A Christian
Approach to
Biological
Complexity
Dr. Ard Louis
Department of Physics
University of Oxford
www.cis.org.uk
www.faraday-institute.org
www.cpgrad.org.uk
Colliding cultures?
Words
Customs
Traditions
Behaviour
Beliefs
Values
Assumptions
• Christian sub-culture(s)
• Scientific sub-cultures
• culture is often “caught”
not “taught”
My main argument:
Much of the tension
between “evolution”
and “faith” is due to
unrecognized “cultural
assumptions”
OUTLINE
• Self-assembly: things that make
themselves
• What does the Bible say about nature?
• What does nature say about God?
Biological self-assembly
http://www.npn.jst.go.jp/ Keiichi Namba, Osaka
• Biological systems self-assemble (they make themselves)
• Can we understand?
• Can we emulate? (Nanotechnology)
Virus self-assembly
viruses
• Self-assembled from identical subunits (capsomers).
• Characteristic number T.
• Capsid T: 12 pentamers, 10(T - 1) hexamers.
10/7/2015
Self-assembly of “computer viruses”
Computer viruses?
Monte-Carlo simulations: stochastic optimisation
http://www-thphys.physics.ox.ac.uk/user/IainJohnson/
Self-assembly with legos?
Christian reaction: Fear?
Science has proven:
There is no God
OUTLINE
• Self-assembly: things that make
themselves
• What does the Bible say about nature?
• What does nature say about God?
• Language and metaphors of evolution
God created and sustains the world
• “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the
earth” Gen 1:1
• “For by him [Christ] all things were created … and in him
all things hold together” Col 1:16,17
• “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory … sustaining all
things by his powerful word” Heb 1:3
Biblical language of creation
• He makes springs pour water into ravines; it
flows between the mountains; the wild
donkeys quench their thirst Psalm 104: 10,11
(praising God’s creation)
• “Natural” processes are described both as
divine and non-divine actions
• 2 perspectives on the same natural world
‘Science’ studies the
“Customs of the Creator”
• If God were to stop “sustaining all things” the world
would stop existing
• Donald MacKay, The Clockwork Image, IVP
• “An act of God is so marvelous that only the daily
doing takes off the admiration”
•
John Donne (Eighty Sermons, #22 published in 1640)
• “Miracles” are not God “intervening in the laws of
nature”: they are God working in less customary
ways
Newton and the planets
• “This most beautiful
system of the sun,
planets and comets
could only proceed
from the counsel
and dominion of an
intelligent being.”
• Sir Isaac Newton
Leibniz objects
“For, as Leibniz objected,
if God had to remedy the
defects of his creation, this
was surely to demean his
craftmanship”
•John Hedley Brooke, Science
and Religion, CUP 1991, p147
Leibniz objects
•“And I hold, that when God
works miracles, he does not do it
in order to supply the wants of
nature, but those of grace.
Whoever thinks otherwise, must
needs have a very mean notion of
the wisdom and power of God”
God of the gaps
Charles Coulson (1910-1974)
First Oxford professor of
theoretical chemistry
• This is a fatal step to
take. For it is to assert
that you can plant some
sort of hedge in the
country of the mind to
mark the boundary
where a transfer of
authority takes place.
….. Either God is in the
whole of Nature, with no
gaps, or He’s not there
at all.
Interpreting the Bible
•
•
•
•
What kind of language?
What kind of literature?
What kind of audience?
What kind of context?
•The antidote to bad interpretation is not no
interpretation, but good interpretation, based on
common sense guidelines
•G. Fee and D. Stuart, “How to Read the Bible for All It Is Worth”,
Zondervan (1993), p17
Biblical or cultural?
Genesis 1-3
Genesis 1:1-2:3
Genesis 2:4-25
In the beginning God created the skies
and the earth. The earth was without
form and void; And the Spirit of God
was hovering over the waters.
Day (yom) one: God created day and
night
Day two: God made the sky
(firmament) between the waters
Day three: God made dry land and
vegetation
Day four: God made Sun and Moon
(greater and lesser lamps) & he also
made the stars (sic!)
