Friday, November 24, 2006

The two faces of Touchstone


"Oh, I don’t suppose I can prove *anything*. You have Steve here who can explain that the hand your typing with isn’t really there, or at least not in such a way that we can prove it."

Yet another characteristic example of Touchstone's habitual dissembling. The Evangelutionist is a quick-change artist. He has two costumes.

When he's trying to oppose YEC in general or my position in particular, he pulls on his blue overhauls, dons a straw hat, breaks out his corncob pipe, and assumes the aw-shucks posture of the common man.

From his rockin' chair, there is no gap between appearance and reality. Don't go givin' me none of that hokum and bunkum about creation ex nihilo or metrical conventionalism.

In his man-on-the-street routine he spouts the same "common sense" philosophy as the geocentrist and flat-earther. The sky is blue, grass is green, and you can disprove idealism by kicking a rock.

But when he's trying to defend the scientific establishment generally or theistic evolution in particular, he pulls a Clark Kent on us. Rushing to the nearest phone booth, he emerges in a white lab jacket, with crazy hair, and a Teutonic accent.

In his Einstein impersonation, he lectures the backwoods YECs on the twin paradox and Schrödinger's schizophrenic cat.

He reminds the Bible-thumpin' lumpen that roses aren't *really* red, solid doors aren't *actually* solid, stars are far older than they look, and consciousness is a quaint old relic of folk psychology.


  1. Great attack on a fellow christian there Steve. This is because apparently, you answer questions like "explain this real old spear ancient used by your defenseless ancient man" with a four page pablum laden post that basically boils down to "what is time"?

    He calls you on it, and you spew hate.

    He chews up your arguments, and you spew ad hominems.

    Great show!

  2. Steve,

    It's true in one sense I suppose. I don't see scientific inquiry and Biblical exegesis as being the same process. I have different approaches to both. I'm nearly 40, and have spent many years treating the Bible like something I should approach as a scientist. I'm an engineer, so that instinct is quite natural for me.

    And in a way, the Biblical reductionist approach *was* scientific. It was scientific in that it served as an experiment, the results of which proved very useful. In my YEC/modernist days, I learned a *lot* about the Bible, to be sure. And no matter what, I consider that a gain, a successful output of my experiment.

    But over time, I realized that I was looking up close at the "trees", but had a very poor view of the "forest". That produced, in me, a Christian who was a faithful believer, but prone to overstating my knowledge. I often mistake a large mass of reductionist knowledge for a measure of holistic knowledge of God's word. As such, I didn't produce the kind of spiritual fruit that seemed to be demanded of Christians by Jesus and the apostles.

    I still don't produce the fruit I should, but I think I'm doing much better than I was, based on feedback from others around me. The inflection point for me was meeting Christians I saw that were transforming their own lives, and the lives around them. It wasn't just about being saved. It was something much more than that.

    I was drawn to people that were utterly convincing of the transformative power of Jesus Christ in their lives, in their hearts, in their minds. I had Paul/Timothy relationships with them, and worked extra hard on my GHM and analyzing the tiny grooves on all the bark in the forest I could not see.

    After a while, I got cut loose from each of my "Pauls". I was devastated, and while a believer, stuck in being pretty much the old me, and ineffective at helping transform the lives of others around me in a positive, God-centered direction. So, in a bit of a bitter drama, I had two men really "lay it to me". It was very much like the way I imagine a drill sargeant breaking down a new marine-to-be at boot camp.

    And I was broken. Forced to look at how I treated people around me, even though I professed to be a Christian, forced to look at how I treated my self. I tried to resist, clinging to my Bible, insisting that I was saved.

    That really got them ticked off. "Why don't you grow up and be a man. Read this thing like it's real. It's about more than just getting your behind into heaven."

    I'd heard things like that before, but never so forcefully and from men I admired for there demonstrated faith, their production of spiritual fruit, of their imperfect yet identifiable modeling of the love Christ modeled in scripture.

    It was a long, agonizing experience, but the important piece of Godly wisdom I got drilled into me was this:

    Try reading this like a love story for a change, rather than a science textbook or a law brief!"

    And that challenge made a very large difference for me, and is probably the point where I "split" into two faces, if that's how I'm to be described. I'd heard the "love story" idea before, and always responded with “Of course, the Bible’s all about God’s love!”. But that was my *exegesis*, not my heart, and for the Christian, these are often two very different things – the two faces I *used* to have, perhaps (or does that make three?). This time, I somehow managed to take the challenge at face value. I’m still working on living up to that challenge, but for me, that was an important change. I gave up the brittle modernist lenses I’d insisted on wearing, and worked on a new synthesis with the help of these men that I wanted to match for their uprightness, love, charity, kindness and faith. It wasn’t a perfect cloning process for them, as they both were (and are) of the OEC school, and I am properly placed in the TE school, if those are the available buckets.

    But even that kind of classification is an exercise in missing the point. I was saved (I believe) in my old strategy as a Christian, and so that didn’t change. But I came to understand the urgency, the immanence of the Gospel of Jesus to not only save me from eternity in hell, but to enlist me as an insurgent in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth. As my “Paul” says, I stopped obsessing on just getting me into Heaven, and living in earnest in such a ways as to bring as much of heaven to earth as I could, with the days remaining that God has given me.

