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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dembski's Theodicy

It has been my observation that when individuals must resort to strained definitions of biblical words in order to defend strange interpretations of scripture, they have an agenda in mind. Hence, if your theology is not derived exegetically from the text, more than likely you are out alone in left field drawing circles in the dirt.

Such is the case with well known ID champion William Dembski and the means by which he defends his particular theodicy, or "answer to the problem of evil." Originally his theodicy was presented in an on-line article that has since been turned into a book, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. A book that is regrettably endorsed with gushing remarks from other such apologetic luminaries like Hank Hanegraaff and J. P. Moreland. Steve Hays offers his overview of the book HERE.

Dr. Terry Mortenson also responds with a critique of Dembski's original article that not only interacts with his main arguments, but demonstrates why they fail to answer the question and how only a young earth creationist perspective can adequately explain the problem of suffering in the world.

Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science: A Young-Earth Creationist Response to William Dembski

The PDF is available HERE.

A few highlights:

I submit that this focus on “Christian theology” or “Christian theism” is an inadequate target to begin with. The goal ought to be to develop a theodicy that is consistent with properly interpreted biblical revelation. ...

In reality, the debate about the age of the universe is a conflict of worldviews—a conflict between the evolutionary, naturalistic, uniformitarian interpretations of some of the scientific data, on the one hand, and on the other hand the exegetically strong and historically orthodox young-earth creationist understanding of Scripture and the interpretations of the same data and more data based on biblical assumptions. These evolutionary interpretations are based on anti-biblical philosophical assumptions that dominate the modern scientific enterprise. But the scientific methods do not require these secular assumptions nor was modern science developed on the basis of these assumptions. Rather, it developed in the womb of the biblical worldview (Hooykaas 1972)....

It is a troubling mystery that in his acceptance of old-earth geology and astronomy Dembski, as a philosopher, seems to ignore this critically important philosophical point that young-earth creationists have been making for years in both scholarly and popular literature and in DVDs.

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Blogger Bob McCabe said...

Based on your recommendation, I read both responses to Dembski's theodicy. In particular, I thought Dr. Terry Mortenson has a great critical analysis of Dembski. It is unfortunate that old-earth advocates do not take the time to seriously look at some of the great work that young-earth creationists are producing. Hopefully, this critique will get a wide reading. Thanks for your post.

8:35 PM, November 14, 2009  
Blogger Siarlys Jenkins said...

Suffering needs explanation? That sounds like theological masochism to me. "All fall short of the glory of God." Any state less than perfection naturally involves suffering. How could anyone bend an entire explanation of God and his Creation around the question "Why do I hurt?" How self-centered can we get?

7:43 PM, November 16, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Suffering needs explanation?

Yes. Especially if we as Christians claim to believe in a good God who is all powerful as the scriptures proclaim. It is just as equally a problem for evolutionists and atheists who wish to assign meaning to grief over dying, when one dying is just the circle of life taking its course.

As a so-called Christian who adheres to a form of theistic evolution, the problem of suffering is especially problematic for you, because while you claim to affirm the Genesis narrative where we have presented a pre-fall world untainted by sin, suffering and death are necessary for the evolutionary mechanism to function, that being "the survival of the fittest" which entails much suffering and dying. How can we have death in a God created world before the fall of man into sin?

6:37 AM, November 17, 2009  
Blogger DJP said...

Haanegraaaf, a "luminary"?

More of a darkinary, to me.

1:25 PM, November 17, 2009  
Blogger Siarlys Jenkins said...

A couple of years ago, there was a discussion about evolution at ThinkChristian.net, and a sincere young man from Nova Scotia named Kevin asked whether a world filled with various life forms hunting and killing each other sounded "very good to you?" I answered that since God pronounced it very good, who am I to question that?

The existence of suffering is not at all problematic for me. When things are going well, praise God, when things are not going well, that is a sign of how far the world remains out of alignment with divine intent. There is, after all, a little thing called "free will" which appears to be essential to God's purposes in creating this universe in the first place. (I'm not sure Calvinists believe in free will, but your friend at wittenbergdoor has made a sincere attempt to deal with it. I'm not convinced he's right, but he tried.)

Although Paul wrote some things that suggest a "pre-fall" and "post-fall" dichotomy, there is nothing in Genesis to support it, particularly not in the original Hebrew. I'm not an expert in Hebrew, but I have the sense to ask someone who is, and it has cleared up all kinds of misunderstandings in Greek, German, Latin, and English. I don't ask a Talmudic scholar to explain the Gospels to me, but trying to make sense of the Gospels without understanding Genesis in its original Jewish context produces ludicrous exegesis.

God has known at all times how his creation would turn out, and he has been calling it, particularly those of us made in his own image, to himself at all times. We didn't start there. The whole scenario of "the fall" suggests that something could have surprised God, that he didn't know it was going to happen.

7:36 PM, November 17, 2009  

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