An International Journal in the Classic Reformation and Evangelical Traditions
Table of Contents
- A Note From Our Editor, John Warwick Montgomery (PDF-Download)
- Val Grieve, „A Fool For Christ“ (PDF-Download)
- Ben Carter, „Communication as General Revelation: The Anti-Evolutionary and Pro-Trinitarian Implications of Communication Phenomenon“ (PDF-Download)
- Ed Martin, „Proper Function, Natural Reason, and Evils as Extrinsic Goods“ (PDF-Download)
- Dwight Poggemiller, „Hermeneutics and Epistemology: Hirsch’s Author Centered Meaning, Radical Historicism, and Gadamer’s „Truth and Method“ (PDF-Download)
- Carl Hoch, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Reviewed by Stephen Lowe) (PDF-Download)
Patrick Henry College--God‘s Harvard (to use the title of a recent book on the institution)--is pleased to offer to an electronic age the Global Journal of Classical Theology.
Such an offering immediately poses two interrelated questions: first, why the Journal? second, what will it endeavour to accomplish?
The Preacher reminds us (Eccl. 12:12) that "of making many books there is no end." The same is surely true of theological journals. So why this one? The answer is simply the dearth of any existing equivalent for the electronic age. As I have argued elsewhere ("Mass Communication and Scriptural Proclamation," in my Faith Founded on Fact, and in my trilingual Computers, Cultural Change and the Christ), the Lord in His wisdom has consistently employed advances in communication to further His purposes: the Roman road system for the rapid spread of the Apostolic message, the printing press for the success of the Protestant Reformation, and now the computer and the world wide web for the fulfilment of Christ’s promise that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Mt. 24:14). Serious theology must rise to this challenge today. There is no longer a place for theological Luddites. Conservative theology must be united with the best that technological advance has to offer.
But what specifically will the GJCT achieve? The Journal stands for the Faith once delivered to the saints: classical theology, as its name indicates--the theology of the Ecumenical Creeds, Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian--as restored through the Reformation of the 16th century and as proclaimed in the evangelical revivals of the 18th. It refuses, as does Patrick Henry College, to be drawn into denominational battles, much less into sectarianism or into the morass of conflicting apocalypticisms. With C. S. Lewis, it focuses on "mere Christianity."
And the Journal exists to proclaim that faith on the most serious intellectual plane. Like its sponsoring institution, which stands for classical education in an age of superficiality, both secular and religious, the Journal stands for scholarly rigour and an international perspective. It unqualifiedly opposes the denigration of the "head" by the "heart" which characterises so much of contemporary evangelicalism.
The GJCT does not limit itself to theology for theologians or to the obscurantist content of much of the technical literature ("The Use of the Hebrew Preposition in Amos Chapter 7," etc.). This Journal seeks in a Renaissance manner to relate classical theology to non-theological disciplines. And it endeavours to function positively: building up, not tearing down; showing Scripture’s truth and providing answers to its critics, whether secularists or liberal theologians mired in the sloughs of redactionism.
Our first issue illustrates, we trust, all of the above. My dear friend Val Grieve (whom I as a barrister continually remind is but a distinguished member of the solicitor’s, or "lower" branch of the legal profession--though an Oxford man) provides a stirring testimony to the power of genuine evangelical faith. Ben Carter shows the implications in the modern scientific, sociological, and linguistic realms of the classic design argument for God’s existence. Dr Ed Martin, our Associate Editor, does a piece of remarkable philosophical analysis on theodicy and the problem of evil. Dwight Poggemiller offers an insightful paper applying the work of Gadamer to the art and practice of hermeneutics.
John Warwick Montgomery
Coming in the Next Issue
Dr A. H. Robertson, late Director of Human Rights, Council of Europe, surveys John Milton’s epic, "Paradise Lost," in a posthumously published essay.
Physicist John Bloom asks, "Is Fulfilled Prophecy of Value for Scholarly Apologetics?"
Guenther Haas critiques those who try to use the Bible to justify the acceptance of homosexual practices.
The Revd Kenneth Harper, anciently (just before the Great Flood of Noah) a student assistant to the Editor, sets forth the implications of psychological and pedagogic generational theory for the work of the local church and of the church at large.
And much more . . .
A Fool for Christ1
Until I was 18, I was an atheist. I also called myself a Communist. As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, I was one of those people who thought that Christianity was sheer foolishness. But at the age of 18, I first began to really think about the Christian faith, through the witness of a fellow student at St. John’s College, Oxford, where I was studying law. I began to see the relevance of the Christian faith and a horrible suspicion came over me that not only was the Christian faith true, but it was also going to become very relevant to my life.
That is the reason I stand here this evening, quite unashamed to say that I am a fool for Christ.
One of the main reasons I am a Christian is that I believe the Christian faith is the most relevant thing to this world in which we live. Frequently, I am asked, "Why did you change from being an atheist and a communist to become a Christian?" I give two reasons. Firstly, I have found that Christianity is true. Looking at the evidence for the resurrection, we begin to see that this marvellous thing called "Easter" actually happened! (Let me recommend to you the book, "Who Moved the Stone?" by another lawyer, Frank Morrison, -it is compulsive reading at Easter. He started to write a book disproving the resurrection, but after looking at all the evidence, ended up writing the best book ever written, proving the resurrection). So that is one reason why I became Christian: I found that Christianity is true.
The second reason why I became a Christian was that I found that, far from being foolishness, the Christian faith is the most relevant thing to the world in which we live. And this is the theme of my message this evening.
