Saturday, March 26, 2011

BioLogos Nonsense

Recently my son and then some friends put me on to a great uproar over what Christianity Today called “Creation Museum Founder Disinvited from Homeschooling Conferences.”  Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis, was the “disinvited” one here.  He lost the invitation because of his public attacks on Peter Enns, a senior fellow of biblical studies at the BioLogos Foundation.

I am not a “young earth” creationist in the sense that I am not convinced that we can be very sure about the age of the earth.  But I can see why anyone who takes the Christian faith seriously would have problems with what comes out of the BioLogos Foundation.

Consider one example, an essay found there that attempts to explain “At what point in the evolutionary process did humans attain the ‘Image of God’?” of which Peter Enns is a “consulted expert.”  Let’s peruse a few samples.

[T]he fundamental qualities of the image of God are characteristics of the mind and soul, however we understand those: the ability to love selflessly; engage in meaningful relationships; exercise rationality; maintain dominion over the Earth; and embrace moral responsibility.

From the BioLogos perspective, God planned for humans to evolve to the point of attaining these characteristics.

This implies, of course, that at some point “human beings” did not bear the image of God.  This is exactly what the Biologos people think.

Humans did not have a fully formed moral consciousness prior to the time of Adam and Eve. However, general consciousness must have already evolved so that a moral consciousness and the associated responsibility were possible.  When Adam and Eve received God’s image, they had evolved to where they could understand the difference between right and wrong.

When, then, did this happen?
We cannot know the exact time that humans attained God’s image. In fact, it may be that the image of God emerged gradually over a period of time.
According to Biologos, scripture even suggests this view.

Scriptural evidence supports the view that other humans existed during the time that God’s image was attained. Genesis makes this apparent when the writer makes reference to Cain’s fear of other people, when God cursed him. Likewise, Cain finds a wife among a nearby tribe (Genesis 4:13-17). In light of these references, it seems likely that Adam and Eve were not individual historical characters, but represented a larger population of first humans who bore the image of God.

Near the end of this essay, the authors wonder “What About the Soul?” and go on to at least hint that human beings may not have an identifiable non-physical component of their being.

You should browse the Biologos website to see more about the views of this group.  They are clearly a group who begins with a complete acceptance of some version of Darwinism.  They then attempt to stretch and re-shape the Christian faith in whatever ways are necessary to force it to fit over their Darwinism.

There is nothing wrong with a nuanced reading of Genesis.  But when this reading is done through colored glasses that screen out key points of the historic Christian faith, it might be time to take off those glasses.

So again I say that I can see why anyone who takes the Christian faith at all seriously would find the alternative worldview of the Biologos Foundation to be not an “explanation” of that faith, but a threat to it.  And it doesn’t require that you agree with the “young earthers” to share this concern.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hard-Wired for Nonsense


Sin in the Double Helix

Reports linking moral behavior to genetic traits actually prove Scripture's claims, not undermine them.
Karen Swallow Prior | posted 3/17/2011 10:38AM [at Christianity Today]


For, despite some thinking to the contrary, these genetic discoveries do not negate biblical teaching. Instead, they illuminate the truths of Scripture in a new and powerful way. . . this only confirms the truth of the psalmist's prayer: "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:13-14).

And what of Paul's lament? "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. … As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me" (Rom. 7:15-17). Whether sin literally resides in the genes or not, Paul truthfully confesses that sin is living in him, as it is in all of us.

And in the middle of this passage from Romans are these words: "And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good." God's law is good, not only when we abide by it, but even when—especially when—we don't.

Are we predisposed to sin, genetically or otherwise? Absolutely. But God has determined a way to freedom, and that way originates not in the genes but in the Genesis.

Kent comments:

I don’t want to be too harsh, but Karen is an English professor.  This might be what you get when English professors try to tell us about theology!  (Just kidding, of course.)

But this “explanation” explains nothing, pious-sounding as it might seem to be.

