Monday, April 12, 2010

Waltke at Knox Theological Seminary?

If Doug Wilson's accusation is true ("[Bruce Waltke] has now been hired on at Knox Theological Seminary") I have one question: What was KTS thinking?

- TurretinFan

UPDATE: Some confirmation of Mr. Wilson's report (link to confirmation)(Waltke's more cryptic comments) thanks to Steve Hays.

21 comments:

steve said...

Yes, it's odd that KTS would voluntarily embroil itself in a wholly avoidable controversy, especially when Coral Ridge went through such a rocky transition after Kennedy bowed out.

Craig French said...

What did he say that was particularly crazy? I figured you could teach at RTS and believe in theistic evolution.

Dean Dough said...

Dear Turretinfan,

Thanks for the update links. Nice to know that the principals were striving at some level to be gracious to one another.

As for the thinking at the board of KTS, I suppose you could ask the same question of the board at RTS. After all, Dr. Waltke's views on Genesis 1-3 and evolution are not news.

David said...

I think the real issue that Wilson was getting at is that it seems that Presbyterians have some really skewed priorities when they are trying to force men like Peter Leithart out of the PCA while simultaneously giving theistic evolution a free pass. Straining at gnats and swalloing camels maybe?

Turretinfan said...

We'll have to wait and see what KTS does in response to this revelation. I don't know that it's easy to compare the apples of a denial of Creation with the oranges of the Federal Vision's amalgamation of errors.

David said...

Funny. People always reference the Federal Vision errors but can never seem to articulate what they are, where they have been espoused, and why the church fathers are ok and federal vision proponents are different when they say the same things. In contrast, someone who unapologetically espouses theistic evolution, a relatively recent invention, is orthodox? Calling the issues apples and oranges doesn't negate the problem. Care to enlighten?

Turretinfan said...

David:

There is some merit to what you say. Many people are unable to articulate what they believe the errors of the Federal Vision to be. As such, it is just a fuzzy cloud of error, but they're not sure what that error is.

Even if you disagree with me about the Federal Vision, I think you'll agree that I'm not in that "fuzzy cloud" crowd. I've taken the time to carefully scrutinize the Federal Vision joint statement and provide a critique (link to critique).

If you see errors in my critique, I would appreciate your correction of them.

-TurretinFan

louis said...

I've seen Federal Vision errors articulated all over the place, so I don't know what you're talking about. Perhaps the fuzziness is in the FV response, which usually is to dissemble, redefine, and whine about how they're being persecuted. All to cloud the issues. I guess they've succeeded in pulling the wool over some people's eyes.

Turretinfan said...

"I've seen Federal Vision errors articulated all over the place"

Yes, me too - I've also often seen them not articulated. Perhaps I simply have circulated in less articulate circles.

John Lollard said...

Maybe they were thinking that God is sovereign in His work of creation, and sovereign in how He chooses to reveal to His people what His authority as Creator means?

Maybe they were thinking that were God to ever reveal to people in this earth exactly how He made the heavens and earth and everything, that we would be completely incapable of understanding or believing Him. I am content to know that God said "Let there be..." and there was.

I understand completely why a faithful and honest Christian would want to deny evolutionary science, but I have to agree with the sentiment that got Waltke in trouble. The evidence of God is indeed astounding the further we look at creation, particularly at life but also into the complex mathematics of the physical universe. And also the evidence of evolution as being the means of differentiation of life on earth is astounding.

Turretinfan said...

I would be surprised if they were officially taking a position against Creationism. My question more relates to what Steve already pointed out above, namely that they seem to be oddly jumping from one controversy into another.

Having studied the matter, I don't agree that there is any significant or substantial evidence to support macro-evolution. That said, I don't want to turn this particular comment box into a war on the topic of evolution.

I have an open challenge to all comers to debate the topic of creation based on Scripture alone. I'm quite confident in saying that theistic evolution has no reasonable exegetical case going for it.

-TurretinFan

John Lollard said...

"That said, I don't want to turn this particular comment box into a war on the topic of evolution."

Understandably so. It can get pretty heated. I didn't mean to try and hijack your blog as a forum :P

"I have an open challenge to all comers to debate the topic of creation based on Scripture alone."

I will cede the case that young earth creationism is the most evident interpretation of Scripture. Though you did not try to make this argument, I will also cede that a flat earth orbited by the sun is the most evident interpretation of Scripture.

