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Unit 7: Science & Religion. Brent Royuk Sci-202 Concordia University. Science and Truth (from Unit 1). Does science find truth? Are facts true? Are laws true? Are theories true?. Science and Truth.

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Unit 7: Science & Religion

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Unit 7: Science & Religion

Brent Royuk

Sci-202Concordia University

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Science and Truth(from Unit 1)

Does science find truth?

  • Are facts true?

  • Are laws true?

  • Are theories true?

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Science and Truth

  • Even though theoretical knowledge is provisional, it can still be certain, or at least pretty darn certain.

    • Does the earth really go around the sun?

    • Do atoms really exist?

    • Is genetic information really encoded in DNA?

    • Does continental drift really occur?

    • Is the earth really 4.5 billion years old?

    • Are humans and chimpanzees really descended from common ancestors?

    • Is space really 10 or 11-dimensional, with 6 or 7 of the dimensions compactified?

  • These answers are all of the provisional, probabilistic, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately variety.

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God and Truth

  • How do we determine truth in religion?

    • Scripture  Revelation

  • Why do we ultimately trust the Bible as the revealed Word of God?

    • Faith

  • How do revealed truths compare to scientific truths?

    • Truth vs. truth

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God and Truth

  • Does God really exist?

  • Did God really create the universe?

  • Was Jesus really born to a virgin mother?

  • Are we really born sinful?

  • Did Jesus really save us by dying on a cross?

  • Are we really going to live forever in heaven after we die?

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truth vs. Truth

  • Empirical vs. Revelatory

  • Provisional vs. Absolute

  • Tentative vs. Eternal

  • Skepticism vs. Faith

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truth vs. Truth

  • So how do the two truths relate to each other?

  • Truth is more important than truth, right?

  • Can Truth inform truth?

  • Does Truth trump truth?

  • Can truth change Truth?

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S&R Models

  • Let’s make a catalog of approaches

  • We should try to:

  • Be fairly comprehensive.

  • Include perspectives that people actually have.

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S&R Models

Ian Barbour, Religion and Science, 1997.

Four Ways of Relating:

  • Conflict  

  • Independence  

  • Dialogue 

  • Integration 

    (Arrow symbols idea from Daniel Johnson)

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S&R Models

Massimo Pigliucci

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S&R Models

Richard Bube, Putting It All Together, 1995.

Seven Patterns for Relating Science and the Christian Faith:

  • Natural Theology

    • Science Demands Christian Theology

  • Compartmentalism

    • Science and Christian Theology are Unrelated

  • Bible-Only

    • Christian Theology in Spite of Science

  • Science-Only

    • Science Has Destroyed Christian Theology

  • Scientific Theology

    • Science Redefines Christian Theology

  • Complementarity

  • New Synthesis

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S&R Models

Richard Bube, Putting It All Together, 1995.

Seven Patterns for Relating Science and the Christian Faith:

  • Natural Theology

    • Science Demands Christian Theology

  • Compartmentalism

    • Science and Christian Theology are Unrelated

  • Bible-Only

    • Christian Theology in Spite of Science

  • Science-Only

    • Science Has Destroyed Christian Theology

  • Scientific Theology

    • Science Redefines Christian Theology

  • Complementarity

  • New Synthesis

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S&R Models

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S&R Models

Let’s look more closely at the five main boxes:

  • Naturalism

  • Theistic Science

  • Open Science (Qualified Agreement)

  • Compartmentalism (Independence)

  • Complementarity

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  • The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be --Carl Sagan, Cosmos.

  • The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins

    • cf William Paley’s Watchmaker Hypothesis

  • …we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. --Richard Lewontin

  • Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic. --Scott C. Todd

  • Any thoughts?

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Theistic Science

  • In its broadest sense, theistic science is rooted in the idea that Christians ought to consult all they know or have reason to believe when forming and testing hypotheses, when explaining things in science, and when evaluating the plausibility of various scientific hypotheses. --J. P. Moreland

  • It is my contention that recognizing the Bible as a reliable source of information for the conduct of science is essential for an effective use of resources and for correct results. --Larry Vardiman, ICR

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Theistic Science

  • No geological difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inferences of Scripture. --Henry Morris, Biblical Cosmology

  • A number of Christian scholars reject theistic science and advocate what is sometimes called methodological naturalism, which is basically the idea that theological concepts like God or direct acts of God are not properly part of natural science. Thus, theistic science is fundamentally misguided because it has a faulty philosophy of science and an improper view of how science and theology should be integrated. --J.P. Moreland

  • Comments?

