The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America

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Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 1:17:46 AM2/8/07
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Confessors:
 
From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics (washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500 posts!), I've deepened my worry that America's public schools are rapidly atheizing our people's thinking even though their religion-practice (i.e., church-going) is not yet in steep decline.  While the newly aggressive atheists are so ignorant of religion that their attack is at the Sunday-school level, few Americans' religion is above the Sunday-school level--so Sam Harris could quickly sell 1/2 million of his LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION.  The cultured press is giving this fundamentalism-on-the-left literature bad reviews (2.07 CHRISTIANITY TODAY p.24), but the atheists/agnostics I'm talking to through my fingers consider it (if I may use the expression) gospel truth....
 
....so my worry is for a mature-religion-ignorant public, gullible to anti-God arguments that would seem weak if the public were not so religion-ignorant.  That's the negative aspect of my worry: public ignorance.  The positive aspect is public disinformation-miseducation: our public schools are teaching scientism as science: evolutionism (as explantion, which evolution is not & cannot be) as evolution (as description [progressive change], which it undeniably is).  When in the July 7-14/82 CHRISTIAN CENTURY Huston Smith made this distinction crystalline clear, exposing "neo-Darwinism" as silly fraudulence promoting atheism, I expected some liberal-church support--but apparently church liberals were too afraid of being thought guilty by associating with "creationists" & "intelligentdesigners": not a peep about tax money being used to promote atheism while theism (on the basis of "separation of church and state"!) has no access to tax money at the K-12 level (though tax money is used to support religion-education in public universities).  (Online access to Huston's article: religion-online.org/Darwin/4."Evolution and Evolutionism"--Huston Smith.  BTW, religion-online.org is a splendid resource for continuing religion-education of clergy &  laity.)
 
To save you some time, I'll sum up Huston's exposition (exposing!) of neo-Darwinism.  First, two assumption he does not state: (1) since persons/personhood/personality--divine or human--won't hold still while the scientific method operates on it, to the scienctific method persons/personhood/personality is a noncategory, does not exist; (2) since the negative function of "natural selection" is to eliminate the notion of "supernatural selection," the phrase is not scientific but philosophical.
The means of "natural selection" is "the survival of the fittest."  How define "the fittest"?  Arithmetically, by the relative number of survivors.  A simple-minded circularity: The fittest are the survivors!  The illogic should (but doesn't!) bar the doctrine from the domain of science.  (I add this: "That natural selection directs the course of evolution Darwin could not prove by an appeal to facts."--p.x, Introduction to the 1928 Everyman's Library edition of Darwin's THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES--which, however, accurately preserves the first edition's reference to God [p.462]: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one....")  "Tautology" is the literary word for such circularity.
    Now consider "chance," the alleged "natural selection" process for arriving at the product, "the fittest" as survivors.  Mathematicians have shown the impossibility of chance-arriving at the present bio-complexity in the short span of four-five billion years, so frantic Darwinians have neologized moderating adjectives to modify the noun "chance"--but their linguistic desperation is unconcealable & their efforts, fruitless.  The plain fact is that the function of "chance" is to forbid non-chance, i.e., rational process, causation, or purpose (as the function of "natural" in natural selection is to forbid "supernatural").  The whole business of "chance" is "preposterous," fraudulent.  The fundamental evolutionistic dynamic is atheist, to eliminate transcendence--a materialistic motive Edwin Abbott exposed in FLATLAND (1884).  Huston's devastating conclusion: "A theory that claims to explain while standing with one foot in a tautology ["natural selection"] and the other in an explanatory void ["chance"] is in trouble."
    Now, fellow-confessors, why should we continue to let our children be in trouble (with transcendence being deprived of intellectual respectability)?  Should not this intellectually fraudulent, disrespectfull, & disrespectable pseudo-science be in trouble--trouble caused by the likes of us?
 
In LIFE AFTER GOD, Douglas Coopland--who gave "Generation X" its name--describes "the first generation raised without religion."  His short stories show the crippling (can't love, be kind, give).  As I'm a compulsive confronter of strangers as to their religion, I can confirm Coupland's assertion: I've met scores of Generation Xers who've been taught to make sense of life entirely without religion, have had no experience of religion (e.g., have never been to Sunday school), have no sense of "sin" (no guilt or shame with any transcendent reference), & no inclination to expose themselves to religion--indeed,many with a disinclination to expose themselves to religion.  And my impression is that the brighter they are, the more immune to religion.  As they come to leadership in all phases of American life, atheism's pace will increase, our population soon becoming as secular as is Europe's.  Are we believers not sweating the small stuff while being finessed by materialistic, pseudo-scientific thieves of our children's minds?
 
QUESTION:  Should Confessing Christ--should the UCC--have nothing to say about this crisis of the American soul?  Are we to continue to let the intellectually-deficient fundamentalists continue to bear the whole burden of the defense of transcendence?
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
 

Matt

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Feb 8, 2007, 10:10:21 AM2/8/07
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Willis,

Beware of making generalizations based on people you meet on Internet
chat sites. In my experience, those who participate in these fora
are, as a group, more angry and extreme in their views than the
general population. The people you are conversing with may be
representative of those who made "The God Delusion" a best-seller,
they aren't representative of much else.

In fact, as a member of Generation X who attended public school for 9
years, I don't recognize myself, my friends or my education in your
description. Yes, now that it is socially acceptable not to profess
any particular religious belief, a number of people (many of whose
grandparents filled pews in mainline churches) have stopped paying lip-
service to faith.

Two observations on this:

1. I don't think it's obvious that this is a bad thing. To be true
to its call, the church always must be a prophetic voice in society.
Truly devout Christians will likely always be a minority in America.
Allowing those who don't share our beliefs to leave the church without
social stigma frees the rest of us to build a more authentic and
faithful church.

2. The church's problem attracting young people today (and I agree
there is a problem) is largely due to the ascendance of conservatism
among Catholics and evangelicals, and the tepid response by the rest
of us to this ascendance. People my age-especially educated people-
overwhelmingly embrace equal rights for women and gays, accept
scientific explanations for the origin of species, and oppose wars of
aggression. Considering the conservative voices we have allowed to
become the public face of Christianity in America, is it any surprise
that young people think the church has nothing to offer them?

In closing, I have many friends who are secular. As a group, they are
no less capable than my Christian friends of love, kindness, and
generosity. If anything, my secular friends are less materialistic
than my Christian friends. Perhaps this is an indictment of the
American church, but I prefer to see it as a reminder of Christ's
instruction to check the beam in our own eye, before tending to the
speck in our brother's.

Peace,
Matt

link...@aol.com

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Feb 8, 2007, 11:28:28 AM2/8/07
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Dear Willis,

Let the god of transcendence fight his own battles, for he will soon
enough turn on us after he is done with scientific materialism. But,
"Fear not, little flock! It is the Father's good pleasure to give to
you the kingdom!"

The peace of Christ be with you, my friend!

Jim Link

On Feb 8, 1:17 am, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:

Trost, Theodore

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Feb 8, 2007, 1:39:29 PM2/8/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com
Willis wrote:
>>>
From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics
(washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500
posts!). . . .
<<<
Looks like you've found a receptive and impressive forum! More power to
you!


I think I agree with Jim Link. I think God can handle the situation.
On the other hand, the problem seems to be not what the public schools
teach but what the churches don't teach. And that has always been
Confessing Christ's concern.

Ted

-----Original Message-----
From: Confessi...@googlegroups.com
[mailto:Confessi...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of
link...@aol.com
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 10:28 AM
To: Confessing Christ Open Forum
Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America


Dear Willis,

Let the god of transcendence fight his own battles, for he will soon
enough turn on us after he is done with scientific materialism. But,
"Fear not, little flock! It is the Father's good pleasure to give to
you the kingdom!"

The peace of Christ be with you, my friend!

Jim Link

On Feb 8, 1:17 am, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Confessors:
>
From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics
(washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500
posts!), I've deepened my worry that America's public schools are
rapidly atheizing our people's thinking even though their
religion-practice (i.e., church-going) is not yet in steep decline.
>

ETC.

Matt

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Feb 8, 2007, 3:45:16 PM2/8/07
to Confessing Christ Open Forum

I just spent some time reading posts on the "God's Hostages" message
board. God bless you, Willis, for reaching out to these folks, but
there's no need to fear that my generation, or society in general, is
drifting in this direction. There always have been angry, bitter
people in the world, and on this side of the eschaton, there always
will be. The Internet has simply given them megaphones and a place to
congregate.

On Feb 8, 1:39 pm, "Trost, Theodore" <ttr...@as.ua.edu> wrote:
> Willis wrote:
>
> From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics
> (washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500
> posts!). . . .
> <<<
> Looks like you've found a receptive and impressive forum! More power to
> you!
>
> I think I agree with Jim Link. I think God can handle the situation.
> On the other hand, the problem seems to be not what the public schools
> teach but what the churches don't teach. And that has always been
> Confessing Christ's concern.
>
> Ted
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Confessi...@googlegroups.com
>
> [mailto:Confessi...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of

> linkc...@aol.com


> Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 10:28 AM
> To: Confessing Christ Open Forum
> Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America
>
> Dear Willis,
>
> Let the god of transcendence fight his own battles, for he will soon
> enough turn on us after he is done with scientific materialism. But,
> "Fear not, little flock! It is the Father's good pleasure to give to
> you the kingdom!"
>
> The peace of Christ be with you, my friend!
>
> Jim Link
>
> On Feb 8, 1:17 am, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> > Confessors:
>
> From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics
> (washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500
> posts!), I've deepened my worry that America's public schools are
> rapidly atheizing our people's thinking even though their
> religion-practice (i.e., church-going) is not yet in steep decline.
>

> ETC.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 3:49:24 PM2/8/07
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Ted & Jim:
 
Your pious passivity reminds me of what in 1812 a London shoemaker who wanted to be a missionary to India was told by the church committee who refused to support him: "If God wants to convert the heathen, he'll do it in his own way and time: he doesn't need you."
 
Further, Ted, your denial that there's a problem in "what the public schools teach"--your dismissal of the evidence I offered--amazes me.  Of course I agree that "Confessing Christ's [primary] concern" should be "what the churches don't teach."  Well, one prophylactic-against-scientism that the churches don't & should teach is that the pseudo-scientific but poetic phrase "natural selection" smuggles the personal element into an allegedly scientific-impersonal process: rather than an animal breeder or God, "nature"-personalized does the "selecting."  No small fraud: does not the God of Truth want us to try to protect our children against frauds?
 
Grace and peace--
Willis

link...@aol.com

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Feb 8, 2007, 4:51:04 PM2/8/07
to Confessing Christ Open Forum
Dear Willis,

I agree with your critique of the phrase "natural selection." And we
would do well speak to the scientists and school boards among us about
this. However, we should do this as active missionaries of the God who
is Father, Son and Holy Spirit rather than as spokespersons of the god
(Note the small "g"!) of transcendence or of a god of theism.

And, maybe, just maybe, what they needed in India was a shoemaker
rather than another half-cocked imperialist missionary! But I am not
the judge in this matter!

