Working Toward a Mature Faith

In undergraduate school, I remember one professor marveling at various features of brain functioning and talking about the reasons that a particular function evolved.  It was just as easy, or easier, for me to think of reasons that these features were designed into the system.  In my first class on physiological psychology, the professor did not have an evolutionary bent that I could tell, and merely marveled at the function and complexity of the brain.  I think many students are unprepared for the naturalistic worldview, and that this often can trigger a crisis of faith.  In their book, God Attachment, Clinton and Straub (2010)1 note that people often enter adulthood with the same views they had with their faith that they learned in early childhood.  In other words, they have not developed a more mature faith that allows them to have an understanding of the problem of evil, the existence of many different religions, and the evolutionary viewpoint (a view espousing the all-powerfulness of useful accidents).  Thus, they are setting themselves up for a crisis of faith that will inevitably come with real-world life experiences and the hard knocks that life delivers.  I frequently encounter people who become sort of paralyzed in that crisis of faith without attempting to find answers to their questions.  They will often just resign themselves to somewhat of a wishy-washy stance like, “I’m not sure I believe everything in the Bible.  I believe, but I’m just not sure about X.”  When asked, they’ll admit they’ve never tried to resolve the issue with learning more about the subject.  So, they end up assuming a distant stance with God on the basis of a particular issue that they have not taken the time to resolve.

I don’t think people have to believe that Genesis is literally true to be saved.  I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that would suggest that.  But I do think it is possible to be logically consistent and hold an intelligent worldview encompassing a literal account of Genesis.  Frankly, I think a literal account of Genesis leads to the most logically consistent stance in explaining the problem of evil in the world (i.e., the fall).  Also, one only needs a vaguely possible scenario to explain certain observations (apparent age of the Earth and Universe) to make this tenable.  If God is all-powerful, then He could have done it.  I’m not advocating a kind of “God did it” approach to science, but I am rather asking believers to explore the issue in more depth and to develop a more mature way of viewing their faith.  This can help believers have a more mature relationship with God.

I would also caution creationists against the view of saying that people who advocate for evolution are liars.  Evolution contains many lies, but to lie involves intent to deceive.  There are times when they do likely lie, but it’s better to be careful about this.  I’d rather look at it as a worldview, which I think contains many untruths.  It’s understandable, just false.

I urge fellow believers, and those with doubts, to more fully explore these issues in order to develop a more mature faith—a faith which can stand up to the complexities of the world and the problem of evil in the world.  More personally, it will help with the very difficult things that you face in your own life and promote a deeper connection with God.

1). God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God

Expelled Exposed…Exposed

From the website NCSE Exposed:

Of course critics of ID (like the folks at the NCSE) should have every right to publish their views within academic circles and should have the full protection of academic freedom. But academic freedom doesn’t just mean the freedom to agree with the predominant viewpoint. Academic freedom in science means nothing if it doesn’t include the right to hold legitimate minority scientific viewpoints. ID proponents have published serious scientific research in mainstream, credible academic venues. Many of them have sterling academic qualifications and accomplishments. They have earned the right to freely express their views without fear of intimidation or discrimination.

But free expression of pro-ID views in the academy is exactly what the NCSE doesn’t want. “Expelled Exposed” is now exposed for what it really is: it’s not just a website making the case against ID (which is perfectly fine if that’s what ID critics want to do)—it’s a website attempting to convince people that ID deserves no academic freedom. In other words, “Expelled Exposed” is an effort to encourage the further persecution of ID-proponents.

Ironically, by denying that professionally qualified ID proponents have a right to “a place in academia,” “Expelled Exposed” has justified the central thesis of the documentary Expelled, namely that qualified ID proponents do not receive academic freedom to hold, discuss, and promote their views within the academy.

I like the Discovery Institute more all the time based in part on the rabid hatred that many Darwinists have for this tiny organization. Can such intense fear and hatred come from a defense of “science” or is there something deeper going on?

Is the use of teleology immature?

