Saturday, March 07, 2015

The challenge of evolution

i) The story of the Bible centers on the creation, fall, and redemption of man. As such, the theory of evolution (i.e. macroevolution, universal common descent) poses the greatest or most direct challenge to Christian theology.

Evolution challenges the first two planks–and by implication–the third. If man is not God's special creation, if original sin is a myth, then what did Christ redeem us from?

ii) However, it may be providential that not only is evolution the most challenging scientific theory, but the most challenged scientific theory. The theory that poses the greatest challenge to Christian theology is, in turn, the most scientifically challenged major theory.

Naturally, evolution has always been theologically controversial, but what's remarkable is that it's always been scientifically controversial. For instance, you have secular scientists who grant the fact of evolution, but are critical of the theoretical underpinnings. 

iii) There may also be a parallel between the hard problem of consciousness and biology. Some philosophers contend that as a matter of principle, mental experience has properties which can never be captured by a physical state. We could map the human brain all the way down to the quantum level, but the categorical divide would still remain. The problem of consciousness is insoluble given physicalism.

Of course, that's hotly contested, but it's contested by men with an absolute commitment to physicalism.

Likewise, there are intelligent-design theorists who contend that an unguided process cannot develop the organisms we find in nature.

Some go further and content that even a guided incremental process cannot bridge the gap. Nature can't assemble an organism one piece at a time. It has to start with something more than individual pieces. 

Like robotics. A robot can assemble another robot, but a robot can't assemble itself. At best, a partially assembled robot might be able to complete the process. 

My aim is not to argue the point, but simply note that if that's true, then the theory of evolution will never successfully shake off the fundamental challenges to its adequacy or feasibility. Even in principle, it can't get the job done.

A feminist on feminism

In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve? 
After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women's advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students' social lives. If a real crime is committed, it must be reported to the police. College officials and committees have neither the expertise nor the legal right to be conducting investigations into he said/she said campus dating fiascos. Too many of today's young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system "street-smart feminism":  there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

One of Richard Carrier's arguments for the nonexistence of the historical Jesus is that Jesus allegedly conforms to the fictional archetypal hero. Here are two critiques of Carrier's argument. Ironically, both critics are quite liberal:

Fallen angels

Since Bnonn replied to my latest post, the debate continues apace. He responded to a sympathetic commenter, which became a launchpad for his newest reply to me. The commenter said:

It’s my understanding that 1 Enoch repeatedly refers to “chains” and “darkness” as punishments for the Watchers; and that they are being kept in that condition awaiting the final judgment. So, I think there is connection in Jude1:6 to 1 Enoch.

The problem with that alleged "connection" is that chains and darkness are stock netherworld imagery in Biblical Judaism, extrabiblical Judaism, Greco-Roman literature, and ANE literature. 

 Onto Bnonn:

1 Enoch does refer to darkness, though not chains that I’m aware of. But even absent textual indicators, the allusion still seems obvious to me. It is puzzling that many Christians don’t see the link.

I've neglected cultivating the discernment to see something that isn't there. It takes a lot of practice.

Moreover, Steve’s alternative is unintentionally ironic. He says my reading has conditioned me to be blind to the obvious alternative. But bracketing whether this reads the text as its original audience would have, where does the Bible describe the fall of angels? Are Dante-inspired theological motifs so conditioning Steve’s thinking that he has forgotten there is nowhere that describes such a fall? In Second Temple Judaism, Genesis 6:1-4 was the only likely scriptural candidate.

This statement is peculiar on many counts:

i) There's the circular reasoning which denies that 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 can refer to the fall of angels because "there is nowhere that scripture that describes such a fall." That preemptively discounts the possibility that 2 Peter 2:4 & Jude 6 could bear witness to an angelic fall. What if this is precisely where that's explicitly referred to? How does the alleged absence of that motif elsewhere in Scripture preclude 2 Peter and Jude from describing the very event in question? 

ii) Indeed, Bnonn's objection is self-defeating. For we could just as well discount his appeal to Gen 6:1-4 by saying that can't describe an angelic fall inasmuch as there is nowhere in scripture which describes such a fall. 

iii) Look at the two verses:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (2 Pet 2:4). 
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 6).
How do these not describe the fall of angels? In a nutshell they depict the original position/status of angels, followed by the subsequent loss and dispossession of their original position/status. What is that if not the fall of angels? 
iv) Even odder is how Bnonn dichotomizes the Enochic interpretation which he champions from the angelic lapsarian interpretation. Even commentators like Gene Green who champion the Enochic interpretation think 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 describe the fall of angels. 
Although the angelic lapsarian interpretation doesn't require the Enochic interpretation, the Enochic interpretation does require an angelic lapsarian interpretation. It's as if he doesn't realize that his commitment to the Enochic interpretation commits him to an angelic lapsarian interpretation.
What does he think the Book of Watchers narrates? What does he think the Enochic watchers were? In his comparative linguistic analysis, George Nickelsburg documents the fact that the "watchers" were synonymous with "angels." "Excursus: The Watchers and the Holy Ones," 1 Enoch 1 (Fortress 2001),  140-141. Likewise:
The Enochic tradition proceeds to build a case against the angels who have rebelled and destroyed this regularity…The more extensive descriptions of this cosmic revolt are based on the belief that all cosmic phenomena are under the control of angels. This belief is evident within the Book of Watchers. D. Jackson, Enochic Judaism (T&T Clark 2004), 140. 
If Bnonn is going to filter 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 through 1 Enoch, then those passages refer to the fall of angels.
Mind you, they can refer to the fall of angels in their own right. They don't need an Enochic gloss to yield that sense. For that sense already lies on the face of these two NT passages. They can just as well refer to the fall of angels apart from 1 Enoch. 
v) Perhaps there's an unconscious reason why Bnonn resists taking 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 as an allusion to the fall of angels. In Biblical  theology, there's more than one fall: there's the fall of man and the fall of angels. Moreover, Christian theology requires a specific sequence: the angelic fall must precede the Adamic fall inasmuch as John and Paul identify Satan as the Tempter in Gen 3. 
By contrast, extrabiblical Judaism doesn't regard Gen 3 as narrating the fall of man. Likewise, extrabiblical Judaism doesn't identify Satan as the Tempter in Gen 3. Hence, extrabiblical Judaism was free to date the angelic fall to the eve of the Flood. 
That, however, would introduces an intolerable anachronism into Biblical theology. The angelic fall is too late on Enochic interpretation of Gen 6 to supply a fallen angelic Tempter for Gen 3. It skews the chronological origin of sin. 
vi) Finally, his reference to Dante appears to be misplaced. Is Dante noted for popularizing the angelic fall? I thought he was famous for his literary tour of heaven, hell, and purgatory. Perhaps this is a slip on Bnonn's part. Maybe he's confusing Dante with Milton vis-a-vis the angelic fall motif. 
Moreover, if Steve is taking a more traditionally evangelical, pared-down angelology where fallen angels are demons, how come demons are roaming free while being consigned to chains and gloom?

