Thursday, February 03, 2005

Matt Powell does ID…

Matt has written a post titled, IDC vs. Darwinism, and The Man Jesus, in which he looks at what he considers to be the root cause of the problems involved in all those evolution / creation debates. Essentially, the cause he unpacks is similar to the one I posit – that of the identity of God (although Matt clarifies it as being that of the Man Jesus). This is a complex topic. It involves a myriad of disciplines, each shooting sub-topics off in different directions. Matt says he believes in a Young Earth. While we both believe in the Christian view of the Man Jesus, I would disagree with Matt on the age of the universe. Implications from those two viewpoints will affect any discussions we have with persons who, while they believe the universe is billions of years old, do not believe that Jesus is who the Bible claims he is. Matt thinks that this very real difference in core beliefs will prevent a fruitful discussion of the facts. He observes that, while
we talk about this particular molecule or that protein or the other fossil, and so forth, and the IDC vs. evolution argument tries to pretend that they can come to some common understanding of what those facts are and what they mean.
I believe that it is certainly within our capabilities to discuss what is observable (i.e., what is physically tangible) in our existence. Where we and the naturalist start to diverge is when we both make conclusions from our observations. The Christian believes in the supernatural. Some naturalists will claim to not not believe in the supernatural, which means that they are not unequivocally excluding the possibility of the supernatural, they just need sufficient evidence to commit to such a belief. Whether such a claim is sincere or not is irrelevant because the mere adherence to the need for evidence betrays the very objectivity the naturalist claims. In other words, by what evidence can they justify the claim that the process of using evidence provides them with a reliable measure of the workings of our universe? There can be no evidence presented which does not use the very process that is being questioned – unless the process is accepted on faith. Hence, I attempt to show the naturalist that concluding the possibility of the supernatural is prohibited only when the method is so narrowly defined as to prejudicially exclude it. Matt continues,
...because there is one fact that they will never agree on, and that is the question of whether Jesus is the Lord of the universe, or not. And as I said, that fact changes everything. --- There is no way to neutrally examine the facts on the table and come to a common conclusion, because there is that one other fact that will not, indeed cannot be agreed on by both sides, and that one fact fundamentally alters the interpretation of every other fact. The naturalists may believe that acknowledging this fact is a retreat, but it isn't. It's recognizing that if we pretend that facts are neutral, then we've already handed the debate to the naturalist, because this is the cornerstone of his philosophy.
It is here where I attempt to call the naturalist’s bluff, so to speak, by reminding them of their inability to escape the abstract. While many naturalists attempt to frame the debate with the walls of determinism and chance – that of pure naturalism – they will inevitably sneak the abstract into the mix. Don’t think so? Just peruse their posts and comments. You’ll find a plethora of examples of their expressing moral outrage, ethics, concepts of justice, love, hate, friendship, and so on. The Christian Worldview answers such phenomenon as such: Despite their rejection of the Christian worldview, they remain human beings, made in the Image of God. As such, they cannot escape the realities of being so created. And, as such, we see how their ultimate rejection of who God is, and what He is owed, does not relieve them of the consequences of living in both a concrete and abstract world. Matt is correct in declaring that the evolution / creation debate is not simply about data, but falters on the stumbling block of Jesus. And that's one reason Christians should always keep the debate going.


Constance said...

The debate doesn't bother me.
But if a naturalist is having a moment, I hope it is respected.
And vice-versa.
Some of us are not so stringent in our beliefs, to be both.

Matt Powell said...

What you describe as "calling the bluff" is, I think, the only real purpose of the ID debate. By forcing them to defend their position, you can reveal their presuppositions, and show how they are intellectually inconsistent in positing a naturalistic framework and yet also believing in things like purpose, love, etc. I have no quarrel at all with this mode of debate- i think it's really useful, and you do a good job of it.

I won't get into the age of the universe thing- another time, perhaps :).

Rusty said...


Maybe I'm being too loose with my use of the word "naturalist." In the context on my post I am defining naturalist in the sense that one believes that nature is all there is. Therefore, it is not possible to believe that nature is all there is and that the supernatural exists.


I won't get into the age of the universe thing

I'll win you over yet... ;^)

386sx said...

What you describe as "calling the bluff" is, I think, the only real purpose of the ID debate.

While it's true that there may not be any other real purpose of the ID debate, the convenient thing about forcing them to defend their position is that it takes the spotlight off of defending your own; namely, "If Y, therefore Y," or, "Y is true. Why? Because Y is true." On the other hand, that's not much of a position, so perhaps you yourself are forced into forcing them to defend theirs because you don't have anything much that is defensible.

When I read things like Malachi 2, I often think to myself, "Do people really believe that this is the wisest entity in the entire universe who is talking here?" And then I remember that the whole thing is based upon things that are fantasy; and so by following the logical implications of their world views (e.g., "Y is true because I feel like it,") they have little choice but to reach any conclusion they feel like reaching. Often times, talking to the ID crowd is something like playing the home version of "Spin The Fallacy."