Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
anonymous66
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Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 7:57 am

I've been looking into the views of Christians who accept evolution- specifically Ken Miller and Francis Collins. It seems to me that it is harder to make Christianity compatible with evolution than I first imagined. An acquaintance remarked that if evolution is true, then we have no sin nature, if we have no sin nature, then Jesus died for nothing, and Christianity is pointless.

I also find it interesting that Ken Miller and Francis Collins don't expect to find evidence of God interacting in our world. In fact, they both have a problem with Michael Behe, a Christian who accepts evolution and the age of the universe as being billions of years old- but Behe also believes that the sheer improbabilities of evolution itself is evidence of God's existence.

Shouldn't Miller and Behe be in agreement with Behe?

Miller and Collins make it clear that they expect the evolution of life to be explained purely by natural processes. Just what is it that they believe God is responsible for? Did He merely create the universe, and then leave it to its own devices?

I see 3 possible theories that explain our universe.
1. Physicalism- if physicalism is true, then everything is physical or describable by the laws of physics. If physicalism is true, then there is no God (because God isn't physical).
2. Deism- if deism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, but He doesn't interact with our world. If Deism, then there is no true religion. If Deism, then religions were invented by men.
3. Theism- if theism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, and God interacts with our world. If theism is true, then it is possible that there is only one true religion.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by Steve3007 » August 7th, 2018, 8:24 am

An acquaintance remarked that if evolution is true, then we have no sin nature, if we have no sin nature, then Jesus died for nothing, and Christianity is pointless.
When you say "sin nature" I assume you mean the ability to freely choose to act and to judge those actions as good or ill. So I assume your acquaintance made this remark because he/she thinks that Evolution implies a deterministic universe with no free will. I think many people would dispute this.
In fact, they both have a problem with Michael Behe, a Christian who accepts evolution and the age of the universe as being billions of years old- but Behe also believes that the sheer improbabilities of evolution itself is evidence of God's existence.
Michael Behe is a very well known advocate of Intelligent Design and the concept of "irreducible complexity". He wants Intelligent Design to be accepted as a valid alternative to Evolution as a scientific theory. Intelligent Design has been furiously discussed on this forum in the past, but not for a very long time.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 8:51 am

Michael Behe is a very well known advocate of Intelligent Design and the concept of "irreducible complexity". He wants Intelligent Design to be accepted as a valid alternative to Evolution as a scientific theory. Intelligent Design has been furiously discussed on this forum in the past, but not for a very long time.
For the purposes of this thread, I'm assuming that evolution is an accurate account, and the universe is 13.7 billion years old.

I'm more interested in that Behe is saying, "I accept evolution and the age of the universe, I just also believe that evolution is such that, the sheer improbabilities involved suggest that it isn't just chance... there is a reason- and that reason is God."

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 8:54 am

Steve3007 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 8:24 am
An acquaintance remarked that if evolution is true, then we have no sin nature, if we have no sin nature, then Jesus died for nothing, and Christianity is pointless.
When you say "sin nature" I assume you mean the ability to freely choose to act and to judge those actions as good or ill. So I assume your acquaintance made this remark because he/she thinks that Evolution implies a deterministic universe with no free will. I think many people would dispute this.
It's not an issue of free will. At least not for my acquaintance. Christian doctrine suggests that because the first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned against God, they have a sin nature. That sin nature was passed down, we can't enter heaven after we die, because of that sin nature. But, God had a plan, He sent Jesus to be punished in our stead. If we accept that we have sinned and accept that Jesus paid the price for that sin, then we will be in heaven.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 8:56 am

anonymous66 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 8:54 am
Steve3007 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 8:24 am


