----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 12:20 AM
Subject: AN, Scientist, Christian, Like your site
AN>My name is AN ...
Thanks for your message and apologies for the delay in replying. As is my normal practice for my replies to private messages of general creation/evolution/design interest, I am copying this reply to my blog CreationEvolutionDesign (minus your personal details).
AN>I worked in ... University till I retired ....
You don't say what was your field, but I have found your name on the Internet and it was in the biological sciences (I don't want to be more specific to preserve your anonymity).
AN>I am a Christian who like you has spent much time thinking about the problems of harmonizing the accounts of creation found in the Bible and in Science.
As I have come to see it, the harmonisation need not be tight. Since both the Bible and nature are two books by the one Author, they must ultimately agree, but that agreement could be loose, given that the Bible's goal is to make us "wise for salvation" (2Tim 3:15) not wise in astronomy, geology, biology, anthropology, etc.
AN>I like you find the evidence for common ancestry is compelling especially the most recent findings from genome sequencing.
It was already compelling before that. I reluctantly accepted common ancestry in 1995, on the basis of the evidence presented by my evolutionist opponents in debates on the Calvin Reflector, and one argument I found hard to resist was the Vitamin C pseudogene. I recently found this quote by Colin Patterson which I have now added to my Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry page) that "in the law courts ... cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that the text (or whatever) is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original":
"Darwin could not possibly have predicted that the hereditary material (of which he knew nothing) would turn out to be littered with ... meaningless repeated sequences like the shared Alu sequences in apes and humans ... An interesting argument is that in the law courts (where proof `beyond reasonable doubt' is required), cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that the text (or whatever) is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original. Similarly, in tracing the texts of ancient authors, the best evidence that two versions are copies one from another or from the same original is when both contain the same errors. A charming example is an intrusive colon within a phrase in two fourteenth-century texts of Euripides: one colon turned out to be a scrap of straw embedded in the paper, proving that the other text was a later copy. Shared pseudogenes, or shared Alu sequences, may have the same significance - like shared misprints they can have come about only by shared descent." (Patterson C., "Evolution," , Cornell University Press: Ithaca NY, Second edition, 1999, p.117).
AN>I am very concerned that the truth God has revealed of his own role in creation has been largley lost sight of by our generation and that this has done nothing to curb the slide to moral chaos in our culture.
Agreed. Many (if not most) Christians have allowed themselves to be confined to an anti-realist corner by not accepting the evidence of God's book of nature (general revelation) as a complementary interpretative key to His book of Scripture (special revelation).
AN>I am equally concerned that the poor presentation of anti-evolutionists has even further damaged the cause of God.
It is hard to know if it actually has. There are stories of prominent atheists who were brought up as YECs and who abandoned Christianity when they found out YEC was wrong (e.g. E.O. Wilson). But surely they would have been aware there are other alternatives to YEC, such as Old-Earth Creation and even Theistic Evolution? So I expect that such stories are attempts at self-justification.
However, I accept that there probably are some (perhaps even many) non-Christians out there who have had an unnecessary obstacles put in their way to accepting Christ, by some Christians insisting that the Earth is ~10,000 old and that God separely created each basic `kind', when neither is taught in Scripture nor in any of the great creeds of Christendom.
AN>I pray your endeavours to bring responsible and thorough analysis to this problem will result in a shift towards true faith and good science.
Thank you for your encouragement, which is much appreciated.
It is my experience that most Christians who accept common ancestry embrace Theistic Evolution. But it is my view (which I used to express on the Calvin Reflector which had many of the USA's leading Theistic Evolutionists as members) that: 1) "evolution" historically was coined by the atheist Herbert Spencer, as the atheist/agnostic alternative to creation; 2) Christians have a perfectly good word in "creation" which predated "evolution" by millennia and includes God working by natural processes as well as supernaturally:
"Mediate and Immediate Creation. But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i. e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge C., "Systematic Theology," , James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, 1960, reprint, pp.556-557. My emphasis)
and; 3) a large segment (if not the majority) of Christians will never accept a position with "evolution" in its name, and it is their responsibility as Christian scientists to come up with a distinctively Christian position that over time all (or at least most) Christians could accept.