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Open Science

  • Open and Closed: What is the difference? The most common type of non-open science is "closed" by methodological naturalism (MN), a proposal to restrict the freedom of scientists by requiring that they include only natural causes in their theories. The difference between science that is open and closed is the difference in responding to a question: Has the history of the universe included both natural and non-natural causes? In an open science (liberated from MN) this question can be evaluated based on scientific evidence; a scientist begins with MN, but is flexible and is willing to be persuaded by evidence and logic. In a closed science (restricted by MN), evidence and logic are not the determining factors because the inevitable conclusion — no matter what is being studied, or what is the evidence — must be that "it happened by natural process.” --Craig Rusbult

  • Comments?

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  • The Two Realms View: Propositions, theories or methodologies in theology and another discipline may involve two distinct, nonoverlapping areas of investigation. For example, debates about angels or the extent of the atonement have little to do with organic chemistry. Similarly, it is of little interest to theology whether a methane molecule contains three or four hydrogen atoms. --J.P. Moreland

  • Stephen Jay Gould and the NOMA Principle (Non-Overlapping MAgisteria):

    • Each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority– and these magisteria do not overlap… The net of science covers the empirical universe; what it is made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value.

  • Hoimar von Ditfurth writes “To this day science is by definition the attempt to see how far man and nature can be explained without recourse to miracles.” This is not a statement of materialist philosophy. This is an explanation of the rules of the game. The rules are well understood. The game has been a highly successful one in the past and continues successful today. Playing the game according to the rules does not make one an atheist. --Jean Pond

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For the origin of the universe the current consensus in cosmology and physics is that the big bang theory accounts best for the observational data we now have and is supported by excellent and straightforward evidence, including the (approximately) 2.7 degree Kelvin cosmic background radiation. The age of the universe, although still under discussion, seems to be within the ten to twenty billion year range. Such an ancient universe is rejected by young-earth creationists on biblical grounds. On the other hand, old-earth creationists and others, as discussed earlier, feel that it is supported biblically and, in fact, that the big bang is evidence for the existence of God.For the adherent to NOMA, of course, the Bible neither supports nor refutes the big bang, or vice-versa. We are happy to accept the cosmological knowledge that the big bang offers, but we recognize that (as a scientific theory) it is subject to revision. We may find, personally, that the big bang fits well (or does not fit well) with our overall worldview, including our idea of what is aesthetically pleasing in nature. If we are Christians, we do not worry about it too much one way or the other. --Jean Pond

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  • I find her [Jean Pond’s] view of scripture and science (along with NOMA) to be an elaborate cop-out that gives total precedence to science at every point in the discussion carrying any significance for discovering physical reality. Pond (and NOMA) seem to overlook the turbulent nature of scientific theories throughout history while discounting the possibility that the Bible has a divine author capable of giving a general but accurate description of physical reality that science is yet to fully discover. --Roy Massie

  • Independence is a way of resolving the conflict by affirming separate spheres of validity for science and religion, with a demilitarized if fuzzy boundary… Neo-orthodox religion is comfortable with this resolution, and most working scientists are also quite happy with this pragmatic approach. Lutherans may feel at home here, seeing this as a version of Luther's "two kingdoms," and there is the air of Copenhagen and Bohr's complementarity about it. --Daniel Johnson

  • Strengths and Weaknesses?

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  • Science and faith have different methodologies, but they are complementary, not contradictory; a faith without reason is as stultifying as a reason without faith. --R. J. Berry

  • If to the request “Describe an apple for me,” from one who has never seen an apple, I reply “ An apple is usually red like a cherry, juicy like a peach, and firm like a pear,” I have used three similes. Each gives a partial insight into the reality of an apple but no one separately, or even all three together, gives a totally accurate description of an apple. By knowing all three similes I know more about an apple than by knowing only one or two of them. If to these similes I add, “An apple is like a Japanese persimmon except that its inside is white rather than pink,” I would know still more about an apple, while still not knowing exactly what an apple is. Such similar descriptions could be multiplied many times over, giving a greater and greater awareness of what an apple is, but never converging on a totally accurate statement of what an apple is. Descriptions that give partial insights (with limited accuracy, exactness, or correspondence with reality) may be said to be complementary. --Richard Bube

