Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Albert Mohler Takes on BioLogos

Over At Albert Mohler's blog, he has a post titled: “No Buzzing Little Fly — Why the Creation-Evolution Debate is So Important”. His is a response to Darrel Falk's end of the year BioLogos message, which can be found here. He quotes Falk as writing:

Dr. Mohler, giant as he is in fundamentalist/evangelical circles, represents a view that takes on the entire scientific enterprise. To this day, I have not been able to identify a single person who holds a science faculty position in any Biology, Geology or Physics Department at any secular research university in the world who would agree with Dr. Mohler’s view of creation. Not one, out of what I imagine are tens of thousands, including many who are strongly committed to living the Christian life in the context of fully orthodox Christian theology... Scientific knowledge is not deeply flawed and we cannot allow ourselves to be led down this pathway any longer.

To this, Mohler responds:

That is nothing less than a manifesto for scientism. Science, as a form of knowledge, is here granted a status that can only be described as infallible. The dangers of this proposal are only intensified when we recognize that “scientific knowledge” is not even a stable intellectual construct. Nevertheless, these words do reveal why BioLogos pushes its agenda with such intensity.
This is a very simplistic view of science and its goals and if Dr. Mohler thought long and hard about it, I believe he would agree. Airplanes work because of scientific knowledge. Cars work because of scientific knowledge. We know that there are eight planets in the solar system (and one plutoid) because of scientific knowledge. Science has been responsible for almost everything that we know of the natural universe. As They Might Be Giants would say: “Science is Real!”

To say that the scientific enterprise is infallible just because someone else says that it isn't a fundamentally flawed endeavor is nonsense. (Aside: when you quote someone, it is customary to include the link to the piece from which you are quoting. Dr. Mohler did not afford Dr. Falk this courtesy.)

Science is not truth. But it does give us a window into the mind of God through the study of his creation. The scientific enterprise is the best way that we have of understanding the universe around us in a physical sense. Such an endeavor does not amount to “scientism” and when Reverend Mohler suggests otherwise, it makes one wonder if he does not truly understand what science is about.

Mohler continues:
The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions. Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions. There is absolutely no reason that a Christian theologian should accept the uniformitarian assumptions of evolution. In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition. The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers.
The enterprise of evolution is based on scientific observation of God's creation. There are no naturalistic assumptions made about evolution that are not made about all of the rest of God's creation. Are naturalistic assumptions present in a weather forecast? Those are derived from scientific models. Part of the reason that they work is because of these self, same uniformitarian assumptions to which Reverend Mohler is so adamantly opposed.

The “different” understanding of natural phenomena that Reverend Mohler offers reflects a flat reading of scripture, without symbolic imagery, or grandeur. It offers, consequently, a non-existent, fantasy creation, a world that never was and exists only in the minds of young-earth creation supporters and theologians like Reverend Mohler. When this theological construct encounters the real world, it either crumbles or retreats into its shell by arguing that only spiritual truth is real truth. This simply isn't so. Spiritual truth is God's truth but so is physical truth. The evidence that our universe is very old will not go away and, unless the vast majority of science is completely and utterly mistaken, it will never reveal a world such as that envisioned by the young earth model.

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  1. Oddly enough, if we reject "uniformitarian assumptions," we can't rely on scripture either, because, who knows -- it might have been poofed into existence just a moment ago with the "appearance of age."


  2. It is amazing how such a simple assumption is at the root of just about all of our understanding of the world around us. I can sit in the living room and recognize the sound of my daughter Daphne opening up a candy bar because I have heard that sound before and the sound doesn't change. It is uniform.

  3. We know the Scriptures are reliable because of history - we received them from our spiritual fathers, who received them from theirs, etc.

    I think a lot of the problem is the definition of the word "science".

    If you mean "repeatability and observability" then there would be no problems.

    If you mean "assumptions of naturalism", then you run into problems.

  4. We know that the scriptures are reliable, but are they a scientific account of creation? Were they ever meant to be?

    You write "If you mean "repeatability and observability" then there would be no problems."

    You failed to mention "predictability," which involves reconstruction. This necessarily assumes that things that behave in a certain way today behaved the same way in the past.

    When I use the term "naturalism," I do not mean "philosophical naturalism," I mean "methdological naturalism." Reverend Mohler conflates the two.

  5. Did you mean to say Mr. Mohler and Dr. Falk? Seems you may have broken some of your own etiquette right there :P.

  6. I meant to say "Dr. Falk" and "Reverend Mohler." I believe I lapsed. When I wrote it, I had not tracked down the fact that Reverend Mohler is also Dr. Mohler. That was an oversight on my part and, for future readers, I have corrected the oversight. Thank you for keeping me honest.