Since not long after my conversion to Christianity in 1967, my views on the Bible's relationship to science was decisively influenced by Bernard Ramm's "The Christian View of Science and Scripture" (1955) and in particular his cll for a distinctively "Christian philosophy of Nature":
"The big problems of science and biology must be argued in terms of a broad philosophy of science. The evangelical always fought the battle on too narrow a strip. He argued over the authenticity of this or that bone; this or that phenomenon in a plant or animal; this or that detail in geology. The empirical data is just there, and the scientists can run the evangelical to death in constantly turning up new material. The evangelicals by fighting on such a narrow strip simply could not compete with the scientists who were spending their lifetime routing out matters of fact. ... By a Christian philosophy of Nature we mean a broad, comprehensive method and system of the interpretation of Nature, receiving its orientation from Christian theology. It would correspond to a philosophy of science as adopted by a naturalist or a materialist. We prefer a larger concept than philosophy of biology or philosophy of science, and that is why we call it a philosophy of Nature. A Christian philosophy of Nature will involve three things: (i) It will involve the Biblical data about God and Nature or creation. .... (ii) It will involve elements from the philosophy of science. ... (iii) It will concern itself with the reliable data of the sciences. It will willingly face the data of the sciences as the data which must be worked into a Christian philosophy of science. It is not only a matter of facing facts, but it is absolutely necessary to be acquainted with facts to be able to form any sort of intelligent Christian philosophy of Nature. Fosdick cannot be gainsaid when he wrote: A religion that is afraid of the facts is doomed. [Fosdick H.E., "The Modern Use of the Bible," MacMillan: New York NY, 1924, p.178]" (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture,"  Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, pp.18, 69-70. Emphasis in original)
I therefore proposed on the Calvin Reflector the name "Mediate Creation" (or Progressive Mediate Creation), based on the Charles Hodge quote above, but it was ignored by both the theistic evolutionists and the creationists. However, I still see it as my calling to provide my fellow Christians with a paradigm or framework that enables them to integrate the truths of God's books of nature and Scripture. I intended that to be my first book, "Progressive Creation" but I later felt that I first needed to write a book on the "Problems of Evolution."
AN>I spent some time helping Professor DC Spanner prepare his latest work which is now on the internet. I value especially a comment made by Dr JI Packer about Spanner's work that it was "responsible integration."
Thanks for the link you sent separately to Professor Spanner's online book, "Creation & Evolution". I have his "Biblical Creation and the Theory of Evolution" (Paternoster, 1987) and this online book appears to be an update of it.
AN>I don't feel that I am sufficiently given to the intense effort of thorough study and attention to deatil that a book would require.
It certainly is that!
AN>My efforts are more in preaching and admitting that I believe science (that is the commonly accepted and well established facts held by all good working scientists) and the scriptures are both true. I then ask for some patience as those of us in the field of science pray for a better understaning of how to interpret the scriptures.
This is a good point. Understanding of how the Bible and science complement each other is an interdisciplinary problem. It requires a thorough and sound grasp of both fields, and in the nature of the case there are few who are qualified (and I don't just mean academically) to do it. Few Christian ministers know much about science and even fewer scientists know much about Christianity. Also, many scientists who are Christians tend to be heavily influenced by the naturalistic philosophy (often without even realising it) which is dominant in universities and especially science departments.
AN>I also talk to wildlife groups and secular groups where I can admit that I am a Christian even though someone who understands what has been discovered in the natural world. This seems to me one of the best ways to help people realise that Christianity and science are not incompatible as so often suggested.
You might consider writing a blog. An increasing number of people are turning to blogs as an independent source of information. This especially applies where there is suppression by a dominant philosophy of rival views (as is the case with scientific materialism/naturalism, and its creation story, Darwinism).
AN>I have to thank you for your diligence, and pray that the Lord will greatly help and bless your labours for him.
Thank you again.