It so happens that I am married to a doctor (let me hasten to say, if you are married to a doctor, it does not mean you get any sympathy if you fall ill – my wife has always seen some patient twice as ill that day!). It also happens that many of my best friends are ministers. I rather like the way in which the minister, the doctor and the lawyer look at life. Someone summed it up neatly by saying that the minister sees you at your best, the doctor sees you at your worst and the layer sees you as you are! I want tonight to take a cool look at our world, to see just what our modern world is like.
Speed Without Direction
Today is my mother’s birthday. She is 89. It is interesting to realize that in her 89 years, there have been tremendous changes in the world. Space travel was absolutely unthought of when my mother was a girl. There have been amazing advances in science in every direction. Yet, although we live in a world of speed, sadly enough, we live in a world that seems to lack direction.
A few years ago, I was a manager of an approved school for boys in Lancashire. I thought it might be useful experience when my own boys grew up! Now that they have reached 18 and 21, I realize just how useful the experience was! One of my duties was to interview the boys when it came time for a decision on their discharge from the school. On one occasion, I asked about a dozen boys what I thought was a very basic question: "Why are you here?" Not, "What offence have you committed?" I was trying to communicate the idea that they were there to be helped, not to be punished. Despite court appearances, social and probation reports, magistrates’ courts and years in approved school, I was shocked to find that not one of those boys had any idea why he was there. As I drove home that night, thinking about this and wondering what had gone wrong, it struck me that those approved school boys were typical of most people in the world today: taken up with careers, so busy, having tremendous speed, yet somehow lacking direction in their lives.
Now if you have got speed without direction and have never thought about the purpose of life, then you must be foolish indeed.
Existence Without Life
The second way I would describe this modern world is that it has existence without life. In the 89 years of my own mother’s lifetime, for instance, there have been tremendous advances in medicine. Any doctor will tell you that most of the drugs used today had not even been invented 15 or 20 years ago. As I mentioned, I am married to a doctor, and the medical magazines come into our house at an alarming rate! I recently read in one of them that the average life expectancy in India was as low as 20 years in 1945, but now that average expectation of life there is 40. Or we could move nearer home: people are living longer than ever before in this country. My own mother is 89, and the Bible talks about "three score years and ten".
Yet a patient who recently went to see her doctor told him, "We are prevented from dying, but we are not helped to live!" "Prevented from dying, but not helped to live." Not only are we aimless, we are also empty. Carl Jung, a leading psychologist of this generation, stated that this moral and spiritual emptiness lies in the heart of the neuroses of our time.
Again, I say to you, if we are existing without living, if we are prevented from dying, but not helped to live, then we are indeed foolish!
Amusement Without Happiness
Another characteristic of the present day is that we seem to have amusement without happiness. There has never been, I suppose, a generation that has been more "amused" than ours! We live in an age taken up with amusement of every sort, with pop music, with television – people are constantly being amused. In fact, it seems to me that we cannot stay still or silent for a moment. Yet somehow, we have amusement without happiness.
In the United States recently, a Christian doctor carried out a very interesting survey on his patients: as they waited in his waiting-room, they had to fill in a little survey about themselves. One of the questions asked, "What is your Number One wish?" On analyzing the answers, the doctor found that the Number One wish of 67% of his patients was to have peace of mind. Beneath all the amusement and busy-ness, there is a sort of restlessness.
If we have amusement without happiness, it seems to me that we must be foolish indeed!
Acquaintances Without Friends
Have you noticed something else? We live in a world which has acquaintances without friends. This is rather ironic, as we live in a world where, so to speak, there are more people around than ever before. Even in this country, if everyone went down to the seaside on the same day, apparently, there would be 4 inces of beach per person; and if everyone took their cars out on the road at the same time, there would be only 25 yards between each car! Population explosion – more people than ever before – yet somehow, people feel alienated and lonely. We talk to many people, make many acquaintances, but we have very few friends. Especially as we get older, and even amongst young people I have found that is a basic loneliness in human nature.
If we haven’t faced this fact, if we haven’t thought about it, we must be foolish indeed.
Strength Without Control
Another characteristic of this modern world is that we have strength without control. Modern man has made tremendous advances, in developing nuclear energy, for example, but the sad thing is that he seems able to control everything except himself. I see this every time I read the newspaper, every time I watch the television news. I see it on the international scene.
A statistic that really came home to me the other day was this: everysingle minute in our world, eight people die of malnutrition or starvation; in that very same minute, 2,000 pounds in spent on armaments. In fact, when I read this statistic, I thought I’d better get out my watch and hold a minute’s silence! If we had a minute’s silence this very moment, eight people in this world, where we have so much food and so many resources, will have died. And in that same minute, another 200,000 pounds spent on armaments! Strength without control.
If this is true internationally, it is also true personally. A Managing Director once came to see me, ostensibly about business, but in reality to discuss the state of his marriage. He told me he was a happily married man with two children, then suddenly revealed that he was having an affair with a 16-year-old office junior. He said, I can t understand myself. If it was anyone else in the firm doing this, I would sack them. I ve a wife and two little girls, yet I m infatuated with this 16-year-old girl. I looked at him: a man with strength, but with no ability to control himself. I know this is an extreme example, but in so many ways, modern man is powerless.
We all have a standard of what is right and wrong! But if we look at ourselves tonight, we fail far short of our own standards! This is what I am talking about: there is a sort of contradiction in human personality. I know how I should behave, but sometimes (and ( always like to be honest when I am speaking), I find that I fall lamentably short!
Whether we look at modern man internationally or whether we look at our own lives, we see one marked characteristic: we have strength, but without control. If we have never faced this, then we are foolish.
Sex Without Love
We live in a world that has sex without love. An incredible sexual revolution has taken place in the lifetime of my mother, who is now 89. My daughter is 19. There is 60 years difference between the two. Whenever my mother and my daughter come to Sunday lunch, the inevitable happens: my mother comes out with, Oh! We never did that in our days. I say, Mother, you re 60 years out of date. And even my daughter agrees with me, which is very rare!