Do you think the Scripture supports the idea that the character and nature of God has been revealed in His creation?

"I would be surprised if they were officially taking a position against Creationism"

I also highly doubt KTS is officially taking a stance against Creationism. I just got frustrated. I don't think that hiring a theology professor believing in science should constitute a scandal. But that is my opinion, and this is your blog.

Turretinfan said...

Do you think the Scripture supports the idea that the character and nature of God has been revealed in His creation?

Yes, in general terms.

"I don't think that hiring a theology professor believing in science should constitute a scandal."

1) I have a ... well ... let's call it a pet peeve ... about the idea of "believing in" science. I'm sure that you would be willing to rephrase your point without changing what you meant to something like "accepting current views that are prevalent among biologists."

2) Bear in mind that the question of evolution is, strictly speaking, a question of history not science (i.e. not a biological question).

3) Finally, and this is just for you to think about, do you apply the same view of accepting the prevailing views on biology to the Virgin Birth? I suppose you don't. You recognize that the Virgin Birth was a miraculous event and that consequently any scientific investigation is not going to yield the correct historical narrative. Given that you are willing to make that concession to the existence of a miracle in the case of the virgin birth, why would you be unwilling to accede to the repeated Scriptural claims that the world was miraculously created? This is just something for you to think about, not something for you to answer here (unless you really feel you must, in which case, I don't mean to force you to be silent on something you really want to answer).

John Lollard said...

"I have a ... well ... let's call it a pet peeve ... about the idea of "believing in" science."

I apologize. I realized that phrasing would be controversial when I wrote it, and I should have corrected it.

I am a physics student, preparing for graduate studies. I am sure you are aware of the current state of scientific academia in regards to our Creator. Maybe you are aware of the mocking of God and Christians that goes on in secular classrooms. What you may not be aware of is what students in my position have to deal with. I am in a position where I could be ridiculed or even fired for my profession of Christ, NOT because of the offense of Jesus' Name, but because belief in Him is closely associated with belief in a young earth created six thousand years ago. And NOT because the mention of our Creator is offensive, but because it is a position being promulgated and taught as a scientific one, yet without any scientific evidence. That is, I could lose my job for an association with doing my job dishonestly.

I have every person that I love, the faithful in Christ Jesus, particularly those who profess young earth or old earth creationism, and then I have every thing that I know, mathematically, physically, evidentially, about the universe telling me that the universe is billions of years old, that the sun came first, then the earth, then the moon, and then water, and then plants and animals. And when some professor then begins to ridicule and degrade my brothers and sisters for an uncritical denial of everything that we have discovered, I want so badly to defend them and I have to resignedly confess - if only inwardly - that I cannot. Not in any scientific or academic setting. I can never disprove the mountain of evidence, and even then, I could never amass evidence in favor of the position of strict literal Genesis 1. I don't know if you can understand how deeply painful that is to me, and the only answer I can seem to get from creationists is that it is clearly taught in Scripture and maybe "day" doesn't mean a literal day and maybe all of the fossils were put there to make it look like the earth is older than it is.

I will admit that the issue of evolution is largely one of history. Largely, not totally, but largely. Will you admit that all of the historical evidence that exists points to a billions-year-old universe and life that dispersed and diversified by evolution? Admitting to this is not tantamount to admitting evolution, as maybe all of the evidence has been falsified.

But likewise, all of the evidence that exists points to the Resurrection of Christ from the grave. And it is the common tactic of atheists and Muslims and Jews and others to claim all of the evidence is falsified. I know how much this tactic must annoy you when used of the Resurrection. I also know how bothered you are by inconsistency.

I absolutely believe that the universe and all life in it was miraculously created by the hand of YHWH Almighty, actively and directly, and by means of the eternal Logos, Jesus Christ, the One and Only. God has revealed to us a theological understanding of His work in Genesis, and He has revealed the means He chose through His created works.

I apologize for ranting. As you might see, this issue affects me directly, not remotely. I may have just needed to vent my frustrations. I understand that you will likely not agree with me ever due to your faithfulness to Scripture, and I respect that. It just bugs me.

But, soon enough it bother us no longer :)

Be blessed, brother

steve said...

John Lollard said...

