Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Dangerous, Thin-line Between Human Reason and Biblical Authority

Sorry, this is a few weeks old and has been sitting in the cue collecting dust. Busy and all you know.

My anonymous blogging critic who thoroughly dislikes my apologetics has responded to me again.

If I could be allowed a soap box rant before going on any further. I have been finding it increasingly difficult to respect anonymity. Anonymous blogging mystifies me. If a person has a website or blog that will host articles critical of others, it is only in the person's best interest to tell us who he or she is. Providing a personal name demonstrates that you care about those with whom you disagree and that you respect them as opponents to your own particular beliefs. It also lends credibility to your comments and criticisms.

I realize some people don't care about a person's anonymity; they only desire to deal with the ideas put forth. I am perfectly happy to deal with the ideas, but I am left with the impression an anonymous blogger has something to hide, or maybe is an outright coward. The people who ran the now defunct Baptist Fire were anonymous and I still believe their lack of truthfulness sorely damaged their credibility as critics of the Founders.

Anyway. Moving along...

I was a tad disappointed with this particular response by the Evangelutionist, as he calls himself, because he still fails to interact with my points. Instead, he makes generalization about the authority of human reason to discover God and truth, how the gospel message transcends human reason, accuses me of saying Christianity is reduced to rationalizations, and dismisses the citations from theological apologists who side with me.

There were several things that would have been nice of him to do, but never got around to it.

For example, I would have liked for him to provide some response to my exegesis regarding the noetic effects of the fall. In other words, the clear biblical teaching that the mind of all men are darkened in sin (1 Corinthians 2:14 and Ephesians 4:17) and no person has the ability to "reason" to God.

He claims my apologetics are "circular" argumentation, yet with out any meaningful interaction with the citations I listed. Certainly he took the time down load Dr. Krugers article on the myth of neutrality before he began accusing my of circularity? (Which by the way is a circular argument because it assumes some unquestioned propositions about how a person is to argue).

But more to the point. He had the typical evidentialist comments about how special revelation (the Scripture) and general revelation (the created world that displays God's glory and holds all men accountable to God) are compatible and should not be in conflict. "All truth is God's truth," so says anonymous, and this is where his arguments begin to fall apart.

He assumes general revelation is to be equated with modern day science, i.e. evolutionary constructs, and as a result is committed to theistic evolution as a worldview. Yet, general revelation was never meant to function as being a guide to draw men to God. It only shows forth God's glory.

Additionally, the evolutionary constructs our blogger believes are scientifically accurate and is suppose to be "God's truth" were conceived by non-Christians, in many instances atheists, who are hostile to God. In these many instances they intentionally invent fanciful excuses with this so-called "truth" so as to have a means to conveniently dismiss God from His creation.

In my opinion, our blogger gives too much to human reason, unaided by a supernatural intervention, to provide for men a proper interpretation of the world. Human reason, which is already darkened in sin and opposed to God, according to scripture, will be as a habit mis-informed by its mis-understanding of the fallen world. Sure, fallen men can problem solve, do medicine, and figure out how to send probes to Jupiter, but you don't need to be an evolutionist to do these things. However, when it comes to interpreting earth's past so as to give meaning to mankind's existence in today's world, they will only lead to disaster.

Steve Hays, who is a virtual gift to the church, has been giving our anonymous blogger's theistic evolutionary ideas a rubber hose style beating for the last few weeks. See here, here, here and here for examples. He does a superb job of demonstrating the precarious thin-line between fallen, human reason and God's Revelation.



Blogger thomas4881 said...

When confronting evolutionist they often try to attack the Bible's credibility(I think it's what all non-christians do to make lies and have God put out of their life). When the Bible's credibility is attacked in any way I ask "what anti-christian literature written by one fallable author based on bad reaserch have you been reading"? They normally don't like that question because it points to the facts that they diden't think up their critical questions against the Bible by themself. They read some anti-christian literature or took some time to read some anti-christian website.

When speaking to evolutionist remind them that evolution isn't science. Evolution is a naturalistic world view based on supersition with many supernatural ideas. I mean evolutionist compare a bone from a whale to a land animal so they assume there must be a link. That is supernatural. Then I go onto showing them righteousness, judgement, and the gospel. I find once their beliefs are debunked quickly they resort to petty name calling and straw men. The last atheist I talked to came down to claiming evolution is probable. When getting into probability the evolutionist are completely destroyed in their thinking. Any probability statistics shows evolution to be highly unlikely. The probability of evolution happening is beyond comprehension. In the end all I find is people unmasked and openly admitting they'er in rebellion against Jesus Christ. That's why in the book of revelation when God's wrath is coming on them they call for the rocks in the caves to fall on them. Then they won't be able to hide behind the immaginations of men any longer.