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  • Paul Dirac invented something called quantum field theory which is fundamental to our understanding of the physical world. I can't believe Dirac's ability to invent that theory, or Einstein's ability to invent the general theory of relativity, is a sort of spin-off from our ancestors having to dodge sabre-toothed tigers. It seems to me that something much more profound, much more mysterious is going on. I would like to understand why the reason within and the reason without fit together at a deep level. Religious belief provides me with a entirely rational and entirely satisfying explanation of that fact. It says that the reason within and the reason without have a common origin in this deeper rationality which is the reason of the Creator, whose will is the ground both of my mental and my physical experience. That's for me an illustration of theology's power to answer a question, namely the intelligibility of the world, that arises from science but goes beyond science's unaided power to answer. Remember, science simply assumes the intelligibility of the world. Theology can take that striking fact and make it profoundly comprehensible. --John Polkinghorne

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  • They [S&R] ask different questions: in the one case, how things happen, by what process?; in the other, why things happen, to what purpose? Though these are two different questions, yet, the ways we answer them must bear some consonant relationship to each other. If I assure you that my purpose is to create a beautiful garden and then I tell you that how I am going to do so is by covering the ground with six inches of green concrete, you will rightly doubt the genuineness of my intentions. The fact that we now know that the universe did not spring into being ready made a few thousand years ago but that it has evolved over a period of fifteen billion years from its fiery origin in the Big Bang, does not abolish Christian talk of the world as God's creation, but it certainly modifies certain aspects of that discourse. --John Polkinghorne

  • Any thoughts?

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Creation vs. EvolutionA Historical Introduction

  • God of the Gaps

    • If science has a gap in its knowledge, one can explain the mystery with God.

      • And even use the gap as evidence of God.

  • So God occupies gaps in scientific knowledge.

    • Problem: As the gaps shrink, so does God.

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Varieties of Creationism: A List

  • Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

    • Scientific Creationism: The ICR and the CRS

    • Creationist Evangelism: AIG

    • The Omphalos Hypothesis (uncommon)

  • Old Earth Creationism (OEC)

    • Day-Age (uncommon)

    • Gap or Ruin & Restoration (uncommon)

    • Progressive Creationism (Hugh Ross)

    • Intelligent Design

  • Evolutionary Creationism

  • Theistic Evolution

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Surveying Creationism

  • Creationist Interpretations of Genesis

  • Reproduced from Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists

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The Omphalos Hypothesis

  • OMPHALOS: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot by Phillip Henry Gosse, 1857

  • “Omphalos” means “navel”

    • Appearance of age: navels, tree rings, starlight

  • Publication met with derision and indifference, faded from history

  • Chief argument against: God does not lie

  • Invincible and untestable

  • Anecdotally, I’d say this is a strong folk-creationist variant in the LCMS

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Progressive Creationism

Sometimes people refer to this perspective as “Rossism” after Hugh Ross, Reasons to Believe


  • Accepts much of modern physical science, including Big Bang ~16 billion years ago

  • Evidentialist approach: science confirms the Bible

  • Rejects evolutionary biology, saying God created the kinds of animals sequentially, producing the fossil record

  • God created hominid creatures several million years before Adam & Eve, in agreement with conventional paleontology

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Young Earth Creationism

  • Recent (special, fiat) creation, 6000-10000 years ago

  • Creation occurred during six 24-hour days

  • Life was created “each after their kind,” which rules out evolutionary species creation (macroevolution)

    • Most YECers accept microevolutionary changes at or below the species level (which can be observed)

  • Noah’s flood was worldwide, destroying all life except what was on the ark, causing catastrophic geological changes and creating the fossil record

  • Argues for catastrophism vs. uniformitarianism

  • Great decrease in life expectancy after the flood could have been a result of inbreeding or loss a vapor canopy (the canopy theory) that made the atmosphere into a big hyperbaric oxygen chamber and blocked harmful UV radiation.

  • There are many varieties of YEC, especially since Biblical interpretation is involved as well as science.

  • 1997 Gallup poll: 5% of US scientists are YECs

  • Is it scientific creationism?