If God “hard-wired” us to sin, we cannot be responsible for our sin.  Even if God only hard-wired a predisposition to sin into the first human pair, then God is at least partially responsible for sin.

So what is Karen trying to say here:  that being hard-wired for sin in some way illuminates the Psalmists description of our being “fearfully and wonderfully made”?  That sounds just a bit like non-sense.

What could it possibly mean that “God has determined a way to freedom” even if we are genetically wired for sin?  It seems to indicate that Karen the English Professor thinks that perhaps God hard-wired us for sin, and then, when we did what God hard-wired us to do, He “came to our rescue” by over-riding His original programming!

While it might sound very erudite to dismiss modern claims that our moral behavior stems from our genetic code, it is really more a display of air-headedness.  I wonder if that is the product of genetics?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Try Not to Step Into It

Lent Gets a 21st-Century Update

Jeffrey MacDonald

Religion News Service

March 2, 2011

(RNS) -- For Janis Galvin fasting for Lent has long meant saying no to candy for the 40 days before Easter. But when the season begins this year on March 9, it's apt to mean something more: walking when she'd rather drive, for instance, or turning the thermostat way down.

Galvin, an Episcopalian, will join with about 1,000 others who've signed up for the 2011 Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast, a daily regimen for reducing energy consumption and fighting global warming.

Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn't always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes. . . .

Fasting from anything is never an easy sell in a culture that values convenience, according to Jim Antal, who heads the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.

But as a spiritual practice, he said, personal sacrifice can be a key driver in advancing larger movements.

"We're trying to deal with the mingling of individual Lenten disciplines with social change," said Antal, whose conference is spearheading the carbon fast. "And that is precisely what will save the Earth -- if individuals who begin to get it... begin to say, `Gosh, I need to change my life, and I need to become an activist."'

Kent comments:

This sort of thing come up every year lately.  It is the moral equivalent of a pile of the stuff that periodically falls out of the east end of a horse going west.

Whatever you might think of the church tradition of Lent, this nonsense has nothing to do with it.  It is, rather, simply a rather transparent way of co-opting ‘church’ things for the purposes of radical, leftist political causes.

Speaking in the very broadest use of the term, I am surprised intelligent people take the ‘church’ seriously anymore.  Salvation to these kinds of people means nothing more than ‘saving’ the earth from a harmless substance that is an integral part of the life-cycle as designed by God.

But there I go, talking about God ‘designing’ something.  We can’t have that, our course.  Instead, we have some idiot Episcopalian ‘turning the thermostat way down’ to ‘save the earth’ as a supposed act of worship.

There is so much of this kind of material piled here and there today in the religious landscape that it can be very difficult – as with that stuff that falls our of the west-bound house - not to step into it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Easier Than I Used to Think

March 1, 2011


On evangelical campuses, rumblings of gay acceptance

By Cathleen Falsani

Some observers now wonder whether a major shift in opinions about homosexuality might be occurring among younger evangelicals.

The answer seems to be yes.

Last month, the student newspaper at Westmont College in California printed an open letter signed by 131 gay and gay-supportive alumni who said they had experienced “doubt, loneliness and fear due to the college’s stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.”

Kent comments:

How can we determine if a moral position is correct?  That, of course, is a big question that could take us into the areas of meta- and normative ethics.  But now, with the help of some of the alumni of Westmont College in California, we at least know a sure way to determine if a moral position is wrong.  If a moral stance makes anyone ‘experience’ doubt, loneliness, or fear, then it is clearly wrong.

For example, I experience all these feelings whenever I think about the ‘you-must-accept-our-sexual-attitudes-and-practices’ stance of some homosexual advocacy groups.  So those stances must be wrong – which, presto! – makes me right!

Wasn’t that simple?  Just to broaden the perspective a bit, I have all those feelings about the Obama administration’s policies. Thus –bingo! – Obama is wrong, and I am right!

The news article goes on to say:

A 2010 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service found that a majority of young adults favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry and adopt children.

Well then, if a majority favor this, is must be right.  Moral reasoning is so much easier than I used to think!