The following is an example of what a typical discussion between a theistic evolutionist (not an unbeliever) and a revelational apologist might look like. TE stands for theistic evolutionist. RA stands for revelational apologist.
TE: What is wrong with the supposition that God has employed evolution by natural selection to produce the human race and other species which are found on earth today? Are you inclined to say that such a supposition is incompatible with the Christian? If this is your inclination, then please take the time to explain your reasoning.
RA: What is wrong with the supposition is that it is a supposition rather than a revelation. God says not to add to His Words. God has revealed nothing about any of the Big-Bang-Billions-Of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man stories–not through Scripture and not through His Creation (science). These stories are stories made up to fit what can be observed as closely as possible, while still fitting into the presuppositions of those having political power in the scientific community. The stories are based on assumptions. The assumptions are based on worldviews. The worldviews have been created from a variety of sources, but worldviews are conceptual as opposed to being part of reality. Worldviews seem like reality, though. They are deceptive. The human mind is deceptive and desperately wicked. Who can know it. The human mind can’t self-generate knowledge. It can’t get to true premise on its own. So, the problem is that it is adding to God’s words, just like so many other theologies do. The Holy Spirit is working on all of us to lead us into all truth. As He does this, He will reveal the differences between what is proceeding from our own minds and what is proceeding from God.
Speculative doctrines certainly don’t keep anyone from being born again. However, they do cause divisions in the Church. Anything beyond what God says through Scripture, any interpretation of that Scripture, is either speculation or extra-biblical revelation.
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11 in the middle of the Ten Commandments. Someone may claim that the Ten Commandments are poetry and have not application in reality. What does the Holy Spirit say to you about this?
(note: it’s not necessary to prove the stories or presuppositions false. All that is needed is to show that it’s made-up stuff and has no place in rational discussion or thought.)
TE: I do not think anything written in the NT requires a reading of the Eden story which makes Adam and Eve historical figures, although I will freely admit that such might be the case. When Paul comments on the meaning and use of scripture the rule he applies is not concerned with literal reading: “For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.” (I Cor 9: 9-10) Of course Adam is more important than an ox, so perhaps he would read Adam and Eve as literal, but do notice that he does not say, “It must be literally true because it is in scripture;” no indeed, rather he says it is written, “For our sakes…” This passage is neglected in these conversation. This is Paul’s hermeneutics in a nutshell: “It is written for us.” The idea is repeated in Rom. 15:4. I do not suppose these observations will persuade anyone, but if you look at these texts and consider what Paul actually says, you might at least allow that he might not be as literal in his appraoch as a modern fundamentalist. (If you reject such an idea, that is fine too.) The suggestion that “death” had to be after the fall does not strike me as a necessary reading. The words “dead” and “death” are frequently used in a non-literal sense; viz: “[Y]ou, being dead in your sins….” (Col 2:13). I will say in closing that although I asked the question I do not deem the question particularly important. It is, if you will, something like meat offered to idols – the Kingdom of God is not side arguments and secondary matters “but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (This is a play on Rom. 14:17).
RA: With the original question on evolution and the way the subject has turned, I would say the same thing. Be careful not to add to God’s words. We try not to, but our minds are deceitful and desperately wicked. We lose the distinction between reality and concept. We confuse our theology with revelation. The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach us all truth. We must acknowledge Him and we must not lean on our own understanding. Then, He will direct our paths.
Assumptions creep in. God has revealed that language has meaning, so no assumption is needed. Hidden assumptions are more tricky and deceptive. If you allow yourself a single assumption, you can prove anything to yourself. Anything!
TE: . . . That having been said, I cannot simply set aside what appears reasonable or likely – so I am inclined to regard the description of process as essentially correct but the explanation of the process (that it is directionless, without purpose, etc.) as illusory. This idea, that the process is at some level non-accidental, is at the heart of every ID argument one might read. The ID arguments simply differ with respect to the level at which one discovers something non-accidental. In any case, this has made my general approach to this and all ultimate problems obscurantist by implication if not by design. I am not proud of this, but it is what it is. . . .
RA: When you talk about “what appears reasonable or likely” you haven’t answered the question about what makes you think that something is reasonable or likely. Ultimately, the question is whether you believe God or human intellect.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones 2
TE: Indeed, “appears reasonable or likely” are carefully chosen words. The world is not a sandbox, I cannot create the reality I prefer, but I can observe the world as it is, or seems to be, and hope there is something more than meets the eye. This is my approach to the problem generally, it certainly is not for everyone.
RA: Are you familiar with the ontic fallacy. How do you get outside of yourself? How do you shed your worldview? I have never heard a single evidence for evolutionism that wasn’t based on assumptions. The way they have been presented is as observations interpreted by assumptions–with the assumptions carefully hidden using various methods. In other words, the interpretations are presented in a way that would deceive you into thinking that they are facts. Do you have another way of interpreting observations? Are you at all familiar with the Münchausen trilemma?
If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in which the Holy Spirit leads and teaches you moment-by-moment, I would just suggest that you hold loosely to theories and theologies and closely to Jesus Christ. Also, you might examine the root of your feeling that these stories are reasonable or likely. Can you get down to anything concrete, anything that you know for certain. You need a true premise. In other words, you need a premise that is proven true. Premises are proven true if they are Divine revelation. God knows all things and He can’t lie–we know that by Divine revelation. Without Divine revelation, a premise is just a conclusion of another premise. How do you prove a premise without Divine revelation or else another premise that you can’t prove true? Is there any other option.
With the form of reasoning you’re describing, it’s just about impossible to just go after the hidden assumptions. They’re hidden. You can’t prove that there aren’t any. If you allow yourself even a single assumption, you can prove anything to yourself. Anything!
TE: I appreciate your comments. I do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
With regard to there always being an assumption (or many assumptions) or what I have called elsewhere “a construct” present in every articulation of the theory – I completely agree with you. (I have tried many times to point this out to those who defend evolution on the internet – they are generally a stubborn and rather slow group).
In any case, the presence of a model or construct (or as you have suggested assumption or assumptions) does not change the fact that the theory as an explanation of facts is not something I can ignore.
RA: When you read Scripture (I’m assuming you do), do you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning to you or do you lean on your own understanding to figure it out?
TE: When reading Scripture I will both pray for understanding and work with the text to understand it.
RA: A chain of thought is as strong as its weakest link. One assumption reduces thought to opinion only. The human mind is fallen, deceitful, and desperately wicked. God has revealed this to me in so many ways, one is through Scripture.
I want to give some attention to a couple of phrases. When you ///”work with the text to understand it,”/// what do you do with the text to understand it, beyond adding assumptions or comparing it to other people’s opinions that are based on assumptions? If we define “the text” as the preserved documents through which God speaks, then, beyond God speaking through this text, how do you “work with” it?
///”the presence of a model or construct (or as you have suggested assumption or assumptions) does not change the fact that the theory as an explanation of facts is not something I can ignore.”/// Many things that aren’t true are hard to ignore. Stories, assumptions, concepts, models, theories, hypotheses, and constructs can be helpful for understanding reality sometimes. These same tools can confuse concept with reality (hypostatization) if we aren’t careful.