Jim

On Feb 8, 3:49�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Ted & Jim:
>
> Your pious passivity reminds me of what in 1812 a London shoemaker who wanted to be a missionary to India was told by the church committee who refused to support him: "If God wants to convert the heathen, he'll do it in his own way and time: he doesn't need you."
>
> Further, Ted, your denial that there's a problem in "what the public schools teach"--your dismissal of the evidence I offered--amazes me.  Of course I agree that "Confessing Christ's [primary] concern" should be "what the churches don't teach."  Well, one prophylactic-against-scientism that the churches don't & should teach is that the pseudo-scientific but poetic phrase "natural selection" smuggles the personal element into an allegedly scientific-impersonal process: rather than an animal breeder or God, "nature"-personalized does the "selecting."  No small fraud: does not the God of Truth want us to try to protect our children against frauds?
>
> Grace and peace--
> Willis
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Trost, Theodore" <ttr...@as.ua.edu>
> To: <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
> Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 12:39 PM
> Subject: RE: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America
>
> Willis wrote:
>
> From being daily in conversation with some hundred atheists/agnostics
> (washingtonpost/onfaith/SamHarris/God'sHostages, so far ca.1,500
> posts!). . . .
> <<<
> Looks like you've found a receptive and impressive forum!  More power to
> you!
>
> I think I agree with Jim Link.  I think God can handle the situation.
> On the other hand, the problem seems to be not what the public schools
> teach but what the churches don't teach.  And that has always been
> Confessing Christ's concern.
>

> Ted-----Original Message-----

> linkc...@aol.com

Trost, Theodore

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Feb 8, 2007, 5:33:47 PM2/8/07
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Willis:

It sounds like you have a receptive and energized audience elsewhere.  That's wonderful.

Where I live, the state biology text book has a sticker on it that proclaims, in effect:  Darwinism is only a theory; it cannot be proven since no one was present at the time of the creation.  Jesus and the flag are worshipped in about equal measure in the classroom my oldest boy sits in.  Frankly, I'd welcome a lot more atheism there.  It's easier to teach my children to recognize and reject a transparent atheism than to combat the patriotic and self-righteous Christianity they get at PUBLIC school.

 

As they say at Verner Elementary:  Have a blessed day!  Ted

 


Scott Paeth

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Feb 8, 2007, 5:37:40 PM2/8/07
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When I want something to go the group, it goes to one person; when I want it to go to one person, it goes to the group!

At any rate, I posted this reply earlier today to Willis’s remarks, but for some reason they got sent only to him. I intended them for the group:


Willis,

As is often the case, I hesitate to get into this with you because I’m not sure it will be productive, but nonetheless I think you make a major error in citing Hick as your source, since his analysis demonstrates that he has ABSOLUTELY ZERO knowledge of what evolutionary theory actually says. He’s drunk the cool aid on intelligent design and he hasn’t looked into the issue deeply from the point of view of those who actually teach the topic.

To take your points one at a time:

The means of "natural selection" is "the survival of the fittest."  How define "the fittest"?  Arithmetically, by the relative number of survivors.  A simple-minded circularity: The fittest are the survivors!  The illogic should (but doesn't!) bar the doctrine from the domain of science.  (I add this: "That natural selection directs the course of evolution Darwin could not prove by an appeal to facts."--p.x, Introduction to the 1928 Everyman's Library edition of Darwin's THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES--which, however, accurately preserves the first edition's reference to God [p.462]: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one....")  "Tautology" is the literary word for such circularity.

If natural selection really simply meant “survival of those who survive,” you would be right. Karl Popper made this very point decades ago as an example of an irrefutable (and thus unscientific) theory. But Popper was wrong, and so is Hick, and so are you.

Natural selection is not “survival of those who survive” because “fitness” doesn’t equal “survival.” Rather, natural selection is the survival of those TRAITS that enable species to A) be better adapted to their environment than competitors (i.e., “survive” in your sense) and B) pass on those traits to the next generation (that is to say, REPRODUCE). That second characteristic, reproduction is not the equivalent of “survival” but is a separate, essential term in the understanding of what “fitness” means.

If I have an advantageous adaptive mutation that enables me to survive  better than my competitors, but at the same time renders me infertile, then it doesn’t matter that I survive, I am not “fit” in a Darwinian sense.

To your second point:

Now consider "chance," the alleged "natural selection" process for arriving at the product, "the fittest" as survivors.  Mathematicians have shown the impossibility of chance-arriving at the present bio-complexity in the short span of four-five billion years, so frantic Darwinians have neologized moderating adjectives to modify the noun "chance"--but their linguistic desperation is unconcealable & their efforts, fruitless.  The plain fact is that the function of "chance" is to forbid non-chance, i.e., rational process, causation, or purpose (as the function of "natural" in natural selection is to forbid "supernatural").  The whole business of "chance" is "preposterous," fraudulent.

Once again, if you had the slightest idea of what you were talking about, you’d realize that  the “preposterous” and “fraudulent” claims are your own.

First, “mathematicians” have established no such thing as you’ve suggested. On the contrary, there are computer models that can demonstrate quite clearly the possibility of well adapted complex systems developing in the span of four-five billion years.

You’re probably referring to the pseudo-mathematical posturings of William Dembski. Dembski is a fraud whom nobody should take seriously. Here’s why: Dembski’s model of “specified complexity” assumes that when attempting to determine the likelihood of a given pattern coming about randomly, that you have the pattern in mind from the outset. In other words, that evolution is a teleological process. But evolution is NOT teleological. It is not more unlikely, from a mathematical perspective, that, say, an eye should develop from a process of natural selection than that some other arbitrary result should take place. It’s only mathematically unlikely because you are separating this singular event (i.e., the one that took place), from the billions of other equally singular events that COULD have taken place, but didn’t. Those events were equally unlikely. PROSPECTIVELY, any one of them could have occurred. It’s only RETROSPECTIVELY that we look at the one that did and say it’s unlikely.

Any mathematician worth his salt knows this. Indeed, it’s been pointed out to Dembski. He chooses to ignore it, and that is what makes him a fraud.

Second, on the subject of “chance.” Rhetoric alone is not argument, and accusing evolutionary theories of “linguistic desperation” is not a demonstration that this is what’s going on. I can only assume you mean the arguments of people like Richard Dawkins, who argue, quite cogently, that evolution is not “random” in the same way that say, drawing letters from a bag for scrabble is random. On the contrary, there is a mechanism that governs the process of evolution, namely, adaptation to environment. Variations that contribute to survival (and reproduction) are favored and variations that don’t are disfavored. Evolution is not, therefore, random but follows a comprehensible pattern. But, and this is key, the pattern is not determined by an outside consciousness (at least, from the limited perspective of what science is competent to investigate), but it is determined by the environmental effects on species, their abilities to adapt, and their ability to pass those adaptive qualities on to successive generations.

So you’re right: “chance,” in the scrabble drawing sense, is “preposterous.” It is equally preposterous to propose that this is what evolution theorizes. Again, Dembski should know this, and so should Hick. If you’re relying on them, you’ve hitched your wagon to a falling star.


Now, fellow-confessors, why should we continue to let our children be in trouble (with transcendence being deprived of intellectual respectability)?  Should not this intellectually fraudulent, disrespectfull, & disrespectable pseudo-science be in trouble--trouble caused by the likes of us?

I am all for causing trouble for the purveyors of pseudo-science, Willis. And that’s why I’ll go to the mat to keep the “intellectually fraudulent, disrespectful, and disrespectable pseudoscience” of Intelligent Design out of biology classrooms, where it has nothing to offer but obscurantism and ignorance.

Scott

--

Scott Paeth, PhD.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
DePaul University
(773) 325-4447

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room!"

Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 10:15:43 PM2/8/07
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Thanks for your witness & cautions, Matt.

As for "generalizations based on people you meet on Internet chat sites," yes--some on the forum I referred to are "more angry and extreme in their views than the general population", but many are not: many are cool, thoughtful (some even brilliant), inquiring (every day I get interrogatives that are not indicatives in disguise).
 
My generalizations are based far more on wide study & such personal experience (of your Generation X & others) as I reported on in the post to which you've responded.
 
But do you mean to suggest that the problem I addressed in "Subject" is illusory, or at least of less weight than I give it?
 
Subsequent to that "Subject," I've finished up on head-of-the-Human-Genome-Project Francis S. Collins, THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press/06).  I'm better informed of the problem, & no less concerned.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis

Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 10:42:31 PM2/8/07
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Matt wrote:
 
>"...there's no need to fear that my generation, or society in general, is
> drifting in this direction."
 
Thanks for checking out that particular forum, Matt.
Agreed, "this direction" being anti-God.
 
But the burden of my post was the increasing numbers of god-less, for whom (as I reported from extensive personal experience of them) religion is not a minus but a zero.  The scientistic worldview they learned in public (or private) school has no need for religion, which is therefore non-sense (i.e., useless for sense-making).  My post was oriented to the future, not to the post-ers on anti-God fora.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis

herb.davis

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Feb 8, 2007, 10:49:03 PM2/8/07
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Dear Scott,  Thanks for your good note.  I would hope most of our seminary students would have your note in there head and heart.  Intelligence Design is phony science and phone theology.  Francis Collins who was the head of the Human Genome Project has written a book which tries in a gentle. honest way to  talks with the conservative evangelicals about evolution.  It is not great theology and he is probably more  in the camp of the “transcendence or of a god of theism” that Jim mentions.  Nevertheless it is an attempt by a Christian to witness to his faith and be faithful to his vocation.  The book is, “The Language of God” a good example of a scientist who is trying to be faithful.  Peace, Herb

 

 


Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 11:00:41 PM2/8/07
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Jim:
 
I'm puzzled.  Maybe that shoemaker shouldn't have become (as he did) a Christian missionary to India, but we should be Christian missionaries to America's schoolboards?  Our case is not about any particular deity but about purifying the teaching of "science," which is now corrupted by anti-transcendent (secular-materialist) philosophy.  Education cannot be "liberal," free, when the ideology of scientism is allowed to be taught as science.  (Would that the 1884 classic, FLATLAND, were required reading!)
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----
To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 3:51 PM
Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America


Dear Willis,

Willis Elliott

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Feb 8, 2007, 11:06:36 PM2/8/07
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How sad, Ted, that "theory" (as in "music theory," the principles of music) can be read as "hypothesis" (a heuristic process of indeterminates)!
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 4:33 PM
Subject: RE: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 1:03:19 AM2/9/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com, Richard Coleman
Thanks, Scott, for taking this issue seriously enough to engage me on it.
 
Your first paragraph is puzzling.  Who's this "Hick" you refer to & I didn't (far from his being my "source")?  You & I are against ID ("intelligent design") & he's for it, so why lug him in?
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 4:37 PM
Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America

Willis,

As is often the case, I hesitate to get into this with you because I’m not sure it will be productive, but nonetheless I think you make a major error in citing Hick as your source, since his analysis demonstrates that he has ABSOLUTELY ZERO knowledge of what evolutionary theory actually says. He’s drunk the cool aid on intelligent design and he hasn’t looked into the issue deeply from the point of view of those who actually teach the topic.

To take your points one at a time:

The means of "natural selection" is "the survival of the fittest."  How define "the fittest"?  Arithmetically, by the relative number of survivors.  A simple-minded circularity: The fittest are the survivors!  The illogic should (but doesn't!) bar the doctrine from the domain of science.  (I add this: "That natural selection directs the course of evolution Darwin could not prove by an appeal to facts."--p.x, Introduction to the 1928 Everyman's Library edition of Darwin's THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES--which, however, accurately preserves the first edition's reference to God [p.462]: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one....")  "Tautology" is the literary word for such circularity.
If natural selection really simply meant “survival of those who survive,” you would be right. Karl Popper made this very point decades ago as an example of an irrefutable (and thus unscientific) theory. But Popper was wrong, and so is Hick, and so are you.

Natural selection is not “survival of those who survive” because “fitness” doesn’t equal “survival.” Rather, natural selection is the survival of those TRAITS that enable species to A) be better adapted to their environment than competitors (i.e., “survive” in your sense) and B) pass on those traits to the next generation (that is to say, REPRODUCE). That second characteristic, reproduction is not the equivalent of “survival” but is a separate, essential term in the understanding of what “fitness” means.

If I have an advantageous adaptive mutation that enables me to survive  better than my competitors, but at the same time renders me infertile, then it doesn’t matter that I survive, I am not “fit” in a Darwinian sense.
Nuance accepted, Scott.  But "survival of the fittest traits" does not entirely escape circularity.

