Science and Faith?

I recently read a post at Nan’s Notebook titled, “Science…Faith—What’s The Answer?” The intent was to elicit open discussion on the merits of faith and science as related to human existence. I found the comments quite interesting. Nan is a deconvert from Christianity, but not a combative antitheist like some, so I don’t mind commenting on her blog when I can. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the post in time to offer my views, so I thought I would do so here. First, my short answer to the question…I believe both are needed for a fully-orbed worldview. Science asks “how” questions, where (religious or philosophical) faith asks “why” questions.

Alister McGrath, a former atheist who is now both a scientist and Christian theologian, says this:

“Science seeks to clarify mechanisms; religions offer meaning. These approaches do not need to be seen as being in competition, or as being mutually incompatible. They operate at different levels.”

Here are ten top scientists who weigh in on the question of science and faith.

Even Charles Darwin didn’t see a conflict between science and faith. In a letter to John Fordyce in 1879 he said, “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.” (“The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin“, p.304)

Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould repeatedly pointed out that science is neither atheist nor theist. It is just science. If it limits itself to the legitimate application of the scientific method—which it should—it is simply unable to comment on the God-question.

Nobel Prize winning biologist Sir Peter Medawar said we must acknowledge that there are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.” (“The Limits of Science,” p.66)

What’s the problem then?

As “Darwin’s bulldog” Thomas Huxley succinctly put it, “Science…commits suicide when it adopts a creed.” (“Darwiniana,” 1893, p.252). In other words, when it becomes an ideology rather than a method of discovery (referred to as “scientism.”) We theists do the same thing when we try to make our faith a scientific method.

Alister McGrath wrote a well-documented book on this subject, “The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God.” Here are a few quotes on this question (emphasis added):

Eugenie Scott, then director of the National Center for Science Education, made this point neatly back in 1993: “Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.” Science is a non-theistic, not an anti-theistic, way of engaging reality. As the philosopher Alvin Plantinga so rightly observes, if there is any conflict between “science” and “faith,” it is really between a dogmatic metaphysical naturalism and belief in God.” (p. 19)

The problem is not between science and faith but with ideological dogmatism. This certainly includes extreme religious fundamentalism, but also radical antitheism, as McGrath continues:

“British philosopher Mary Midgley is particularly critical of Richard Dawkins, whom she regards as the prime example of a scientist with pretentious and inflated views of the scientific enterprise in general and of his own prowess as a public intellectual in particular. How, Midgley asked, could anyone know the universe is meaningless? How could they show that it has no purpose? These must surely remain open questions. ( p. 28)

“As the sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund recently argued, on the basis of detailed conversations with leading scientists, the notion of an “insurmountable hostility” between science and religion is “a caricature, a thought-cliché, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality.” (p.38)

I personally believe science and faith actually need each other. Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset said, if we, as human beings, are to lead fulfilled lives, we need more than a partial account of reality that science offers. We need a big picture, or integral idea of the universe. And here’s what he said about the limits of science:

Any philosophy of life, any way of thinking about the questions that really matter will thus end up going beyond science—not because there is anything wrong with science, but precisely because its intellectual virtues are won at a price: science works so well because it is so focused and specific in its methods. Scientific truth is characterized by its precision and the certainty of its predictions. But science achieves these admirable qualities at the cost of remaining secondary concerns, leaving ultimate and decisive questions untouched.” (Ortega, “El origen deportivo del estado,” quoted from McGrath, “The Big Question…”, p.4)

For instance, while we may be able to have a precise view of evolutionary history, we still don’t touch why we’re here in the first place. Science cannot answer these existential questions and they won’t go away by dismissing them.

I can have “faith” (confidence, trust) in the methods of science while having faith in finding meaning in something that goes beyond science. In my opinion, to make science or religion answer something they’re not meant to answer is where we go wrong.

I personally believe theists and atheists can have meaningful dialogue about faith and science as long as we understand these things and the conversation is respectful and open. But when we just dismiss and ridicule the other, we become the problem.

And atheists need to know that most Christians are not anti-science. According to a UROP study done by Max Tegmark (who is not a theist) in 2013, only about 11% of [American] religious people belong to a faith that could be considered anti-science (you can watch the video where he discusses this here).

So, in my view, it’s really extreme religious fundamentalism and radical antitheism that’s the problem, not some inherent incompatibility between science and faith.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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161 Responses to Science and Faith?

  1. john zande says:

    As I asked this in Nan’s thread, but never got an answer, perhaps I can re-post it and hope…

    How, for example, do you reconcile the claim of “goodness” against the hard fact that the mechanisms necessary to physically experience something beginning to resemble ‘happiness’ (enkephalin and opioid receptors) would not even exist in the world before some 3.5 billion years of terrestrial evolution had passed and untold billions of generations of living things had suffered enormously without as much as the hope of corporeal relief?

    Why 3.7 billion years of impenetrably natural evolution (full of blood and mistakes and pain and terror) to arrive at humans… Why are we still evolving?

    Did Yhwh cause the 11 great extinction events necessary to pave the way for humans?

    Is that ethical?

    Yes Mel, please reconcile your hypothesis (an impossibly ‘good,’ mindful, mistake-free ‘designer’) with 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You probably didn’t get an answer because your question is not relevant to the post.

      • john zande says:

        Translation: “I cannot address these questions without ruining my pantomime version of reality, so i will not address these questions.”

        Mel, you said you know the “why”… But as we can all see by your evasion, you are simply lying.

        • Mel Wild says:

          John, no, you don’t see anything. But what we all can see is that all you want to do is totally ignore the subject and push your own agenda. Your question is not relevant and I’m not going to waste my time going down another one of your rabbit trails.

        • john zande says:

          Of course you won’t address these questions.

          You’re utterly terrified of where these questions lead, which is why you present excuse after excuse after excuse after excuse for not addressing them.

          That’s all you are, Mel… One giant excuse.

          You are incapable of discussing reality.

          So, by your continual evasion of simply addressing “reality,” we can all see you have flat out lied when you claim to have the “why” answer.

          You don’t.

          You never have.

          And you know it, and being caught in your lie is not only monstrously embarrassing, but it frightens the absolute shit out of you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Your playground taunts, misrepresentations, and baseless accusations are making my point, John. So I suppose I should thank you for perfectly illustrating the problem in having meaningful conversations with belligerent antitheist fundamentalists.

        • john zande says:

          Quite on the contrary, Mel.

          Your continued evasion simply demonstrates my point.

          Your hypothesis cannot be reconciled with reality, and you know it can’t.

          What does that leave you with?

          A pantomime.

        • tildeb says:

          You can call it a rabbit trail but seriously, Mel, what John is pointing out is a solid body of evidence that reveals your ‘answer’ does not fit it.

          That is not a rabbit trail: it’s a fact. Your explanatory model to the ‘why’ question does not fit what we know about the ‘how’ answers. That’s why your faith-based assertion is incompatible with the evidence-adduced model. That’s not an alternate belief; it’s pointing out that reality does not comport to your religiously inspired explanatory model.

          Because you claim to ‘know’ something from asking this ‘why’ question and receiving an answer from reality, John’s asking you to comport the two. This is on topic. That you won’t answer it reveals that you can’t answer it, and this goes back to my point that you accuse science of being unable to answer these why questions but then keep pretending that religion can!

          No. Religion cannot answer the why question and still comport with reality.

          All you’re doing is substituting a scientific ‘I don’t know” with a religious Just So story. That’s not an answer, Mel. That’s just another form of “I don’t know” that you are claiming to be a better answer. It’s not. So John is challenging you on exactly that assertion not by some other Just So story but by a solid body of evidence that demonstrates why your answer does not comport with reality. In other words, your claim is NOT an answer. It is a pseudo-answer masquerading as something it’s not, namely something you can know something about.

        • Mel Wild says:

          It’s a rabbit trail, Tildeb. John is not talking about the limits of science and faith. He’s taking the opportunity to impugn the character of my particular description of a Christian God. This post is NOT about my claim, it’s about what science and faith can answer.

          The point is, your “I don’t know” answer will forever be “I don’t know” because you’re looking to science to answer something it cannot answer. Again, as Sir Peter Medawar said, “we must acknowledge that there are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.”

        • tildeb says:

          That’s because these questions are not able to produce independent answers – knowledge – as far as we know. Because we do not know, we correctly and honestly produce the “I don’t know…” which should ALSO include the correct ‘religious’ answer to be the same question: you DO NOT know and religion DOES NOT produce any other knowledge, either.

          That’s the truth.

          You are working wholly and fully from the same reality for your ‘why’ questions as any who respect reality enough to use science to gain knowledge about it and there will be as many ‘answers’ as there are people who ask the ‘why’ questions. But asking the ‘why’ questions does not produce knowledge, Mel; they produce knowledge-free ‘answers’ that answers nothing independent of the person asking. You misrepresent these divergent and different and often incompatible ‘answers’ to be something different than what science produces, something with another kind of knowledge merit.

          That is untrue. That is peddling a deception.

          That’s the deception because in truth, in fact, indeed, these ‘answers’ to the why questions you claim religion produces are identical in knowledge value to the “I don’t know” honestly admitted by the method of science. They are the same knowledge-less ‘answers’. And the reason isn’t because Science is somehow lacking – which is yet another deception you peddle – but because the ‘why question itself is not answerable with knowledge. It is answerable in the pseudo sense of the term only by whatever belief statement you care to insert. Knowledge has nothing to do with it. You are supplying only the ‘answer’ you want to hear and not one that exists independently of you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s because these questions are not able to produce independent answers – knowledge – as far as we know.

          That is pure scientism (“science gives us the only real knowledge there is”). But this paradigm still fails to answer the MOST IMPORTANT questions for why we exist at all. This is why these questions will never go away or cease to be important. To try to find scientific “knowledge” to answer these questions is a category mistake. Scientific knowledge will never answer these questions or even address them. This is where faith comes in, but that doesn’t mean it’s blind faith. We can make inferences to the best explanation, but we cannot prove it mathematically or empirically with science. And having faith doesn’t mean I must reject science. That is a myth and not helpful to the conversation.

          Faith is NOT science. Let me make that clear. But faith can help us make sense of things that science cannot answer.

        • tildeb says:

          Is it “extreme religious fundamentalism” aka “a wooden literal interpretation of the creation story” to believe in a historical Adam and Eve, to believe that God created man and woman?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I would say if we take a wooden literal view of the creation story, we are in the Fundamentalist camp. But within that group, many are tolerant of other views. What would make them extreme fundamentalists, in my view, would be a total intolerance for other views.

        • tildeb says:

          So in your religious opinion, it’s actually somewhat less wooden, less fundamental to NOT believe in an historical Adam and Eve, and in your religious opinion less wooden, less fundamental to reject the idea that God did not create man and woman. Do I have that right?

        • john zande says:

          Should that read: …that God did create man and woman ?

        • tildeb says:

          Yes, it should read with your correction. I sometimes don’t get confused with negatives.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So in your religious opinion, it’s actually somewhat less wooden, less fundamental to NOT believe in an historical Adam and Eve, and in your religious opinion less wooden, less fundamental to reject the idea that God did not create man and woman.

          To not believe in a historical Adam and Eve would not be fundamentalism at all. But fundamentalism represents a minority view of Christians overall.