That generates an ersatz contradiction by imputing to me his own interpretation of the figurative imagery. 

To my knowledge, the purpose of incarceration in the ancient world is often not punitive, but to temporarily detain the accused until trial. Take Paul's house-arrest in Acts. He clearly retains considerable freedom of action.

In terms of what the figurative imagery signifies, I think that means, not that fallen angels can't "roam free," but that they have been prejudged. Summary judgment. They are still bound to face the Final Judgment. Their ultimate condemnation and punishment is a foregone conclusion. There's no escaping that

Now, I do agree with Steve that Second Temple Judaism is far removed from the original context of Genesis. I’ve already explicitly acknowledged the dangers of being too credulous about midrash, syncretistic embellishments etc. But we can only work with the evidence available. Not only is it evidentially unwarranted to treat the Enochian interpretation as a late Jewish innovation (even though it potentially could be)…

According to the available evidence, the Enochic interpretation only emerged in the 2C BC. So, yes, that's a late Jewish innovation. You can postulate that it extends further back in time, but that goes beyond the available evidence.

…but it simply fails to engage with how the readers of Peter and Jude would have understood them. 

Unfortunately, that repeats the same mistake he made before. The fact that many 1C Jews were familiar with Enochic speculations no more means that's how they would (or should) have construed 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6 than the fact that many 1C Jews were familiar with the War of the Titans means that's how they would (or should) have construed 2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 6. Many 1C Jews, especially Hellenistic and/or Diasapora Jews were acquainted with Greco-Roman mythology. But that doesn't become the default interpretive grid.  

Other People's Faith, More Precious Than Gold

Apologetics is an unpopular line of work. It's difficult on many levels. The modern church is largely intellectually apathetic, in some cases even anti-intellectual. The non-Christian world categorizes apologetics with activities like evangelism and missions. It's "proselytizing", "trying to force your beliefs on other people", etc. (The world has its own forms of apologetics, evangelism, and such on matters like environmentalism, racial issues, and sexual ethics. But they often aren't as critical of themselves as they are of Christians. They reserve terms like "proselytizing" for their enemies.)

In another post, I discussed what Acts 18:27 tells us about the significance of apologetics. Another passage I've found helpful in this context is 1 Peter 1:7. People place high value on money and possessions, yet Peter writes of how other people's faith is more valuable than gold. Apologetics can be instrumental in bringing people to faith or restoring or defending their faith. If the world opposes and hates you in your role as an apologist, and even if the church has little or no interest in your apologetic work or opposes it, what you're doing to lead people to faith and restore and defend people's faith is of major significance. On the day of judgment, I'd rather have years of faithful apologetic work to present than billions of dollars, palaces, and popularity. I'd rather have handled the intellectual aspects of faith responsibly than have to give an account for a lifetime of intellectual neglect. Our minds aren't vestigial organs, in life in general or specifically in the context of religious faith. We'll give an account for the intellectual dimensions of our lives and how we influenced other people in intellectual contexts. How will you do?

Friday, March 06, 2015

"Molinism and Libertarian Free Will (Again)"

"Molinism and Libertarian Free Will (Again)" by Prof. James Anderson.

More than Myth?

Unitarian obfuscation

Apostate Dale Tuggy attempted to critique Bnonn's argument (comment #'s 3, 5) on:

Naturally, Dale tries to formulate a dilemma using his standard tactics. Recasting the issue in terms favorable to his anti-Trinitarianism. 

However, for purposes of Bnonn's syllogism, it isn't necessary to get technical. Rather, it's sufficient to say that:

i) Muslims don't view Jesus as divine in the same sense that Scripture views Jesus as divine

ii) Muslims don't worship Jesus in the same way that Scripture commends worship of Jesus

Indeed, (i) & (ii) are understated. 

Of course, Tuggy rejects the Christian interpretation of Biblical Christology, but Tuggy's interpretation was never the standard of comparison for Bnonn's syllogism.

Reanimated corpses

This will probably be my final reply to Bnonn:

But as I pointed out, if there were blatant syncretism between Genesis 7–8 and Greek mythological tales (which for all I know there is), we would hardly take that as impugning the traditional interpretation of Genesis 7–8. It would simply illustrate that the Jews believed the competing accounts were describing a common event.
It would certainly impugn the traditional interpretation if that's been polluted by Hellenistic syncretism.  
The question is simply how the Jews understood their own text. 
That's equivocal. On traditional dating, Genesis was written 1000+ years before these belatedly "traditional" interpretations arose in the Hellenistic era. That doesn't bear witness to how the original audience construed the text. 
It's like saying, "The question simply is how do Anglo-American high school students understand Beowulf?" It really isn't "their own text." 
This is question-begging. As I’ve said, we need to ask how the original readers would have understood these passages. Given how widely-known the book of Enoch was, it seems these passages obviously are allusions to Genesis 6:1-4. When we try to put ourselves in the shoes of a first century Jew, given what we know, that certainly looks like how he’d read it. 
As I've documented, Titanomachy was widely-known to Jews. In addition to what I've already presented, 1 Enoch 88:1-3 seems to be indebted to the Titanomachia in Hesiod's Theogony. Does that mean we should should view 2 Pet 2:4 and Jude 6 as a literary allusion to the War of the Titans? Or assume that was their interpretive filter?  
Moreover, Enoch is clearly on Jude’s mind in vv 14-15, so it’s not much of a stretch to think vv 5-7 are dealing with similar material.
i) That may indeed be why many commentators are misled into presuming an allusion to Gen 6:1-4 via 1 Enoch. However, that's methodologically unsound, and actually implies the opposite. 
We think Jude is referring to 1 Enoch in 14-15 because we have specific textual clues to that effect. Their absence in v6 tells against that identification. 
ii) This also raises the question of authorial intent. Let's grant for the sake of argument that Jude intends an allusion to Gen 6:1-4 via 1 Enoch. If Peter borrowed from Jude, does that mean Peter intends whatever Jude intends? Does that mean Peter intends an allusion to Gen 6:1-4 via 1 Enoch? Or is Peter merely seconding the truth of Jude 6 without intending anything else with respect to Jude's underlying sources? 
iii) I'm also puzzled by Bnonn's reference to similar material in 5-7. We don't need 1 Enoch to mediate OT allusions in v5 or v7. 
There’s also the problem of what Jude and Peter are talking about if it’s not Genesis 6. It could be something else—but what? Why discount the plausible explanation we have, when there’s nothing to replace it with?
Here's a good example of how a popular interpretation can so condition a reader that he can't even discern a more evident alternative. The text is referring to the fall of angels. It's nearly explicit in that regard. 
The fact is we just have no idea what the son of a demoniac would be like.
Given the prevalence of witchcraft and possession in many parts of the world, past and present, there'd be many examples of children fathered by demoniacs. 
When I suggested they could have taken pre-existent human bodies, I was actually thinking of recently deceased corpses.
Notice how far we've strayed from the wording of Gen 6:1-4. Nothing in that passage says or suggests that the "sons of god[s]" had union with women through the instrumentality of preexisting bodies which they commandeered or reanimated. There are no intermediaries or third-parties in v2. It's a direct transaction between two parties. That's how it's presented. 

A creepy, dishonest hypocrite

Richard Carrier is in hot water with some of his fellow infidels:

The divine council

In this post I'm not going to comment directly on Michael Heiser's interpretation of the divine council. Instead, I will sketch my general approach to the "divine council" in Scripture.

i) I have no antecedent objection to the notion that Scripture sometimes uses mythopoetic language–especially in genres suited to poetic imagery and/or polemical zingers (e.g. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Job, Psalms, Revelation). 

ii) That said, as I've remarked on other occasions, one problem I have with many Bible scholars is their myopically textual focus. They act as though every text must be understood in light of another text. That the ideas or images in one text must derive from another text. 

Suppose, for discussion purposes, that the divine council in Scripture is adapted from a pagan pantheon. Even if we grant that contention for the sake of argument, it only pushes the sourcing back a step–for what's the ultimate source of that framework?

When Jews or pagans attempt to conceptualize or visualize the divine abode and its residents, what supplies the raw materials for that imagery? Is it always a matter of chasing down textual allusions and literary parallels? Offhand, I can think of several potential sources:

a) The human family

The pagan gods are modeled on human families. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, &c.

Scripture uses fatherhood and sonship as archetypal theological metaphors.

b) Royalty

Kings, queens, princes, princesses, mistresses, courtesans, courtiers, palaces, palace guards. Pagan mythology and the pagan pantheon make extensive use of these archetypical roles and images.

(a) & (b) also furnish the basis for palace intrigue and civil war, as younger "gods" strive to seize the throne. 

Scripture is, of course, far more selective. God is a king, his Son is the heir. Angels are analogous to palace guards, royal emissaries, and courtiers. 

c) Institutional religion

Priests, temples, temple guards, religious art and iconography, including hybrid creatures.

Not surprisingly, Scripture makes greater use of these conceptual resources. 

d) The military

Ancient nation-states require soldiers and fortified cities. 

In Scripture, this is used to depict the warrior-God with his angelic army–or should we say, air force? 

In Revelation, the New Jerusalem is like a fortified city. The saints are inside while the damned are outside. 

e) The natural world

Celestial temples or palaces. Sacred mountains with a divine palace on the summit. Storm-gods. Storm theophanies. Orbital bombardment. 

Both Jews and their pagan neighbors lived in a social and physical world which often supplies the metaphorical palette to depict an unseen realm. That's not something they had to get from a text. That was all around them.

Why should we first reach for an Ugaritic parallel to illuminate an OT passage rather than considering the common source for many of these images and metaphors? Much of the stock imagery comes, not from a text, but from their physical and social environment. They got that directly. 

iii) In the case of Scripture, this can operate at two different levels:

a) There's direct revelation, here the immediate source is from God. Even in that case, God made depict things in culturally recognizable garb.

b) Written revelation can become a storehouse of stock imagery for later Bible writers.

There is, moreover, a dialectical relationship between (a) & (b). On the one hand, written revelation is a source of stock imagery. On the other hand, God made reveal truths in stock imagery. So there's cross-pollination. 

What’s wrong with Rome’s Christ-Church Interconnection?

The Roman Catholic “Nature-Grace Interdependence” along with its “Christ-Church Interconnection”
The Roman Catholic “Nature-Grace Interdependence”
along with its “Christ-Church Interconnection”
In the last three blog posts, I’ve followed Gregg Allison’s comprehensive work on Roman Catholicism, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment”, which I’ve called “Eternal Rome, Eternal Mediator? (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

This “Christ-church interconnection” places Rome squarely in the ontological plan of Christ and Christ’s kingdom, in a way that it can never be moved (from a Roman perspective). It is an ontological reality that places Rome upon the very “edge of the Godhead”, so to speak (“grace completes nature) – and renders it as the sole channel of grace in the world, as Allison notes. Check out this link for one succinct example of how this plays out in real life:

The Catholic faith, however, contains a doctrine involving Christ’s founding of and indissoluble union with the Catholic Church as His Mystical Body, sustained in part but essentially through His unique relation to St. Peter and his episcopal successors in Rome in their role as the Vicar of Christ until Christ returns. The Catholic act of faith is in this way unique, because in making this act of faith, one does not merely assent to propositions concerning Christ as considered apart from the Church, or as considered apart from any visible body on earth.