Our permissive society has sex without love. One marriage in every three ends up in the divorce court. A few months ago, in my own parish church, I had to read out the banns for three couples planning to get married. I stood at the front and published the banns of marriage! I asked, If you know any just cause or impediment why these couples should not be joined together in holy matrimony, you are asked to declare it. (I have often wondered what would happen if someone did stand up and object!)l It suddenly struck me that statistically speaking, one of those marriages would end in divorce.
Consider abortion. Do we realize that one pregnancy in every six ends in abortion! One baby in every six is aborted! We do indeed live in a world of sex without love: a world that is very short on love. If we have never thought about this, then it seems to me that we must be very foolish indeed.
Today Without Tomorrow
The last thing I want to mention about our world is that we have today without tomorrow. An interesting reversal has taken place in modern time: in Victorian times, you never talked about sex, but the Victorians frequently talked about death. Nowadays, we talk about sex all the time, but death is a forbidden subject.
A few years ago, the Manchester Law Society organized a conference! I was rather interested in it, because of the title of the brochure advertising the subject, which was How to die happy! Tax and financial planning for the next generation. It continued by mentioning capital transfer tax and the important estate planning aspects involved. I considered this too good an opportunity to miss, so I wrote the author of the lecture a little note on How to die happy:
As a member of the Law Society, I have received details of your lecture and must congratulate you on the snappy title. However, as a Christian, I feel I must point out that you are not really dealing fully with the subject.
It always amazes me how friends and clients make careful preparation for capital transfer tax on their death, but appear to have a completely blank spot about what is going to happen to themselves. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that this is the great proof there is a life beyond the grave. For the Christian, this means we can die happy.
I don t quite know what he made of it! I did close by saying, I know this is a very unusual letter, but the subject of one s death is a very serious matter, isn t it. George Bernard Shaw once said: The statistics about death are very impressive. One out of one dies! Nothing is more certain than death. But the time of death is so uncertain: anyone dealing with probate matters will realize how suddenly death can happen. It is the ultimate event in life. I play chess in my spare time. I like the way one Puritan writer described death: he said, At death, God sweeps all the pieces from the chessboard of life, the King, the Queen, the rooks, the knight, the bishop and the pawn into the same box.
Have we ever considered that? If we have never considered this, it seems to me we must be foolish indeed.
Who‘s the Fool?
It is very significant that in our Lord’s parables, there is only one person He actually calls a fool. In Luke 12, Jesus told the parable of a very successful businessman, a rich farmer, who had big expansion plans. He was planning to tear down his present barns and build bigger barns to hold all of his goods. He said to himself, You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy; eat; drink, and enjoy yourself. But suddenly God said, You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life. This night, your soul shall be required of you.
It is obviously important to know how to make tax plans for the next generation and to so die happy, but if we have never thought about our own death, we are foolish indeed. It was Jesus Himself who called that rich farmer a fool.
I have painted what you might say is a very broad picture of the world in which we live; but I thought a lot about it when first faced with the challenge of the Christian faith. I started thinking furiously. I want to stress that one of the reasons why I became a Christian was not because I stopped thinking, but because I started thinking. I thought about this world, and I [sic] things. The world is aimless and empty, people are restless and lonely, powerless, without love and without hope. That s our world.
Questions and Answers
Now the great thing that excites me as a Christian is to find that there is an answer. If I may digress a moment, I think that in this modern world, people are at long last beginning to ask questions. Every Sunday afternoon, I take a young people s bible study group. I recently asked a young medical student what his generation thinks about our world. His answer was very significant. He said, People realize that there is a question. You may be one of those people who realizes that there is indeed a question; things aren t as simple as they once appeared and something does appear to have gone fundamentally wrong with this modern world.
The exciting thing which I humbly propose tonight is that the answer lies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This world would think the gospel answer sheet foolishness; they did in Paul s day when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth. Corinth was a great, but very permissive city; a saying of those days, to be Corinthianised, meant to be permissive or sexually loose. Corinth was a cultured Greek city, a city that knew something about the Jewish law, Greek wisdom and the power of the Romans. Paul said to the Corinthian Christians: The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. (I Cor. 1:23,24).
This Gospel of Jesus has the answers to our problems. There is a saying: The man who tries to change the world is an optimist, but the man who tries to change the world without first changing human nature is a sheer lunatic. That is where the Gospel come in! Christians believe in changing the world by changing human nature. Christians proclaim the dynamic power of Jesus to heal the pains of the world, the power of Jesus that we celebrate at Easter-time. Christians say very humbly and I say to you humbly tonight this Gospel is not foolishness, but the power of God to salvation.
How can this be true? Let s just go back over the things I ve described, the things we d be foolish indeed never to have considered. Let [s see how, in an incredible way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ meets those needs.
The first things was speed without direction, in other words, aimlessness. The first thing that happened to me when I became a Christian was that I found a purpose, a meaning, in my life. I wasn t just a nonentity. Everything, so to speak, clicked ! It is tremendous to be a Christian and a lawyer, to realize there is something only we can be and do for God. We are not alone in this universe, we have knowedge, a purpose in life, we know where we are going.
The next things I mentioned was existence without life, that is, emptiness. Years ago, the French philosopher, Pascal, said that each person is made with a God-shaped blank in his heart. People in the world are busy filling this void with other things. So was I, until I became a Christian but it is a god-shaped blank, and it is only God who can fill it and give us the fullness of Jesus.