          The vast majority are non-fundamentalists. Their scholarship tends toward “Adam and Eve” being a representation, either through individual people (Adam and Eve) or a corporate identity, of man’s alienation from God. In other words, the story represents something about us rather than depicts a singular historic event. And, among non-fundamentalists there can be a wide range of views on how this plays out.

          The problem is that the ancient writers didn’t write pre-history like we write modern history. This is one of the reasons why many non-fundamentalist scholars see the creation story more as a polemic against the other creation narratives in their ancient world than a literal chronological account. It seems to be written that way. And I’m not even talking about liberal scholarship but those who hold the Bible as inspired. This is also why we, as Christians, need to be tolerant of these diverse views because no one can prove them one way or the other.

        • tildeb says:

          So fundamentalism if I understand you correctly isn’t about the content of beliefs but is determined by the lack of willingness to accept other interpretations as equivalent. Do I have this right?

        • Mel Wild says:

          When I say “extreme Fundamentalists” in this context I have intolerant groups like the Westboro Baptists in mind on the extreme end, or extreme militant groups in other world religions that are intolerant of other views (which are a minority in their religions, too). They would tend to have a combative “us” versus “them” mindset, seeing secular science as a threat to their faith.

          But that doesn’t necessarily make all Fundamentalists intolerant of opposing views. The Amish, for instance, would be considered strict fundamentalists but they’re very tolerant of outsiders and not combative at all. Other evangelical fundamentalists may also be very tolerant of opposing views and not anti-science in general. They will still maintain that they have the correct view but they are tolerant of other views.

          Brief history excurses. American Christian Fundamentalism was initially a reaction to 19th century liberal theologians and German higher (textual) criticism of the day. This is also when the idea of biblical inerrancy became a doctrine (another long story). But modern Fundamentalists would tend to be anti-science in areas like the age of the earth and evolution (rather ironic since one of their 19th century heroes, B.B. Warfield, responded favorably to Darwinism, and most early church fathers did not take a wooden literal view of the six “creation days”), which is also a factor with the evangelical “creation science” pushback in the last few decades. This is where I think Modern Fundamentalism goes off the rails, trying to make the Bible a science book, which is one end of the problem I addressed in this post.

        • tildeb says:

          Mel, I’m trying to figure out using your criteria who is and is not a religious fundamentalist.All I’ve been able to determine so far is that a fundamentalist is a fundamentalist based entirely on whether or not you claim they are. This is not helpful to me. Your criteria is without borders, without substance independent of you and your vague notion. So let’s see what the dictionary says

          Fundamentalist (OED):
          mass noun
          1A form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.
          1.1 Strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.

          The term ‘fundamentalist’ contains the root ‘fundamental’, meaning
          1 Forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.
          1.1 Affecting or relating to the essential nature of something or the crucial point about an issue.
          1.2 So basic as to be hard to alter, resolve, or overcome.

          As a noun (the ‘fundamentals’) means
          1 A central or primary rule or principle on which something is based.
          2 Music: A fundamental note, tone, or frequency.

          Nowhere in any of this do we find some notion of how something is expressed by tone to indicate fundamentalism as you would have us think; rather, what we find is the notion of a basic principle strictly applied. In other words, if you are religious, this means you hold a basic belief and adhere to it. You don’t prevaricate on this belief. It is fundamental to define that religion. You hold that basic belief not because you’re intolerant but because you have to accept it in order to claim membership to that group. These fundamentals define and differentiate one religion from another. The basic principles for a religious belief is the fundamental base on which each religion is built.

          You, Mel, are a religious fundamentalist. You really do believe in certain fundamentals that define your religious belief from, say, a Scientologist or Buddhist or Muslim. It is these differences in the fundamental beliefs that defines you and not a similar accepting tone of other beliefs.

          So I think you’re being disingenuous trying to use the term pejoratively to smear those with whom you do not wish to have a real conversation about these fundamental differences, an unwillingness to have an open and honest dialogue about their truth merit, their knowledge merit, of these fundamental beliefs you hold. I think you are utterly intolerant of exploring how such fundamental religious beliefs compare and contrast and comport to our scientific understanding of how reality operates. You claim compatibility, quote others who similarly claim compatibility, think well of yourself for making this claim, but then studiously avoid the actual fundamental religious beliefs that are in direct conflict with this understanding.

          I think you defend your incompatible religious beliefs by not examining them, by not addressing how they do not comport with reality, by pretending to be tolerant of all other fundamental principles if they are religious but criticize as ‘fundamentalism’ the necessary principles that form the basis of open and honest dialogue… like respecting reality, respecting what’s true about it, respecting how we establish knowledge about it.

          I have asked you straight out several times in this thread about a specific fundamental belief you must hold to be Christian, namely, that God created man, that God created Adam and Eve. I did this because I know belief in Adam is a fundamental tenet of belief for Christianity to be Christianity. And His creation by God is necessary to this belief so that we can create a personal connection between us and God. Adam is the conduit through which we personally inherit in some manner a sinful nature for which we require a personal redemption through accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

          You won’t even admit belief in Adam and Eve, or admit your fundamental belief that God created man and woman. Fundamentalist? Without that, you’re nothing more than a pseudo-believer, a self identified believer who doesn’t believe and – Presto! – we find that’s how religious belief and science can now be compatible! Just do admit to believing the incompatible fundamental tenets! Voila!

          What kind of disciple (the root meaning ‘teacher’) are you busy condemning others as ‘fundamentalists’ for their criticisms of your fundamental beliefs while refusing to admit you actually hold them?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You, Mel, are a religious fundamentalist.

          Tildeb, you are trying to use the term out of the context I’m using in order to paint me with the same brush. I am NOT using the term in a generic sense, but a specific one, which is a legitimate usage. We all have convictions and fundamentals of what we believe. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

          Christian fundamentalism began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among British and American Protestants as a reaction to theological liberalism and cultural modernism. Fundamentalists argued that 19th-century modernist theologians had misinterpreted or rejected certain doctrines, especially biblical inerrancy, that they viewed as the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

          The term fundamentalism was coined by Baptist editor Curtis Lee Laws in 1920 to designate Christians who were ready “to do battle royal for the fundamentals.” The term was quickly adopted by all sides. Laws borrowed it from the title of a series of essays published between 1910 and 1915 called The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. The term “fundamentalism” entered the English language in 1922, and is often capitalized when referring to the religious movement.” (Wikipedia, emphasis added)

          And, again, not all who belong to “Fundamentalist” denominations are necessarily intolerant or combative. But the intolerance generally comes from Fundamentalism rather than from those who are not part of that camp.

          And I specifically was talking about the extreme version of Fundamentalism that is anti-science. Max Tegmark’s UROP study shows that this only represents 11% of all American Christian groups (video clip). I’m not coming against fundamentalism in general. I’m making the point that the intolerance generally comes from both extremes, whether it be extreme Fundamentalism or combative antitheism. In my opinion, Richard Dawkins is just the flipside of Jerry Falwell in this regard.

        • tildeb says:

          Mel, you clarify, “And I specifically was talking about the extreme version of Fundamentalism that is anti-science.”

          Right.

          So I’m pointing out that a necessary basic tenet of Christianity – belief that God created man and woman, created a historical Adam and Eve – meets exactly this definition. This belief that defines Christianity is what YOU call an “extreme version of Fundamentalism.” It is what you call extreme BECAUSE it is anti-science!

          This criticism is not produced from any position other than what is true. It is not my belief. It is not some anti-theist extremism. It is not an atheistic worldview. It is not a precept or philosophical mandate held as if a religious belief. This criticism is true because it is descriptive of reality. By your own admission, you are an extreme fundamentalist. And that’s the problem when you assign this kind of label to be somewhere out there, somewhere beyond you and other ‘reasonable’ religious people, some fringe area where unreasonable extremists might find a baseless incompatibility between their religious beliefs and science, but guess what? This incompatibility is right here, right now, embedded in your basic fundamental anti-scientific belief that defines you as a Christian. You are the extremist. You are the fundamentalist you think you criticize. You are the standard bearer of what makes your religious belief fundamentally anti-scientific. And that’s why you demonstrate why there is a fundamental incompatibility between science and religion: because when there is a direct conflict between them, you side with your religious beliefs every time and deny reality it’s role to arbitrate your beliefs about it. You function in reality not by trusting your religious beliefs to ‘answer’ your questions about it but by separating them from your day to day behaviour and your acceptance of your ‘anti-religious’ confidence in science.

          People who claim fundamental compatibility between religion and science are incorrect. They may enunciate that there is a compatibility but they cannot defend it with integrity because it’s simply not possible.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Tildeb, your characterization of me is absolutely false, and to say that I’m anti-science is an outright lie. This is just the perpetuation of the myth that science and faith are necessarily at odds with one another. Only particular interpretations of religious faith are at odds with science.

          This following video clip with N.T. Wright shows what I’m talking about with regard to Adam and Eve:

          Here are other theologians and scientists discussing why the interpretation of Adam and Eve, and the Bible in general, are not necessarily at odds with science.

          You seem to think that making faith compatible with science means making them the same thing. Faith is NOT science; science is not faith. And to make science explain all reality is scientism, not science. Science and faith speak to different very different but important aspects of our existence, but they are not necessarily incompatible. Both are needed. I am not anti-science. To paint my position in any other way is a total mischaracterization and an outright lie.

        • john zande says:

          Do you believe Adam and Eve were created?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you believe Adam and Eve were created?

          If you mean “created” as in Augustine’s definition meaning that God “endowed the created order with a capacity to develop,” or Thomas Aquinas’s Secondary Causality, and the more scientifically informed modern view that God put the self-creating process in place in order to bring about humankind, represented by “Adam and Eve,” in order to tell the story of man’s relationship and alienation with God, then yes, of course. And this view does not negate that there may have actually been two individuals named Adam and Eve in history. We cannot prove it either way, but that’s not important to the meaning of the story. But if you mean that I think God created Adam and Eve on the literal sixth 24-hour day of some already completed creative process, then probably not. Nor do most non-fundamentalist Christians. It’s not that God is incapable of doing it that way, but there’s no reason to be at loggerheads with science on the particular way He did it. It doesn’t necessarily violate Scripture itself, just some wooden literal interpretations of Scripture.

        • john zande says:

          God put the self-creating process in place in order to bring about humankind

          So, you’re describing something that is indistinguishable from nature.

          I’ve asked these questions a few times… Perhaps you can answer them now?

          Does this mean Yhwh, for example, caused the 11 great extinction events necessary to pave the way for humans?

          Do you believe “man” is the final product?

          If so, why are we still evolving?

          Why evolution (especially considering it conceals the “Designer” whom you claim wants to be known)?

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, you’re describing something that is indistinguishable from nature.

          Yes, of course, it’s indistinguishable because it’s tautological: we’re saying the natural process is the creative process. But that’s not the same thing as causation (which you have no answer for). What we’re saying is that whatever the process, when science correctly identifies it through methodology, is part and parcel to the natural laws that God put into place. Of course, this is a faith statement.

          All your other questions are speculations. Who knows? What we’re talking about here are the limitations of science and faith. We believe by faith that the natural process didn’t just “poof” out of absolutely nothing. It infers design. We can hold to this philosophically without having to deny the science that discovers the natural process.

