The stuff that theologians believe!

Yes, it’s John Haught again: we haven’t seen him for a while, but I’ve been forced to read a chapter of his in yet another book on science and theology (there have been more than 10,000 books published since 1975 whose topic is “science and religion”).  In this chapter (reference below), Haught shows how biological evolution is a truly wonderful gift to theology because it advances our understanding of creation and redemption, eschatology, revelation, and grace.

I call this the “theological sausage grinder,” wherein the crafty neurons of theologians transform scientific necessities into theological virtues.  Here’s how Dr. Haught shows why evolution helps us understand revelation so much better. Get a load of this Sophisticated Theology™ (my emphasis on the most hilarious part):

Evolution also helps theology understand more fully what is implied in the idea of revelation.  Indeed, as Catholic theologian Karl Rahner has argued, reflection on the notion of revelation already anticipates an evolving cosmos.  Revelation is not fundamentally the communication of propositional information. Rather, revelation is at root the communication of God’s own being or selfhood to the world.  In simpler terms, the logical structure of revelation is that the infinite seeks to give itself away unreservedly to the finite world.  But the fullness of a divine infinity cannot be received instantaneously by a finite cosmos.  Such a reception could only take place incrementally or gradually.  A finite world could “adapt” to an infinite source of love only by a process of ongoing self-opening and self-transcendence, the external manifestation of which would appear to science as cosmic and biological evolution.  “Evolution” is the name we give to the empirically available aspects of the world’s self-transcendence as it exposes itself to the divine infinity. The inner substance of what we refer to as the “epic of evolution,” therefore, is the story of God’s self-communication to the world and the world’s response.

Remember, the guy gets paid to crank out stuff like this. How can any thinking human being engage in such shallow and devious rationalization? Is there any other theologian who would defend this? More important, why is this considered important stuff (Haught is, after all, an internationally recognized authority on the topic of science and religion)?

Or maybe Haught doesn’t really believe what he writes. It’s hard to think that an intelligent person could.

________

Quote is from pp. 86-87 in Haught, J. 2004. Neo-Darwinism in theological perspective. Pp. 77-90 in Miller, J. B. (ed). The Epic of Evolution: Science and Religion in Dialogue. Pearson/Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. (Remember that this is the proceedings of a Templeton-funded conference under the aegis of the American Association for the Advancement of Science).

93 Comments

  1. corio37
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s an incremental process. The theologian seizes upon one fuzzy word, and thinks ‘Well, I sort of know what that means’. That leads him — it’s nearly always ‘him’ — to another, which is just a bit more fuzzy, and another, and before he realises it he’s in the clouds, enjoying a psychedelic high on waves of ‘transcendence’ and ‘infinity’ and ‘self-opening’.

    Do you think they ever read it through after they come back to earth? I know I wouldn’t.

    • moochava
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      You’re onto something with the incremental process. The fullness of religious nonsense cannot be received instantaneously by a person who is still basically sane. Such a reception could only take place incrementally or gradually. A mind not destined for the loony bin could “adapt” to an infinite source of bullshit only by a process of ongoing self-delusion and self-stupefaction, the external manifestation of which would appear to outside observers as a grown-ass adult who can dress himself and everything rambling on and on like a mental invalid.

      • Curt Cameron
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        +1

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        +1

  2. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    After reading that paragraph I need to go shower. Twice.

  3. Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    He sounds like a 4 year old trying to explain why he is in the cookie jar when he knows he shouldn’t be. Just trying too hard to come up with a good answer but ultimately it just sounds silly.

  4. Frank Quinton
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Obscurantist bullshit

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      99.999999999% right. The interesting difference between what Haught wrote and actual obscurantist bullshit is that if a person actually believes as a fundamental fact that ‘God is real, transcendent, and the source of everything’ Haught is brilliant at explaining how ‘God works in mysterious ways’. Since that addled postulate is utter nonsense this renders his substantial intellectual labors innately ridiculous and nearly indistinguishable from obscurantist bullshit of the purest sort.

  5. Alice Wonder
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I think this is sad. There is no need to have science and religion interact like this, to me it shows a lack of faith.