To your second point:

Now consider "chance," the alleged "natural selection" process for arriving at the product, "the fittest" as survivors.  Mathematicians have shown the impossibility of chance-arriving at the present bio-complexity in the short span of four-five billion years, so frantic Darwinians have neologized moderating adjectives to modify the noun "chance"--but their linguistic desperation is unconcealable & their efforts, fruitless.  The plain fact is that the function of "chance" is to forbid non-chance, i.e., rational process, causation, or purpose (as the function of "natural" in natural selection is to forbid "supernatural").  The whole business of "chance" is "preposterous," fraudulent.

Once again, if you had the slightest idea of what you were talking about, you’d realize that  the “preposterous” and “fraudulent” claims are your own.

First, “mathematicians” have established no such thing as you’ve suggested. On the contrary, there are computer models that can demonstrate quite clearly the possibility of well adapted complex systems developing in the span of four-five billion years.

You’re probably referring to the pseudo-mathematical posturings of William Dembski. Dembski is a fraud whom nobody should take seriously. Here’s why: Dembski’s model of “specified complexity” assumes that when attempting to determine the likelihood of a given pattern coming about randomly, that you have the pattern in mind from the outset. In other words, that evolution is a teleological process. But evolution is NOT teleological. It is not more unlikely, from a mathematical perspective, that, say, an eye should develop from a process of natural selection than that some other arbitrary result should take place. It’s only mathematically unlikely because you are separating this singular event (i.e., the one that took place), from the billions of other equally singular events that COULD have taken place, but didn’t. Those events were equally unlikely. PROSPECTIVELY, any one of them could have occurred. It’s only RETROSPECTIVELY that we look at the one that did and say it’s unlikely.

Any mathematician worth his salt knows this. Indeed, it’s been pointed out to Dembski. He chooses to ignore it, and that is what makes him a fraud.
No, not Dembski.  My reference was to a pre-Dembski philosopher at MIT (indeed, the first philosopher ever to have a full professorship at MIT: Huston Smith (whose pertinent article I gave y'all the online link to).  And no, "preposterous" was not a claim of mine; it's Smith's. (I'm beginning to wonder, Scott, whether you "have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.")


Second, on the subject of “chance.” Rhetoric alone is not argument, and accusing evolutionary theories of “linguistic desperation” is not a demonstration that this is what’s going on. I can only assume you mean the arguments of people like Richard Dawkins, who argue, quite cogently, that evolution is not “random” in the same way that say, drawing letters from a bag for scrabble is random. On the contrary, there is a mechanism that governs the process of evolution, namely, adaptation to environment. Variations that contribute to survival (and reproduction) are favored and variations that don’t are disfavored. Evolution is not, therefore, random but follows a comprehensible pattern. But, and this is key, the pattern is not determined by an outside consciousness (at least, from the limited perspective of what science is competent to investigate), but it is determined by the environmental effects on species, their abilities to adapt, and their ability to pass those adaptive qualities on to successive generations.

So you’re right: “chance,” in the scrabble drawing sense, is “preposterous.” It is equally preposterous to propose that this is what evolution theorizes. Again, Dembski should know this, and so should Hick. If you’re relying on them, you’ve hitched your wagon to a falling star.
 
(What, Hick & Demski AGAIN?)  No disagreement with you here on MICRO-evolution.  As for your sentence beginning "Evolution is not," I'd put it as "Evolution is random within pattern."  "Random v. Directive" was in philosophical vogue in '41, when Smith & I first conversed about it (as we were on our U.Chicago PhDs).  In his article, Smith deals with the unscientific scientistic MACRO-evolutionary notion of "chance" not as descriptive but as explanatory (the latter, as an alternative to transcendence [the religions]).  NOTE to the credit of Emory U.: throughout the academic year '72-'73, doctoral students from all the university's schools gathered every Wed. afternoon & evening to hear each Wed. a different scholar (covering all disciplines) on the subject of "transcendence."  I was impressed with the vigor & insightfulness of the questions when my turn (representing biblical theology) came.  (Loree remembers the occasion for my not having shaved since.)


Now, fellow-confessors, why should we continue to let our children be in trouble (with transcendence being deprived of intellectual respectability)?  Should not this intellectually fraudulent, disrespectfull, & disrespectable pseudo-science be in trouble--trouble caused by the likes of us?
I am all for causing trouble for the purveyors of pseudo-science, Willis. And that’s why I’ll go to the mat to keep the “intellectually fraudulent, disrespectful, and disrespectable pseudoscience” of Intelligent Design out of biology classrooms, where it has nothing to offer but obscurantism and ignorance.
Since I also am for keeping "Intelligent Design out of biology classrooms," your note fails to address my concern.  It's an enemy of both science & religion--of religion, because it proposes the supernatural as necessary to explain bio-complexity, submitting the religion chip in a poker game in which religion is (unnecesssarily) at risk.  "Intelligent Design fails...to qualify as a scientific theory....[It's] a scientific dead end."--p.187, (head-of-the-Human-Genome-Project) Francis S. Collins, THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press/06).  I "did" this splendid new book today.  It's for science keeping its cottonpickin' mouth out of religion's territory--as in this quote from Stephen Jay Gould (p.165): "Science simply cannot by its legitimate methods adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature."  When in biology class (1931) I brought up the question of the creation/evolution relationship, the teacher said "Well, you'll just have to choose between science and religion, won't you?"  For teachers of a first course in science, I designed an introductory session in which an advance is made beyond the stupidity of my 1931 teacher (& beyond what I've come to know about today's highschool science).  I'm for "nonoverlapping magisteria," science not invading religion & religion not invading science: the siblings need separate rooms.  My family metaphor comes from Richard J. Coleman's excellent COMPETING TRUTHS: Theology and Science as Sibling Rivals (Trinity Press International/01).
 
And I must add this, Scott.  I was disappointed with the nasty, haughty tone of your post.  It was unworthy of a Christian and a scholar.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis


Scott Paeth

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Feb 9, 2007, 8:43:46 AM2/9/07
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Willis,

Sorry — brain blip. I do it all the time. For some reason, I keep getting Huston Smith and John Hick confused in my mind, even when their names are right in front of me. I’ve been doing it for years.

Nevertheless, I’m puzzled. You DO cite Smith’s critique of Darwinian evolution, and near as I can tell you are agreeing with it at every turn. He IS defending ID, and you seem to be too. Sometimes I find your style very confusing, so perhaps you were arguing against what you seemed to be arguing for. Regardless, I’m sorry if I misinterpreted.

Perhaps your argument wasn’t against the Darwinian theory of evolution per se, but against “scientism” -- the cult of believing that everything can be explained by science. In that case I’m right with you. But you must still give science credit for what it CAN explain given its own parameters, and in that regard Darwinian evolutionary theory is a very robust and well-supported research program and ID is not.

Anyway, I’d welcome any clarifying remarks.

Scott

link...@aol.com

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Feb 9, 2007, 10:00:36 AM2/9/07
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Willis,

As you said, "our case is not about any particular deity" but, our
case is about being witnesses of the Lord, who in six days created the
heavens and the earth, which, so far as geology and natural science
can determine, have evolved cosmologically and biologically over the
course of billions of years. Nor, insofar as we are theologians, are
we here to "purify science" but rather to purify, as best we can, our
preaching of the word of God, a word, of course, which is weekly
addressed to scientists and school board members. They will purify
science, insofar as they are faithful scientists and school board
members. In pursuit of this "pure preaching of the Word of
God," [Barth] I find nothing good to say in favor of either the god
of transendence or of theism, or of the concept of an intelligent
designer. I shudder at the thought of my 10 year old and 8 year old
being taught "Intelligent Design" and "theism" in school. Give me
"natural selection" any day, for at least this phrase, dubious as it
might be, can be interpreted in a non-idolatrous manner.

Jim

On Feb 8, 11:00�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim:
>
> I'm puzzled.  Maybe that shoemaker shouldn't have become (as he did) a Christian missionary to India, but we should be Christian missionaries to America's schoolboards?  Our case is not about any particular deity but about purifying the teaching of "science," which is now corrupted by anti-transcendent (secular-materialist) philosophy.  Education cannot be "liberal," free, when the ideology of scientism is allowed to be taught as science.  (Would that the 1884 classic, FLATLAND, were required reading!)
>
> Grace and peace--
> Willis----- Original Message -----

> From: <linkc...@aol.com>

Trost, Theodore

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Feb 9, 2007, 10:28:41 AM2/9/07
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Willis wrote:

How sad, Ted, that "theory" (as in "music theory," the principles of music) can be read as "hypothesis" (a heuristic process of indeterminates)!

>>> 

Precisely, Willis.  And theory exists here in opposition to fact, i.e, the "fact" of creation as told in the Bible BY God who WAS there at the beginning to witness it.  I somehow doubt that you taught Bible this way when you were in seminary; I know you do not teach it this way now.

Ted

 


From: Confessi...@googlegroups.com [mailto:Confessi...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Willis Elliott


Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 10:07 PM
To: Confessi...@googlegroups.com

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 12:26:52 PM2/9/07
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Ted:
 
I take it that the "here" in your second sentence refers to that fundamentalist label on your son's PS science textbook.
 
I can date when I rejected the fundamentalist notion that "theory" is antonymic to "fact": in seminary the summer of '37.  Since I didn't begin teaching in seminary until five years later, of course I never taught Bible fundamentalistically in seminary (indeed, for teaching Bible [especially Hebrew & Greek] antifundamentalistically, I was "let go" by three conservative
seminaries)....To trope the Holy Book, "When my mother and my father forsake me, the UCC will take me up."
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 9:28 AM
Subject: RE: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 6:16:31 PM2/9/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com, Richard Coleman
Jim:
 
1    "Our case" is about YEC (young-earth creationism)?  This "our" does not include me. 
 
2    While I'm with Barth & you on purifying our teaching/preaching of the word of God, why do you confine us to our pulpits & lecterns?  Secularists are happy with such self-confinement on the part of religion, keeping religion's critique-of-culture out of the public square.
More than one PS administrator has told me personally & in ecumenical group to stay out of PS affairs & stop complaining about school sports taking over Sunday morning: should we not complain when the PS takes over our children's minds with subtle, anti-transcendence (including anti-God) ideology?  Rather, I go with everybody's obligation to participate in purification-transformatin-renovation-renewal (Hebrew "tikkun") of "all things," including what our children are taught in PS.
 
3    So "the word of God...is weekly addressed to scientists and school board members"?  Would it were more so!  But I agree with you that "purifying science" is not primarily a task for theologians but for "scientists and school board members,"
who'll perform the tasks insofar as they are "faithful."  So now, has religion no responsibility to confront "scientists and school board members" as to whether they are "faithful"?  Faithful to what?  To science, the business of science.
 
4    So what is the business of science?  Science teachers (& all who are concerned about science/religion separation/antagonism/cooperation) can't find a better beginning point for answering than Wikipedia-via-Google "science"--a model of simple-clear-accurate writing.  "Break clean!" yells the ump when pugilists become interlocked, & Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA ("nonoverlapping magisteria," separating religion & science) is our ump here.   But science's "how" & religion's "why" tend to overlap/compete--the victory of either impoverishing human life: science without religion shrinks the mind down into impersonal materialism (the personal disappearing, as consciousness ["mind"] is nothing but a functioning of matter ["brain"); & religion without science confines the mind to personalistic superstition (animism: everything being conscious, personal).
 
