiar with Jesus’ character and perfect nature. We talked for about 40 minutes and at our conversation's conclusion I encouraged him to take up C.S. Lewis’ challenge of liar, lunatic or Lord.

The glaring surreal irony of it all. Here I was, blogmaster for Sydney Anglican Heretics, standing outside St Andrew’s Cathedral and St Andrew’s House, the powerhouse of planning for Connect 09, evangelising an ex-Anglican and not a SADist in sight conversing with these poaching Scientologists or the lunch-time crowd.

Connect 2009? Yeh, right!

Morality Man

I read the interview with Ian McEwan in Spectrum (32) (Sydney Morning Herald 23Feb08) this morning, and got to thinking.

The sub-head: "The big issues of our age - belief in God, terrorism and, yes, global warming - now challenge this literary giant."

I thought first about his pals: Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens; the militant atheist, as the caption writer styles him. I was struck by his view of the upbeat positiveness of science. Of Dawkins, I suppose, being as he's a scientist.

Now, with their evolutionary beliefs forming the main stay of their atheism, I wondered at the wheel spinning traction that theistic evolution has with its apologetic: that's it: "wheel spinning". Not good if 'traction' is what one is after! TE confronts no one, compels no gospel response, and tells atheists that their religious take on the world is right! Crazy talk.

Oddly, the evolutionary-to-athesim counter apologetic is not influenced by the looking both ways of theistic evolution, or the head in the sand of 'its not about evolution' of SADists. Well if people's beliefs about the world are not the connection point for evangelism, I don't know what is.

What I found hard to grasp in a way was the moral tone of McEwan; moral epistemology is always a great point of contact with atheistic moralists, where morality is a mere aesthetic, as far as I can tell. There is no teleology in materialism, so no true, only a fake, morality of convenience.

I'm also amused by the materialist's unsurprising fake high ground. "Faith" is criticised, and well it might be, as it truly is a belief against evidence, or critical thinking, in many people's minds. But the fake high ground is exposed when it is realised that 'science' or reliance on it or on the bunch of uncritical humanisms that abound today is a faith position as much as any other man-made religion has. And a religion it is (read The Myth of Religious Neutrality by Roy A. Clouser). So easily can one populate a criticism of humanism, or materialism, by the very words that materialists use of 'religion' as they see it that I'm surprised to see little of such criticism by 'public' Christians. Perhaps, like the Lord Archbishop of Sydney, they are too busy compromising with materialism to be able to confront it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Carnegie to Zizek

In the Australian Financial Review, in a review of Violence by Slavoj Zizek (Review:5), this quote: "He quotes Elton John to elucidate the conflict between social Darwinism and Christianity."

Now, why would there be a conflict between s-d and Christianity?

Some of the quotes below might give a hint. They are from a recent article on economic oppression.

"Carnegie (the 19th C US steel maker) stated in his autobiography that when he and several of his friends came to doubt the teachings of the Bible,

‘… including the supernatural element, and indeed the whole scheme of salvation through vicarious atonement and all the fabric built upon it, I came fortunately upon Darwin’s and Spencer’s works … . I remember that light came as in a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution. “All is well since all grows better” became my [laissez-faire] motto, my true source of comfort. Man was not created with an instinct for his own degradation, but from the lower he had risen to the higher forms. Nor is there any conceivable end to his march to perfection.’ "

Carnegie, A., Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (1920), edited Van Dyke, J.C., reprint, Northeastern University Press, Boston, p. 327, 1986

Another quote in the same article:

"Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb noted that Darwinism was accepted rapidly in England (but was resisted for decades in France) in part because it justified the greed of the robber barons.

‘The theory of natural selection, it is said, could only have originated in England, because only laissez-faire England provided the atomistic, egotistic mentality necessary to its conception. Only there could Darwin have blandly assumed that the basic unit was the individual, the basic instinct self-interest, and the basic activity struggle. Spengler, describing the Origin as “the application of economics to biology”, said that it reeked of the atmosphere of the English factory … natural selection arose … in England because it was a perfect expression of Victorian “greed-philosophy”, of the capitalist ethic and Manchester economics.’

Milner noted that applying social Darwinism to the capitalism that was common among American businessmen elevated the

‘… traditional virtues of self-reliance, thrift and industry to the level of “natural law”. Based more on the writings of Herbert Spencer than of Charles Darwin, its proponents urged laissez-faire economic policies to weed out the unfit, inefficient and incompetent. "

Not only interesting in its own right, but, Himmelfarb's suggestion that ideas that are taken be some today (for example, the SADists) as being 'scientific' have their founations in the accidents of culture!