    Pursue science for what it is, an orderly study of natural phenomena. It does not need to influence one’s religious beliefs.

    Well, obviously, some things like the age of the earth there are disagreements between science and certain religions, but I think it is wrong to try and interpret religious texts in light of science. They certainly weren’t written in light of science. Leave them separate.

    • AK
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Why is a lack of faith of this type not a good thing, Alice?

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Only if they are left separate and religion is placed where it belongs – bad fiction.

    • Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Alice, don’t you think a lack of faith is the best thing that would happen to anyone?
      Why would one live a life believing outright lies about the world just because they want to find a place for god where it is evident none is required?

    • Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      No, they certainly weren’t written in the light of science, but if ancient religious texts were truly divinely inspired, God could very easily have communicated things, and very clearly, just as science would reveal them.

      /@

      • Linda Grilli Calhoun
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        You are so right.

        As in, “fondled intestines through a gaping chest wound.”

        If only God had known that intestines are in the abdomen, BELOW the diaphragm. L

        • AK
          Posted December 10, 2012 at 3:05 am | Permalink

          It’s a miracle!!!

  6. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    John Haught:

    In simpler terms, the logical structure of revelation is that the infinite seeks to give itself away unreservedly to the finite world. But the fullness of a divine infinity cannot be received instantaneously by a finite cosmos. Such a reception could only take place incrementally or gradually. A finite world could “adapt” to an infinite source of love only by a process of ongoing self-opening and self-transcendence…

    This could be the best Republican argument for trickle-down economics that I’ve ever heard.

    • Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      That sounds more like a theological salami slicer rather than sausage grinder!

      Man can’t eat the whole of God’s salami in one go!

      /@

      • ah58
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s more bologna than salami, myself.

    • Tulse
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s kinda odd that an omnipotent being couldn’t figure out how to “give itself away” instantaneously.

      • Pete Moulton
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        To say nothing of the hundreds of millions of years of evolution that preceded the first recognizable humans.

  7. Andrew
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    “We should not regard as great the questions that have been invented solely for the sake of eliciting puzzlement.” ~Peter Atkins
    Nor, I think the (ir)rationalizations of trying to fit new evidence to old paradigms.

    Back in my hippie days I used to sell crystal suppositories to alleviate such cosmic constipation.

  8. Logicophilosophicus
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Who was God revealing his being or communicating himself to for the first 13 bilion years? This is embarrassing from a member of one’s own species. What a waste of a good brain. I appreciate the shower idea, but I suggest a bottle of honest vin ordinaire instead. Or as well.

  9. Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I find it very comforting to learn that evolution – a process in which, over the course of billions of years, trillions of animals were torn apart and eaten alive while they were screaming in agony – is a necessary consequence of [God's] “infinite source of love “.

    • Posted December 10, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Haught tries to paper over that fact by describing evolution as “dramatic”, and readers are not supposed to think too much about what sorts of horrors lie hidden beneath the word. In fact, it almost sounds wonderful: ooooh, dramatic; how exciting! Of course god would do things dramatically! He’s no boring stick in the mud, that god.

  10. Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh, bollocks. Evolution from Darwin to the modern synthesis has precisely zero to do with “self-opening and self-transcendence”.

    Hey, Haught! Poop!!

    /@

  11. jose
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m really getting tired of religious people using quotation marks and italics to use words that don’t mean what they want them to mean.

    This is nonsense:
    Revelation as the transcendence of selfhood adapts to finite truth in a personal form.

    But this is theological sophistication:
    Revelation as the transcendence of selfhood “adapts” to finite truth in a Personal “form”.

    • Brygida Berse
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      But this is theological sophistication:
      Revelation as the transcendence of selfhood “adapts” to finite truth in a Personal “form”.

      I’m sorry, Jose, but you’re not making any sense. Have you even read any of Dr. Haught’s brilliant papers?

      Any educated person will tell you that revelation is not the transcendence of selfhood and it does not “adapt” to finite truth. 

      Revelation is a dimension of the divine infinity transcending itself as it opens the “evolving cosmos” to finite truth and everlasting love.

      I can’t believe that I have to explain such fundamental things.

