William Lane Craig: Predetermined Conclusions on Adam?

No, you’re wrong there - the astrologer Galileo outlived Kepler by 12 years!

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Hah, nice!~ Here’s one quote I dug up:

According to Nicolas Campion (“Introduction: Galileo’s Life and Work” Culture and Cosmos Vol 7 No 1) Galileo named the new moons of Jupiter the “Medicean stars” in tribute to the influential Medici family. According to Campion, Galileo was rewarded later that year when Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, "appointed him court mathematician and philosopher – that is, astrologer.”

Perhaps I should clarify, Kepler was the last great astrologer. Galileo didn’t have a comprehensive 800 page book on the topic that I’m aware of- he was an amateur compared to Kepler. Perhaps if this site is correct, then Kepler didn’t merely use astrology to pay the bills but was a genuine ‘sceptical astrologer.’

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I think that would be an honest thing to say, but at the same time- there are a fairly large number of theologians who are actively working on such questions and I think he would be giving a false impression to his followers (which could be many). And this would then just result in Christians still rejecting science/mountains of evidence that they don’t like, i.e. doesn’t line up with their interpretation of the Bible.

I don’t think that it makes much sense to keep ‘updating’ scripture as I don’t think at least the creation stories need updating as I would classify it as a very different way of describing the world than scientific inquiry. But I do think that a question I still have is this one:

I’ve already given you Kepler, and that should be enough. The other good place to look is the Churches rejection of polygenesis and eugenics while science was fully convinced for far too long.

@pevaquark a true dialogue between the two is possible. Why shut that down in favor of a monologue?

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How about the application of divine law to nature by Bacon? How about the freedom of God from necessity that led to his stress on empirical investigation? How about the assumption, from the unity of the Godhead, that nature would give consistent answers to investigation? Those seem pretty basic assumptions to me.

Another example along the same lines as yours was the “softness” of those who took seriously Scripture’s admonitions to treat animals well, against the physiologists schooled in Descartes’s doctrine that they were mere automata, in the nineteenth century?

But then the underlying assumption of the question of “fruitful idea” is that the answer should be something fruitful to science. The main fruit of theology is godly living to life with God, that is something of eternal benefit to people.

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So not only did Kepler get the question of elliptical orbits and the cause of tides right, but he was a better astrologer than Galileo, too. What’s not to like?

More seriously, the author whose article (or its abstract) I linked to has been doing serious work on how the scientific approach to astrology that began in late mediaeval times worked through in the fields of mathematics (ie astronomy) and medicine until it was quietly ditched around the end of the seventeenth century.

It seems nobody’s done the research before, and it may turn up some surprises. Most likely it will turn out to reflect an increasing realisation of incompatibility with Aristotelian ideas of “correspondence” and the mechanical philosophy that abhorred action at a distance (at least until Newton rehabilitated it in gravity, and quantum non-locality opened up the can of worms again).

But for our discussion, the history shows that pitching it as “superstition v science” is entirely anachronistic: both Kepler and Galileo, and the generation after them, had good reasons for assuming a scientific basis for astrology, albeit with reservations. Galileo even did his own horoscope, so he wasn’t just in it for the money.

Newton, too, a century later, had good reasons for being an enthusiastic alchemist, although he missed the wave of astrology… interestingly only 1.9% of his library was even on astronomy, v 9.6% on alchemy and 27.2% on theology.


I should also add the Genealogical Adam to this list. Even scientist and theologians who’ve disagree will remark how helpful and clarifying this is about what science does and doesn’t tell us about ancestry. If you silence questions with an appeal to authority, it hurts understanding all around.

The interplay between genetics and genealogy is fascinating. The lack of curiousity among many Evolutionary Creationists is telling. There is a different value system at play. It is not trustworthy.

Maybe they are right on Adam, but why no curiousity? Why say it is “not helpful” for their personal theology and therefore unhelpful to make known to others? Why not engage enough to ensure the science is correctly being told?

I’m not calling you specifically out @pevaquark. Breaking the BioLogos pattern you are engaging with us in dialogue. Whether or not we agree in any particular in the end, dialogue is important. I appreciate you are breaking the line to have a conversation with us. Thank you.

Even with that assumption, the Genealogical Adam moves our understanding forward.

With this value in mind, it should be undeniable now. The Genealogical Adam is helpful to many in the Church. True, it does undermine the theological agenda underlying EC, but that is not where my loyalties lie. I’d rather focus on serving society with an accurate account of the science.

