Keller's Reason for God

Discussion in 'The Literary Forum' started by Grillsy, Nov 30, 2009.

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  1. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    This (the broader context) is PRECISELY what I was talking about. This is not someone talking about "mere natural selection" but a full-fledged evolutionary process by which man (eventually some pair get tagged as "Adam" and "Eve") evolves from slime. Classic theistic evolution - macro-evolution. This ain't white moths turning gray.
  2. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    Respectfully, your point about terminology is wrong. Evolution involves a variety of mechanisms, including natural selection. So when species evolve through natural selection, that is an example of evolution at work, plain and simple. Since I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God over all His creation, I believe God uses natural selection as a means of diversifying and sustaining (ie, evolving) His creation. That's theistic evolution at a very basic level.

    You are making the common mistake of confusing Darwinian Evolutionary Theory - or stating that life as we know is a result of evolutionary processes without the direction of God - with basic evolution. Micro-evolution is observable, and macro-evolution (along with speciation) probably occurs as well. But the error atheistic scientists make is using basic observed evolution to explain the origin of life and mankind while excluding God. That is wrong and frankly unscientific.

    The point is theistic evolution occurs continuously, and has always occurred. To what degree did it cause the development of mankind and the rest of the biosphere? I believe very little and I don't believe humans evolved from non-human ancestors. Still, I consider myself a theistic evolutionist on a basic level...

    I agree the quote is ambiguous, but Keller admits he doesn't understand how it all happened - he simply believes God used natural selection to some degree in creation. If he believes humans evolved from animal ancestors I disagree with him, but I don't think theistic evolution is necessarily Scripturally untenable.
  3. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I’m sorry, I’m not confusing anything. You are the one redefining terms to suit your own ideas.

    Theistic evolution is evolution (i.e., it involves macroevolution/speciation).

    What you seem to be describing as your own view sounds like progressive creationism.

    Whether that fits with what Keller believes is unclear at this time. His statements are ambiguous at best.
  4. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    I don't know that Wikipedia is the best source to support your argument, but since you cited it, here's a passage from the "Terminology" section:

    So yes, I think fall into theistic evolutionist camp at a very basic level. I've studied evolutionary theory quite extensively during undergrad and graduate schools, and have been taught by staunch atheists, theistic evolutionists, YEC creationists, and everyone in between. I don't know everything, but I am pretty comfortable with the basic terminology and where I fall in the spectrum of beliefs on creation.
  5. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    How did humans evolve if they didn't evolve from something else?
  6. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I think that Keller's frame of reference is not origins of the race. Rather, when he speaks of evolution, he means that we've evolved from being old narrow-minded parochial confessionalists to young, hip, urbane, intellectually open-minded postmoderns. Understand his argument and book in that light.
  7. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I happen to be a young earth creationist who thinks BB Warfield was deceived in this, as is Keller.

    But having said that, I've listened to enough Keller teaching tapes to know that he is a truly great teacher full of so much wisdom and insight on many topics. In subtle ways people want to discredit him and his ministry over this and deaconesses, which is like saying we should not read Warfield, which would be silly. He is an imperfect man on the path of progressive sanctification, with much good to offer us all.

    Zenas- at a point in time God breathed in the human spirit/soul into a primate and that was Adam. There is no false teaching that the soul just sort of evolved, it is admitted that God had to divinely create and implant the eternal human soul into the first Adam. ( I don't believe this, but just explaining Warfield). So there is a historic first Adam who fell. He nursed at the breast of an animal Momma, but he was the first person with a soul.
  8. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor


    Wait! That sounds like Tarzan!
  9. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser


    Evolution, in order to occur, involves a change. Is Mason's position that our height changed? Noses? If it's something so insignificant as that, did it take millions of years? How long did God need to evolve our noses before He created Adam and Eve? Why didn't He tell us about all of this?

