Monday, September 11, 2006


I'm going to struggle to post over the next few months, I think. But Corkscrew asked which bits of what John Mackay said in the interview linked below I agreed with. Here's some thoughts, which say a bit more about where I am coming from in this regard.

For one thing, I agree with the points he made about much of modern science coming from people whose philosophical framework was theistic, rather than naturalistic. Also I agree that much of the noise in support of evolution is philosophically motivated rather than based on evidence. There is evidence for evolution - but there's also evidence that challenges evolution, and the evidence for evolution is not widely known, and what is widely known is not as substantial as the general population is led to believe.

I am happy for creationists to see what they can do to pull apart naturalistic theories. If the theories are sound, this will only strengthen them. If the theories aren't sound, then better ones will replace them. I'm surprised that mainstream science is so sniffy about this - it really does make them appear to be working from dogma rather than science. What I don't think that creationists can do is use the Bible as experimental/scientific evidence. If the Bible guides creationists when they look for evidence, fine. But it can't constitute evidence in itself.

One interesting example of how creationist examination of naturalistic science might have had an impact: I suspect that creationists were considering the possibility that fundamental physical constants might change over time before the concept appeared in mainstream scientific journals.

Also, personally, I am not convinced that Mackay's interpretation of Genesis is the only possible valid one for Christians, although I have many friends and relatives (who know less about science than Mackay) who are happy with this interpretation (and also many who aren't). I believe, like Mackay, that the Bible is "truth" - without being convinced that the pre-Noah accounts provide a historical account. (For example, I'm not convinced that Genesis 1 talks about 6x24 hour periods). And for the sake of examining naturalistic theories, I am happy to understand and use those theories on their own terms. I believe that, if darwinian evolution is wrong, it will be possible to demonstrate this "internally" - within its own frame of reference - without requiring an external authority.

I am more convinced about the simple historical accuracy of what follows Noah in the Bible - at least pending more research. Bill Cooper's book "After the Flood" - which is available online - makes a good case for how human history developed following the flood account in Genesis - and from a historical point of view, I think a much stronger case can be made for the use of the Bible as a source. I would like to see a response from a non-Christian historian to Cooper's book. Whereas the Bible was thought to be generally unreliable at the end of the 19th Century ("the assured results of modern criticism"), I understand that more careful research generally showed it to be as reliable as any other historical document.