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Let’s begin. It all starts with well, what people of different faith traditions, including Christians have been doing for millenia. Let’s go more recent and then go back further starting with John Calvin who rejected heliocentrism as a position inspired by the devil and its adherents as possessed by the same:

We will see some who are so deranged, not only in religion but who in all things reveal their monstrous nature, that they will say that the sun does not move, and that it is the earth which shifts and turns. When we see such minds we must indeed confess the devil posses them, and that God sets them before us as mirrors, in order to keep us in his fear.** So it is with all who argue out of pure malice, and who happily make a show of their imprudence. When they are told: “That is hot,” they reply: “No, it is plainly cold.” When they are shown an object that is black, they will say it is white, or vice versa. Just like the man who said that snow is black; for although it is perceived and known by all to be white, yet he clearly wished to contradict the fact. And so it is that there are madmen who try to change the natural order, and even to dazzle men’s eyes and benumb their senses”-John Calvin, “Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:19-24”, Calvini Opera Selecta, Corpus Refomatorum,Vol 49, 677, trans. by Robert White in “Calvin and Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered”, Calvin Theological Journal 15 (1980), p233-243, at 236-237

Or perhaps Alexander Ross in England in the mid 1600s, described as ‘the vigilant watchdog of conservatism and orthodoxy’ who once likened Copernicanism to other heresies and their threat to the truth of the Scriptures:

It is but a conceit of yours to say, that the Scripture accommodates itself to the vulgar conceits, in saying, the Sun riseth and falleth. I warrant you, if the vulgar should conceive that the heavens were made of water, as the Gnostics held; or that the Sun and Moon were two ships, with the Manichees, or that the world was made of the sweat of the Aeons, with the Valentinians; or whatever absurd opinions they should hold, you make the Scripture say so, and to accommodate itself to their conceits. as recorded in Dellenberger, Protestant Thought and Natural Science

Also John Edwards in the later part of the 1600s in England who wrote as the Archbishop of Canterbury who wrote A Demonstration of the Existence and Providence of God From the Contemplation of the Visible Structure of the Greater and Lesser World spending a decent amount of ink outlining why Copernicanism was not Scriptural.

Let’s go back about a thousand years before this. Here is Lacantius writing, using the Bible and his interpretation thereof to reject evidence of geocentrism:

“How is it with those who imagine that there are antipodes opposite to our footsteps? Do they say anything to the purpose? Or is there any one so senseless as to believe that there are men whose footsteps are higher than their heads? or that the things which with us are in a recumbent position, with them hang in an inverted direction? that the crops and trees grow downwards? that the rains, and snow, and hail fall upwards to the earth?” (Lactantius. The Divine Institutes 3.24)

Augustine was a little more hesitant, but in the City of God he had a nice section on antipodes. He partially rejects that people could be living on the other side of the Earth for Scriptural reasons. Ultimately he has some good arguments and they are popular for centuries to come on this topic.

How about St. John Chrysostom where the Earth floats on some waters? He obviously was inspired by Genesis and other Scriptures and was, well completely wrong.

“When therefore thou beholdest not a small pebble, but the whole earth borne upon the waters, and not submerged, admire the power of Him who wrought these marvellous things in a supernatural manner! And whence does this appear, that the earth is borne upon the waters? The prophet declares this when he says, 'He hath founded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods.'1416 And again: 'To him who hath founded the earth upon the waters.'1417 What sayest thou? The water is not able to support a small pebble on its surface, and yet bears up the earth, great as it is; and mountains, and hills, and cities, and plants, and men, and brutes; and it is not submerged!”–St. John Chrysostom, Homilies Concerning the Statues, Homily IX, paras. 7–8, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series I, Vol IX, ed. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., American reprint of the Edinburgh edition (1978), W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 403–04.

Here is a wacky website, i.e. from a Biblical flat-earther that documents how many patristics were inspired by the plain reading of the text (i.e. the earth was flat and in the center of the solar system).

Besides a few scattered times in history where maybe some parts of the Bible appear to accurately describe the world in a modern science sense, there are just as many, if not more parts that are well just plain wrong. Now I wouldn’t call them ‘wrong,’ but just simply the best physical description they could have had at the time they lived in but the Scriptures certainly should not ever be a guide to doing scientific research. There is just no basis for such and any ‘concord’ that can exist, is only ever done after scientific things have been hashed out. Many times this is where people come along and preach about the Bible’s amazing scientific foresight which is really no foresight at all.

At the same time, there is little historical warrant to reject scientific evidence because of an interpretation of Scripture and mountains of evidence against doing such. So I conclude that it is dishonest to hold one’s interpretation of Scripture over the heads of any evidence demanding that it fit into some kind of predetermined packaging. I wouldn’t say that WLC has done this yet (though he very well may at some point after he finishes his Biblical research). I don’t think any such critique is absurd given the very long history of Christians rejecting scientific evidence because of their interpretation of the Bible.

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Thanks for clarifying this.

In the case of polygenesis, I am glad they did. In the case of modernism, I am glad they did. You are only remembering one half the story.

The dialogue between the two requires more nuance and care.

It all depends what we intend to describe. There seems to be some strong selection bias in this assessment.

This is just a false dichotomy, a false choice, @pevaquark. I reject both options. There are other options than these two extremes, both of which (at least to many Christians) are not really acceptable.

