Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Post on Creationism

This will be my last post on Creationism for a while. I hope I didn't bore everyone too much but it was fresh in my mind from the project I'm working on. Below, I give you the most open minded approach yet mentioned.

Theistic Evolutionists: That there is no necessity for conflict between science and religion is shown by the existence of theistic evolutionists. These people are creationists, and evolutionists. They believe that God set the universe in motion but that He works through natural processes that were encoded into the universe at the beginning. Natural selection and other evolutionary processes are examples. The majority of professional scientists in the United States who are believers in God would fall into this category.

However, there are subtypes even here. Many theistic evolutionists believe that God can and does occasionally intervene in the natural affairs of the world. This would allow for miracles, although they would be rare events. However, some theistic evolutionists are also “Deists.” Deists place great store on the ability to “reason” and do not believe that God intervenes in his creation. The universe was set to run in a particular way and God leaves it alone to do so. Thus, Deists would be unlikely to pray for God to directly intervene in their lives, as in to cure some illness, while non-Deist theistic evolutionists (say that three times fast) might well do so.

Surprisingly to some, theistic evolution, although not of the Deist subtype, is actually the officially sanctioned view of the Catholic Church and many mainstream Protestant religions, as well as of many Jewish people. With this viewpoint, there is no conflict between science and religion because no line is drawn in the sand. Churches reserve spiritual matters for themselves and leave physical explanations of the world to science. Science as it exists now simply cannot adequately investigate supernatural phenomena because they are—-by definition—-outside of nature. At the same time, science, with its slow but ultimately self-correcting approach, is the only method thus devised by human beings to uncover ultimate physical truths.


SzélsőFa said...

It's refreshing that major churches have moved closer to the scientific approach.
It's good to see that for many people creation and evolution do not exclude each other.

virtual nexus said...

Very helpful explanation. Deus ex machina and all that....thanks for a fascinating set of posts!

Rob Windstrel Watson said...

The problem with any sort of God theory, to me, is that it takes away responsibility for trying to find a morality that will truly help us on this earth (and perhaps later on other planets) to better survive, live and thrive together.

Of course we have social scientists and goodness knows who else who do a lot of work in these areas but their work is much more of a minority interest than religion.

Ask anybody what their religion is and they will probably give some sort of quick reply. Ask them what their morality is and they will not be so forthcoming.

In my humble opinion, we need to bring thinking about morality to be much more centre stage so all of us can better understand how the issues affect our global community.

Randy Johnson said...

I can take this version of creationism easier than any other. A few years back when intelligent design reared it's ugly head, I recognized creationism dressed up in new clothes. Being a proponent of science, theistic evolution actually makes more sense. Intelligent design, when applied this way, I can be onboard with. Still, I guess I would be an agnostic if pinned down.

ANNA-LYS said...

This is a interesting topic ...
I will be back later today and bite into it :-)

Bernita said...

"Accept the mystery behind knowledge" It is not darkness but shadow." - Northrup Frye.

Stacia said...

This would generally be where I fall in (except for that whole "one God" part. :-) )

the walking man said...

God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth and the earth became (WAS) without form and void.

In the King James version of the bible it reads this way...In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (was) without form and void.

The first paragraph is from the Torah and the word (WAS) is the word Tahubahu more correctly translated...became

THE KJV translators didn't know what to do with this word so they made it into an ellipse or italicization (not all italicized words have corresponding words at times they did it to make sense to their times english language) and translated it the best way they knew at the time.

Also in the Torah they never would have put any other word in a sentence like that before the word God.

It is in that word tahubahu that is your gap. I don't feel like explaining the rest anymore after having done it a thousand times, so gather your own conclusion.


ps there is no time frame implied as to how long the earth was without form, but remember matter can not be destroyed.

steve on the slow train said...

I was fascinated by your posts on Creationism. I don't think anyone was bored by them. My beliefs fall into the category of theistic evolutionism. Perhaps I'm overly sensitve, but it seems that there's an alliance between the hard-core fundamentalists and the militant atheists (such as Christopher Hitchens) against beliefs like mine. Maybe it's that both extremes are united in their intolerance of differing views.

steve on the slow train said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, I agree. I was particularly happy to see this with the Catholic church, which is how I was raised.