Day five: God made Sea creatures and
flying creatures
Day six: God made Land animals.
God made Mankind (adam) Male&
Female in God’s image
Day seven: God rested from his work.
•In the day (yom) that the Lord made
the earth and the skies before any
vegetation or rain.
•God formed the man (adam) out of
the dust of the earth (adama)
•God planted a garden eastward in
Eden, where He put the man
•God made out of the ground every
tree grow that is pleasant to the sight
and good for food. The tree of life
and the tree of knowledge of good and
evil were also in the garden
•God took man and put him in the
garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
•God commanded the man not to eat
of the tree of good and evil “for in the
day (yom) that you eat of it you shall
surely die.
Genesis 1-3
Genesis 1:1-2:3
Genesis 2:4-25 cont.
In the beginning God created the skies
and the earth. The earth was without
form and void; And the Spirit of God
was hovering over the waters.
Day (yom) one: God created day and
night
Day two: God made the sky
(firmament) between the waters
Day three: God made dry land and
vegetation
Day four: God made Sun and Moon
(greater and lesser lamps) & he also
made the stars (sic!)
Day five: God made Sea creatures and
flying creatures
Day six: God made Land animals.
God made Mankind (adam) Male&
Female in God’s image
Day seven: God rested from his work.
•God said: “It is not good that man
should be alone; I will make him an
ally comparable to him”. The LORD
God … brought [every beast of the
field and every bird of the air] to the
mans to see what he would call them.
.. But for the man there was not found
an ally comparable to him.
•God caused the man to sleep, and
took his side to make a woman. The
man called her wo-man, for she was
taken out of man.
•For this reason a man will leave his
father and mother and be united to his
wife, and they will become one flesh.
What kind of literature?
•
•
•
Genesis 1-2:3
Phrases that occur 10 times:
• 10 times “God said” (3 for
mankind, 7 for other
creatures)
• 10 times creative commands
(3 x “let there be” for
heavenly creatures, 7 x “let”
for world below)
• 10 x To make
• 10 x According to their kind
Phrases that occur 7 times
(heptads)
• “and it was so”
• “and God saw that it was
good”
•
•
•
•
Genesis 1:2-3
Phrases that occur 3 times
• God blessed
• God created
• God created men and women
Other numerical patterns:
• Intro 1:1-2 contains 21 words
(3 x 7) and conclusion (2: 1-3)
contains 35 words (5 X 7)
• Earth is mentioned 21 times
and “God” 35 times
-- see e.g. H. Blocher “In the
Beginning”, p 33 or E. Lucas
“Can We Believe Genesis Today”
, p 97
What kind of literature?
FRAMEWORK VIEW
SHAPED
• Day 1
• The separation of light and
darkness
• Day 2
• The separation of the
waters to form the sky and
the sea
• Day 3
• The separation of the sea
from dry land and creation
of plants
INHABITED
• Day 4
• The creation of the lights
to rule the day and the
night
• Day 5
• The creation of the birds
and fish to fill the sky
and sea
• Day 6
• The creation of the
animals and humans to
fill the land and eat the
plants
Day 7:
The heavens and earth were finished and God rested
What genre of literature?
•
•
Gen2:4-7 -- more patterns:
These are the generations
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
•
of the heavens
and the earth
when they were created
in the day that the Lord God made
the earth
and the heavens.
Chiastic structure (C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4 P&R (2006))
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the
field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on
the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was
going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the
ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a
living creature.
•
A completely different emphasis!
What genre of literature?
• More like Revelation than like Luke
• But very clear in its teaching e.g.
• God created the world
• Creation is good
• I Tim 4: 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be
rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
What genre of literature?
• More like Revelation than like Luke?
• But very clear in its teaching e.g.
• God created the world
• Creation is good
• Man is made in God’s image
• Mankind (adam) has fallen into sin
• A promise of redemption (seed of woman)
• MANY! More things
• No problems with perspecuity on doctrine
What genre of literature?