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YEC Example



Among creationists there is much disagreement about the age of the earth and the age of the universe. Most opinions can be classified into one of three groups. One group is the belief that both the earth and the universe were created during the literal six-day creation week a few thousand years ago. That is the position of the Institute for Creation Research and most members of the Creation Research Society (CRS). A second opinion is that while the earth and all that is on it were created a few thousand years ago, most of the universe was created in the distant past of "in the beginning" of Genesis 1:1. A careful reading of the statement of belief of the CRS reveals that this belief is compatible with that statement. The third possibility is that both the earth and the universe are quite old, in general agreement with what most of modern science claims to be the ages. That position is difficult to reconcile with the CRS statement. The many writings of Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb have addressed this issue and have argued that the first opinion is the correct one. This author is in agreement with that position, and for the purposes of this paper, that is the definition of the creation model.

The creation was only the first of three major events that have affected the world. The second event was the fall recorded in Genesis chapter 3. The fall had very strong spiritual implications (the introduction of sin, the need for salvation), but was also accompanied by physical consequences, such as death, the cursing of the ground, and the groaning of the whole world as recorded in Romans 8:22. There is some debate among creationists as to what the full effects of this fall upon the world were. For instance, many suggest that the second law of thermodynamics may not have been operating in its fullness before the fall [57]. The third major event was the world wide flood of Noah recorded in Genesis 6-8. Being one year in duration, the catastrophic flood must have had a profound effect not only upon life, but the shape of the earth's surface itself. There is also some discussion among creationists about how much affect that the flood had upon the rest of the universe.

What modern science has to say about the origin and history of the world has caused many to dismiss these three events. On the other hand creation scientists take the Biblical account seriously, and so accept these events as real and have attempted to reexamine the world for evidence for those events.

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Criticisms of YEC

Christian Opponents

Christians who object to YEC reject its metaphysical assumptions (as we’ll see with ID), but they also criticize its science.

“DWISE1” has a website where he argues that:

  • creationists do teach that their faith would be falsified if evolution and other scientific findings are true,

  • that many Christians have lost or nearly lost their faith because of creation science, and

  • that many people are driven away from Christianity because of creation science.

    “Since then, I have corresponded with several Christians who have traveled the same path as I have. One thing that is always agreed upon is the damage young-earth creationism can do to souls; how many believers they have seen fall away. We have been taught that the Bible demands a young earth interpretation and when the facts of nature become inescapable - our faith becomes shattered! My pastor was wrong, the opposite was the case. If "R" had been offered the truth from the beginning, he would never have experienced the turmoil he went through. When "R" could no longer deny that the universe was billions of years old, the only option left for him was to deny the Bible. How many others have been disheartened in like manner?” --Ed, from his site Creation, Evolution and Adam, Genesis, the Flood

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Intelligent Design

  • Tends to have an open philosophy of science but not a theistic view: Neo-Creationist

  • “What then is Intelligent Design? Intelligent Design begins with the observation that intelligent causes can do things which undirected natural causes cannot. Undirected natural causes can place scrabble pieces on a board, but cannot arrange the pieces as meaningful words or sentences. To obtain a meaningful arrangement requires an intelligent cause… Its fundamental claim is that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology, and that these causes are empirically detectable… Intelligent Design presupposes neither a creator nor miracles. Intelligent Design is theologically minimalist… It is the empirical detectability of intelligent causes that renders Intelligent Design a fully scientific theory, and distinguishes it from the design arguments of philosophers, or what has traditionally been called "natural theology…" Intelligent Design entails that naturalism in all forms be rejected. Metaphysical naturalism, the view that undirected natural causes wholly govern the world, is to be rejected because it is false. Methodological naturalism, the view that for the sake of science, scientific explanation ought never exceed undirected natural causes, is to be rejected because it stifles inquiry.” --William Dembski

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Intelligent Design

Four Arguments from ID

  • Irreducible Complexity

    • Michael Behe, the mousetrap example

  • Complex Specified Information

    • William Dembski, the alphabet example

  • The Fine-Tuning of the Universe

    • The universe has characteristics that allow life to exist, including the value of many physical constants, the strength of nuclear forces, etc. If any of these values were different by a small amount, life would be impossible. Taken together, these circumstances are highly improbable and suggest the existence of a designer.

