Fear and Trembling

Every individual ought to live in fear and trembling, so too there is no established order which can do without fear and trembling. Fear and trembling signifies that one is in the process of becoming, and every individual man, and the race as well, is or should be conscious of being in process of becoming. And fear and trembling signifies that a God exists–a fact which no man and no established order dare for an instant forget.

Søren Kierkegaard

I’ve recently begun reading Kierkegaard and as such can consider myself an expert in existentialism. Not really. I’m still unsure what existentialism means (how’s that for an existential question?). I’m pretty sure that Kierkegaard was captivated by God and enamoured by something in Christ, and as such I find worth in his thoughts. In his day he seems to have been arguing against the conventional liberalism of his native church, which sought to argue for Christianity by demonstrating things like the divinity of Christ from the manifest results of his life (he refers repeatedly to the argument of the ‘1800 years’). Kierkegaard dimisses any attempt to make Christ reasonable, calling such efforts blasphemy. Certainly a remarkable proposition.

In his day the default polemic of the established Church had, according to Kierkegaard, resulted in many people who assumed themselves to be Christian without ever having ‘met Christ’ in order to believe in him or be offended away from him.

In effect, he was disturbed by the fact that the church could be full of people who seem to have had never really thought deeply about how belief in Christ changes one’s existence and experience of reality.

That transforming experience of God is what the quote above states so plainly.

It’s a new way of viewing oneself which acknowledges the divinity of God and the frailty of humanity, from the individual to the mightiest institution. To know God causes the person to tremble with fear because they are immediately aware that they are not God, that is to say, not eternal or immovable or omnipotent or any other of those things.

The most remarkable thing about this thought is that for Kierkegaard it seems to suffice as evidence for God’s existence. Rather like being aware of another person causes us to respond, so the human awareness of the Divine evokes a response. In other words, the fact that one can be aware of God in such a profoundly life-altering way signifies the existence of such a being.

Following this line of thought one is taken to the staunchly biblical position that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:9). Of course that becomes the presupposition for the life teaching of the faithful believer contained in Proverbs, and indeed the foundation for the life of a believer of any generation.

How much further can one get from the historic proofs for the Christian faith? From reasoned arguments from careful examination of the evidence? I am finding this complete lack of defence of Christianity most intriguing and look forward to learning more.

Anyway, dear reader, I wonder if you had any response to this reasoning? Have you read Kierkegaard? Where should I go after I finish his Training in Christianity?

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  1. The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom. What IS the fear of the Lord
    Proverbs 8 v 13 The fear of the Lord IS TO HATE Evil (not to be frightened of God)
    Infact – 1 John 4 verse 18 – there is NO fear in Love – perfect love casts out fear – He that feareth is NOT made perfect in love. I AM made perfect in love thanks to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – therefore I have NO fear
    Søren Kierkegaard’s comment that Every individual ought to live in fear and trembling is in error and in contradiction of the truth of the Word of God – therefore we can disguard his ramblings in favour of the Truth.

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    • I would feel uncomfortable using the New Testament to interpret Old Testament ideas. The fear of the Lord is a very clear Biblical principle and a wonderful aspect of our spirituality. It’s the logical response to the awesome sovereignty of God, that is the understanding that God is bigger than us and entirely outside of our reality. John, in his first letter, seems to be addressing how we behave in the light of God’s mercy. That is to say Christians ought not be afraid of judgement, but be liberated to love others on account of God’s love.

      But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fear God. At any moment he could decide to end my life, or bring some sickness to a loved one or cause any number of calamities to befall me. Of course I should fear him! Who can know his mind?

      And, even if Kierkegaard is wrong on that one point (I don’t believe he is) that is no reason to disregard all of his thought. Many thinkers have had ideas we have since found to be faulty, but they still contributed something right to our thinking today. It’s a logical fallacy that because someone is wrong in one area, that they are wrong in all areas of their thinking.

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  2. I would feel uncomfortable using the New Testament to interpret Old Testament ideas …….. either I have misunderstood what you mean or the apostle Paul would disagree with you – Romans and Hebrews are both perfect examples of using the new testament to interpret old testament ideas surely?

    Please show me new testament biblical examples and or text that God can decide to end your life or cause a calamity to a loved one at any time.

    If Kierkegaard is fundamentally wrong on a point of scripture – scripture itself would tell you to ignore the rest of his teaching – we can either be for God or against God – there is no middle ground.

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    • Paul and the writer of Hebrews both seem to feel able to interpret the OT however they like, seemingly pulling verses out of thin air to back up a point. DA Carson addresses the issue very well. Their apparent interpretive liberty is not one I, personally, would share. They were inspired, and I am of course not. My preference is use Old Testament to interpret the New. As the OT is most often the source material for many of the writers, who frequently refer back to it, I understand that much of the New Testament teaching relies on previous statements, be they prophetic promises or declarations of God or whatever.

      Of course God could do whatever he wanted whenever. I think of Amos 3:3-6

      Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?
      Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?
      Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing?
      Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it?
      Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing?
      Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?
      Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

      Again in Isaiah 45:7

      I form light and create darkness,
      I make well-being and acreate calamity,
      I am the Lord, who does all these things.

      Be careful how you write off a writer or a thinker. Nobody ever wanted to be a heretic. Oftentimes they wanted to emphasise a certain aspect of the faith and became a little misguided. Just because people have been wrong, unintentionally so, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re against God.

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  3. I am reeling at your apparent total disregard for scripture and your seeming contempt for the new testament. Peter called Paul’s writings holy scripture – with no discernment between new testament holy scripture and old testament hold scripture.

    You once again seem reluctant to produce new testament evidence – surely the cross of Christ is a pivotal point for understanding scripture – Christ fulfilled the old testament – so anything we as post resurrection people seek to understand must be understood in the light of the new testament and not just the old. All the old testament covenants are fulfilled in Christ – the only way to understand old testament covenant is to see how they were fulfilled in Christ.

    If any man or woman chooses not to confess Jesus as Lord of their lives and chooses not to believe God raised him from the dead – then the bible instructs me, no commands me to reject their writings – you are either for God or against God – there is no possibility of having insight and revelation into the word of God if it isn’t through the Holy Spirit who ONLY lives in those who have been saved by confessing and believing.

    Any rambling not inspired by the Holy Spirit is not of God and is therefore of NO relevance to the Christian.

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    • Contempt for the New Testament? I disagree. I do have my own interpretive irritations but that doesn’t change how I value it. I’m just stating what seems plain: that NT writers have no regard for original context or meaning, choosing to redefine it as they saw fit.

      Of course I believe the cross to be pivotal, but I try to view it in continuity with the Old Testament, not in contrast. The Cross, among other things, shows us the fullest revelation of the character of God as well as modelling how we ought to live and defines what it means to be part of the people of God (allowing Gentiles to be part of them too).

      So, I understand my relationship to God entirely informed by the prior covenants which show how God’s people have historically related to him.

      Does the fact that I am in relationship with God mean he will not cause a thing to happen which I will not like? No. Does it mean that he will glorify himself in and through me at all times? Yes. The purpose of the Christian is to glorify God and enjoy him. It is a purpose which God decides how he brings about.

      I’d also be careful of accusing Kierkegaard of not being a Christian. His writing is a radical call to his native Church, which was steeped in liberalism, to live differently and to believe in Christ. He is alarmed that many people just assume themselves to be Christians without ever having met God or turned from their sins. What I would not question is Kierkegaard’s Christian conviction. I don’t need to defend him, but I would warn against claiming that anyone who you disagree with isn’t a Christian.

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  4. So is God in favour or against New Testament writings? Does God have the same opinion of new testament writers that you do?

    To interpret old testament covenants without new testament understanding of what was achieved by Christ is to misinterpret old testament covenants – everything in the bible points to Christ and totally fulfilled work through his death and resurrection to completely sort the problems of man.

    God clearly tells us that he rejoices in us – not because he sees us as us but because he sees us in Christ – to say that God is still punishing us or arbitarily causing damage to us is to say that God is doing this to Christ – and he most certainly isn’t. He punished Christ in our place once for all – our lives are hidden in Christ – therefore we cannot be punished today unless Christ is punished again. Surely a glance at any new testament scripture would confirm this. Grace means undeserved favour – if God is not operating in the grace we are told about in the new testament – then surely his word – holy scripture – is a lie.

    In connection with old testament quotes above (Amos and Isaiah) – reading the whole chapters in context reveals that as always God is not arbitarily punishing – throughout scripture – consistently God says if you do this then you will reap benefits – if you don’t do this you will receive just punishment – never never does God arbitarily pick and choose what he does – he always makes it very very clear that he gives us a choice and the end result is as a direct result of the choice we make – even when it comes to deciding whether to accept what Christ has done for us.

    Kierkegaard himself confirmed he was not a Christian – I am not judging him – but just taking as fact what he himself wrote about himself.

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  5. Michael Thompson January 6, 2011 — 9:41 pm

    Any rambling not inspired by the Holy Spirit is not of God and is therefore of NO relevance to the Christian

    anything after this comment redeeming beverly were not read.

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  6. Hey Michael – interested that you make no comment on Ian’s words. Can I ask – do you agree with Ian’s three following statements made above?

    I would feel uncomfortable using the New Testament to interpret Old Testament ideas

    Paul and the writer of Hebrews both seem to feel able to interpret the OT however they like, seemingly pulling verses out of thin air to back up a point

    I’m just stating what seems plain: that NT writers have no regard for original context or meaning, choosing to redefine it as they saw fit

    It appears from this – and previous responses that people aren’t keen to actually discuss the Word of God in terms of the fact that the Word of God might just actually BE THE WORD OF GOD? I am not sure it is open to t type of critique used by Ian in these three sentances above?

