Do PS Members Believe in Scientism?

Possibly. Oord is no longer involved, and Falk (who though he never endorsed Open Theism directly, sometimes expressed ideas that seemed to approach it) is also gone, but I’m not sure that Jim Stump, for example, has ruled out Open Theism in his mind. Maybe he has, but he’s the one who was eager to make sure that Oord’s position was presented on BioLogos. Anyhow, this is a small point, so we need not linger over it.


I wasn’t referring necessarily to Biologos people there. I was thinking of people like Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne.


Josh, I think this is the best articulation of why you do not want to be associated with EC/TE I’ve seen so far.

I very much agree with this approach. I think it can be hard to do though. At some point people want you to pick.

I think this is a very good point and a very worthy goal. I think the trick is to see how to keep “it” together. So far, so good.

This is true and I think in our time and place maybe we’re ready to see something more along the lines C.S. Lewis’ metaphor in Mere Christianity of halls and rooms. Where we’ve seen mostly organizations building rooms where like-minded people can feel comfortable, maybe it’s time to do some exploring in the hallways, to come talk to one another, to understand and be understood.

I think this is the biggest thing that will be relevant to the next generation. They seem far less concerned about origins and metaphysics than justice, ethics, and meaning.


I agree, and I would take it even further: I think at some level, the answers to these questions will never likely be final. We will never be certain how God interacts with creation to effect his providence and will. Instead of dogmatically painting ourselves into a corner, it seems more intellectually fulfilling to continuously explore the strengths and weaknesses of each model as the scientific (and theological) evidence keep coming in. Even if we pick a position, we shouldn’t hold it dogmatically. These are all ultimately non-essential matters in the Christian faith. (This is also why I don’t think the “apologetics” approach, where you always have a ready made answer for every question, is the best one.)

I would also say that even within the Christian intellectual sphere, there are a lot more interesting theological topics than creation and origins. For example, I think there has been comparatively very little discussion on how science bears on divine action and providence. What it means to be human is another one.


@Jordan and @dga471 I think we are on the same page.

It is worth mentioning one of the most important overlooked community, minority students, partof the population you work with @Jordan. We need to do better with them.

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I think this is the biggest thing that will be relevant to the next generation. They seem far less concerned about origins and metaphysics than justice, ethics, and meaning.

This is probably true as a description of the younger generation. Yet previous generations were able to locate their concerns about justice, ethics, and meaning within accounts of origins and metaphysics; if those two lines of concern are separated, then in the long run the accounts of justice, ethics, and meaning will suffer.

I do understand why many young people are not attracted to traditional dogmatism, and why they might want to avoid some questions which they associate with unhealthy dogmatic answers. But in the long run, even if the old dogmas need replacement, there is no avoiding metaphysical questions, even if one’s primary concern is social justice. The noble civil rights movement only makes sense within a doctrine of the equality of all men which the West got from the Bible, and is definitely a metaphysical doctrine. If we had to prove empirically that all men were equal, it wouldn’t be easy, and the old doctrine that some men were natural slaves could easily crop up again. The metaphysical postulate of equality is what gave the civil rights movement its moral bite. So the trick is how to show young people that the great metaphysical questions are still relevant to daily life, even if some of the old answers to those questions can no longer be accepted.

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Right, so I think what I end up seeing is them wanting some breathing room from dogmatism and indoctrination, to put it crassly, but in the end they want stability as well. They like having answers, but they seem to be more grounded in relationships, social connections, and personal satisfaction rather than a sense of universal or objective truth, logic, or critical dialog.


This is where CS Lewis is important. He didn’t put theology forward for the sake of theology, but as a salient way of making sense of the world as we find it. That is what I think we should be doing too.

This is interesting. Would it be accurate to characterize it as, “This is what mainstream science is saying, Church, so get on board with it?”

Good for you. A Christian should prioritize right theology over “fitting in.” Sometimes that can be costly, but if Christianity is true, it’s worth it.


Totally agree with you here.

This sounds like you don’t want to come down on any position regarding origins. That’s common among skeptics and agnostics, but it sounds odd to me, if that’s indeed what you mean, coming from a professing Christian.

Food for thought: “What it means to be human” depends on one’s belief regarding origins. Unless meaning is grounded in some objective reference point regarding origins, all meaning is relative, which ultimately translates to “It’s all ultimately meaningless.” See Ecclesiastes.

Food for thought: justice, ethics, and meaning are metaphysical concepts. Certainly, young people are right to care about them (and in my observations, I agree with you - they are very concerned about them), but ungrounded in an objective reference point regarding origins, all of those concepts are relative, which @Eddie noted above. Do PS Members Believe in Scientism?

About young people being turned off by dogmatism, I totally agree with you. Churches have for far too long relied on church authority to propagate the faith. I’ve been taking issue with this in my Christian circles (especially my own church) for some time. See here for more - Grounded Faith by Terrell Clemmons - Salvo Magazine

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Not really. I have come down on a position.

Which is why I care about origins. I care about more than just origins though.


I agree, but that discussion will have to take place here, on Hump of the Camel, and in other places, because they aren’t interested in tackling that question (beyond uttering a few safe platitudes) on BioLogos.

I have always liked this quote from Weinberg:

More food: some beliefs regarding origins are very highly correlated with regarding large fractions of humanity as being less than human.


Yes; Richard Weikart has discussed some of those views and their consequences.

Ah, yes, the “realism” of string theory and the multiverse.

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You might be surprised, but I would hazard that most experimental physicists don’t regard unverified entities like the multiverse and/or strings as “real” in the same way that they regard atoms, electrons, and quarks to be “real”.


Thanks, Daniel. That doesn’t surprise me. If I understand the temper of the experimental physicist (and chemist) correctly, they like to be able to find confirmation and disconfirmation of theories via empirical investigation, and are less likely to embrace a theory involving entities which aren’t susceptible to such investigation. And on the other side, it’s my understanding that many theoretical physicists are more inclined to believe in the existence of something on the strength of their equations alone, even if they never expect to obtain experimental confirmation, or, even more loosely, to believe in the existence of something because its existence would provide a more “mathematically elegant” construction of the universe. I can see where such considerations would weigh less with experimental physicists.

The physicists I know of in the ID movement (and there are quite a few, some with quite impressive backgrounds, including design work for interplanetary missions) tend to take more the experimentalist’s attitude, and to be skeptical of affirmations of the existence of something just because the “consensus” of current speculative opinion accepts it. Some of them have questioned some of the claims made about dark matter and dark energy, for example.

This is an important point, often forgotten as BioLogos gets seen as “Mr Theistic Evolution.” The academic foundation of modern theistic evolution was very highly influenced by process theology, and at Biologos conclusions that follow from it (such as “the autonomy of nature”) were retained whilst denying the process theology root.

Open theism, reaching its extreme in Oord, was an alternative way of keeping some rational basis for that conclusion.

But orthodox theology simply doesn’t get you to that conclusion, which is nevertheless still common amongst TEs. That may be why BioLogos has never actually renounced either process or open theism: because many there do not want to renounce an autonomous Nature.