Take amusement without happiness, a very prevalent phenomenon. We are restless in so many ways, and then we hear Christ s words: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. So you remember Augustine, who left North Africa for Rome; he had a mistress, slept around with women, but deep down, he was restless. Then one day he was converted a became a Christian. He composed a beautiful prayer: Lord, You have made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.
Or consider acquaintances without friends, loneliness. One of the greatest things about being a Christian, I have found, is that you suddenly belong to the family of God.
We are living in a world that is incredibly short of hope. I knew David Watson quite well. In fact, he was in my home just about 4 months before he finally died of the cancer that had been diagnosed a year earlier. One of the things that most impressed me about David was his ability to face death; he had this great hope. There is a saying, The church is the only organization in the world that never loses a member through death. When David died, I wrote to his mother, who, in reply, quoted David s words: For the Christian, the best is yet to be. In a world that lacks hope, where death is the last thing we think about, Christians can look at death and echo St. Paul s words, Oh death; where is thy sting? Oh grave; where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
That is my message; the world around us may well say it is sheer foolishness, but I say that the wisdom of this world is nothing in God s eyes. This Gospel, which so many despise, does have the answer; it is the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes.
Then I also mentioned that we have sex without love. The very heart of the Christian message, the heart of the Easter message, is that God loves the world and He loves each one of us. I like the story told about the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth who went to the United States to lecture in American theological colleges. At the end of one of his lectures, during a question-and-answer session, a student asked him: What is the greatest thought that has ever gone through your mind? There was a bit of a hush; this bright American student was sure the lecturer was stumped. For a moment he buries his head in his hands, then lifted up his head and said: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so! If you forget everything else that you have heart tonight, I trust you won t forget that!
In a world that has sex without love, where it seems that nobody loves and nobody cares, every time we come to Good Friday and think of Jesus death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, we are reminded that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whsoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlastintg life. (John 3:16). That is the message. Foolishness to this world, but the very power of God.
In conclusion, what are we going to do about it? No barrister or solicitor ever appeared in court without asking for a verdict. I too ask for a verdict, a conclusion. I venture to say that if we have grasped what I have been talking about tonight, that this message so despised of the world is the very power of God, then we must do something.
First, we need to apply this message to our lives. I think the very best definition I ve ever heard as to what it means to be a Christian is that it is the beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. I stand here tonight, only as one beggar telling another where to get bread.
After applying this message to our lives, the next thing we need to do is to demonstrate it. Jesus said some very remarkable things about Christians: He said that we are the light of the world. In every church, in every circle where Christians meet, including the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, we should be demonstrating the power of this Gospel.
One of the most thrilling stories I have recently heard came out of the bleak situation of the miners strike. A Christian policeman living in Chester was drafted into Nottingham on picket duty; there was tremendous violence on the part of striking miners and he found it a terrifying experience. Last summer, the policeman and his wife went to a Christian holiday centre and his wife found herself drawn in the putting competition against a young man she had not met before. As they played the course, they found they were both Christians and she admitted that she was married to a policeman. Much to her amazement, the young man introduced himself as a miner a striking miner. Her husband was drawn in the competition against another young man, who turned out to be a working miner! The four of them got together afterwards and found that despite the enormous differences in their positions, they had a common oneness and unity in Christ. That is what I mean by demonstrating the Gospel.
Apply it to our own lives, demonstrate it to the world and lastly, proclaim it! Most of us here tonight are probably Christians, but I want this to be a challenge to you. Are you ashamed of your faith? Are you boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus?
As this is the Lawyers Christian Fellowship and our President is Lord Denning, I will close with some words he wrote several years ago, but which are still applicable today:
We have already strayed too far from the faith of our fathers. Let us return to it, for it is the only thing that can save us.
Communication as General Revelation: The Anti-Evolutionary and Pro-Trinitarian Implications of Communication Phenomena
Ben M. Carter, Ph.D.
In this brief paper we will be dealing with several very complex themes. The complexity of the themes and the brevity of the paper means that of necessity our treatment of these diverse issues will be cursory. My point is not to exhaust any of the subjects but to present an outline of some of my own thoughts and to elicit feedback from you all. I hope we will have an opportunity for plenty of give and take at the end of this paper.
Communicate, communism, and community all share the same Latin root: communis meaning common. Communication involves a sharing where something peculiar is imparted and made common. This exchange requires a generalized connectedness that may be expressed in any number of ways. Inanimate objects like rooms can communicate with one another. Disease can be communicated between organisms, as can information. But in whatever form communication occurs, it is predicated on having something in common.
Like communication, the word "information" is also of Latin origin and suggests the internalization of a pattern in the Platonic sense. Hence, the communication of information between two organisms involves something abstract.2 Signals and signs inform, although an obvious connection between the signal and the information it conveys is by no means necessary. For example, the way a dog holds its tail tells other dogs and me something about that dog’s emotional and mental state. This ability to transmit information about emotional and mental states implies some level of community between dog and dog and between human and dog. For communication to occur between humans and dogs, we must be able to imagine to some degree what it is like to be a dog, and we may suppose that a dog in some way intuits what it is like to be a human. This ability to intuit secures the appropriateness of response and is based on empathy.
It is important to distinguish here between effect and response. While cause and effect may appear to be the same as stimulus and response, they are fundamentally different. An effect is invariable. A response is not. A response implies not effect but affect, a feeling or emotional state, or an imaginative construct upon which one acts. Response expresses inwardness, a disposition, an idea, or most generally a combination of these factors. When effective communication occurs at the information level, the signal of one being is accurately interpreted by another being and appropriately acted upon. Effective communication requires highly integrated patterns of stimulus and response.