    Ian I go back to my question which you haven’t yet answered – What do YOU think GOD thinks about the New Testament? Do you think that there is biblical evidence that God supports the writings of the New Testament writers? If yes – what gives you the right to dismiss those writings. If no – then if you don’t base your faith on the Word of God (because according to you some of it is supposition) what is your faith based on?

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    • Well I believe the New Testament is inspired by God. I don’t think that puts it above academic criticism. For instance just because I wouldn’t approach the Old Testament in the way the NT writers did doesn’t mean I don’t believe their words were inspired. I believe the New Testament is the word of God principally because of Jesus and also God’s witness in and through the early church. I believe it is the word of God because, since the very beginning of the Church, those documents have been regarded as sacred.

      I don’t think I said I dismissed those writings. I don’t understand how the NT writers approach the OT, and indeed I would not approach it in the same way. I did not, however, say I didn’t believe it was the word of God.

      I dismissed your interpretation of 1 John on the grounds of context. I don’t think you correctly read that passage in light of the notion of the ‘fear o the Lord’

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  7. So let me just get this clear in my head. You insist that the New Testament should be translated in the light of the old testament and not the other way around – despite the fact that Jesus himself re-translates Old Testmament teachings (sermon on the mount) – as of course do ALL the other writers of the new testament. Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament – Jesus said don’t put New wine into old wineskins – this is exactly Jesus’ point to the jews – don’t try and force this teaching into your old ways. You seem to be trying to do exactly that?

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    • I disagree that Jesus’ teaching is entirely new. In fact most of what Jesus teaches can be found in the Torah generally and Deuteronomy specifically. In general, I see no contradiction between NT teachings and OT – it all flows as one continuous narrative. The ‘wine skins’ to which Jesus refers, in my view, are not to the teachings of the Old Testament but to the religious system of Israel. This makes sense, since it is God’s intention that his people are about to become a multi-ethnic Church based on the sacrifice of Christ and God’s Spirit living in them.

      In terms of ethics? NT doesn’t deviate much from the OT. Though, if anything, the expectation is greater because it is God himself who enables the believers to obey (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The NT writers (especially Paul and Hebrews) go to great lengths to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t just come out of the blue, but that his coming was foreseen, that what he did and said wasn’t ‘new’ as such. That historical continuity gives the Christian message credibility and profound authority.

      Because of this, I try to see Jesus through the ‘lense’ of the Old Testament. The Old Testament defines who the Christ ought to be and who God’s people ought to be. This is not the same as putting new wine into old wineskins, since I’m not advocating blood sacrifice, priests, temples and ethnocentrism. Instead I submit that Christ is the inauguration and the demonstration of the Kingdom of God on earth, a kingdom empowered by grace and forgiveness and love (these are Old Testament ideas, but the language of the ‘kingdom of God’ is of course a New Testament term).

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  8. I don’t believe I said it was “new” teaching as in completely different. Am sure you have heard the expression – the new is in the old concealed the old is in the new revealed. Only through the new testament can we ever hope to understand the old testament – because the old testament wasn’t fulfilled until Jesus came. I think this is a given within Christianty – or else we might as well just be jews. The only reason blood sacrifice doesn’t take place within jewish society today is that there is no temple. If there was a temple they would be obliged to still be carrying out blood sacrifice – if they didn’t believe that Jesus had fulfilled that necessity.
    It was never stopped by God.

    New wine/old wineskins – surely the jewish religious system is/was the torah so you can’t separate one from the other – if Jesus was having a go at religious system – then he was having a go at the misunderstanding and translation of the torah that had led to the jewish religious system that Jesus criticised.

    It was very clear from his covenant to Abraham that his people ALWAYS were a multi ethnic church – not about to become…. They just ignored this command to include others into their society and set up an arbitary set of rules.

    Of course the new testament doesn’t deviate from the old testament (although – you seemed to disagree with this point yourself when suggesting Paul forced old testament scripture to fit his radically new viewpoint?) However the new testament does explain, fulfil, translate, open up and explore the mystery of the old testament in the light of Jesus. One can’t ever hope to understand the old testament without the teachings supplied to us by the new testament writers.

    By “historical continuity” do you mean between old and new or after the new was written? I don’t think the new testament written down was “required” to give the christian message credibility…… after all the converts of the new testament didn’t themselves have the benefit of reading the new testament just receiving the teachiners of the old from the teachers and of course directly from God – and thus they found Jesus in the pages of the old testament.

    Your wording is perhaps often unfortunate – you make it sound like you see yourself as having superior revelation to the writers of God’s word? I am sure you don’t mean this at all.

    I submit that Jesus is the very Word of God – spoken at Creation, holding the world together even today – seen in every page of the bible (every time it says God Says, God Spoke etc – that means the person of the trinity who became flesh in the human called Jesus and fulfilled the prophecies relating to the annointed one prophecied and eagerly awaited (then missed) by the Jews

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  9. Well, I didn’t read the original post until today – because of the feedback on Facebook concerning the comments left here.

    I think (as a Christian) that there IS a place for reading and thinking about writings concerning the church. So dismissing any such writings as ‘ramblings’ is pretty offensive to me. I should imagine teachers in the Islamic Madras schools use such language about non-islamic writings. A good way to stoke up conflict.

    I have read through the comments – score is currently Beverly 7 Ian 5. In general, Beverly reads like she is the aggressor, Ian the apologist. Beverly’s first post largely sounds like it was shouted out while standing on a chair. Again rather inappropriate on a thoughtful blog, again the sort of thing ‘extremists’ are guilty of – its not discussion its lecturing. To be fair the later posts have got less confrontational and more concilliatory.

    So, Beverly, you have caused offence: its not the offence of your faith, its not the offence of Christ, its the offence of your attitude. If you had been like this in a ‘mission’ environment – eg one Christian and lots of non-Christian – I could have thought a little better of you. However, its quite the opposite. Hence quite un-Christ like. Go find some humility, some dignity, some quiet wisdom.

    Also Beverly, I am prepared to take your ‘ramblings’ concerning New/Old Testament on if you wish – I am aghast that you quote Peter as seeing no difference between Paul’s writings and the OT. Amazing lack of historical knowledge: do you not realise that there was no NT in Peter’s lifetime!!
    You are thinking only from your standpoint here and now. You will probably be amazed Peter did not have a Bible like yours, his references were to Jewish writings (yes, thats the OT) and CURRENT writings from the disciples of Christ.

    So, I have been less confrontational here than you in your first post Beverly – I love you with Christs love. I’m sure you can see that. I really, really hope you love Ian with Christs love………

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  10. I seek only to present the Word of God – if that offends I am not surprised – the Lord told us people would be offended by the Word of God.

    I would suggest that I have only followed the stance of our Lord and the old and new testament writers whilst refuting error – certainly Christ and the other writers of the New Testament didn’t mince their words when refuting error (Paul even suggesting they should remove their own testicles).

    TIme and time again this website, whilst professing to glorify God, presents views and opinions completely contrary to those recorded in scripture.

    2 Peter 3 v 16 – confirms for us that Peter did indeed consider Paul’s writings holy scripture – hence in my language no different from the Old Testament

    Once again – rather than engaging on the scriptural inaccuracies in Ian’s writings – people seek to put down those who love the Word of God and take offence at it being treated with such contempt.

    You are right Mike – I am a fanatic – a fanatic for God and His Word – and I will continue to refute wrong doctrine from Holy Scripture.

    Rather than have a go at me (which obviously pleases you greatly) why not give some input into the actual debate – do you agree with Ian’s statements below or not?

    I would feel uncomfortable using the New Testament to interpret Old Testament ideas

    Paul and the writer of Hebrews both seem to feel able to interpret the OT however they like, seemingly pulling verses out of thin air to back up a point

    I’m just stating what seems plain: that NT writers have no regard for original context or meaning, choosing to redefine it as they saw fit

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    • ‘TIme and time again this website, whilst professing to glorify God, presents views and opinions completely contrary to those recorded in scripture.’

      I could take offense at that. I shan’t.

      I also will not apologise for saying what is plain in scripture. I’m not the only one who thinks this, either, and have actually found some very lively discussion over the issue of New Testament use of the Old Testament. They use the Old Testament in a way I wouldn’t, but their writings were inspired.

      Take, for example, Hebrews 1 and 2. DA Carson deals really well with the issue, as it happens. Basically he admits that sometimes he feels like the NT quotes the OT as a cheap ‘proof texts’

      I’d suggest you listen to it. It’s not a long lecture. I don’t feel a strong urge to summarise it here.

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/Why-Does-Hebrews-Cite-the-OT-Like-That-part-1

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  11. Hello everyone.

    I won’t get drawn into the debacle of whether one should look at the old testament through the eyes of the new, or vice-versa, since I believe in neither, when it comes to either historical accuracy, or very positive moral content.

    So… Kierkegaard.

    Ian brings up an idea of Kierkegaard’s:

    “The most remarkable thing about this thought is that for Kierkegaard it seems to suffice as evidence for God’s existence. Rather like being aware of another person causes us to respond, so the human awareness of the Divine evokes a response. In other words, the fact that one can be aware of God in such a profoundly life-altering way signifies the existence of such a being.”

    Kierkegaard, before ‘Fear and Trembling’ used to identify the religious person as the result of going through three distinct ‘stages of man’. I must reluctantly say that I feel this idea has unfortunate implications, as I’ll endeavour to point out.
    The first stage, which ol’ Søren personified is a Don Juan type, representing the aesthetic stage of life. Ruled by impulse and emotion, and all the sweaty things that entails. No thought for the quality of his actions, and mostly obsessed with quantity.
    The Second stage was identified as a rational man (Socrates). This man has realised that there’s more to life than JUST the aesthetic and strives for a higher, more ethical life.
    Here’s the crux:
    Kierkegaard thought that the rational Socratic man would inevitably realise that adherence to ‘moral laws’ brings suffering (I presume he means having to constrict one’s impulses is the suffering part), and THE ONLY SOLUTION is to make the ‘leap of faith’* into the irrationality of religious belief.