10:01 AM, December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've nothing to hide myself. One one of a handful of bloggers for a large Internet company, where I focus on technology and company related issues. I'm quite outspoken across a range of issues, including my evangelism regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of my employment agreement with my employer, I'm enabled to blog on my own time, but must remain uncontroversial, or use an obscuring Internet identity.

Given the history of my commentary, my views and ideas in this area have proven plenty controversial, so this blog must rely on my nom de Net, Touchstone. I believe this is explained in my "About" page of my blog.

In any case, you are free to email me (touchstone at evangelutionist.com) asking for more personal identification. I'm not prohibited from disclosing it on a personal basis, only on public and controversial forums. If you can maintain my confidence, I'm happy to give you the info.


P.S. It's also quite likely that in the next few months, things will be re-arranged, making this whole issue moot, and I can blog under my own name, no matter the ensuing controversy.

1:27 PM, December 19, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Wow TS,
I basically say in my post that you are woefully confused about general and special revelation, side with atheists over biblical authority, and failed to interact with any of my argumentation and the one thing you seize upon so as to leave a comment is my complaint about anonymous bloggers.

Yes, you are quite the controversial figure.


6:20 AM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A quick comment on the anonymity issue was all I've had time for. Happy to address other points in your post, but it will have to wait a bit.


9:17 AM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've posted a response here:


I'm interested in your feedback, particularly to the questions put to you near the bottom.



12:47 PM, December 20, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...


In response to your post I will deal primarily with your couple of questions toward the end. I still believe Steve Hays has done a masterful job of exposing the folly of your theistic evolutionary apologetics with way better eloquence than what I can offer, so I still refer folks to those posts I linked in my main article as well as encourage them to review his archives.

Moving along,

You claim that my beliefs about the noetic effects of the fall, if genuinely followed consistently, would prevent me from flying on an airplane or with no ability to be a credible juror on a criminal case.

A couple of things to note:

First off, I stated in my second post that sin does not make a sinner a non-functioning invalid. I do believe fallen men can do research and invent new things. A biblical view of man as sinner does not forbid this reality. It is merely man acting according to him being created in the image of God.

However, where the noetic effects of the fall impact man is in two areas:

a) men refuse to recognize their abilities as God given. There is a disconnect between what they do with their creativity and submission to their sovereign. Thus, a sinner does not get on a plane and exclaim "Wow! look how God has allowed us to discover and utilize the natural laws He has created to govern our universe!" No. Men never connects rationalism and logic to the rightful ultimate starting point, The Lord God.

b) Men see their discoveries as being autonomous and apart from God. In other words, they never give God the proper praise for being the governor and sustainer of our universe. In fact, they glory in their own abilities and praise their own names for being the masters of their own universe.

Second, evolutionary conjecture about the past is not the same category as the physical dynamics that make a plane fly. Those are two entirely different realms of "science" even if we can call the first "science" to begin with. Evolutionary conjecture is a worldview all unto itself that requires individuals to accept unquestioned axioms that drive how they interpret evidence. That fundamental interpretation of the so-called evidence is flawed by an unbeliever's hatred toward God. He will always side with the interpretation of the evidence that excludes God. That is why ID proponents are finding it difficult to have an audience in the so-called scientific community.

If all GR spoke for itself their would be atheists all over the world dropping to there knees and acknowledging their creator. But all attempts in discovering our world is played out in their clever excuses they use to keep God our of their lives.


7:13 PM, December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Neither your a) nor b) have anything to do with man's observations concerning the speed of light, or the rate of isotope decay in rocks. These are the productions of the very same epistemology that makes jumbo jets safe to fly, and DNA evidence compelling evidence for a murder noone witnessed. General Relativity (GR) doesn't affirm or deny God. It can as easily accomodate Christian theism as Dawkins style atheism.

It's just physical phenomena.

God's physical laws work the same whether you believe in God or not, right? I guess I should have you confirm that before going further. Because if that's true, then I fail to see how a) or b) is at all responsive to my questions. If God's physical laws operate the same whether observed by an atheist or a Christian or a Muslim, then what difference does God getting credit make in speaking to the accuracy of the theory. In science, accuracy is just defined as conformance to the evidence, power of explanation, and predictive performance.

The only possible resolution I can see here for you is to put your tin foil hat on and tell me science is all a big hoax, a colossal conspiracy against Christians. If that's the card you want to play, but make yourself known now, please, as there's simply no possibility of reasonable discussion with conspiracy theorists -- they are beyond reach.