Julie, I'm happy if you found them interesting.

Rob Hopcott, I understand the logic of what you're saying and I think it is important for people to find a moral center. I think the religions would not like what your saying, of course. I guess they'd call it secular humanism.

Randy Johnson, I'm going to be writing also about intelligent design. The main problem I have with that movement is the hypocrasy. They don't seem to mind lying through their teeth.

anna-lys, thanks for dropping by. I've been remiss in adding you to my blog roll. I'll take care of that soon.

Bernita, I like that. Mystery is a good thing.

Stacia, monotheism is pretty dominant in the world today.

Mark, yes, I understand that most Gap creationists say the gap is between Genesis 1 and 2. I think there are some varied views. Thanks for the explanation of terms, though. Very helpful.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve, you know, I find the views of the extreme creationists easier to understand than the extreme athiests. I just don't get why an athiest would actually care whether anyone believed in God or not. It would seem that the concept would be irrelvant to them. I think many of them are not so much athiests as they are: anti-theists. They are against religion specifically.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

So yesterday when I read the Gap Creationists, I thought maybe that's what I am. But now I realize I am what you said here but I can't remember what to type. Theist? I agree with Szelsofa that it is good to see major churches not rejecting evolution. That was actually news to me.

Miladysa said...

"Theistic Evolutionists"

A box for me :-D

Miladysa said...

BTW, this posts were very interesting - not boring in the least.

You have given me food for thought and I have spent some time thinking about what you have written here and the comments made by other bloggers/readers.

Thank you.

WH said...

I suppose this is my category. I like the natural laws being "encoded." That's the magic word.

A related point, since you mentioned miracles. Aquinas said that miracles are not suspensions of the natural order but rather matter reaching its full potential. (eg., the body is encoded to heal itself, and hence reports of spontaneous remissions and mind-body healing.)

Lisa said...

These posts were absolutely not boring! What bigger area is there to ponder, really? I agree with you that extreme creationists and atheists both rub me the wrong way and it's because of the arrogance and the certainty both views reflect. There are things we don't know. Why is it so reprehensible to admit that? For some reason the lyrics to "All You Need is Love" keep playing in my mind, even though there's not a direct corollary. There's an excellent table that breaks out all varieties of belief here:

We didn't know what germs were or how plants grew at one time. We don't have all the answers to how we got here either, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. It also doesn't mean that there isn't a supreme being/God/intelligence who set it all into motion.

Where I take issue is with the order of things. Many scientists are very religious and they can find connections between their faith and scientific discovery.

Going in the opposite direction and trying to make science fit a decidedly unscientific faith doesn't make sense at all to me.

Great series!

Monique said...

NOT boring ... FANTASTIC posts ... CAN'T really comment ... THANK GOD that that Charles wasn't here.

Charles I answered your questions on my post under your comment. I thought it would be better that here.


Cade said...

Atheists think that belief is wrong in the first place. There is no place for belief in a rational worldview.

You either know or you don't know.

Belief is just wishful thinking - it might be true and it might not be true - to atheists, belief in God is on the same level as belief in the tooth fairy - there's just as much testable evidence. There is no hypothesis or experiment.

Whereas hypothesis and experiment about evolution and cosmology are continually refined, proven, and challenged in a process of discovery which expands what we know, often at the same time not actually decreasing what we don't know.

Steve Malley said...

A lot of folks forget that modern scientific method had its roots in monestaries. (Gregor Mendel, anyone?) The thinking was, since God created the world, He would have created it to a rational plan. Learning the honest and hidden workings of the world was a way to come closer to God.

Funny how *that* worked out.

Great set of posts. Really thought-provoking!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ello, Yes, I think the churches have learned over the years that to make declarations of physical truth based on historical documents will often bring them into conflict with science.

Miladysa, thanks, I'm glad you found them of interest.