    I think Kierkegaard had a funny idea of rationality, specifically that one would have to set rationality aside in order to survive in society (thus making the rational stage of man a hypocrite). Something to do with philosophical problems being detours around life’s choices. Needless to say, I disagree with that characterisation.

    Throughout, there seems to be a current of thought in Kierkegaard’s stuff, that all that matters is what is right ‘for you’, which undermines any objective look at the problem – and was almost enough to make my teenaged self chuck his ideas away with a “No help there, then” sentiment.
    What do you think of this, Ian. Is the transformational awe the post speaks of even a type of evidence, to you? Let alone the most convincing type?

    Also, he has some funny things to say about celibacy en masse for the human race being a good idea, and tops off these sentiments with this beauty:
    “A man is born in sin, enters this world by means of a crime. The punishment – and, as always, the punishment meets the sin – the punishment is to exist”.

    Nice. Anyways, I’m not quite sure where to go from here, as Kierkegaard wrote a lot. But I didn’t want to repeat what previous commentators had already.

    Cheers.

    *Yeah, Kierkegaard coined the term.

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    • Kierkegaard actually coined the term ‘leap TO faith’

      I think it is evidence in the same way that when a person you didn’t see trips you up is evidence that a person exists. It’s an immediate experience. I think the fear and trembling is a relationship unique between humans and a deity. That uniqueness, for me, points to an ‘other’. That is a part of the reason I believe in God, but of course that takes you as far as intrusive deism, not Christianity.

      Heh. Intrusive deity who trips people up.

      Adherence to moral laws brings either suffering or pleasure, depending on who the lawgiver is, and of course who has authority in a society. Just look at any caste system. I don’t agree that the only escape is a leap to faith (thus giving a person a reason to keep obeying moral laws).

      the opening section of Training in Christianity speaks of the ‘call to faith’ which he sees in itself as a reason to believe. Again, the experience of God demands a response.

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  12. Well, just a couple of points Beverly.

    It saddens me deeply that you have chosen to mount your ‘fanatical’ attacks on Ian’s blogs. I take no pleasure in ‘having a go’ at you (which personally I don’t think I was); I’m just trying to be both Christian and understanding of what Ian and others (including you) are saying on here. If using Beverly language to get this message through to Beverly….. **someone else with a Christian faith sees things differently to you**……. has hurt you – go look in a mirror and see how it feels to Ian.

    Secondly, I have posted up a comment on Ian’s next blog, “Being in the process of becoming” which endeavours to put some material into the debate. So I had taken your advice before I read it. Something must have inspired me….

    Conclusion:
    I am pretty sure that anything I write on this site will now be viewed as ‘not Christian enough’ by Beverly; yes Ian I think you ought to be offended by Beverly’s quote you decide not to take offence at – its horrible and brings to my mind a shadow of the terrible deeds of people who have tortured and maimed in the name of Christ. I am as much ashamed of harsh words from Christians as of harsh deeds by Christians. Such acts are committed and justified by people unwilling to consider another’s viewpoint.

    I really hope and pray we can see some Christian fellowship on here in future

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  13. Leap TO faith, well… that’s more appropriate, really. Considering what he was advocating.

    “That is a part of the reason I believe in God, but of course that takes you as far as intrusive deism, not Christianity. ”

    Uh-huh, so a ‘type’ of evidence, rather than the most convincing type. Hm.

    I’d say that the analogy you use may not be sufficient even for deism, as the ‘person you didn’t see who tripped you up’ might be inferred, and then must be confirmed by further investigation i.e. looking around for the guy.
    Yet any comparable intrusions (heh) of ‘something’ into our world (miracles, etc) have always been found to have more terrestrial explanations, before one must invoke even the deist god. Do you see what I mean? Yes, deism’s there in the playing field, but is weedy compared to the more robust physiques of its competitors.
    Never will I attempt to employ a sports metaphor again.

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    • I happen to agree somewhat with Kierkegaard’s complaint that Christianity is ‘unreasonable’ in a sense. I believe, as he used the term, he was refeering to the polemic of his day and how his view of Christianity was entirely irreconcilable with the rationalism of his contemporaries.

      And when I referred to ‘intrusions’ I was not necessarily referring to ‘supernatural’ phenomenon. I’m not sure I was referring to phenomenon in any case.

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  14. Oh, nor was I (at least, I think, not solely). For clarification’s sake: what else were you referring to, if not just that?

    As the state church in Kierkegaard’s Denmark is pretty much the platonic ideal of a rotten theocratic oligarchy, I can sympathise with his assaults on it, though from a different direction.
    His flirtations with Hegelian Idealism notwithstanding, I don’t think he has much to say on rationalism I like.

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    • Well, in Kierkegaard’s writings he keeps talking about being a ‘contemporary’ of Christ in every age. And his ‘experience’ of God centres around the contemporary encounter with Christ. It is that to which I refer, whatever it means.

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  15. “…….(miracles, etc) have always been found to have more terrestrial explanations”

    really Ben? ….always?? none too conviced I am, in the style of Yoda

    Ian will confirm, don’t start me off on science topics!!

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  16. Ian – feel free to take offence if you want to. I assume that if you choose to put your writings on the internet you are up for accepting any point of view on them? After all you feel free to offer your point of view to the whole world regardless of who you might offend in writing them?

    Thank you for the reference to Mr Carson’s teaching – I am sure you will understand that I choose not to listen to a gentleman who denies that Jesus died for every person in the world. Why would I want to listen to someone who feels able to limit the redeeming work of our Lord and Saviour?

    Basically he admits that sometimes he feels like the NT quotes the OT as a cheap ‘proof texts’ …… how could anyone want to listen to anyone who talks about the very Word of God like this? I just don’t understand this irreverence. I couldn’t care less what Carson “feels”. The very Word of God is the very Word of God – its integrity is without question – The very same Hebrews 1 that Carson deems is using cheap proof texts tells us that the entire Universe is held in place by his powerful word What right do we mere humans have to “debate” the value of how the new testament writers used old testament texts. Either this book is God’s word or it isn’t. If it is – then we are called to hear it and live it – not debate it and pull it apart.

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  17. Mike: If you’re trying to do ‘Yoda’, it’s more like

    “None too convinced, am I”

    Beverly: So you’ll read my website but you won’t listen to D.A. Carson, a man far more qualified than I? If you would have listened to his lecture, the answer to your above complaint would have been apparent. I’m not going to defend someone you refuse to spend 45 minutes listening to.

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  18. Ian I read your website because I met and got to know and enjoyed working with the exited, fired up for God and his Word new young Christian you used to be. I was keen to watch that new Christian, so fired up for the Lord and off to Bible College, grow and mature – finding the answers to his deep hurts and learning how to be the new creation formed by the Holy Spirit when he accepted Jesus and was born again.

    What I see developing in front of my eyes saddens me – less and less frequently do you talk about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit in personal relationship terms – more and more in distant and intellectual terms – even it would now appear questioning the writings of the very Word.

    I was hoping to recommend your site to other new young Christians who could be inspired by your spiritual growth. Sadly I am not able to do this.

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    • You are right. I am distant from God. I write from where I am, and I don’t pretend to think, feel or experience something I’m not. Yes, often that puts me at odds with convenient evangelicalism, but it puts me in touch with a deep, ancient and intimate and vast spirituality which has been a part of God’s people from the beginning.

      For that, I suppose I ought to be thankful.

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  19. But Ian – God isn’t distant from you – his word tells you he will never leave you nor forsake you. Don’t be content to be distant from God. Search his Word (not other people’s writings) and don’t be satisfied until you rediscover your first love. Is it not possible that you are distant from God because you spend more time, effort and energy reading books professing to be about him, rather than reading His words? His words are truth, his words are spirit, his words are life, his words bring eternal life. Intimate knowledge of his Words will bring you the freedom from fear you so earnestly seek. No other person’s writings will bring you that – only God’s word and God’s word alone.

    You say you don’t pretend to think feel or experience something you are not. Actually this is a lie – what you are is what the bible says you are – not what you “feel” you are. Use the bible as a mirror. If you want to know who you are – look at who God says you are – who God sees you as – don’t listen to the lies the devil is whispering in your ears. You aren’t a product of your emotions – you are a born again new creation. Your emotions cannot be relied upon – the Holy Spirit can.

    Why not indulge me and engage over the web on a straight forward bible study – lets take a passage of scripture and just honestly write about the words we read – not what others have said about it – but about what the Holy Spirit reveals to us as we seek to learn from His word.

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  20. Wow, Beverly…pastoral fail.

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  21. What I see in front of my eyes is someone who is writing, thinking, prayerfully considering how deep faith can and indeed must go.
    Perhaps someone who can teach those who are only able to see their way of thinking at the moment to think a little more deeply. Or, perhaps someone who can teach those who feel unable to connect with God in a shouty up front way. If thats correct its a great ministry.

    Nathan, I’d tend to agree

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  22. Blimey, I take my eyes off this blog for a few hours…

    Mike J: Hello there.

    I’m curious about what this exception can be. I presume you don’t mean a god-shaped gap where there isn’t currently a scientific alternative, but positive evidence. Not trying to be confrontational, I’d just want to stress what I meant, when I commented after Ian’s post.

    Heh, I suppose, as a Christian, by definition you must have seen/experienced something which convinced you. Something you couldn’t explain away.

    May the Force be with you.