        • john zande says:

          Are you of the opinion then that human beings are simply an unplanned evolutionary accident; a fortuitous (for us), but completely unintended, incident in the evolutionary paradigm?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Are you of the opinion then that human beings are simply an unplanned evolutionary accident;

          No, that would not be my opinion. My worldview is that we were intended by God before the universe began (Eph.1:3-7), regardless of what the natural processes were to get there. Of course, that’s my philosophical view. I have no empirical scientific evidence. But there is also no empirical evidence to prove it wasn’t intended. We can only say it appears random, not that the randomness wasn’t the intention.

        • john zande says:

          So, we humans are no-longer evolving, but everything else is?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why would that have to be true?

        • john zande says:

          You tell me.

          Are human beings still evolving?

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s a science question. It seems like we are.

        • john zande says:

          So we’re not (yet) what Yhwh had intended?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, why do you say that? What if His intent was for us to evolve and improve as a race?

        • john zande says:

          You tell me.

          If we’re still evolving, then it would appear to be correct to say we, as a species, are not (yet) what Yhwh had intended.

          Would that be accurate?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Not if the evolutionary process was what God intended, then His intention would be fulfilled at the moment of creation (initial causation). But we believe His intention for creation was for us to be in relationship with Him (regardless of what state of development we might be in.)

        • john zande says:

          I’m sorry, but this answer seems to contradict your statement from a few minutes ago: “My worldview is that we were intended by God before the universe began (Eph.1:3-7)”

          If we, as a species, are still evolving, then we are not, yet, what Yhwh intended.

          Would you agree?

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you mean the full fruition is what He intended, yes, possibly. But if you mean intention itself, that would be fulfilled when we came on the scene. Further improvement doesn’t change the intention.

        • john zande says:

          So you agree we are not, as a species, what Yhwh intends?

          Humans are not it.

          Further improvement doesn’t change the intention.

          That depends. What is the intention?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Let me put it this way. If you designed a car so people could travel on highways instead of walking does the intention change because you improved the car? No, the intention stays the same.

          You are focused on the “how” question instead of the “why” question. And science cannot answer the “why” question. That’s where science ends and faith begins. We believe the “why” is because God intended for us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. That intention doesn’t change with our improvement.

        • john zande says:

          You are focused on the “how” question instead of the “why” question.

          I’ve been asking you “why” question forever and a day.

          Why did Yhwh create this artificial world?

          Why evolution?

          If there is intent, then why the painfully slow evolutionary paradigm? This is especially pertinent considering the staggering amount of horror that is connected to the evolutionary paradigm.

          You claim your “Designer” is good, yet the picture you are painting is an ethical horror story; something more akin to a perverted experiment than a garden.

          You claim your “Designer” wants to be known, then whythe camouflage, the deception, the masking? What possible purpose does that deliberate concealment serve?

          That intention doesn’t change with our improvement.

          Again, it all depends on what that intention is.

          You have already conceded that humans are not the intention.

          So, as you are not what Yhwh wants, WHY are you here, Mel?

        • tildeb says:

          You promote design and attribute this design to a divine agency. You also claim that faith and science are not incompatible because the Bible isn’t a replacement science book.

          Oh really?

          Let’s look at the primary organization that promotes Intelligent Design, the Discovery Institute. In its charter we call The Wedge Document, it says and I quote (emboldened by me):

          “We are building on this momentum (after Behe’s book), broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

          Under its five year goals:
          “To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
          To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God

          There’s your creationism behind intelligent design proponents. There is your smoking gun to replace science with theology under the disguise of ‘design’.

          Mel, you’re just a dupe.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, I’m a dupe? You seem to know more about the Discovery Institute than I do. When have I ever advocated this group on my blog? Does this correspond to the scientists I’ve put on my site. Apparently, from a cursory look at their site, I can see why bring these people up. They make a good straw man.

        • john zande says:

          Mel?

          If you are not what Yhwh wants, WHY are you here?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You’re not listening so why should I keep repeating myself. To say it another way, I’m exactly what God wants at exactly the right time. And so are you…

          26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:26-28)

        • john zande says:

          I am listening, but I have to admit, I’m struggling to keep up with your quickly shifting positions.

          Your “I’m exactly what God wants at exactly the right time” seems to contradict your earlier statement, “My worldview is that we were intended by God before the universe began (Eph.1:3-7)”.

          One implies the completion of a project. The other does not.

          If I read you correctly, and do correct me if I’m wrong, what you’re now suggesting is that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this correct?

          Actually, our unique evolutionary branch goes much further back, back seven million years to . So, just to clarify, are you suggesting the Designer and Observer of the evolutionary paradigm (Yhwh) wanted some 280,000 generations of living/thinking/loving/caring/fearful human-like beings (from Australopithecus afarensis to Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens) to be prey animals whose only utility was as breeding machines throwing their genes forward (if they were lucky enough, of course, to survive predation long enough to do so), waiting for some fortuitous random mutation that (hopefully) nudged life towards Yhwh’s true (future) objective?

          Is that, more or less, what you’re saying?

          And just for a final clarification, are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached one year, one thousand, two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          I apologise for all the questions, but I would like to understand what, exactly, you believe.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, you’re not really listening. You are making the evolution the intent (the “how”). I am making the relationship the intent (the “why”). There is no inconsistency there at all. If I wanted to have a son, my intent would be perfectly accomplished when he was born, not if he lived to be 20 or 80 years old, or regardless of his development as a human being.

        • john zande says:

          No, I’m not making “evolution the intent.” Please stop implying I am. The intent is what the Designer (Yhwh) wants. The mechanism the Designer (Yhwh) is using to get to that point is, according to you, evolution. As evolution is ongoing, then we do not know what the intent is.

          That is why I asked you: Are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          Is that your opinion?

          You just said on your new post: “Arguments are seen as battles that need to be won at all cost rather than actually communicating and understanding one another.”

          Well, I am trying to understand what your position is.

          The problem appears to be that you don’t seem to know what your position is.

          So, please bear with me.

          If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, from a historical perspective, correct?

          (Note: Predation is just one of many evolutionary pressures built into the system, and necessary for spurring on breeding. Without breeding we have no evolution)

        • Mel Wild says:

          My position is very clear, John. I think you’re confusing yourself by asking me questions that have nothing to do with my answer. Again, in my view, God’s intent was to have relationship with us and with each other. In my view, it has absolutely nothing to do with the evolutionary process. The former is the “why” the latter deals with the “how.”

        • john zande says:

          In my view, it has absolutely nothing to do with the evolutionary process.

          Mel, it was you who said Yhwh uses evolution. You claimed it was his chosen “creative process.” Your words, not mine. Therefore, it has everything to do with this relationship you’re alluding to.

          Self-evidently, that “relationship” is entirely dependent on where Yhwh is in his plan, which is why, I believe, you said this:

          I’m exactly what God wants at exactly the right time. And so are you…

          If that applies to you now, today, then surely it applies to every living creature in the last 3.82 billion years, correct?

          They are exactly where they are meant to be.

          Therefore: If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          And also, are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached one year, a thousand, two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          Is that your opinion?

          Again, I’m sorry for all the questions, but I am honestly only trying to understand what you believe, and how that fits with our known evolutionary history.

          As you said this morning:

          >“Arguments are seen as battles that need to be won at all cost rather than actually communicating and understanding one another.”

          Well, I am trying to understand what your position is.

          Help me understand, please.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Mel, it was you who said Yhwh uses evolution. You claimed it was his chosen “creative process.”

          Yes, John, PROCESS. Process is not the same thing as intention. Why don’t you get this? You keep asking me “why?” I keep telling you why, but you keep going back to process. His intention was for us to be in relationship with Him and each other.

        • john zande says:

          I’m not talking about the process. I’m taking you on your word: Yhwh uses Evolution as his “creative process.”

          Fine.

          Please stop saying I’m talking about the process. I’m not.

          You said: I’m exactly what God wants at exactly the right time. And so are you…

          If that applies to you now, today, then surely it applies to every living creature in the last 3.82 billion years, correct?

          They are/were exactly where they are/were meant to be.

          Correct?

          Therefore: If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          And also, are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached one year, a thousand, two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          Is that your opinion?

          Yes or No.

          Again, please help me understand your position.

          Honestly, I am trying to understand what, exactly, you believe.

        • Nan says:

          I’ll admit most of the conversation between you and Mel is over my head, but I will say this. When Mel claims that he and other believers are exactly what God (Yahweh) wants, I really don’t think he’s referring to the physical human being that exists today (as compared to the evolutionary human). I think he’s speaking from a “spiritual” POV. But even if he isn’t, as a Christian, I feel his philosophy revolves around the idea that God created humans … period. Whether they were in the knuckle-dragging phrase or the version that exists today.

          I personally support evolution. But then, I gave up the idea of a “god” and the magical things he’s reported to be capable of long ago.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, thanks Nan, for bringing some objective clarity to the conversation. Intention, to me (according the “big story” of Scripture, is that God wanted a relationship with humankind. The evolutionary process is something else.

        • john zande says:

          Again, thanks Nan, for bringing some objective clarity to the conversation.

          I’m asking for clarity.

          Can you give me some?

        • john zande says:

          If I understand his position correctly, which I’m not entirely sure I do, Mel is not a Creationist. Evolution, he says, is Yhwh’s “creative process,” bringing species slowly into being at precisely the right time and place.

        • Nan says:

          Perhaps, but this is not the impression I get. Also, I really don’t think most believers analyze the whole creation mechanism to the extent non-believers do, so to try and get a response that satisfies your analytical mind will be difficult, if not impossible. 🙂

        • john zande says:

          Well, I’m trying to understand his position.

          If he knows what his position is, then I hope he can answer my questions, which will go a long way in helping me get a clearer picture of what, exactly, he believes.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks again for trying to mediate here, Nan. 🙂 I have answered the questions as far as they pertain to the post. But I won’t be taken down every path that people want to go on. Frankly, I don’t have the time. I do get tired of the accusatory tone.

          I already said this to Tildeb, but for the sake of clarity I will repeat my position here. Maybe you can help with the translation. 🙂

          I’m theologically neutral about evolution. I have no conviction on it and have no reason to argue with the science. With the exception of modern Fundamentalism, Christianity has had a long history of understanding creation being both a point in time (first cause) as well as a continuing process (second causality – Aquinas).

          Contrary to myth, it was Christians who first had a positive response to Darwin when he came out with his theory, including Fundamentalist B.B. Warfield. More recently, Francis Collins was a director of the Human Genome Project as a Bible-honoring Christian and evolutionist. BioLogos have evolutionary theists and Christian theologians. These people are not liberals. They honor Scripture, but don’t read it in a wooden literal way. So, whatever science comes up with is fine by me. I have no argument. I am not anti-science. The Bible doesn’t address it. As you surmised, I’m not even that interested in the details. It’s kind of boring to me, personally (I tend to like quantum physics better!). I’m not a microbiologist. And it doesn’t change what I believe, one way or the other. It only argues against certain people’s interpretation of what they think it says about creation.

          To be clear, I DO have convictions about other things but evolution is not one of them. Hope this clears things up.

        • john zande says:

          I DO have convictions about other things but evolution is not one of them.

          And yet you claim to KNOW evolution is Yhwh’s “creative process,” running for 13.8 billion years.

