Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, October 19, 2012

Biologos: An Underhanded Attempt to Undermine Supernatural Creation

Having studied the philosophy of science on my own, I concluded that Dr. Gordon H. Clark and other critics of the modern scientific method were on to something.  That is particularly true when certain Evangelicals secretly hold to what can only be called a neo-orthodox view of the biblical narrative history recorded in Genesis 1-11.  At one time I had accepted a view that theistic evolution was a real possibility and even leaned strongly in that direction.  After all, to be accepted in this present age of modernism and postmodernism one must accept that science is the answer to every question.

The problem with theistic evolution, however, is that it is a flat denial of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture in regards to creation.  While Biologos proposes supernatural miracles in the New Testament and in the resurrection of Jesus, which are incompatible with the materialistic and anti-supernatural nature of science, Biologos rejects any possibility of creation by divine fiat as it is described in Genesis 1-2.  That observation in and of itself shows that Biologos wants to pick and choose which parts of the Bible it will believe is "supernatural" and which parts are not supernature.

If Adam and Eve are not historical persons then the fall is an etiological myth which is meant to explain why humankind is full of self-destructive behaviors against one another and against society, culture and a utopia on earth.  In such a case there is no such thing as humankind as literally in rebellion against God or having offended God and violated God's absolute justice and moral law.

The doctrinal statement at Biologos says:

What We believe

2.  We believe that God also reveals himself in and through the natural world he created, which displays his glory, eternal power, and divine nature. Properly interpreted, Scripture and nature are complementary and faithful witnesses to their common Author.  ....

8. We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.  ...  [From:  About the BioLogos Foundation | BioLogos].
The problem with this view is that it makes general revelation on equal par with special revelation.  And in fact, it elevates general revelation above special revelation.  This is so because the assumption that modern science can speak to metaphysical issues like divine revelation undermines the entire premise from the beginning.   The doctrinal statement is self-contradictory because it refuses to accept the miracle of creation by divine fiat while at the same time accepting the miracles of Jesus' virgin conception, the miracles of His ministry, and His supernatural resurrection.  If science can tell us that biological evolution is a "fact" then science can also tell us that miracles are impossible, including the miracles of Jesus.  Historically speaking exalting rationalism above divine revelation in Holy Scripture always leads to skepticism and worse.  If Gordon H. Clark shows us anything at all in his Scripturalist apologetic method it is the fact that reason apart from special revelation always leads to irrationalism, skepticism, agnosticism and atheism.

Unless we presuppose Scripture is God's Word and begin with divine revelation we are ultimately siding with irrationalism and skeptism, not biblical faith.  In fact, Tim Keller presupposes that there are contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 rather than viewing the two accounts as parallelisms:

Perhaps the strongest argument for the view that the author of Genesis 1 did not want to be taken literally is a comparison of the order of creative acts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 1 shows us an order of creation that does not follow a 'natural order' at all. For example, there is light (Day 1) before there are any sources of light--the sun, moon, and stars (Day 4). There is vegetation (Day 3) before there was any atmosphere (Day 4 when the sun was made) and therefore there was vegetation before rain was possible.

Of course, this is not a problem per se for an omnipotent God. But Genesis 2:5 says: “When the Lord God made the earth and heavens--and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, because the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no man to work the ground." Although God did not have to follow what we would call a ‘natural order’ in creation, Genesis 2:5 teaches that he did. It is stated categorically: God did not put vegetation on the earth before there was an atmosphere and rain. But in Genesis 1 we do have vegetation before there is any rain possible or any man to till the earth. In Genesis 1 natural order means nothing--there are three 'evenings and mornings' before there is a sun to set! But in Genesis 2 natural order is the norm.8

The conclusion—we may read the order of events as literal in Genesis 2 but not in Genesis 1, or (much, much more unlikely) we may read them as literal in Genesis 1 but not in Genesis 2. But in any case, you can’t read them both as straightforward accounts of historical events. Indeed, if they are both to be read literalistically, why would the author have combined the accounts, since they are (on that reading) incompatible? The best answer is that we are not supposed to understand them that way. . . . 

So what does this mean? It means Genesis 1 does not teach that God made the world in six twentyfour hour days. Of course, it doesn’t teach evolution either, because it doesn’t address the actual processes by which God created human life. However, it does not preclude the possibility of the earth being extremely old.9 We arrive at this conclusion not because we want to make room for any particular scientific view of things, but because we are trying to be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.