The question addressed in this paper is: can genetics alone establish communicative common ground? This question is important for two reasons. First, it has evolutionary implications. The theory of evolution has always been a theory about relationships, relationships where shared qualities are assumed to be based on descent. Such qualities of relationship have always been recognized, even when applied to life forms. After all, Linnean taxonomy precedes evolutionary theory. But, in the case of life forms, they were thought, prior to Darwin, to express something essential in nature itself. For those who believed the doctrine that all was created by God, the similarities between different species revealed the hand of their Maker. As Francis Bacon put it, to study nature was to think the thoughts of God after him. But with Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) all that changed. Rather than appealing to essentialism, evolution supposes that similarities between life forms are similarities of descent. Creatures resemble one another not because they express archetypes or reveal the mind of God but because they share a common ancestor. As Daniel Dennett pointed out in the early chapters of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, by appealing to kinship evolution does away with essentialism.3 However, as we have just observed, the communication of affective states also suggests some level of commonality. If the theory of evolution understood as descent with modifications caused by random genetic changes cannot account for communication, we have reason to suppose the theory is false or at least inadequate. Second, since communication is such a widespread phenomenon, it may express something essential about fundamental reality and hence have something important to tell us about God.
Part I: A statement of the problem
Michael J. Behe, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has argued in Darwin’s Black Box (The Free Press, New York, 1996) that the extraordinary complexity of those biochemical processes comprising a cell are compelling evidence for design and hence for a Designer. Pointing out that these processes resemble Rube Goldberg machines, Dr. Behe reasons that since they do nothing until all their components are fully in place, it is impossible to imagine how natural selection could have created them from simpler processes since effective simpler processes do not exist. He calls his argument the argument from irreducible complexity. I think his insight is a powerful one and I would like to apply it to communication phenomena. Mutations are autonomous but communication involves community. Hence, communication, like biochemistry, is irreducibly complex. Given such complexity, it is not easy to imagine how communication could be created contingently and via autonomous mutations.
This, it seems to me, is the crux of the problem: while we might imagine how a genetic mutation could change the behavior or appearance of an organism, it is not easy to imagine how such a change could provoke another organism to respond appropriately, yet such a condition-specific response is exactly what communication requires. It also follows that the difficulty in imagining how a genetic mutation could create both a change in one organism and a response to that change in another organism suggests that communication may transcend genetics.
To illustrate: suppose a mutation in a butterfly caused it to perch on a branch and open and close its wings at regular intervals thereby sending a "signal" to others of its kind. Unless those others responded appropriately to this behavioral innovation (let us say they attempt to mate with the signaler), the "signal" would not be a signal at all, merely an non-productive waste of effort or worse be a "signal" to predators. We can imagine how randomness might generate unproductive effort but how can it generate productive response to what would otherwise be unproductive effort? Yet if evolution is true, such randomly generated communication must have been exceedingly common since communication itself is exceedingly common. Indeed communication is so common it would appear to express something fundamental to nature. That fundamental quality, I would argue, is community. Something in nature seems predisposed to organizing unrelated elements into meaningful patterns, and communication points starkly to the existence of that something.
Part II: Room for a soul
Life, complex, abundant and sexual, can exist without being aware and without communicating. This tells us that while life may be a prerequisite for awareness and communication, those abilities are not automatic consequences or expressions of life, even of complex life. Something more is required and at a minimum it would seem to be something connected with protein and the nervous system. This insight has inspired scientists like Tilly Edinger and Harry J. Jerison to attempt to trace the evolution of consciousness by measuring the endocranial casts or endocasts of fossilized animals and living species. Dr. Jerison writes, "[T]he mind and conscious experience [are] constructions of nervous systems to handle the overwhelming amount of information that they process. Intelligence…is a measure of the capacity for such constructions."4 Believing that brain size provides a rough key to intelligence, Dr. Jerison proposes a three-tiered model for brain evolution in vertebrates. On the first tier are fish, amphibians and reptiles. Birds and mammals occupy the second, and the genus Homo stands on the third tier alone with dolphins. Having proposed such a scenario, however, what impresses Dr. Jerison, and what must impress his readers, is the very conservative nature of brain evolution. Major jumps in brain size have occurred only twice: once between reptiles and birds and mammals with mammals developing a neocortex birds lack, and once between mammals and humans and dolphins.5 Furthermore both of these jumps occurred quite late in the fossil record. The fossil evidence should cause us to wonder if intelligence (which Dr. Jerison understands as a measure of consciousness) really conveys significant survival benefits since it developed so slowly.
While the correlation between consciousness and neural tissue might seem self evident, there are those who doubt that the presence of brains, even fully developed human brains, are necessary signifiers of consciousness. The rationalists of the seventeenth century famously believed that animals were no more than robots, and today there are those who argue that consciousness is a recent cultural construct. One of the best known defenders of this position is Julian Jaynes of Princeton University who in The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind argues that civilization and literacy were developed by nonconscious beings whose volition came from a "god voice" (itself nonconscious) that had evolved in the right hemisphere of their cerebrums. He believes consciousness emerged only with a cultural crisis in the second millennium BC, a crisis that was exacerbated by the earlier invention of writing, but he does not think this change was global. He suggests instead that the appearance of consciousness was spontaneous, local, and uneven and that only recently has its triumph been secured. Indeed he supposes the conquistadors were able to so easily subdue Mesoamerican civilizations because the Amerindians who built those civilizations were little more than automatons.6 Obviously Prof. Jaynes believes that consciousness conveys some survival benefits, but, as in the case of Dr. Jerison’s theory, those benefits are not immediately obvious. Certainly if Dr. Jaynes is right, only a tiny fragment of the world’s protoplasm has ever achieved consciousness, and that achievement is uneven and, considered from a evolutionist’s perspective, contemporary. In other words, consciousness is something of an anomaly. We should not have expected evolution to have produced it.
