The RTB Science-Scripture Integration

As someone who feels that faith/science are incompatible, all I have to offer is Jerry Coyne’s book “Faith vs. Fact -Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible” for the reasoning behind my position.

Regarding Hugh Ross, I consider him an excellent astronomy educator. I have been reading him for many years. He has never gotten the science wrong. I would like him to use the Bible to make predictions on science instead of the other way around. For example, there is tension between the Hubble Constant as measured today and the Hubble Constant as measured in the CMBR 13.8 BYA. Since Ross knows the Bible already has the answer, why doesn’t he report that answer now. Meanwhile thousands of scientists can go ahead and find the answer through really hard work.

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Well he is not trying to confirm science, he is trying to confirm scripture using science. Still, I know he has put forth a “testable creation model”. It may not make a prediction on Hubbel’s constant but it makes many predictions as I remember. Some of those predictions, as they relate to Adam and Even and human molecular genetics, are out of date or have actually been falsified by the evidence, including evidence which our host @swamidass had a hand in discovering. But hey, not every scientist’s ideas about the natural universe get confirmed by the data so why should every apologist’s ideas about what scripture is saying be confirmed by the data? We test ideas and interpretations to improve on them. Here is a book about his testable creation model…which as I say is dated on the Adam on stuff…

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But now he is confirming scripture after science discoveries something new. Since scripture and science are in total agreement and the discovery must already been written into scripture for thousands of years. Can’t he help out science by finding it now? Perhaps it will give science a direct path to the discovery. I am sure he can share in the ensuing Nobel Prize and give a boost to Christianity/Science compatibility.

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Most of these 'predictions" are either false (e.g. “humans” arise from a single couple less than 100 kya), or post-dictions.

That is a strong critique…

That is high praise. I really appreciate this pattern you have of affirming what Christian scientists do correctly. I hope others see this in you too.

All of the science folks at RTB are very good at what they do. I most enjoy Raz. He constantly gets himself contorted (when he doesn’t have to) over trying to keep a single species (Homo Sapien) as the only species that is “in the image of God”. As such, his model gets jammed up each time some thing new is found regarding other species of the Genus Homo. And he gets jammed up when the gradualness of human behavior is shown to be over a million years long over many species and with no big leaps. Also admixtures of Neanderthal/Denosivan/Sapian/Archaic Sapiens twists his model into knots that he can’t reconcile with new findings. I am going to laugh when they find a cave drawing of a Neanderthal family talking to each other about the next day’s hunt plan. Recent discovery of autism genes in Neanderthals as cold weather adaption also kills his model as autism shows a spectrum of human cognitive abilities.

I really don’t know why RTB doesn’t just follow Biologos on evolutionary biology and stay with their strong suit - astrophysics.

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Yes, as post-dictions are very suspect. Predictions are what shows insight. Look at cosmic inflation. Results either confirm it or kill it. So far, inflation has been tightly confirmed by ever tighter bound measurements.

Scientists in general do science correctly. And I would guess that most would claim to be Christian in a family or social setting and “nones” or adherents to methodological naturalism during work hours or at conferences. My experience in science, a scientist’s faith rarely came up and when it does like special holidays or food, it is past off as “cultural”. How can you spot an atheist Jew, an atheist Catholic, an atheist Muslum, or atheist Sikh working in science?

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I suspect that you actually do know why! [If I were prone to using emoticons, I’d insert a sly one here.] RTB donors tend to be strongly opposed to the Theory of Evolution. If the ministry followed Biologos on evolutionary biology, I suspect that most donors would abandon RTB faster than “c”—regardless of whether a particular donor’s strong suit was astrophysics.

Of course, that is because the very definition of science requires methodological naturalism. It is not a “philosophy of life” equating to atheism which so many Young Earth Creationists I’ve known assume and constantly preach. It is simply a methodology for investigating the universe which has been remarkably fruitful for understanding natural processes. And a scientist who happens to be an evangelical Christ-follower, for example, doesn’t suddenly transform into a “none” when entering the laboratory. No, he/she remains an evangelical Christian but employs the Scientific Method in professional practice. (In the classroom I used to use an analogy here: traditional geometers restrict themselves solely to a compass and a straight-edge when producing proofs, but that doesn’t mean that they are anti-protractor or anti-tape-measure. They are simply employing an effective methodology involving restrictions on tools.) There’s nothing about the Scientific Method, an application of methodological naturalism, which conflicts with being a devout theist and Christ-follower.

