What a blessing to be free of those man-made "chains", and to be free to fully appreciate and attempt to understand ALL that our amazing God has provided!
And what a relief it is to be able to stand apart from either of the two polarized factions that inevitably infest these threads!
Some part of the argument with some folks seems often to be rooted in the idea that proving evolution somehow dethrones or disproves God as creator. So you have folks arguing with great passion trying, on the one hand, to debunk a myth and on the other hand to defend the God of the Universe.
For me, that God is Creator is not even in question. So all we are really arguing about are the nut-and-bolt-”hows” of creation. I'm happy to let the science guys do what they do and dig up the data, and pose the questions, and investigate the apparent contradictions in their theories. Thats what they do and I'm glad to let them, while I look on in awe and wonder at what God has wrought.
What I observe is that, while there are eternal principles, the manifestation and unfolding of those principles takes on endless variety and the process of creation never stops and I believe never will. Each stage of creation merely sets the stage for the next one. When we talk about evolution, we aren't really discussing “whether” God created the universe but rather we are discussing tools in the toolkit. When you have seen God in action his existence is not in question and is not threatened by any discussion of mechanical or chemical processes.
Creation is central to God's essence I believe (and ours). Creation that is continuous is going to look a lot like evolution.
Indeed, dear brother in Christ! You demonstrate that reductionism affects not only the natural sciences, but can affect religion itself. It seems to be an acquired modern habit but one that needs to be resisted, if we are ever to make any sense of the World and our place in it as human beings, not to mention our relation with God.
I'm reading an interesting book right now, Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. [Our dear sister in Christ, Alamo-Girl, may be reading this work now, too.]
Anyhoot, it seems Nagel University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University is on an anti-reductionist tear. I gather that, as a philosopher, he is mainly hanging out on the phenomenological branch of philosophy, the branch that most closely emulates the "scientific method," in that it tries to incorporate a certain affinity with direct observation in its own methods. And he simply finds that such "reductions" of Nature such that we find in the NeoDarwinist conception of biological evolution are "almost certainly false."
The book description:
The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.In a footnote, he spells out the apparent inadequacy of NeoDarwinist that is to say reductionist orthodoxy to account for certain features of Nature that have been clearly observed::
Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.
Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.
In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility.
A problem with the most salient current research is that the synthesis of individual components of the genetic material is so heavily controlled and guided by the experimenters that it provides little evidence that the process could have occurred without intelligent guidance. And the crucial question of how these components could have combined into an information-rich coded sequence is left unaddressed.Indeed, within the reductionist realm, such questions are impossible to raise.
Nagel actually has some good words to say about the Intelligent Design theorists. While he, as a self-described atheist, absolutely rejects any idea of God = the Designer, he seems to be very glad that the ID types are around and active, if only to put a burr under the saddle of self-complacent orthodoxy of the reductonist NeoDarwinists. He clearly thinks that pack's days are numbered....
It's an interesting book, so far I am still "in progress." It's short (128 pages), but enormously "dense." A non-specialist can read it provided he is willing to "do work" from his side.
I have no way of predicting how this book turns out in the end. But I do have a quibble about how it started, in the beginning. That is, its foundational idea needs some explaining (JMHO FWIW).
Nagel's foundational, prime methodological idea seems to be that theism (or what AMD calls "creationism") and scientific materialism can be meaningfully, directly compared.
I'm simple-minded; so instantly I have to object: One can directly "compare" apples-to-apples, but not so apples-to-oranges.
But it seems to me the apposition of theism v. scientific, materialist naturalism is not, nor can be, an "apples-to-apples" comparison.
But as a philosopher pursuing dialectical methods, Nagel needs stuff "to compare," in order to come up with the requisite "ThesisAntithesis" format of dialectical reasoning.
But what "direct" comparison can possibly exist between a thesis that declares the Universe is "causally open" (that would be theism), and a thesis that holds the universe is "causally-closed" (i.e., scientific reductionism in principle, NeoDarwinist orthodoxy as example).
Anyhoot, it's a very interesting work by a guy who, although a self-declared atheist, strikes me as both fair-minded and honest....
Thank you so much, dear brother in Christ, for sharing your experience and wisdom!!!
Indeed, as betty boop discusses elsewhere on this thread, lots of people tend to reduce problems to whatever they can wrap their minds around.
Some see the physical world through the Newtonian paradigm and shudder when others point out that there are more effective mathematical models for living systems (Rosen, Shannon et al)
Some cannot envision God doing something more than they can comprehend and so tend to superimpose their own human properties and logic onto Him. You gave an example of Michelangelo's beautiful painting, the Creation of Adam. Though beautiful, it wrongly portrays God as an old grey-haired man on a cloud.
And some cannot seem to factor in that space and time are part of the creation, not a restriction on or property of the Creator of them. Or that He is not restricted by the "identity problem" or the "law of the excluded middle" and so on. They are also part of the creation.
Hoping to find some common ground, I have pointed out on crevo threads that when we consider inflationary theory and relativity, that 13 billion years from our present space/time coordinates is equal to 6 equivalent "days" from the inception space/time coordinates (Shroeder et al). In other words, that both statements are true.
But it doesn't seem to help nor is it all that important. Indeed, one of the most delightful reactions I recall reading on a crevo thread went something like this: I believe that Jesus Christ is God enfleshed, born of the virgin Mary, that He made wine out of water, healed the sick, made the blind see, walked on water, raised the dead, was crucified for my sins, arose on the third day, is sitting on the right hand of God the Father and will come again some day. And you think I should have a problem with Creation Week? LOLOL!