"I have every thing that I know, mathematically, physically, evidentially, about the universe telling me that the universe is billions of years old, that the sun came first, then the earth, then the moon, and then water, and then plants and animals...Will you admit that all of the historical evidence that exists points to a billions-year-old universe and life that dispersed and diversified by evolution?"

Permit me to make a few brief comments:

1. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the earth is billions of years old. That generates a dilemma for the Darwinian. For in that case, fossils are separated from other fossils by vast stretches of time. And in that event it isn't possible to establish lineal succession.

Here's a discussion of the problem by a prominent Darwinian:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/g/gee-time.html

So if we accept geological timescales, then ask yourself if we can really construct evolutionary trees.

2. Have you asked yourself what a world which God created ex nihilo would look like? Here's an example of what I mean:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/omphalos.htm

3. Have you studied the debate between temporal metrical objectivism and temporal metrical conventionalism? For a good discussion, read Le Poidevin:

http://tinyurl.com/y75w53q

Then ask yourself how we can measure the actual time of natural objects or events.

4. If you haven't done so already, I'd suggest that you read this book:

God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe
~ John Byl

5. Ever since Plato, there's been a raging debate within the philosophy of science over realism/antirealism. A few years ago, Steven Hawking and Roger Penrose published a debate, with Penrose taking the realist side and Hawking taking the antirealist side (in The Nature of Space and Time). If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest you read it.

6. Apropos (5), many philosophers are science are fairly skeptical about the limitations of scientific knowledge. Yet when we get into the creation/evolution debate, it's as if all those misgivings are instantly forgotten. I'd suggest you peruse some reviews of the following book, by a man who's probably the leading philosopher of science in his generation, then ask yourself what scientific theories can actually teach us about the real world:

http://www.princeton.edu/~fraassen/Massimi%202009.pdf

http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=15665

http://www.princeton.edu/~fraassen/MullerSRreview.pdf

Turretinfan said...

John Lollard:

I think that the more one looks, the more evidence finds of evidence that tends to weaken the credibility of the prevailing theories.

Let me provide some examples:

1) Venus' Spin

Obviously, there are some attempts to explain Venus' spin in naturalistic terms, but the solution is a cataclysmic one-off event that somehow shifts Venus from one stable orbit to a second stable orbit (assuming there is mass transfer) while maintaining it in approximately the same plane but reversing the spin. To call such an event improbable is an enormous understatement.

2) The Moon

Earth's moon somehow came to be. However, the current prevailing hypothesis is ... a cataclysmic event in which something the size of Mars strikes Earth, moving Earth from one stable orbit to another stable orbit (large mass-transfer event) while breaking off a large amount of combined material to form the moon. It should go without saying that there is no evidence of the impact site of this large object.

Caveat: there will always be those attempting to explain these things (and everything) in terms of naturalism. Sometimes the explanations may be plausible ... other times they are implausible. I'm not suggesting that these two examples somehow "prove" Creationism - just that they suggest that naturalistic explanations are not as plausible as they are sometimes presented.

John Lollard said...

Steve, thanks for the links and suggested reading, and TF, thanks for the discussion of the moon and Venus.

I read all of the links that would open.

I don't mean to sound rude, but this sort of counter-argumentation is exactly the reason why I had to give up on a literal interpretation of Genesis.

Okay, one theory of the moon is that it formed from a cataclysmic event, and this theory seems crazy or without evidence. Therefore... that particular theory is likely not true, or therefore all life and the universe began 6,000 years ago in a miraculous week with an appearance of a beginning 6,000,000,000 years ago with life that developed gradually by evolution? You seem to eager to affirm the latter, yet I don't see why the former does not suffice. Other theories of the moon are that it was orbital dust left over from a previous supernova that collected into a single mass in accordance with the law of gravity.

Finding a single loose screw somewhere in some scientific theory does not disprove the entire corpus of scientific investigation of the universe false, and it especially does not somehow AFFIRM the understanding found in Genesis.

As was mentioned in the Omphalos article,

"For the biblical literalist, one who has honestly and thoroughly confronted the scientific data, I see [the position of unreal time] as the only intellectually coherent position possible."

I more or less agree. Sadly, I am not right now disposed to acknowledge the argument from unreal time as in any sense compelling or meaningful.