Of course, methodological naturalism and the Scientific Method were gradually developed by a series of Christian philosophers who recognized that a particular “subset” of philosophy (known as Natural Philosophy) was best tackled using various tools and procedures quite different than those normally applied in other fields of philosophy. Yes, tools and procedures of methodological naturalism are not applicable to every area of inquiry but where they do apply, they are extremely useful.

The Scientific Method can’t be applied to every question humans ask—but where it does apply, it is extremely useful. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding of this basic fact which every undergraduate philosophy major (and most Dept of History & Philosophy of Science students) eventually learn explains why atheist philosophers like Daniel Dennett have been so adamantly dismissive of the anti-philosophy nonsense of people like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss.

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This always confused me. If astronomy and big bang is okay for some, it leads to a position that God was, for some reason, waiting 13.8 billion years before creating Adam And 9.3 billion years to make Earth. Lot of down time and wasted space of 4/3 pi * 93 billion lightyears ^ 3.

Which is why Evolution over the billions-of-years lifetime of the Earth makes much more sense than Old Earth Creationists who propose that every few million years, God would use special creation to create a new instantiation of the fossil record, instead of using Common Descent and Evolutionary principles to do so.

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I am an RTB and ID supporter, even though I have no problem with evolution and common descent, and not of BioLogos, mostly because they’ve shown themselves to be too willing to charge “metaphor” and “mythical” aspects to the entirely historical accounts in Genesis and elsewhere. I see Joshua as taking both science AND Scripture seriously. That makes him the perfect vehicle through which change can be brought to RTB and similar organizations. Not to mention him being a gifted diplomat. To be clear, I see the “forced choice” between EITHER “intelligent design,” OEC, or “evolution” as a false dichotomy. There’s no reason to pose them as mutually exclusionary, as long as you use a good model derived from the Scriptures. The one I’m part of developing satisfies all the criteria necessary.

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This is your key sentence, @Guy_Coe, in my view.

And in response to this “assessment”, in terms of my own frame of reference, I have gravitated to the two immovable objects school of thought:

  1. There are Christians who see too much evidence for Common Descent and Mutation to ignore, and

  2. There are Christians who see too much biblical investment in Adam & Eve to ignore.

So I wonder if you have subconsciously produced a solution that attempts to address both ends of the “bar-bell dilemma”? In other words, you are providing a Common Descent narrative PLUS a Special Creation narrative, using 10,000+ evolved adams, plus 2 de novo humans that join with the 10,000+?

Or are you coming up with yet another combination of elements - - parallel to how @Revealed_Cosmology has constructed a hybrid choice (a sequence of punctuated special creations to replace the idea of Common Descent)?

The God described in the Bible doesn’t have to “wait” for anything because he exists outside of time. How do we know that? Time is a property of the mass-energy universe. (Can you define or measure time without expressing it in terms of matter and energy? No.) Does it seem logical that a deity who created a universe would somehow be confined or restricted by the very properties he created? For God to have to “wait” for anything would mean that he was “imprisoned” and subordinate to something he himself created.

I will say it again: God is not a part of the matter-energy universe. So how can time, a property of that universe possibly govern or impact how God operates?

God is, by definition, omnipresent in all dimensions as a observer of what he created. So his omnipresence applies just as universally to the time dimension as to the three dimensions of length, width, and depth. God is temporally omnipresent just as he is spatially omnipresent.

That is why the Bible says “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” and not “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Humans are limited to the arrow of time, a series of “moments” arranged in a sequential way. God is not so limited because he is not part of that created universe. Thus, from God’s perspective, what we call “now” is no more a singular “now” than the moment of the Big Bang or the birth of Alexander the Great or the first D-Day landing. We live in a river of time where we can only experience one point in that river sequentially but God does not.

With this in mind, there is no “waiting” on the part of God for 13.8 billion years pining anxiously for the creation of Adam. God observes all time as “now” just as God observes all places in the universe as an omnipresent observer.

It is very human for us to think of long stretches of time as frustrating and a matter of impatience. It comes with our extreme limitations. (Consider children in the back seat of a car asking incessantly “Are we there yet?”) But God isn’t governed by time in that way. He is not so limited. God has no reason to be frustrated, bored, impatient, or whatever due to long stretches of time. God isn’t “waiting” at all. He is “already” everywhere in time (every “place” on the timeline) just as he observes every point in three-dimensional space.