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  23. No boys – modern western thinking pastoral fail – actually biblical truth – biblical pastoral support – don’t let IAN live a lie – that’s the way the devil has access into our lives. The bible speaks the truth – it is not kind to allow people to stay in depression and confusion just because the truth might disturb them. Again certainly not a tack Jesus took. Jesus spoke the truth -all the time – those who heard his truth and weren’t offended by it were those who were open to his word. Those who were offended at the truth were those who did not want to hear it because they were resistant to doing anything a different way.

    Mike – Ian has just admitted he is far from God – is that not a concern to you? What advise as a fellow follower of Jesus are you going to give to Ian to set him back on the right path?

    Nathan – you suggest pastoral fail – why? what would be your approach to get Ian back to enjoying the relationship with our Father that we are able to enjoy every day?

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  24. Hi Ben, not being confrontational understood, I tend to respond in the language I receive – quite happy to be blunt but only where applicable if you know where I’m coming from.

    I’m a science graduate of the 1980s….also finding faith at uni so learning a lot of both at the same time. I had the ‘good fortune’ or whatever you might call it, of deciding to attend a church back home in the holidays of which the pastor had been a lecturer in Applied Biology (yes, thats right, evolutionary theory et al) at Cambridge Uni. Apart from the school assembly vicar I only knew of one other Christian at home so went to her church.

    I was troubled by the science/God/Evolution/Big Bang debate of that time. You know, hysterical Creationists, hysterical Evolutionists and everyone else somewhere between them. There was little DNA mapping, and quite a lot of science/archaeology has emerged in the last 30 years with a bearing on the whole debate. eg the debate has changed its ground but rages on in much the same way. Attenborough makes me laugh with his largely traditional Evolutionist faith these days in the face of lots of new stuff. Yes, he was on telly in the early 80s!

    I’m actually an engineer, which is supposed to mean I can use science but also make things work empirically (often with a big hammer or gaffa) when the science doesn’t go to plan. Science, of course, will say “I can only give you the answer according to what you have found so far”……we are always hearing of ‘new evidence’ and ‘no evidence’ these days; politics, law, war, dirty government etc etc. Its the gospel of science working its way into everyday life. Today, the concept of ‘we only know what we have found’ is very common in the Western world – from the church to the state to the people themselves. It was not always so, and continues not to be so in large parts of our world.

    Well…..I don’t really trust science ( 20 years in the water & chemical industry helped there!) and certainly don’t trust the science that is supposed to explain away ‘things unusual’. Its not a firm platform, and as I said above, the big issues of the 1980 debate have been superseeded by new discoveries, biological, astronomical etc. I’d say God has been found a little more than firm science in those discoveries, but thats my agenda.

    I have personally experienced phenomena, yes, I have personally felt faith at work inside me, yes, but thats not what you’re after I believe. Its those things personally in your life. Sorry, can’t make it happen myself for you. God can, I can’t. The Bible is quite clear that lack of faith equals lack of God at work. It says even Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith in Mark 6 v5-6 and couldn’t do any miracles.

    But to go back to my sadly useless Yoda attempt, I don’t accept the science in some of the ‘explanations’ you refer to, by default – by definition science can only work within the knowledge available, and will be wrong/superseeded when more knowledge appears. The pastor/lecturer in Applied Biology at Cambridge taught evolutionary theory as it was then – but didn’t believe it to be true. I’m sure he’s been proved largely correct in the intervening 30 years.

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  25. “don’t let IAN live a lie”

    Excuse me? What do you know of my soul? Have you seen the depths of my spirit? As an aside, what in the world makes you believe that shrilly screeching bible verses is the answer to someone lost in depression or confusion? That is a pastoral failure which would become abusive.

    “Ian has just admitted he is far from God”

    So are lots of people. Didn’t the Psalmist cry:

    Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
    Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!
    (Psalm 102:2)

    I am confident that in crying out this confession, that I am indeed on the right path.

    “what would be your approach to get Ian back to enjoying the relationship with our Father that we are able to enjoy every day?”

    To me it is a shallow spirituality which does not experience any strain of separation. Jesus agonised over it, far more than I ever will. Paul draws upon this painful anxiety in Romans 8:22-23, calling it the ‘groaning’ of creation and the church which must endure hardship for a time before being finally united to God.

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  26. Ian – I suggested you were living a lie – not because of what I do or don’t know about your soul but because all your writings suggest that you are correct in allowing yourself to be led by your emotions. If you are not being led by your emotions then I apologise for suggesting you were. However – if you are living by what the Word of God tells you you are rather than by how you currently feel – then I struggle with the language of doubt and depression, confusion and defeat that always comes across in your writings.

    Who says you are on the right path with this type of confession after having confessed and believed Jesus? Where is your biblical basis for making that statement?

    Bible verses are the ONLY answer to someone who is lost in confusion and depresssion. Only the Word brings you life, only the Word brings you truth, only the Word brings you peace, only the Word brings you joy, only the Word brings you healing, only the Word brings you everlasting eternal life, only the Word brings you salvation, only the word makes you free, only the Word created the university and everything there is in it, only the Word upholds the university in power, only the Word is true. The Word is God’s very speech, the Word is Jesus, the Word is Holy Scripture. Do you not believe this? If not on what you you base your hope of salvation – where did you hear this message, where did you learn of this message if not from the Word? Is the Word lying to you when it tells you you have all these things – or are your emotional feelings superior to the Word?

    Yes we endure hardship – because of the devil’s attacks, not because God is distant from us. Are you comparing yourself to Christ who took all the sin of the world on him? God is not distant from us – he is always with us he will never leave us nor forsake us – if you want old testament analagy – ye though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear NO evil – because YOU (God my father and my lord) are with me.

    You may wish to call my spirituality shallow – but if it is, don’t wake me up – from comparing my life with your writings I seem to be experiencing so much more joy and peace and fellowship and love and relationship and healing and power and strength from the Lord than you do – why on earth would I want to swap to thinking or doing it your way?

    Mike – I congratulate you on an excellent point to Ben and excited to see I am not the only one to see the obvious flaws in the evolution theory sadly still being taught to our children in schools. I would like to see the playing field a lot more level. I love the phrase “the gospel of science”! although personally don’t think science is selling us “almost too good to be true news”! quite the opposite in fact. Science certainly has become a faith issue.

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  27. I am really quite troubled by Beverly……..I do wonder if it is she who is living a lie and in some sort of depression/confusion.

    In Beverly’s own words “”Those who were offended at the truth were those who did not want to hear it because they were resistant to doing anything a different way.”” I’d venture that of all the comments on here, its Beverly’s which are most resistant to doing or thinking anything a different way.

    Of course, we can all justify our position by saying ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’. Beverly seems to be saying ‘I’m right and so sure of it I don’t want to consider any writings which I judge to disagree with my position’

    The Bible contains many, many instances of people using God’s word to their own end – and therefore claiming the right to sit in judgement on people. One of the most obvious examples being the Pharisees, who strapped verses of scripture THEY particularly liked to their heads in little leather things. I think they had quite a hand in condemning Christ to Crucifixion……

    It seems to me Beverly you are picking up on a few scripture verses Pharisee style, picking up on a small part of Ian’s very honest writings, and sitting in judgement. That seems incorrect to my understanding of the Bible’s message.
    If it were the case that Ian is struggling (I accept Ian’s own view: that he struggles as part of his walk with God, just as we all do at times – and that he is not in the place you claim he is in) I feel that some love, compassion and understanding would be a good start. Which in my own way I try to offer.

    It is the whole picture of Gods dealings with humankind in the Bible I struggle and strive to see. It will take more than a lifetime to come close. I rejoice in my salvation and commune with God – I despair of how I work out my faith at times.
    How did Paul put it…..I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do…he writes of the battle raging within himself at length in Romans 7 – verses 15 to 23 are particularly hard on himself – and caps it off with verse 24:
    O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am!

    He concludes with thanks to God that through Jesus he will be delivered from his body of death. And then – another therefore – a big conclusion – there is now no condemnation, no adjudging guilty of wrong, for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    So how do you justify sitting in judgement Beverly? Do you disagree with Paul also? Are you saying Ian is not in Christ Jesus?! I feel you may have judged others incorrectly, including Kierkegaard, DA Carson, well tbh pretty much anyone who dares to admit that what they say might not always be inspired by the Holy Spirit

    I concur with Ian where he talks of shallow spirituality – strange that we both went to Romans…….its most likely the writing of Paul which Peter was referring to in his comment on scripture and the writings of Paul, given it was written to the Romans. I know you like this writing very much Beverly as you have already quoted it.

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  28. I’ve held this in for a lot of yesterday. Reading through the comments, today, though…

    Beverly, your abrasive sense of entitlement, with its drive to ‘correct’ the views which abound on this blog is now leaving behind a malodorous atmosphere. However, I can’t see you caring much:

    “if that offends I am not surprised – the Lord told us people would be offended by the Word of God.”

    How convenient for you. This scripture, of course, you interpret as giving you carte blanche to decide that anyone who finds your manner or opinions distasteful is further evidence that you are speaking God’s word. It’s like a mobeus strip, except less interesting.
    You don’t even blush when claiming to interpret the ‘revealed truth’ of the creator of the universe… then castigate others for a perceived lack of reverence, or of not having the precise same zeal –hallelujah- amen – praise the lord, et cetera as you.

    I tell ya’ what: I wouldn’t have liked to run into you a couple of hundred years ago, were you in a position of power.
    Never mind me, though. As you say:

    “If any man or woman chooses not to confess Jesus as Lord of their lives and chooses not to believe God raised him from the dead – then the bible instructs me, no commands me to reject their writings – you are either for God or against God […]”

    Rant/

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  29. The only thing I am confused at is the response to Ian’s comments. Mike you still haven’t answered my question above – do you agree with Ian’s statements which were ….