Keller is hiding behind a hypothetical problem that Christian laypeople allegedly have to express his own views, apparently.  Although he denies that he is arriving at this conclusion based on presupposed contradictions in Scripture, the fact of the matter is that his presuppositions are wrong.  There are no contradictions in Scripture.  In fact, if Genesis 1 and 2 are parallel accounts where Genesis 2 particularizes Genesis 1 then the alleged contradictions disappear.  Since God is sovereign it is not impossible that God created light first and then created the sun and the moon and stars later.  He could have illuminated the earth supernaturally until the creation of the sun and the stars and the moon.  Be that as it may, my purpose here is not to get into a detailed rebuttal of Keller's details and his alleged contradictions but to show that Keller has from the beginning agreed with the atheists and other critics who allege that Scripture "appears" to be self-contradictory between Genesis 1 and 2.  Once that door is opened the collapse into skepticism is inevitable.  Either the Bible is fully inspired in every jot and tittle and without error or it is merely a book of "inspired myths".  

How has Keller convinced any determined skeptic that God "supernaturally" guided evolution?  The atheists will continue to insist that "theistic" evolution is an oxymoron and that the universe is the product of non-intelligent processes that spontaneously self-created.  According to the presuppositions of modern science, supernatural intervention is impossible and therefore only a naturalistic explanation is possible.  This excludes the existence of God from the get go and by implication divine revelation is impossible as well.  In scientific circles, Dr. Michael Behe's theory of intelligent design in regards to the evolution of micro-organisms has become highly controversial and Behe's work has become a pariah.  (See, "Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know... about intelligent design and evolution," Scientific American).

When people like Michael Horton and Tim Keller exalt the theory of inspired myth--in conjunction with their quasi-neo-orthodox theory of Scripture as an analogical revelation of God rather than propositional truth in univocal form on  the creature's level--then the door is wide open for skepticism to come into the church rather than the church convincing the world that the divine relevation of Scripture is the beginning point of all knowledge.

Charlie J. Ray, M. Div.


John said...

As sympathetic as I am to this viewpoint, it really isn't as simple as that. There is no definitive approach to reconciling what the bible says and what we know to be true from direct observation. For example, some have said that 1Kings 7:23,26 sets the value of PI to be 3.0. Well, if we're just going to be dogmatic that special revelation trumps scientific observation, without any ability of science to inform our interpretation of scripture, then I guess PI=3.0. But I don't think anyone believes that. Science is also able to tell us things about how to understand scripture.

Also I can't agree with the statement that if science can tell us evolution is a fact, then it can also tell us that miracles don't exist. Regardless of whether evolution is or is not a fact, the truth of one particular fact is not in any way parallel to saying miracles can't happen.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The problem is that you're reading empiricist presuppositions into the text and you are presupposing that there are errors in the text. "There is no definitive approach to reconciling what the bible says and what we know to be true from direct observation."

Ok, so the biblical author neglected to be mathematically precise according to modern standards of precision but how is that an error? If the circumference is 3.1456... it is perfectly round, isn't it? Hello?

Doesn't the text say that it it is perfectly round?

Again, your presupposition creates the false impression that the text errs.

Secondly, Gordon H. Clark has convincingly shown that empiricism is not without problems of perception and the senses cannot be fully trusted. So how are you going to presuppose that the Bible is in error when your senses might be the problem?

Applied science is one thing but asserting that evolution or theistic evolution trumps the Scriptures is no less a presupposition than presupposing that the Scriptural account is true. Once you concede a higher place to general revelation and common grace then Scripture is subject to reason rather than the other way around. The Christian position since Augustine and Anselm has been consistently that reason is subject to special revelation. The philosophy of science has demonstrated clearly that logical positivism is self-refuting and therefore science itself has presupposed philosophical views that are not verifiable or falsifiable via empiricism. David Hume, for example, obliterated the idea of an unending chain of cause and effect, which certainly has negative implications for the cosmological argument for God's existence as well as for the "fact" of evolution.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Keller is ambiguous in the linked article. He never once mentions the day age theory, though he appears to allude to it. But if we take the theistic evolution view it follows that Adam and Eve are not historical persons.

John said...

Firstly, let's get something out of the way straight up. I said nothing that would imply that "the text errs".