Charles Darwin should be spinning in his grave: More than 40 percent of American adults still don’t believe in evolution. Though Darwin’s theory has been uncontroversially accepted among scientists, public resistance remains remarkably forceful. Meanwhile, creationism and intelligent design enjoy widespread public support. (1)

Clichés aside, I don’t think Darwin or any other naturalist should make reference to the continued existence of anyone post-death.  I don’t think most people, other than Darwin worshipers, should be too worried about the post-death radial velocity of Darwin’s remains. This is just another way of saying, “There are a lot of stupid people out there, and IDists and Creationists are among them.”

An academic psychologist, Tania Lombrozo, from a venerable Ivory Tower (2), UC Berkely, has tried to explain teleology from an evolutionary perspective.

Continue reading

Intelligent Design does not entail a belief in God

Denyse O’Leary recently wrote about an ongoing debate (December 7-8, 2008) about Intelligent Design vs. evolution. (1)

Atheist philosopher Bradley Morton said in an ID the Future Podcast:

“I actually find some of the intelligent design arguments at least somewhat plausible, and at least taking seriously within academia, and I’m unhappy with the unfair and false criticisms that a lot of my fellow philosophers and academics have given of Intelligent Design. I’m also, for the record, unhappy with some of the Intelligent Design arguments. I think that, even though some of them are wrong, they could be given better than current Intelligent Design proponents are giving them….” (2)

What I take from this debate is that, one might support the perspective of ID, scientifically, without being logically required to believe in God. Creationists on the other hand, may point to the scientific perspective of ID and note that this supports the existence of the God of the Bible.

Some atheistic evolutionists are quick to point out that a belief in the supposedly scientific perspective of evolution does not have anything to do with belief in God. Others (e.g., Dick Dawkins and his ilk purport that atheism is entailed by the ‘truth’ of evolutionary science).

As Dr. Morton writes on his website:

The doctrine of intelligent design has been maligned by atheists, but even thought I’m an atheist, I’m of the opinion that the arguments for intelligent design are stronger than most realize. The goal of this book is to try to get people to take intelligent design seriously. I maintain that it is legitimate to view intelligent design as science, that there are somewhat plausible arguments for the existence of a cosmic designer, and that intelligent design should be taught in public school classes. (3)

(1). Straws in the wind: Atheists and agnostics support constructive debate on design
(2). http://intelligentdesign.podOmatic.com/entry/2008-11-06T09_16_15-08_00
(3). ID – Bradley Monton

On the Public Educational System

I admit to being a bit odd in high school–I talked to my fellow students about the theory of relativity.  I was planning on being a theoretical physicist, a computer scientist, or an engineer.  I was actually interested some books that were in the library (yes High Schools have libraries).  I lived in the sticks, so there were only about 10 rows.  I didn’t find much of interest int he school library.  However, when I was 16, I took a computer science class at a local community college.  After attending the first few classes, the instructor told me that it was useless for me to attend further except on exam dates.  After the first exam, he told me that my grade would only be based on my class project and that I did not have to attend further unless I wanted to.  My class project ended up being the class project.  And for the next 8 years, students were assigned sections of computer code that I had written and were required to provide an explanation for what the code did.

Thus, I deemed computer science to be rather useless as an educational pursuit.  However, while in the college, I did numerous searches in the college library system.  I read numerous books where Einstein and Freud were the topics, as well as one book that was a collection of correspondences between Einstein and Freud.  I read about cosmology.  I read about theoretical physics.  But when you get right down to it, I was interested in the “ultimate questions.”  Why are we here?  How did we get here?  How did the universe begin?  What is the nature of the universe?  And so forth.

What did I discover?   From a naturalistic perspective, I discovered nothing more than fairy tales.  Einstein believed in some kind of God, but because of a conversation with an uniformed priest, continued believing in an uninvolved god.  Freud was an atheist, despite admitting several personal aspects that led to his atheism.

So, what was to be concluded with my early experience with the public educational system?  What I ended up concluding was that the ultimate questions come down to issues of faith, and are very personal.  Since that time, 17 years ago, I have not found anything to contradict my earlier conclusions.