When you say "sin nature" I assume you mean the ability to freely choose to act and to judge those actions as good or ill. So I assume your acquaintance made this remark because he/she thinks that Evolution implies a deterministic universe with no free will. I think many people would dispute this.
It's not an issue of free will. At least not for my acquaintance. Christian doctrine suggests that because the first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned against God, they have a sin nature. That sin nature was passed down, we can't enter heaven after we die, because of that sin nature. But, God had a plan, He sent Jesus to be punished in our stead. If we accept that we have sinned and accept that Jesus paid the price for that sin, then we will be in heaven.
If no sin nature, then no need for Jesus. If no need for Jesus, then Christianity is pointless.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 9:41 am

anonymous66 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:57 am
I see 3 possible theories that explain our universe.
1. Physicalism- if physicalism is true, then everything is physical or describable by the laws of physics. If physicalism is true, then there is no God (because God isn't physical).
2. Deism- if deism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, but He doesn't interact with our world. If Deism, then there is no true religion. If Deism, then religions were invented by men.
3. Theism- if theism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, and God interacts with our world. If theism is true, then it is possible that there is only one true religion.
There is another possibility that is being promoted by Thomas Nagel. It's an Aristotlean teleology that is consistent with Atheism. I've read Mind and Cosmos, and it seems to suggest that Nagel believes there is a will that is responsible for the existence of our universe, and for what happens in it. It might even be consistent with deism- but Nagel insists that it is consistent with his atheism.
4. An Aristotlean teleology- this suggests that goal directed behavior of some sort is the reason everything exists. [If this teleology, then not chance, not physicalism, and not theism]

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 7th, 2018, 11:10 am

Assuming that some of the Bible is definitely myth-my assumption is that the creation story in Genesis is demonstrably false. God did not create separate kinds only thousands of years ago, the earth was not completely covered in water 15 cubits above the tallest mountains, earth's population was never reduced to 8 people, land animals were never reduced to either 2 or 7 of each "kind".

If the above are myths, then what in the Bible is not myth? If like Collins and Miller suggest, we should expect to find natural explanations for the existence of life, then isn't that deism? (I'm assuming that Collins and Miller aren't promoting physicalism).

If Christians accept evolution is the case, then is the Christianity they are left with merely a form of Deism?

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by Eduk » August 7th, 2018, 2:04 pm

Christianity logically can't be logical. If it was it wouldn't exist.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 7th, 2018, 2:40 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:57 am
I've been looking into the views of Christians who accept evolution- specifically Ken Miller and Francis Collins. It seems to me that it is harder to make Christianity compatible with evolution than I first imagined. An acquaintance remarked that if evolution is true, then we have no sin nature, if we have no sin nature, then Jesus died for nothing, and Christianity is pointless.

I also find it interesting that Ken Miller and Francis Collins don't expect to find evidence of God interacting in our world. In fact, they both have a problem with Michael Behe, a Christian who accepts evolution and the age of the universe as being billions of years old- but Behe also believes that the sheer improbabilities of evolution itself is evidence of God's existence.

Shouldn't Miller and Behe be in agreement with Behe?

Miller and Collins make it clear that they expect the evolution of life to be explained purely by natural processes. Just what is it that they believe God is responsible for? Did He merely create the universe, and then leave it to its own devices?

I see 3 possible theories that explain our universe.
1. Physicalism- if physicalism is true, then everything is physical or describable by the laws of physics. If physicalism is true, then there is no God (because God isn't physical).
2. Deism- if deism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, but He doesn't interact with our world. If Deism, then there is no true religion. If Deism, then religions were invented by men.
3. Theism- if theism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, and God interacts with our world. If theism is true, then it is possible that there is only one true religion.
Clearly Deism is not compatible with reason so nothing is destined to become Deism.
Historically Deism is a form of accepting the existence of God in a watered down for to satisfy laws that meant being an atheist was a burning issue (literally). Thinkers were able to satisfy the contradictions of evil, injustice and indiscriminate suffering in the world without concluding that there was not God, - which would have resulted in their own suffering and oppression.
But Deism offers nothing, especially nothing to Christianity. Asking if Christianity could become a form of Deism would be like asking if a car without an engine or wheels is still a car.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 8th, 2018, 7:43 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 2:40 pm
anonymous66 wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:57 am
I've been looking into the views of Christians who accept evolution- specifically Ken Miller and Francis Collins. It seems to me that it is harder to make Christianity compatible with evolution than I first imagined. An acquaintance remarked that if evolution is true, then we have no sin nature, if we have no sin nature, then Jesus died for nothing, and Christianity is pointless.

I also find it interesting that Ken Miller and Francis Collins don't expect to find evidence of God interacting in our world. In fact, they both have a problem with Michael Behe, a Christian who accepts evolution and the age of the universe as being billions of years old- but Behe also believes that the sheer improbabilities of evolution itself is evidence of God's existence.