One expresses faith in Christ-as-inseparably-united-to-the-Catholic-Church, and thus faith in His working in and through His Church, to guard her from error and guide her into all truth until He returns. Because of the essential role of St. Peter and his episcopal successors in the structure and identity of the Catholic Church, the act of Catholic faith includes faith in Christ regarding each successive pope, specifically faith that Christ will protect each pope in his exercise of the papal office from promulgating any false doctrine.

This “act of faith” as he describes it is a mere presupposition – and further, it is a presupposition that has been challenged by history, and found to be sorely wanting.

Here is how Allison “assesses” this doctrine:

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Problems With CNN's Turin Shroud Program

I recently watched CNN's Finding Jesus program on the Shroud of Turin, which originally aired March 1. It seems to have had a relatively high viewership. Though the program made some good points, it mostly addressed the subject in an introductory and sometimes misleading way. Dan Porter's blog has had some good coverage of the show, and you can read a review by Barrie Schwortz here. Schwortz's expertise in photography and the Shroud are relevant, since CNN's program gave so much attention to Nicholas Allen's hypothesis that the Shroud image was created through a form of medieval photography.

Is The Servant Of Isaiah 53 Israel Or A Remnant? So What?

It does matter, but not as much as people often suggest. Even if the Suffering Servant is Israel or a remnant within the nation, there would be overwhelming odds against Jesus' life aligning as closely with the passage as it does. Jesus' fulfillment could be typological, yet still be highly evidential.


This is a surrejoinder to Bnonn's rejoinder: 

To our knowledge, alternative readings are late innovations in the history of understanding the text. That lends prima facie weight to the traditional reading.
A problem with appealing to Second Temple literature is that, during the Intertestamental period, there's blatant syncretism between Gen 6:1-4 and Greek mythological cosmogony or theomachy. Some Jews assimilate Gen 1 6:1-4 with a war in heaven between the Titans and the Olympians:  
Not by youths was their champion struck down, nor did Titans bring him low, nor did tall giants attack him (Jdt 16:6, NABRE). 
For their hero did not fall at the young men's hands, it was not the sons of Titans struck him down, no proud giants made that attack (Jdt 16:6, NJB). 
And the allophyles came and converged on the valley of the Titans (2 Sam 5:18, cf. v22; LXX). 
Occupying the valley called that of the Titans (Josephus, Antiquities, 7:71).

And then afterward again
Oppressive, strong, another second race
375 Of earth-born men, the Titans. All excel
In figure, stature, growth; and there shall be
One language, as of old from the first race
God in their breasts implanted. But even these,
Having a haughty heart and rushing on
380 To ruin, shall at last resolve to fight
Against the starry heaven. And then the stream
Of the great ocean shall upon them pour
Its raging waters. But the mighty Lord
Of Sabaoth though enraged shall check his wrath,
385 Because he promised that again no flood
Should be brought upon men of evil soul (Sibylline Oracles, Bk. 1).

130 And then the generation tenth appeared
Of mortal men, from the time when the flood
Came upon earlier men. And Cronos reigned,
And Titan and Iapetus; and men called them
Best offspring of Gaia and of Uranus,
135 Giving to them names both of earth and heaven,
Since they were very first of mortal men.
So there were three divisions of the earth
According to the allotment of each man,
And each one having his own portion reigned
140 And fought not; for a father's oaths were there
And equal were their portions. But the time
Complete of old age on the father came,
And he died; and the sons infringing oaths
Stirred up against each other bitter strife,
145 Which one should have the royal rank and rule
Over all mortals; and against each other
Cronos and Titan fought (Sibylline Oracles, Bk 3).
Back to Bnonn:
If 2 Peter 2 and Jude are referring back to Genesis 6:1-4, as they appear to be…
There's nothing in the actual wording of 2 Pet 2 or Jude which either states or implies an allusion to Gen 6:1-4. 
We know next to nothing about the abilities of the sons of God, save that they are literally godlike.
They're "godlike" on Heiser's interpretation, but of course, that's not something I grant. For instance, in his commentary, Sailhamer thinks "sons of God" alludes to the immediate origin of Adam from God whereas "daughters of men" alludes to the mediate origin of Eve from Adam. One can debate that, but it has contextual merit. 
Under biblical anthropology, human beings are a composite of spirit and matter. Is there some reason—some definitive, scientific reason—that the sons of God could not form human bodies to inhabit, or take human bodies to inhabit, in much the way that demons inhabit people?
i) To begin with, the text doesn't say or imply that the "sons of god[s]) took possession of human males. 
ii) But let's  play along with that scenario for the sake of argument. Suppose a demoniac fathers a child. In fact, given the prevalence of possession at sundry times and places, it wouldn't surprise me if some mothers or fathers are demoniacs. 
Assuming, however, that you're the child of a demoniac, that doesn't make you a genetically-enhanced human being. You don't have an upgraded body because your father and/or mother was demonically possessed at the time you were conceived. Is the child of a demoniac a hybrid physical specimen? 
Mind and body are two distinct domains. At most, there'd be some psychological rather than physical transference. The child of a demoniac might be mentally ill, or have paranormal abilities (e.g. ESP, psychokinesis).  

Eternal Rome? The Eternal Mediator? Part 3

Eternal Rome, Eternal Mediator?
The Roman Catholic Magical Mystery Tour
The Roman Catholic Magical Mystical Tour.

Here is Gregg Allison’s summary of how the Roman Catholic view of itself as the “ongoing incarnation of Christ” plays out in its various doctrines. Note how indispensable Rome makes itself out to be in the world. It is something of a “Roman Catholic Magical Mystical Tour”: “how wonderful, wonderful it is that Rome is in the world”.

And note that it is Rome making these “interpretations” about itself. Jesus said, following the principle from Deuteronomy 19:15, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established”. Jesus said, “If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true” (John 5:31). He says further:

You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me” (John 8:18).

Later, in John 15, Jesus confirms that both the Holy Spirit and the Apostles will also “bear witness”:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning (John 15:26-27).

This is one of the Scriptural reasons why the Protestants rely on both “word and Spirit”. The internal confirmation of the Holy Spirit confirms the Word of God for believers.