So what gospel hope can the SADists bring to a world full of suffering, when the social suffering (about a million a year were affected by industrial accidents in the 19th C in the US) is woven into reality, and not a fall from what was created as truly good? They have melded evil with good and so have no real voice when it comes to standing for the gospel against materialism, because, from the outset, they agree that materialism truly explains the world as it is!

But it doesn't, of course. Materialism's posturing grinds to a halt when confronted by the history of destruction over the earth (the flood) and the mind-boggling complexity of life, for which it provides no explanation (posturing aside, of course).

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Hi, We're the Baals, We're Your New Neighbours." -When the Baals Move In!

Well, if it was as straight-forward as that we would have no trouble setting our defences to guard against idolatry, would we?

But for several generations of old covenant Israel the situation was very much as the title of this blog suggests. Baal worship was right there alongside them when they entered the Promised Land and remained in and about them through the failure of Israel to entirely rid the land of its Baal worshiping inhabitants. As God had foretold, their gods would be a snare to Israel.

The title Baal may be interpreted 'master' or 'husband'. The discovery of the Ras Shamra documents helped ascertain that, among other things, Baal was a nature deity. Yahweh was a 'master' and 'husband' to Israel and this lent to a somewhat innocent error of, at times, referring to Yahweh as 'Baal'. The consequence was a confusion of the worship of Yahweh with Baal. Even people and place names in Israel incorporated the name Baal, eg Esh-baal and Baal-Hazor. But then there were times of unadulterated Baal worship such as in the time of King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom.

There could hardly have been a more glorious and joyful occasion in the life of the nation Israel than the dedication of the temple of the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the time of Solomon. The filling of the temple with the "glory of the Lord" must have been a truly awesome experience for those present. But there was also cause for sober contemplation as God later said to Solomon "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' People will answer 'Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them - that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'" (2 Chron. 7:19-22) As we know, apostasy and later exile came the way of Israel.

However, we are a sophisticated generation of believers. We know the history of Israel and all the trouble it brought on itself. There is no way we would fall into the same trap as Israel of old, is there?

In writing to the Church in Collossae the Apostle Paul made it known that there is more to idolatry than worshiping graven images. Idolatry is giving ourselves over to our old nature which is contrary to the image of God. Paul goes on to say "... you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Col. 3:9b-10).

Now, we all must confess that we have slipped back into our old self sometimes. Gracious is our Lord to forgive those who see and feel their sin, confess and repent of this sin and seek His forgiveness. However, it can and does happen that a person, either through ignorance or being downright slow to be sanctified, maintains an idolatrous way of being.

Our old self trusted self to be wise for living - outside of the Word of God, it trusted the world when self felt lacking in wisdom. Our old self did not (and does not) trust God. As such, the old self is as much vulnerable to the seductions of the Evil One as Israel of the old covenant.

Darwinism has eerie and disturbing similarities to Baal. Both are nature deities. Both have their beginning in the thoughts of man. Both have their beginning in the thoughts of men who were not of Israel (Kingdom of God). Both are contrary to the expressed Word of God. Both have infiltrated the belief of Israel (old and new) leading to synchretism. Both lead to turning away from God - consider Israel (Num. 25:1-5), Ahab (I Kings 16:29-31), Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-3), and in new covenant times, Charles Templeton, Richard Dawkins, Bishop John Shelby Spong and Howard van Till (the latter two having an unbiblical view of God).

This writer has a yearning for God to pour out His Holy Spirit on this land Australia, giving life and vitality to Israel as it exists as His Church in this land, opening the heart of a multitude of unbelievers to receive Jesus Christ as Creator, Lord and Saviour. This is the recurring prayer of this writer to the Lord our God and Father.

This writer should be excited about the 'great' mission of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney instituted by the Archbishop of Sydney and his plan of 'Connect 09' to usher in the produce of the mission. This writer cannot be excited but, instead, saddened and fearful. When the Archbishop of Sydney and many other priests around him have gone after something equivalent to Baal and have rejected the clear Word of God concerning His creative works, then I have cause for serious concern.

Indeed, the bizarre circumstance will arise in year 2009, the year of 'Connect 09', that those who are not of Israel will be holding a festival in honour of their god, Darwin. They will celebrate the 200 year anniversary of his birth and 150 year anniversary of his publishing the tenets of his belief. Will not the Archbishop of Sydney and many other priests around him also pay obeisance to the god of those who know not the one true God and their god who keeps so many out of the Kingdom of God?