Shouldn't Miller and Behe be in agreement with Behe?

Miller and Collins make it clear that they expect the evolution of life to be explained purely by natural processes. Just what is it that they believe God is responsible for? Did He merely create the universe, and then leave it to its own devices?

I see 3 possible theories that explain our universe.
1. Physicalism- if physicalism is true, then everything is physical or describable by the laws of physics. If physicalism is true, then there is no God (because God isn't physical).
2. Deism- if deism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, but He doesn't interact with our world. If Deism, then there is no true religion. If Deism, then religions were invented by men.
3. Theism- if theism is true, then God is the reason everything exists, and God interacts with our world. If theism is true, then it is possible that there is only one true religion.
Clearly Deism is not compatible with reason so nothing is destined to become Deism.
Historically Deism is a form of accepting the existence of God in a watered down for to satisfy laws that meant being an atheist was a burning issue (literally). Thinkers were able to satisfy the contradictions of evil, injustice and indiscriminate suffering in the world without concluding that there was not God, - which would have resulted in their own suffering and oppression.
But Deism offers nothing, especially nothing to Christianity. Asking if Christianity could become a form of Deism would be like asking if a car without an engine or wheels is still a car.
Let me put it this way. Since Miller and Collins don't expect to see evidence of God doing anything (they believe all is explainable by biology and physics),then doesn't that make them Deists? As I understand it, Theists believe that God does interact with our world, while Deists believe that He does not.

It seems to me that real Theists would have to believe as Behe believes- that evolution is proof that God exists... because the improbabilities are too great for life to have happened by mere chance.

Don't get me wrong. I think Behe is wrong to have become involved with Intelligent Design(ID), because as I understand it, ID rejects the reality that all life evolved from single-celled life that lived billions of years ago. (And remember, Behe does accept evolution). But, Behe is right, in that given the 2 options of 1. blind chance or 2. God is the reaoson, Christians ought to accept that God is responsible. Again, to believe that God exists, and yet He doesn't interact with our world is Deism.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 8th, 2018, 11:32 am

anonymous66 wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 7:43 am
Let me put it this way. Since Miller and Collins don't expect to see evidence of God doing anything (they believe all is explainable by biology and physics),then doesn't that make them Deists? As I understand it, Theists believe that God does interact with our world, while Deists believe that He does not.
They might be deists, but they have no cause to imply that there was ever such a thing as a "god" in the first place. A non interventionist god is a redundancy.

It seems to me that real Theists would have to believe as Behe believes- that evolution is proof that God exists... because the improbabilities are too great for life to have happened by mere chance.
Evolution is an automatic "natural" process, so no, "real theists" do not get to conclude the existence of god through the existence of evolution.
Who says life is improbably anyway? Based on what example? Since we only have the example of our own earth, and so far no other, then in a billion galaxies, however improbably it might seem, one is still only one example.

Don't get me wrong. I think Behe is wrong to have become involved with Intelligent Design(ID), because as I understand it, ID rejects the reality that all life evolved from single-celled life that lived billions of years ago. (And remember, Behe does accept evolution). But, Behe is right, in that given the 2 options of 1. blind chance or 2. God is the reaoson, Christians ought to accept that God is responsible. Again, to believe that God exists, and yet He doesn't interact with our world is Deism.
They are most likely all wrong since none of the conclusions leading to a deity or a theos are reasonable.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 10th, 2018, 8:30 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 11:32 am
anonymous66 wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 7:43 am
Let me put it this way. Since Miller and Collins don't expect to see evidence of God doing anything (they believe all is explainable by biology and physics),then doesn't that make them Deists? As I understand it, Theists believe that God does interact with our world, while Deists believe that He does not.
They might be deists, but they have no cause to imply that there was ever such a thing as a "god" in the first place. A non interventionist god is a redundancy.

It seems to me that real Theists would have to believe as Behe believes- that evolution is proof that God exists... because the improbabilities are too great for life to have happened by mere chance.
Evolution is an automatic "natural" process, so no, "real theists" do not get to conclude the existence of god through the existence of evolution.
Who says life is improbably anyway? Based on what example? Since we only have the example of our own earth, and so far no other, then in a billion galaxies, however improbably it might seem, one is still only one example.