Another aspect of communication which bears on the problem we are considering is our experience of self as being in some sense unified. It is the isolation of the single self which makes communication necessary and so marvelous, but what exactly is this self? Does it have objective or only subjective and in some sense illusory existence? Richard Dawkins has described biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."7 The operative word for Prof. Dawkins is of course appearance. His study and the philosophy he has embraced while conducting that study convince him that teleology is no more than appearance and that design and purpose are the outworking of randomness over vast periods of time. If it is possible for biological processes over time to produce organisms that appear to have been designed, is it also possible for them to produce a self that only appears to be unified?
Daniel Dennett believes it is. He argues in Consciousness Explained that there is no Cartesian Theater where all information is integrated, that instead consciousness is the creation of subprocesses distributed throughout the brain that constantly produce Multiple Drafts of external events. As William Calvin has described it:
[T]here is no place in the brain where an executive sits, receiving reports and issuing orders. … The real me is a little bit of everywhere in there. It’s a committee of nerve cells.8
This insight rests upon the work of Santiago Ramon de Cajal who a century ago first realized that rather than being a continuous net, the brain was composed of discrete units. To date experiments conducted to unravel the phenomenon of visual awareness have confirmed the expectations of Professors Dennett and Calvin. What we experience as unified vision seems to be the product of several subprocesses that have no obvious connection to one another.9 And, as Dr. Semir Zeki points out, this strongly suggests that there is no central point for integrating information.10
What we have is a situation where current scientific speculation proposes neural processes that, though apparently unconnected, generate one’s experience of unified vision and one’s sense of being a unified self. The irony is that the door the researchers and theorists have opened leads directly to the room of the soul. Daniel Dennett for his part is very clear about this. He is forced to posit a soul but interprets it in mechanistic terms. It is, he says, the final result of the actions of millions of tiny robots. A "soul" is generated by them and ends when their action ceases.
Prof. Dennett spends so much time trying to explain away what he calls "the ghost in the machine" because recent scientific experiments have made that ghost so apparent. The unthinkable has occurred. Science has in effect demonstrated the necessity of a soul. What materialists like Daniel Dennett must do is explain that discovery away. Yet Prof. Dennett wrestles with questions he is never able to fully resolve. Why should unconscious robots create consciousness? Why should independent processes lose themselves in an illusion of unity? And why does consciousness involve any sense of self at all?
Considered from an evolutionist’s point of view life could have evolved successfully and never become conscious. After all, as we have seen, consciousness seems to have only limited survival value and may even be imagined as a very recent phenomenon. Indeed, even the development of a nervous system proved no guarantee for the evolution of intelligence. The brain, as Dr. Jerison has shown, is a very conservative organ. Yet consciousness beings who can communicate elements of that consciousness to other beings are everywhere. Indeed, communicative consciousness is so common most people assume it exists across the universe. Such communicative unified consciousness is, I submit, the expression of soul. I also submit that rather than being the final result of the actions of millions of tiny robots, soul is the agent which integrates that action. And finally I submit evolutionists have convincingly if unwittingly demonstrated how extremely unlikely the evolution of soul was.
Part III: The Instability Factor
Since Darwin evolution has generally been conceived as the outcome of adaptation to a local environment. Such local adaptations, Daniel Dennett tells us, are the sources of evolutionary progress.11 Hence evolution has a deterministic and a random quality to which one can appeal to account for both the rich variety and the intricate order of life. Though evolution draws its raw material from random mutations, that randomness is shaped by the balance of nature, a balance implying that environmental stasis is the norm. This perceived stasis is one of the key components to evolution’s deterministic side. It provides mutations with the stability necessary to establish themselves. In the Darwinian model competition among individuals of the same species was the primary engine behind the origin of species. Hence change was assumed to occur very slowly.
However, recent studies have suggested that environments are far more dynamic than the static "balance of nature" model suggests. Hence evolution, if it is occurring on the grand scale necessary to make the theory a viable alternative to creationism, must be reimagined to include factors that far transcend local environments. According to Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin in The Sixth Extinction, evolution is fueled not only by adaptations to local environments, but also (and more powerfully) by the internal dynamics of ecosystems that behave chaotically, and by history itself, a history, they point out, that is fundamentally contingent and can involve global catastrophes like collisions with massive comets as well as more local disasters like epidemics. In other words, what we see as stasis is ephemeral and emerges out of a far higher degree of randomness than has previously been appreciated. One of the consequences of this discovery is that evolution is essentially unpredictable, placing it outside the realm of traditional science. A second consequence, and one that is for the moment of more interest to us, is how this randomness impacts community and communication.
Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity argument is two pronged. First, it makes the point that the molecules and chemical reactions of life are not only tremendously complicated, they cannot be simplified and still be effective. Hence, it is not easy to imagine how they could have evolved from more simple processes. Second, one would assume from their complexity that the evolution of such processes, if it did occur, would require vast amounts of time. This second point is what the new picture of chaotic or dynamic nature subverts.12 Instead of incremental development, the fossil record indicates that new forms of life appear suddenly during periods of instability and then maintain themselves relatively unchanged during periods of stability. The implication is that rather than breaking down orderly arrangements, instability is inexplicably the source of new expressions of order and that these forms appear quickly.