    In the quote above, Keller says that 6-day creationism leaves a lot of unanswered or problematic questions and then proceeds to be as vague as possible in describing his theistic evolution. Why? Because he can't answer the questions above. They're not just hard, they're impossible and have no answer. It appears Dr. Keller framed the situation wrongly. His position is the one without the answers.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 10:57:50 EST-----

    If man evolved from something else, Genesis 2 becomes very problematic.
  10. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    You seem to be ignoring the first part of that quotation as to the fundamental distinctive of evolution; lower life forms lead to higher life forms. The theistic twist is that God arranged/ordered this speciation. The only question is “how”. That’s where the “wide range of beliefs” comes in.

    Without having to redefine terms, if you do not believe the basics of evolutionary theory, i.e., macroevolution and speciation, then you are not a theistic evolutionist. To use such terminology for your belief system (as you have now described it) is confusing at best.

    And we are still let with the fact that we do not know what Keller believes, some form of theistic evolution or progressive creationism.
  11. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    What a lot of you don't seem to realize is that you are trying to argue with BB Warfield.

    You have a great theologian who was a defender of the faith against modern higher criticism, a brilliant man who was instrumental in influencing the thought of guys like Machen.

    You are disagreeing with Warfield and condemning somebody who follows in his steps. It can't be done.

    Like I said, I happen to think he was deceived. But Keller can appeal to him and you have no grounds to say Warfield was nonconfessional or unbiblical. None. You can't fight BB Warfield.
  12. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    It is actually quite easy to fight a dead man.

    I find your words of Warfield's unassailability remarkable. I'll happily disagree with him whereever I think he's wrong. And he was wrong on this, and I'd argue that means he was unconfessional - let me be clear, he was unbiblical on the subject of origins.

    Allow me to digress... Karl Barth. I think his BEST stuff (because a lot of it was very bad)... his BEST stuff against liberalism was nothing substantively different from the stuff put out by guys like Warfield. But in broader academic circles Warfield is a relative unknown while Barth is the one who is credited with single handedly demonstrating the intellectual and theological bankruptcy of liberalism. Why is that? Because Barth made more concessions to liberalism in order to gain a hearing. Guys like Warfield, while yielding the field on the issue of evolution, didn't go far enough with concessions, so they were not even listened to. But Barth's concessions didn't result in a robust faith for his followers, rather, those concessions resulted in a system almost entirely as bad as the older liberalism with which he disagreed.

    My point: Without intending to suggest that Keller will have the influence of Barth... In his book, I think Keller makes too many concessions. Too many of his arguments on too many subjects are based upon a syncretism of orthodox Christianity and early 21st Century American cultural and philosophical values. I'm positive that his concessions will make him more intellectually appealling to those who have imbibed from the well of worldly wisdom, but the lasting effects will not be a thoroughgoing robust biblical orthodoxy. They can't because his arguments and conclusions themselves aren't.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  13. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    I'd much rather be young, urbane and intellectually open-minded than old and narrow-minded - so long as we maintain our Confessionalism. Wouldn't you?

    We're getting off topic discussing our individual beliefs on evolution, but my position is that God created Adam and Eve from dust as it says in Genesis 2. I don't believe Adam and Eve evolved, though I do believe God used and continues to use evolutionary principles in His creation.

    There are several things off base here, and we're getting off topic as it is. Several quick points:

    1. "Lower life form leads to higher life forms" is not a definition of evolution in general, and is certainly not synonymous with speciation. A species can become a higher life form within itself without having to change to a different species. For example, humans are faster, stronger, longer-living, etc. than we were 500 or even 100 years ago. So the human race is a higher form of life now than it was then, even though we are the same species. So I reject that theistic evolution requires a belief in speciation.

    2. Having said that, I do believe in both speciation and macro-evolution - both are strongly supported scientifically. In some way God used and is using both mechanisms in creation.

    Again, all of that puts me squarely in the theistic evolutionary camp - no re-definition needed. I don't believe in the degree of evolution and speciation that other theistic evolutionists might (I don't know where Keller falls in that group, if at all), but I still believe God created everything ex nihilo, created a basic array of bacteria, plants, animals, fungi, etc, and superintends creation through evolution. Theistic evolution.
  14. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I’m sorry, but this is now getting laughable. No knowledgeable person considers humans today as a “higher life form” from those of 100 years ago.

    Which gets us back to your original claim to which I objected.

