Dougherty’s Friendly Words Strains Kindness

In the article above you will find about as nice an article that a Theistic Evolutionist can write about those who old to Young Earth theories. And yet for all the politeness and reasonableness that Michael Brendan Dougherty can muster one can still see in his article his presuppositional problems. Really, the article has its strengths and has some useful information but in the end its weaknesses does it in.

Dougherty writes,

My own view is that a literal one-week creation should be ruled out because, combined with the best knowledge we have of science, it would make God into a devil, a trickster. “Haha, mortals, I only buried these dinosaur bones and set the galaxies in explosive motion so the unbelievers would damn themselves to Hell,” doesn’t sound like a great or loving God. It seems to me that the very idea of good, eternal, law-giving God endowing man with rational abilities was the historical prerequisite for scientific exploration.

1.) Note how Dougherty here begins with “science,” as if science has some kind of pride of place over theology. It doesn’t. As authors like Kuhn, Poythress, C. Van Til, G. H. Clark, and even M. Polanyi have all taught us Science is theology dependent. In other words Science isn’t Science unless it is first theology. There is a great deal of leaning on “science” in Dougherty’s piece. I would suggest that everyone give Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolution” a drive or failing that, they might want to test drive Godron H. Clark’s “The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God,” or Vern Poythress’s “Science and Hermeneutics,” or Michael Polanyi’s “Personal Knowledge.” All of these works challenge Dougherty’s putative “best knowledge we have of science” It may likely be that the best knowledge we have of science is not very good since the Theology it descends from is rather faulty as well.

It will do us no good to talk about “evidence” and “science” if we don’t agree on what “evidence,” and “science” is. There is no use talking about fact as if our philosophy of fact is not involved as well. Thom Notaro’s “Van Til, And The Use of Evidence” would come in handy here.

The issue that sets us at odds here with Dougherty and people like him, is not the Science or the evidence but the prism (Weltanschauung) through which we read the science, the evidence, Genesis 1, and the rest of Scripture. The issue is how we know what we know (epistemology) before it is what we know. The best knowledge we have of science is tainted because that knowledge presuppose a Worldview grid that is just not so.

2.) Dougherty complains about God “the Trickster,” and faults him as not being loving all because God didn’t preform according to his expectations. Believers for centuries have had little problem looking at the evidence and seeing the handiwork of God. All because someone contends that things aren’t plain enough for them to figure it out, given their Evolutionary presuppositions doesn’t mean that it is hard to figure out for those who do not share in their faulty beginning points.

3.) Also on the same score, God is not beholden to fallen man to sew a “Made by God” tag on every aspect of creation, complete with a full explanation of each wonder in order to help chaps like Dougherty along. It is curious that Dougherty would fault God for not being clear when we know that in the recreation that happened in Christ, God in Christ, spoke in parables “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” The point is that God in Creation is not a Trickster. The point is that people who find God to be a Trickster are blind.

4.) Unbelievers don’t “damn themselves to hell. God damns unbelievers to hell.”

5.) Dougherty puts God in the dock and judges God by his standards. Dougherty fails to understand that after the Fall God does not owe man anything. God is not obliged to meet any of Dougherty’s “Historical prerequisites.”

6.) Dougherty speaks of man’s rational abilities as if these rational abilities were not affected by the fall so that God can be labeled a unfair “Trickster” by one of the “rational ones.”

Elsewhere Dougherty adds,

“Further, even though they’re wrong on the science, they are right about the things that really matter to the human heart and to human civilization.”

Throughout this article Dougherty is seeking to straddle the middle between the meaning that Creationism maintains and the “science” that evolution putatively demands. The problem is that Dougherty, and the swelling West with him, can not have it both ways. They can not cherish how creationists maintain “the things that really matter to the human heart and to human civilization,” while at the same time insisting that they are wrong on the science. If creationists are wrong in supporting a natural reading of Genesis 1-11, then the things that really matter is just a figment of an autonomous imagination desperately looking for a concrete point of reference.

Dougherty is trying to have the ethics of Biblical Christianity while peeling those ethics away from the Theology of Biblical Christianity. Such a move may work for a generation, but eventually given that ideas have consequences, changed theology means changed ethics.

Again Dougherty chips in with,

“So I do not think that Ken Ham–style creationists should get to rewrite biology textbooks according to their very peculiar reading of Scripture.”

1.) Reading the Bible as if God means what he says is hardly a very peculiar reading of Scripture. Indeed, it is the reading of Scripture that insists that Genesis 1-3 isn’t an account of how creation of this physical earth transpired that is the novel and very peculiar reading.

2.) If you want very peculiar biology text books go with the text books that have printed the peppered moth lie for generations. That’s where they glued moths on to trees in order to take photos to prove their peculiar theories. One could also go with the text books that have printed the multi generational lie known as the Recapitulation theory. This was brought to us by Ernest Haeckel and concerns his drawing of embryos in relation to comparison of species. These drawings are now understood as lies to support a peculiar theory.

For our purposes Dougherty finishes up with,

“In protecting that big truth of creation — that we are all made in God’s image and all endowed with supreme dignity — fundamentalists zealously guard things that follow logically from that.”

1.) I want to examine the word “fundamentalist” here. The word “fundamentalist” has become for the Christian world what the word “racist” is for the pagan world. It is a slur that has little or no meaning and is introduced with the purpose of ending the conversation due to the fear that being labeled with it invokes.

Really, what does “fundamentalist” mean, and why is it the case that only some Christians can be “fundamentalists?”

Why isn’t it possible for Theistic Evolutionists to be left wing fundamentalists? After all they are defending the fundamentals of their peculiar religion and are every bit as rabid as young earth creationists in insisting that all must bow to their agenda.

All to often it seems that the “Christian” leftists calling Christians “fundamentalists” is akin to a criminal yelling in a crowded place that the plain clothes cops chasing him are terrorists. What better way to divert attention from their crime by distracting people’s attention from the reality of the situation than by the criminals pointing fingers at the pursuing Cops and shouting that the Cops are criminal-terrorists? It confuses everyone and gives time to the criminals to get away with their crime. In the same way Theistic evolution is a crime against the plain meaning of the text and the cat-call of “fundamentalists” by the enemies of the plain meaning of the text is a good way to confuse matters and end conversations.

As an aside here, we quite agree that Genesis 1 may very well be describing God’s Cosmos Temple Sanctuary. However agreeing that that may be part of what is going on in Genesis 1 does not necessitate giving up on Genesis 1 as God’s explanation of how the material world was created.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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