It seems to me that in the origins debate between essentialism and descent, the evidence as we have it today strongly favors the essentialist side. Order, even in its highly complex forms, would seem to be a fundamental rather than a contingent element to the universe, otherwise disorder would not be the vector of new and complex patterns of order. And of course essentialism, associated as it is with ontological universals, is the philosophical handmaid of natural theology.13 So clearly has chaos theory established the essentialist position that James Gleick claims the reality of final cause is firmly established by Darwinism.14 And if Darwinism plus chaos theory have reintroduced Aristotle, we should note that Plato, too, has won reconsideration among mathematicians and logicians. Roger Penrose identifies Kurt Godel, the Austrian mathematician whose theorem demonstrated the centrality of intuition in mathematics, as "a very strong Platonist."15 And Penrose himself believes that mathematical truth transcends algorithms and that consciousness is essential if only to judge which algorithm is generating true statements.16 He writes, "I believe…that our consciousness is a crucial ingredient in our comprehension of mathematical truth."17 Interestingly he makes this claim only two pages after referring to the teleological dimension of evolution.
Part IV: The evolution of language
We referred earlier to the conservative nature of brain evolution. The cost of having a brain is one explanation for that conservatism. As we saw, complex sexual life can generate abundance without benefit of a nervous system. Adding a nervous system conveys an absolute cost without absolute guarantees. If the cost is low enough, relative guarantees may compensate for it, but the biological cost of nervous tissue is high. The high cost of maintaining that nervous system coupled with its relative and diminishing returns explains the conservative nature of brain evolution.
Let us apply this insight to the current scenario proposed for human evolution and what it suggests about the evolution of language. I will borrow heavily here from the scenario sketched in Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained since he attempts to deal with the problem from a purely Darwinian standpoint.
Dennett begins with the proposition that considered genetically chimpanzees are our closest kin. He then argues from both genetic and fossil evidence that our line and that of the chimpanzee diverged approximately six million years ago. Two-and-a-half million years later our ancestors stood erect. While this change in posture had no appreciable effect on the size of our ancestors’ brains, we can imagine that it left their hands free thus increasing the potential for tool manipulation. Another million years elapsed. Then in something over two million years our ancestors’ brains swelled to their current size. Amazingly Dennett for theoretical reasons believes that this increase in brain size was not accompanied by language development, cooking (implying no real mastery of fire), agriculture, or any of those things we associate with higher intelligence.18 It seems to have been an increase in potential, nothing more. From a Darwinian standpoint this scenario introduces a huge problem: what was the value at the time of this extraordinary advance? What forces selected for this unprecedented increase in potential?
To drive the point home, consider what Dr. Sherwin Nuland says concerning the human brain, its size and complexity, and the cost it imposes on the body. Dr. Nuland begins by pointing out that much of the structure of the human brain with its ten billion neurons and sixty trillion synapses is unique to our species.19 He then writes:
Though three pounds [the weight of the brain] represents a mere 2 percent of the body weight of a 150-pound person, the quartful of brain is so metabolically active that it uses 20 percent of the oxygen we take in through our lungs…Fully 15 percent of the of the blood propelled into the aorta with each concentration of the left ventricle is transported directly to the brain.20
In other words, Darwinists like Daniel Dennett expect us to believe that the human brain which is four times larger than the brain of a chimpanzee, which puts tremendous metabolic demands on the body, and which is vastly intricate and unique to our species, evolved in a little more than two million years from an ape’s brain, an ape’s brain which had served quite adequately for three-and-a-half million years and still serves our nearest genetic relatives quite well. How random natural selection could have accomplished so wonderful a feat when the huge, hungry, and unique brains offered no obvious survival value, Prof. Dennett boldly leaves to our imagination. Once this evolution was completed about 150,000 years ago nothing else happened for over a thousand generations until our ancestors discovered how to control fire, then evolved some kind of language, and finally about ten or fifteen thousand years ago began to domesticate animals and plants.
In the middle of this century Susanne Langer, a Whiteheadean who was also interested in the origin of language and consciousness, pointed out that language is universal among human groups and that even among those which have what she calls "the simplest of the practical arts," there are no archaic languages. All are fully and complexly present.21 She also suggests that language developed rapidly as members of our sociable species began to use sounds to name objects22, a scenario reminiscent of the second chapter of Genesis. Both she and Daniel Dennett believe for theoretical reasons that before language ability could develop, all the mental equipment had to be in place. Current science supports their surmise. Antonio R. Damasio and Hanna Damasio, a husband and wife research team at the University of Iowa, write: Language seems to have appeared in evolution only after humans and species before them had become adept at generating and categorizing actions and at creating and categorizing mental representations of objects, events and relations.
They go on to suggest that this process is recapitulated in infant development.23 The point, that conceptualization preceded the evolution of language, makes sense. Before speaking, one should have ideas to express. But this also suggests that language as we know it is neurologically distinct from communication per se since the purpose of language is precisely the accurate communication of complex concepts. Indeed, the model proposed by the Damasios is profoundly teleological and leaves us wondering how the three interacting sets of neural structures which the Damasios believe process language in the brain could evolved through natural selection.
Part V: Conclusion
It is time to summarize our points and draw our conclusions. First, we have suggested that the commonness of communication implies community as a fundamental reality in nature. Second, we have also suggested that at least theoretically community and communication may be more basic than consciousness and that consciousness itself might be a construct of community, either a community of interacting neural structures or of human culture. Third, we have pointed out that brain evolution as revealed in the fossil record seems to have been very conservative, a phenomena which casts doubt on the selective advantage not only of intelligence but more particularly of higher intelligence. Fourth, we have posited communication as an example of irreducible complexity and hence as something that probably did not evolve from simpler processes. Having described communication as an example of irreducible complexity, we have attempted to distinguish between simple communication and human language and have stressed the teleological implications in the origins of human language. And fifth, we have argued that irreducible complexity along with a new awareness of the chaotic dimensions of nature and an increased appreciation of the role of intuition in mathematics point to essentialism rather than kinship as a more viable explanatory paradigm of origins.