I don't get the sense that you're committed to the "colossal conspiracy" theories, though. I'm sure you know that many committed Christians work in the science community and report that they are integrated into the scientific community and see no such hoax being foisted upon you. If that's so, then I ask again, what does acknowledging God have to do with calculations based on the speed of light, or the rate of decay of isotopes? Can an atheist accurately do that, as he can model the fluid dynamics of airflow over a wing? What if a Christian is making the same calculations right alongside the atheist, and their numbers agree?

I don't think you've yet looked questions like this in the eye.


8:21 PM, December 20, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Neither your a) nor b) have anything to do with man's observations concerning the speed of light, or the rate of isotope decay in rocks. These are the productions of the very same epistemology that makes jumbo jets safe to fly, and DNA evidence compelling evidence for a murder noone witnessed. General Relativity (GR) doesn't affirm or deny God. It can as easily accomodate Christian theism as Dawkins style atheism..

(Fred) Well, contrary to your claim, I have looked questions like this in the eye. And I believe a good portion of the serious, scientists who happen to be creationists have as well. It is a straw man to say otherwise, which is typical of those like yourself who believe such things as the speed of light and radioactive decay are infallible, must be interpreted according to a uniformist position, and must be used to re-interpret the biblical narrative of Genesis.

I happen to believe the speed of light and radioactive decay have something to do with how men view the world. The evolutionists, which I guess you would be in that camp, use them as the big billy club to wave over those who, like myself, begin with a strict biblical authority as the starting point in my worldview. They claim I can't use a biblical worldview to look at the world, but must reject it out of hand. Someone like yourself think I must re-interpret my Bible according to this so-called evidence which you falsely equate to general revelation.

I begin with the fact that Genesis is concise, biblical history. True integrity with the text demands this. I understand that you reject this 'fact' and instead appeal to others who hold to a strained hermeneutic of Genesis so as to allow for your theistic evolution.

I further recognize you reject this aspect of biblical authority and allow what is perceived as 'facts' to re-interpret the Bible. The scriptures, however, never allow for this. Where the 'facts' conflict with the Bible, I don't believe the 'facts' are wrong, but that men have misunderstood the facts and they could be explained in different ways, for example, high radioactive decay can be a result of special creation or the dynamics of the flood, not billions of years. I understand you reject this as well.

Evolutionists, as well as Creationists, have demonstrated that when folks 'date' rocks that they will be selective to the data that best supports their interpretation of the data. That is because the data does not always yield consistent conclusions about how old something is. I know you despise ICR and AiG, and thats OK, you have your biases, but I believe the RATE project has done a good job of revealing these selective biases in determining "dates."

Moreover, secular astronomers are at odds with each other as to what happens in deep space. That is why I mentioned Halton Arp at Triablogue some time ago in the comments. He is not a creationist in any fashion but has shown, with the observational data, that much of the presuppositions of the big bang model are wrong, and because of that, he is snubbed by the astronomical community, who are obviously dishonest as to their commitment to the 'evidence.'

You see TS, because I am willing to begin my worldview with an historical understanding that Genesis is real, concise history, there is no death before man sinned, etc. I am willing to accept that the so-called observational data you appeal to like radioactive decay and the speed of light can be explained differently than the typical uniformitarian perspective that it has "always been this way" and I must accept evolutionary constructs about the world.

God's physical laws work the same whether you believe in God or not, right? I guess I should have you confirm that before going further. Because if that's true, then I fail to see how a) or b) is at all responsive to my questions. If God's physical laws operate the same whether observed by an atheist or a Christian or a Muslim, then what difference does God getting credit make in speaking to the accuracy of the theory. In science, accuracy is just defined as conformance to the evidence, power of explanation, and predictive performance.

Yes, I know that God's physical laws operate the same all across the board. I have never said otherwise. However, once again, for I don't believe you caught this the first time I mentioned it, evolutionary conjecture about those laws and data is different from the ever day use of them to build airplanes. Evolution, contrary to the excited claims of its proponents, does not have the same explanatory power or predictive performance that hydro-dynamics do when engineering a damn. The evolutionist has to conjecture about the distant past and construct 'stories' about the bones they claim have a common ancestor. And guess what? Radio-active decay and the speed of light, even from a strict uniformist's perspective also do not contribute to this evolutionist's conjecture about how to interpret the so-called facts.

Is there a conspiracy? To a degree, yes. It is a conspiracy to explain the world, in spite of credible evidence to the contrary, apart from God. This is the nature of sinful man that you seem to dismiss. Some times evolutionists are quite candid and they make some rather raw statements about the utter folly of their beliefs that seem to go over the heads of other evolutionary Darwinists.