      • jose
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Wisdom inhabits your words.

  12. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks God for polio and anthrax. Thanks for tsunamis and earthquakes. Thanks for killing everybody except for those in a floating zoo. I understand you much better now.

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    “the guy gets paid to crank out stuff like this.”

    We all should get paid to read it.

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and Jerry most of all. After all, he’s willingly risked cranial neurons in the interest of bringing Sophisticated Theology™ to us.

  14. MadScientist
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s hilarious how theologians are obsessed with “infinity”. In mathematics the word is simply used to describe an expression which increases (or decreases if you wish to see it that way) without bounds. You cannot perform any meaningful operations on infinity – it’s a dead end. Basically infinity means “this expression makes no sense under these conditions”. Yet in theology so much seems to depend on the infinite meaning something valid and it is used as a lame excuse for everything, for example: “You scientists don’t really know everything because infinity therefore god!”

    • Marella
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking something similar. Surely the infinite can’t reveal itself bit by bit, because any fraction of infinity is still infinite (I think I’m right, I’m not a mathematician). So any part of an infinite god is infinite in its own right making it just as difficult to apprehend as the whole. The whole thing makes no sense from beginning to end.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        To add hurt to harm, the universe is infinite.

        (But it has local constraints that makes it more like a crystal – the finite observable universe configuration must eventually repeat over an infinite universe – which doesn’t retract from Haught’s silliness.)

        Haught is talking about _another_ “universe”.

      • Darth Dog
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. No matter how much of the infinite has been revealed, since that amount is finite, there is still an infinite amount to go. No progress.

        As noted in other comments, Haught is just using infinity as a mystery buzzword. I don’t think he understands the concept very well.

      • MadScientist
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 12:46 am | Permalink

        In the strict sense, a “fraction of infinity” has no meaning – as I said, you can’t perform meaningful operations on infinity. The three uses in mathematics which I can think of off the top of my head (there may be more that just don’t come to mind at the moment) are (a) to indicate that an expression has no meaningful interpretation, such as in the case of any number divided by 0, and (b) to indicate the evaluation of an analytic function at any arbitrarily large value for a parameter (for example in the expression integral of 1/x from 1 to infinity), and (c) to indicate that a number cannot be exactly represented on paper using a single number in decimal notation – for example, 1/3 can never be written as an exact decimal number and the exact values of irrational numbers such as pi can never be written down.

        In the case of pi, you have an example where the infinite can indeed be revealed bit by bit and you can see that no matter how much of pi is revealed, there will always be more. So you have a finite portion of pi – is that a fraction of the totality of pi? No, because 1/infinity has no meaning as such – instead, scientists and mathematicians tend to talk about the maximum tolerable error in the estimate of pi which is required to perform a given task.

        However, Haught’s statement about some infinite god revealing itself little by little through the magic of religion is pure nonsense; he cannot present a cogent argument for why that must be so and how he knows it is so, and how that magic knowledge is not in conflict about what we do know of the universe.

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Even if it’s infinitely large, you don’t have to eat the whole egg to know it’s rotten.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        As the curate said to the bishop.

    • Ivo
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      The “infinity” of theologists is to the infinity of mathematicians what the “energy” of New Age quantum healers is to the physical notion of energy. It’s just a buzzword, really, with colorful connotations and an aura of traditional respectability.

      (Besides, modern mathematics understands different notions of infinity. E.g., if you’re thinking about size, there is an infinite hierarchy of ever increasing infinite quantities, studied by set theorists. If you study real functions of one variable, you want to study their asymptotic behavior “at infinity”. More generally, if you’re thinking of points at infinity lying at the end of some unlimited space or geometry, then you might want to study various notions of compactification or completion. If instead you’re a computer scientist, you will compare the complexity of various algorithmic problems, i.e., you would prefer to engage in what is a *qualitative* study of infinite computable sets of strings of symbols… Well, you get the idea.)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        I get the idea all right; hell, I’ve been there:

        You’re 22nd in line at the grocery store. All the carts in front of you are full, and none of the items has a price tag. The girl at the register doesn’t speak English. Everybody wants to pay by check, but nobody has ID. The PA system is broken, and the stock-boy who does “price check” called in sick.