5    A precondition of cooperation between religion & science is the mutual recognition of the tendency of each to coopt the essence of & imperialize over the other.  "Intelligent Design" should be rejected for sneaking the personal dimension (in the form of intelligence) into science, which is about "how things work (natural science) and how people think and act (social sciences)" (in the first sentence of Wikipedia's "science" article).  For the same reason, "Natural Selection" should be rejected: into science, it smuggles the personal in the form of deliberative action, viz. acts of selecting).  How ironic that ID is a latter-day personalistic pollution of science in opposition to NS, an earlier-day personalistic pollution of science!  We should be laughing at both, but instead liberal religion is defending the old pollution against the new.
 
6    From the standpoint of science, the old pollution of science should be nailed as a poetic (unscientific) personalization of nature.  From the standpoint of religion, the old pollution of science should be nailed as a cooptation of monotheistic religion (Mother Nature unseating & excluding Father God to claim the whole territory).  Mother Nature & Father God are both as "jealous" of the other's sovereignty-claim as are the one-state politicians in Israel & among the Palestinians.  And sassy Mother Nature sings to glum Father God the old song "Anything you can do, I can do better."  Without this metaphoric-poetic personalization of bioprocess as "selection," school science would have no atheizing effect.
 
So, Jim, do you agree that we all who see this point of unnecessary "warfare between religion and science" have an obligation to cooperate to "purify science" of this pollution and hybris?
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----

gdeme...@msn.com

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Feb 9, 2007, 6:56:43 PM2/9/07
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When I started my PhD studies at the University of Connecticut in 1979 and was having a hard time writing a cogent historical essay, the professor seeking to mentor me asked me something to the effect on what was the most important thing in historical causation related to any particular event that one might be seeking to grapple with.  I may not be recounting this exactly the way the interaction between he and I took place--a moment fof time, but the way he posed his question I could only say "God," with the unspoken rejoinder, "of course."  he understood my response, but told me (using my words here) that the "God factor" could not be factored in even as, one might say, plausible hypothesis, or if you would prefer, theory.  I got his point and I clearly understood where he (and the field) was coming from.  Yet, the result of eradicating God as a causal factor (ignoring the many problems attempting to factor that in poses for the time being) resulted in nothing less than the absolutizing of radical historicism as the underlying telos of modern/postmodern historical consciousness. 

 

The idolatry, if you will, is in the absolutizing of a temporal phenomenon and taking the whole matter of theistic transcendence off the table.  Such absolutizing of radical historicism (which is a far cry from taking history seriously) stayed with me for a very long time, years after I left the Ph.D program throughout the many phases of my "secular" writing in the philosophy, pedagogy, science, and politics of adult literacy education even as I struggled long and hard with the enduring echo of a Christian faith for a very long time, and obviously still do with some very different twists in the road.

 

Any effort, of course, to argue that God intervened in any given historical event goes well beyond what may be viewed as even-handed empirical evidence, though, if there were such a thing as a legitimate 20th century version of Christian historiography not confined to church issues, at the least there would be a stream of interpretation and analysis on par say with feminist or African-American studies which might have a considerably different hue than the various streams of secular historiography which is the only game in town. Moreover, the entire issue of radical historical absolutism would be under a sharper looking glass.

 

The broader issue, I believe, related to history, science, and other academic disciplines is the need to bring back theology as an independent body of study in its own right which, when not banned has been colonized by other academic metanarratives.

 

George Demetion

 

 

 

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 7:29:13 PM2/9/07
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Amen, George, to this from you:
 
The broader issue, I believe, related to history, science, and other academic disciplines is the need to bring back theology as an independent body of study in its own right which, when not banned has been colonized by other academic metanarratives.
Grace and peace--
Willis

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 8:07:47 PM2/9/07
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Ya got it, Scott:

Perhaps your argument wasn’t against the Darwinian theory of evolution per se, but against “scientism” -- the cult of believing that everything can be explained by science. In that case I’m right with you. But you must still give science credit for what it CAN explain given its own parameters, and in that regard Darwinian evolutionary theory is a very robust and well-supported research program and ID is not.

Yes to evolution as heuristic-descriptive, but no to evolutionism as doctrinal-explanatory (smuggling poetic personalism--nature as "selecting"--into properly-purely impersonal-scientific process.  The opposition of those two nouns & those two adjectives is the heart of Houston's article, which (you & I agree) is somewhat dated on details.
 
As for your saying John "Hick" when you mean Huston "Smith," I can match you for some confusions of my own!  It's easy when one sees only names & not faces. But I couldn't confuse those two guys (who are firmly in my face-to-face visual memory).
 
Doubtless you know of Huston's long-selling classic THE RELIGIONS OF MAN, PC-republished as THE WORLD'S RELIGION.  It reflects his right-out-of-college O-WOW! pro-conversional youthful enthusiasm for one religion after another, like going the round of one's favorite bars ('41-'42, when I had many lunches with him).  And you may have seen Bill Moyer's PBS conversations with him six successive Sunday evenings.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis

link...@aol.com

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Feb 9, 2007, 9:02:23 PM2/9/07
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Dear Willis,

Regarding your points:

1. I don't know what "young-earth creationism" is. God reveals himself
to us, through the Holy Scriptures, as the Creator of Heaven and Earth
and all that dwells therein. We don't have to make the case for him,
but we are his witnesses.

2.We are not confined, we are called by the Lord. It used to be
considered an honor to serve the people of God as they serve in the
world. Right now, I think our churches are in a lot more trouble than
the public schools, and the Lord has granted us more expertise in this
area, unless, of course, he hasn't.

3. Faithful to the Lord, and to our fellow human beings as He brings
them before us as the neighbors whom we are to love.

4.Which science? Theology is a science, whose "object" for examination
is the Word of God. Different sciences are examinations of different
objects. The natural sciences are, more or less, explorations of the
beauty and order of the world of which we are a part, the creation.

5. So come up with a better term than "natural selection"!

6. I could not care less about defending the dignity of "religion" or
"monotheistic religion." As I said in my first post, we would do well
to just let "religion" and "atheism" duke it out. Their feud is futile
and pointless, because both have turned their backs on the living
Lord.

On Feb 9, 6:16�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim:
>
> 1    "Our case" is about YEC (young-earth creationism)?  This "our" does not include me.  
>
> 2    While I'm with Barth & you on purifying our teaching/preaching of the word of God, why do you confine us to our pulpits & lecterns?  Secularists are happy with such self-confinement on the part of religion, keeping religion's critique-of-culture out of the public square.
> More than one PS administrator has told me personally & in ecumenical group to stay out of PS affairs & stop complaining about school sports taking over Sunday morning: should we not complain when the PS takes over our children's minds with subtle, anti-transcendence (including anti-God) ideology?  Rather, I go with everybody's obligation to participate in purification-transformatin-renovation-renewal (Hebrew "tikkun") of "all things," including what our children are taught in PS.
>
> 3    So "the word of God...is weekly addressed to scientists and school board members"?  Would it were more so!  But I agree with you that "purifying science" is not primarily a task for theologians but for "scientists and school board members,"
> who'll perform the tasks insofar as they are "faithful."  So now, has religion no responsibility to confront "scientists and school board members" as to whether they are "faithful"?  Faithful to what?  To science, the business of science.
>
> 4    So what is the business of science?  Science teachers (& all who are concerned about science/religion separation/antagonism/cooperation) can't find a better beginning point for answering than Wikipedia-via-Google "science"--a model of simple-clear-accurate writing.  "Break clean!" yells the ump when pugilists become interlocked, & Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA ("nonoverlapping magisteria," separating religion & science) is our ump here.   But science's "how" & religion's "why" tend to overlap/compete--the victory of either impoverishing human life: science without religion shrinks the mind down into impersonal materialism (the personal disappearing, as consciousness ["mind"] is nothing but a functioning of matter ["brain"); & religion without science confines the mind to personalistic superstition (animism: everything being conscious, personal).
>
> 5    A precondition of cooperation between religion & science is the mutual recognition of the tendency of each to coopt the essence of & imperialize over the other.  "Intelligent Design" should be rejected for sneaking the personal dimension (in the form of intelligence) into science, which is about "how things work (natural science) and how people think and act (social sciences)" (in the first sentence of Wikipedia's "science" article).  For the same reason, "Natural Selection" should be rejected: into science, it smuggles the personal in the form of deliberative action, viz. acts of selecting).  How ironic that ID is a latter-day personalistic pollution of science in opposition to NS, an earlier-day personalistic pollution of science!  We should be laughing at both, but instead liberal religion is defending the old pollution against the new.
>
> 6    From the standpoint of science, the old pollution of science should be nailed as a poetic (unscientific) personalization of nature.  From the standpoint of religion, the old pollution of science should be nailed as a cooptation of monotheistic religion (Mother Nature unseating & excluding Father God to claim the whole territory).  Mother Nature & Father God are both as "jealous" of the other's sovereignty-claim as are the one-state politicians in Israel & among the Palestinians.  And sassy Mother Nature sings to glum Father God the old song "Anything you can do, I can do better."  Without this metaphoric-poetic personalization of bioprocess as "selection," school science would have no atheizing effect.
>
> So, Jim, do you agree that we all who see this point of unnecessary "warfare between religion and science" have an obligation to cooperate to "purify science" of this pollution and hybris?
>
> Grace and peace--

> Willis----- Original Message -----
> From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>

> Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 9:00 AM
> Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America
>
> Willis,
>
> As you said, "our case is not about any particular deity" but, our
> case is about being witnesses of the Lord, who in six days created the
> heavens and the earth, which, so far as geology and natural science
> can determine, have evolved cosmologically and biologically over the
> course of billions of years. Nor, insofar as we are theologians, are
> we here to "purify science" but rather to purify, as best we can, our
> preaching of the word of God, a word, of course, which is weekly
> addressed to scientists and school board members. They will purify
> science, insofar as they are faithful scientists and school board
> members. In pursuit of this "pure preaching of the Word of
> God," [Barth] I find  nothing good to say in favor of either the god
> of transendence or of theism, or of the concept of an intelligent
> designer. I shudder at the thought of my 10 year old and 8 year old
> being taught "Intelligent Design" and "theism" in school. Give me
> "natural selection" any day, for at least this  phrase, dubious as it
> might be, can be interpreted in a non-idolatrous manner.
>
> Jim
>

> On Feb 8, 11:00?pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> > Jim:
>

> > I'm puzzled. ?Maybe that shoemaker shouldn't have become (as he did) a Christian missionary to India, but we should be Christian missionaries to America's schoolboards? ?Our case is not about any particular deity but about purifying the teaching of "science," which is now corrupted by anti-transcendent (secular-materialist) philosophy. ?Education cannot be "liberal," free, when the ideology of scientism is allowed to be taught as science. ?(Would that the 1884 classic, FLATLAND, were required reading!)


>
> > Grace and peace--
> > Willis----- Original Message -----
> > From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> > To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
> > Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 3:51 PM
> > Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America
>
> > Dear Willis,
>
> > I agree with your critique of the phrase "natural selection." And we
> > would do well speak to the scientists and school boards among us about
> > this. However, we should do this as active missionaries of the God who
> > is Father, Son and Holy Spirit rather than as spokespersons of the god

> > (Note the small "g"!) ?of transcendence or of a god of theism.

Willis Elliott

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Feb 9, 2007, 10:12:15 PM2/9/07
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Jim, thanks for your crisp replies.
 
1    YEC is the doctrine that creation occurred in a brief time--six days or 4,000 years or so.  (After writing this sentence, I asked Google-Wikipedia & within a few seconds of typing "young-earth creationism" was told six days or at most 6,000 years: why didn't you take a few seconds instead of asking me?  Only God knows more than Google.)
 
2    You say "our churches are in a lot more trouble than the public schools."  I am saying that the public schools are not in enough trouble--that they're sadly untroubled by their teaching of scientism as though it were science.
 
3    Amen!  And let's press "science" to be faithful to science.
 
4    In Amerispeech ( common talk in the USA), "science" means "natural science."  (I hope you read "science" in Google-Wikipedia.)
 