    My objection was, and still is, that the fundamental truths of (theistic) evolution, macroevolution and speciation, are not observable. We do not “see” evolution acting out about us every day. That is a fabrication of the evolution theorists. As someone mentioned, a change in peppered moths is not evolution to a “higher life form”. They are still moths, not bald eagles.

    You cannot reduce evolution to natural selection. Neither can you make a case from evolution from the simple fact of natural selection. To get from A to B requires a leap of faith. One which you find obvious, but which many of us find extraordinarily difficult to make. So, not believing in theistic evolution is quite possible, and rationally and theologically consistent.

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but if you are this confused, it’s apparent your original statement on Keller’s views (“Keller clearly rejects Evolutionary Theory …”) cannot be trusted as accurate, since theistic evolution is one form of evolutionary theory. You hold to it, so why not Keller?
  15. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    From Keller's own denomination

    PCA Historical Center: Creation Study Committee Report to the 28th General Assembly, June 21, 2000
  16. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    BB Warfield was wrong, unbiblical, and unconfessional and that has no bearing on the rest of his corpus of contributions.
  17. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    Tom, I mean no disrespect by this, but you are in way over your head here. I humbly suggest you do some more reading on evolution in general - from all perspectives.

    I think the main source of your confusion is the basic definition of evolution. Biological evolution is simply change over time. There are a variety of mechanisms for this, natural selection being just one of many. I have never and would never "reduce" evolution to natural selection. Natural selection is simply one of the means by which evolution occurs - others include mutation, genetic drift, genetic shift, environmental factors, etc.

    Neither does evolution require speciation. Species evolve (humans included) without changing from one species to another. One can quibble over whether or not humans are a "higher" life form than a century ago, but we have certainly evolved. So Darwinian Evolutionary Theory necessarily includes speciation, but evolution can and does occur without speciation.

    Thus the point in my original post is perfectly valid. Evolution happens all around us in many forms, and it is plainly observable. Viruses mutate, bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, moths change color - all evolution. You can either believe that such evolution is random and outside God's sovereignty, or you can believe God is in control of all of it. I believe the latter, which is God-directed evolution, and thus theistic evolution.

    As for Keller rejecting Evolutionary Theory, I should have specified Darwinian Evolutionary Theory, which rejects the notion of God's involvement in evolution. Even so, when most people think of Evolutionary Theory they assume Darwinian evolution.
  18. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I believe you are confusing the issue with your definition of 'theistic evolution'. Typically theistic evolution refers a philosophy that has embraced the Darwinian understanding of evolution and tried to reconcile it with a biblical worldview. By that adherents to the system understand that certain species over time evolve into other species. I and others here (and probably most within academia) have never understood or read anywhere that 'theistic evolution' is to be understood to merely refer to changes within species.
  19. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Biological evolution is not just change over time. Evolution is not just any kind of change. Not all changes over time can be called "evolution." For example, certain leaves change color in the fall, but this is not called "evolution." Evolutionists define evolution as "descent with modification from a common ancestor." Moreover, they believe that biological change can occur beyond the boundaries of a created kind. Creationists define evolution as "change beyond the boundaries of a created kind" or "any change that involves an increase in genetic information."

    Creationists believe that those things happen, but they would not call it "evolution." They believe that evolution is "change beyond the boundaries of a created kind" or "any change that involves an increase in genetic information."
  20. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior


    As you can see from my comments and the comments of others, the confusion arises because of your redefinition of evolution as "simple change over time". You are either being naive or disingenuous as to the meaning of the concept generally, and most importantly within the scientific community. The suggestion that white moths vs. grey moths or human being over the course of a hundred years or so both represent an evolution to “higher life forms” is truly laughable.

    You may personally believe in theistic evolution and that is somehow materially different from “Darwinian evolution,” but I assert you are mistaken in your assessment. And that still places you in no position to judge or elaborate on Keller’s personal views.
  21. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    There's a t-shirt slogan if I ever saw one... :rolleyes:
  22. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate


    Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am a totally diehard creationist and young earther, and I am so far to the fringe right that I would die at the stake for the doctrine of geocentricity, that the earth was created before the sun, and the sun (and universe) orbits it daily. I am not trying to defend BBW or Keller's doctrine.