          The fact that it contradicts your claim of “goodness” is why you try and hand-wave it away, saying “you’re not interested in it.”

          You should be. It’s reality. If your beliefs do not fit reality, then your beliefs are, self evidently, wrong.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And yet you claim to KNOW evolution is Yhwh’s “creative process,” running for 13.8 billion years.

          Do I? That’s not my claim. John. That’s science’s latest claim. I’m simply agreeing with science. It really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

          The fact that it contradicts your claim of “goodness” is why you try and hand-wave it away, saying “you’re not interested in it.
          You should be. It’s reality. If your beliefs do not fit reality, then your beliefs are, self evidently, wrong.

          You are making a judgment call not a scientific claim. How do you know it’s not good? And since we’re talking about what’s important, why don’t you tell me why we’re here at all? Why are there elements for evolution in the first place? You exist so that should be pretty important to you, right?

        • john zande says:

          That’s not my claim. John.

          Really? Then what’s this:

          Yes, of course, it’s indistinguishable because it’s tautological: we’re saying the natural process is the creative process

          My guess would be because it’s part of the creative process.

          Creativity means input, does it not?

          That’s science’s latest claim.

          Science claims random mutation.

          You, I believe, don’t believe in the “random” part.

          It really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

          Really?

          So evolution is a completely random process and humans were never planned by Yhwh.

          We are an accident.

          Is that correct?

          How do you know it’s not good?

          Is being burnt alive in drought-caused wild fire good?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Random does not necessarily mean uncreated, or not part of the creative process. And how do you know it’s an accident? It could just look random from our perspective.

        • john zande says:

          Random means without directed cause. ie. Random. By chance. An accident.

          Are humans an unplanned evolutionary accident, Mel?

        • Mel Wild says:

          And how you know for certain that it’s actually undirected? What if it only looks undirected from our very limited perspective? What if that apparent randomness has a specific purpose?

        • john zande says:

          What if it only looks undirected from our very limited perspective? What if that apparent randomness has a specific purpose?

          You tell me.

          If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          Yes or No?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, you tell me, John, since you’re the one who seems interested in it. I told you already that the Bible doesn’t address it and it doesn’t affect my relationship with God. And while you’re at it, why don’t you tell me why we’re here at all? Why are there elements for evolution in the first place? You exist so that should be pretty important to you, right? I’ve asked you this question repeatedly.

        • john zande says:

          You’re the one proposing it, proposing purpose, so I believe it is you, Mel, who has to explain it.

          If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          Yes or No?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have no idea what God wanted 1.5 million years ago and neither do you.
          That’s my opinion.

          Got to go now…

        • john zande says:

          Yes, you actually do.

          Self evidently, as history informs us, he must have wanted humans to be prey animals.

          Deal with it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Deal with it? You mean, deal with your depressing view of life? Now, the whole purpose of your questioning comes to light. It was to impugn God’s character as I surmised before. What are you so mad about, John? I think you need to deal with that.

          But since you know all things. Why don’t you deal with answering why we’re here at all? Why are there elements for evolution in the first place? You exist so that should be pretty important to you, right? I’ve asked YOU this question repeatedly.

          I’ll look for your answer when I get back late tonight or tomorrow.

        • john zande says:

          Curious, how can I impugn God’s character by simply describing history?

          If you’re embarrassed and made to feel awkward by history, Mel, then I believe it you who has the problem, not me.

        • john zande says:

          What if it only looks undirected from our very limited perspective? What if that apparent randomness has a specific purpose?

          So, Yhwh is deliberately hiding behind a wall of impenetrable naturalism?

          How does that square with your claim that Yhwh really, really, really wants to be known?

          Why the deception?

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s not true. God can be known. We can know that He exists because we exist. Because of nature. And when we open our heart to Him, we can know Him spiritually.

          And what you call deception is God’s grace. If God didn’t hide from us we could not hide from Him. It’s because of love. And love requires a choice, which includes the choice to deny and reject Him.

          The fact that you can pretend He doesn’t exist and impugn His character all day long is because of His mercy and grace.

        • john zande says:

          Because of nature.

          Predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age, thirst, hunger, draughts, wild fires, bolide impacts, extinction, and death.

        • tildeb says:

          JZ, you list “Predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age, thirst, hunger, draughts, wild fires, bolide impacts, extinction, and death” to be included with our created and designed lives – by a designer God, no less – that Mel assures us is really all about choosing divine love.

          So I’m going to follow the reasoning.

          Now, I know some people think this kind of treatment of a loved one really captures the ideal essence of what constitutes a higher level of love (many such people find themselves incarcerated for trying to demonstrate this love to others, but we are fallen creatures and just don;t grasp why love trumps all). And I’m almost sure that a relationship based on such treatment usually leads to mutual strengthening of the love bond, so here’s my idea: why not accept this from a designer god as proof positive of His love? I’m so impressed with the idea that, in fact, I think we owe it to our loving designer and creative God to return the favour and treat Him as He would treat us. Isn’t that only fair? Golden Rule and all that jazz? As long as we call it ‘love’ of the divine kind, we could get away with murdering him! And what an ultimate sacrifice we make to demonstrate our ultimate love to this God: first, make Him suffer and then kill God. It’s the highest form of piety, doncha think?

        • john zande says:

          The problem, of course, appears to be in finding this elusive god first. Even Mel has admitted his god has purposefully hidden itself so well behind a wall of impenetrable naturalism and seemingly perfect randomness that no one will ever detect its hand in any primary, secondary or even tertiary study of the natural world. But rest assured, this god apparently really, really, really wants to be known… He even oversaw the writing of a book about itself, which, according to Mel, is pretty much all wrong.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Correction. I meant we can “infer” that God exists. I don’t mean “know” in the sense of empirical scientific evidence.

        • tildeb says:

          Mel, you’re not alone in making this claim; I come across it all the time in apologetics: “And love requires a choice, which includes the choice to deny and reject Him.”

          Requires a choice? Says who? Since when?

          This always puzzles me, how so many religious people go along with it, nodding their heads in agreement as if it were true, as if this claim about love requiring a choice has merit.

          Does it?

          I don’t think the notion of choice and love comport. At all. Ever, in fact.

          I didn’t choose to fall in love. Did you? I didn’t choose to love my children. When did you make that choice? I didn’t choose to love this form of art but not that. Where were you when you made this kind of choice? In fact, I remember trying very hard to NOT love someone but, in spite of my most earnest efforts, I found my emotional response to be immune from my choice about it.

          And I don;t think I’m unique. I think this is lack of choice is absolutely typical. (Hence, the associated pain of unrequited love.)

          So I have no clue why so many people go along with this idea relative to some god that we ‘choose’ to love Him (and isn’t it curious it is almost always a Him when in almost every other species it is the female who creates life after a very small contribution by the male). I think that idea of love requiring a choice has absolutely no truth merit to it at all. Furthermore, I think the only way such a claim stands unchallenged by religious people is that this imported confidence that it MUST be true in regards to some god is what is required for that belief to make any sense at all: by calling this imaginary Harvey-like ‘relationship’ one based on imported ‘love’ because, hey, isn’t love grand?

          I think religion tries to co-opt love as if it were a choice we can exercise as the means by which we can then build an imaginary love relationship with an imaginary love god. After all, we’re able to self-pleasure physically aided by using our imagination; this is just the approved religious version of it.

        • Nan says:

          Personally, I’m getting rather bored with the “conversation” between you, John, and tildeb. Too bad you three can’t sit down somewhere and hassle it out face-to-face instead of taking up blog space going around and around and around. From a bystander’s POV, it’s very evident you’re talking past each other and a resolution is nowhere in sight. But hey … who am I to say? Carry on.

        • john zande says:

          Be judicious where you point that finger, Nan 🙂

          Wouldn’t have to go around and around and around if Mel would just answer honest, pertinent questions put to him. If he did, we could move on to exploring the idea a little deeper.

        • Mel Wild says:

          John, I told you several times. My big “why” is God wants relationship. You are now asking questions that go way beyond the post or either of our ability to answer. They are highly speculative questions. Neither science nor religion can address what prehistoric humanoids were thinking or how they perceived life. It seems to me that you’re fishing for a point you can use to impugn God’s character. I am very busy today and do not have time to continue wrangling over this. I told you my big picture “why,” we’ll just have to leave it at that.

        • john zande says:

          I’m not questioning your “relationship” answer.

          I’m trying to understand it.

          Did Yhwh want a relationship with Homo habilis?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Did Yhwh want a relationship with Homo habilis?

          I don’t know. My guess would be, yes, in some way. My point is, Christianity doesn’t address this at all. The Bible story begins with humankind as “Adam,” not with any evolutionary process before that.

        • john zande says:

          My guess would be, yes, in some way.

          Homo habilis were prey.

          Homo sapiens were, for some 1.5 million years, prey.

          Was that Yhwh’s intent for that time and place?

        • john zande says:

          Mel, was that Yhwh’s intent for that time and place?

        • john zande says:

          OK, your silence speaks volumes. You have nothing. You can explain nothing. Your hypothesis is unsupportable, historically absurd nonsense.

          Thanks, though, for perfectly demonstrating my observation from earlier in the day:

          you have a history of simply bailing out of a conversation the moment you can’t respond.

        • Mel Wild says:

          OK, your silence speaks volumes. You have nothing.

          Then you know nothing at all, John. All you are showing is that you don’t read my answers. First, what does your question have to do with my post? Care to take a guess? NOTHING! You refuse to respect my request to keep to the subject so don’t give me your baloney.

          Second, I told you at 12:31 PM (my time) “I am very busy today and do not have time to continue wrangling over this. I told you my big picture “why,” we’ll just have to leave it at that.”

          But what do you do? You totally ignore me and just keep at it, which is, frankly, very annoying and obnoxious. And now I get back home hours later and I find all this. Again, apparently, you just sit on your computer all day and argue about highly speculative things that don’t matter one bit in the scheme of things. Well, I don’t. And I answered you SEVERAL TIMES NOW.

          My last answer to your question at 12:38 PM….

          I don’t know. My guess would be, yes, in some way. My point is, Christianity doesn’t address this at all. The Bible story begins with humankind as “Adam,” not with any evolutionary process before that.”

          Frankly, the subject’s quite boring to me.

          But you STILL keep asking questions that not only I have answered but have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the post. So, if you keep asking this same question, I will ignore it. But you are lying when you say I’m being evasive.

        • john zande says:

          You have not answered anything! Stop saying you have.

          Here are two questions asked REPEATEDLY

          If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          And also, are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached one year, a thousand, two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          Is that your opinion?

          Yes or No.

          Why can’t you answer these simple questions? Why do you keep evading them? Just answer them and I’ll know a little more about your position. Please, stop this song and dance routine.

          Frankly, the subject’s quite boring to me

          Interesting. I’ll file this right next to I’m theologically neutral about evolution. I have no conviction on it and have no reason to argue with the science, while noting that you pen post after post after post presenting these very subjects as if you’re speaking from a position of knowledgeable authority.

          Now, please just answer the questions so I can gauge what it is you actually believe.

        • john zande says:

          And Mel, check the time codes, you kept making replies long after this time.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And Mel, check the time codes, you kept making replies long after this time.

          Yes, I was talking to Tildeb about the limits of science which is actually relevant to the post. I left after that.