"Ok, so the biblical author neglected to be mathematically precise according to modern standards of precision"

Ahh, exactly, moderns standards of XYZ. Now how do we apply modern standards of things to the Genesis account in a way that is parallel to applying modern standards to the value of PI? This is not a question with a straightforward answer. Is Genesis trying to answer the questions that a modern man has about scientific history, or not? I mean, modern man assumes that true history ought to be arranged chronologically, but the gospels do not. If we ask the gospels modern questions about the historical chronology of what took place, we can be disappointed that they don't provide an answer. The question of what answers Genesis is meant to answer with the assumptions of the original culture may not be as clear as some suppose.

If you devalue empiricism too far, then you have no way to know what the bible says. How do you know what various Greek words or Hebrew words in the bible mean? Scholars figure it out through Empiricism. How do you know the cultural significance of various biblical stories and scenarios? Empiricism. How do evaluate one biblical interpretation in opposition to another one? Empiricism. How do you know which versions of the manuscripts is the original one? Empiricism.

You can't just assign special or general revelation as "higher" and just ride that pony to glory, because the bible is a part of the world, it exists within general revelation. It contains the assumptions of the cultures existing within general revelation and the personalities of the authors and their situation as they lived within general revelation. It doesn't have any meaning without interpreting it within the historical setting within general revelation in which it came to be.

Charlie J. Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie J. Ray said...

The Bible claims to be the inspired word of God. It is God-breathed.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJ)

Πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν, πρὸς ἔλεγχον, πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν, πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ· (2 Timothy 3:16 BYZ)

Charlie J. Ray said...

You obviously do not believe that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith, practice and doctrine. You're on the side of the liberals and the critics. I suppose you believe Jesus is just a man?

Charlie J. Ray said...

So according to you divine revelation must be interpreted by empirical science and by historical acts. Don't you realize you're arguing the liberal argument? First of all, empiricism is what can be known by the five senses. Divine revelation is given through verbal, plenary inspiration. The Bible is inspired of God and is inerrant. Thus, the way we know what it says is through presupposing that it is God's Word, not through empiricism or evidentialism. Furthermore, special revelation is given in logical and propositional truth statements. Historical events must be interpreted and without the meaning assigned to those events by the propositions in Scripture they are meaningless. The history of the Bible is infallible and has particular meaning assigned to those events, not arbitrary "events" without interpretation.

"David was the king of Israel," is a proposition made in Scripture. Either you presuppose it is true and accept that God never lies in His Word, or you question everything. Basically, you've conceded that you are a skeptic and that you do not believe God's Word is the final authority. Your view is empirical and therefore is open to skepticism.

Assuming there are errors in the Bible is a presupposition, not something that can be proved empirically or even rationally. Universal negatives are never valid.


John said...

Your first three comments are simply non-sequiturs that seem to bear no relation to anything I said. Your fourth is insulting because you are still waffling on about errors in the bible, even though I dismissed that in my last comment.

So David was the King of Israel. How on earth can you have a concept of what "Israel" is, without taking a good hard look at general revelation? If you are a tribesman in the jungle of Indonesia, and I tell you "David is the King of Israel", are you going to have any clue what that means unless I pull out information gained from general revelation, like for example, the maps from the front of your study bible, obtained and refined with satellite images?

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm not the one waffling here:) First of all, when the Bible flatly proposes that "David was the king of Israel," that proposition stands on its own as a proposition. Your contention that the Bible is captive to the senses or to cultural relativism is nothing short of liberalism.

The beginning point of all knowledge is Scripture, not culture or empiricism. We cannot know anything about ancient Israel apart from the Bible since it is the Bible that records the history of that nation. Modern scholars and archeologists deny that the exodus ever took place. You apparently agree with them.

When the Bible says that the exodus happened and Moses was a real historical person I will believe the Bible. You agree with the Kenyans and the liberals I suppose?

Charlie J. Ray said...

When geographical details in the Bible agree with what we know it confirms the propositions in Scripture are true. But we do not need empirical confirmation or geographical confirmation to know that the Bible is true--even when modernists deny it. They once said that the Assyrians didn't exist. That has been refuted by archeology now. I could give other examples but the point is you are subjecting the Bible to man's opinion. The Bible speaks for itself and unless we presuppose that the Bible is true and inerrant in all that it affirms and proposes the door is wide open to all sorts of doctrinal and moral relativism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

"If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), (John 10:35 NKJ)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJ)

John said...