For fiat creation ex-nihilo, I suppose it could look a lot of ways. It might have happened in exactly the way described in Genesis. It might involve a Lion singing as in "The Magician's Nephew". One definite possibility for how creation ex-nihilo could possibly look is in exactly that way that the evidence suggests it happened.

I will acknowledge that, if I were to consider all of the historical evidence available to be in some sense "false", and if I were to grant that all of the evidence for the Genesis account that might have ever existed (whether or not you believe there is such evidence) might possibly have all vanished or been destroyed, then yes, I would have to agree that the Genesis account now might be possible.

I'd also have to agree that maybe the Resurrection didn't happen and maybe the true Injeel that Allah gave to 'Isa was destroyed and replaced by the false New Testament written by the false prophet Paul. Do you see the semblance in methodology?

I understand the desire to remain faithful to the written word of God in the Scriptures. I really do, and I'm not trying to force you our of that. At the very least, can you grant that someone like me could believe that God's act of creation occurred in precisely the manner that it *seems* it did and not be doing so for the sake of honesty?

I read what would open, and hopefully I will get to encounter the rest of the material eventually. And hopefully I was not too forcefully dismissive.

I truly appreciate both of your patience(s?) with me.

God bless you both.

Turretinfan said...

JL:

The argument isn't "naturalism is improbable, therefore Creationism." The argument for special creation is simple, "God says that's what happened."

Nevertheless, there are good reasons to reject naturalism. One of the reasons is that the examples I've provided are not isolated examples. Time and time again resort to special pleading of unrepeated, unobserved extraordinary events is used to address any evidence that could contradict the accepted theory.

That doesn't hold up in the applied sciences. People want regularity and predictability there. They don't want explanations that amount to "something marvelous happens" unless it can be demonstrated that something marvelous always happens under certain circumstances.

That's because while cosmogony uses scientific knowledge, it's not properly science. It's properly history.

More to the point, naturalistic cosmogony simply refuses to ever let the answer be anything but a naturalistic explanation, no matter how marvelous, improbable, or unrepeatable.

Is it any surprise then that naturalistic cosmogony does not align with special creation?

-TurretinFan

John Lollard said...

Let me first say that I highly respect your reasoning on why fiat creationism is true; God says that it is what happened. I don't take that kind of reverence for the revealed word lightly or contemptuously.

I think I understand what you are saying. I can assure you that I am very much a supernaturalist and that I do not demand naturalistic explanations of everything - even though I think that most truly supernatural occurrences will ultimately have traceable naturalistic sequences of causes and effects. Most. For instance Balaam's donkey may have made "normal" donkey braying noises that God caused to so resonate with the molecules of the air as to sound to a Hebrew speaker to be words of warning and rebuke. I don't think that makes it non-miraculous, it just gives an explanation for how God works sovereignly in His creation.

So let me try this. The moon may have been supernaturally made and set in its orbit by God, either by Him merely commanding the moon to be there and it appearing, or through a totally unlikely and astounding freak accident. Also, the universe is billions of years old and life on earth developed and dispersed in accordance with evolution. Venus may have been supernaturally moved in its orbit. And also the universe began several billions of years ago in a big bang and chaotic patterns in the cooling of the cosmic background radiation caused matter to be dispersed unevenly and so condense into pockets that shaped into spheres. And also life has existed on earth for hundreds of millions of years, during which old species have disappeared entirely and new forms of life have developed out of old forms of life over millions of years of reproduction. DNA and molecular machines used in cells at the molecular level are so astoundingly complex that they demand we acknowledge design, and also bird feathers are so chemically and genetically structured it demands that we acknowledge them as modified reptile scales. Moreover (and this one is my favorite) the astounding elegance of the mathematical structure of the universe demands we view it primarily as a thing of beauty, as though it were meant for us to marvel in it as much as to live in it, which almost demands not only a creator, but a Creator who is truly glorious. And also calcium deposits from mollusks left at the base of volcanoes in the Mediterranean suggest that life has been on the earth for hundreds of millions of years.

Does that make sense?

I really hope that I am not being arrogant. I have never heard someone argue for evolution and not reek of arrogance and contempt. I truly do respect your intelligence and education, otherwise I wouldn't follow your blog. I also do respect your faithfulness to exegesis of the Scriptures, to let them say precisely what they say, which in this case seems to be that the universe originated in a manner wholly unlike what all of the evidence suggests.

