Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
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26-08-2015, 05:50 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
I'm working on a reply that will address some of the questions y'all raised. Granted, my earlier reply was quick and too simplistic and includes presuppositions that I didn't spell out. I'll expand for clarity. Thanks guys.
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26-08-2015, 09:45 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(26-08-2015 05:50 PM)Zoebion Wrote:  I'm working on a reply that will address some of the questions y'all raised. Granted, my earlier reply was quick and too simplistic and includes presuppositions that I didn't spell out. I'll expand for clarity. Thanks guys.

I think we should save this post in the top of the "Introductions" section, so that incoming theists can see what the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful approach to talking to us looks like.

Title it: "How Not to Sound Like an Idiot While Talking About God and Science".

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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26-08-2015, 11:49 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(26-08-2015 09:45 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  "How Not to Sound Like an Idiot While Talking About God and Science".

Don't talk about God and Science?

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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27-08-2015, 08:51 AM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
Let me start with the simple and move to the complex in the form of my presuppositions.
Presupposition 1: These particular post are geared towards Christians. Where I live, most Christians won’t even consider the evidence of evolution because they have THEOLOGICAL objections to it. The objection goes something like this “God couldn’t have used evolution because God is/isn’t ____________, or God does/doesn’t do ______________.
Presupposition 2: One of the objections raised by Christians is divine action. Thus, one of the main theological categories I am going to address is providence.
Presupposition 3: In these posts, I am not arguing for the existence of God.
Presupposition 4: Science and theology address different sets of questions and have different methodology.
Presupposition 5: There is no empirical evidence for or against God’s existence.
Presupposition 6: We can't test the existence of God in the sense of comparing events with or without God, since we can't arrange both options. And we can't test the existence of God by making predictions, since God has free will to act as he chooses. In those senses God is beyond scientific verification.
Presupposition 7: Science and theology do overlap. The overlap is not something that can be demonstrated scientifically. And the Bible does not provide details at that level. And so I simply trust science for investigating the natural word, and trust that the God known to us through Jesus created and has providence even over the most basic and repeatable laws of nature.
Presupposition 8: Scientifically speaking via the process of evolution, we cannot detect God, but only the result of his creative activity. For example, the only way to do that is to examine the final product for properties that the hypotheses demand and forbid.

In other words we have to be able to set up a hypothesis that looks like this:

P1. Process X will always produce properties a, b, and c
P2. Process X can never produce properties x, y, and z.

And then examine the final product for the presence of a, b, and c and the absence of x, y, and z.

And then we do the same thing for a competing hypothesis about process Z that has its own consequences for what it must always produce or can never produce, etc.

We haven’t been given enough information about God to say, "If God made the universe, it would have to have these certain properties and cannot have these certain other properties.”

So, my belief in God is not something that is subject to that kind of hypothesis like we do in science. My belief in God is based on revelation (bible), faith, and experience (how he changed me). Which is where atheist and Christian theist have their major disagreements.
Presupposition 9: The hypothetico-deductive method.

1) Perform a number of experiments or make a number of field observations for a particular phenomenon.

2) Form a number of hypotheses for what might cause the observed phenomenon.

3) For each hypothesis, generate all the necessary logical consequences that proceed from the premises through deduction. (In science they are called "predictions".)

4) Examine the phenomenon for the range and accuracy for what the predictions demand and forbid about what you must find in the phenomenon.

5) Choose the hypothesis that demonstrates the greatest range and accuracy for predicting the properties of the phenomenon.

The problem with science/supernatural or physical/metaphysical is in step 3. What premises can we assemble about God that generates a number of necessary consequences? What can we say about God such that only certain consequences of his activity are possible, and other consequences are not possible? How do we form the hypothesis of, "Because God, then X." and "Because God, then not Y.", where X and not-Y are necessary consequences of the premise of God? We can’t. Not from a scientific standpoint anyway. Thus the reason for theology, which examines the nature of God.