5    Great idea!  Any ideas?  Science predicts on the basis of observation-based & experiment-tested (verifiable/falsifiable) replicable "perceived reality."   Bio-change (fossil-&-living) is the perceived reality of evolution.  Biology calls this bio-change process "mutuation."  "Mutuation" is a scientific fact, a description of an aspect of reality: "natural selection" is a poetic personalistic riff on reality, & poetry does not qualify as science.  So here's one answer to your question: "The Origin of Species by Mutation."  Evolution as fact is mutuation; evolution as science is the study of mutuation.  The predictive value of the fruits of this study depends on many factors, heuristic inference being the basic process.
 
6    I'm puzzled.  Religion & atheism can't be fighting if their backs are to the living Lord.  You must mean their sides?  Or is the living Lord on both sides of the fight, so facing both their backs?  And during the fight, is the living Lord just standing there watching like a boxing-or-wrestling spectator?  Or is the living Lord too bored even to watch, considering that the fight is "futile and pointless"?  Jim, it's hard to believe that you (& God!) have no stake in the future of religion/monotheism.  Do you consider that your own faith falls in neither category?  No, I'm not mocking you.  I'm genuinely puzzled.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----
To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 8:02 PM
Subject: Re: The progressive evolutionistic ATHEIZING of America


Dear Willis,

link...@aol.com

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Feb 10, 2007, 11:16:35 AM2/10/07
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Dear Willis,

1. As for "YEC" I knew that you would be more succinct than Google and
would get to the point of why you were implying that I advocated such
a doctrine. You and I both know that in the OT six days is not a
"brief time," rather, it is the good long time a member of the people
of God must toil and labor before the sabbath rest at the end of the
week, which God provides in a reminder of his own satisfaction with
creation, that he himself rested on the seventh day and left off the
work of creating: "six days you shall labor and do all your toil, but
the seventh is a rest, so far as the LORD your God is concerned.
For..." Also, it is the time of work for which one has been refreshed
by the sabbath, the first day of the week, when the community gathers
to celebrate her risen Lord and here his word anew. "Creation is the
external basis of covenant." (Barth)

As for "or 4,000 years or so" do you mean "4,OO0 years ago"? The
bible makes no proclamation about how long ago creation occured,
because the event of creation is the absolute beginning of history, it
is the creation of history, the creation of the week, the day, the
year, time itself. Yet creation has its own history, if you would:
"When God began to create the heavens and the earth...) Gen. 1:1

2. Schools are doing a better job at doing what they do than the
church is in doing what it does.

3. "scientists to be faithful to their calling."

4. Insofar as we are theologians, we are scientists. We need not be
ashamed of this.

5. "Mutation" would not be accurate. As someone pointed out, without
propagation there is no evolution. How about the origin of species "by
progagation" : "be fruitful and multiply" every plant and fruit
"bearing its seed"?

6. "...we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are
under the power of sin." (Rom. 3:9) God has ignored neither side, he
has judged them both and altogether in and through the suffering and
death of our Lord Jesus Christ, judged us all according to his mercy
revealed in the resurrection of the same.

On Feb 9, 10:12�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim, thanks for your crisp replies.
>
> 1    YEC is the doctrine that creation occurred in a brief time--six days or 4,000 years or so.  (After writing this sentence, I asked Google-Wikipedia & within a few seconds of typing "young-earth creationism" was told six days or at most 6,000 years: why didn't you take a few seconds instead of asking me?  Only God knows more than Google.)
>
> 2    You say "our churches are in a lot more trouble than the public schools."  I am saying that the public schools are not in enough trouble--that they're sadly untroubled by their teaching of scientism as though it were science.
>
> 3    Amen!  And let's press "science" to be faithful to science.
>
> 4    In Amerispeech ( common talk in the USA), "science" means "natural science."  (I hope you read "science" in Google-Wikipedia.)
>
> 5    Great idea!  Any ideas?  Science predicts on the basis of observation-based & experiment-tested (verifiable/falsifiable) replicable "perceived reality."   Bio-change (fossil-&-living) is the perceived reality of evolution.  Biology calls this bio-change process "mutuation."  "Mutuation" is a scientific fact, a description of an aspect of reality: "natural selection" is a poetic personalistic riff on reality, & poetry does not qualify as science.  So here's one answer to your question: "The Origin of Species by Mutation."  Evolution as fact is mutuation; evolution as science is the study of mutuation.  The predictive value of the fruits of this study depends on many factors, heuristic inference being the basic process.
>
> 6    I'm puzzled.  Religion & atheism can't be fighting if their backs are to the living Lord.  You must mean their sides?  Or is the living Lord on both sides of the fight, so facing both their backs?  And during the fight, is the living Lord just standing there watching like a boxing-or-wrestling spectator?  Or is the living Lord too bored even to watch, considering that the fight is "futile and pointless"?  Jim, it's hard to believe that you (& God!) have no stake in the future of religion/monotheism.  Do you consider that your own faith falls in neither category?  No, I'm not mocking you.  I'm genuinely puzzled.
>
> Grace and peace--

> Willis----- Original Message -----
> From: <linkc...@aol.com>

Willis Elliott

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Feb 11, 2007, 8:15:37 AM2/11/07
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Jim:
 
1    Yes, 4,000 years ago (as I said, Wikipedia has 6,000.  That is "Young-Earth" time.  Pathetic literalism, & a disgrace to the Faith.
 
4    Yes.  Theologians were scientists before there were (in the modern sense) scientists.  And certainly we shouldn't be ashamed of it, though our ways & deposit ("lore") of knowing is of a now less popularly known dimension.
 
5    You are right to seek/ask for a non-personalistic alternative to "natural selection."  "Propagation" suggests only repetition, not change.  I suggested "mutation" because it does suggest all changes, but it fails to include progression & has the narrower technical meaning of one of a half dozen evolutionary mechanisms/processes.  "Variation" is slightly better: it adds variety as a change-product.  My search (in synonymies, including Webster's DICTIONARY OF SYNONYMS) came up with no English word untinged by the personal/mental/volutional: consciousness is an ineradicable element.
----- Original Message -----

Willis Elliott

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Feb 12, 2007, 4:52:44 PM2/12/07
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Jim:
 
Earlier today I began to address the "Subject" (above), thus:  You are right to seek/ask for a non-personalistic alternative to "natural selection."  "Propagation" suggests only repetition, not change.  I suggested "mutation" because it does suggest all changes, but it fails to include progression & has the narrower technical meaning of one of a half dozen evolutionary mechanisms/processes.  "Variation" is slightly better: it adds variety as a change-product.  My search (in synonymies, including Webster's DICTIONARY OF SYNONYMS) came up with no English word untinged by the personal/mental/volutional: consciousness is an ineradicable element.
 
Now (the  next day), while I still can suggest "no English word," I can suggest an English phrase: THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES by Progressive Integration (unless, indeed, "integration" connotes mental activity).  The phrase is in the title of an Indian classic, Vimalamita's PROGRESSIVE INTEGRATION OF THE MEANING OF MEDITATION; & in 1958 a Frenchman used it to signal the learning process, as a goal for teachers.  But I came across it last night in my 1941 exposition of the mysticism of Henry Nelson Wieman in comparison with Eckhardt & Sankara in the light of Rudolf Otto's DAS HEILIGE (THE IDEA OF THE HOLY), p.8: "God's [naturalistic-theistic] working" is "Progressive Integration (cf. flower)."  (Personal note:  That '41 paper was for Wieman's "Mysticism" class, & he wrote on it "A--good paper."  But he was irritated that he couldn't convert me to his impersonal deity; & on all subsequent papers in the three courses I had with him, he wrote "A--but must you believe in a personal god?"  For the pertinence of this question to this post's "Subject," see section 3 [below].)
 
The thesis of this post is that every explanation of origins (the universe, life) is mono-theistic: (1) mono-: of one comprehensive paradigm, excluding all others; (2) -theistic: devotional (awe-centered), with at least a tinge of the personal.
 
1    The monotheism of the Creator.  In addition to previous supports, thinkers now must face what Darwin & my science teachers did not have to face, viz. the fact that the universe is not (as they thought) eternal-&-therefore-necessary.  (Remember Arius?  Jesus was not necessary [so is no part of the eternal God], since "There was a time when he was not.")  Hume had argued that as eternal, the universe was necessary; & that something could arise without a cause is "an absurd proposition."  What would he say to post-Big-Bang atheists who insist that the Big-Bang was causeless?  Hume rejected the Bible's ex nihilo, that the material universe appeared "out of nothing": what would Hume say, now that the Big Bang agrees with the Bible? (Further quotes in this section are from Wm.Lane Craig's "The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe," Leadership U./1995-2007 [leadershipu.com].)  The universe "lacks at least one of the essential properties of necessary existence--eternality." The new situation confirms Sir Arthur Eddington's argument that the universe must have a supernatural cause: the reason for its existence cannot be immanent [the notion of self-causation being circular nonsense], must be ultra-mundane, transcendent.  This unnecessary universe "has its ground in a transcendent, metaphysically necessary being."  While an uncaused cause is nonsense, an unmoved mover (Aristotle, against the atomists) makes sense because it includes the personal element--but (Epicurus, Lucretius) "out of nothing nothing comes," which is a fundament of natural science.  (Richard Swinburne spelled out the two types-&-entities of causation, viz. natural & personal--the essential properties of persons being self-consciousness & free volition.)  Now, since space,  time, materiality, & physical power did not exist before the Big Bang, their causative entity must have been changeless, immaterial, & superior in power.  Craig's conclusion: "There exists a Personal Creator of the universe, who, sans the universe, is timeless, spaceless, beginningless, changeless, necessary, uncaused, and enormously powerful."  (Close to Thomas Aquinas' deity: SUMMA THEOLOGIAE 1a.2.3.)
    I should add "the Boston [U.] school of personalism" for corroborative evidencing of this first of my four monotheisms (in this post).  Best summary (obtainable from BUGraduateSchool): "Some Types of Personalism in the U.S.," the abstract of H.C.Weld's PhD dissertation, 1944: (1) PLURALISTIC personalism ("reality as a universal society of eternal persons"); (2) ABSOLUTISTIC personalism ("every fact in the universe is a part of the absolute self's experience"); (3) PLURAL-MONISTIC personalism (B.P.Bowne's "Boston-school" synthesis of the two, addressing "the individual, his corporate life, and the Supreme Being").
    When scientists speak as philosophers, many of them affirm the personal.  E.g., Stephen Hawking, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME [Bantam/98], p.144): "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us."  And when philosophers speak as scientists, some of
them criticize natural science as we know it (i.e., in its evolutionistic form) for unscietificallly misleading the public to abandon transcendence.  E.g., Huston Smith (in several volumes leading up to his THE SOUL OF CHRISTIANITY: Restoring the Great Tradition).
 
2    The monotheism of the Selector.  While the deity of the Creator is explicit, the deity in the work of "natural selection"  is implicit--quasi-personal but personal enough to be a "jealous" competitor, indeed successor, of the Creator.  No matter the philosophical efforts at reconciliation (e.g., "theistic evolution"), the either/or rivalry is societally stark--as in the either/or my biology teacher in 1931 presented me with after I said "That [evolution] is not what I learned in Sunday school":  "Well, you'll just have to choose between Sunday school and science, won't you?"   Does "natural selection" unnecessarily smuggle the personal into natural science?  Wieman's use of "progressive integration" says yes only if "integration" is taken as connoting mental (& therefore personal) activity--a connotation Wieman disallows.
 