Billy, thanks for the info on Aquinas. I probably heard this at some point growing up but had forgotten it. It should help me with the book.

Lisa, thanks for that link. I'm going to check it out now. And yes, knowledge keeps growing. Why assume we have "now" learned everything.

Monique, thanks. I got your answer on your blog to my question, as well.

Cade, that's a good point. And thanks for visiting. It's a very rational view to accept only what we can know and not make up stories about what "possibly" might be true. But to me, it's a long the lines of being a football fan. As a Saint's fan, I don't try to convert Steeler's fans to "my" team. Why would an atheist try to convert people to atheism. Maybe they think it would be "good" for people, but no one has a right to decide what is "good" for other folks who are fully functioning adults.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Malley, excellent point. While religion has often been painted as always destroying or being against knowledge, at times religious movements have actually protected knowledge, as in the dark ages. Just like in fiction where we typically don't want heroes and villains who are totally black or totally white, religion has both good elements and bad elements. I'd like to see the good advance and the bad be beaten back.

Lisa said...

Couldn't resist bringing up Galileo. Sometimes the church gets it right, and sometimes...

From Wiki: Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime. The geocentric view had been dominant since the time of Aristotle, and the controversy engendered by Galileo's opposition to this view resulted in the Catholic Church's prohibiting the advocacy of heliocentrism as potentially factual, because that theory had no decisive proof and was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture. Galileo was eventually forced to recant his heliocentrism and spent the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Inquisition.

Sidney said...

I'm concerned that there's no mention of Pastafarians and The Flying Spaghetti Monster, an essential in any creationism discussion.

Shauna Roberts said...

Extremely interesting series of posts and great additions from commenters (with the exception of C------). I had not heard Aquinas' views of miracles before and appreciated Billy's post on that.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, yes, I think the Galileo fiasco is one of the reasons major churches these days are a little more careful about equating Biblical stories with physical truths.

Sidney, I don't know what the pastafarians are. Do tell. But I've certainly heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I'm willing to grant him legitimacy as a supernatural being but I think his "way" should only be taught in philosophy and theology classes.

Shauna, I don't remember hearing that eathier so it was quite interesting. Glad you enjoyed the posts.

Tyhitia Green said...

Wow. Very interesting. I never knew there was a term for this. I always felt that the two coincided. Since God created everything, wouldn't science be included? Very cool, Charles. :*)

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent work and approach.

"Founding Father" approach described here, too.

ivan said...

They always give you a way to go.

It started wih the pyramids...The qust for immorality.
Run for office,even if lose, that's
one way.


Greg said...

Thanks for these posts, Charles -- they're interesting!

eric1313 said...

It's a shame to see this series of posts come to an end.

I really hoped you were going to touch on the 'alien sea monkeys' xeno creation bit!

Ahhh, I guess that's best saved for a fiction post.

SQT said...

It's interesting to see what various religions do to stay relevant in today's world. Like the post on Galileo points out, we know so much more now, scientifically speaking, than when the Bible was written. I've never been one to believe in the literal translation of the Bible and I think it's getting harder and harder to do so as time goes on. I mean, the Catholic Church is coming up with new sins as we speak. You know, trying to stay relevant...

Chris Eldin said...

This approach has always been my favorite one (outside of my own more science-related beliefs) because it's more unifying than the other theories.
Lots of good stuff in these posts!

ANNA-LYS said...

Love Your posts ... just need to make me a Open Sandwich, before I set my teeth into this one he he he

ANNA-LYS said...

I am sitting here pondering ... I have always asked my self why most Americans are religious people, and also a nation that more than anyone else in the West, prefer war, rather than compromise.

Surprisingly, the answer comes via Charles Sander Pierce ... and the answer is pragma

and it seems to be the answer to this post as well ... ??

writtenwyrdd said...

Man, I've been away too long, Charles! I've missed a lot of good discussions here.

I did a topic talk in college on this topic about 20 years ago. There were plenty of research materials even then, I was sad to see.

I simply can't understand what the fundamentalists find so upsetting about a working scientific model. The mind boggles.