• “a conscious and deliberate anti-mythical
polemic which meant an undermining of the
prevailing mythological cosmologies.”
• Gerhard F Hasel, “The Polemic Nature of the
Genesis Cosmology”, Evangelical Quarterly46
(1974), pp. 81-102.
What genre of literature?
• Is it chronological?
• “What man of intelligence, I ask, will consider that the
first and second and the third day, in which there are
said to be both morning and evening, existed without
sun and moon and stars, while the first day was even
without a heaven?
• Origen 185 - 254: First Principles, 4.3
What genre of literature?
• Is it chronological?
• “On this subject there are three main views.
According to the first, some wish to understand
paradise only in a material way. According to the
second, others wish to take it only in a spiritual way.
According to the third, others understand it both
ways, taking some things materially and others
spiritually. If I may briefly mention my own opinion, I
prefer the third”
• Augustine of Hippo (354-430) De Gen. ad litt VIII, 1.
(on the literal interpretation of Genesis)
What does the Bible say about nature?
• God sustains the universe
• Language of God’s action
• Miracles v.s. “customs of the creator”
• God created the universe
• Genesis 1-3 – polemic structured prose,
not a journalistic account.
• God’s creation is good.
• Bible is not a science textbook
• E.g. John Calvin, Augustine, etc….
OUTLINE
• Self-assembly: things that make
themselves
• What does the Bible say about nature?
• What does nature say about God?
• Language and metaphors of evolution
What does nature tell us about God?
• What does the Bible say?
• the heavens declare the Glory of God - Psalm 19
• What is man that you are mindful of him? Psalm 8
• For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities —his
eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made, so that men are without
excuse. Romans 1:20
Natural Theology
• History of Natural theology:
• Paley – Newman – Barth …..
• The fundamental thesis of the book is that if nature is to
disclose the transcendent, it must be "seen" or "read" in
certain specific ways -- ways that are not themselves
necessarily mandated by nature itself. It is argued that
Christian theology provides a schema or interpretative
framework by which nature may be "seen" in a way that
enables and authorizes it to connect with the
transcendent.
•
--- A. McGrath p x about "the Open Secret"
History of life on earth
Grandeur of God?
•humans -- last 2 seconds of 24 hr day
•not unlike astronomy: the heavens
declare the Glory of God - Psalm 19
•What is man that you are mindful of him?
Psalm 8
In our galaxy there are 100,000 million stars, like our
sun. our galaxy is one of 100,000 million galaxies. In
a throwaway line in Genesis, the writer tells us, "he
also made the stars" .. Gen 1:16
History of life on earth
Grandeur of God?
•humans -- last 2 seconds of 24 hr day
•not unlike astronomy: the heavens
declare the Glory of God - Psalm 19
•What is man that you are mindful of
him? Psalm 8
If the earth was 24 hours old, then your life
is the last millisecond ..
Evolution?
•
EMOTIONAL DEBATE ?
Does where we come from
determine who we are and how
we should then live?
Natural theology?
2009 – International Darwin Year
Charles Robert Darwin:
1809 Born into Unitarian family
1859 Publishes “Origin of Species”
• Biological Complexity arises from:
•Variation and Natural Selection
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its
several powers, having been originally
breathed into a few forms or into one; and
… from so simple a beginning endless
forms most beautiful and most wonderful
have been, and are being, evolved.
OUTLINE
• Self-assembly: things that make
themselves
• What does the Bible say about nature?
• What does nature say about God?