          And, by the way, I will be away from my computer most of today, too.

        • john zande says:

          Here are two questions asked REPEATEDLY

          If you are “exactly what Yhwh wants at exactly the right time,” then am I correct in saying that for 1.5 million years, Yhwh wanted human beings to be prey animals?

          Is this, in your opinion, correct?

          And also, are you of the opinion that Yhwh will stop evolution when his intent (his objective) is finally reached one year, a thousand, two million, three million, ten million, one billion years off in the future?

          Is that your opinion?

          Yes or No.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I don’t care either way, John. The Bible doesn’t address it. It’s highly speculative. It has nothing to do with my relationship with God, which is His intent.

        • john zande says:

          And there’s the evasion.

          And yes, the bible does address it, it’s called Genesis, but you’ve been at pains to stress that Genesis is pure bunk, proposing another hypothesis, which you now say you don’t care about.

          The questions remain.

          Think about them before you go to sleep.

          Keep thinking about them, Mel.

        • john zande says:

          *back seven million years to Sahelanthropus tchadensis.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you just sit at your computer all day? If I don’t answer I’m probably doing something else.

        • john zande says:

          Sorry, but you have a history of simply bailing out of a conversation the moment you can’t respond.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sorry, but you have a history of simply bailing out of a conversation the moment you can’t respond.

          No, John, you are not going to put this false accusation on me. You have a history of refusing to stick to the topic of the post and then you accuse me of not answering you after 20-30 comments and my attempts to keep you on topic. I don’t sit at my computer all day and troll blog sites like you, and I don’t have the time nor the need to go down every rabbit trail you want to go on. But what you do is complain, taunt, and make your false accusation when I tell you to stay on topic. Well, if you don’t like it, go away. But you are the one doing the lying and being dishonest here.

        • tildeb says:

          These are empty assertions and rationalizations. The fact of the matter, Mel, is that by believing something anti-scientific in the name of religion is incompatible religious fundamentalism in action. That’s you. That describes you.

          Sure, you can wave the observation away as furiously as you want, wax poetically to the end of time how your beliefs aren’t really descriptive of reality in any literal sense, how unfair it is for anyone else to point it out, try your best to vilify through intentional misrepresentation those who do, but at the end of the day you’re still left with the uncomfortable historical fact you promote that Jesus was real, really did die on the cross, really did die to redeem us, really did live again, and that this historical death and historical resurrection was literally needed, but now trying to hide behind a smokescreen of apologetics that tries and fails to argue that, no, no, no, Adam and Eve and a creationist god are properly understood to be in narrative form only, to be interpreted after vetting by scientific scrutiny to be a sophisticated metaphorical need for redemption, you see. Having your cake, and eating it too. That’s hypocrisy, Mel. You either believe it and be a Christian or you don;t, in which case you’re not. Either/or. There is no middle ground no matter how hard you or other accommodationists try to create one.

          It’s nonsensical to have it both ways and when taken in context of all the posts you have written it is clear you don’t believe the metaphorical side for a minute. You really are a religious fundamentalist scrambling to try to find cover from your established anti-scientific fundamental religious beliefs that you describe as extremism but then refuse to own when it applies to you. So your untenable position must be the fault of someone else, right?

        • Nan says:

          tildeb, as a former member of a “fundamentalist” church, I can say with experiential authority that Mel is not a “fundamentalist.” Far from it. Yes, he has certain beliefs he clings to and will ignore/deflect arguments when he feels the attacks against him are without merit as related to his personal faith. But this is not the same as being a “fundamentalist” as defined within religious circles.

        • tildeb says:

          Au contraire, Nan. He is… according to his own definition. He just doesn’t realize it and neither do you.

          You are accommodating his more liberal position for those who remain more steadfast in their literal reading of scripture, but you make a mistake thinking fundamentalism is determined by the matter of degree rather than principle. That’s why I argue that every Christian, every Muslim, every Jew by definition must be a fundamentalist about the core tenets to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew and that this fundamentalist degree of literalism apologists use to try separate themselves from owning this fundamentalism has nothing to do with it.

          The fundamentalism is inherent in the basic tenets and not to what degree of literalism accommodationsists try to sell the rest of us as if this magically produces a division between the always-literalists and the sometime-literalists, as if this magically allows a compatibility between anti-scientific religious models and scientific models for the sometimes-literalists but not the literalists to avoid the charge of being literalists. It’s a difference without a distinction, and it’s a logical fallacy.

          We see the same song and dance routine when it comes to creationism and evolution, that the two are magically compatible if squinted at just the right way, if we can obscure the religious incompatibility in billions of years rather than millions (like those ridiculous anti-scientific fundamentalists), millions rather than thousands (like those ridiculous anti-scientific fundamentalists), thousands rather than hundreds (like those ridiculous anti-scientific fundamentalists), but the point I raise is that in principle, the fundamental religious belief of POOF!ism at some historical point – near or distant – doesn’t suddenly become compatible with how we know life changes over time.

          Mel’s fundamentalism is of the same kind: it is fundamentally anti-scientific. All you’re doing is privileging his more liberal religious belief just enough to try to artificially create a nice bug fuzzy grey area between what is and isn’t a religious fundamentalist belief – literalist belief – by the degree of fundamentalism rather than by the principle whether or not a explanatory model posses support from reality. His religious creationist beliefs stand incompatible with our scientific understanding of how human life has developed over time and no amount of wiggling and accommodating and excusing by any well-intentioned but misguided person is going to change this unpleasant, anti-scientific stance that comes solely from the central tenet of his religious belief. Humanity is a product of evolving life and there is zero evidence that at any time they got POOF!ed into being. Thew two models are incompatible in principle and not mitigated by a level of some other degree of religious fundamentalism.

        • Nan says:

          His religious creationist beliefs stand incompatible with our scientific understanding of how human life has developed over time

          Yes, tildeb. You are correct. They are incompatible. But as I’ve said (how many times?) before — NO ONE knows for certain the genesis of human life. And any attempt to convince others of a viewpoint that is contrary to theirs? Good luck. It will only result in discussions similar to what’s been going on here and dozens and dozens of other blogs.

          Just to add — I DO NOT have ANY confidence in the biblical tales of our genesis. But thousands and thousands of other people do (believers AND non-believers) and efforts to convince them otherwise will be futile at best.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, Nan, exactly. You actually get my point. Thank you! And I agree, no one knows for certain how our origins played out. My particular view makes sense of things for me, but it’s not necessarily incompatible with science. The incompatibility is between particular worldviews (e.g., scientism vs. Fundamentalism), not science and faith itself. And, of course, everyone is free to disagree with my view. But the point here is that meaningful discussion can take place when we realize the limitations of our assertions.

        • tildeb says:

          Nothing in human knowledge compares with the level of confidence earned for the evolutionary biological model that explains human ancestry. Nothing. Not germ theory. Not heliocentrism. Not electromagnetic forces. Evolution. The evidence is tremendous and mutually supportive across all fields. An alternative explanatory model would need to similarly account for it all as evolutionary theory does… ALL!… and this the creationist model spectacularly fails to do. In every case. There is zero evidence for a creationist event in human ancestry. Zero. Nothing. There is all kinds of evidence of genetic inheritance from great ape lineage. Oh… but let’s just wave it all away. Let’s not even look at chromosome 2. Too much ‘scientism’ at work.

          If your reasoning were rational and logical and consistent, then we should expect you and all other accommodationists to demonstrate less confidence in gravity and electricity and aerodynamics working today than yesterday. But of course, we don’t, do we? We don’t see such reasonableness, logic, or consistency in the accommodationist camp carried forward into all other areas of human activity. No, we save this for excusing religionists to help them maintain their anti-scientific models and go along pretending creationist beliefs are compatible when they are not. Respecting what’s probably true doesn’t even rank in the top ten concerns of accommodationists, apparently; it’s entirely about going along to protect the the feelings of those who wish to continue to believe in anti-scientific explanatory models in the name of respecting piety… because, well, just because… it’s the nice thing to do. Demonstrate the same mental disruption under any other auspice, and suddenly you have a full blown psychosis, mind you, but religious? Yup, fully compatible, donchaknow.

          Hypocrites.

          That’s how ridiculous is the argument that because we don’t have certainty (and good science never does, as all of us should well know) that therefore Oogity Boogity! exercising POOF!ism is a reasonable or comparable or somewhat equivalent explanatory model that comports with evolution.

          Seriously. This is what we’re being asked to go along with. Forget reality; let’s all pretend it’s innocuous and harmless to be anti-scientific because, well, because religion needs it, you see for their self-appointed authority over all things human… and we musn’t offend the little deluded tyrants.

          One has to be deaf, blind, and dumb to know how science works and still to go along with such a ridiculous argument that no knowledge merit at all. I mean, seriously. To what lengths will accommodationists go to grant wiggle room and the patina of rationality and faux-respect to magical models they cannot possibly believe comports because it stands only by denying the overwhelming evidence and the finest achievement in knowledge by humanity? And then to have the audacity to claim these creationist models (incompatible with each other, need I remind you) that deny reality its role to arbitrate our beliefs about it are still fully compatible with science is a sign of a mind that either cannot think straight or refuses to admit what is the case because of some other reason… reasons that have nothing to do with respecting what’s true and knowable. The creationist models by comparison fails at every stage to be reasonable and rational, fails to allow reality any say in the matter. The difference in the scope of rationalizing needed to go along with this idiotic argument is beyond absurd and is richly deserving of strong contempt because it is so transparently dishonest. One speaks this argument if not a believer for one reason only: to feel like one looks reasonable and supportive in the eyes of believers. But it’s really a demonstration that oen is willing and able to abdicate intellectual integrity and honesty in order to privilege religious belief from reality’s harsh arbitration of it. Bully for you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nothing in human knowledge compares with the level of confidence earned for the evolutionary biological model that explains human ancestry. Nothing. Not germ theory. Not heliocentrism. Not electromagnetic forces. Evolution. The evidence is tremendous and mutually supportive across all fields.

          Yes, of course. I’m not disagreeing with that at all. But there’s also NOTHING whatsoever in actual scientific knowledge that can explain why evolution is so in the first place, and why we have matter, quantum vacuum, or whatever you want to list, in the first place. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Why is this so? Because science cannot answer that question.

          So, for you to pompously bloviate about our utter stupidity because we believe that science doesn’t answer everything about reality is nothing but intolerant scientism. It’s people like you (just like extreme Fundamentalists) who are the problem with having meaningful discussion. Thanks for making my point.

        • tildeb says:

          I bloviate because of the intransigence you demonstrate in spite of overwhelming evidence that religion doesn’t answer these questions with knowledge either. You could use the identical reasoning to argue in favour of any woo you want. And yet you consistently fail to grasp this point but insist that religion offers you an answer. No. It doesn’t; YOU supply the ‘answer’ you like and then call it another kind of knowledge. That’s delusional thinking because you cannot substantiate it.

        • tildeb says:

          Where did I say I think science answers everything, Mel? After all, that is what you’re accusing me of, that’s what you’re using to justify telling me that I’m the fundamentalist here. Once again, you base your approach on your own beliefs (making shit up), then attribute that belief as coming from rather than being imposed on reality (it comes from you), and then pretend you’ve come to a ‘conclusion’ whereas it was you starting assertion!