I have sometimes used a maze analogy as well. (I sometimes call it my maze-maize analogy for reasons which will become obvious as I explain.) In many rural areas there are farmers who supplement their income by creating mazes from their corn (maize) fields. They drive their corn-pickers through the field in selective harvest patterns which produce fun mazes for people to explore, usually on the weekends. Some of these maize mazes can involve huge acreage, and so young children (as well as “old children”) can get very frustrated as they try to reach the “end” of the maze where there is some snack or prize. But the farmer who designed the maze using graph paper in his office finds the maze neither frustrating nor difficult. He may know the maize intimately. Likewise, an observer hovering overhead in a helicopter (or watching from atop a nearby grain silo) easily observes the entire maze and all of its paths—and even considers the direct path to the endpoint obvious. Explorers of the maize may be very frustrated by the maze but the designer is not.

And that is why I find the idea of God “waiting” for 13.8 years for something to happen, and the idea of “wasted time” or “wasted space” in the history of the universe, to both be logically absurd.

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ID is said to be agnostic with respect to the nature and identity of the designer(s). “Adherence to Scripture” seems an unnecessary inclusion to ID.

These are only “immoveable objects” if you construct a poor model from the biblical texts, or from the evidence of paleobiology / paleoanthropology.

No need for a parallel framework. @Guy_Coe is welcome to adopt the same framework as me with his own special nuances. Indeed GA itself uses the same framework. The evolution/creation debate need not even be a part of GA. GA is one answer to a theological problem raised by the Christ-Centered framework for early Genesis.

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It is not a necessary, because they remain decidedly “big tent” because they are emphasizing the forensic evidence for design only. The rest is left to the interpreter.

I’ve always been impressed with the wing of Judaism described in the New Testament that would take just a snippet of the O.T. and turn it into a whole doctrine. I don’t think that is wrong-headed… as long as it is carefully done.

The one I’m thinking about now is the response:

Luke 20:37-38
"…even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord
‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living … for they are all alive to him.”

While I am compelled to disagree that Moses intentionally said those words to
demonstrate to his audience that there was a general resurrection … I do think the
interpretation is an inspired piece of genius!

It’s simple. It’s compelling. And it has a positive and optimistic tone.

And your additional layer… pointing out that Adam’s transgression and humanity’s resurrection are all a blink of the eye is an important “context” that would help shape all of our view about Deity and the “hereafter” !

I don’t necessarily assume that Moses had such doctrinal intentions, especially in terms of fullest implications. I do assume that the OT prophets were inspired to make statements which they themselves only understood in part.

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It is always difficult for me to evaluate such statements because it is usually not clear to me if the term intelligent design is referring to ID as a philosophical-theological stance (i.e., all Christians would agree that God designed the universe deliberately and intelligently) or as a compelling scientific conclusion. When ID is promoted as a scientific conclusion, I confess to being curious but usually disappointed.

I would be personally delighted if someone where to publish a convincing Comprehensive Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design using the Scientific Method (and therefore subject to falsification testing.) But nobody has even come close. In fact, I’ve never even seen any ID proponent publish compelling heuristic rules which would allow me to examine any entity or process “X” and determine whether it was “intelligently designed” or “not intelligently designed”. So I get the impression that most of what is mistakenly called “ID theory” is just a philosophical-theological stance about a Creator (by implication even though a specific identification is usually denied) which hopes to bolster its position by claiming to have some sort of scientific basis. After all, most people are more impressed by scientific arguments than by philosophical arguments.

At one level, I truly admire their ardor in trying to find scientific evidence to support their philosophical-theological position. But I get embarrassed for them when I observe them failing so miserably on matters of science.

As for me, yes, I believe that God designed the universe and the physics which governs it. And I believe he did so intelligently. Yet, I respect the Scientific Method and the definition of science, so I am too honest to claim that I can publish a compelling Comprehensive Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design based on the available evidence and a cogent sets of processes for falsification testing of any such theory. I am willing to say that my knowledge of science helps provide support for my philosophical position of an intelligent designer but that shouldn’t be confused with “ID theory” per se and the often absurd claims of today’s “ID movement”.

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