• Language and metaphors of evolution
Intermezzo: Defining Evolution
• Evolution as Natural History
•the earth is old (+/- 4.5 Billion years)
•more complex life forms followed from simpler life forms
• Evolution as a mechanism for the emergence of biological
complexity
•generated by mutations and natural selection
(note: most Christians agree that God created this mechanism)
• Evolution as a “big picture” worldview (scientism)
George Gaylord Simpson:
"Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him
in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal,
and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and
indeed to all that is material."
or Richard Dawkins:
"Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
Christian approaches to emergence of
biological complexity
• Young Earth Creation Science
• Earth is about 10,000 years old
• Genesis 1,2 are historical in the modern sense
• mainly in the last 50 years
• Progressive Creationism
• Earth is old
• Complexity came about through miracles
• Varied views on exegesis of Genesis
• Theistic Evolution/Biologos
• Earth is old
• Complexity came about through normal processes of God
• Genesis 1,2 are theological (framework view --prose poem)
• Intelligent Design
• All the above views are strictly ‘creationists’ and believe in intelligent
design
• Capital ID is a more recent movement, could be YECS, PE, or TE.
Language: Random or stochastic?
• Random mutations and natural
selection...(chance and necessity -- Monod)
• Stochastic optimisation
• e.g. used to price your stock portfolio .....
Lego blocks or clay?
• Evo-Devo Lego Blocks:
•
•
•
•
•
pax6
sonic-hedgehog
shaven-baby
tinman
Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science
of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal
Kingdom. S.B. Carroll (Blackwell Science 2005)
Why so few genes?
Mycoplasma genitalium (483)
(300 minimum?)
Drosophila Melanogaster
(13,500)
E.coli (5416)
C. elegans (19,500) & P.
pacificus (29,000)
S. cerevisiae (5800)
H. sapiens (23,000)
Why so few genes?
We share 15% of our genes with E. coli
“
“
25% “ “ “
“ yeast
“
“
50% “ “ “
“ flies
“
“
70% “ “ “
“ frogs
“
“
98% “ “ “
“ chimps
what makes us different?
Gene language
Why are there so few genes?
complexity comes from the
interactions
gene networks
systems biology
transcriptional network for yeast:
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals:
enough P for 2000 matches
enough Cl to disinfect
a swimming pool
enough Fe for 1 nail
enough fat to make
10 bars of soap
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals:
enough P for 2000 matches
enough Cl to disinfect
a swimming pool
enough Fe for 1 nail
enough fat to make
10 bars of soap
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals:
enough P for 2000 matches
enough Cl to disinfect
a swimming pool
enough Fe for 1 nail
enough fat to make
0.1 bars of soap
Dawkins on being human
"The individual organism ... is not fundamental to
life, but something that emerges when genes, which
at the beginning of evolution were separate, warring
entities, gang together in co-operative groups as
"selfish co-operators". The individual organism is not
exactly an illusion. It is too concrete for that. But it is
a secondary, derived phenomenon, cobbled
together as a consequence of the actions of
fundamentally separate, even warring agents.
From Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow,
(Penguin, London, 1998) p 308.
Prof. Richard
Dawkins (Oxford)
Gene language
[Genes] swarm in huge colonies,
safe inside gigantic lumbering
robots, sealed off from the
outside world, communicating
with it by tortuous indirect
routes, manipulating it by
remote control. They are in you
and me; they created us, body
and mind; and their
preservation is the ultimate
rationale for our existence.
Richard Dawkins -The Selfish Gene (1976)
[Genes] are trapped in huge
colonies, locked inside highly
intelligent beings, moulded by
the outside world,
communicating with it by
complex processes, through
which, blindly, as if by magic,
function emerges. They are in
you and me; we are the system
that allows their code to be
read; and their preservation is
totally dependent on the joy that
we experience in reproducing
ourselves. We are the ultimate
rationale for their existence.
Denis Noble -The Music of Life:
Biology Beyond the
Genome (OUP 2006)
Contingency v.s.``deep structures’’: Re-run
the tape of evolution?
“Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play
again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly
small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay.” In
evolution, there is no direction, no progression. Humanity is dethroned from its
exalted view of its own importance
S.J. Gould: “Wonderful Life”; (W.W. Norton 1989)
When you examine the tapestry of evolution you see the same patterns emerging
over and over again. Gould's idea of rerunning the tape of life is not hypothetical;
it's happening all around us. And the result is well known to biologists —
evolutionary convergence. When convergence is the rule, you can rerun the tape
of life as often as you like and the outcome will be much the same. Convergence
means that life is not only predictable at a basic level; it also has a direction.