The world as it appears today is not the world Darwin and his nineteenth century champions would have anticipated. It is a world where life evidences far more variety than would have probably occurred through descent with modification. It is also a world where natural systems are far more chaotic than Darwin, convinced by Charles Lyell’s uniformitarianism, was willing to allow. It is a world where order and community are generated in the midst of these chaotic systems, a world where knowledge is predicated on intuition and empathy, a world where community and intuition together make communication possible, a world which requires soul. Hence, it is a world made more intelligible by essentialism than by inheritance, and a world which appears far more likely to have been fashioned by a purposeful creator than to have evolved randomly out of chaos. Finally as the artifact of a creator, it is a world which reveals things about its creator. I believe that communication as an example of irreducible complexity is revelatory.
What would communication as an example of irreducible complexity tell us about a Designer/Creator? It would tell us that community and communication might be an essential aspect of that Designer/Creator.
How might community and communication as an essential aspect of a Designer/Creator impact our creation dogma? Many religions lack an adequate doctrine of creation. Hinduism and Buddhism, for example, posit life’s purpose as an escape from illusion and a return to Brahma or Nirvana but leave opened the question of why the original illusion was generated or expressed. Judaism and Islam (see Sura XIII)offer a solution to the mystery of creation by assuming creation glorifies God, but they leave open the question of why a perfect monotheistic deity would choose to create, or why, having created, would make himself available to his creation. Christianity solves this problem. Like Judaism and Islam, Christianity supposes that God is glorified and revealed through His creation, but, unlike Judaism and Islam, Christianity via the doctrine of the Trinity makes such a glorification comprehensible. By presenting God as essentially communal and loving, Christianity unveils creation as a natural outflow of God’s communal love. And since God’s love is the highest love, our glorification of God becomes a communication in love and rebounds to our benefit. Of course this communication is secured for us by the sacrifice of Christ who via his Holy Spirit draws us into communication with God. As Andrew Murray observed:
When the Father gave the Son a place next to Himself as His equal and His counselor, He opened a way for prayer and its influence into the very inmost life of Deity itself.24
Finally, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity offers an explanation for why communication is so common. Communication in creation is rooted in communication within the Godhead, and creation, spoken into existence by God, is an icon of the mind of God. As John tells us: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Proper Function, Natural Reason and Evils as Extrinsic Goods
Edward N. Martin, Ph.D.
(Philosophy Department - Trinity College & Seminary, Newburgh, IN)
This is a paper about God, evil, and the soul-making theodicy. Too often we pair together this theodicy with various liberal philosophical theologians (e.g. John Hick), and miss the importance of the rich resources that we find in the theodicy itself. I would like to propose that we not overlook the continuing importance of this theodical method, for this method or approach to theodicy seems squarely in line, in its essential parts, with the New Testament conception of the development of Christian character and the theological virtue of hope. Consider Paul‘s sentiment in the Book of Romans.
"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Rom 5:3,4 [NIV])
Obviously, for suffering to ultimately produce character and hope for the believer there has to be a structure in place whereby the intrinsic evil of suffering can "produce" this sequential process, from suffering to perseverance to character and finally to hope.
What ought we to say, however, for the unbeliever? Is there a structure in place in the human psyche or the human mind such that suffering can, in some way, produce hope for this person as well? The "hope" in view here need not be true, conscious Christ-focused eschatological hope, or a true instantiation of the theological virtue of hope (which takes knowledge of Christ as personal savior as a necessary condition for obtaining). Although Paul was addressing believing Christians in Romans 5, perhaps there is a sort of "first level" of hope whereby even the unbeliever can get a foretaste or shadow of the true hope which we find in Christ.
Let us examine this possibility by means of an investigation of the structure of our belief-forming mechanisms. Since suffering is what sets this chain of implications in motion of which Paul speaks in Romans 5, we know that suffering therefore plays a key role in this process. It is the door, the gateway, that can lead the human heart and mind ultimately to hope.
I will employ a sort of transcendental approach in this paper, that approach offered by Kant in his first Critique. The transcendental argument-type one may employ would be to observe an X, and to ask: what are the conditions for the possibility of the instantiation of X? The strength of this approach for theodicy is that it allows for two important steps in properly expressing a theodicy. First, the theist is allowed to start with basic knowledge claims that both sides of the debate can agree upon. We might call this set of claims that he starts with "common background knowledge." Second, it allows the theist to "tell the theodical story" with a goal in mind of supplying sets of plausible or not irrational sufficient conditions for God‘s permission of evils. Many theodicists, for example, have started with basic assumptions such as the following:
1. There is a vast amount of evil in the world.
2. Our belief-forming mechanisms are wonderfully complex and exhibit intelligent design.
3. We do note that some evils do patently give rise, once followed out in an historical situation, to a greater good.
4. Some evils, when followed out for a significant space of time, for reasons we cannot perceive do not patently give rise to an observational greater good.
What are some sets of sufficient conditions that could, or might, plausibly give rise to worlds in which the above agreed-upon realities are true?
In order to begin here to answer this question, let us look at the framework within which the soul-making theodicy is usually given. It is clear that the theist must include, as part of his presentation, a good bit of ethical theory by which to explain and help understand God‘s duties as a creator, the definition of virtue, suffering as a possible extrinsic good, and the like. Some recent developments in the area of epistemology are also, I believe, of great relevance to theodicy. Recent work by Alvin Plantinga and others holds that epistemic justification or "warrant" hinges on the idea of the "proper functioning" of one‘s cognitive mechanisms in one‘s environment at a time, in the absence of significant epistemic defeaters, overriders or undercutters.25 If we form a bel