          So go ahead: demonstrate that I think science answers everything.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, fair enough. Maybe I’ve misrepresented you. So let me ask you for clarification. Where would you say the limits of science are in explaining reality? What would you say that science cannot answer? And if science cannot answer it, where would you look for the answers?

        • tildeb says:

          Science is all about understanding function through the use of independent knowledge. I don’t know where is or what this limit might be. If something involves function, then science is the right method to gain knowledge.

          Because science is a method to develop explanatory models that should account for all the evidence and demonstrate its usefulness through products that works, I would use it whenever it was applicable, which is always if we’re talking about function. And it is applicable whenever and wherever we function in the world and we are rewarded when we are then able to successfully navigate it using this understanding. Understanding function is knowledge and knowledge is all about function. The two are connected. But, to borrow a phrase, is that all there is to living a life?

          Of course not.

          I was once asked to differentiate between craft and art, between the craftsman and the artist and if this was really a difference without a distinction. I explained craft to be about function and art to be about communicating, which means using a commonly understood form (the ‘form’ to be the necessary framework so that experience can be communicated and thus shared). Art is an emergent property of craft, a means to share subjective experiences, different in goal than just functioning but still dependent on it.

          When we encounter the artistic form, we are encountering a means to share an experience. We can leave the concern of understanding function behind (we already possess this necessary understanding or the art form makes no sense and our interaction with it ends abruptly) and enter the arena of communicating experience. That’s the job of the artist: to communicate experience; the most renowned artists are those who are able to have the audience successfully experience the art for themselves, to be taken on a journey. The artist is simply the guide and the art in brute form not the destination. This isn’t about knowledge; this about experience. But this interaction requires a common language, a framework that can be transmitted, a form of communication that can be expressed in many ways, and then experienced not just through the senses but also in the mind.

          This has little to do with science or knowledge and much to do with having an experience.

          I also had a professor explain why it’s the case that we can only get out of art what we bring to it, that we require as a basis the understanding of function, a familiarity with how it works, of an art form in order to navigate and delve into it.

          Think poetry.

          On the surface, just words. Sure they have defined meaning we need to know about and it’s important we be able to understand this common meaning in order to comprehend them. But then detecting patterns we can determine are not accidental – rhymes, meter, beat, sound – that we call poetic form different from narrative form (prosody vs prose) indicates that there is much more going on here than the mere craftsmanship of spelling, syntax, grammar, and wordsmith. If we wish to experience the form, we must first understand the function.

          This is the point where we have to be concerned about and be able to differentiate knowledge from (and not confuse it with) value, confuse meaning with purpose, mix up function with form. A useful guideline is to recognize the difference by first appreciating which stands independent of, and which is dependent on, us. Knowledge is independent of us; we just borrow it to help us understand some function.

          Science is all about understanding function through the use of independent knowledge. Anything else becomes our own interpretation, becomes our own experience, our own values, and meaning and purpose. Ours. Mine. Yours.

          But when others try to convince us differently, that we don’t own our subjective sense, that their subjective interpretation and experiences and values and meanings and purposes are also our own, then the border has been crossed and the invasion is on. This is what religion does, attack our autonomy, our subjective right to our own subjective experiences, tries to make the religious form be the template for scientific function (exactly backwards as Galileo demonstrated), attacks us on the deepest level of what it is to be human and tries to pretend that its actually objective knowledge-based religious function (a contradiction in terms) that directs the interpretation, directs the experiences, directs the values and meanings and purposes that is therefore common to all, that science is on its side (or at least is not incompatible with this model), that art is on its side, that values and morality and meaning and compassion and purpose are on its side, that our individual autonomy has never been autonomous, that it was created, owned, and organized by some invisible objective agency that is divine and deserves our submission… according to the rules of this sect or that sect. This is a slave mentality that must be directly confronted because it attacks and tries to claim ownership of all of us – each sect demanding submission to its interpretation. Religious belief attacks our basic shared humanity as autonomous and responsible agents and tries to supplant this with the allure of submission, offering us the Get-Out-Of-Death card in exchange.

          We have to stand firm and challenge those who try to convince us that religion is the path to knowledge, is itself an objective means to adduce this knowledge. So, ask yourself: what knowledge, what functional application, has any religion at any historical time ever produced? And the answer is… nothing. Not ever. It’s not a method to produce knowledge independent of us.

          Religion is one form that must be piggybacked on experience to try to make these experiences seem so profound and so important that people figuratively and sometimes literally give up their lives in its service. That doesn’t make its claim to be another kind of knowledge true anymore than reading Shakespeare is The One True Author, a divine writer who demands we start knocking on doors to tell people of the Good News!, that Shakespeare is in fact the Divine Author who has created us all and that, as our Creator, His works should be used as scripture for each and everyone of us to follow if we are to be moral people, if our lives are to have meaning and purpose. Hallelujah. The Shakespearians are Born Again and can now never die because they have accepted Shakespeare into their hearts and given their lives to service Him and his Designed Purpose for all of us. And look how divinely beautiful are His words. Proof positive.

          The key here is to recognize that religion is not a path to knowledge but leads us away from it, a means to confuse function with form, art with craft, and presume we are less than autonomous adults living in the real world.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thank you. I don’t have a disagreement with most of what you said. A couple comments for now…

          Knowledge is independent of us; we just borrow it to help us understand some function.

          Yes, of course. But to say that only independent knowledge that can be empirically proven is valid, ironically, cannot be empirically proven! For instance, if there is a God, then He exists beyond scientific methodology (because it’s limited to nature), then there would be independent knowledge that goes beyond science, nor would it ever likely be validated by science. But, in this case, independent knowledge of God would be actually just as valid as the knowledge we can test. It would only be subjective because it goes beyond human limits to test it.

          Mathematics is the only purely objective tool we have. Science, although an extremely effective methodology, involves human beings so it’s never perfectly objective. Science is so effective because of its limitations, not because it can answer everything.

          We have to stand firm and challenge those who try to convince us that religion is the path to knowledge, is itself an objective means to adduce this knowledge.

          Of course, I agree, it is subjective. But so is the notion that there is no equally valid and independent knowledge beyond science. That is classic scientism, not science, for the reasons I mentioned before. This was the whole point of my post. It’s only extreme religious fundamentalists that are anti-science, which is just the flip site of the Dawkins’s antitheists who want to eradicate religion and replace it with science. The religious Fundamentalists don’t accept any knowledge that contradicts their interpretation of their sacred writings. But that is not my position, nor is it the position of most Christians. Again, according to Tegmark’s UROP survey, 89% of religious people in America are not anti-science at all.

          The key here is to recognize that religion is not a path to knowledge but leads us away from it, a means to confuse function with form, art with craft, and presume we are less than autonomous adults living in the real world.

          Not true at all. That is a myth. A subjective opinion. Yes, religion is subjective, but as I said, we cannot prove that there is no valid knowledge beyond the limits of science, so saying this is not scientific statement but a subtle form of scientism. The point is, you don’t know if there is any independent knowledge beyond science, so to say that religion has nothing to contribute is based on an anti-religious worldview, not science.

          As long as religion stays in the “why” realm, and science stays in the “how” realm, there is no problem. The problem comes when either one attempts to replace the other. Religion can make sense of big picture questions but it doesn’t replace science. But regardless, the one thing we cannot say is that there’s no independent knowledge beyond our ability to test it or even ever understand it. That is a faith statement, not one based on science.

        • tildeb says:

          Knowledge that may be there but which we have not collected is accurately and honestly reflected by the phrase, “We don’t know.” You refuse to accept this; instead, you use this absence of knowledge to be a licence to fill in what woo you want and then claim that this woo is a different kind</i of knowledge, that it doesn’t come from you, that is out there somewhere and that you’ve managed to find enough evidence using methods of form, of interpretation, to indicate hints about function. No. You can’t do that. That’s where we come to loggerheads. It’s not a question of this knowledge being ‘beyond’ science; if this is the case, then we’re not talking about knowledge if it involves a matter of function because we simply don;t have the knowledge! We’re talking about form which is not knowledge. It’s subjective interpretation of form, of framing. And this indisputably must come from YOU! You really are assuming the conclusion you want rather than gathering knowledge. These are not the same nor are these methods compatible when the conclusion you supply and knowledge independent of you are in conflict. .

          And your woo claims contain all kinds of claims about function that we do not know anything about but that you pretend we do. If this were true, you could present evidence <from reality rather than import form and try to masquerade it as indication of function. This is also where we come to loggerheads. You can’t claim to agree with ‘X’ (the method of science to produce knowledge about function) and then claim ‘Not X’ (function determined by interpretative form) and that this is somehow compatible methods (ignoring that they produce incompatible explanations as JZ has gone to great pains to describe) or that the fault lies with those who recognize this opposite framing and see it as it truly is: incompatible conclusions, one adduced, one imposed. You can’t have it both ways.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have never said, “I don’t know” is an invalid position. I said that saying, “I don’t know…but you’re wrong” is an invalid argument. If you say “you’re wrong” you’re making a counterclaim which you must defended with a better explanation.

        • tildeb says:

          You say you had lunch yesterday. I don’t know if you did or didn’t. Don’t really care. You say you have lunch yesterday AND ate my puppy. I still don’t know if you had lunch and I don’t know what you ate. But my puppy is right here, so I know you didn’t eat it. I don’t know but I know you’re wrong.

          You tell me this is an invalid argument unless I come up with a better explanation.

          Umm… no. That’s not my job. I’m clarifying that your explanation about what you ate is wrong. It is factually in conflict with reality. I am simply stating a fact and not offering a counterclaim because, Lo and Behold! – I still don’t know what you ate for lunch or even if you ate any lunch ate all. You claim is for you to defend and not me.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Umm… no. That’s not my job. I’m clarifying that your explanation about what you ate is wrong.

          Your lunch analogy won’t fly because you actually DO know something. Your puppy is with you, so you know I’m wrong and have physical evidence to prove it. You would say, “You’re wrong because my puppy is with me.” That is a valid counterclaim. But how do you prove that my inference that there is a God is wrong? Again, you could say, I don’t know…I don’t agree…I don’t believe there is a god…but not that I am wrong.

          It is factually in conflict with reality.

          Factually in conflict with what “reality?” Your narrowly defined naturalist version of reality that only science can test? Again, this is a subjective statement based on the limits of science; this is not an objective statement. The truth is, there is nothing whatsoever you can point to which proves that there is no God and that I am wrong. You can only disagree with it.

          The bottom line is, you don’t know and you also don’t know if I’m wrong because, as Sir Peter Medawar pointed out, these are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance in science would empower it to answer.”

        • tildeb says:

          I know humans were not created but evolved And I have gobs and gobs of evidence for that. You say God created man and woman, created Adam and Eve. I can safely say I know you’re wrong.

          You say you know God exists somewhere ‘beyond’ or ‘outside’ of reality, outside or beyond the scope of science, but is a necessary part of the universe. I say you can know no such thing without supporting evidence – not metaphysical mumbo-jumbo – from reality, from this universe. You got nuthin’.

          And so on. The evidence is powerfully against your claims and where evidence should be present if your claims were true is remarkably absent. These facts are a fatal combination to your claims and directly undermine – as much as the puppy in my analogy – you functional and knowledge claims. You are wrong.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I know humans were not created but evolved. And I have gobs and gobs of evidence for that.