Simon Conway Morris “Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely
Universe”; (CUP, 2003)
Convergent Evolution?
"For the harmony of the world is made manifest in
Form and Number, and the heart and soul and all
poetry of Natural Philosophy are embodied in the
concept of mathematical beauty." (On Growth and
Form, 1917.)
Convergent evolution in mechanical design of lamnid sharks and
tunas
Jeanine M. Donley, et al. Nature 429, 61-65 (6 May 2004)
Convergent Evolution
North America:
Placental Sabre-toothed cat
South America”
Marsupial Sabre-toothed cat
Convergent Evolution
compound eye
camera eye
Convergent Evolution?
•
•
Enormous number of examples ... from proteins to vision up to societies to
intelligence.
Are rational conscious beings an inevitable outcome? “
The principal aim of this book has been to show that the constraints of evolution and the
ubiquity of convergence make the emergence of something like ourselves a nearinevitability. SCM, “Life’s Solution”, (CUP 2005) pp328
Summary
•What the Bible tells us about nature
•Created and sustained
•Genesis 1
•What Nature can tell us about God
•Natural theology and its critics
•God and Evolution:
•Extracting much meaning from these mechanisms is hard ….
•Metaphors are important
•Self-assembly (things that make themselves)
•“random –v.s. stochastic processes”
•“gene language” etc..
•There is much more to discover
•Atheism of the gaps?
• The Bible tells us about nature
• What nature tells us about God (natural
theology)
• Evolution and its metaphors …
-------
------------
Case study 2: common descent of
human & chimp?
Divergence of the chimpanzee and human lineages occurred about 6 million years ago; the times of lineage divergence are
not to scale
News & Views: The chimpanzee and us, Wen-Hsiung Li and Matthew A. Saunders, Nature 437, 50-51
(1September 2005) .
tapestry arguments in biology:
chromosomal banding:
Humans have 46 (2 X
23) chromosomes
Apes have 48 (2 X
24) chromosomes
chromosome 2: Human, Chimp, Gorilla, Orang-utan
The origin of man: a chromosomal pictorial legacy. J.J Yunis and O. Prakash,
Science 215, 1525 (1982)
tapestry arguments in biology:
fusion of chromosome 2?
chromosome 2: Human, Chimp, Gorilla, Orang-utan
tapestry arguments in biology:
evidence from the human genome
Chromosome 2 is unique to the human lineage of evolution, having
emerged as a result of head-to-head fusion of two acrocentric
chromosomes that remained separate in other primates. The precise
fusion site has been located in 2q13−2q14.1 (ref. 2;
hg16:114455823−114455838), where our analysis confirmed the
presence of multiple subtelomeric duplications to chromosomes 1, 5,
8, 9, 10, 12, 19, 21 and 22 (Fig. 3; Supplementary Fig. 3a, region A).
During the formation of human chromosome 2, one of the two
centromeres became inactivated (2q21, which corresponds to the
centromere from chimp chromosome 13) and the centromeric
structure quickly deterioriated [42].
Generation and annotation of the DNA sequences of human
chromosomes 2 and 4, L.W. Hillier et al., Nature 434, 724 (2005).
endogenous retroviruses
HERV-K insertions
In humans endogenous retrovirus sequences make up about 1% of the genome.
