Monday, May 31, 2010

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part VI, Conclusion. "The Universal Acid"

Recently, on the Christianity Today Magazine Blog, I made the following observation: belief in Evolution is almost universal in Europe, while in the U.S., disbelief in Evolution is greater than belief in Evolution.  The Church in Europe is pretty much dead.  The Church in the U.S., despite its problems, is much more healthy.  Yet theistic evolutionists warn us that if the Church does not make peace with Darwinian Evolution, the Church faces a mass exodus of young people.  Francis Collins predicts this in "The Language of God."  Bruce Watke stated that failure to embrace Evolution could lead to the world viewing the Church as a cult. (See above link)  Where Scripture and Evolutionary dogma conflict, Christians are told they must accept the pronouncements of the later over the former.  So says Collins, so says other theistic evolutionistsRedeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Tim Keller wrote "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People," which appears on Collins' Biologos website, for the purpose of convincing Christians to accept the importance of evolutionary biological processes so reconciliation can be made between Biblical faith and belief in Evolution.

Keller thinks that failure to reconcile the two causes conflict for Christians and for those interested in embracing the Christian faith. 

On the conflict for Christians: "Many believers in western culture see the medical and technological advances achieved through science and are grateful for them.  They have a very positive view of science.  How then, can they reconcile what science seems to tell them about evolution with their traditional theological beliefs?" (Keller, p. 1)  This reminds me of a passage in Francis Collins' "The Language of God," one of the most ridiculous passages I have ever read:  "This potential sythesis of the scientific and spiritual worldviews is assumed by many in modern times to be an impossibility, rather like trying to force the two poles of a magnet together into the same spot. Despite that impression, however, many Americans seem interested in incorporating the validity of both of these worldviews into their daily lives. Recent polls confirm that 93 percent of Americans profess some form of belief in God; yet most of them drive cars, use electricity, and pay attention to weather reports, apparently assuming that the science undergirding these phenomena is generally trustworthy."

On the conflict for those exploring Chrisitanity: "They may be drawn to many things about the Christian faith, but they say, 'I don't see how I can believe the Bible if that means I have to reject science.' " (Keller, p. 1)

Lets look at the second conflict first.

 No one can deny that belief in Evolution has kept many a person from coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Intellectual doubts definitely play a role in keeping people from becoming believers, whether these doubts center on Evolution, the authenticity of Scripture, or the question of evil in the world.  Without diminishing the importance of intellectual doubts about the Gospel, Scripture gives us the reason most people reject the Gospel: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godless and wickedness of men who supress the truth by their wickedness..." (Rom 1: 18).  "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (Jn. 3: 19-20)  The determitive issue whether one becomes a disciple is repentance.  Note that when Paul preached to the Athenians, his message was radically different from his other discourses  recorded in Acts.  But Paul still stressed their need for repentance. (Acts 17: 30-31) Many an intellectual doubt concerning the Gospel is a mask, conscious or unconscious, hiding the real reason for not becoming a disciple.  The real reason is not wanting to repent.  I have seen people whose intellectual doubts have been effectively dealt with.  At first they seem earnest when expressing their doubts, but when their questions are answered, they become sheepish in their refusal to repent of their sins. They act like they have been caught. Many who profess faith after their intellects have been satisfied fail to repent.  Often intellectual doubts are a sign the person is bound by fear of what others think of them.  Does Keller try to guide these people to repentance on this point when he counsels them concerning their doubts?  When I read  "The Reason for God" perhaps I'll find my answer.

As for Christians, is the conflict among them as widespread as Keller leads us to believe?  As noted earlier, disbelief in Evolution exceeds belief in Evolution in the U.S.  Those who disbelieve include non-Christians as well as Christians.  The U.S. is without a doubt a very materialistic country.  Both Christians and non-Christians reap the consequences of science and technology's negative aspects and profit from their positive ones.  It appears that a great many Evangelicals partake of the fruits of science and technology without thinking they need to ask themselves how they can do so without accepting Evolutionary dogma.  And as noted earlier, the American Church is far more healthy than the European Church.  Reinhold Niebuhr, not one of my favorite theologions, in his book "Pious and Secular America," observes how materialistic the U.S. is while being a far more spiritual country than many other western nations.  There is no doubt that many Christians have doubts prompted by Evolution.  Keller thinks he has the answer for such people.  But in fact, he is creating a smorgasbord of Christian and evolutionary dogma in which the evolutionary elements eventually eat away the Christian elements.