Don't get me wrong. I think Behe is wrong to have become involved with Intelligent Design(ID), because as I understand it, ID rejects the reality that all life evolved from single-celled life that lived billions of years ago. (And remember, Behe does accept evolution). But, Behe is right, in that given the 2 options of 1. blind chance or 2. God is the reaoson, Christians ought to accept that God is responsible. Again, to believe that God exists, and yet He doesn't interact with our world is Deism.
They are most likely all wrong since none of the conclusions leading to a deity or a theos are reasonable.
I don't like theism because it can't be separated from religion. Religions have gotten too much wrong. The assertion that the Bible is God's inerrant word is demonstrably false. And if religious books didn't come from God, then I see no reason to put faith in religion. I find it very doubtful that a good God would even like any religion.

But deism doesn't have the baggage that religion does. If deism, then God exists, but we don't know all that much about Him.

Given the options of a reason that everything exists, and blind chance? I think a reason is worth exploring. I've been wondering how that the idea of panpsychism and a conscious universe would play into the idea of a reason vs chance. So not technically deism, but something like deism.

I'd like to see some estimates of how likely it is that life came from non-life purely by chance. And some estimates of how likely it is that RNA started recording information by chance alone.

The idea that there are multiple universes, and we just happen to be in one that made it possible for life to arise, doesn't really do all that much for me either. (you don't even need multiple universes, if you want to go that route, you could also argue that the universe is infinitely large, and we just happen to be in that corner that made it possible for life to arise)

To quote Thomas Nagel, the idea of multiple universes "is a cop-out which dispenses with the attempt to explain anything. And without the hypothesis of multiple universes, the observation that if life hadn't come into existence we wouldn't be here has no significance. One doesn't show that something doesn't require explanation by pointing out that it is a condition of one's existence. If I ask for an explanation of the fact that the air pressure of the transcontinental jet is close to that at sea level, it is no answer to point out that if it weren't, I'd be dead."

I get the sense that I'm being told to, "just accept that life is the result of a [presumably fortunate] accident... don't go looking for the how or why life exists." It's basically the materialists version of "God did it".

But, I digress. I'd like to talk about how Christianity can come to terms with evolution. It's a bigger issue than I imagined because some prominent Christians who do accept evolution sound to me like either physicalists or deists- because they believe the mechanism by which life arose is only one of natural processes- even though other Christians like Behe, who accept evolution, also believe it is improbable that life arose, and the process by which information is coded in dna could be the result of purely natural processes. And of course, there is also the problem of how to make the concept of original sin compatible with evolution.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 10th, 2018, 8:52 am

anonymous66 wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 8:30 am

But deism doesn't have the baggage that religion does. If deism, then God exists, but we don't know all that much about Him.
Urumph!!!
You claim not to know much about the "Deity", yet you embellish you claim with personhood and gender!
Who the **** is this "Him" geezer.
By taking this tack you have already departed from any kind of objective or rational process.

Given the options of a reason that everything exists, and blind chance? I think a reason is worth exploring. I've been wondering how that the idea of panpsychism and a conscious universe would play into the idea of a reason vs chance. So not technically deism, but something like deism.
Deism does not help your case.
If the universe exists by design then that which designed the universe is greater and more incomprehensible, and thus a more outrageous claim.
Additionally you have a false dichotomy. You are claiming that the universe exists for a reason OR blind chance. Does your imagination not extend to other alternatives?
And if you postulate reason or some sort of being at the source of the universe you still have to answer how those things emerged ex nihilo.

I'd like to see some estimates of how likely it is that life came from non-life purely by chance. And some estimates of how likely it is that RNA started recording information by chance alone.
There are a 100 billion stars, most with planets, in our galaxy alone and there are billions of galaxies (that we can see), with untold others beyond our view.
When you have so many dice, then getting a result is not improbable is tends to certainty.

The idea that there are multiple universes, ....

digression deleted

But, I digress. I'd like to talk about how Christianity can come to terms with evolution. It's a bigger issue than I imagined because some prominent Christians who do accept evolution sound to me like either physicalists or deists- because they believe the mechanism by which life arose is only one of natural processes- even though other Christians like Behe, who accept evolution, also believe it is improbable that life arose, and the process by which information is coded in dna could be the result of purely natural processes. And of course, there is also the problem of how to make the concept of original sin compatible with evolution.
Christians can't have it both ways.