So, to sum it up:
1) Divine action is not visible through the lens of science, but through faith. Just because divine action isn’t visible through the lens of science, doesn’t mean that the two are incompatible. Science is constrained by its methodology and not the only means of knowledge. Thus, theology gives us insight into divine action in the world.
2) Belief in divine action is not founded in science, but theology. What I will be discussing in these posts are theological theories, not scientific ones.
3) The goal of talking about divine action is not meant to be a “god of the gaps” argument, but a theological reflection on evolution.
4) Though I will mention them briefly in the posts, I will not be focusing on such interactions of God and history through theophanies and miracles. That is the category of "special" providence as opposed to "normal" providence.

To answer the question, “how do we distinguish between the undetectable and the imaginary”? History, which again, is where we will have disagreements.

I hope this gives you a better understanding as to where I am coming from and the scope of the upcoming posts.
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27-08-2015, 08:53 AM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(26-08-2015 03:01 PM)morondog Wrote:  Hey Zoebion

What are your opinions concerning the historicity of events described in the Bible. e.g. the whole Adam thing - doesn't that drop the old spanner in the gearbox re evolution?

Noah's Ark? There should be population bottlenecks for every species if it actually happened? Is it purely allegorical? What do we learn from the story?

Brief reply: I'll be addressing those issues in my posts on Genesis. In a nutshell, "not literalistic, barely historical, mostly theological."
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27-08-2015, 09:02 AM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(26-08-2015 03:47 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(26-08-2015 02:38 PM)Zoebion Wrote:  I'm not saying that it's immune from critique, but that the objections are going to have to come from theology, not science, since the view accepts all the findings of modern science.
Sure. I actually like your position more so that those that try to prove god, you know, by pointing out gaps in scientific knowledge and saying "you can't explain that so it must have been god."
I'm happy that we both think that is a ridiculous position.

But my current thinking (putting my cards on the table here rather than try to bait you into a pre-set trap) is that many of the successful religious make sure that they don't make testable claims. e.g. When the Catholic church came up with the idea of transubstantiation, I'm sure they did some reviews prior to publication to make sure that their claim would never be testable. The bread and wine becomes Jesus body and blood however if you test the stomach contents you will only find bread and wine.

It's the opposite of science because they have to make testable claims. But religious claims need to not be testable.
So when a scientist makes a claim, before they publish it, I'm sure they do a proof read, an initial assessment. Does this claim provide testable criteria, does this claim provide reasonable falsifiable criteria? How reliable is the evidence or observations cited in the claim? Am I disclosing the assumptions I have made? Am I disclosing the known alternatives to my claim etc?

I would assume before you present anything regarding claims of god that you also to some prior checks of your own work. Is this consistent with your interpretation of scripture? Is this consistent with your beliefs of god being x, y, z? Is this claim untestable? Is this claim statistically unverifiable?

I'm just wondering if you take the testable, statistical aspects into account before you publicly present any god claims?

I guess my interests aren't necessarily to prove you wrong but to understand the thinking processes that goes into god claims.

This could be described as the religious method as opposed to the scientific method.
The reason why I accept scientific claims is because I (somewhat) understand the scientific method, I see how they distinguish truth from fiction, I see the challenges they have in putting together a claim and I see how claims can be challenged and how other scientists are rewarded for successfully refuting scientific claims.

What goes into the religious method? How can I assess for myself the degree of trust I can put towards religious claims?

Here is the basic method:

Hermeneutics (there are subcategories in each one, but this is the basic method):

1. Discover the meaning of the biblical author.
2. Evaluate the difference between the biblical audience and us.
3. Discover the theological principle.

Theology: (overlaps with point 3 above)

1. Identify the issue (in this case, certain Christian theological objection to evolution).
2. Look at history (what have others said about it)
3. Look at scripture (use the hermeneutical method above in reference to passages that address the issue).
4. Compile the evidence (The doctrinal formulation must be tested by 1) logically consistent, 2) consistency with the data revealed, 3) Its coherence with other doctrines, 4) existential viability.)
5. Defend you position against other theological formulations.
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27-08-2015, 09:31 AM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(27-08-2015 08:53 AM)Zoebion Wrote:  Brief reply: I'll be addressing those issues in my posts on Genesis. In a nutshell, "not literalistic, barely historical, mostly theological."