3    The monotheism of the Initiator.  "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em."  Concluding that natural science had made impossible the continuation of belief in a three-story or two-story (horizontally-split stage) universe, some philosophers rejected transcendence-as-reality though granting the poetic continuation of transcendence-as-metaphor (e.g., Whitehead), some theologians followed them (e.g., Wieman was the early translator of Whitehead's "process philosophy" into theology), & some biblical scholars have followed those theologians (e.g., Borg).  But all such thinkers must import into their cosmo-monism at least some of the values in cosmo-dualism--in my architectural analogy, carrying downstairs (into "nature") some of the upstairs furniture.  My running one-to-one argument with Wieman was that what he was asking me to abandon, viz. God as transcendent deity, he himself had transformed rather than abandoned: he abstrated from the biblical God (1) the creative impulse as at us & in us, & (2) the good as goal.  (Heidegger, who died in '76 [the year after Wieman's death], insisted that any naming or even describing of the initiating impulse in nature is corrupting: particularity corrupts, & absolutizing of particularity corrupts absolutely.  The two agreed that particularization leads to destruction [e.g., cultic competition], & Heidegger's more radical version shows both the strengths & the weaknesses of their position.  (For the abiding value of their position, compare the Bible's anti-idolatry motif.)
    My position was & is that the impulse to initiate is inextricable from the personal-as-will: what in man we call "mind" is a dynamic reality at work in the non-human world (though I reject the settled versions of this idea, viz. pantheisms, I can wrk with panentheism).  Intra-nature, God is that ordering by which nature is a creative process coming at us as "grace" & working in us as "faith"-openness to "creative good" as we resist the temptations to the idolatry of worshiping "created goods."  (A Presbyterian minister, W. had evangelical-eagerness to convert you to his version of the gospel, & I was protected from his version by my evangelical-eagerness for converts to my version of the gospel.  When process-theologian John Cobb, a disciple of some of Wieman's disciples, called me "conversion-prone," I told him that I was & wasn't: was, as open to hear the most important word I had ever heard; wasn't, as maturely convinced of the gospel in the Christian [NT] supernaturalistic language.)
    As Jefferson was convinced he could retain Christianity's essence-in-ethics while jettisoning NT miracles, Wieman was convinced he could do the same while jettisoning supernatural transcendence but without thinning the gospel down (as had Santayana & Dewey) to humanism, our species' self-idolatry.  We are not God, & within nature God transcends & calls us to (1) a faith-openness which can "increase our appreciable awareness" of the creative good (as well as created goods) & to (2) lives productive of "created goods" for ourselves & others.  (As my summer/41 paper to Wieman put it, God can be viewed both as "the source of creative transformation beyond human knowledge and power but within nature" & as the transformation's fruit, viz. the "increase of appreciable awareness."  The course was "Mysticism," & I think Houston Smith was in it; after tennis one day, he & I visited in W.'s home because of S.'s interest in W.'s daughter, whom he eventually married.)  As for transforming religious experience, W. believed it can frees us from confining categories & open us to "nature in its fulness," "a good we do not have and can't achieve but can only open ourselves to receive"--the openness that is the precondition of transformation.  For it, we must be "committed to...creativity" as proffered grace approaching us (i.e., grace as active-impulse toward us, not as [my image] fruit waiting for us to pick) (RELIGIOUS INQUIRY, p.130).  THE SOURCE OF HUMAN GOOD, p.76: "The creative event, not man himself, creates the greater imagination" (notice the implicit personalism in "event...creates").  Commitment to the process reevaluates all values--without which reevaluation conversion has not occurred.
    On the "Subject" of the post, I must thumbnail Wieman's relational (v. biblical-classical-ontological) doctrine of transcendence.  (Quotes are mine from my 1941 paper, pp.5-8, but he read & accepted my statement of his transcendence-doctrine.)  "God is transcendent in that he is unidentifiable with any of the known and accepted structures of reality," including personhood.  Such "transcendence is necessary to save man from the 'devil,' which is the absolute commitment of oneself to...revelation (Cf. Koran), a tradition (Cf. ideologies; RCC), a philosophy, an ideal, an infinite series of ideals....[every ideal] omits much of reality.  Cf. French Revolution.  Cf. US 'liberty.'  The ideal always leaves out the everyday good."  "Pseudo-transcendences:  (1) God is outside space, time, and nature's process.  As a myth, this may serve the purpose.  (2) God is outside all human inquiry and therefore can be known only by revelation.  (3) God is the impossible possibility of perfect love.  You can envisage it.  Cf. Niebuhr."  Then, after sections on true transcendence, what's un/important in Christianity, "involuntary awakening," "the act of self-commitment," I have this direct quotation from him (which I typed in red): "You can't make absolute commitment to ANYTHING BUT CREATIVITY" without doing evil.  This is "the central idea of this course."
 
4    The monotheism of the Designer.  As the Selector is a zero-sum, winner-take-all rival of the Creator, so is the Designer vis-a-vis the Selector.  One sneak personalism deserves another.  When the "natural selection" crowd attacks ID (Intelligent Design), we should say "first, take the beam out of your own eye": the irony of two pseudo-sciences contending for the title "science"!  The ump between the Selector & the Designer could be the Initiator representing the overcoming of the fallacy of the excluded middle.  As you can conclude from my treatment of Wieman, I'm more sympathetic with the Initiator than with either the Selector or the Designer.  But my preference, over the umpire, is for the game's owner, the Creator.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis

link...@aol.com

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Feb 13, 2007, 10:05:39 AM2/13/07
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Dear Willis,

I don't think that propagation "suggests only repetition, not change."
My two children have certainly changed things.

Mutation is simply a joker in the deck of propagation, which is how
the game of evolution is played. And "selection" is there as well, at
least so far as the male and female cardinals in my own back yard are
concerned, and even the most primitive organisms (though some select
themselves). In fact, consider what the bible means by
"leminehem"[ don't know how to get the schwa in there] "according to
their kind" or "for their kind." (Gn 1:21 et al) and vegetation with
its seed. (9:11ff) A species is a selection of a kind of its kind for
propagation. "Be fruitful and multiply!" It is a creaturely
acknowledgment of the creator, who has made it a species.

God bless you! Jim

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Feb 13, 2007, 11:18:43 AM2/13/07
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Sorry, I neglected the plural in Gen 1: 21: "for their kinds." Note
also the variations in plural and singular among 1.11,12,21,24,25. My
Hebrew is very rusty.

Jim

Matt

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Feb 13, 2007, 12:26:28 PM2/13/07
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Willis,

Several days ago, you asked me:

"But do you mean to suggest that the problem I addressed in "Subject"
is illusory, or at least of less weight than I give it?"

On reflection, my answer is "yes." We face many problems, but America
going the (secular) way of Europe isn't one of them.

There are two types of believers: (1) those who see God as a
provisional hypothesis to explain things that science cannot explain;
and (2) those who see God less in the things we don't know, and more
in the things we do know. As science advances, the first group of
"believers" (if that term even is appropriate) will fall away. This
has been happening for a long time; in Bonhoeffer's writings, he
observes it as an issue that was not new even in his time. In
America, we are observing the results of this on a delayed basis, as
it has only recently become acceptable for Americans to claim no
particular relgious affiliation or belief. In some congregations,
this has caused crises-- declining collections, outsized church
buildings, and so on. In the long run, however, this change gives us
the opportunity to build a renewed and revitalized church, albeit on a
smaller footprint.

One large problem we DO have is that we are doing a poor job raising
our children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph
6:4). As a youth leader, I feel a majority of parents think this is
the church's job-- they raise their kids with good morals, but they
think it's the church's job to teach their kids the fundamentals of
the faith. Unfortunately, the church is ill-equipped for this task.
Between summer vacation and holiday weekends, we're fortunate to have
two dozen Sunday School classes a year. Because some kids attend less
than regularly, the pace of those classes is slow. And by the seventh
grade, young people understandably don't want to spend more time on
book-learning. They yearn for programs that emphasize fellowship,
service, discussion groups-- in other words, the same things adults
desire! The result is that while we may raise young people with
exemplary character, I question how many of them will stay connected
to the church in the coming years, or even bring their kids to be
baptized 10-15 years from now.

The evangelical churches are growing, in part, because they educate
their children far better than we do. Even with Catholic high school
and years of Bible study under my belt, my scriptural knowledge
doesn't compare to the knowledge of my co-leader, who was raised
Southern Baptist. She probably could go toe-to-toe with our pastors!

The evangelical churches also are growing because of their
uncompromising commitment to the Gospel. Yes, they also offer simple
answers to life's hardest questions (and that will always be popular),
but it's too self-congratulatory to leave it at that, without
examining our own commitment to the Gospel.

I realize I'm preaching to the choir at this point. I was drawn to
Confessing Christ because of its uncompromising commitment to the
Gospel, which must be the heart of the U.C.C.-- and any other Church
that presumes to call itself Christian.

So, in my opinion, our problems do not come from biology class, or
from Richard Dawkins and his ilk. They come from our own failure to
place Christ at the center of our church, and to teach our children
the Christian faith. Confessing Christ clearly confronts the first
failure-- can it (we?) also confront the second? I recognize this
forum is primarily for high-level theological thought, but do we have
ideas about how to convey the fundamentals of our faith to young
people?

Thanks for reading my lengthy post.

Peace,
Matt

Willis Elliott

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Feb 13, 2007, 9:09:26 PM2/13/07
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Jim:
 
1    "Propagation" is reproduction as process & result.  As you can see in "Wikipedia: propagation," there's no connotation of change from one entity to its reproduction in another entity.  "Mutation" is processive differencing, i.e. change.   As I said, what's needed is a term combining reproduction & change but without personal-mental-volitional connotation (such as that somebody is "selecting" organisms for reproduction & then "selecting" the changes to occur in the offspring).  You asked me to come up with such a term, I suggested Wieman's "progressive integration," & you did not common on it: why not?
 
2    We like to personalize animals, calling them generic "he" unless we know the creature is "she" (as in the case of large turtles on Cape Cod land: they're there only to lay eggs).  In like vein, we give human names to some of their acitivties--you mention your backyard cardinals' "selecting" mates, selecting being a mental-volitional process ruled out by Occam's Razor as an instance of excessive attribution: when an animal mates, a scientifically sufficient description of the behavior is telic, that sexual attraction for a particular partner has been activated; but the notion of choice ("selection") from among a number of options is a projection from human behavior: eHarmony is now helping hundreds of thousands of humans to make the most human choice of a mate ("most human": their total potential of mind/heart/will/soul/spirit/whatnot is to go into action).  It's warm-fuzzy poetry to think that that's what your cardinals are up to, "selecting."
 
3    What's this "select themselves"?  Are you referring to partheogenesis?
 
4    The first "e" in "leminehem" got the schwa in, but your Genesis references speak only to intraspecies reproduction.  How is that related to the "Subject" at hand?  With animals & plants?  When you say "A species is a selection...," we're back to my assertion that personalism (viz., a selector) has been smuggled in.  As for expanding "Be fruitful and multiply" from God's address to homo sapiens to God's address to all species--besides being unbiblical, does that not unwittingly dramatize my complaint against considering "natural selection" a scientific (instead of pseudo-scientific, scientistic) phrase?
 
Jim, of course you needn't take seriously anything I say, epecially what I have to say to you is so long/complex/technical as the post this post of your is responding to.  But I must state that your post seems to me not to have taken mine seriously.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
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To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: MONOTHEISMS IN CONTENTION: Naming the Only God: Creator / Selector / Initiator / Designer--continued

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Feb 14, 2007, 12:27:49 PM2/14/07
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Dear Willis,

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

1. I thought that you were using the concept of "progressive
integration" to add some theism and telelogy to mutation; as I have
denied that mutation itself is at the heart of evolution, I have
denied any sort of "progressive integration" based on mutation. Please
tell me if you mean something else by "progressive integration."