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I know (and have suffered) a thing or two about statements of faith. It’s important to realize that Biola’s statement is a bit complex, b/c it contains the original simplified statement from the 1950s and then an extended section that is being discussed here. I went through two extensive (i.e., multiple months) interviews with Biola/Talbot. In the first, it was my eschatology that wasn’t up to par. In the second, it was creation. The problem is at least twofold: (1) it’e not clear how authoritative the second-level (much more extensive) doctrinal statement is as compared to the much more simple original statement; (2) Biola has a weird process where people beyond the respective department has “bye in” on a candidate’s fitness. So, in the 2nd go-round, I was the #1 pick of the department and provost, but one of the science professor’s didn’t like a fairly-offhand support of John Walton I mentioned in my application…and 8 months of dialogue was stopped. I had written many extensive explanations of my views vis-a-vis the doctrinal statement. The Bible/theology/philosophy guys & gals all approved. But one outsider (in the science dept) didn’t like my endorsement of Walton’s ANE approach. So…I didn’t get the job. So that’s how the politics work.

Of course, my experience at Bryan College exposes another issue…which I won’t get into here. Just use Google if you’re interested.

The point is: an institution’s statement of faith is not always what it might appear. On one hand, many institutions allow faculty to “fudge” on issues. On the other hand, sometimes there are issues that are assumed to be paramount even if not codified. Lot of theo-politics involved.


Do you know who? I might be able to guess, but do not want to be wrong.

That is absolutely true.

Oh yes of course. John Bloom (not Cornelius Hunter). The school had also just received a $12 million donation from someone in China to build a new science wing that would be based on “a literal interpretation of Genesis.” So some were hyper-sensitive at the time. I guess my more open-ended approach just didn’t fit.

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I later sat through one of Bloom’s papers at ETS dealing with ANE background to Genesis. It was pathetic. But he’s got 2 or 3 PhDs, so who am I to criticize?



It will be interesting to see how Biola adapts to the Genealogical Adam. I have had surprising behind the scenes conversations with some of them. Even Bloom was thankful to me at Dabar for the work I did supporting Gauger. I also know someone on their Board, and WLC + Copan + McDowell are enthusiastic about my work. It will be very interesting to see if and how the terrain shifts on this.

GA is far more “literal” than anything in the OEC toolkit at the moment. How are they going to adapt?

He is very much in the ID world. Next time ID complains about bias against their own in secular contexts, please raise this example with them.


I’m good friends with McDowell, and just spoke favorably with Copan this past year at Summit about approaches to Genesis. I do think there’s a wave of support on the horizon about finding a “big tent” approach. I haven’t interacted personally with WLC but my read of him is positive overall.


The problem with EC, @pevaquark, is that it doesnt acknowledge the stumbling block for many Creationists… its analysis is is executed in ignorance of the Creationist obstacle, or in isolation from from “the” obstacle:

“Creationists truly believe Original Sin cant work without historical Adam/Eve.”

Until EC confronts this view head-on, then GA, which ALLOWS for the premises of Original Sin (WITHOUT REQUIRING everyone to hold those premises), is the most logical way to aporoach Creationists.

Good points, thanks for sharing. Perhaps I am imagining something different in my mind, but I am trying to avoid things like Danny Faulkner from AiG writing:

As an astronomer and biblical creationist, do I believe that stars form today? I’m not sure. I understand both sides of the biblical arguments. I don’t see that the Bible absolutely precludes star formation today, nor do I see that the Bible demands it.

So it literally matters zero what we observe in the universe or have evidence for and only what is allowed past a Biblical filter. That is the position that I am concerned that WLC will come to. It seems that he is interested in actual evidence, but depending on who he is talking to, could be greatly misled by what scientists actually think. One example from the past could be this WLC podcast where he gets in to an example concerning some Mouflon sheep in a remote island and then interpolates that to be relevant somehow to estimates of human populations. I know that he was getting this from an RTB article, but nobody who actually estimates human populations uses methods similar to that particular paper. Presumably he will have a more accurate understanding of genetics by speaking with @swamidass but at the end of the day, I think he, like most Christians will only accept science that agrees with their interpretation of the Bible.

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Perhaps you clarify here @pevaquark. What part of science do you accept even though it disagrees with your interpretation of Scripture? If you have not accepted science that disagrees with your interpretation of Scripture, what exactly is your complaint? Are you arguing that the two must be in conflict?

A post was split to a new topic: Why William Lane Craig Grew Interested in Adam

I will certainly let @pevaquark answer for himself but I interpret it more to be that many people will allow their particular interpretation of Scripture to easily dismiss science, rather than letting it stimulate a re-evaluation of their interpretation. I used to “read” Genesis as a YEC, and then I took a geochemistry class. I could either reject the science or rethink how I was reading the Bible. Science (and history) sometimes conflicts with particular interpretations of Scripture, it is not neutral in that sense.