Rome, on the other hand, excludes witnesses other than itself: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone.”

And for this reason, Allison points out that, with Rome in the world (according to Roman doctrine), of what use is the Holy Spirit in the world?

Here is Rome’s “Magical Mystery Tour”, based on its lone testimony about itself:

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Gagnon on rogue judiciary

Unlike Russell Moore, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, I wholeheartedly commend the actions of the Alabama Supreme Court. Note too that Judge Roy Moore is so concerned for even the appearance of fairness that he recused himself, a concern for scruples utterly lacking in a couple of US Supreme Court justices that come to mind.
If the federal judiciary were to declare that state laws limiting marriages to two persons concurrently was a violation of the civil rights of persons who were polyamorous in orientation (which, incidentally, is the logical follow-up to denying the primacy of the duality of the sexes), the states would likewise have the right to ignore such rulings.
If the federal courts were to rule that children have all the same rights as adults (as regards sexual intercourse, entering into marriages, voting, access to alcohol, employment, etc.), the states would likewise have the right to ignore such rulings.
If the federal courts were to rule that people have a right to marry a consenting adult who just happens to be a close blood relative, the states would not only be justified in ignoring such a ruling, they would be morally obligated to do so.
The federal courts have no unlimited right from the Constitution to legislate.

Walking it back

The Church Isn’t Giving an Inch

I think this is a bit optimistic, but it's sound on substance:

Law enforcement philosophy

Increasingly, law enforcement is more about prevention than punishment. On the face of it, that sounds like a swell idea. Except for criminals, who's opposed to crime prevention? Is it not better to stop a crime before it happens than deal with the messy aftermath?

To some extent, crime prevention measures are prudent. Locking your doors. Taking precautions against identity theft. Not going for a midnight jog in the park. 

However, those are things private citizens can do. I'm referring to government intervention. Problem is, shifting resources to prevention treats all law-abiding citizens as suspects. It's not about breaking the law, but monitoring your every move. I understand why that's appealing to police and politicians, but it's antithetical to a free society. It's a Minority Report philosophy.

Do we want to live in a free society or a police state? There are tradeoffs to living in a free society. That isn't risk-free. 

Keep in mind that a police state isn't a safe place to live. A police state exists to protect the ruling class, not the general public. A police state is corrupt. Bribed judges. Protection money for police. Look at the security forces cross-eyed, and you land in jail.

So often the power elite simply decides a certain policy is a good idea, and that becomes the norm–without public advice and consent. That needs to be challenged at every turn:

Leovy offers a provocative argument: controversial police tactics like stop, question, and frisk reflect “a law enforcement model in which prevention is everything and vigorous response is an afterthought.” Arrest sweeps are fundamentally less challenging than the kind of detailed, labor-intensive investigation it takes to actually solve crimes, and so a huge share of homicides in violent neighborhoods go unsolved:
From 1988 to 2002, the number of unsolved homicides in the L.A. Police Department’s South Bureau was 41 per square mile. Even as many white neighborhoods remained untouched by killings during this period, some predominately black ones had three unsolved cases per block—seven at the especially violent intersection of South San Pedro and East 84th streets. 
Meanwhile, police focused, as they had in the past, on nuisance and vice – the cheap and easy, low-hanging fruit of the trade. As early as 1956, Los Angeles police arrested more than 200,000 people a year for “drunkenness” and municipal code violations – a number that is nearly a tenth of the city’s population. The “broken windows” theory of policing echoes these old paddy-wagon tactics. 
The result has been a doubling down on distrust. When violent crimes go unpunished while nonviolent ones get hammered, many conclude that the state seeks control, not justice. Police don’t benefit either: Devoted cops would much rather chase serious offenders. We should let them.

First Eastern Orthodox Council in Centuries will Omit Rome

Hagia Irene in Istanbul, to be the site of the first Eastern Orthodox council in centuries
Hagia Irene in Istanbul, to be the site of
the first Eastern Orthodox council in centuries
The first Eastern Orthodox Council in centuries is planned for 2016.
A Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church has been scheduled for 2016. …

The council of 2016, which has been on the table for discussion and preparation since at least 1961 (although there were earlier proposals for such a council in the 1920s and 1930s), will for the first time ever gather representatives from all fourteen independent Orthodox Churches. The very conception, let alone the convocation of such a great or general council, is entirely unprecedented. It will be attended by patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops from the fourteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches, including those from all of the ancient patriarchates, with the exception of Rome.

... the convocation of a Great Council in 2016 [is] tentatively planned to be held in the Church of Haghia Irene—the site of the second ecumenical council of 381, which completed the “creed” recited by most Christians today. Haghia Irene is now a museum in Istanbul, never having been converted into a mosque since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Eternal Rome? The Eternal Mediator? Part 2

Eternal Rome, Eternal Mediator?
The Roman Catholic Magical Mystery Tour
Why do Roman Catholic converts (especially) seem to have such reverence for the Roman Catholic Church? It stems from the fact that Rome thinks highly enough of itself to blur the lines of the Creator/creature distinction, and it holds that the Roman Catholic Church (hierarchy especially) as an ontological (“by no weak analogy” – Lumen Gentium 8) extension of the Incarnation of Christ:

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

[For most “cradle Catholics”, it is no big deal, just another day at the office. But for converts, still oo-ing and ah-ing over the “Magical Mystery Tour” through the “nature/grace” continuum, where sin is not such a big problem.]

This section of blog posts on “Eternal Rome, Eternal Mediator?” is of course intended to bring out the second of De Chirico’s two “core doctrines” of Roman Catholicism, the first being the “nature/grace interdependence”, and the second here being “Rome’s self-understanding”, which he calls the “Christ/Church understanding”, stated earlier as the [Roman] Catholic Church’s understanding of itself as the continuation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Allison investigates the history of this idea:

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Exiting Mormonism

To some extent this is a promising development:

However, this doesn't necessarily work to the advantage of evangelicalism. It's not as if a loss for the LDS church is a pick-up for the evangelical church.

For one thing, a lot of Mormons seem to be defecting from the LDS church for some of the same or similar reasons as people defect from evangelicalism. Offended by social conservatism. Objections to the historicity of scripture. The challenge of evolition. 