2. A famous theologian once wrote: "Birds do it, bees do it, even
little fleas do it..." Note that in Gen 1:22 God gives the same
blessing to the water creatures as to the human: "Be fruitful and
multiply..." Darwin's great insight was that those people on e-harmony
behave in a way quite similar to cardinals, trying to present features
that show one to be an ideal mate. Occam's razor cuts both ways!

3. Asexual reproduction.

4. See point two.

5. I must confess that I am more interested in what the bible has to
say than in "theism," "monotheism" and "transcendence." All these
seem to have more to do with the gods of this world rather than the
God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I was simply offering a point
regarding the language we use to describe what Darwin was getting at
and hoping that we would take seriously what the bible has to has to
say. And I am proposing that Genesis seems to indicate that each
species was created for "for its own kind." Certainly this means
something, so you tell me, what does it mean if not the self-selection
of species toward the end of the propagation of the species?

Jim

On Feb 13, 9:09�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim:
>
> 1    "Propagation" is reproduction as process & result.  As you can see in "Wikipedia: propagation," there's no connotation of change from one entity to its reproduction in another entity.  "Mutation" is processive differencing, i.e. change.   As I said, what's needed is a term combining reproduction & change but without personal-mental-volitional connotation (such as that somebody is "selecting" organisms for reproduction & then "selecting" the changes to occur in the offspring).  You asked me to come up with such a term, I suggested Wieman's "progressive integration," & you did not common on it: why not?
>
> 2    We like to personalize animals, calling them generic "he" unless we know the creature is "she" (as in the case of large turtles on Cape Cod land: they're there only to lay eggs).  In like vein, we give human names to some of their acitivties--you mention your backyard cardinals' "selecting" mates, selecting being a mental-volitional process ruled out by Occam's Razor as an instance of excessive attribution: when an animal mates, a scientifically sufficient description of the behavior is telic, that sexual attraction for a particular partner has been activated; but the notion of choice ("selection") from among a number of options is a projection from human behavior: eHarmony is now helping hundreds of thousands of humans to make the most human choice of a mate ("most human": their total potential of mind/heart/will/soul/spirit/whatnot is to go into action).  It's warm-fuzzy poetry to think that that's what your cardinals are up to, "selecting."
>
> 3    What's this "select themselves"?  Are you referring to partheogenesis?
>
> 4    The first "e" in "leminehem" got the schwa in, but your Genesis references speak only to intraspecies reproduction.  How is that related to the "Subject" at hand?  With animals & plants?  When you say "A species is a selection...," we're back to my assertion that personalism (viz., a selector) has been smuggled in.  As for expanding "Be fruitful and multiply" from God's address to homo sapiens to God's address to all species--besides being unbiblical, does that not unwittingly dramatize my complaint against considering "natural selection" a scientific (instead of pseudo-scientific, scientistic) phrase?
>
> Jim, of course you needn't take seriously anything I say, epecially what I have to say to you is so long/complex/technical as the post this post of your is responding to.  But I must state that your post seems to me not to have taken mine seriously.
>
> Grace and peace--

> Willis----- Original Message -----
> From: <linkc...@aol.com>

Richard Floyd

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Feb 14, 2007, 1:22:27 PM2/14/07
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Jim,

As a close reader of texts let me suggest that the precise citation
is “even educated fleas do it.” (see Porter, Cole, “Let's Do
It, Let's Fall in Love.”) But your point nevertheless stands.

Rick

>> To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessing-
>> Chr...@googlegroups.com>

Willis Elliott

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Feb 14, 2007, 5:01:54 PM2/14/07
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Thanks, Matt, for your lengthy post.  (Some on this listserv should apologize for some short posts.)
You wrote:
 

>....So, in my opinion, our problems do not come from biology class, or

> from Richard Dawkins and his ilk.  They come from our own failure to
> place Christ at the center of our church, and to teach our children
> the Christian faith.  Confessing Christ clearly confronts the first
> failure-- can it (we?) also confront the second?  I recognize this
> forum is primarily for high-level theological thought, but do we have
> ideas about how to convey the fundamentals of our faith to young
> people?
 
Why either/or?  Do you really think we can "teach our children the Christian faith" tabula rasa, without even considering the miseducation they're getting in the secularistic surrounding culture (including atheistic biologism, which parades itself as something it's not, viz. science)?  I'm appalled that liberal Christian theologians are siding ("Christ with culture") with evolutionists instead of ("Christ against culture") theists.
 
We should tell our children:
 
1----that about the origin of everything, the Bible has always been right  & until recently science has been wrong.  Science has wrongly taught, until proof of the Big Bang, that the universe did not have a beginning.
 
2----that the Bible & post-Big-Bang science teach that mind precedes the universe (as primordial consciousness) as well as evolving within the universe (as emergent consciousness).
 
3----that the idea that counsciousness is nothing but an emergent within the universe (so "mind" means only the functioning of brain) was based on the false premise that the universe is timeless, eternal.   Garbage in garbage out: One implication projected from that falsehood was the notion that reality is nothing but the universe; & since the universe is nothing but matter, nothing exists except matter (a false philosophy called materialism).
    The older generation of biologists (& our public-school-science establishment) remains captive to materialism.  None is more eminent than (ex-Southern-Baptist!) Edward O. Wilson, who on p.192 of his ON HUMAN NATURE (Harv.UP/78) put it triumphalistically, in a manner that evidences that our children are still being asked (as I was in my 1931 biology class) to choose between the Bible & so-called "science" (actually, materialism [now exposed as pseudo-science]): "scientific naturalism" will someday "explain traditional religion, its chief competitor, as a wholly material phenomenon.  Theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline."
 
3----that at first (as in the last paragraph of the first edition of THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES), Darwin believed #`1 (above), then--after the tragic death of his 19-year-old daughter--moved to #2.  When a Christian (believing #1), he rightly described evolution but wrongly explained the process as "natural selection" (personized nature replacing, in the analogy, the person of the artificial breeder: the personalization was/is rhetorical-poetic analogy, not science).  When an atheist (believing #2), he expanded "natural selection" from replacing the breeder to replacing also the Creator.
 
4----that the Big Bang (which physical-cosmologist Stephen Hawkings in the late 1990s theoretically firmed up as solid science) created a new question: who or what was before the Big Bang?  (Notice: when the universe was thought to be everything-&-always, the answer to what was before the universe was silly: "Nothing could be before everything!")
 
5--that a mind (a personal consciousness) was before the Big Bang.  Yes, this repeats #1 (above), but here I emphasize
that the advanced, up-to-date, eminent thinkers have given respectabililty to this answer (& thereby inflicted loss of respectability on atheistic materialism).  I cite three Big Bang believers in God:
    (1) The most eminent living physical cosmologist (Mr. Big Bang himself), Stephen Hawking, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (Bantam/98--5,000,000+ copies sold!), p.62: If we find the answer to the question "why...we and the universe exist," "it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason--for then we would know the mind of God."  P.75: "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us."
    (2)  Francis S. Collins (head of the Human Genome Project), THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press/06), p.149: I am "compelled by the existence of the Moral Law and the universal longing for God...a glowing signpost within our hearts, pointing toward a benevolent and loving presence."  P.150: Genesis "implies that God always existed.  This description is certainly compatible with scientific knowledge of the Big Bang."   P.140-1: "Freeing God from the burden of special acts of creation does not remove Him as the source of the things that make humanity special, and of the universe itself.  It merely shows us something of how He operates."
    (3) Philosopher-theologian William Lane Craig, "The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe" (leadershipu.com) exhibits how logically superior to the old evolutionistic atheism is the since-the-Big-Bang belief in a primordial consciousness fitting Gn.1.1, God the Creator.
 
In sum, what shall we teach the children (& their science teachers)?  That believing in God is more scientific (makes better sense in light of Big Bang science, which is now as generally accepted among scientists as is evolution) than not believing in God.  We need to rub it in to our children (& to school boards): Not believing in God is illogical & unscientific & should not be taught as science.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
 

Matt

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Feb 15, 2007, 4:18:49 PM2/15/07
to Confessing Christ Open Forum

Willis,

Thanks for your response. I especially enjoyed your discussion of the
Big Bang theory's theological implications.

Having been taught evolution as fact, in both public and parochial
schools, I never felt "natural selection" carried the connotations you
ascribe to it. We were taught the distinction between natural
selection and "artificial selection" (changes caused by direct or
indirect human intervention). From what you wrote, I take it Darwin
came to believe that natural selection displaced God, but many
scientists and science teachers use the term "natural selection"
without attaching that baggage. If we could go back in time, perhaps
a different term would be better, but as things are, we're stuck with
it. I don't think it's a big deal, as I'm confident 99% of the
population spends less time on etymology than you and I do.

Religious belief among Ph.D. scientists is at alarmingly low levels; a
recent study found that only 40% believe in a personal God. (Sorry, I
don't have a cite.) I suspect, however, that primary and secondary
school teachers, including science teachers, are much more likely to
be believers; in fact, I'd be surprised if their levels of belief were
much different from the general population. The vast majority of us
don't study much science past high school, so the secular bias among
academics, though regrettable, doesn't seem like a huge threat.

I bring a personal bias to this subject. Until her recent retirement,
my mother was a public high-school science teacher in one of America's
more liberal quarters (Connecticut). I'm quite certain that neither
she nor her former colleagues (several of whom I know reasonably well)
promoted atheism, either directly or indirectly. I'm skeptical that
my mother and her former colleagues are an island of belief in a sea
of godlessness.

Indeed, as I argued in my previous post, if young people today aren't
embracing the church as they once did, we should look first at
ourselves. Another poster said that public schools do their job
better than we do ours-- I think that's exactly right. How can we
change that??

Matt

Willis Elliott

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Feb 15, 2007, 8:42:01 PM2/15/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com
Matt:
 
Thank you for your witness.
Both unbelieving & believing trainers of our PS science teachers are now more self-"outing."  And as there are more of the former, we can expect that more of our PS science teachers will be anti-God--unless the good news I adduce in my 4:10pm post yesterday ("What shall we tell our children?") kicks in.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----
From: "Matt" <mau...@gmail.com>
To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>

Willis Elliott

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Feb 15, 2007, 9:12:33 PM2/15/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com
Jim:
 
I hope you'll read my yesterday's "What shall we tell the children?"  If you give it a close reading, I think you'll find your questions (below) answered.  But I'm sorry I must add this: From your recent responses, I have no confidence that you'll give any posts of mine a close reading.
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----

link...@aol.com

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Feb 16, 2007, 10:17:37 AM2/16/07
to Confessing Christ Open Forum
Dear Willis,

I did read it. "In your light we do see light" (Psalm 36:9), not,
first of all, "in light we do see your light." "God alone can reveal
God!" (Barth) And, as God alone can reveal God, he, the creator alone
can reveal the meaning of His creation, which was meant for abiding
fellowship with Him, to be the "theater of his glory." (Calvin) This
is what I believe and this is what I want to teach my children. And I
want them to learn all they can about the nuts and bolts of this
creation, within the limits of their calling to be God's children in
this day and age. I think that this means learning in school, at
appropriate times in their lives, about science and the theories of
Darwin, and learning about religion, including theism.

The problem for me is that I don't believe in theism and I don't want
our public schools to try to convert my children into being its
disciples. Super intelligent people like Aristotle and Stephen Hawking
have come to proclaim how very reasonable and natural is some "unmoved
mover" or "first cause." And, what does that prove, but, of course,
"intelligence" or "mind" is a god, of whom they are the high priests.
That's the very heart of idolatry!