For example, one of my favorites is from Richard Lewontin (I am sure you are familiar with it),

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a divine Foot in the door."

Nah, no conspiracy here.


6:41 AM, December 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A couple of comments. First, when I raise the issue of the speed of light and the rates of isotope decay, I'm not invoking the theory of evolution. Evolutionary is indeed built on top of those factors, but the speed of light and the rates of isotope decay are key factors in determining the age of the earth. One needn't build a case for evolution to demonstrate that your hermeneutic leads to absurdities, conspiracies, and the embrace of guys like Barry Setterfield, Russell Humphreys and Halton Arp. The evidence for the earth being ancient is as broad and settled as the evidence that the earth orbits the sun rather than the other way around. I know you're intent on painting it as a matter of fanciful conjecture, but it's not at all. Ask your local cosmologist, or geologist.

As for Lewontin, yes that's quite a famous quote, and one I understand. If science is the study of natural (material) phenomena -- and it is -- then its epistemology must be fundamentally and strictly natural. The reason you feel safe to fly on a Boeing jet is because *only* materialistic explanations are allowed. If science were to incorporate the meta-phyiscal, even a *little* bit, it's whole epistemic foundation would crumble. We would not have any framework with which to build reliable natural knowledge. So Lewontin is making an important point here. If we are to encounter a miracle -- like the resurrection, or the parting of the Red Sea -- science would try endlessly and with futility to arrive at a natural explanation, because that's all science is designed to do. Science would be perpetually vexed.

But science is not vexed any more by the speed of light, or the rate of isotope decay. It has identified theories and explanations that provide staggering precision in predictions, airtight fit with observation and a compelling, interlocking explanation for how the process works. These are the hallmarks of natural knowledge through science. If you have any familiarity with quantum theory, you'll understand part of what Lewontin is talking about here. It's just plain weird on some levels. If science was prone to throw up its hands and say "This must be supernatural!", it would have done so long ago, and prior to a huge number of important advances in the field. Lewontin is correct to say that science *giving* up on natural explanations is an abdication of its duty; theologians and philosophers can argue about the metaphysical realities and implications, but science is charged with inquiry on the physical plane.

This is an epistemology Christians in the science community support as well as atheist and agnostics, etc. Science has nothing to say about God's existence; it's inherently agnostic, and utterly incapable of proving or disproving metaphysical propositions. What has happened here is that you have adopted an approach to scripture that produces assertions about the physical world, namely that the earth is just a few thousand years old. In this, you have crossed from the metaphysical sphere into the physical sphere, and made assertions that science can evaluate. The testimony of science has been that assertions about the physical world are fantastically contradictory to all the evidence available, which is quite a lot.

That doesn't mean that science has disproved the existence of God. As I said, it can't do that, even in principle. Instead, it's provided testimony to the flaws in *your* understand. God may exist, or not, according to science, but no matter which, the assertions about the physical world that are advanced by young earth creationists couldn't be more at odds with the evidence. That leaves you three choices as to what your problem is:

1. Science is a conspiracy, a massive hoax.
2. God has made the world a massive hoax, fooling all the scientists with a world created to look and act just as if it was ancient.
3. Your approach to scripture needs work.

Now, any of those might be the case, and I understand from above that you've chosen choice #1 here. But let me suggest that both #1 and #2 are quite desperate, radical ways of resolving this conundrum, and that #3 really i quite a natural resolution. I realize you will think #3 is tantamount to saying "The Bible needs work". It needs no such thing. Please consider that the Bible remains the source of authority and truth that it always has been and always will be, and that what's problematic here are your presuppositions about it, your a priori commitments. Those are *yours*, and changing them won't diminish or alter scripture in the least.

Lastly, I was hoping you would tell me what your scriptural argument for this claim:
Yet, general revelation was never meant to function as being a guide to draw men to God.

I provided my counter-argument scripturally, and am hoping you can support this from your angle with scripture. Can you? It seems a strong part of your response, and one that I think is patently in error, so that's why I'm asking for some scriptural substantiation on your part. I'd appreciate it if you could point me to the parts of the Bible you rely on in saying that.



9:09 AM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Sorry TS,
You are gonna have to wait until after Christmas. Family obligations and other blogging interests makes me put our discussion on hold.


8:47 AM, December 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Fred,

That's fine. I'd appreciate a response at some point, but if not, that's fine too. This is "free time" stuff for me, as I think it is for you. Family definitely trumps it.

Have a blessed Christmas.


11:04 AM, December 22, 2006  

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