          No, you don’t know that. You only know that humans evolved. That’s the only evidence you have.

          You say God created man and woman, created Adam and Eve. I can safely say I know you’re wrong.

          No, you can’t. This statement alone is a mischaracterization of what many Christians mean by creation, and principally, what church fathers like Augustine and Aquinas would’ve meant by creation. I’ve already gone over this with JohnZ, but creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive terms. God’s “second causality” (Aquinas) would include creation’s ability to create itself. In other words, to evolve. Had evolution been known at the time, these church fathers would’ve embraced it. When we say, creation, we include the self-creating process.

          But the most important point here is, even the evolutionary process is “something.” It’s not something from nothing (and I don’t mean a quantum vacuum. That’s not absolutely nothing). It’s only logical to assume there must be an initial cause to the evolutionary process. We would call that (and the process) creation.

          You say you know God exists somewhere ‘beyond’ or ‘outside’ of reality, outside or beyond the scope of science, but is a necessary part of the universe. I say you can know no such thing without supporting evidence – not metaphysical mumbo-jumbo – from reality, from this universe. You got nuthin’.

          And you have nothing. But I have one important piece of evidence. We are here! We exist. There IS “something.” Of course, that does not prove God, but it does infer a creator. So, you foolishly call what you cannot prove “mumbo jumbo.” That is not a rational argument.

          So, we’re back to why is there something instead of nothing? Why do we even search for meaning? These questions will not be answered by scientific evidence.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And so on. The evidence is powerfully against your claims and where evidence should be present if your claims were true is remarkably absent.

          No, Tildeb. You have NO evidence whatsoever to disprove a creator. Your assertion is a category mistake. How would one provide material evidence for a non-material creator? As atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel said: “If God exists he is not part of the natural order of the universe, but a free agent not governed by natural laws. He may act partly by creating a natural order but whatever he does directly cannot be part of that order.” (“Mind and Cosmos”, p.26)

          Again, you can say, “I don’t know”…”I disagree”…”I’m not convinced” but you CANNOT say I am wrong.

        • tildeb says:

          Maybe you didn’t notice, Mel, but I have been referencing humans – the direct creation of humans by a creator god at a historical time in a historical event. I have asked you repeatedly if you believe humanity in the form of man and woman was created by a creator god.

          Look at the mental gymnastics that have ensued to avoid a yes or no answer. This evasion is known as sophisticated theology because almost no one else who shares your religious identity agrees with it. You pull these never-ending smokescreen explanations that assigns as synonymous to this creative event at a historical time terms like intention and relationship. I hate to break it to you in such a brutal way, but these are synonyms to ‘creation’. They are obscuring terms meant to avoid a straight answer that you know is pure woo.

          You’ve avoided a clear answer, it’s true, and accuse those of us who are trying to get you to enunciate what you actually believe, what you actually teach to others, of being combative and argumentative with negative motives. But that’s you projecting your conclusions once again as premises and then pretending you’ve ‘found’ these reasons present in others. That’s just another avoidance technique. What you’ve done is offered only prevaricating angles in your pseudo-answers that are equivalent to sort of, kind of, maybe, perhaps, somewhat… hinting that you neither believe nor disbelieve in a creator god of humans but have no doubt the creator god is behind it… behind the historical creative event that you know occurred at some historical time for humans…. somehow. By taking this approach to serious questioning, you’re trying to leave enough wiggle room to be able to say with a straight face that yes, you do believe in a creator god for humans and then hope no one presses you on what this belief actually is because you know it will prove insufficient to have any scientific confidence and will be incompatible with what we do know about human ancestry.

          JZ has tried and you come back with creating a creator god who has designed a relationship to be the creative event, designed evolution to be the creative mechanism – perhaps! maybe! possibly! who can say?! – to be the creative process, who designed the entire universe to form just so humanity could emerge but, oh no no no, not in a way we can know about using science. No, never science. This creator is beyond all that so we can;t know anything about it… except by faith, of course. And shoiuld another faith select the wrong creator god then, well, we won;t talk about any of that because you insist there must be only two sides here. And you enough – magically – that through your faith you feel assured enough of this ‘beyond reality’ god that we can have a personal relationship with this divine creator because that is what Mel has determined to be it’s designed intention.

          At every stage of questioning, you evade and substitute, push back and shroud any knowable answer with obfuscation and moving the goal posts of the criteria about a creator god creating humans in a historical event, at a historical time. And then you have the temerity to accuse others of not being willing to have an open and honest dialogue, to hold a respectful conversation… all the while working furiously to avoid exactly that. You know that if you say yes to the question of believing a creator god designed humans, you cannot answer the how question. That’s why you keep insisting on the knowledge-free ‘why’ questions to which you can import whatever ‘answer’ you choose, whatever answer best suits your obfuscating language with more obfuscating terms.

          It must be exhausting not to have the courage of your convictions but still posses the need to pretend you do. I’m glad I don’t have to keep playing this silly word game to hide what I think, what I believe, guarding always against the slightest infraction of them. I can even change these instantly if I so choose and lose nothing but a previous opinion not as well supported by the replacement. I’m better off for it. So it’s quite invigorating and freeing, let me tell you… because you will never know just how wedded you are to defending superstitious nonsense.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Maybe you didn’t notice, Mel, but I have been referencing humans – the direct creation of humans by a creator god at a historical time in a historical event. I have asked you repeatedly if you believe humanity in the form of man and woman was created by a creator god.

          And here I thought this post was about the limits of science and faith, and how we might dialogue about these things. It’s nice of you to make it about something completely different. Of course, then you can accuse me of evading the question.

          And why do you guys have so much trouble understanding my answers? I repeatedly answer JohnZ and he keeps asking the same question. I’ve said this in other posts, so I will repeat it here. Please remember this for future reference. I’m theologically neutral about evolution. I have no conviction on it and have no reason to argue with the science. I don’t have a dog in that hunt. It doesn’t change what I believe, or even what the Bible says. It only argues against certain people’s interpretation of what they think it says about creation. As I said before, Christians go wrong when they make the Bible a science book. Maybe you and JohnZ should ask Francis Collins these question, because they don’t mean a hill of beans to me. You’re tilting at windmills here.

        • tildeb says:

          The bold should closed at the end of the very first bit, namely,

          “… if you are religious, this means you hold a basic belief and adhere to it. You don’t prevaricate on this belief. It is fundamental to define that religion.”

          My bad editing.

  2. tildeb says:

    Is it “extreme religious fundamentalism” to believe in a historical Adam and Eve, to believe that God created man and woman?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Not necessarily. Extreme fundamentalism would be insisting on a wooden literal interpretation of the creation story and being combative and ridiculing anyone who disagrees with you. Just like it would be to insist that the natural world is all there is and ridiculing anyone who believes there’s more to it than what science can observe and test.

      They’re just two sides of the same dogmatic coin.

      • tildeb says:

        Is it “extreme religious fundamentalism” aka “a wooden literal interpretation of the creation story” to believe in a historical Adam and Eve, to believe that God created man and woman?

  3. Nan says:

    Mel, thanks for the link … and your “response post.” 🙂

    You write much that I agree with, but we travel different paths when you intimate that faith/religious belief/God/the Bible (call it what you will) answers the “existential questions.”

    As I’ve repeatedly indicated, we (human beings) simply don’t know. Some prefer the answers Science offers, others are more comfortable with what their religion tells them. Where the conflict seems to arise is when either side poses their perspective as the Ultimate Answer … and then tries to convince the other side they are “wrong.”

    In any case, such discussions do make good blog fodder. 😀

    • Mel Wild says:

      As I’ve repeatedly indicated, we (human beings) simply don’t know. Some prefer the answers Science offers, others are more comfortable with what their religion tells them. Where the conflict seems to arise is when either side poses their perspective as the Ultimate Answer … and then tries to convince the other side they are “wrong.”

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Nan. We can have confidence in our worldview but, outside of mathematics, we cannot prove we are right. We can disagree and try to convince the other of our position but, in the end, we must make up our own mind.

      • john zande says:

        Curious. How can you have confidence in your worldview if your central thesis cannot be reconciled with 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution?

        • Mel Wild says:

          How is 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution a threat to my worldview, John? It’s only a threat for those who take a wooden literal view of the creation accounts.

          It’s a myth to say that most Christians are against these things. In fact, the Christian scientists mentioned in this post embrace them.

        • john zande says:

          How is 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution a threat to my worldview, John?

          That can be demonstrated.

          How, for example, do you reconcile the claim of “goodness” against the hard fact that the mechanisms necessary to physically experience something beginning to resemble ‘happiness’ (enkephalin and opioid receptors) would not even exist in the world before some 3.5 billion years of terrestrial evolution had passed and untold billions of generations of living things had suffered enormously without as much as the hope of corporeal relief?

          Why 3.7 billion years of impenetrably natural evolution (full of blood and mistakes and pain and terror) to arrive at humans… Why are we still evolving?

          Did Yhwh cause the 11 great extinction events necessary to pave the way for humans?

          Is that ethical?

          Yes Mel, please reconcile your hypothesis (an impossibly ‘good,’ mindful, mistake-free ‘designer’) with 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I see you’ve manipulated the conversation back to your agenda. Instead of responding to your narrowly defined depiction of what you think I believe, I will answer to the point of this post. Theism, or even a Christian worldview, is not necessarily at odds with evolution or the latest cosmology. In an 1871 lecture, Charles Kingsley, by then the leading voice of Westminster Abbey, argued that the word “creation” implies a process as much as an event. Here’s his response to Darwin’s lectures.

          Instead of a “chilling dream of a dead universe ungoverned by an absent God,” Darwinism, when rightly interpreted, offered a vision of a living universe constantly improving under the wise direction of its benevolent Creator. Darwin’s theory had clarified the mechanism of creation. We knew of old that God was so wise that he could make all things; but, behold, he is so much wiser than even that, that he can make all things make themselves.” (Westminster Sermons, 1874)

        • john zande says:

          And there’s the evasion.

          All you’re doing, Mel, is showing us that you cannot reconcile your hypothesis with reality… and that strikes to the heart of your “claim.”

          And these aren’t even hard questions. They simply pertain to the general structure and processes of reality.

          If your hypothesis (your explanatory model) cannot even exist within that which is known then we can safely say your hypothesis is, self-evidently, wrong.

          It appears you know this, which is why you continue with this song and dance evasion routine.

        • Mel Wild says:

          All you’re doing, Mel, is showing us that you cannot reconcile your hypothesis with reality… and that strikes to the heart of your “claim.”

          John, what “claim” did I make in my post other than that science cannot answer every question and that faith is necessary where science cannot go? And my secondary claim that it’s intolerant extreme fundamentalists and combative antitheists that are the problem, not that there’s some inherent incompatibility between science and faith?

        • john zande says:

          Your claim is this:

          And also this, made here: “it’s about what science and faith can answer.”

          What can faith answer?

          I am addressing your “answer,” asking you how it applies to known reality.

          It’s really not complicated.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, it’s not complicated, John, My particular answer to the question (that you copied) is not what this post is about. If we’re going to just talk about everything else on every post, what’s the point of having a post? I’ll just be spending all my time answering whatever questions you want to bring up. Stay on subject.