    I would feel uncomfortable using the New Testament to interpret Old Testament ideas

    Paul and the writer of Hebrews both seem to feel able to interpret the OT however they like, seemingly pulling verses out of thin air to back up a point

    I’m just stating what seems plain: that NT writers have no regard for original context or meaning, choosing to redefine it as they saw fit

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  30. (And now for something completely different…)

    Mike,

    Yeah, the trouble with these sorts of forums is that one can’t always tell when someone’s being curious, or demanding, so I was trying to offset that. Cheers for getting that.

    I think I can see where your coming from, though in a few areas I’d have to disagree.

    (Tangent: its a little spooky that you’re the third science graduate working in engineering I’ve met who’s critical of some aspects of evolutionary theory/scientific method.)

    As I understand it, evolution is as water-tight as any theory is going to get. There may be new insights as to the mechanisms work (evo-devo, etc) but the fact that animal life changes through evolution by natural selection is pretty settled, by way of several different pools of evidence.

    Now, I belatedly realise that you weren’t arguing against evolution… but I like that paragraph, so I shan’t delete it.
    I’m quite an Attenborough watcher, myself. I’d be curious in which program he was behind in/what about? I always thought he was admirably up-to-date…

    To be more general, the case of whether science is trustworthy…
    the scientific method is particularly set up to tell you no more than what can be proved, as you say. I don’t see the problem… isn’t it more honest to say what you know, than not?
    I always liked the fact that scientific edifices can be overturned by a handful of discoveries. That willingness to shift your opinion to the position with the most proof, rather than holding onto a cherished idea… I think that’s science’s best quality, which has got us this far at all.
    Naturally, people aren’t as paragon-like as this all the time, within science. Andrew Wakefield, the guy who skewed and faked his research on autism, and now has a few deaths on his hands, is a prime example.
    What’s great is that we can call him out on it because his evidence (or lack of) is there to be scrutinized.

    I guess I’m trying to get across why I think science is the best game in town, when it comes to testing truth-claims. Sometimes I think its the only game in town.

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  31. *(5th line should have read): “I think I can see where you’re coming from […]”

    Yes, I’m a pedant. 😉

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  32. OK then Ben, first off just a lttle comment on your logic – sorry to say as a nuts and bolts man I tend to work from first principles before getting on with things: see below for a great example of why I think this way, courtesy of NASA.

    I responded to your post which contained
    “”Yet any comparable intrusions (heh) of ‘something’ into our world (miracles, etc) have always been found to have more terrestrial explanations,””
    because I don’t agree at all with this position.

    My way of disagreeing was to set out the nature (or gospel) of science as I see it. Empirical and results based, but only up to the latest results and so on.

    You wrote, in your last post on here
    “”I always liked the fact that scientific edifices can be overturned by a handful of discoveries.””

    this comment is one I very much agree with…….but don’t see it as supporting your earlier assertion – to my mind it rather conflicts, if you like a mental crutch which allows you to believe science must always be able to explain the intrusions of ‘something’ (I’d say God) into this world. To me, thats a faith (belief if you like) and its in the gospel of science.

    You are bang on in my opinion when you note that the failures of humans allow faking and/or skewing of science to support a belief. Thats my problem with Attenborough….his faith is in evolution, so evolutions gonna be correct whatever. Even though the theory he outlined to viewers in 1980 has radically changed by 2010. He has changed some language along the way, but his belief has not.

    I loved a video interview with an archaeological anthropologist (I think it was in the late 80’s) who had spent his whole life collecting skeletons of humanoids, particularly skulls. At the time it was the best science and he was from a school of thought Attenborough bought into. You know, monkeys, half monkeys, standing on 2 feet monkey man, primitive man, stupid man, clever man, my uncle Phil in ascending order. He had a lovely collection of skulls to ‘prove’ it. Talked brilliantly about it, made a career of it, rubbished Christians and the bible on it.
    Then along came carbon dating (which, I grant you, is also a theory but at least it is more measurable as its based on half lifes etc). He was so sure of his science he let a little flake of each skull – in those days the sample needed to be of substantial size – go for dating.
    You know what I’m going to say already, but in the video interview you see a faith and life’s work come tumbling down: the results put his skulls in a random order and in fact one of the oldest is one of the most developed. In the interview he gets very angry and I think I’m right in saying he got very heavy later on, applying pressure within the science community to suppress the findings.

    More recently, evidence both DNA and archaelogical has pointed to Neanderthals being co-existant with homo sapiens. Not one into the other. If I had offered such a view in the 1980s it would have been compared to declaring the world is flat. Erm, thats not the churches finest hour, flat earth is it! Anyway, you get my drift hopefully.

    Natural selection….well, of course, there are aspects of it that can be easily observed. Although scientists can also find evidence that sometimes the strongest, fittest (and therefore most tasty/imposing/dangerous) specimens get taken out more often than the weak ones. I think Evo-devo is a fudge waiting for support, there are massive gaps in evidence for species to species mutation, both archaeological and DNA gaps.

    Science the best game in town? Only game in town?! No way Jose….

    I know this is a long post, could bang on about Red shift, cosmology, universe, Hubble, dark energy is the latest fudge IMO but that will break Ian’s server and everyone’s will to live…..so here’s a ‘funny’ to finish with, any readers over the water will hate how stupid some folks are at times…..

    NASA, moon shot, 1960’s is the scene. Get there at any cost. I think it was an early Apollo mission, anyway there was a launch pad fire, astronouts burnt alive and massive public reaction against the danger. So, the solution was to go to solid fuel/liquid fuel combo which was easier to make safe.
    Right, where do we go for starters, I know, data book of chemical reactions, find the most exothermic reaction of a solid with oxygen. Check….check….read….read…..ah yes, of course – here it is! Boron Hydride.
    So, NASA built a lot of Boron Hydride factories, I think it was 6 to 8 across America. Takes a lot to get to the moon, you know. Built new rockets, set them up, light the fuse etc, erm, its not quite getting as high as we thought…..change the design, fire the engineers, build a bigger one…..erm its still not off the ground much……more changes and sleepless nights for the teams.
    Eventually, someone checked the data book – it was wrong.
    This was from my Professor of Chemistry at uni. He had started off studying French but changed to Chemistry while at uni as it was more fun. His ability to think outside the box got him all the way to chair of faculty at a young age. He loved the story. And had confirmed to himself it was true by writing to NASA who obligingly sent him a lump of Boron Hydride – they ended up with rather a lot of it on their hands, with no possible use!

    Could Evo-devo be science of a similar quality……

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  33. Hey Mike. (Sorry, mine’s a bit long, too.)

    Cheers for replying. I enjoyed the NASA story… brings new meaning to the phrase ‘Not exactly Rocket Science’.

    I’m afraid I still don’t get your point about Attenborough. You suggest that he has ‘faith’ in evolution:

    “[…]so evolutions gonna be correct whatever. Even though the theory he outlined to viewers in 1980 has radically changed by 2010. He has changed some language along the way, but his belief has not.”

    How does this differ from my outline of scientific method? It almost seems like you begrudge the theory the audacity of changing, but standing up with subsequent evidence. This is also what I mean when In say the central mechanism of Natural Selection remains, though there have been plenty of advances in other parts of our knowledge, there.
    We both have a respect for the idea that one’s theories should be at the mercy of current evidence, and we should always be ready to discard them like so much refuse if they’re unsupportable. But you:

    “[…] don’t see it as supporting your earlier assertion – to my mind it rather conflicts, if you like a mental crutch which allows you to believe science must always be able to explain the intrusions of ‘something’ (I’d say God) into this world. To me, thats a faith (belief if you like) and its in the gospel of science.”

    I am talking about whether a phenomenon is intelligible or not. If so, then it can be tested scientifically. If you are saying that one can only view god through, shall we say, ‘the eyes of faith’, then I will concede that this may be so… and this is the same for every god, in any religion.
    My problem is that I don’t find religious faith a valid way of looking at the world, precisely because it is impossible to distinguish objectively whose faith is correct. A Muslim has precisely the same faith as a Christian, as has a Mormon, etc.
    If science is a crutch (better metaphor than I originally thought), then it is useful for walking in the same sense that glasses are useful for seeing.
    Einstein said (and I’ll paraphrase as I can’t remember the quote): ‘the amazing thing about the universe is that we can make sense of it at all’, by which he meant that its intelligible.
    Now, this is the point that someone might say that this points to a creative designer, but that’s just god of the gaps, by my estimation (possible, but it would be preferable to have positive evidence). What seems likely is that the universe is intelligible, because we’re intelligent – we can understand, when we look, more than we evolved to ever have to deal with back in the African savanna. Of course, when it comes to some things, we’re grazing the edges of our minds’ capacity to intuitively grasp some things (quantum mechanics), but we can still use tools such as mathematics which, like eye-glasses, let us make the leap.
    I’m sure there’s more than we’ll ever know; more than we might ever be able to. I don’t see that as warranting that we class science as ‘just another gospel’, or opinion, in a relativistic way. Its taken us to the bloody moon – there’s something to it! (Excuse my frivolity.)
    My point about the terrestrial explanations is simply that ‘so far’, there’ve been explanations. Much like every folk remedy or alternative medicine which has actually worked has been absorbed into the corpus of proper medicine.
    Are you saying that god will never be scientifically explicable? Interesting, if so.

    It has often been put to me that my non-belief might count as a faith, but I don’t quite see the comparison.
    I don’t ‘believe there is NO god’… it is rather that I ‘don’t believe IN a god’. I make this distinction because I think the first position (NO god) is merely the opposite end from ‘definitely believe there IS a god’; i.e. both are faith-based.
    In this sense you could call me a high-end agnostic / de-facto atheist. It is my provisional belief that it is likely that there is no god, and I shall act accordingly until new evidence, or new ways of looking at it arrive, which convince me.
    Every day it seems a little less likely that I will hear an argument which I haven’t heard before.