Lebedev, Y. B., et al. (2000) "Differences in HERV-K LTR insertions in orthologous loci of
humans and great apes." Gene 247: 265-277.
tapestry arguments in biology:
more threads of evidence
•Genetic threads
•SINEs (Alu )
•LINEs
•Retroviral insertions
•pseudo genes (e.g. olefaction)
•chromosomal inversions
•Phenotypal similarities
•Fossils
•The tapestry for: do humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor?
seems to most biologists almost unbreakably strong
for physicists, mathematicians and engineers
-- these arguments may still seem foreign and vague; where is the
“proof”?, how do you know? -- so communities talk past each other
Jewish Commentators
• “…the sages agree that the creation of this earth and sky was a
single divine event and not a series of distinct occurrences
spread out over six or seven days
• N.M. Samuelson, “Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation”,
CUP (1994) p115
• “The text does not point to the order of the [acts] of creation
… the text does not by any means teach which things were
created first and which later [it only] wants to teach us what
was the condition of things at the time when heaven and
earth were created, namely, that the earth was without form
and a confused mass”
• Rashi (1040-1105), “Commentary on Genesis”
• Many more examples, e.g. Maimonides (1135-1204) etc…
•
In understanding the central role of figurative language in the early chapters of Genesis, the
Church Fathers were following an already established Jewish tradition of creative and highly
flexible interpretation. Early Jewish commentaries on Genesis favoured symbolic readings of
the early chapters. Many of the early rabbinic writings were of the view that God created
everything instantaneously rather than in any particular period of time. The Targums, the
Aramaic translations of and commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures with which Jesus and
St Paul would have been familiar, were extremely flexible in how they 47 read (and what
they read into) these verses. The highly influential Alexandrian Jew, Philo, a contemporary
of both Jesus and Paul, explained at some length how the days of creation, the “image of
God”, Adam and Eve, and the garden of Eden were all “intended symbolically rather than
literally”, being “no mythical fictions…but modes of making ideas visible”. 6 Such figurative
readings continued into the Middle Ages, in the work of rabbis such as Rashi, Maimonides
and Gersonides, and some Christian theologians such as Nicholas of Lyra. In the process,
allegorical readings of Biblical texts became excessive and it was in reaction to this trend
that the Reformers downplayed moral, allegorical and anagogical interpretations
(representing three strands of the mediaeval Quadrigaor “fourfold sense of scripture”) in
favour of a literal reading alone.7 Even then the pattern wasn’t universal. Calvin, for
example, favoured a literal interpretation but recognised that Moses, whom he believed
authored Genesis, had “adapt[ed] his discourse to common usage”. 8 Rescuing Darwin
Early Jewish commentaries on Genesis favoured symbolic readings of the early chapters.
Science has a servant role in
interpretation of the Bible
• All truth is God’s truth, so, properly
interpreted, science and the Bible cannot
contradict
“The Bible must not be placed under any other authority!
…no authority, even one at the apex of the scientific
world, may impose his authority on the Bible in order to
dictate how it is to be understood, even with the best
intentions.”
“Instead of an authority, however, a ministerial, servantrole apears possible. ….. The knowledge derived from
the observation of reality (`science’) would help us to
understand the language of the Bible better.”
•Henri Blocher “In the Beginning” IVP (1984) p 25
The Bible is not a science textbook
• The whole point of scripture is to bring us to a
knowledge of Christ --- and having come to
know him (and all that this implies), we should
come to a halt and not expect to learn more.
Scripture provides us with spectacles through
which we may view the world as God’s
creation and self-expression; it does not, and
was never intended, to provide us with an
infallible repository of astronomical and
medical information.
John Calvin
1509-1564
Warfield on evolution
• B. B. Warfield (1851-1921). A biblical inerrantist as
evolutionist. Livingstone DN, Noll MA, 1: Isis. 2000
Jun;91(2):283-304.
•
The theological doctrine of biblical inerrancy is the intellectual basis for
B.B. Warfield
1851-1921
modern creation science. Yet Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield of
Princeton Theological Seminary, the theologian who more than any other
defined modern biblical inerrancy, was throughout his life open to the
possibility of evolution and at some points an advocate of the theory.
Throughout a long career Warfield published a number of major papers
on these subjects, including studies of Darwin's religious life, on the
theological importance of the age of humanity (none) and the unity of the
human species (much), and on Calvin's understanding of creation as
proto-evolutionary. He also was an engaged reviewer of many of his era's
important books by scientists, theologians, and historians who wrote on
scientific research in relation to traditional Christianity. Exploration of
Warfield's writing on science generally and evolution in particular
retrieves for historical consideration an important defender of mediating
positions in the supposed war between science and religion.