An Example of Why I'm Not Impressed with The Ivory Tower-Part II

Why is it that I have hostility toward the Ivory Tower1? In fact, I spent enough time there to obtain a Ph.D., you’d think I’d pay homage. While I do appreciate that I had the opportunity, and a few things that I learned, I did not disengage my independent mind during the process (I seem to be incapable of doing so). It really would have been easier to get caught up in the pursuit of the intellectual. All my professors were pushing my toward academia (“You’re too intelligent to go into private practice. You should be in academia.” WTF? I took it as one of the worst insults I’ve had. In retrospect, I realize this was the best compliment the professor could possibly give. But it was from the perspective of one ensconced in the Ivory Tower. So, now with a bit more maturity and perspective, I can appreciate the compliment).

I don’t come from a background of intellectuals. My family was blue-collar, working class, middle-class folks, living out in rural America. A lot of my friends were farmers. We didn’t have any wealthy friends (they didn’t exist here), and there were no intellectual elite. The closest university is 65 miles away. So, I think it is a bit more clear to me when someone is detached from the basic reality of humanity and life, than it is for others with a different background.

So, this is a lot of lead up, and a lot of (possibly unnecessary), information about me. What’s this post all about? I’ll get to the point.

In Part I2, of this series I wrote about an example of why I’m not impressed with the Ivory Tower. I cited specifically, the work of Dr. James McGrath, a professor of theology at Butler University in Indiana. Dr. McGrath was kind enough to express his willingness to engage the discussion further, but only did so obliquely on his blog.

He wrote in a comment here:

Thank you for engaging my posts. I must confess, however, that I’m not sure what exactly you find lacking in my theological credibility. If you could be more specific, it would better enable me to respond and continue the conversation!

I responded, my coauthor, DB responded, and others responded. James, did not respond. Or did he?

My coauthor DB wrote in a comment:

This is a similar argument to that which Judas used to scold Mary M. for wasting money, “that could have been used to feed the poor,” on perfume to wash Jesus’ feet. It’s legalistic, and, as with Judas, manipulative in its intent, since he wanted that money for himself! “…by opposing science…” I don’t oppose true science, nor do most rational believers! What I do oppose, as others, is billions of dollars spent on science experiments like the LHC, which serves only the egos and desires of naturalist/materialist and atheistic scientists whose only goal is to disprove God. How could those billions have been used for humanity? How many people could have been fed, housed and clothed with 8 billion dollars? Also, unlike material science, the Creation Museum is funded by believers, not the government, which uses tax payer’s hard earned cash! I’m sorry, but your arguments seem to be manipulative and political in nature, which tells me something about what you do believe.

Dr. McGrath subsequently followed up on his blog with two posts.

Judas and the Field of Blood
30 Pieces of Silver

So, while I find obliqueness to be interesting, I find it to be a bit of a cop-out to direct communication. If you believe in your ideas enough to present them to the public, then why not defend them in a direct way instead of challenging the story of Judas. Perhaps the comments of DB hit home a bit?

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_tower
2 http://www.intelldesign.com/?p=251

Recent Harvard Cellular Animation

I can’t help but consult homology on this one with respect to bipedalism. I’m mean seriously. Look at that little bugger walking the tightrope. Perhaps humans evolved from that molecule. In all seriousness, this video is great, and furthers my appreciation of Creation. I realize that is probably not the intent of the folks at Harvard, but it’s a great video nonetheless. For those without broadband, you can see a few stills.1

I can’t help but see the sentience expressed in these “nano-machines.” Although they are not sentient themselves, they appear to be an expression of sentience in my opinion (a sentience far beyond that of our own). I think this really goes to the point my coauthor DB has made a number of times in the past about appreciating the beauty in science.


1 http://www.studiodaily.com/main/searchlist/6850.html

For a longer excerpt of the video without the lecture, go here:
http://aimediaserver4.com/studiodaily/videoplayer/?src=ai4/harvard/harvard.swf&width=640&height=520