    That said, I just think people need to understand what they are up against. There are all sorts of discussions at the PB where posters refer to old dead theologians to defend their point. Keller studied at Westminster Seminary where Warfield is HIGHLY respected, with good reason. Tim is brilliant and I have it from the best source that they wanted Keller to go on the faculty and fill Jack Miller's place when Miller left, but TK felt called to the pastorate.

    There are many people who appeal to BBW for theistic evolution, the same way the vast majority of cessationists would appeal to him to support their cessationism (I am a Sam Rutherford- Poythress type extraordinary providences continuist, to distinguish myself from modern charismatics, and I think Warfield is dead wrong on that also. But I digress).

    Anyway, it is sad that BBW believed in the simple cell concept that underlies all of evolutionary theory. Today we know that the simple cell is actually as many as 3,000 complex factories inside one cell wall, and the math statistics for mutation evolution theory are ludicrous, apart obviously from divine intervention. I really think if the WestminsterTS/Reformed evolutionists studied the subject they might retract their position, but for now they have BBW and Hodge on their side. And you just can't dismiss BBW and Hodge lightly. So yeah, I still think Keller's position is unassailable, like trying to fight a person quoting Calvin or John Owen. You can disagree but you cannot dismiss their sources as unbiblical. BBW was firmly into inerrancy and infallibility and it is not a winnable fight right now if you ask me. Until the PCA, OPC, etc rule otherwise, it will remain a fully acceptable position, sorry to say.
  23. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    Fair enough. A more precise definition is "genetic change from generation to generation". But evolution occurs within species - speciation is just one evolutionary mechanism.

    Again, change over time may be too broad. The textbook definition is genetic change (or change in the frequency of alleles in a given population, if you want to get technical) from generation to generation. That does not necessitate speciation - species can evolve from generation to generation without becoming an entirely new species. We can argue over the "higher life form" idea. I'll even concede the point, but stand by my statement that species do evolve within themselves, and that is true evolution.

    Darwinian Evolution and Theistic Evolution are by definition incompatible. Darwin was an atheist and argued that life arose through evolution without God. Theistic evolutionists argue that Evolution is superintended by God. The two views are irreconcilable.

    The same confusion arises every time there's a discussion of evolution on the PB: believing in evolutionary processes does not necessitate belief in Darwinian Evolutionary Theory. Natural selection happens, mutations happen, speciation happens, genetic change from generation to generation happens, evolution happens. But believing that does not mean I believe that humans - or even plants and animals - evolved from some primordial milieu of organic compounds. Some theistic evolutionists might, but others (including me) do not. :banghead:

    And I've never judge or elaborated on Pastor Keller's personal views. I've simply gone by the quotes provided here. As I said earlier, I have no idea where he falls in the spectrum of theistic evolutionists, if he belongs in that spectrum at all.
  24. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    On this topic, I sure can. And so have many. And so should everyone else.

    I'm sorry, I don't think I understand you. Are you asserting that to quote Calvin or Owen (or by extension) Warfield is tantamount to citing Scripture?
  25. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior


    Would you agree that Darwinian evolution and theistic evolution (as they are commonly constructed) are scientifically indistinguishable?
  26. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm sorry, I don't think I understand you. Are you asserting that to quote Calvin or Owen (or by extension) Warfield is tantamount to citing Scripture?

    no sola, I am saying that Warfield and Hodge are not liberals. They believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Genesis 1-3. And to appeal to them in a debate is acceptable at Westminster TS. They are in the group of men classified as great Reformed theologians, whose books and theology are source material for teaching students. When we have long threads here full of discussions and debates, certain men are considered respectable and honorable theologians in a way that others are not. BBW is one of the great ones for many scholars.

    If I got on here with a charismatic thread about the gifts operating today I can guarantee you the first theologian quoted would be BBW, (before the thread got closed and I got banned, that is.) Plenty of folks here would appeal to him for their views on that. In the same way he is perhaps the father of the theistic evolutionists. God breathed a soul into an evolved primate animal to create Adam. THIS IS ACCEPTABLE DOCTRINE to get ordained in many Reformed churches.