Writers of “the Fundamentals”
•
•
•
James Orr
1844-1913
One of the original “Fundamentalists”
There is not a word in the Bible to indicate that in its
view death entered the animal world as a
consequence of the Sin of man.
When you say there is the “six days” and the question
whether those days are meant to be measured by the
twenty-four hours of the sun’s revolution around the
earth -- I speak of these things popularly. It is difficult
to see how they should be so measured when the sun
that is to measure them is not introduced until the
fourth day. Do not think that this larger reading of the
days is a new speculation. You find Augustine in early
times declaring that it is hard or altogether impossible
to say what fashion these days are, and Thomas
Aquinas, in the middle ages, leaving the matter an
open question.
Aside:Emergence of Humans?
e.g. at what age is a child spiritually responsible to God?
John Stott on “Homos Divinus”
Advice from C.S. Lewis
When the author of Genesis says that God made man in His own image,
he may have pictured a vaguely corporeal God making man as a child
makes a figure out of plasticine. A modern Christian philosopher may
think of the process lasting from the first creation of matter to the final
appearance on this planet for an organism fit to receive spiritual as well
as biological life. Both mean essentially the same thing. Both are
denying the same thing -- the doctrine that matter by some blind power
inherent in itself has produced spirituality.
(C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock Eerdmans (1970), p 46)
Advice from Billy Graham
"I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science
today and the Scriptures. I think that we have
misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we've tried to
make the Scriptures say things they weren't meant to say, I
think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is
a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The
Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the
Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I
believe that God created man, and whether it came by an
evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this
person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not
change the fact that God did create man. ... whichever way
God did it makes no difference as to what man is and
man's relationship to God.”
• - Billy Graham quoted by David Frost
•
Source: Book - Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man (1997, p.
72-74)
SUMMARY
COMPLEX MATERIAL!
Evolution as:
1. Natural history
2. Mechanisms to create biological complexity
3. World view (evolutionism)
Metaphors are important
The mechanisms of evolution can be beautiful
Biblical Interpretation: important to look at genre of literature
Writers of “the Fundamentals”
•
•
•
James Orr
1844-1913
One of the original “Fundamentalists”
There is not a word in the Bible to indicate that in its
view death entered the animal world as a
consequence of the Sin of man.
When you say there is the “six days” and the question
whether those days are meant to be measured by the
twenty-four hours of the sun’s revolution around the
earth -- I speak of these things popularly. It is difficult
to see how they should be so measured when the sun
that is to measure them is not introduced until the
fourth day. Do not think that this larger reading of the
days is a new speculation. You find Augustine in early
times declaring that it is hard or altogether impossible
to say what fashion these days are, and Thomas
Aquinas, in the middle ages, leaving the matter an
open question.
The Bible and Science
Wayne Grudem
The lesson of Galileo, …, should remind us
that careful observation of the natural world
can cause us to go back to Scripture and
reexamine whether Scripture actually
teaches what we think it teaches.
Sometimes, on closer examination of the
text, we may find that our previous
interpretations were incorrect.
•Wayne Grudem, “Systematic Theology” IVP (1994)
p 273
The Bible is not a science textbook
• The whole point of scripture is to bring us to a
knowledge of Christ --- and having come to
know him (and all that this implies), we should
come to a halt and not expect to learn more.
Scripture provides us with spectacles through
which we may view the world as God’s
creation and self-expression; it does not, and
was never intended, to provide us with an
infallible repository of astronomical and
medical information.
John Calvin
1509-1564
Advice from Schaefer
Francis Schaefer
1912-1984
• We must take ample time, and
sometimes this will mean a long
time, to consider whether the
apparent clash between science
and revelation means that the
theory set forth by science is
wrong or whether we must
reconsider what we thought the
Bible says.