Superficially speaking, there are parallel issues. So ex-Mormons might consider defenses of biblical inerrancy to be special pleading. Too much like what they already encountered in Mormon apologetics.

One thing I'd point out is that the comparison is very misleading. The Bible was written roughly between 2000 and 3500 years ago–depending on when you date the Exodus. By contrast, the Mormon "scriptures" are 19C literature. 

Arguments for the intermitant obscurity of the Bible, textual transmission, &c., don't carry over to 19C documents. At this distance in time and place, there are bound to be things about the Bible that we don't understand very well. Likewise, textual transmission is more complex.

The same excuse does not apply to 19C literature. We know that period very well. We know a lot about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It happened in our own backyard. Recent history. 

Of course, the Mormon "scriptures" claim to recount the distant past, but these aren't ancient writings about antiquity. The allowances we ought to make for the Bible are not analogous to newly-minted literature.

A Manual For Creating Atheists

Evolutionary inferences

When Darwinians labor to reconstruct human evolution, they usually rely on the fossil record and comparative antomy. Of course, there's a circularity to that procedure. You must assume that certain fossils are related to humans in the first place. But let's bracket that for now.

What can we infer about humans or our alleged evolutionary ancestors from anatomy?

i) Eye-placement. Why do some animals have forward-facing eyes while other animals have eyes on the sides of their heads?  

The conventional answer is that predators need binocular vision. That gives them depth perception, which they need to perceive prey at a distance, detect camouflaged prey, and chase it. By contrast, prey species need peripheral vision to detect predators that are sneaking up on them. 

And, in general, that's probably a good explanation. But how does that explain human eye-placement? Humans aren't natural predators, in the sense that we don't have the standard equipment to be predators. We lack fangs, claws, speed, strength, or venom. 

Moreover, according to evolutionary theory, we're not descended from predators. 

We became predators because we had the intelligence and dexterity to design and operate weapons–and not because nature designed us to be predatory. Likewise, we domesticated certain animals (dogs, horses) to aid us in hunting. None of that's inferable from human anatomy.  

A fallback explanation is that humans are descended from arboreal animals. Our ancestors needed binocular vision to judge depth in jumping from branch to branch. There are, however, some problems with that explanation:

a) Squirrels have eyes on the side of the head. 

b) Once we came down from the trees, our eye-placement became disadvantageous rather than advantageous. At that stage of human evolution we were essentially prey species. Extremely vulnerable to land predators. 

So why didn't our eyes migrate to the sides of our heads the way the eyes of flatfish migrate to one side, as an adaptation to new conditions?

ii) Humans lack the dental equipment of predators like wolves and leopards. Yet humans enjoy a meat diet when that's available. For that matter, humans eat i pizza, ice cream, chocolate bars. You could never infer human diet from human teeth. Even if we had the teeth of wolves and leopards, we'd still eat pizza, ice cream, chocolate bars. Our dietary behavior isn't inferable from our dental equipment. We eat whatever we like. 

iii) Consider a related example. Many human adults drink milk. Not just babies. Now, one might infer that human adults drink milk because we have the lactase enzyme. But isn't it the other way around? We have the lactase enzyme because we drink milk.

The availability of milk is based on domesticating cows and goats. And lactase is an adaptation to a milk diet. For instance, Asians are more prone to lactose intolerance than Caucasians. 

So that's a case where you can't infer behavior from biology, inasmuch as the behavior is driving the biology, rather than vice versa. 

iv) You'd never know from examining the human face that kissing is a major form of foreplay. That's because the placement of the nose (especially the aquiline Caucasian nose) gets in the way of kissing. Yet we manage to around it. 

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

Eternal Rome? The Eternal Mediator?

Eternal Rome
Eternal Rome, Eternal Mediator?
Continuing to follow De Chirico’s presentation of the Catholic system as consisting of two pillars, the second element is the Catholic Church’s understanding of itself as the continuation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This axiom is connected to the first in the following way:

“Between the orders of nature and grace, a mediating subject is needed to represent nature to grace and grace to nature, so that nature will progressively and more fully be graced and grace will eventually achieve its final goal of elevating nature. That mediation is the theological raison d’être [reason for the existence] of the Roman Catholic Church and the chief role of the Church within the wider Roman Catholic system.”

Allison, Gregg R. (2014-11-30). Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment (Kindle Locations 1075-1080). Crossway. Kindle Edition, pg 56 in the printed edition.

Consider the role that Rome has assumed for itself, with the way that the Lord thinks of worldly empires. Speaking to Cyrus, who defeated the Babylonians and who enabled the Israelites to be released from their “Babylonian Captivity”, God says:

My Take on the Reformation in England: Owen, Packer, Hooker, Puritans, Anglicans, and Worship

J.I. Packer A Quest for Godliness
Over on Facebook, in response to my recent blog article on John Owen, “Political Defeat was the Condition of Cultural Achievement”, an old [conservative Anglican] friend of mine commented:

the reformed Anglican judgment is that Puritanism (especially its more radical expression) constituted a perversion of the English Reformation, not its teleos. There were Calvinists among the supporters of High Church Anglicanism (e.g., Whitgift). They were the heirs of Cranmer et al., not the Puritans, whose radicalism contained the seeds of its own destruction.

I responded:

I don’t know that “seeds of its own destruction” was an entirely fair characterization. I’ve been looking at this period a bit (the theological aspects which were called “Reformed Orthodoxy”). This period was characterized by “precise theological formulations”, among other things.

While it’s true that “Reformed Orthodoxy” seemingly came to an abrupt halt at one point, there were a lot of things that went into it:

Natural, preternatural, and supernatural in Exodus

I'd like to make a point about assessing supernatural explanations. Consider an illustration. On the issue of large numbers in the OT, Colin J. Humphreys said the following: 
A further reason relates to the crossing of the Red Sea, which the book of Exodus records happened in less than one night. 1.75 million people, ten abreast and 1 metre apart, would form a column of people 175 kilometres long. It is hard to believe that so many people could cross the Red Sea on foot in one night.