The Lord our God, slow to anger, not willing for anyone to perish, will nonetheless act when His warnings are ignored. In the passage of time He acted on His warning to Solomon concerning Israel. As with then, He seems now to have acted in the United Kingdom with His Church (Israel). The Church there, for the most part, has forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. He appears to have rejected the temple He consecrated for His Name and He has made it a byword and object of ridicule among all peoples.

My great hope for the life and advancement of Israel as expressed in the Episcopal Diocese of Sydney looks forlorn because it pursues the same course as Israel in the United Kingdom. I wish it were otherwise but Connect 09 looks doomed. Why should the Lord our God bless those who do not trust His Word. Why should He bless those who are one with the Evil One in saying "Did God Really Say?" in the beginning?

Oh, I wish it was otherwise. I look at Manasseh of old who worshiped more false gods than just Baal and yet I see that he turned back to the Lord and worshiped Him alone and had urged others to do likewise (2 Chron. 33:12-17). Oh, that it would be as the Lord said "... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14-15).


Friday, February 8, 2008

Jaki on Genesis

I've just re-read Stanley Jaki's article "The Sabbath-Rest of the Maker of All" (Asbury Theological Journal v. 50 n. 1 Spring 1995). In an essay that follows Augustine in seeing the creation account in Genesis 1 as providing the theological setting for the sabbath, Jaki, makes some interesting remarks on a number of matters that I'd like to share.

Firstly Jaki separates Genesis 1 from Enuma elish:

"The usual reason for assigning Genesis 1 to post-Exilic times is its alleged dependence on Enuma elish..." [Jaki goes on to challenge that notion; In distinction to Enuma elish,]

“In Genesis 1 there is no trace of any butchery, any rivalry or any battle. No Leviathan there, no hint of a Chaoskamph—in short, no evidence of any exertion on God’s part. God, in Genesis 1, produces everything with an ease which is not disturbed by any competition or difficulty...Here too the difference between Genesis 1 and Enuma elish is nothing short of monumental. The Babylonian story is neither structured on a seven-day week, nor does it come to an end with a rest...Last but not least, in the Babylonian story humans are produced only for the purpose of providing the gods with slaves...

"After two thousand years of Christian theological reflection, the word creation can emphatically mean only creation out of nothing...This phrase was indeed formulated in early Christian times because it was quickly realized that what Christians meant by creation differed enormously from the “creation” performed by Plato’s demiourgos, let alone from what was on hand in crassly emanationists, pantheistic cosmogonies. In all these the word creare (or its synonyms) could be used, but only insofar as it meant mere growth...

"In Genesis 1 the stating of totality as the object of God’s work hinges above all on the use of that stylistic device. It is free from that conceptual obfuscation which is the hallmark of explaining Genesis 1 in terms of myths and legends, both left studiedly undefined. It was not without good reason that Alfred Loisy, a modernist, who would have gladly found in Genesis 1 a legend, called it the most scholastic treatise in the entire Bible...

"Only by doing grave injustgice to the very realistic diction of Genesis 1 could one assume that the firmament and the upper waters were not real for the author of Genesis 1...

"Gunkel failed to be specific on the crucial question: What is to be meant by legend and how can it be used in coping with the very realist parlance of the author of Genesis 1 about the external universe?...The question about the specific nature of a legend or myth was not, for instance, answered in Danielou’s handwaving that the author of Genesis 1 “used his material freely.” In fact, the systematic approach of that author as outlined above, indicates that he did not feel at all free as to what to say and how to proceed...

"The direction is not that very dubious one which is tied to the alleged similarity of Genesis 1 with Enuma elish...

"Genesis 1 would lose much of the effectiveness of its essentially moral message, given in terms of God as a role model for observing the Sabbath, if one were to take lightly the realism of its worldview...The all, the Universe writ large, remains even in this scientific age the object of an inference, and not a strictly verifiable scientific object...

"More recent theological reflections on the resurrection of Christ contain indeed renewed awareness of its ties to the first creation, brought to a close by God’s resting on the seventh day." "

Jaki sees the concrete and realist language of Genesis 1 separating it from possible categorisation as myth or legend. He sees the text as coming from an author who meant what he said. So how does he appreciate Genesis 1? As I mentioned at the start, he follows Augustine and sees the text as providing the theology of Sabbath. It is, for him, a 'parable'.

But Genesis 1 is in no way parabolic. Parables go from the well known, the prosaic shared experience of us all, to overturn our expectations and make a moral, spiritual or theological point; usually one that sets our preconceptions on their heads. They are rooted in the commonplace and take us elsewhere. But there is no shared experience or commonplace in Genesis 1. For the author it is the only information we have about creation. There is no prior referant that we could agree to make it even faintly a parable using the creation to teach us about something else.