Not that I want to get ahead of the storyline or anything, but then where does sin and angry God and all that stuff fit in?

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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27-08-2015, 03:09 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(27-08-2015 09:31 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(27-08-2015 08:53 AM)Zoebion Wrote:  Brief reply: I'll be addressing those issues in my posts on Genesis. In a nutshell, "not literalistic, barely historical, mostly theological."

Not that I want to get ahead of the storyline or anything, but then where does sin and angry God and all that stuff fit in?

Yeah, I'll get to that. I am going to go verse by verse through Genesis in my writings and podcasts. I'm still doing a lot on the Ancient Near East setting of the book. But one thing real quick, I do not think that Genesis teaches a "fall" from a perfect state, nor do I think the ancients thought of it this way. I don't want to get ahead of myself either, but as I will show, it changes how we view sin/sin nature/original sin.

Because I have an audience that is so unfamiliar with what I am teaching, I have to go slow in my writings, so please, please, please be patient with me, as I am being patient with them. I'm not in any hurry, and as these posts progress, there will be much along these lines we can talk about. I know in forums, sometimes it can be just about spouting out an answer, but I am taking this particular topic in a slow, methodical manner.

Thanks, Dog Cool
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27-08-2015, 03:26 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(27-08-2015 08:51 AM)Zoebion Wrote:  Let me start with the simple and move to the complex in the form of my presuppositions.
Presupposition 1: These particular post are geared towards Christians. Where I live, most Christians won’t even consider the evidence of evolution because they have THEOLOGICAL objections to it. The objection goes something like this “God couldn’t have used evolution because God is/isn’t ____________, or God does/doesn’t do ______________.
Presupposition 2: One of the objections raised by Christians is divine action. Thus, one of the main theological categories I am going to address is providence.
Presupposition 3: In these posts, I am not arguing for the existence of God.
Presupposition 4: Science and theology address different sets of questions and have different methodology.

Science is a methodology that produces reliable results.
Theology produce nothing except fantasy, ad hoc explanations, and special pleading.

Quote:Presupposition 5: There is no empirical evidence for or against God’s existence.

It is true that there is no evidence for God’s existence.
There is, however, a mountain of empirical evidence against the existence of a kind or loving god.

Quote:Presupposition 6: We can't test the existence of God in the sense of comparing events with or without God, since we can't arrange both options. And we can't test the existence of God by making predictions, since God has free will to act as he chooses. In those senses God is beyond scientific verification.

When we study the natural world, we find no place where any gods are required to explain anything. We see no effects that require supernatural causes.

Any claims by religion about any god having an effect in the natural world are unsupported. If gods have no effect in the natural world, what does it mean to claim a god exists?

Quote:Presupposition 7: Science and theology do overlap.

Any claims by religion about any god having an effect in the natural world are the proper subject for scientific inquiry.

Quote:The overlap is not something that can be demonstrated scientifically.

I just did.

Quote:And the Bible does not provide details at that level. And so I simply trust science for investigating the natural word, and trust that the God known to us through Jesus created and has providence even over the most basic and repeatable laws of nature.
"Presupposition 3: In these posts, I am not arguing for the existence of God. "
No, you are just assuming it. Facepalm

Quote:Presupposition 8: Scientifically speaking via the process of evolution, we cannot detect God, but only the result of his creative activity.

And we see none. Nada. Zilch. Zip.

Quote:For example, the only way to do that is to examine the final product for properties that the hypotheses demand and forbid.

We examine the algorithm that underlies evolution and we see that it needs no gods to work.

Quote:In other words we have to be able to set up a hypothesis that looks like this:

P1. Process X will always produce properties a, b, and c
P2. Process X can never produce properties x, y, and z.
And then examine the final product for the presence of a, b, and c and the absence of x, y, and z.