Now a Christian might object on the grounds that we're dealing with a miracle. But I think that's too indiscriminate. Parting the Red Sea is a supernatural (or preternatural) event, but crossing the Red Sea is a natural event. God does the parting, but humans do the crossing. The Israelites crossed on foot at a natural pace. God was able to teleport them from one side to the other, but he didn't. When it comes to interpreting the narrative description, when it comes to visualizing the scene, it's not inappropriate to consider logistics. It's not wrong to ask if 1.75 million Israelites is a realistic figure. To say "it's a miracle," or "God did it" is not an adequate response to that specific issue, for the narrative doesn't say or imply that there was anything supernatural about the Exodus in that particular respect. To appeal to a miracle to solve that problem (if it is a problem) would be a classic deus ex machina. Hence, it's proper to question the traditional interpretation of the figures. 

Even within a supernatural framework, we need to be consistent. We need to follow through with the same principle–be it natural or supernatural. Not begin with one principle, but end with another–after changing horses in midstream. Not begin with a horse but end with a unicorn, or vice versa.   

Monday, March 02, 2015


I'll make a few brief observations about the Erskine College situation. 

For starters I know next to nothing about Erskine College. Someone like Justin McCurry probably has more background info.

i) I don't know in what respect Erskine is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church. Does that mean it's answerable to the denomination? 

ii) On the face of it, I can't tell what Erskine's policy is regarding homosexual students. Beyond expressing disapproval, does it have any teeth? Is it a position with any practical (i.e. disciplinary) repercussions?

For instance, must student applicants be professing Christians? Must they sign a student handbook in which they agree to a certain code of conduct? Is violation grounds for expulsion? 

In the nature of the case, what students do off-campus would usually be beyond the ken of the administration. If, however, it came to the attention of the administration that a student was committing sexual immorality, would that be grounds for expulsion? Or is their stated position purely advisory?

Erskine College spokesman Cliff Smith said, “I would hope the conversation would be they feel loved, respected and cared for, and that their faculty and staff are interested in them as individuals.”
That's about as limp-wristed (pardon the pun) as you can get.

iii) Christian colleges and seminaries need to update their student handbooks. Traditionally, they forbid students from engaging in premarital or extramarital sex. However, in an age of legalized homosexual marriage, it's technically possible for homosexual students to have "marital" sex with each other. Yet that's a gross violation of Christian ethics. 

The distinction between licit sex within marriage and illicit sex outside of marriage is only germane to heterosexual activity. That can't be the differential factor for homosexual activity inasmuch as homosexual activity is immoral regardless of the marital context.

Indeed, there's a sense in which marital homosexual activity is even worse because it defiles the divine institution of marriage.

iv) Varona has said "It took me by surprise when I read it two days ago," "It basically came out of nowhere," "My sexual orientation is no secret." "So it took me by surprise."

Maybe he's really that naive. The fact that some classmates were aware of his homosexuality doesn't mean the administration would normally be aware of a student's sexual proclivities. I assume this flew below the radar until he and a teammate gave an interview to OutSports. At that point it came to the notice of the administration. 

v) Predictably, this issue is cropping up more often. Gordon College has been threatened with loss of accreditation. 

Biola has "clarified" its position (whatever that amounts to). Wheaton has homosexual staffers. That tells you something about the Philip Graham Ryken's presidency.  

vi) In one respect, the coverage by the secular "news" media is unwittingly comical. Due to its Biblical illiteracy, the secular "news" media is typically shocked to find out that homosexual conduct is contrary to Christian ethics.

Now, to some extent, Christian institutions are having to play catch-up. These are new formal policies, but the theology is utterly traditional. It's just that in the past, it was unnecessary to formally prohibit homosexual conduct in a student handbook. That's not because it was ever acceptable. Rather, in the past, it was tacitly understood to be out-of-bounds. That was a given. 

Most students were straight, and the kind of sexual immorality that would ordinarily be comment-worthy would be heterosexual immorality. 

To take a comparison, Christian student handbooks don't ban cannibalism. That's not because Christian ethics has no position on cannibalism. Rather, that's because Christian colleges don't have student cannibals. There's no lobby for cannibalism. 

vii) In addition, the cultural elite is incensed by the fact that Christians don't jump on the bandwagon of the latest radical chic fad. It's as if they really expect us to take our cue from them. The cultural elite has spoken! How dare we lag behind!

But in another sense it's not comical. For government is using police powers to coerce compliance. Rob Bell recently said "I think culture is already there."

Only in the sense that a gun is held to its head. If you threaten people with loss of employment, fines, and/or imprisonment, then that will certainly lower resistance. But that's enforced conformity rather than conviction. If you hold a bank manager's family hostage and threaten to kill or torture them one-by-one unless he transfers funds to your Cayman account, he will comply under duress. 

Easter Resources 2015

Since 2009, I've been putting together a post of resources for each Easter season. Here are the ones from previous years:

Open Air Preaching Where Babies Are Murdered

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The freewill defense hits an iceberg

Kevin Harris: 
 The Vatican astronomer goes on to say that perhaps if there are intelligent beings in another solar system that they don’t need salvation, they don’t need the atonement of Christ, they may have remained in full friendship with the Creator. 
Dr. Craig: 
 This is the most interesting theological speculation. If there is intelligent life made in God’s image somewhere else in the universe, have they fallen into sin? Or was this a civilization or culture in which the Fall did not occur? Adam did not take the apple or Eve did not take the fruit of the tree. Is it possible that there could be a race of intelligent beings that has not fallen into sin? Well, it seems to me that that is possible. C. S. Lewis imagined such a thing in his science fiction trilogies. It is possible, I think. Adam did not have to sin; Eve didn’t have to sin. Neither did their descendants. So it is possible there could be such a population. In that case, they wouldn’t have fallen into sin and wouldn’t need redemption.

He's conceding, as a live possibility (i.e. feasible), that you could have actual planets where every member of that intelligent species is unfallen. So that cuts the nerve of the freewill defense insofar as that's predicated on God's inability to create sinless rational agents without infringing on their libertarian freedom. And not just isolated individuals, but in this case, everyone in that particular class of agents. 

By Craig's admission, a freewill theist can no longer say the world contains moral evil because God was unable to create a world in which all free agents do right. 