Jaki rules out Genesis 1 as having any cosmogogical or biogogical import; but this, I think is its very purpose. Genesis 1 teaches us a number of things along the way, too. But only because it sets out what really happened. (There is a philosophical matter here that arrests us, standing in a basically Platonic tradition: that is, in 'biblical realism' the details matter. In Plato it is the 'idea' behind the details that matter) Certainly it provides a model of the rhythm of work and rest; it shows us that the creation left God's hand 'very good' and not subject to dissolution. The fall was man's not God's. God is therefore not the author of sin.

Genesis 1 also shows us a realist order in the creation. Creation does not spring magically from words that are disconnected from reality like a fairytale spell. God speaks and his words produce the result congruent with their grammatical meaning, in a sequenece that instructs us as to order and provides, I suspect, clues as to the structuring of the cosmos (not scientifically: those details are left for us; but historically. But the history: the events that occured, do provide, inevitably, information about our physical world). The account also gives us our home as something not alien to us, but provided for us, again, from the hand of the loving God. It profoundly gives us the setting for the drama of salvation. As home, it is not from an intermediary, it is not disconnected from God, as theistic evolution must hold (that is God set it up in deist fashion and walked away: this very serious objection to TE remains to be exposed and criticised, IMO); and contra paganism, it tells us that the material is not 'bad' but part of 'very good'. It overturns the family of gnostic cosmogonies which push us away from God.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Back up the Trees

In an opinion piece by Maurice Whelan in the Sydney Morning Herald today this little statement was made:

"Darwin sent us back up the trees to consider the origin of our species, and Freud gave us that new mirror"

Nothing dramatic about that, I suppose (Whelan is a Freud booster so has an obligation to think he's great), but the unspoken speaks volumes. He takes Darwin's views about origins as scene-setting, I think: where did we come from? Its the whole materialist saga that he invokes by his 'up the trees' phrase. Our connection with the real world in this saga is not a connection with the ultimately personal, but with the finally material: dust without the breath of God; just dust.

SADists, in their rejection of Genesis 1 (let's not beat about the bush: its rejection, after all their prolixity has evaporated) cannot effectively overcome or rebut this. All they have to offer in their proclamatory stream is a wordy metaphysic that you can have it both ways: the world made itself (world 1), and God made the world (world 2) both at the same time. There is not one 'real', there are two! But this pushes God away from us, it doesn't bring him closer, and it makes the incarnation and resurrection of a piece with the fantasy they've reduced Genesis 1 to, because of its disjuncture with origins as known in 'world 1': the world they endorse along with the world 2 they espouse.

This is not like Barth's rejection of con-joining theological creation and scientific treatments of origins (which are inextricably materialist today and so not scientific purely . . . but then, we have nothing 'pure' of an underlying philosophy or religion). As I understand him (which I must admit might not be the case) Barth wants to isolate the grandeur of creation from the details of the mechanics and so doesn't really pave the way for any particular position (which I think is the point of criticism of Barth, not that Barth needs to be worried that EP criticises him, of course).

[Barth in in his preface to Church Dogmatics 111/1, 1945: said that there are "absolutely no scientific questions, objections or supports concerning what Scripture and the Christian Church understand to be God's work of creation."]

My take on Barth is stimulated by my reading of Hebrews 1:1-3, where the staggering drama of God creating in Christ lifts the conceptualisation of origins far above the mechanical details. Materialist reading of the details of course undoes the theological prolegomena that is the revelation of creation, but that is a separate matter.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Question for Mike Pagett

Mike, around the time you went to Summer Camp I asked you to consider a proposition on origins and respond when you get back on deck in Feb 2008. We are now well into Feb and I raise again here the proposition for a response from you.

I note your belief in an old age for the earth is shaped by contemporary science but I earlier noted that Scripture has shaped your life, even to the extent of giving you new life.

This brings me back to my first question to you and it centres around what we both regard as an instructive passage in the origins debate - Exodus 20:11. This passage contains a direct statement of God to Moses, a statement which was intended to shape the life of Israel.

Some other Christians in Sydney, Sam Drucker and myself are agreed that language must have meaning because language is an information system. The arrangement of words by a sender must avoid ambiguity to facilitate an appropriate response. Meaning will exclude propositions while, at the same time, make proposition(s). God is the source of meaning and the author of language. He above all message senders will be expected to get meaning right for the recipient of His word.