    Similarly, what we know in science is provisional, not eternal, like commandments, or religious ‘truths’. There is a certain point, however, (and this is what I was trying to get across in my last comment) where there is SO much evidence for a theory (i.e. evolution, the heliocentric view of the solar system) that there is little that could topple the general theory. Oh, it’s possible, but very, very unlikely.
    As you say, there have been many swift revisions of timelines, filling in of gaps in our knowledge – and that’s just human evolution! The theory remains strong. Molecular evidence of the kind you alluded has been compiled, the evidence from geographic distribution, morphology, and radio-carbon dating. Oh, and tree-circles… yeah, that last one always sounds less impressive than it is. 😉

    R.e. Cosmology: it might be best to restrict ourselves to Earth, as that way we won’t mix our disciplines, as its way too easy to do in this sort of discussion.
    Also, Ian might not like us turning his Kierkegaard thread into a Physics one. Tee-hee-hee…

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  34. OK, will read that all again Ben and reply in a few days – daughter back to uni this weekend. A very different angle from you to the same subject and one I shall consider – I tend to take engineering principles eg look at it and see if it works; listen to them and see if they make sense. Which is why the people who believe in science blindly don’t really impress me – my view on God and his followers is similar…..

    You are taking some fun out of it by limiting disciplines…….I much prefer being jack of all trades and master of none to ‘expert in my field’!! Its being an ‘jack of all’ or more like ‘fix it all’ engineer in the face of single discipline experts for years that has scarred me so…

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    • Heh, I’m sure we’ll get to the other disciplines. Its just that they’re each so massive, they’d make the posts gargantuan!

      I’m sympathetic to what you call engineering principles, and hope you don’t class me as one of those who follow science blindly. 😉 I certainly haven’t seen any reason to afford to you such assumption of blindness, or Ian.
      My sesquipedalian loquaciousness is overcoming me, so I’ll round up.

      My best you and your daughter, and look forward to reading your reply.

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  35. Right, back home and refreshed with dinner and a cuppa, I shall ramble………I rather like a relaxed comparison of views, I must say – although the end product for me is a question of defending the position of God in the order of things, which is pretty much central to my life. Which might come close to blind faith in some eyes; I wasn’t thinking of you at all Ben in such blind terms, its good to know you see science for what it is.

    So, I think we start tonight with Phlogiston…..this page ( http://www.jimloy.com/physics/phlogstn.htm ) was my favourite, although Wikipedia is a bit better for bald facts. Its a theory that was very popular for more than 100 years, and subject to ‘rigorous’ scientific testing. You correctly refer to the need for theories to be scientifically tested – and if they can’t be tested physically then they are simply theories, not to be trusted in your approach.

    You also make the comment (most valid to me, as an engineer) that ‘its’ taken us to the moon…..well, thats experimental and practical science, the stuff you can put your hands on. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how it works, just that its repeatable and it works. Actually I’d say thats engineering or engineering science.

    Its illuminating to me that the best science minds did their experimental science for 100 years plus and concentrated on phlogiston. As time went by, people voiced opinion that the theory was not fully correct, or (later in the debate) that it was ‘tosh’ (to use the correct science term!)
    I see some of these facets in the evolution debate…….to me its a theory starting to stretch too far, trying to be all encompassing from the cradle of life to man. This is why (much like phlogiston) people heavily modified the theory and some are coming right out with it – Darwin’s theory doesn’t fit the latest results.
    As the web link above notes, over the years, more and more Phlogistans became antiPhlogistans.

    Thats why I referred to the skull collector in my earlier post – an example of the revered and learned becoming stuck in their theory.

    I’d say that science should have, by now, ditched starting with Darwin (indeed quite a lot of life scientists don’t really draw out where Darwin links to their work) and started with a blank sheet, taking in all the latest results. Thats a simplistic view – life science is so diverse and wide ranging now its hard to imagine who would actually take the lead in such a thing. A bit like someone putting the brakes on NASA’s Boron Hydride programme when it was in full swing.

    One of the modules I enjoyed most at uni was ‘history of science’. There are other headline names involved in similar major upheavals – Heisenberg, de Broglie, I forget the cosmologists names but the list is long and I’m sure growing. Probably includes Einstein but then he was really, really clever and also made it clear he didn’t care about his reputation. I’ll finish with E=mc2 later…..

    So, I did stand back and take stock at your observation that I was almost begrudging science the option to change. Astute. As you say, the Creationist view is absolute: God created the world (we will break Ian’s server if we unpack exactly how and when on here!) and people like me look to science to back that up….OR…..(here’s where my begrudging comes in) look to the science of the opposite view to be proved wrong.

    I am offended that (to the masses at least) Attenborough has spent 30 years as an evolution evangelist. No mention of changing knowledge, admission that what he said about this or that was, in fact, plain wrong. He does, at times, fit in a bit of ‘new science’ to support his gospel but you really have to be sharp to even consider that his revering tones on evolution are in fact only in defence of a theory – and a much changing theory at that. So I would support the teaching of creationism in schools, as an alternative theory to evolution.

    I perceive that ‘man in the street’, whoever he is, would mostly say ‘science has proved God didn’t make the earth and heavens’ – not because they have looked into it, but because….. Attenborough and co have told them thats how it is.
    So I begrudge the chameleon-like gospel of science the right of passive acceptance by the masses. However……I do not deny that most humans admit to belief in some kind of supreme authority or god/gods. Thats a similar passive acceptance by the man in the steet and so maybe its 1-1 to use football parlance! I shall try to be less begrudging in future even if the gospel of science doesn’t play fair.

    DNA comments will have to wait – I think discoveries in this field has really helped creationists – because I said that I would finish with E=mc2.
    So, I shall. We started this mega blog with Kierkegaard and his observations of existance that led him to God. I assume you are familiar with the concept of reversible reactions: simply put, one way A+B turns into C+D and the other way C+D turns into A+B. Which way it goes depends on the conditions.
    Man and his science has roughly proved in nuclear devices Einstein’s equation works: matter destroyed gives out enormous energy. I see God in the reverse reaction…….Genesis 1v3…….God said let there be light. The infinite and all powerful God put the ‘E’ in, and matter plus light was created. My God is infinitely bigger than the Hadron collider with limitless ‘E’

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  36. Hey, Mike. Mugs of tea aplenty this end. It seems to be a necessity.
    Lots to unpack from that last one, so if you’ll bear with me…

    I am sort of anticipating the priority you mention, i.e. the defence of the ‘god hypothesis, as it may as well be called, being something beyond reproach, in your analysis.
    In my last comment, I attempted to explain why I have my own problems with, not ‘blind faith’, but faith in general as a way of interpreting the world.
    I wouldn’t call you blind though, any more than I would Ian, who clearly thinks about his beliefs and wants them to be correct. This is a passion I think we share, despite our radically different opinions. So, passionate, but relaxed comparisons of views are always a pleasure.

    Ah Phlogiston!
    I was reminded of this particular blind alley by some BBC program, last year, I think. You bring it up as an allegorical example of the time a theory can be built up, (100 years plus) only to be ignominiously toppled. A fine example. I can’t quite follow your allegory, though, as applied to the theory of evolution. Most of this is for what I consider practical reasons of historical context:
    When Phlogiston was still current, the field of chemistry was not as unified as it is now. Even by the time of the Phlogiston theory’s demise, it would be some 60 years before the first periodic table. With evolution, we have a different chronology. The central theory of evolution by natural selection has been successively built upon, with minor paradigms of mechanisms being posited, examined, overturned, and now mostly filled in. If there are further revelations to be uncovered within the minutia of the theory which remain, not opaque, but murkier than others, it seems highly unlikely the mechanism of natural selection, the time-frame over which it takes place, and the main factors which affect it will be overturned. As Ian and my old history teacher (remember Mr. Thomas, Ian?) put it, stating a truism: ‘it isn’t very wise to compare people in the past’s situation directly to those in the present’. In either morality, or, I think, in circumstances where one is comparing the resources (information) between Chemistry’s ‘age of Phlogiston’, and our current age, where evolution is as strong, and unlikely to be overturned as the heliocentric view of the solar system*. From DNA sequencing (which you briefly mention), we can see what one could call the ‘fact’ of evolution: all living things are cousins. What we might make is a distinction between this, and the mechanism (natural selection) which the theory started with… and interestingly, how we arrived at the current amounts of proof backwards.
    You say you don’t get why Darwin is still revered? I think it’s because the clever sod made the intellectual leap to the theory with lesser (compared to today’s) evidence, and it looks well as though he got the most important parts of it spot on. I don’t think it’s any more inappropriate than giving Newton an honourable mention, where applicable.

    I’m glad you didn’t take my supposition/supposition of begrudging as ad hominem. As it happens I’m intrigued by the attitude you express here:

    “So, I did stand back and take stock at your observation that I was almost begrudging science the option to change. Astute. As you say, the Creationist view is absolute: God created the world (we will break Ian’s server if we unpack exactly how and when on here!) and people like me look to science to back that up….OR…..(here’s where my begrudging comes in) look to the science of the opposite view to be proved wrong.”
    I think this is a wedge which demarcates where our approaches part company: I acknowledge the theories and research as they are, and simply wait with interest to see which are backed up, in which case I then try to adjust myself to that theory as gracefully as possible, relieved that, however embarrassed I might be that a previously favoured notion is forfeit, I am at least in the know on what notion is closer to the ‘truth’.
    I find religious faith useless for this, because it starts off, not with a hypothesis to be tested, but with a truth which is meant to be ‘believed’. In my last big comment, I mention in passing some reasons why I see this as ineffective in discerning between truth-claims. Another problem is that the god hypothesis is unfalsifiable. In logical terms, this is not ideal, and rather too ubiquitous.