          The point here is, when you say things like “I don’t know” why we exist you are reaching the limits of what science can answer. Beyond that requires a different kind of conversation about how we make sense of things. Faith (philosophy, religion) plays a part there. And one does not have to be anti-science to go there.

  4. john zande says:

    But it is what this post, and all the other posts, are about.

    Reality.

    The point here is, when you say things like “I don’t know” why we exist you are reaching the limits of what science can answer.

    The I don’t know Mel, concerned what was happening before Inflation. Nothing more, nothing less, and the answer is:

    We. Don’t. Know.

    You, Mel, are trying to shift the subject to an existential question.

    But fair enough, I’m playing along.

    You gave your answer.

    I’m asking you to reconcile that answer with reality.

    You keep evading doing so.

    That’s all you’ve done, post after post after post after post… Evade, deflect, ignore.

    And you’re doing it again here.

    You want to posit a Designer, but you don’t want to talk about The design.

    Doesn’t that bother you, knowing full well you’re evading addressing something you should be able to address? Your entire worldview hinges on it, and yet you run away from the subject like a frightened Mimosa pudica. Honestly, I don’t mean this in a hurtful way, but don’t you feel even a little ashamed and embarrassed with yourself for your behaviour?

    • ndifrisco says:

      Evading what? Deflecting what? You’re asking a completely meaningless “gotcha” question which has no bearing on what he’s talking about. It’s not even a new question. It’s the same old “there’s suffering in the world so God can’t exist” simple-minded clap-trap that’s been asked for generations.

      Are you asking him to speak for God? Are you asking him to explain why SUFFERING exists? That’s a bit outside the scope of the blog in general and this post in particular. This is the exact kind of “scientism” he’s talking about. When science is used – not to explain or understand anything – but solely to try and “disprove” God. That’s not the point of science. Newton knew this. Einstein knew this. Many of the greatest scientists in history were attempting to UNDERSTAND God, not disprove him. Somehow that’s been lost, and now we have this bizarre, sneering condescension asking Christians to use faith to explain scientific theories.

      • john zande says:

        ndifrisco

        Afraid to say, your comment is essentially meaningless as you are taking this thread in isolation. There is a long history stretching back before this post… a history of evasion and deflection and excuses for why Mel will not address questions put to him.

        He wants to posit a Designer, but doesn’t want to talk about The design.

        Can you talk about the design (about actual history) and reconcile it with your belief system?

        • Mel Wild says:

          There is a long history stretching back before this post… a history of evasion and deflection and excuses for why Mel will not address questions put to him.

          History of evasion? No, John, you still don’t seem to get it. I’m not evading anything. But you do have a long history of not talking about the topic and attempting to force your own agenda, then accusing the host of evading the subject. So these adolescent attempts at twisting it back on me or trying to shame me won’t change my answer or the point.

          One last time. This post is about science and faith in general, the limits of both, and how realizing this may promote meaningful dialogue. It’s NOT about the particulars of either science or faith. And your “I don’t know” answer to the “why” questions is a case in point why this kind of dialogue is needed. It reveals the limits of science as a worldview. As Ortega said, ““Any philosophy of life, any way of thinking about the questions that really matter will thus end up going beyond science.” This is why things like philosophy and faith aren’t going away. To deny this and try to make science answer these important questions is scientism, not science. That’s the subject.

          If you continue to refuse to stay on THIS subject I will ignore any further comments.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, this goes all the way back to this comment of yours on July 15th

          I believe the “world” is a construct. And it intuitively reveals design. So, logic would follow that there is a designer.

          The question asked (repeatedly) was: What purpose does this artificial world serve?

          Why was it created?

          What function does it serve?

          In post after post after post following this, you claim to have the “Why” question answered, but time after time after time after time you have deflected and evaded ever addressing questions pertaining to (or indirectly related to) this statement.

          You say in this comment that this artificial world reveals design.

          Fine.

          The question asked was: Can you demonstrate the designer’s hand?

          I have given you the example of the amoeba proteus: a gelatinous, microscopic, single-celled blob of primitive organics that boasts a staggering 670 billion base pairs in its genome, whereas a 5 trillion-celled human being has only 2.9 billion base pairs.

          Was this designed?

          I have asked you in the past, and here as well, WHY evolution?

          Shouldn’t you be able to answer this?

          You see Mel, your entire point (concerning limits) is thoroughly meaningless if you cannot even establish a vague semblance of authenticity (believability) to your claim.

          Perhaps, just perhaps, you can pen a post addressing the questions put to you?

          I won’t hold my breath, though.

        • john zande says:

          And to repeat, these aren’t even hard questions. I could, if I wanted to, hit you with some true Daisy Cutters.

          These are simple, basal questions you should be able to answer without much thought at all if, of course, there was even the slightest mote of credibility to your claims.

          The fact that you can’t even answer WHY evolution simply demonstrates how disastrously flawed your hypothesis is.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, John. Do you believe in evolution? And if so, can YOU explain why evolution exists at all? Why were there cells and genomes for evolution to exist in the first place?

        • john zande says:

          Evasion.

          The questions were put to you, as you are the one making the claim.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’ve told you, I believe in a creator. That’s a faith statement. The topic of THIS POST concerns the limits of science and faith. I was just wondering if you can show scientifically why there’s evolution in the first place.

        • john zande says:

          I believe in a creator.

          Yes, a “Designer” of extraordinary goodness and unlimited means who built this artificial world.

          Why did this “Designer” build this artificial world?

          What purpose does it serve?

          Why evolution?

          (And I have already explained why: Bejan’s Constructal Law of design and evolution in nature)

        • Mel Wild says:

          (And I have already explained why: Bejan’s Constructal Law of design and evolution in nature)

          But that’s not my question. I’m not asking how the process of evolution works. This is still talking about something from something. Why are there elements for an evolutionary process in the first place? How does science address this?

        • john zande says:

          I believe in a creator.

          Yes, a “Designer” of extraordinary goodness and unlimited means who built this artificial world.

          Why did this “Designer” build this artificial world?

          What purpose does it serve?

          Why evolution?

        • john zande says:

          Mel?

          Why did this “Designer” build this artificial world?

          What purpose does it serve?

          Why evolution?

        • john zande says:

          And there it is.

          Silence.

          As I said earlier, your entire point (concerning limits) is thoroughly meaningless if you cannot even establish a vague semblance of authenticity (believability) to your claim.

          You have nothing.

          Well, that’s not entirely true. You are pushing your Designer (Yhwh) so far back that you’re left pointing at something that is indistinguishable from nature.

          And you know what that’s called, Mel?

          Nature.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I answered your “why” question. Take it or leave it. I’m still waiting for you to answer my “why” question.

          Again, I’m not asking how the process of evolution works. That’s still talking about something from something (including the “something” of a quantum vacuum). Why are there elements for an evolutionary process in the first place? Why is there nature in the first place? How does science address this?

          Here’s your opportunity to prove that your scientism is the correct worldview.

        • john zande says:

          No Mel, you did not answer the “why” question.

          You simply said you believe there was a Designer.

          You have not established why this Designer acted to create an artificial world, for what purpose this artificial world serves, or even why evolution.

          Why evolution?

          You are simply pointing to nature and saying “That’s not nature.”

          That is the extent of your presentation.

          Hardly compelling, I think you’d agree, and in light of what you do believe, these questions (as presented) should keep you up at night.

          Not having an answer should, in fact, drive you crazy.

          As I suggested earlier, perhaps you can do a post addressing the questions presented?

          How does science address this?

          Science doesn’t address it. Science is a method.

          Explanatory models are derived from the data the method produces.

          Why do women have fuller lips than men? To increase sexual attraction. That’s why.

          Can we make some broader (verifiable) explanation of the world from 13.8 billion years of data?

          Sure.

          Panpsychism.

          Is it true? Perhaps. 13.8 billion years of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution sure seems to support the hypothesis… a hypothesis that runs completely contrary to your stated hypothesis.

          There.

          I can use actual history to demonstrate and support that idea.

          It appears, therefore, that you, Mel, are the only one who is demonstrating a limitation here.

  5. Pingback: The Closing of the Modern Mind | In My Father's House

  6. Nan says:

    I just read this comment on another blog (credit The Closet Atheist) and thought it might help explain Mel’s outlook:

    Liberal Christians believe in a grand god (roughly the god of Genesis 1), who can come up with a brilliant system such as evolution, to maintain the biosphere.

    Conservative Christians believe in a bumbling fool of a god (roughly, the god of Genesis 2-6), who poofs things into existence, but gets it wrong and has to go back and fix up after those mistakes.

    • tildeb says:

      Nan, hypothesizing evolution might be a designed or directed mechanism to bring about humanity has zero evidence in its favour and a huge amount of evidence against it.This hypothesis is not reasonable in such light.

      By analogy, it would like looking at a very weird looking jet airplane today and excusing all the additional parts and materials – from wooden wheelbarrows to canvas sails to iron steam pots to steel piston engines equipped with plastic propellers – as part of the ‘design’. It simply makes no rational sense when held up to achieving the ‘finest’ jet plane. Such hybridized plane so equipped would not be seen as a reasonable example of jet technological intention. But that’s what Mel is trying to sell us with this idea that evolution somehow comports with a creator design. It doesn’t, which is why the theory is defined as an unguided process. To believe guidance occurred is contrary to the theory and not compatible with it. You can’t say X and Not X are compatible, which is what religious apologetics tries really hard to do… using metaphysics and superstition to try to achieve this miracle and then apply backwards onto science. Remember, you can sometimes find religion without creationism but you can never find creationism without religion. That’s an important clue about what REALLY drives those who sell creationism: to advance the acceptability of woo to seem to be compatible with science. And even big brained people fall for it because it is convenient to pretend it has some merit.

      It doesn’t.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Okay, one last time to Tildeb and JohnZ:

        I agree with Nan. We are talking past each other. And you both bring up interesting points that I may cover in a separate post, but that is NOT the subject here. This post was about the limits of science and faith and why they should work together. The only comments that are relevant are related to these two things. It’s also not about either one of us trying to defend our particular position. I do not post topics in order to talk about everything indirectly related to it. If you stick to the subject and drop the accusatory tone we can save ourselves a lot of time.

        So, in this case, if you can tell me what you would consider the limits of science in explaining all possible reality, we can continue this conversation. But I suspect, as Sir Peter Medawar observed, these are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advancement would empower it to answer.”

        Which brings me back to my original point why both science and faith (philosophy, religion) are needed. And my secondary point, it’s really extreme religious fundamentalism and radical antitheism that’s the problem, not some inherent incompatibility between science and faith.

        • john zande says:

          Limits of science?

          Instrumentation.

          I look forward to your coming post finally addressing these matters raised here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Instrumentation? How would this mythical instrument measure why we’re here? Or something outside of nature?

          Of course you think science will eventually answer every question, John. You are devout member of the secular religion of scientism. What George Steiner calls the “substitute theology”–a system of belief whose structures and aspirations are religious in strategy and effect, even though not in name. (“Nostalgia for the Absolute”)

        • john zande says:

          I look forward to reading you promised post

  7. Pingback: Is science at war with Christianity? | In My Father's House

  8. hakmadis says:

    al-quran answer it all, for who.. who want to read, think, and looking for a truth. you can learn on my Blog a little about it. i hope and a pray to god some of you, will be given the light of truth and peace. ameen…

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