    So I remain an engineer and a science fanatic. I believe science gives us a view of the witness of God’s creation, and as such is a form of worship. If we are serious about truly discovering and knowing things about God’s creation, we have a set of epistemic rules that have proven themselves useful and essential to that end. Science is a “way of knowing”, and important way, but just a limited way. Beyond science, I have my “other” face, a way of knowing that is much more “art” than science, and much more expansive and personal. I can’t prove God to anyone. I rely on faith, and what I believe is my own personal interaction with him.

    I *do* believe I can *demonstrate* Jesus, at least in part, and that proclamation and demonstration is what we are commanded toward – “proof” is not commanded, or even possible, as I understand it. So I have a very different “way of knowing” about God, and life’s deepest questions. It doesn’t conflict with my scientific knowledge, for all truth is truth, and truth cannot contradict truth, but science is *transcended* by my wider, holistic super-rational way of looking at life and understanding it.

    That’s my account for what I guess is seen as “two facedness”. If they are two faces, I hope to make them compatible, two views onto a single, harmonized, expansive view of the truth. I don’t endorse scoffing at science, or using philosophy as a “fencing weapon” to keep myself at bay from others, so as to avoid accountability for my actions and attitudes. I resist abusing the tools and methods that give us an ever-richer view in the wonders of God’s creation. But when it comes to reading the Bible, I increasingly eschew an approach that looks like science. I look to it as a passionate, complex, challenging, and sometimes obscure, sometimes starkly clear love story. A story of betrayal, sacrifice, redemption and salvation, a book that is useless as “proof-weapon”, and unstoppable as an agent of radical change and insurrection against the way of the lost world’s powers and processes.

    So, there you are, Steve. Two faces. I’ll simply commit to trying to keep them as congruent as I can.


  3. touchstone...I've lurked here a long time...and your voice has been a welcome change.

    The pride of Steve and some of the other T-bloggers leaves a poor impression of Christian behavior to the great unsaved multitude.

  4. What teardrop said...

  5. Ditto, Touchstone. The collective efforts of the Triablogue Contributors in regards to your arguments / observations have had a diminishing return on investment, at best. Triablogue is a general safehaven for the Christian worldview. It would be all the better if Triablogue could enlist the likes of yourself - from where I sit, you are not the enmeny.

  6. Steve,

    You big mean ole meany.

    Don't you know of our delicate atheist sensibilities?

    If you want to save us, you need to love us. Hug us into the kingdom.

    Don't you know that it doesn't matter if your arguments are good or not, what matters is how you make us feel. And you, for one, make me feel all sick inside. I never knew man could be so cruel.

    Dangit! I wish you hadn't evolved that way.

  7. Tuggin(i.e.Paul):

    "Don't you know of our delicate atheist sensibilities?"

    Apparently, YEC and Christ are so infused that you cannot have one without the other. Atheists all! Perhaps I have over-estimated the Triabloggers...a very small tent in a very deep, dark wood...

  8. Leave it to Paul to troll this thread and call a bunch of christians 'atheists' because they dare to question the tactics of his fellow triabloguers.

    Funny stuff. keep em coming! You can start by backpedeling right here in this thread.

  9. I didn't know who they were.

    Anyway, if the atheisst would stop trolling in all of our comboxes, and saying the same thing as the alleged Christians have, and even pretending to be Christians, maybe I wouldn't have jumped the gun.

    You see, when I pretend to be someone else, I'm funny. Even John Loftus said so. He said I was the man.

    You guys are not funny. Preditcable. Boring. Repetative.

    Furthermore, an atheist doesn't have to mean a disbeliever in all gods, it could be a disbeliever in the true God. So, they could be practical atheists.

    Hey, maybe they're me, pretedning to be OEC Christians? Ever thought of that? Why not, every other anonymous person is me, apparently.

    Or, why is "tuggin" me and cramdon" not me? How do you know. I've pretedned to be an atheist, maybe I'm pretedning to be anti-Steve? how would you know otherwise.

    So, go fly a kite.

  10. Its so sad that Paul Manata has gotten himself into this quandry...if only he had been an honest Christian, there would not be so much doubt around his words, and the words of the many "anonymous" posters that mysteriously post in his blogs.

    I'm guessing that Paul regrets his dishonesty, it is a true shame. Such a brilliant mind, gone to waste.

  11. I don't care if you think I post when I don't or not.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I'd never take back what I did.

    Actually, I'm very happy when I go to bed at night, knowing that you've lost the intellectual war and now all you can do it harp on my parody.

  12. Which parody, the parody of John Loftus, or your other long running parody?

    The parody of a loving, honest christian that considers other people, and tries to do the right thing, yet somehow always ends up showing his true colors. That is, an angry little boy that wants to beat up everyone that makes him look silly.

    You are a big bore, Paul. Those who know you, don't respect you. This has nothing to do with your beliefs, but more to do with your apparent anger, hate, and the trash you write.