    I am curious as to the where and when you believe creation took place, as it might make it easier for me to grasp what you mean by:

    “You also make the comment (most valid to me, as an engineer) that ‘its’ taken us to the moon…..well, thats experimental and practical science, the stuff you can put your hands on. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how it works, just that its repeatable and it works. Actually I’d say thats engineering or engineering science.”**

    If I knew how much of, say, geology (age of the earth, specifically) you agree with, I think I’d understand better why you think there’s a divide between “experimental and practical science, the stuff you can put your hands on.”, and whatever the rest of science is. I don’t recognise such a divide, given how the methodological empiricism of science covers reasonable inferences (like the sorts I think you’re referring to). Anyway, I don’t want to ascribe views to you that you haven’t actually mentioned; so, perhaps succinctly, so as not to broaden the conversation too much, could you give some more examples?

    As for Attenborough, I think it might be a case of ‘horses for courses’, as I still can’t quite identify with your beef; though I think I can empathise on similar cases where a view I disagree with is given what I feel to be unearned deference.
    I’ll concede the 1-1 score happily (well… neither of us is probably happy, but at least we can smile about it!)
    I will likely never agree with the idea of teaching creationism in schools as an alternative to evolution for several reasons. Even if the idea had more going for it than sliding in between the murky parts of science and saying ‘goddidit’, or denying evidence altogether, there is the further problem of which particular god is supposed to have done the creating. One could only partially justify the positing of a deist god as the prime-mover***, but to be honest to the average creationist’s convictions, one would have to push for a theist god, which, would return us to the problem of objectively proving whose god is the creator – fait vs. faith, again, as I see it.

    If I address any more of your points in this post, it’ll be way too long. Feel free to bring any I’ve missed up again, if you think they’re particularly crucial.
    I’d like to hear more on the point on reversible reactions, pertaining to the inverse you suggest, as I’m not sure I quite understand what you meant, and would prefer to be sure before replying.

    Ah… I’m enjoying this!
    All the best. 

    *Richard Dawkins puts it more bluntly by saying that there is as much evidence for evolution happening as there is for the Holocaust. Blunt, provocative, but not, I think, untrue. Still, I prefer my heliocentric metaphor.

    **This really IS getting spooky – I heard almost this exact same wording of the same disagreement from that other engineer I mentioned – is there a club for evolution-sceptic engineers I don’t know about? 😉

    ***On the subject of inferring a prime mover, I am reminded of an exchange between Napoleon and some astronomer (whose dratted name I’ve forgotten) where the astronomer is showing him a model of the solar system which illustrates its orbiting spheres. Napoleon says: “And where is god, in all of this, in your model?”
    “Well sir”, says the astronomer, “I had no need of that hypothesis”. It works perfectly well without.
    Until I am convinced that the present biodiversity, tracing back to biogenesis is unable to have come about without such a deity kicking it off, I, too, have no need of that hypothesis, for the above-mentioned problems with invoking an unfalsifiable premise which could be made to apply to anything. I am simply not convinced of the efficacy of faith.

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  37. I’m sure the rabbit went this way…

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  38. well, Nathan has at least got to the bottom of the page! Not sure if that means all posts have been read in full by anyone else but hey, I shall continue – I think its an important subject: not because of the debate itself, but because science is, I think, a stumbling block to faith for some. Because of my background I feel like kicking at the block sometimes…….

    So, to try and take an overview……..Ben is saying that for him science is going to be the way of finding ‘truth’ – I like his comment “”I acknowledge the theories and research as they are, and simply wait with interest to see which are backed up””
    Thats a mature attitude to science, which in this kind of debate I have not always encountered. To some others, science IS the truth, we are all just some kind of cosmic accident and God cannot be real.

    However, I can’t agree with Ben’s comment “”I can’t quite follow your allegory, though, as applied to the theory of evolution””. This comment is based on my kicking at the block of science by pointing out previous scientific follies, in particular phlogiston but also others in previous posts.

    To take an engineering view of things, why not consider evolution to be as flawed as other science Ben? You asked me to clarify the distinction between engineering science and pure science as you don’t really see one…….ok, I’ll have a go.
    Maths is accepted to have pure and applied streams. If you’re really geeky you can even go ‘further pure’ and chase the rabbit Nathan mentions. I understand (in a nutshell) the distinction to mean this: applied pertains to maths which is based on reality, numbers which tell you what is going to happen in things you could measure or do. Pure pertains to maths which is based on intangible concepts (haha, I nearly wrote fictional concepts….. there’s engineer bias for you!) and therefore hasn’t got a direct link with reality. Science is the same, to me…..
    I’m perfectly comfortable with (applied) science theories arrived at by physical, or measurable ‘trail and error’ but remain deeply sceptical of (pure) science theories arrived at by intangible trial and error. If we continue with NASA, rocketry and going to the moon; it was a brilliant engineer (the rather murky Werner von Braun) who did it, coupled with enormous resources and literally millions of trial and error steps. The documentaries and films trying to chart the period all show it was ‘seat of the pants’ science which actually did the job. Not someone sat in a classroom saying “I know how this works”

    So, I find this assumption VERY dangerous:
    “We are not going to make the same mistakes, because we know more (aka we are better/superior) than those who went before us”
    I think there is quite a lot of that sentiment in Ben’s defence of why Darwin’s work is so good and endures, unlike other (inferior) scince. Really? From which ivory tower do scientists who dismiss God out of hand sit I wonder? Clearly a different ivory tower to the other ‘silly’ scientists…..

    Now then, a dose of history and reflection on the nature of mankind…..with a little mirror from (pure) science to see if we can find an ‘engineering’ fit:
    Ben rather eloquently speaks of the concept of a deity ‘kicking things off’; that is considering at how life began and started its ‘progress’…….
    I have been a spectator of this very debate since coming to faith at uni in 1981. So I have seen a lot of change in the debate. I can now say a variety of things which would have got me lynched years ago. I can say that DNA technology shows our species to be descended from one woman. I can say that our species is not descended from Neanderthals. I can say that the single hand of a creator God created all life on Earth using a common ‘life engine’.
    Of course, I can be challenged or even ridiculed in these comments. However, science allows me to reasonably say them now – I promise you they would have sounded ridiculous and baseless only 30 years ago, a hopeful whistling in the wind to those convinced by the massive knowledge of ‘the god of science’.

    Why do I think this way……well, try this: fallen man and conclusions of science are rather similar – they both create chaos. I consider mankind to be still falling – I mean we are getting less like our forebears, further from God. Sure, we can destroy things in bigger and better ways, allow new ways of becoming ill to take root in our species by the way we live, and even threaten our whole planet as our living habitat rather than just bits of it. Is that really progress? I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit, and find the ‘poor’ to be rich of spirit, where the rich are actually ‘poor in spirit’ without having any idea of this.

    Science? its similar really in my view. A massive majority of science from all disciplines points to the same end point…..chaos. Things wear out, lose energy, become fragmented, fall apart, finish their reactions, die, and so on. Where else in science do we see a re-ordering of simple things into more complex things? We destroy our bio-diversity at the same time as many claim we evolve and progress. To me, the hand of God ‘kicking things off’ is very clear – all time and nature has done is destroy parts of his wonderful creation. To me, the further mankind falls from God, the less we consider Him, the more we will marvel at the (rather lesser) works of our own hands.

    To finish: I spoke of Einstein and what many consider to be his defining equation. E=mc2

    That is: Energy equals matter times the speed of light squared. The principle was ‘needed’ to explain what happens when atoms are split and matter destroyed. Another example of man’s destruction, and one which still (and most likely, will ever) cast a shadow over our whole planet. I know quite a lot of the history and technology of nuclear science. Oppenheimer was a broken man when he died, broken by what his work had unleashed. He even tried to prevent the US developing the H bomb.
    All man can do, using the ‘natural’ (created?) things already here on the planet, is crudely let loose energy by bashing radioactive stuff together.
    God? Well, as my last post ended, God can bring things into being by making things from nothing, He is the ultimate force, His unlimited energy used to create mater and light. Nuclear stars that light the heavens. The truth has been there since the first chapter of the book of Genesis was spoken and written in our pre-history.

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  39. Hey, Nathan. Fancy dipping your toes into these Stygian depths?

    Mike. I think we are in danger of being unable to grasp the other’s thought-process if we proceed much further along this train of thought, but… GERONIMO!!!

    “To take an engineering view of things, why not consider evolution to be as flawed as other science Ben?”

    To be annoying (but still sincere) for a moment, I want to turn that back and ask ‘why not consider the Heliocentric model to be as flawed as any other past model?’ I do! It’s just that the evidence is enormously compelling. This is why I keep using this metaphor.

    I believe I stated the different context which I believe makes your Phlogiston point a false comparison – evolution is corroborated in the ways I (continually, it seems) mention.
    Evolution is the overwhelming consensus of study, observation and experimentation across most disciplines under biology and forms the framework for our understanding of the natural world. It continues to be used, because like the table of elements, it continues to work. I don’t follow on your engineering paradigm, and wonder whether it is your priority of defending the Christian god which prompts it? It is my only guess, so far. Sorry, if not.

    In:

    “I’m perfectly comfortable with (applied) science theories arrived at by physical, or measurable ‘trail and error’ but remain deeply sceptical of (pure) science theories arrived at by intangible trial and error.”

    And:

    “ Pure pertains to maths which is based on intangible concepts (haha, I nearly wrote fictional concepts….. there’s engineer bias for you!) and therefore hasn’t got a direct link with reality. Science is the same, to me…..”

    You elaborate (thanks, this clears up a lot) on this perceived divide. I still take issue with what looks like a false dichotomy, or smear against so-called ‘intangible concepts’. I presume you mean something which hasn’t been subjected to any empirical or observational study. Such as? I have to say it looks like rather a lot of work to label the sum of, say, the theory of evolution as intangible.