        Now knock 15 minutes off of that, and you’ve got “infinity.” ∞

        • truthspeaker
          Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          Emo Phillips seems to come up in a lot of theological discussions.

    • Richard Wein
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      But there’s a symbol for infinity. So it must be a number. And numbers are things. So infinity is a thing. And it obviously isn’t a natural thing. So it must be a supernatural thing.

  15. Veroxitatis
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I know this is taken from a book rather than from a theological journal but assuming that there are theological journals does anyone know what the peer review process consists of? Apart from peers questioning whether an article is sufficiently opaque, I can’t really guess.

    • MadScientist
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      It would be exactly like the referee process for articles submitted to a journal of postmodern cultural studies – let’s call this hypothetical journal “Social Text”. I live in hope that someone will pull a Sokal on a theological journal.

  16. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    …and readers of WEIT looked from Deepak to John, and from Haught to Chopra, and from Deepak to John again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      That is a beautiful response! Indeed, a dressed up theologian (Haught) is indistinguishable from a street magician (Chopra).

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I had similar thoughts. When Haught discovers quantum evolution, Sophisticated Theology will really take off.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      But at least we can still tell pigs from men.

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    ‘A static universe also helps theology understand more fully what is implied in the idea of revelation. Indeed, as Catholic theologian Karl Rahner has argued, reflection on the notion of revelation already anticipates a static cosmos. Revelation is not fundamentally the communication of propositional information. Rather, revelation is at root the communication of God’s own being or selfhood to the world. In simpler terms, the logical structure of revelation is that the infinite seeks to give itself away unreservedly to the infinite world. But the fullness of a divine infinity cannot be received gradually by an infinite cosmos. Such a reception could only take place momentaneous or instantaneously. An infinite world could “adapt” to an infinite source of love only by a process of static self-stillness and self-transcendence, the external manifestation of which would appear to science as cosmic and biological Aristotelianism. “Static universe” is the name we give to the empirically available aspects of the world’s self-transcendence as it exposes itself to the divine infinity. The inner substance of what we refer to as the “epic of Plato,” therefore, is the story of God’s self-communication to the world and the world’s response.’

    I’m sorry for the childishness, but my immediate response to these childish ideas were:

    SCAT™ – Sophisticated Catholic Accommodationist Theology.

  18. Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    If I could sum up Sophisticated Theology, it would be the premise that no matter what happens, it is proof of god. There’s no way to disprove ST, which ironically means that it is one of the most false things a person can come up with. It’s up there with other ridiculous beliefs like thinking the world was created last Thursday.

    • Brygida Berse
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      If I could sum up Sophisticated Theology, it would be the premise that no matter what happens, it is proof of god.

      Exactly. Evolution could be happening or not, the Universe could be expanding or shrinking, the speed of light could be finite or infinite – it all leads to the same conclusion. The task of a theologian is to find a bunch of nice words linking any of the above circumstances to the conclusion.

    • MadScientist
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t worry about disproving Sophisticated Theology – there is nothing to disprove because the Sophisticated Theologians have never ever demonstrated that they actually know anything.

  19. Veroxitatis
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh that every theologian would take to heart the wise words of Wittgenstein “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” (Tractatus prop. 7)

  20. Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I believe that comment #18 and many of the Likes that show up here and elsewhere are indicative of a disease spreading through the WordPress world. It appears as though imamforchange and many other WP bloggers are trolling by widely spreading the Likes and Follows in an attempt to collect reciprocal Follows. A couple of minutes spent at aimforchange’s blog makes it quite apparent that he has no interest in what goes on here at WEIT.

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. A couple of minutes wasted.

      (And of course you meant comment #19.)

  21. wildhog
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Maybe now we know why its taking believers so long to realize that the bible is BS. The fullness of that infinite BS cannot be received instantaneously by their finite brains. For them, such a reception can only take place incrementally or gradually.

  22. Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Numbers changed while I was typing – comment is # 19

  23. m janello
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    So when God’s infinity has finally penetrated (I get a weird sexual vibe from the original statement, actually) the Universe fully, what will the Universe look like?