No, those are not evolutionary hypotheses. It is not a dichotomy of always/never, it is probabilistic and contingent.

Quote:And then we do the same thing for a competing hypothesis about process Z that has its own consequences for what it must always produce or can never produce, etc.

We haven’t been given enough information about God to say, "If God made the universe, it would have to have these certain properties and cannot have these certain other properties.”

We have been given no information about God. Where would it come from?

Quote:So, my belief in God is not something that is subject to that kind of hypothesis like we do in science. My belief in God is based on revelation (bible), faith, and experience (how he changed me). Which is where atheist and Christian theist have their major disagreements.

Agreed. Now keep religion out of science, it has no applicability.

Quote:Presupposition 9: The hypothetico-deductive method.

1) Perform a number of experiments or make a number of field observations for a particular phenomenon.

2) Form a number of hypotheses for what might cause the observed phenomenon.

3) For each hypothesis, generate all the necessary logical consequences that proceed from the premises through deduction. (In science they are called "predictions".)

4) Examine the phenomenon for the range and accuracy for what the predictions demand and forbid about what you must find in the phenomenon.

5) Choose the hypothesis that demonstrates the greatest range and accuracy for predicting the properties of the phenomenon.

The problem with science/supernatural or physical/metaphysical is in step 3. What premises can we assemble about God that generates a number of necessary consequences?

None unless you make the nature of a god part of your premises.

Quote:What can we say about God such that only certain consequences of his activity are possible, and other consequences are not possible? How do we form the hypothesis of, "Because God, then X." and "Because God, then not Y.", where X and not-Y are necessary consequences of the premise of God? We can’t. Not from a scientific standpoint anyway. Thus the reason for theology, which examines the nature of God.

Theology works with no facts, no evidence; why would one pay it any heed?

Quote:So, to sum it up:
1) Divine action is not visible through the lens of science, but through faith. Just because divine action isn’t visible through the lens of science, doesn’t mean that the two are incompatible. Science is constrained by its methodology and not the only means of knowledge. Thus, theology gives us insight into divine action in the world.
2) Belief in divine action is not founded in science, but theology. What I will be discussing in these posts are theological theories, not scientific ones.
3) The goal of talking about divine action is not meant to be a “god of the gaps” argument, but a theological reflection on evolution.
4) Though I will mention them briefly in the posts, I will not be focusing on such interactions of God and history through theophanies and miracles. That is the category of "special" providence as opposed to "normal" providence.

To answer the question, “how do we distinguish between the undetectable and the imaginary”? History, which again, is where we will have disagreements.

I hope this gives you a better understanding as to where I am coming from and the scope of the upcoming posts.

The idea of gods comes from the infancy of the human species. Time to grow up. Drinking Beverage

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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27-08-2015, 03:35 PM
RE: Christians and Evolution - A resource for those in question
(27-08-2015 03:09 PM)Zoebion Wrote:  Because I have an audience that is so unfamiliar with what I am teaching, I have to go slow in my writings, so please, please, please be patient with me, as I am being patient with them. I'm not in any hurry, and as these posts progress, there will be much along these lines we can talk about. I know in forums, sometimes it can be just about spouting out an answer, but I am taking this particular topic in a slow, methodical manner.

Not only unfamiliar but hostile Wink Y'all better have your ducks in a row 'cos any duck that's out of line is out of luck. I'm interested in you purely from a point of view of finding out whether it is actually possible to really *get* scientific evolution theory and the total lack of necessity for a God, and at the same time to remain Christian. From what I understand of you and KC, you guys are different from the fundies in one respect only, and that is that you do not fear or deny science. That is interesting because for me to maintain such a belief would entail such jarring cognitive dissonance that I would have no option but to either shut down my reasoning faculties or abandon my faith - well, it's clear which option I chose.

I want there to be more Christians like you guys though, because you guys are the kind of believers that we can coexist with - not these pushy YEC types who elevate stupidity to a virtue.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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