  • Evolutionists argue by assumption

    • If God is excluded from any possible manifestation with the physical world, of course you’ll end up with something that looks like Darwinism. This elevates the theory to more of a belief system, that has found its way into all the sciences, often inappropriately.

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Intelligent Design

Phillip Johnson: Excerpt from Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education

Naturalism in the Academy

The domination of naturalism over intellectual life is not affected by the fact that some religious believers and active churchgoers hold prestigious academic appointments. With very few exceptions, these believers maintain their respectability by tacitly accepting the naturalistic rules that define rationality in the universities. They explicitly or implicitly concede that their theism is a matter of "faith" and agree to leave the realm of "reason" to the agnostics. This is true in every field of study, but especially so in natural science, the discipline that has the authority to describe physical reality for all the others. A biologist may believe in God on Sundays, but he or she had better not bring that belief to the laboratory on Monday with the idea that it has any bearing on the nature or origin of living organisms. For professional purposes, atheistic and theistic biologists alike must assume that nature is all there is.

Natural science is thus based on naturalism. What a science based on naturalism tells us, not surprisingly, is that naturalism is true. Because of the authority of science, the assumption that naturalism is true dominates all the disciplines of the university.

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Criticisms of ID

The Chicken or Egg Question

Do the scientific ideas of IDers flow from their Christian faith, or are they truly empirical?

It is… possible that some un-religious scientist might become convinced, on scientific evidence, of the existence of Intelligent Design, while remaining perfectly open minded about any of the truths of religion. When that scientist shows up, I shall begin to take Intelligent Design seriously. --John Derbyshire

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Criticisms of ID

Some Christians oppose ID on the grounds of MN.

Intelligent Design supposes that supernatural forces have crafted the world as we see it. Supernatural forces are simply not within the scope of science. Science necessarily only concerns itself with natural phenomena and natural causes. Supernatural causes are not testable, quantifiable, or qualifiable. They are simply not the scope of science. ID is unscience. Those proponents of ID are not simply insisting on better science. They are insisting on being antithetical to science and sitting down at the science table. Science cannot and should not concern itself with causes that it cannot empirically demonstrate or test. It should make no assertion that cannot be shown to be false by another scientist using the scientific method. --anonymous email blog post

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Criticisms of ID

Objections are also raised that ID is just a modern version of the God of the Gaps argument.

ID theory posits that certain features of the natural world CAN ONLY be explained by the active intervention of a designing intelligence. Since the entire history of science displays innumerable instances of hitherto inexplicable phenomena yielding to natural explanations (and, in fact, innumerable instances of "intelligent design" notions to explain natural phenomena being scrapped when more obvious natural explanations were worked out), the whole ID outlook has very little appeal to well-informed scientists. A scientist who knows his history sees the region of understanding as a gradually enlarging circle of light in a general darkness. If someone comes along and tells him: "This particular region of darkness HERE will never be illuminated by methods like yours," then he is naturally skeptical. "How can you possibly know that?" he will say, very reasonably. --John Derbyshire

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Criticisms of ID

Another objection is that if ID is correct, humans can be led to a belief in the existence of God through empirical means, which, in the opinion of some, is contrary to scripture.

If Luther is right, if the cross is where we really see what God is like, then we should expect that God’s actions in the world bear the mark of the cross… Just as the Son of God limited himself by taking human form and dying on a cross, God limits divine action in the world to be in accord with rational laws which God has chosen… A theology of the cross then suggests that, contrary to the belief of ID advocates, methodological naturalism is appropriate for natural science, which is not to invoke God as an explanation for phenomena… But this God does not compel the belief of skeptics by leaving puzzles in creation which science can’t solve. The mark God has placed on creation is both more stark and more subtle. “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 16:4 NRSV). --George Murphy

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ID in Schools

  • The creation/evolution in schools syllogism: If creationism is religion it should not be taught in public schools.

  • If you buy the syllogism, theistic creationism is out.

    • U.S. Supreme Court, 1987: Edwards v. Aguillard

    • “...Because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to advance a particular religious belief, the Act endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment.”

  • The question then becomes “Is ID religious?”

    • U.S. District Court, 2005: Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

    • "We have concluded that Intelligent Design is not science, and moreover that I.D. cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious antecedents."