    This is to support my position that you just can't win on this one, unless God opens peoples minds. And NO I don't believe this so don't go quoting me like I do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can think of no better way to support my point here than by quoting from A.A. Hodge, the Old Princeton theologian whose commitment to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture and to the Reformed faith is beyond question. Hodge wrote the following in the Introduction to Theism and Evolution by Joseph S. Van Dyke and reprinted in The Princeton Theology 1812-1921 edited and compiled by Mark Noll (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1983):

    Evolution considered as the plan of an infinitely wise Person and executed under the control of His everywhere present energies can never be irreligious; can never exclude design, providence, grace, or miracles. Hence we repeat that what christians have cause to consider with apprehension is not evolution as a working hypothesis of science dealing with facts, but evolution as a philosophical speculation professing to account for the origin, causes, and end of all things.

    Hodge's colleague and contemporary at Princeton, B.B. Warfield, wrote the following in his unpublished "Lectures on Anthropology" (Dec. 1888) (cited in Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 119):

    The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and which does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible. But if we condition the theory by allowing the constant oversight of God in the whole process, and his occasional supernatural interference for the production of new beginnings by an actual output of creative force, producing something new i.e., something not included even in posse in the preceding conditions,‹we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense.

    The lengthy citation of Abraham Kuyper (cited in Creation and Evolution by Jan Lever) is worth repeating here to express the notion that evolutionary theory is not necessarily antagonistic to the Christian faith if design and purpose are not excluded.

    An entirely different problem is that so often discussed in England whether religion permits, as such, the spontaneous evolvement of the species in the organic world from one single primary cell. That question, of course, without reservation, must be answered in the affirmative. We should not impose our style upon the Chief Architect of the universe. (emphasis mine) Provided he remains, not in appearance, but in essence, the Architect, he is also in the choice of his style of architecture the Omnipotent. If it thus had pleased the Lord not to create the species as such, but to have one species arise from the other, by designing the preceding species in such a way that it could produce the next higher, the creation would have been just as wonderful. But this never would have been the evolution of Darwinism because the predetermined plan would not then have been excluded, but would have been all-predominating, and not the world had then built itself up mechanically, but God by means of elements which He himself prepared for that purpose. ... And that same difference would differentiate such a divine evolutionistic creation from the system of the Darwinists. Evolutionistic creation presupposes a God who has first made the plan and then executes it omnipotently. Darwinism teaches the mechanical origin of things that excludes all plan or purpose or draft.

    The acceptance of evolutionary theory by Christians must be seen as mediate Creation, whereby God called some things into existence using pre existing materials and ordinary means. As indicated by the above citations, these orthodox Presbyterian and Reformed theologians, found no reason to disagree with evolutionary theory as long as the certain essential characteristics were not disregarded: the dependence of the Creation on God, His design and purpose, the Creation of human beings in God's image, and God's freedom to act miraculously in his Creation.
  27. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    No one is saying Warfield is a liberal theologian. We're saying Warfield is wrong in this respect.
  28. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't speak for Mason, but I don't know any theistic evolutionists (and I know many) that would agree that they are "scientifically indistinguishable." Otherwise, what's the point of differentiating yourself as a "theistic evolutionist?" You'd just be a Darwinian. I'm not sure those believing in theistic evolution are as ignorant as you think.

    (And for the record and before I'm accused of anything, I believe in a 6 day creation.)
  29. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    No worries. I think that its important to correct misconceptions about another view for the benefit of the discussion, even though you might disagree with that view. Otherwise, everyone's just swatting at a strawman.
  30. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    First of all, I want to apologize, Tom, for my earlier statement about you being in over your head. That was arrogant, judgmental, and rude - I hope you'll forgive my lack of charity.

    To answer your question, I don't agree at all. Theistic evolutionists believe God intervenes and supernaturally orders evolution. Darwinian evolutionists reject the notion of God outright. Darwinians believe we evolved from organic molecules entirely through evolutionary mechanisms, while Theists believe we were created, although the extent of their belief in macro-evolution varies.
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