    Last I heard that would be the “Heat Death” of the Universe when everything was completely uniform and lifeless. So that’s God?

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Or maybe the Cold Death. Same old, same old.

  24. zepiphany
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Exceptionally poor writing that would better serve an english composition class as a wonderful example of obfuscation. It is stunning to see an educated person, attempt to mask their inexpert, unfinished position, by trying to fool the reader with polysyllabic gobbledygook.

    • MadScientist
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

      I always find such writing amusing in a sadistic fashion. If I were an editor, almost every word would be struck by the blue pen. If only theologians would hire me as an editor I could save an awful lot of trees and make significant cuts to their printing costs.

  25. corio37
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Haught also appears to be denying the omnipotence of God, whom if he wanted the ‘fullness of his divine infinity’ — whatever that means — to be received by a ‘finite cosmos’ — whatever that means — could presumably take the necessary steps to make it so. The man is clearly a dangerous heretic!

    What a pity the Spanish Inquisition is no longer taking calls.

  26. corio37
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    ‘received instantaneously’, that is. Must get the theology right!

  27. Sidd
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    FYI comment #19 is one of those blog spam messages that has evolved a flattery adaptation to increase its survival rate. Its descendants are replicated imperfectly in order to sneak past software immune systems which often cannot adapt fast enough to match the replication rate.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted December 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s gone; thanks for the heads-up.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Coming to this late; the problem is that when you remove a comment you remove the number and then everything else gets renumbered. This leaves me confused (sadly not an unusual state of affairs). Am I correct in assuming that the comment by Veroxitatis is not the problem here?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

          I figured that out too, after some puzzlement. It also, of course, leaves us baffled as to what some of the commenters were referring to.

          It might be better to leave the offending comment in place and just ban the commenter, or something of the sort.

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted December 11, 2012 at 4:27 am | Permalink

            Exactly. I think we are all strong enough to view the censored comment. If censorship is deemed necessary, then perhaps a strike through to make the point, plus a request to the rest of us not to get involved in a flame war with the poster, to avoid derailing the thread.

  28. jiten
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Why o why do theologians go to such lengths to justify their beliefs? Why don’t they just BELIEVE in god and have FAITH that He exists, just like “normal” believers? They use the tools of science, reason and evidence, to prove the existence of God and yet reason and evidence points in the other direction. And they don’t notice! After 10,000 books of this and they keep on going. I bet one theologian doesn’t understand what another says.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      I suspect they almost all understand each other: they work in universities and think tanks, they work to get paid, and their jobs are to provide “intellectual” cover to what is a deeply anti-intellectual attitude. Between themselves, there must be a mutual understanding that what they do is bullshit – what a depressing job.

  29. Posted December 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    “there have been more than 10,000 books published since 1975 whose topic is ‘science and religion’”

    Why do I suspect that no matter how many of those books you read the really convincing arguments will persist in the unread remainder? :)

  30. m janello
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it interesting that it is only when the truth of evolution becomes irrefutably obvious that a theologian comes up with the idea that the finite universe needs time to absorb the infinity of God?

    I mean, why wasn’t this revealed in Scripture thousands of years ago?

    Or mainstream Christian thought 200 years ago?

    Why does it have to be realized now?

    • MadScientist
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

      Well, the infinite god only revealed it now – it was impossible for the omnipotent god to reveal it any sooner.

  31. Diane G.
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    sub

  32. John Heininger
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    We may disagree on most things, including evolution, but one thing you are absolutely right about. You cannot inject God or theological redemption into an evolutionary process that is specifically structured to make God unnecessary and irrelevant. John Haught needs to vacate his theological evolutionary mist and get back into the real world, and real science.

  33. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    This is from a Xtian theologian? I only ask because this is *exactly* the sort of woo I’d expect from some incense-burning aura-sniffing New Age hippie. Maybe it’s a case of convergent (memetic) evolution – as beliefs get more and more adrift from reality they converge on the same point…

  34. Michael Fugate
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting that Francisco Ayala has called creationism bad theology because it means that their god is a pretty bad scratch designer – even before the fall – the obvious problems with taking a quadruped model and converting it to a biped are pretty glaring. An omniscient being could have done better.