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Evolutionary CreationismorTheistic Evolution

  • Is there a difference?

    • Theistic evolution implies more of a deistic approach, while Evolutionary Creationism implies more of an active role for God in the world. Proponents of these points of view often wrestle with terminology.

    • E.g., Howard Van Till refers to his position as the fully gifted creation perspective.

  • “a vision that recognizes the entire universe as a creation that has, by God’s unbounded generosity and unfathomable creativity, been given all of the capabilities for self-organization and transformation necessary to make possible something as humanly incomprehensible as unbroken evolutionary development.” --Howard Van Till

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Evolutionary CreationismorTheistic Evolution

From theisticevolution.org:

“Why have some of you not heard this before now?

  • Not exactly preaching material.

  • Too controversial to be printed in Sunday School material.

  • Christian professors who would be most qualified to write and/or teach on the subject are in fear of their jobs…

  • Many Christian colleges and seminaries rely on private donations for funding. Thus, they prefer that their professors not teach anything that might lead to donor disenchantment.

  • Fundamentalists accuse the viewpoint of being liberal theology--thus, making this an unpopular view…”

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Evolutionary CreationismorTheistic Evolution

Christian Opponents

  • Creationists disagree for obvious reasons

  • Too deistic

    • God is portrayed as being more active in the Bible

      • “He makes grass grow for the cattle” Ps. 104:14

      • “You bring darkness, it becomes night” Ps. 104:20

      • “He covers the sky with clouds” Ps. 147:8

  • Evolution, being naturalistic, is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian faith

    • The road of compromise looks attractive at first, but long experience has proved it to be a one-way street. The evolutionists at the end of the road are never satisfied until their opponents travel all the way to the atheistic void at its end. --Henry Morris

    • Many aspects of evolutionary theory are directly contradictory to God’s Word. Evolution cannot be “baptized” to make it compatible with the Christian faith. --A.L. Barry

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The LCMS and Creationism

From The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark A. Noll

Modern creationism arose, by contrast, from the efforts of earnest Seventh-day Adventists who wanted to show that the sacred writings of Adventist-founder Ellen G. White (who made much of a recent earth and the Noachian deluge) could provide a framework for studying the history of the earth. Especially important for this purpose was the Adventist theorist George McCready Price (1870-1963), who published a string of creationist works culminating in 1923 with The New Geology. That book argued that a "simple" or "literal" reading of early Genesis showed that God had created the world six to eight thousand years ago and had used the Flood to construct the planet's geological past. Price, an armchair geologist with little formal training and almost no field experience, demonstrated how a person with such a belief could reconstruct natural history in order to question traditional understandings of the geological column and apparent indications for an ancient earth. Price's ideas were never taken seriously by practicing geologists, and they also had little impact outside of Adventist circles. One exception was the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, where a few energized critics of the modern world found Price's biblical literalism convincing, despite the fact that on almost every other religious question the Missouri Synod was about as far removed from Seventh-day Adventism as it was possible to be.

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The LCMS and Creationism

A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932

Of Creation

We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less out of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God's own record, found in God's own book, the Bible. We accept God's own record with full confidence and confess with Luther's Catechism: "I believe that God has made me and all creatures."

Of Man and of Sin

We teach that the first man was not brutelike nor merely capable of intellectual development, but that God created man in His own image, Gen. 1:26, 27; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10

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The LCMS and Creationism

1967 Convention Proceedings

Whereas, Scripture teaches and the Lutheran confessions affirm that God by the almighty power of His Word created all things in 6 days by a series of creative acts (Gen. 1; Ex. 20:11; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3; cf. Large Catechism 2, 11-16; FC Ep. I, 2,4).

Whereas, The Scriptures teach and the Lutheran Confessions affirm that Adam and Eve were real, historical human beings, the first two people in the world (Gen. 2; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:45-47; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; cf. FC Ep I, 4; SD I, 9, 27; Ap XII, 55), created in God's image with body and soul "pure, good, and holy" (FC SD, II, 27).

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The LCMS and Creationism

A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles, 1972

We believe, teach, and confess that God, by the almighty power of His Word, created all things. We also believe that man, as the principal creature of God, was specially created in the image of God, that is, in a state of righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. We affirm that Adam and Eve were real historical human beings, the first two people in the world, and that their fall was a historical occurrence which brought sin into the world so that "since the fall of Adam all men who are propagated according to nature are born in sin" (AC, II, 1).