However, I also respect your insistence on consistency, particularly from your Roman Catholic and Islamic opponents. How are you going to consistently ask a Muslim to examine the evidence that exists for the Resurrection and not deny it for the sake of his presuppositions of the Quran when you are going to deny the evidence that actually exists in regards to origins it for the sake of a presupposition that Genesis is meant to convey a literal understanding of God's work in creation?

How are you going to ask a Roman Catholic to rely on the words of the early church fathers when they disagree with Rome as well as when they agree with Rome, and still be consistent with relying on the results of biochemistry and theoretical physics when they support your understanding of Genesis and yet deny them as illusory or fabricated when they go against your understanding of Genesis?

I apologize if I have been too forward or presumptuous in my arguments, and I thank you for allowing me to express my views on the issue.

May God bless you and all of your work.

Turretinfan said...

JL:

Thanks for your kind words. I rush past them quickly to get to your questions, but still I really do appreciate them.

You ask: "How are you going to consistently ask a Muslim to examine the evidence that exists for the Resurrection and not deny it for the sake of his presuppositions of the Quran when you are going to deny the evidence that actually exists in regards to origins it for the sake of a presupposition that Genesis is meant to convey a literal understanding of God's work in creation?"

Let me distinguish:

1) I'm open to the idea of reconsidering my interpretation of the text, based on Scripture. That's one reason for my standing challenge.

2) I accept the Scriptures on faith, particularly when it comes to creation (Hebrews 11:3). That faith is reasonable, but it is not established by rationalistic proof.

3) I don't think the evidence is very compelling in favor of evolution. It's not that I haven't considered it, I have considered it and found it wanting.

4) The entire system of naturalism only provides explanations for the universe that are naturalistic. That kind of conclusion is the foregone conclusion of the system. When the Bible claims a miracle took place, I'm not inclined to set that aside on the basis of a system of thought that excludes miracles from consideration.

You also ask: "How are you going to ask a Roman Catholic to rely on the words of the early church fathers when they disagree with Rome as well as when they agree with Rome, and still be consistent with relying on the results of biochemistry and theoretical physics when they support your understanding of Genesis and yet deny them as illusory or fabricated when they go against your understanding of Genesis?"

As noted above, I try to avoid or limit reliance on the results of the natural sciences when it comes to miracles. It's not the field of inquiry of the natural sciences.

-TurretinFan

steve said...

John Lollard said...

“Sadly, I am not right now disposed to acknowledge the argument from unreal time as in any sense compelling or meaningful.”

Well, to characterize prochronic time as unreal assumes that we know what real time is. But as a student of physics, you surely realize that this is a difficult question. Is the block view of time “real” time? Is the “passage” of time real?

Gödel, in his contribution to Einstein’s festschrift, argued for the “unreality” of time.

What is “real” time in quantum mechanics? Are those alternate timelines (alternate histories, alternative futures) equally real?

As you know, better than I, there is still no scientific consensus on the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics.

What is time? Is the A-theory correct, or the B-theory? Which version of the A-theory? Which version of the B-theory?

What about the controversy over temporal metrics? Isn’t that germane to dating?

What about our perception of time? Is that purely receptive, or is there a projective aspect to time perception?

My immediate point is not to endorse the theory of Gosse. Rather, I’m pointing out that even on scientific assumptions, time is very elusive.

“For fiat creation ex-nihilo, I suppose it could look a lot of ways. It might have happened in exactly the way described in Genesis. It might involve a Lion singing as in ‘The Magician's Nephew’. One definite possibility for how creation ex-nihilo could possibly look is in exactly that way that the evidence suggests it happened.”

But if, by your own admission, it could look a lot of ways, then in what sense does it look exactly the way the evidence suggests it happens?

Given creation ex nihilo, can you simply extrapolate from the present to the past along a linear continuum? Did God create a cyclical process *by* a cyclical process? Or did he create the cyclical process apart from a prior process?

Science uses natural periodic processes to calculate relative and absolute chronologies. Up to a point, I have no problem with that inference. But keep in mind that these natural processes were not designed to tell us the time. That’s just a human application.

And also keep in mind that there’s a circularity to this inference. Can you use one clock to tell if another clock is fast or slow?

During a power outage, all the clocks remain synchronized. They stop at the same time and come back on at the same time. Does that tell you what the time really is? No. You have to reset the clocks by another clock that didn’t lose its power.