You can say that "David was the King of Israel" stands on its own all you want, but it is meaningless without taking a look at general revelation. Maybe Israel is that part of America between Nevada and Colorado? If I claim it, you have absolutely no way of contradicting it without discussing general revelation. You can't prove otherwise from the bible alone.

Furthermore, there is a vast difference between cultural relativism and recognising that the bible has to be interpreted in its cultural context. Perhaps you heard of historical grammatical interpretation? Or maybe you're just a liberal who doesn't believe in that? And how does one understand the historical context of the bible? So that we can know what "Israel" and "King" means in its historical setting? Well, there are external sources that assist in that. Without external sources the bible is just a bunch of squiggles on parchment written in a dead language that nobody understands anymore.

Moses was a historical person. Mount Sinai is a real place. But what place? Can you tell me without referring to general revelation, or can the bible tell you what it is talking about all alone? Every time you don't know what the bible means without such reference to general revelation, then claims that it stands alone are hollow and meaningless, since statements that have no known meaning that "stand alone" don't mean anything. Knowing that the squiggles are true, without understanding those truths are meaningless.

Charlie J. Ray said...

So for you general revelation trumps special revelation. I never said that we know nothing from general revelation. I said we begin with special revelation and that special revelation trumps general revelation. All true knowledge begins with Scripture and not the other way around. Any historical event you can name is subjective and based on histiography. The Bible is an objective revelation and only the historical events and geographical details recorded in it are given the status of inerrancy and infallibility. The fact that Japan invaded China is a meaningless event in regards to saving faith. And the historical events and places in Scripture have no meaning apart from the meaning assigned to them by the propositional truth claims recorded there. Revelation is rational, intellectual and logical and the knowledge given to us in propositional form in Scripture is absolutely essential to salvation. The idea that the Bible is subject to external evidences, empiricism, and subjective historical events leads to skepticism. Only by presupposing that the Bible is God's Word is any knowledge or truth possible whatsoever.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 NKJ)

John said...

It would be nice if life were so simple that one could simply dogmatically say what trumps what and from that come up with answers to questions that are very difficult.

You say that scripture is essential to salvation, but the issue of dispute is not about salvation, its about various historical questions that aren't really directly related to salvation.

The issue is not about making the bible "subject" to various things. For example, Jesus tells various parables. I don't think most people think that the stories in those parables ever took place. They are stories to illustrate points. Does that make me a skeptic that subjects the bible to external doubt? No of course not, it is recognising the genre that we are dealing with. In the same way, the genre of Genesis and what it is trying to illustrate is at least something that should be able to be discussed without being accused of all the things you are accusing me of.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>It would be nice if life were so simple that one could simply dogmatically say what trumps what and from that come up with answers to questions that are very difficult.<<<

Right. So why are you being dogmatic about your belief that Scripture is insufficient without empirical confirmation or evidences to back it up? The five senses are not trustworthy. Seeing or hearing is not always believing.

History is written by the victors and is untrustworthy, particularly when it is recounted by sinful men with an agenda. Scripture, on the other hand, is breathed out by God and does not err. The grammatical/historical method of exegesis is fine as far as it goes. But notice that grammar and language are constructed in logical form, otherwise nothing said in Scripture means anything. Logical revelation is essential to the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration and inerrancy. If only the events recorded in the Bible are inspired and not the propositions about those events, you have a meaningless revelation and skepticism is the result. Again, you seem to be dogmatic about your skepticism. The Bible IS God's Word. That's the beginning point of Scripturalism or presuppositional apologetics.

John said...

Yeah, what exactly is scripture sufficient for without external information? Scripture refers to Mt Sinai. Can you show me what this thing is: "Mt Sinai", without referring to anything outside scripture? No you can't. Not even close.

And if the 5 senses are not trustworthy in any shape or form, how do you know what scripture says? How will you interpret it? How will you translate it? How will you exegete it? How will you discern among differing versions and manuscripts? How will you know what the words and grammar of a dead language mean? How will you have confidence in dozens of generations of scribes? And of translators? And authors of lexicons? And typesetters?

Grammar and language are logical only to a point. Half of the meaning of language is contextual. And context is subjective and thus open to interpretation. That's why Protestants argue constantly about what it means. Protestantism is essentially skepticism to its core.

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