Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Too Much Logic

It's no secret that Clifford Goldstein is enemy #1 for many on the left side of the Adventist spectrum. So this post will not mean much to them. But it's incredibly unfortunate that they essentially scoff at his logic. Because he recently wrote one of the most logical and well-reasoned articles I have ever read. It was in the August 20 issue of the Adventist Review.

Really, the article makes too much sense. And, as my dad points out, that may be its fault in the mind of those who are allegedly more intellectually "astute." The logic is too simple - going together just about the same way that two plus two equals four.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that the article is available online - so I will reproduce it in its entirety here. And as you read the column, which is entitled, "One Lord or the Other," I hope you appreciate the brilliancy of Goldstein's rhetoric (resting assured that I do not throw out compliments like this regularly).
Let's begin with two assumptions: first, God employed some form of Darwinian evolution to create humanity. Second, knowing that the ancients couldn't understand complicated evolutionary science, the Lord waited until the nineteenth century A.D. to use Charles Darwin in order to, finally, bring our origins to light.

To accept those assumptions means believing that for thousands of years the Lord purposely kept all His people under a veil of ignorance regarding Creation. It means accepting, too, that God used Darwin to reveal these truths, even though Darwin worked from a fundamentally flawed premise:

"There seems to me," wrote Darwin, "too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly create the [parasitic wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice."

Of course, "a beneficent and omnipotent God" did none of those things. Ignorant of the great controversy and the consequences of the fall, Darwin began from a fatally wrong premise about the creation he sought to explain.

Those who accept these assumptions must accept, too, that the Lord used Darwin to reveal crucial theological truth about God the Creator even though Darwin was not even close to being a worshipper of that Creator. "But I had gradually come, by this time," wrote Darwin, "to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world . . . was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian."

Now, there's nothing contradictory about the Lord using someone like Darwin to teach the world about how He created it. But it does raise this question: When using Charles Darwin to pull back the veil of ignorance on origins, why did the Lord raise up - at about the same time - a prophet, Ellen White, only to keep her wrapped under that very veil of darkness and ignorance He was using Darwin to pull away?

Even if one rejects the every-word-of-Ellen-White-as-verbally-inspired-terminal-eternal-truth, shouldn't a woman who helped found a church with a message about creation - "worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water" (Rev. 14:7), etc. - have been clued in, one way or another, about the startling new light being uncovered by Darwin about creation? Wouldn't it be reasonable, if nothing else, for the Lord to have tapped His messenger lightly on the shoulder and told her to cool her vehement opposition to the very truth He was now revealing to the world?

Instead, all through her ministry, Ellen White was uncompromisingly anti-evolution. "It is," she wrote, "the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of creation, it is infidelity in disguise" (The Signs of the Times, Mar. 20, 1879). "Evolution and its kindred errors are taught in schools of every grade, from the kindergarten to the college. Thus the study of science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelity" (Education, p. 227). "Shall we, for the privilege of tracing our descent from germs and mollusks and apes, consent to cast away the statement of Holy Writ, so grand in its simplicity, 'God created man in his own imagine, the image of God created him him'? (Genesis 1:27, [KJV])" (ibid., p. 130). "When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of twenty-four hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 136).

Of course, who's naive enough to think that anyone who believes in evolution would take Ellen White seriously? After all, they don't take the Bible seriously. I bring up this point simply to provide more evidence about the absurdity of the notion that evolution can be harmonized with Adventism.

Choose the God you're going to serve: the one who raised up Darwin, or the One who raised up Ellen White. But let's end the farce of thinking you can do both.
Is the man on to something, or what? (I suppose the rebuttal to his argument will bear a striking resemblance to some type of Postmodern or Eastern paradigm where God can use two opposing views at the same time.)


Anonymous said...

Kudos to Goldstein!

Staci said...

I like it! Thanks for posting as I hadn't read it in the review. I think I'll forward this on to others. :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Shawn. Thanks for posting it. I really like Goldstein's reasoning here -- he really exposes the absurdity of "theistic evolution", so called. One request -- could you clean up the half a dozen typos in the article? I'm betting you are going to get a lot of traffic to this link, and of course you want any critics to focus their comments on the logic rather than the spelling. Keep up the good work! David R. Smith

Dingo said...

Thank you to both yourself and Cliff! It is well past the time for us to man up and be the people God called us to be.

This specific item has been on my heart ever since a sermon on 9/5/09 that talked about the chain Paul wore for the sake of the Hope of Israel. It focused on the concept of being willingly chained to superficially "burdensome" items such as being seen as some kind of religious Luddite because one embraces Genesis. It framed this as a holy burden we may choose to be attached to with chains of passion for the sake of Christ.

This issue is one that either validates or negates most of our precious light. The hour is late, His gospel has been mired down in our worldly site-tracks, and we need to choose to either embrace those holy burdens or to go another way.God Bless Cliff.

Rebecca said...

It seems to me that Mr. Goldstein focuses on how evolution is incompatible with Ellen White. A discussion on evolution’s relationship with the Bible might have been more enlightening, but is perhaps beyond the scope of a 700-word article. I agree with him when he asks, “who's naive enough to think that anyone who believes in evolution would take Ellen White seriously?” One wonders, then, for whom is he writing this article? Clearly it’s not meant to convince these theistic evolutionists. It seems to function, rather, as a bit of smugness that will allow like-minded Adventists to feel superior. (And let’s not deceive ourselves. Ellen White was a product of her time, and on some scientific topics she was just plain wrong. If her contentions about the effects of “self abuse” were correct, there would be a LOT more imbeciles and dwarfs around.)

Goldstein’s logic may work with blinders on, but he twists his premise to fit his thesis. He writes, “To accept those assumptions means believing that for thousands of years the Lord purposely kept all His people under a veil of ignorance regarding Creation.” Is he suggesting that the entire truth about the way the universe works was revealed or should have been revealed to the first humans? Humanity believed the sun revolved around the earth for (oh, let’s say) 5,500 years until Copernicus hypothesized a heliocentric universe. Does this mean God purposely deceived humanity? Or does it mean that God allowed humans to discover scientific truths for themselves? What about the fact that the Bible states that God made the sun stand still? Does that mean Copernicus was wrong? Or does that means that the person who wrote that passage described the event according to his understanding of the universe, incomplete as it was? Well, why might that not be possible when it comes to evolution?