    The problem is that intelligent design and theistic evolution are even worse theologically. Can you imagine that a supposedly good god is mucking with the genome all of the time directing evolution this way and that, but not fixing genetic diseases that cause people to endure short, painful lives?

  35. Posted December 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    What that guy writes does not impress me, neither.

    But, in all fairness, a lot of people are also dumbfounded that any thinking person believes in the mechanisms of neo-Darwinism.

    Sorry.

    • lkr
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      essentially the same people who’ve never bothered themselves to study the natural world?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:46 am | Permalink

      no, you see, James thinks everything is coincidence.

      synchronicity, baby!

      If Jung was still alive I don’t know if he’d laugh or sue.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Yeah, other than all the supporting evidence, what rational basis could anyone have for accepting neo-Darwinism?

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      A lot of people are dumbfounded by the idea that we’ve put a man on the moon. They have active conspiracy theory networks dedicated to proving the Apollo program was a hoax.

      Often when people are dumbfounded, they are either dumb, or they haven’t bothered to learn anything.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      The same people should be dumbfounded that a human sperm and ovum could grow into a human baby.

      But if they accept that human babies developing from DNA is possible, then they understand to some degree the power of DNA to produce life forms. Once you have some comfort with this idea the remaining major ideas of neo-Darwinism shouldn’t be so hard to grasp: the gradual modification of DNA and natural selection. Granted the details are incredibly complex, but the major elements needed to convince a person of average intelligence that genetic based evolution of species is possible is just not that hard for anyone who sincerely seeks to learn it.

      That last sentence is probably the crux of the matter for the majority of the dumbfounded: they simply don’t want to open their eyes and see what is there before them. Maybe they should be called the dumb-unfounded rather than the dumbfounded.

  36. kelskye
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    When I read comments like that, I wonder if part of the opposition to scientific thinking is that science’s precise and limited nature seems fundamentally at odds with the supposed grandeur and enigmatic ideal of God. I come across definitions like this quite often, and it seems that the people making it see nothing wrong with such vague descriptions. Indeed, they’ll defend it as being clear and precise. I must confess I have no idea what they’re talking about, and I’m pretty sure they don’t either as they cannot rephrase in more explicable language.

    It’s one of those reminders that thinking analytically / empirically is a very different way of thinking to how most people approach topics. And I can, to an extent, understand the reluctance of people to engage with “science” when it seems utterly inadequate for the task of what they’re trying to get to. And, at least in my experience, that’s where the charges of scientism come from – it’s that limiting oneself through reason and evidence so as not to be speculative when by conceptual necessity that’s what’s needed for that we consider “supernatural”.

    Then again, it could just be that this is the product of minds when they are unconstrained by needing to be precise and accurate. I would wonder how much sophistry like Haught’s would disappear if there were actual ways to measure its truth. In the absence of that, anything seemingly profound is indistinguishable from bullshit.

  37. Posted December 10, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Well, if the Bible is to be believed (which it isn’t), Yahweh/Jesus was not above revealing himself full-bore to the ancients with astounding miracles. What, are we less sophisticated and unable to handle it these days, despite our handling of Hollywood and video game special effects with no apparent problem?

  38. taccado
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I think is hilarious that he uses the clause “in simpler terms” in a text like this.

    First he writes some gibberish, then he says he is about to explain it more simply, after which he concludes the text with even more gibberish.

  39. Sunny
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Haught or Naught?

    Naught

  40. DV
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    God’s self-communication? Hahaha. Is Haught now a pantheist? Or he’s just using that term as all sound and fury signifying nothing?

  41. Jeff Johnson
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    But the fullness of a divine infinity cannot be received instantaneously by a finite cosmos. Such a reception could only take place incrementally or gradually.

    Oh dear. It’s trickle down theology.

  42. sailor1031
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    This is going to be a bit like a cosmic ground hog day for doG as the branes collide (yet again) just before the fullness of the divine infinity is completely revealed to the finite (but by this time very large, very flat, very empty) cosmos


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25,710 other followers

%d bloggers like this: