8 June 2018

Notes on paganism

Just for the record, some notes I wrote while waiting in a hosptial (I used a form headed "Integrated Notes for Nursing, Medical and Allied Health Staff"...so my notes throw that into a risible spin!)

Paganism and invented stories of creation.

Interpolation of factors between creator and creation = creator's information about creation has no meaning within that creation; it corresponds to no actual relational or intercausal set that is ontologically concordant with the  parameters of the creation as accounted for in Gen 1.

Theistic evolution, etc. put an unknown (unstated in scripture) principle between God and his creation and set his account to non-correspondence with the world we are in, and in which terms it is itself set.

Pagan = a hidden mystery behind appearances: the creation  account becomes an 'appearance' not negated by being recounted by another. [I think I knew what I meant when I jotted that down...]

The creation account tells us that there is no second order reality to which we need to refer to understand the reality it presents in concord with the one we experience, relate to and are contained by.

No platonic 'forms' or 'evolution' principle; e.g. creatures reproduce after their kind, not some other kind.

Paganism is the quest fo a hidden second order or inversely a primary locus of meaning that gives sense to the intercausal set of the real world. Creation account tells us there is not a hidden second order, but that the only players in this game are creator and creatures.

1 June 2018

Music

Mark Pentecost of Anglicare runs a music program for Anglicare residents using acapella ensembles. He explained this on TV that it touches the deepest parts of the psyche, important for people with dementia, becuase it harks back to a time before there were musical instruments.

This refers possibly to a narrow slice of early history, because we read in Genesis 4:21 of "Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe."

There in the fourth generation of humanity two musical instruments were known! OK, so the previous three generations just hummed, but I wouldn't think that acapella has a greater musical connection with us than a brass band. Its just that most Anglicans have shelved the early history of God's creation and have absorbed and therefore defer to the world-starts-with-material game.

31 May 2018

The scent of the lion

While out for a walk my mind meandered to consider what an ideal dog repellant might be...maybe lion scent would do the trick. One sniff of a lion and dog is out of there! But then, why? Why does the dog have a view about its mortality that it wants to avoid death?

In fact, in a naturalist conception, why life? Why do genes impel themselves into the future with ostensible purpose? It seems impossible to avoid at least implying purposeful action at every point in the course of life.

But whence purpose? Purpose is teleological, it is about something that is not, materially. Nor could we propose with any confidence that life ‘just is’, because it then takes of on its path dense with purpose. The purpose that came from nowhere and has, itself, no...purpose.

Anyway, genes have no purpose; there is no place in them for a view of either the future or the past, they exist mutely in the present.  They are not, as long chains even existent themselves as a ‘brute’ fact, or as (brute) conductors of information. They cannot be as their information content and its outcomes are contingent, not given, and as soon as the long double helix is cut off from its chemical home falls apart and ceases to be functional. Highly contingent from the get go.

Evolution has to imply the immaterial, it has to conjure an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ from the get-go, in a fundamentally incoherent, internally inconsistent move that makes the idea of evolution a risible concoction that cannot explain itself in its own terms.

Similarly non-credible is the oft mouthed claim that science is conducted on the basis of ‘methodological naturalism’. That is, for the day in day out work of the scientist no assumption needs to be made in regards to a Creator-God for the science to be done.

Hang on, though. Not quite. We here treat the path made by positivism: positivism cannot explain itself in its own terms, and so collapses in a smoking pile, as does methodological naturalism. As soon as naturalism is qualified, indeed as soon as it is uttered, it makes inevitable immaterial references that are outside its bounds.

What references?

To the subject as independent of the object and the object being a thing shared by all subjects, for starters. That the perception of the object is a real event and not merely a configuration in the brain (which would make any utterances about this mere reports on the brain’s configuration with no necessary or reliable connection with the object specifically, and the world outside the subject in general).

Naturalism itself is a particular idea about the world and the subject, it is not a ‘real’ thing. Thus, methodological naturalism is a cloak for metaphysical naturalism, which trades on the credit of Christian theology, specifically that brought by the doctrine of Creation (objective knowable external world and communicable reliability of subjects in their regard for the external world). And it, of course is not explained by naturalism (except in a reductive sense), but refers back to those non-material ideas for its get-go. If those ideas are just molecular configurations (also a non-material idea), then how do they give us any information (another non-material thing) about the real world (if there is such a thing)?

12 May 2018

Symbolic eh?

5. Read Genesis 3.7-24. In these verses we see the consequences of human sin in the breakdown of relationships between people and people and God. In this highly symbolic section we see a reality that is still with us today. What area of brokenness troubles you the most?
As soon as a part of scripture is identified as symbolic, I get wary. To regard something as a symbol threatens its dereification. It makes it 'art' not 'life'. Art comments on life and relationship, it is replete with symbols and representations, but it is not, in itself real life; its a type of decorative communication about real life.

So when something in the Bible is declared to be symbolic, one first has to ask, symbolic of what? Of what concretely is it a symbol (and if we can't say, then its hard to declare it to be symbolic; maybe we should instead say that as modern Westerners we are just uncomfortable with it). Perhaps of 'a reality that is still with us today'. But if it is our reality, why would we need a symbol?

What the passage does is give to us the source of the current reality. Is the source a symbol of the source? How would we know? Has the current reality been always with us? In which case it doesn't need a source, but is inherent in the creation (as the problem only emerges when the face reading of Genesis 1-3 is denied, then the word 'creation' may be erroneous, and we should just say 'cosmos' or 'reality' as something that is unbound from God's creative acts that we've just denied).

And if it is a symbol, what is the connection with our non-symbolic experience of the world as a subject? Where does symbol stop and concrete start?

I doubt that there is an independent epistemic basis for the declaration when our topic is a type of 'first philosophy' topic; that is, about the start of it all, so perhaps we are all just symbols of something else, our relationships are symbols of something else, and our concrete experience of death, pain, suffering and frustration is not due to actual estrangement from God, but is a mere symbol of some other actual thing.

No, it just doesn't wash.

So what is so symbolic about the passage? I think it is just that we have trouble with a talking snake (maybe all animals talked pre-fall...and how would we know they didn't...or did), and an actual tree being a reminder of a covenant. And what a simple gracious reminder. Nothing complicated to do, just remember the God-man relationship by your action of not taking the fruit. A fruit! Nothing to interfere with an enjoyable life, and it self demonstrating the mercy, graciousness and love of God; actually!

8 May 2018

Letter on God using evolution


I recently read your 1997 article in JETS on theistic evolution. I acknowledge that this was written some time ago, and that your interests may have shifted over the intervening period, but, on the assumption that you have maintained some connection with the thinking in this paper; I would like to make some comments.

In a debate as complex and challenging as the one you have addressed, it was refreshing that you distinguished between different usages of the concept ‘evolution’. I also appreciated your canvassing of some of the more obvious theological issues (I say ‘more obvious’ not to downplay them, as I think much work remains to tease out the implications of the points that you made).

The nub of the problem, is, as you identify, that theistic evolution has more of evolution than ‘theism’, at least of the biblical variety, and subsumes biblical considerations under materialist/surmised mechanistic ones.

A couple of aspects of the attempt to blend the biblical doctrine of creation and contemporary framing of the origins ‘story’, I think go more deeply into how we understand God and his relation to us (which of course the salient issue of the fall and its counter in God’s redemption opens).

In brief, to assert evolution as basic to the formation of life as we see it, makes a representation about both God and the cosmos that differs from the representation that God himself makes in the Bible, at many points. It says something about God which God doesn’t say!

At root, it makes God not an author in direct relationship with his creation, contrary to what the Bible sets out, and the creation thus as consistent with who God is, but an author who is hidden, or occulted by intervening principles which in themselves not just obscure his hand, but negate it entirely. Hard then, it is, to align evolution even if ‘theistic’ with God pointing to his being creator as the basis of worship, especially throughout the prophets.

This voids the real dependence of the creation on the creator and allows the deist view to run riot and invert the relationship of creator and creature, to enclose the God within the creation; the failing of all the ANE creation myths that I’ve read in that they all presuppose a cosmos at some level.

In the creation account God sets out the marks of his activity (and ReMine, for example would say that the marks remain patent) in his close and immediate involvement with the components of the creation. They are not independent and not the result of mechanism, but all the result of intention, underscoring that person-hood (God’s) is ontologically basic, whereas to push God into an occult role makes some equally occult principle as basic, I think.

As a result, the cosmos is ‘de-godded’. God as an effective and involved creator: which one who is love would be expected to be, is removed, and a void is opened up that non-love, exemplified in materialism, fills; but it is a faux filling, because the filling is beyond human/personal engagement and is not relationally accessible (personal relationship, that is).

De-godding re-configures the cosmos, ‘reality’, in ontological terms, and the core of reality being God’s wisdom at work through love in relationship is gone, to be replaced by the echo of a plea for significance that seems to be pre-supposed in almost every human activity, and the rest of life before human consideration (that is, in the presence of man as worshipping creature place over the creation to care for it).

De-godding also makes Adam’s naming the animals a meaningless gesture. With God patent and involved in the creation as we experience it (e.g. made the kinds of animals, not a pathway where chemicals could become cells, could become animals…maybe) the naming is steward’s response to his lord’s lovingly knowing his creation. Adam, therefore also now knows it in terms that are congruent with his being the steward.

A de-godded cosmos is one where God is no longer able to demonstrate his ‘god-ness’ to us for us to know him, but one where the focus of our gaze ends at the creature, and that in its mute form: dirt and energy, and tells us nothing about outselves. Redemption then drifts to myth instead of re-connecting us with what really is.

Finally, if Genesis 1 doesn’t convey information about the cosmos, in terms that make sense in the cosmos, and correspond to what they claim to describe: that is the events set out as occurring in space and time, and predicated on the same categorical arrangement that we would meaningfully apply; then they tell us nothing, and cannot, by telling us something other than what happened, what in fact happened in summative terms (contrary to the well worn irrationality that the creation account doesn’t tell us what God did, but that he is creator). Well, he is only ‘creator’ on account of him telling us what he did. If we deny that, we deny that he is creator; which is where theistic-evolution must leave us.