Jim

On Feb 15, 9:12�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim:
>

> I hope you'll read my yesterday's "What shall we tell the children?"  If you give it a close reading, I think you'll find your questions (below) answered.  But I'm sorry I must add this: From your recent responses, I have no confidence that you'll give any posts of mine a close reading.
>
> Grace and peace--

> Willis----- Original Message -----
> From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>

> On Feb 13, 9:09?pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> > Jim:
>

> > 1 ? ?"Propagation" is reproduction as process & result. ?As you can see in "Wikipedia: propagation," there's no connotation of change from one entity to its reproduction in another entity. ?"Mutation" is processive differencing, i.e. change. ? As I said, what's needed is a term combining reproduction & change but without personal-mental-volitional connotation (such as that somebody is "selecting" organisms for reproduction & then "selecting" the changes to occur in the offspring). ?You asked me to come up with such a term, I suggested Wieman's "progressive integration," & you did not common on it: why not?
>
> > 2 ? ?We like to personalize animals, calling them generic "he" unless we know the creature is "she" (as in the case of large turtles on Cape Cod land: they're there only to lay eggs). ?In like vein, we give human names to some of their acitivties--you mention your backyard cardinals' "selecting" mates, selecting being a mental-volitional process ruled out by Occam's Razor as an instance of excessive attribution: when an animal mates, a scientifically sufficient description of the behavior is telic, that sexual attraction for a particular partner has been activated; but the notion of choice ("selection") from among a number of options is a projection from human behavior: eHarmony is now helping hundreds of thousands of humans to make the most human choice of a mate ("most human": their total potential of mind/heart/will/soul/spirit/whatnot is to go into action). ?It's warm-fuzzy poetry to think that that's what your cardinals are up to, "selecting."
>
> > 3 ? ?What's this "select themselves"? ?Are you referring to partheogenesis?
>
> > 4 ? ?The first "e" in "leminehem" got the schwa in, but your Genesis references speak only to intraspecies reproduction. ?How is that related to the "Subject" at hand? ?With animals & plants? ?When you say "A species is a selection...," we're back to my assertion that personalism (viz., a selector) has been smuggled in. ?As for expanding "Be fruitful and multiply" from God's address to homo sapiens to God's address to all species--besides being unbiblical, does that not unwittingly dramatize my complaint against considering "natural selection" a scientific (instead of pseudo-scientific, scientistic) phrase?
>
> > Jim, of course you needn't take seriously anything I say, epecially what I have to say to you is so long/complex/technical as the post this post of your is responding to. ?But I must state that your post seems to me not to have taken mine seriously.


>
> > Grace and peace--
> > Willis----- Original Message -----
> > From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> > To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:05 AM
> > Subject: Re: MONOTHEISMS IN CONTENTION: Naming the Only God: Creator / Selector / Initiator / Designer--continued
>
> > Dear Willis,
>
> > I don't think that propagation "suggests only repetition, not change."
> > My two children have certainly changed things.
>
> > Mutation is simply a joker in the deck of propagation, which is how
> > the game of evolution is played. And "selection" is there as well, at
> > least so far as the male and female cardinals in my own back yard are
> > concerned, and even the most primitive organisms (though some select
> > themselves). In fact, consider what the bible means by
> > "leminehem"[ don't know how to get the schwa in there] "according to
> > their kind" or "for their kind." (Gn 1:21 et al) and vegetation with
> > its seed. (9:11ff) A species is a selection of a kind of its kind for
> > propagation. "Be fruitful and multiply!" It is a creaturely
> > acknowledgment of the creator, who has made it a species.
>

> > God bless you! ?Jim

Willis Elliott

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Feb 16, 2007, 12:37:32 PM2/16/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com
Jim:
 
How can you say "I don't believe in theism?"  I asked Wiktionary, which told me it means "belief in the existence of God, especially by or through revelation."
 
Rejoice that Mr. Big Bang (& an increasing number of major scientists) have made "the [personal] Creator" more intellectually respectable than the current dominant atheism of scientism/evolutionism.  They aren't calling us to worship this personal entity; they are only shifting the burden of proof from from God-belief to atheism.  Surely you don't want to avoid telling your children this good news?
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
 
----- Original Message -----

link...@aol.com

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Feb 17, 2007, 8:23:31 AM2/17/07
to Confessing Christ Open Forum
Dear Willis,

"The good news" I tell my children is that the godless "burden of
proof" is entirely lifted from all humanity in our Lord Jesus Christ:
the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
"Christ is made our wisdom!" The rest is up to the Holy Spirit for the
"removal of the veil." (II Cor 3) I think I was Kierkegaard who said
that the very rudest thing we can do in the presence of another is to
try to prove that other's existence. It is our own existence that is
in question, our own reality, and, by the grace of God, we are upheld
through Jesus Christ.

My friend, I do not want to play word games or be disingenuous. I do
believe in God ("Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!") God is! I am not
sure if the Wiktionary definition is correct. But even if it is close,
I do have to say that I don't believe in theism, "belief in the
existence of God, especially by or through relelation." Luther, Mr.
Faith himsef, refused to idolize belief, and I agree with him: "I
believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus
Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me
through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and
preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens and
sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in
union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith." (Shorter Catechism,
on the third article of "The Creed') In short, theism seems to be to
me more a belief in belief, and a belief in existence, rather than
belief in God.

I am headed off to Florida tomorrow. God grant peace to you and to all
who read this!

On Feb 16, 12:37�pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> Jim:
>

> How can you say "I don't believe in theism?"  I asked Wiktionary, which told me it means "belief in the existence of God, especially by or through revelation."
>
> Rejoice that Mr. Big Bang (& an increasing number of major scientists) have made "the [personal] Creator" more intellectually respectable than the current dominant atheism of scientism/evolutionism.  They aren't calling us to worship this personal entity; they are only shifting the burden of proof from from God-belief to atheism.  Surely you don't want to avoid telling your children this good news?
>
> Grace and peace--

> Willis----- Original Message -----
> From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>

> Sent: Friday, February 16, 2007 9:17 AM
> Subject: Re: MONOTHEISMS IN CONTENTION: Naming the Only God:: Creator / Selector / Initiator / Designer--continued
>
> Dear Willis,
>
> I did read it. "In your light we do see light" (Psalm 36:9), not,
> first of all, "in light we do see your light." "God alone can reveal
> God!" (Barth) And, as God alone can reveal God, he, the creator alone
> can reveal the meaning of His creation, which was meant for abiding
> fellowship with Him, to be the "theater of his glory." (Calvin) This
> is what I believe and this is what I want to teach my children. And I
> want them to learn all they can about the nuts and bolts of this
> creation, within the limits of their calling to be God's children in
> this day and age. I think that this means learning in  school, at
> appropriate times in their lives, about science and the theories of
> Darwin, and learning about religion, including theism.
>
> The problem for me is that I don't believe in theism and I don't want
> our public schools to try to convert my children into being its
> disciples. Super intelligent people like Aristotle and Stephen Hawking
> have come to proclaim how very reasonable and natural is some "unmoved
> mover" or "first cause." And, what does that prove, but, of course,
> "intelligence" or "mind" is a god, of whom they are the high priests.
> That's the very heart of idolatry!
>
> Jim
>

> On Feb 15, 9:12?pm, "Willis Elliott" <elliot...@charter.net> wrote:
> > Jim:
>

> > I hope you'll read my yesterday's "What shall we tell the children?" ?If you give it a close reading, I think you'll find your questions (below) answered. ?But I'm sorry I must add this: From your recent responses, I have no confidence that you'll give any posts of mine a close reading.


>
> > Grace and peace--
> > Willis----- Original Message -----
> > From: <linkc...@aol.com>
> > To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
> > Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 11:27 AM
> > Subject: Re: MONOTHEISMS IN CONTENTION: Naming the Only God:: Creator / Selector / Initiator / Designer--continued
>
> > Dear Willis,
>
> > Happy St. Valentine's Day!
>
> > 1. I thought that you were using the concept of "progressive
> > integration" to add some theism and telelogy to mutation; as I have
> > denied that mutation itself is at the heart of evolution, I have
> > denied any sort of "progressive integration" based on mutation. Please
> > tell me if you mean something else by "progressive integration."
>
> > 2. A famous theologian once wrote: "Birds do it, bees do it, even

> > little fleas do it..." Note that in Gen ?1:22 God gives the same


> > blessing to the water creatures as to the human: "Be fruitful and
> > multiply..." Darwin's great insight was that those people on e-harmony
> > behave in a way quite similar to cardinals, trying to present features
> > that show one to be an ideal mate. Occam's razor cuts both ways!
>
> > 3. Asexual reproduction.
>
> > 4. See point two.
>
> > 5. I must confess that I am more interested in what the bible has to

> > say than in "theism," "monotheism" and ?"transcendence." All these


> > seem to have more to do with the gods of this world rather than the
> > God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I was simply offering a point
> > regarding the language we use to describe what Darwin was getting at
> > and hoping that we would take seriously what the bible has to has to

> > say. ?And I am proposing that Genesis seems to indicate that each

Willis Elliott

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Feb 17, 2007, 11:29:41 AM2/17/07
to Confessi...@googlegroups.com
Dear Jim:
 
I agree with, & share, all your positive pious talk.  Your negative pious talk, however, seems to me an impediment to the gospel, to evangelism, to missions, to providing the children with the best intellectual world we can manage for them.
 
1    You make your witness in biblical language & then say "the rest is up to the Holy Spirit."  Thank the Lord that the early Christian apologists--Justin, Tertullian, Augustine, et al.--didn't feel that way!  They saw their intellectual confrontation of "the world" as worshiping the Lord with their minds: as Christians they outthought "the world" as other Christians were outliving & outdying the world (to use Tertullian's "out"s).  They would see you as a cop-out on the brains God gave you.  Perhaps the Lord has not called you personally to a special ministry as defensor fidei (defender of the faith), but you should not demean that special calling but declaring it unnecessary ("up to the Holy Spirit").
 
2     Ernest Cadman Colwell (president U.Chicago, first president Claremont School of Theology) wrote a book titled THE FOURTH GOSPEL AND THE STRUGGLE FOR RESPECTABILITY.  He believed, as I do, (2) that our Lord Jesus speaks to us through that gospel & (2) that the author & redactor were using their world's intellectual tools to argue for the superiority of the Christian mind.  On that model, I (among some other Christians) am arguing--on the basis of Big Bang science--for the intellectual superiority of ontological personalism ("theism"),  thus also the intellectual inferiority of atheism.  This reverses the now dominant mind in our culture, THE CULTURE OF DISBELIEF as Yale-law-prof. Stephen Carter put it in an undersung book (Doubleday/93).  Last night I applauded the current student outdoor 24-hours-a-day (in zero weather!) prayer-circle around our university's central fountain--making their witness for a spiritual revival in an atheist school (which has no courses, no lectureships, & no lectures in religion): why, when they go to college, should our children have to swim upstream against atheism?  Given the latest science, should we let atheism continue to be honored as of superior intellectual respectability?  What "we" do to our children is our primary responsibility; have we no responsibility for what "they" do to our children?
 
3    Jim, you say "I do not want to play word games."  Is'nt that what you are doing when you deny that you are a theist (over against atheism)?  Are you not in self-contradiction when you say "I don't believe in theism ('belief in the existence of God, especially by or through revelation')."  Of course you believe in God by revelation!
 
4    You abuse Luther.  Like you & me, of course he didn't believe he could think himself into salvation: "I believe that by my own reason...I cannot believe...."  But he believed also that he could use the reason God gave him to outthink, outargue, his opponents: on that, I am using him against you, in response to your using him against me.  (I am puzzled by the CC-listserv anti-counterattack guideline; since such exchange is rational, I must consider the guideline irrational; but I read it as a proper caution, viz. "Children, don't be nasty to one another.")
 
Good trip to Florida!
 
Grace and peace--
Willis
   
----- Original Message -----
To: "Confessing Christ Open Forum" <Confessi...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 7:23 AM
Subject: Re: MONOTHEISMS IN CONTENTION: Naming the Only God:: Creator / Selector / Initiator / Designer--continued


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