Evolution destroys their central credo.

We had this argument in the UK 150 years ago. Basically Darwin came out on top. Now the churches of the UK no longer hold Sunday service. Most are now converted into trendy apartments, art exhibition halls, creches, community centres, and trendy coffee bars.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by anonymous66 » August 10th, 2018, 9:05 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 8:52 am
anonymous66 wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 8:30 am

But deism doesn't have the baggage that religion does. If deism, then God exists, but we don't know all that much about Him.
Urumph!!!
You claim not to know much about the "Deity", yet you embellish you claim with personhood and gender!
Who the **** is this "Him" geezer.
By taking this tack you have already departed from any kind of objective or rational process.


Given the options of a reason that everything exists, and blind chance? I think a reason is worth exploring. I've been wondering how that the idea of panpsychism and a conscious universe would play into the idea of a reason vs chance. So not technically deism, but something like deism.
Deism does not help your case.
If the universe exists by design then that which designed the universe is greater and more incomprehensible, and thus a more outrageous claim.
Additionally you have a false dichotomy. You are claiming that the universe exists for a reason OR blind chance. Does your imagination not extend to other alternatives?
And if you postulate reason or some sort of being at the source of the universe you still have to answer how those things emerged ex nihilo.

I'd like to see some estimates of how likely it is that life came from non-life purely by chance. And some estimates of how likely it is that RNA started recording information by chance alone.
There are a 100 billion stars, most with planets, in our galaxy alone and there are billions of galaxies (that we can see), with untold others beyond our view.
When you have so many dice, then getting a result is not improbable is tends to certainty.

The idea that there are multiple universes, ....

digression deleted

But, I digress. I'd like to talk about how Christianity can come to terms with evolution. It's a bigger issue than I imagined because some prominent Christians who do accept evolution sound to me like either physicalists or deists- because they believe the mechanism by which life arose is only one of natural processes- even though other Christians like Behe, who accept evolution, also believe it is improbable that life arose, and the process by which information is coded in dna could be the result of purely natural processes. And of course, there is also the problem of how to make the concept of original sin compatible with evolution.
Christians can't have it both ways.

Evolution destroys their central credo.

We had this argument in the UK 150 years ago. Basically Darwin came out on top. Now the churches of the UK no longer hold Sunday service. Most are now converted into trendy apartments, art exhibition halls, creches, community centres, and trendy coffee bars.
You misunderstand me in regards to Deism. I'm merely considering possibilities.
You are claiming that the universe exists for a reason OR blind chance. Does your imagination not extend to other alternatives?
I'm all ears. What other possibilities are there besides reason or chance?

In case you didn't read it the first time: The idea that there are multiple universes, and we just happen to be in one that made it possible for life to arise, doesn't really do all that much for me either. (you don't even need multiple universes, if you want to go that route, you could also argue that the universe is infinitely large, and we just happen to be in that corner that made it possible for life to arise)

To quote Thomas Nagel, the idea of multiple universes "is a cop-out which dispenses with the attempt to explain anything. And without the hypothesis of multiple universes, the observation that if life hadn't come into existence we wouldn't be here has no significance. One doesn't show that something doesn't require explanation by pointing out that it is a condition of one's existence. If I ask for an explanation of the fact that the air pressure of the transcontinental jet is close to that at sea level, it is no answer to point out that if it weren't, I'd be dead."

I get the sense that I'm being told to, "just accept that life is the result of a [presumably fortunate] accident... don't go looking for the how or why life exists." It's basically the materialists version of "God did it".
Christians can't have it both ways.

Evolution destroys their central credo.
Behe disagrees.

We had this argument in the UK 150 years ago. Basically Darwin came out on top. Now the churches of the UK no longer hold Sunday service. Most are now converted into trendy apartments, art exhibition halls, creches, community centres, and trendy coffee bars.
That doesn't sound so bad.

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Re: Is Christianity Destined to Become a Form of Deism?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 10th, 2018, 9:12 am

If Behe disagrees then he's a damn fool who can't read.

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