    “I think there is quite a lot of that sentiment in Ben’s defence of why Darwin’s work is so good and endures, unlike other (inferior) scince. Really? From which ivory tower do scientists who dismiss God out of hand sit I wonder? Clearly a different ivory tower to the other ‘silly’ scientists…..”

    I again extend my offer to ridicule Newton for discovering the laws of motion, but not anticipating special relativity… should we do the same to Darwin because he didn’t know about DNA? I’m only being slightly sarcastic here, because that seems to be your logic, as it comes across.
    As for god… scientists, particularly anthropologists and neuroscientists have much to say about religion as a natural phenomena (religious belief, that is, not the metaphysical stuff),
    The objective existence of a deity is a non-problem for the reasons I implied in my Napoleon anecdote/prime mover bit, a comment ago. Positive evidence must be the standard, otherwise Its Russell’s Teapot, to resort to an unfalsifiable premise. Science is not about verification, but falsification. If you can’t falsify a theory, the theory stands up (for now, never say never). If you can’t falsify a theory by definition, then it is not a theory, but a priori. Faith is a priori in this way.

    “I consider mankind to be still falling – I mean we are getting less like our forebears, further from God.”

    So, is this why we don’t live as long as Methuselah? Just kidding!
    In the next paragraph on, you describe the universe as drifting towards entropy, so (I think you’re) implying that evolution is a little strange because:

    “Where else in science do we see a re-ordering of simple things into more complex things?”

    Complexity accrues due to the time involved, and how the things bits are made out of react to other forces. It’s just that simple; as Carl Sagan said: ‘these are some of the things that molecules do, given 4 billion years (of evolution)’ – meaning not just life, but the whole skin of our little rock.

    “I can say that DNA technology shows our species to be descended from one woman.”

    You are referring to Mitochondrial Eve (right?), the female human who lived approximately 200,000 years ago, somewhere in East Africa. Your statement should, to be accurate, say ‘our current human population is descended from one woman’, which is not to say that Homo sapiens literally ‘began’ with one example of each sex. There are many other common human ancestors whom we are all descended from, as well, from that length of time back. She is the oldest.
    You stress that that would be a controversial idea – it would be, if she were the only woman, but all Mitochondrial Eve means is that at some point only she had female offspring who survived (since men don’t pass down mitochondrial DNA to our offspring). We know the human population of the time was in the tens of thousands. The Biblical Eve she was not (I have to assume that this is your point in raising her).

    “I can say that our species is not descended from Neanderthals.”

    We are (or were) cousins who shared a common ancestor. True.

    “I can say that the single hand of a creator God created all life on Earth using a common ‘life engine’.”

    To my knowledge, you can’t say that with science. Is it falsifiable? No. Like your last paragraph about energy/nuclear power illustrates, to me, it is simplicity itself to shift the goalposts and place a supernatural agent behind any phenomena. I said once to Ian that it’s not like he was convinced by a cosmological argument, and then decided to believe in god. Faith comes first. Why pretend otherwise?

    ‘Til next time.

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    • Hi Ben, no. 🙂 I have a funny feeling it would be more than my toes getting wet! Besisdes, oversized baggage today means it would cost an absolute fortune to get my kayak there! I’ll leave the science tosh to you clever folk! :p

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  40. ok Ben, you sound a bit offended, sorry if thats correct. I thought we had started debating from a standpoint of ‘does God fit in science’ or maybe ‘can God fit in science’. It was my disputing how you felt science can explain all the ‘intrusions of something into this world’ that set me off. I wasn’t offended by your use of the word ‘intrusion’ even though it rather suggests you don’t want to find God in this world tbh.

    My approach in the debate was to examine numerous ways a ‘current scientific theory’ had been shown to be incorrect by new work. In particular, theories which had gained popular, everyday exposure. At the moment, Darwin and evolution is one of those ‘everyday’ theories.
    I’m perfectly happy to point out exceptions to Newton, Mendelev, Rutherford and even Einstein. They are there. However, they don’t pertain to the debate a lot in my view. As it happens, I am a bit suspicious of the periodic table and the neatness of electron shells – worth a look at the life of Neils Bohr and how his work was received by other scientists of the time…..

    The posts I’ve put up have been to challenge your ‘close to watertight’ claim on evolutionary theory. I don’t agree and find plenty of evidence either to dispute the conclusions of results, or to dispute the global theory as the combined results don’t stack up in the way pro-evolutionists claim.

    So, of course I am arguing from the goalposts of {God is seen in science}; as I say I thought that was clear. I also thought we both felt the debate was coming to an ‘agreed disagree ending’, so put in a few claims for God based on recent life science. I reckon you are happy to be arguing from the goalposts of {God is not seen in science} but please correct me if thats not so…..

    Its a brave thing to disagree with mathematicians: I thought the divide between pure and applied was a clear one.
    I have oft been in the presence of chemists who would see the difference between applied results as secure, and pure theory which might easily be a simplification or even distortion of fact. One writes patents on Zeneca chemicals/drugs (and yes is ‘of the faith’) so can’t be too shabby in the cranium department.

    Simple example of ‘pure theory’ in life sciences? Try all my ‘I can say’ statements of my last post …….how about ‘Eve’. The only way to make it ‘applied’ science is time travel. We are agreed then, that all humans on the planet are descended from her.

    You try to correct my statement as if it were (applied) fact:
    “”all Mitochondrial Eve means is that at some point only she had female offspring who survived (since men don’t pass down mitochondrial DNA to our offspring). We know the human population of the time was in the tens of thousands. The Biblical Eve she was not””

    I can try to correct your statement by asking where is your evidence for the tens of thousands of other humans? Applied maths – probability – would come up with a truly massive number to state the odds of only her female offspring surviving from a population of tens of thousands. So the balance of probability will prefer only her as a biblical ‘Eve’.

    We cannot nail the facts unless we were there, Attenborough style in the wild, tracing the female offspring and where they ended up (and where all the others fell by the wayside). Thats why I trust applied science but not pure. It may well be that further developments in life science shed more light on ‘Eve’ as we get older – as I say, I have seen such further developments over 30 years and see the balance of these developments as generally supportive to God being around than not.

    Hopefully, our debate has shown the other that there is a debate: it is not de facto that science has closed God out, or proved God. I didn’t expect another conclusion and from the end of your last post I suspect you didn’t either Ben. If we accept the 1-1 score line I’m happy. Its up to you if you want an extra time debate?

    I totally agree that faith comes first. I hope it didn’t look as if I was trying to pretend otherwise, or for that matter pretend anything.

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  41. oh yes, I forgot cosmology…..now there’s a modern day phlogiston waiting to be punctured…….thank goodness it wasn’t a cosmological argument that had any bearing on Ian’s views on God!

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  42. Mike, only have time for a quick one, atm…

    Goodness, I didn’t think I came across as offended – as I posted, I was mostly concerned with sounding passive-aggressive (where at most, I was aiming for snarky). (Intrusion was just a term used to describe a suspension of known laws that a miracle would, presumably, be. Don’t read too much into my wording ;))

    I think the difference is, I know what it would take, in science, to prove myself wrong. So far, it seems that every example I raise, you (through faith) are able to render your worldview intangible to criticism. Like I say, unfalsifiable.

    I see you’re adamant that for a theory to be a part of ‘applied science’, you’d have to be there, ‘Attenborough-style’. I think that’s a fallacy, which, if one thinks about it, puts a bizarre case that, logically, many other things aren’t ‘applied science’, either. Things that work, on a testable level.
    If you’re going to put such stringent criteria on knowledge, then surely its also unreasonable for you to posit the biblical Eve? Were you there, either? You see, I hope, why that looks like trying to have your cake, and eat it.

    Faith, I’m sure, trumps evidence every time.
    What I hope has come out of this debate is a glimpse into a mind in which faith is considered a false virtue, with no utility when searching for knowledge.

    I’m happy to let things lie, but feel that this divide between ‘applied science’ and theory (or whatever) is a sub-division which seems purely to be there so that faith has an easy time of it. That’s the view from my end.

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  43. ok, glad I didn’t offend. I hope I have given your posts proper thought – again, sorry if not.

    I’m intrigued that the pure/applied divide is not necessarily easy to accept. Maybe i just explained myself badly.

    Where a scientific theory involves events in the past, which were not subject to measurement at the time….well yes, to measure them you would have to time travel. Thats what I was driving at in my comment about Attenborough style. This only applies to theories which claim to be able to know what happened in the past by what I view as ‘pure’ science, eg facts based on extrapolation or insight.

    Anything that works, as you say, on a testable (to be clear: repeat testable) level is applied science in my book. If the experiment/test is documented and can be repeated by others, I’d view it as applied science – even if its not understood or even directly visible.

    So my worldview takes in new stuff from science – as I have said, the balance of new stuff in the life sciences looks ‘God-positive’ to me. Thats not to say its all pointing at God, just on balance.

    I am, however, not in a position to have my faith, my walk with God, derailed by science. As you observe correctly, faith comes first and through faith a view of science. Which I can see is pretty annoying to you……as science does has the capacity to prove you wrong if it throws things up you have flagged up in your own views as ‘solid lines’.

    To finish, I’d offer something of my own experience of how science throws up things unexpected in the fields debated. Pioneer, Hubble, DNA, archaeology, sub-atomic, cosmic and many more….I have been most interested to watch things turned on their head in the last 30 years and fully expect more of the same. All tremendously interesting and the stuff of someone’s future debates I’m sure.

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  44. One thing we can be sure of: we live in interesting times.

    Mike, its been a pleasure to debate, and the score remains at the equable stalemate of 1:1.

    Ben.

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  45. Jolly good show chaps, true gentleman the both of you.

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  46. 60 comments might be a record on this site. I didn’t pay much attention to this discussion as my computer was away for a few days. I’ll have to catch up 🙂

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