We therefore reject the following:

The notion that man did not come into being through the direct creative action of God, but through a process of evolution from lower forms of life which in turn developed from matter that is either eternal, autonomous, or self-generating.

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The LCMS and Creationism

From The Creationists by Ronald L. Numbers

1929 survey: “Do you believe that the creation of the world occurred in the manner and time recorded in Genesis?”









Alfred M. Rehwinkel The Flood (1951)

John W. Klotz Genes, Genesis, and Evolution (1955)

Paul A. Zimmerman, ed. Darwin, Evolution, and Creation (1959)

President A. L. Barry What About Creation and Evolution (2000)

Erich A. Von Fange In Search of the Genesis World: Debunking the Evolution Myth (2006)

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The LCMS and Creationism

To Commend Preaching and Teaching Creation

Resolution 2-08A, Adopted at the 2004 Synodical Convention

WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that God is the creator of all that exists and is therefore the author and giver of life; and

WHEREAS, The hypotheses of macro, organic, and Darwinian evolution, including theistic evolution or any other model denying special, immediate and miraculous creation, undercut this support for the honoring of life as a gift of God; and

WHEREAS, Any teaching that advocates the transition from one species to another, as opposed to maintaining the distinction of species “according to their kinds” (Genesis, Chapter 1), rejects the clear teaching of Scripture; and

WHEREAS, It is the church’s duty to produce followers of Christ who not only know the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but also are “prepared to give an answer… for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15); therefore be it

Resolved, That all educational agencies and institutions of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod including early childhood programs, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities and seminaries continue to teach creation from the Biblical perspective; and be it further

Resolved, That no educational agency or institution of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod tolerate any teaching that contradicts the special, immediate, and miraculous creation by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as an explanation for the origin of the universe; and be it further

Resolved, That the Synod’s educational agencies and institutions properly distinguish between micro and macro evolution and affirm the scriptural revelation that God has created all species “according to their kinds”; and be it finally

Resolved, that The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in convention remind its pastors and teachers to increase emphasis to the doctrine of God as the creator and author of life in their preaching and teaching.

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Some Final Thoughts

  • Evolution is “just a theory.”

  • Speculative Theology: Theology based on human philosophy rather than God's 

    • God could have…

  • A medical analogy: veritable vs. putative

  • “Luther has been called the Copernicus of theology while, on the other hand, Copernicus has been called the Luther of astronomy.” --Donald H. Kobe

  • From a student essay: “I don’t think that I need to justify my answer because it is what I believe to be true. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it.”

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Paranormal Phenomena

  • Paranormal Phenomena are “any phenomenon that in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible according to current scientific assumptions.” -Journal of Parapsychology

  • A list:

  • ESP

  • Telekinesis

  • Astrology

  • Faith Healing

  • UFOs

  • Dowsing

  • Channeling

  • Homeopathy

  • Psychic Surgery

  • Levitation

  • Pyramid Power

  • Palmistry

  • Ghosts

  • Scientology

  • Plant Perception

  • Cryptozoology

  • Demonic Possession

  • Perpetual Motion

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Paranormal Phenomena

  • Is any of this stuff real?

    • Have any of them been scientifically disproven?

  • Is this a faith question or a sight question?

  • The scientific approach

    • “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” --Carl Sagan

    • Scientific facts are observable, verifiable and reproducible.

    • Anecdotes are not evidence.

  • Scientific Skepticism

    • “CSICOP members argue that nothing less than the strictest standards of scientific scrutiny should be accepted as convincing. Such standards include well-designed and controlled scientific experiments published in reputable peer-reviewed journals, followed by independent replication by other researchers.” --Wikipedia “CSICOP”

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Paranormal Phenomena

  • The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge from the JREF

  • Christianity and the Paranormal

    • Since we Christians believe in some paranormal things, should we be less skeptical about all paranormal things?

    • Do you think that “natural” paranormal phenomena (e.g. ESP) conflicts with Christian beliefs? How about UFOs/alien life?

    • How should a Christian approach Satanic cult conspiracy theories? Which tools do you use?

  • Randi on Geller:

    • http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-03/032307hope.html#i9

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