7 May 2018

The tree of life

I recently watched a re-run of Attenborough's Tree of Life documentary. A paean to evolution.

It provided a great summary of doctrinaire evolutionary boosting, which I had expected. In so doing it provided a wonderful succession of conflation of fact and presumption, misinformation, intellectual slight of hand and fallacious logic, which was a bonus.

If I was to run a Saturday seminar for high school students (now there's an idea), clips from this video would be part of it!

I'll summarise.

Early on we are given the estimate of the number of species: just to dazzle. The range is from a few million to many times that: so large as to indicate it is pure guesswork and so not worth mentioning. This sets the scene for the staggering complexity and variety of life being claimed as unavoidably the result of evolution.

Next we are rightly introduced to biblical belief, with a reading from Genesis 1; well, lampooning really. DA fails to express any wonder at the identification of broad ecological and coupled zoological categories that the account contains, the orderly progression of the creation of ecological divisions, and the continuity of those categories with what is evident to us today. Pretty remarkable for a book by 'ignorant ancients'.

We are treated to a pop history of Darwin's adventures completely cut off from the intellectual history of the time he lived in and the atmosphere pregnant with evolutionary ideas (including early description of 'natural selection' by Edward Blyth, a creationist). He also fails to mention the tendentiousness of the 'long age/slow process' project of the time to unseat Moses' credibility.

A whole lot of non-evidence of evolution is presented in commission of the fallacy of 'affirming the consequent' (of the form: 'when it rains puddles of water form...oh look, there's a puddle of water, it has rained' neglecting other causes for puddles of water) on the question begging presumption of evolution occuring being the proof of evolution having occured (and still occuring presumably).

DA makes much of Darwin destroying the idea of 'fixity of the the species' erronously conflating 'species' with the genesian 'kinds', failing to unlink the two ideas, falling for the Aristotelian influenced idea of fixed species! Not biblical at all. He didn't bother pointing out that bibilical 'kinds' are broad observational categories, not narrow genetic ones and one could well extend from this that the concept of 'kind' was not concordant with rigid fixed species...whatever 'species' might mean in reality. Thus from the biblical data we need not be surprised by the proliferation of sub-types of creatures within broad 'kinds'. So DA deceitfully plays the straw man game.

Next stop is genetics: the discovery of the double helix, and the evidence this provides for genetic continuity between 'species'. This comes as no surprise given the looseness of 'kind' and that everything in a biosphere should have similar biology to exist in said biosphere. No surprise here either.

We get the full bottle on Natural Selection as 'survival of the fittest'. I know that's its epigraph, but survival of the fittest is not required...only survival of the least unfit in any particular ecological setting at any particular time. But reality doesn't sound as good as propaganda, even in biology and it is not explained how this is the 'engine' of evolution instead of what we observe: resistance to degenerative change.

Close to the end we are taken through Darwins 'fear' of the eye as an evolved thing. DA glibly explains that there are all sorts of organs that sense light...so one could have evolved into the other. No shred of evidence is offered for the vast functional differences, and the coordinated development of interlocking systems and sub-systems required for vision to occur, let alone the meaning of vision for organisms.

Lastly of my summary, we sweat with Darwin over his long and painstaking work with species studies...no critique of Darwin's un-self-critical question begging mission here either, nor of the obvious critique that he was describing a plausable analysis of speciation within kinds....of which we see evidence, but driving this beyond evidence to a total materialist history of biology.

DA ends with Paley's watch...but fails again to deal with the true implications of the analogy, particularly for evolution which remains a set of footnotes that attempt to save a Victorian era gross morphology fiction as making any contribution to anything, concocted in complete ignorance of the vast complexity of even the 'simplest' life forms.

My conclusion: the film is a great discussion starter for a seminar on biblical creation.




23 April 2018

Transcendence

God is transcendent. We know from Isaiah 55:9, or we might think that we do!

This must be read in the light of Gen 1:2, 27, Gen 2:15-17 and Gen 3:8-11.

There is an intimacy here: communication, fellowship (reinforced in God's creating in our time setting), love. God is of course above as as per Isaiah, but he is also with us. The creation tells us that he is with us with an intensity and closeness that goes beyond mere pagan transcendence.

Fish

In an episode of Rick Stein in Asia, he commented on his love of fish that we came from fish...obviously one doesn't go to a cook for information on origins, and I note that he's gone even deeper into mythological past to get to fish, rather than stop at the shared precusor to modern apes and humanity!

Yes, man came after fish, and indeed, man was made from dust...but that's only half the truth. 

Satan's deception is always subtle. As his 'temptations' of Yeshua, he distorts rather than outrageously fabricate.


Thus we go from Adam made from dust and enlived by God (Gen 1:27, with the method God used explained in Gen 2:7) in the Bible, to moderns disregarding God's word, indeed, the method he used to create man, saying that sure, we are made of the dust of the ground, but not with any intention, purpose, design or intelligent objective, rather it was the meandering of chemical accidents that led to us. Presumably the same random accidents led to ideas...which can be no more reliable on that basis than any other random accident.