New Atheist Daniel Dennett refers to Evolution as "The Universal Acid."  The term originates from his youthful fantasy of inventing a liquid so corrosive that it will eat through anything including the container that holds it.  Everything it touches will be transformed.  Dennett states that Evolution operates in the same way on all other world-views: "it eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view with much of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways."  For those naive enough to think Biblical faith and belief in Evolution can be reconciled, they will have a rude awakening when they see the universal acid transform Biblical world-views into non-Biblical ones.

But the universal acid is just a theory developed by an atheist, theistic evolutionists will say.  Lets just take a look at just how Evolution has transformed the view of life and reality in fields outside biology and how it impacts religious thinking.  Physicist Lee Smolin has speculated that universes, including our own, are the offspring of black holes.  Universes in turn reproduce through the black holes contained in them.  The more black holes in a universe, the more offspring a universe produces.  The new universes posses the same fundamental physical constants of the parent universes.  The evolutionary concepts of mutation and differential reproduction are appied to cosmology. (This information found here)  If Christians accept that Evolution was God's means of creating Man, why would they not accept an evolutionary model for the creation of the universe?  Keller would still contend that the earth was specially created, but many would see that he is simply trying to fit the Christian account of creation into an evolutionary creation model.  By accepting the evolutionary model for creation, the Christian consensus concerning the beginning of the universe  would be pushed back to accomodate the birth of multiple universes.  Over time, the application of evolutionary principles to cosmology removes God completely from the picture of creation.

The findings of neuroscience have been affected by the view that Man has no soul but is the product of the structure of the brain.  According to neuroscientists even spiritual experiences are the product of brain structure.  In fact, some believe that the birth of religion coincided with the growth of the size of Man's brain during Evolution.  The increase in the brain's size allowed for the increased capacity to process language which was a necessary precurser to the development of religion.  As Man evolved, his capacity for tool making forshadowed Man's ability to develop religious systems.  Man was able to visualize the object without seeing it before it even existed.  To understand the use of a tool requires an understanding of causality.  The more complex a tool Man is capable of producing, the more sophistication Man posseses to develop religious systems.  It is these religious systems that increase survival in the evolutionary process.  These systems created communities that restrained selfish behavior.  They restrained women to encourage them to choose long term male partners for procreation.  The result was that women evolved into the more commited sex. (For sources, see here  and here)  Remember that in the Tim Keller/Derick Kinder model of creation, Man evolved until God chose one from the tool makers (homo faber) and implanted His image in him.  Keller is willing to counsel using arguements rooted in non-Christian world views to convince people that Biblical faith and Evolution can be reconciled.  Yet what is to stop the intellectually curious from exploring the roots of Keller's counsel?  What is to stop them and those they will counsel, from concluding that since the religious nature in Man can be explained by neuroscience and genetics, then the Christian revelation is no revelation at all?  What is to stop them from rejecting a God who reveals Himself and embrace all religious experiences as essentially the same, from the same source?

Implicit in Keller's model for counseling Christians on this issue is the presumed lack of further intellectual speculation on the part of those Keller counsels.  Once Christians accept Keller's counsel that God used evolutionary biologiocal processes to create Man and Man's belief in Him, then all conflicts should supposedly cease.  Yet what prevents those Keller counsels from working out the implications of Keller's counsel discussed in the paragraphs above?  The only ones that can be counted on not to work out these implications are those whose trust in their pastor's counsel is absolute, non-thinkers who need to be told what to think.  If Keller counsels that our belief in God may be rooted in genetics, what is to stop people from concluding we are just robots programmed by genes and this is the entire explanation of who we are?  Keller believes that an attitude that rejects that Evolution is a rival world-view of the Christian world-view would prevent such such conclusions.  All we need is an attitude.  In his attempt to reconcile the Biblical account of creation with the universal acid of Evolution, Tim Keller has no clue what he's playing with. 

All Scripture quotations taken from the NIV.    

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