• Francis Schaefer
Intelligent Design (capitalised)
heterogeneous movement -- will focus on ID centred at Discovery Institute
some key publications and people
•The Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984)
•Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen
•Evolution, a Theory in Crisis (1986)
•Michael Denton
•Darwin on Trial (1991)
•Philip Johnson
•Darwin’s Black Box (1996)
•Michael Behe (CT book of the year)
•Icons of evolution (2000)
•Jonathan Wells
•No Free Lunch (2001)
•William Dembski
What is ID
•
•
Intelligent agency, as an aspect of scientific theory making, has more
explanatory power in accounting for the specified, and sometimes
irreducible complexity of some physical systems, including biological
entities, and/or the existence of the universe as a whole, than the blind
forces of. . . matter.’[1] That is, intelligent design is a better explanation
for entities exhibiting complex specified information (CSI) than are
appeals to the inherent capacities of nature (i.e. chance and/or physical
necessity). ID suggests that the world contains objects that exhaust the
explanatory resources of undirected natural causes, and can only be
adequately explained by recourse to intelligent causation.
(definition from Peter S. Williams)
Irreducible Complexity
Michael Behe (1996)
•Bacterial flagellum, immune system, etc...
are too complex to have evolved
This result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as
one of the greatest achievements in the history of science ... The discovery
[of intelligent design] rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and
Schroedinger, Pasteur and Darwin.”
Complex Specified Information
William Dembski
• CSI -- information that could not have come there by
chance alone?
• e.g. when we see a statue v.s. weathered rock
• “Law of the conservation of information”
Intelligent Design
• Philosophical issues:
• Definition of science (demarcation) ?
• Problems, but why not follow the evidence?
• Theological issues:
• when/why does God intervene?
• miracles?
• Newman/Barth critique
ID and Christians
• Major issues is -- why these miracles?
•Miracles occur to serve God’s redemptive purpose
• Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin etc...
“And I hold, that when God works miracles, he does not do it
in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace.
Whoever thinks otherwise, must needs have a very mean
notion of the wisdom and power of God” Leibnitz
e.g. what is the Biblical rationale for supernatural action
aiding the creation of the flagellum?
Intelligent Design (capitalised)
•GOOD
• Looking at complex questions in science/philosophy
• counteracting evolutionism
• middle road, broad church?
•LESS GOOD
• Detached from scripture
• doesn’t solve some pressing questions (like death before fall)
• very political
•
http://www.discovery.org
• William Dembski, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson
Calvin on using science
•
As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that Galileo had any direct knowledge of Calvin's writings.
Nevertheless his understanding of the nature of the language used by the Bible when referring to the
natural world is the same as Calvin's as the following quotations from the Letter to the Grand Duchess
Christina show.
•
B1. These propositions set down by the Holy Ghost were set down in that manner by the sacred scribes
in order to accommodate them to the capacities of the common people, who are rude and unlearned. (p.
181)
•
B2. It is necessary for the Bible, in order to be accommodated to the understanding of every man, to
speak many things which appear to differ from the absolute truth so far as the bare meaning of the words is
concerned. (p. 182)
•
B3. For that reason it appears that nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or
which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon
the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words. (p. 182f)
•
B4. ...having arrived at any certainties in physics, we ought to utilize these as the most appropriate aids in
the true exposition of the Bible and in the investigation of those meanings which are necessarily contained
therein, for these must be concordant with demonstrated truths. (p. 183)
•
The first two quotations express the same 'accommodation' understanding of biblical language as Calvin
adopted. The third recognises that, as a result of this, the literal sense of the biblical text may sometimes
be at variance with the scientific understanding of the natural phenomenon described. In the final quotation
Galileo makes the point made by Prof. McKay that one reason why biblical interpreters should take
scientific knowledge into account is that it will help them to recognise when the biblical writers are using the
language of appearance or cultural idioms, and so help them avoid the kind of misinterpretation made by
those who condemned Galileo.
http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/lucas/lecture.html
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