I am not sure what views of origins Israel confronted prior to assembly at Sinai. Whether there were similarities with what we confront today is not clear but we share with Israel in that we all have our origin in the same creative act of God. Therefore the message of God concerning His creative activity will have the same meaning for us as for them.

This statement of God recorded in Exodus 20:11 concerning His creative work has application to such theories as Theistic Evolution, Gap Theory, Day-Age and Progressive Creation are excluded.

God ordained the order of weekly living for Israel with a Sabbath and He founds this upon His creative activity: "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Ex. 20:11 NIV)

In the following I propose where the aforesaid theories are negated by what God has said (and done):

Theistic Evolution - Creation occurred in a six day period not the time frame required for the theory of evolution.

Gap Theory - An earlier but subsequently destroyed creation for which fossils found today are a remnant is excluded because all that was ever made by God has its origin in Creation Week.

Day-Age Theory - The six days of work followed by a Sabbath for Israel have no meaning or validity if the 'days' of Creation Week were not similar in duration to the days experienced by Israel.

Progressive Creation Theory - As with the Theistic Evolution Theory this is negated by the creation of all things in the heavens, the earth and the sea in the six days of Creation Week.

Mike, it reads to me that you set the minds of men on a higher plane than the Word of God. Worse still, you acknowledge that the status of the minds of men on origins is only something tantamount to 'a work in progress'.

I am concerned about you giving offence to God. I am concerned about the glory of God being diminished but I am also concerned about your welfare and the impact your 'world view' will have on young Christians and inquirers after the Lord.

When you get back from your January commitments will you consider the meaning of God's words recorded in Exodus 20:8-11 as pertaining to current 'old earth' views and then let me know how you see the situation.

Neil Moore

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ming Dynasty

From "Faith of our Fathers" (God in Ancient China) by Chan Kei Thong (p 35)

...this knowledge of the creative power of God is expressed in the following song found in The Collected Statutes of the Ming Dynasty:

Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five planets had not begun to revolve, nor the two lights to shine. In the midst of it there existed neither form nor sound. You, O spiritual Sovereign, came forth in Your sovereignty, and first did separate the impure from the pure. You made heaven; You made earth; You made man. All things came alive with reproducing power.

Shrill the whistle blows

Over on our nemesis forum: run by the SADists; there was a comment (I'll grab the link later) as to how we cast aspersions and rant rather than debate.

I must say, I think the boot is on t'other foot. This blog's authors and commenters go a long way to reasoning out their position, but no matter how much we put forward our reasons, there is scant intellectual engagement. Mr Baddeley comes the closest to dealing with our discussion, but even he took his bat and ball when challenged on the fathers' writings. He went on to win the Baddeley award with his lengthy discussions (which I'm still to fully consider) on his objections to something we don't happen to be: creation scientists. So he thoroughly missed the point while calling the kettle black.

Long time readers will recall Michael Jensen's fabulously insightful comments . . . I say no more, or the sharp debates of one Mr Cheng . . .ditto. But who will recall the discussive engagement of dealing with arguments? No one, I fear!

Perhaps one of the early commenters who went right past the Bible to cosmic rays zapping from outerspace to explain creation wins the day? Irrationality triumps over biblical fact in the SAD, it would seem.

I think the real reason is that SAD runs on 'priestcraft' even if with another name, and only those who've been given magic hands can study the Bible and talk about it.

Someone also suggested that if only we knew the Archbishop, we'd know what a fab guy he is.

I've met and spoken to the AB on many occasions, I've served on church committees and mission teams with Phil. I've heard many of Peter's sermons (and Phil's) at St Matthias and the Cathedral. Indeed, I've been to the odd ordination where a Jensen spoke. One of my nearest misses was when I was in a mission team, and confronted by a problem no one seemed to want to answer, I rang Moore and asked to speak to Peter; after all, he was one of the teachers at my church. His gatekeeper laughingly dismissed me ("what, speak to Dr Jensen, he's far too important for the likes of you" was the implication), and I was left as dead meat for the people I'd be assigned after our mission. But perhaps I, as a young Christian then, was not aware that the lowly should not presume to ask of the lofty!

But that's not what got this blog going; it was the quasi-Barthian compromise with materialism and the rejection of the gutsy historic position on Genesis 1 from which springs all our theology, in one way or another. Peter is complicit in this, as are other bishops: none, in personal corresondence, discussion or formal exchanges seems to want to correct the Lord Archbishop's wrong teaching that evolution and creation are in different realities: evolution in this one, but creation in some ethereal 'reality' that we, and those who are lost from Christ, cannot touch.