Zombie rights

Cotard’s syndrome is a relatively rare condition that was first described by Dr. Jules Cotard in 1882. Cotard’s syndrome comprises any one of a series of delusions that range from a belief that one has lost organs, blood, or body parts to insisting that one has lost one’s soul or is dead.
By the logic of the transgender movement, individuals who self-identify as zombies should be free to eat people. Cannibalism is a Constitutional right. And not just munching on corpses, but eating people alive. 

Craig on Adam and Eve

I'm going to comment on this podcast, which is a mixed bag:

Dr. Craig: Before we conclude that the sky is falling, the sky is falling, it isn’t true that the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces if you deny the historical Adam and Eve. As I share in the Defenders class, the doctrine of original sin, though common to Catholicism and most Protestant denominations, is not characteristic of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Eastern churches – like Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox – do not hold that all of mankind falls in Adam’s sin and inherit original sin from Adam. They do believe in a historical Adam. That is true. But it isn’t the case that the whole story of sin and redemption falls apart without Adam and Eve. For the Orthodox Christian, Adam is simply the floodgate, so to speak, through which sin enters into the world and then spreads to the rest of humanity. But it could have entered at any point when you think about it. There was nothing particularly special about that point. So, as important as Adam and Eve are, we mustn’t think that the doctrine of original sin is inherent to Christianity because it is just not. It is part of Catholicism and Protestantism for the most part, but it is not characteristic of Orthodoxy.

That certainly illustrates Craig's big tent philosophy. However, Christianity is a revealed religion. The criterion isn't Eastern Orthodoxy but Biblical revelation. 

Dr. Craig: What he is talking about there is the genetic diversity that is exhibited by the human population on Earth. The claim is that you can’t get that kind of genetic diversity from a bottleneck of just two people. You need a few thousand. I’ve heard as low as 2,000 individuals as this bottleneck. 
What we need to understand is that these are genetic estimates based upon mathematical modeling and projections into the past. We know that that kind of mathematical modeling is based upon certain assumptions that may or may not be true, and can sometimes be wildly incorrect in their projections. So, although Coyne has a great, great deal of confidence (I think he even speaks of scientific certainty), that, I think, is hyperbole.[4] It could well be the case that these mathematical models are simply incorrect. I don’t want to minimize the challenge that is presented by the genetic data, but it is not as cut and dry as what Coyne presents it. I talk a little bit about this in the Defenders class in the section of Doctrine of Man where we look at the question of the origin of humanity.
This reminds me of global warming. Climatologists make predictions based on computer models. But, of course, their predictions have been wide of the mark.
Dr. Craig: No, the age isn’t the problem. The problem is the population size. In order to get this amount of genetic diversity, the claim is you needed to have at least 2,000 people originally to result in this. 
One of the assumptions that is based upon is that the rate of mutation doesn’t change. But if the mutation rates are changing then they could accelerate and that could produce greater diversity than one might expect. You might say that increasing diversity would have a selective advantage so this perhaps would be a kind of accelerating process. Again, we just don’t know that these mutation rates have been constant over all of these thousands of years.
That raises two issues:
i) Even on naturalistic grounds, science requires unprovable operating assumptions. 
ii) Moreover, the Biblical doctrine of human origins isn't naturalistic. So there's even less reason to presume mechanistic uniformity. 
Dr. Craig: All right. He is talking here about the so-called “Mitochondrial Eve.” That is to say, astonishingly, geneticists have established that all human beings on Earth are descended from this single woman who he claims lived about 140,000 years ago. Scientists have called her, in reflecting on the biblical Eve, the Mitochondrial Eve. 
Kevin Harris:but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. 
Dr. Craig: This is the so-called Chromosomal Adam, again playing on the biblical figures. So the claim is that the Chromosomal Adam – the Adam from whom all persons are descended today – lived around 60,000-90,000 years ago, but the woman lived around 140,000 years ago. That doesn’t match up, right? Well, I am no geneticist, but recently Michael Murray, who is involved in the BioLogos movement and with the Templeton Foundation, sent me an email in which he said some recent studies have just reestimated the dates of the Mitochondrial Eve and Chromosomal Adam and they’ve determined that they were roughly contemporaneous. 
Kevin Harris: Really? 
Dr. Craig: Yes! Which, if that is correct, that is just astonishing. This could be Adam and Eve. It could be the original human pair that we are talking about. So this evidence might come back to bite Coyne. Coyne knows more about this than I do, but I am simply reporting what I have been told that would make one really sit up and think about this.
At any rate, what it would show would be, again, the uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to radical revision.
That illustrates how tentative the science is. 
Dr. Craig: I think the most plausible take for those who want to deny that Adam and Eve were literal persons would be to say that the literary genre of Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 is not meant to be historical; that this is something like myth or fable or something that teaches some deep truths in the way, say, that Aesop's fables teach deep truths. But it would be a mistake to take these as literal people. These are not meant to be taken in that way. That would be the most plausible spin, I think, for those who want to take the non-literal view. The really hard part for that, though, is that Jesus and Paul seemed to take it literally. They seem to think that there really was such a person as Adam in which case you’d have to either say that they were wrong (which raises all kinds of problems) or you could say that this was just a part of their incidental beliefs but not part of what they actually taught. For example, Paul may well have believed that the Earth was flat for all we know. He probably believed that the sun went around the Earth based on their perception. But they nowhere teach that. They don’t teach this as Christian doctrine. Maybe you could say that about the historical Adam. It is a really difficult problem as to how you are going to sort this out. For that reason, I am inclined to stick with the literal Adam and Eve until absolutely forced by the evidence to abandon that view. I think we are far from that point.[7]

i) Although that's better than outright capitulation, it's weak and unstable. One issue is what science can prove. Ironically, proponents of methodological atheism shoot themselves in the foot. They rightly perceive that if an omnipotent, interventionist God exists, then you can't stipulate the uniformity of nature. In principle, God can do anything anytime or anywhere. 

Moreover, God's involvement in human affairs is often direct. 

ii) The narrator of Genesis was not a modern theistic evolutionist. That's not his frame of reference. That can't be driving his outlook.