While Christian theology must face questions raised by modern science, modern science has excluded from discussion the primary claim of the gospel that the man Jesus was actually the Creator and Sustainer and Lord of the entire universe. If that claim is true, and modern science has chosen to ignore it, then it is guilty of impervious ignorance.
-From False Intimacy by Dr. Harry Schaumburg
Schaumburg in this passage is talking about homosexuality and whether or not it is genetic or natural in its cause. And the point he is making is that if modern science, or any given proponent of modern science, does not factor into his system of knowledge this one all-important fact, then they will be utterly unable to arrive at truth in any other respect; they will be “guilty of impervious ignorance.”
Schaumburg’s book is excellent, by the way, in understanding the root and nature of sexual addiction. But it was another subject that sparked my interest in this- the old intelligent design question, that is so frequently discussed in the blogosphere these days. In particular, this post by Joe Carter and the discussion that followed, called to my mind the intractable nature of the disagreement, just as the disagreement about homosexuality and abortion and so many other things these days seems to be just as fundamentally intractable.
If Jesus really was a real person, who was miraculously conceived in the uterus of a virgin, who performed many miracles, who claimed to be the son of God, who predicted that he would be killed but that he would rise from the dead, and that through these events would be declared to the world to be its lord and king; if these propositions are in fact true, then that changes everything. Literally everything.
I believe that the world was created in six days less than ten thousand years ago. I do not believe this because I looked at the facts and decided they point in this direction. I believe this because the first two chapters of Genesis say that it was, and Jesus said that the Old Testament is the authoritative word of God, and I believe everything that Jesus tells me. It’s really just as simple as that. I feel no need to nuance my belief in this fact to make it look more agreeable to the science of the day, through day-age schemes or framework hypotheses or anything else. At the end of the day, we all have to decide who we’re going to believe, and when given the choice between God and man, I’ll choose God.
I admire guys like Joe Carter and Rusty and many others for trying over and over to get in these discussions with folks like DarkSyde and Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula, and they try to have these discussions as if they were discussions about commonly held facts, for if we’re going to have a meaningful discussion, as in a court of law, for example, then the first thing we have to do is establish what the facts are, and then move from there to the interpretation of those facts and so on. So 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 say “pretend” on purpose, 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.
Now of course you might respond by saying that there are adherents to IDC who do not believe in Jesus. And I expect that’s true. But I also know that I no more hold to their position on where the universe came from as I do the atheistic evolutionists. I will not defend some ambiguous “designer” argument that could be Jehovah or Allah or Brahma or someone else. I will defend the account of Scripture, and only that account. And in reference to the particular discussions I’m referring to, Rusty and Joe are also both believers in Jesus and my argument therefore applies to them.
The only way that an unbeliever will come to accept the IDC argument is if they can do so in a way that allows them to still ignore the claims of Jesus, as Edward Flew did recently. And this gets us nowhere. What do I care whether someone believes in some nebulous designer of the universe or not? Disconnected from the true God of the Bible, it’s just a flutter in the mind, and means nothing. People will not get their sins forgiven by IDC. And I can’t work people a step at a time into the kingdom of heaven. Either they accept the claims of Jesus or they do not, and everything hinges on that.
The discussion on EO bears all the hallmarks that I am talking about. A question of fact is brought up by Joe, and immediately the whole discussion devolves into bitter name calling and recrimination. DarkSyde (atheist blogger at UTI and frequent commenter on my blog) says,
“What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design in regard to eyes or anything else in biodiversity, and what testable predictions does it make? What is the falsification criteria?” and he asks these questions over and over, and says nobody answers him. Now I could bring up the question I keep asking him, which he never answers. But what DS is doing here is setting up a particular criteria for truth, and rejecting whatever doesn’t fall into his box. We evangelicals need to, in one sense, recognize the truth of the attack that DS and the other naturalists are leveling. As long as we agree to the naturalist terms of the debate, we will fail to overcome this objection. 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. The Christian philosophy teaches that all things bear witness to God, and only by the word of God can I ever come to accept that fact. Without the saving power of Jesus Christ, I am a blind man, and I will pretend to see all of the facts before me but I will not understand anything.
When the naturalist frames the debate the way he does, he’s asking us to close our eyes and then debate him. He’s asking us to subject ourselves to the same “impervious ignorance” that he is trapped in. If he can get us to agree to do that, then he has won the debate. So I am not going to close my eyes. I am not going to pretend that I believe God created the universe for any other reason than that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and He told me so.
None of this should be interpreted as criticizing the strength of Joe’s or Rusty’s or anyone else’s argument. I think Joe does a great job in this post and in the comments of debating. But I think we need to understand the intractable nature of the problem that’s before us in convincing anyone of the Biblical account of creation, and to set goals appropriately.