Would you like the mental equivalent of hitting your head with a hammer? If so, here’s some fun courtesy of Denis Alexander at BioLogos.
First, another new reason to ignore the Gnu Atheists: they’re old, odd, and pointless:
“Yes,” I hear you say, “but isn’t it the case that today the UK is home to some fire-breathing scientist-atheists whose fame has spread throughout the world?” True, the way the media works does give huge scope for the dissemination of extremism, but the point in this case is that the number of such ultra-enthusiastic scientist-atheists is really small, to be counted on the fingers of one hand. They are retired elderly professors, with time on their hands, and to be frank my secular colleagues tend to treat them as slightly odd. What’s the point in getting all hot under the collar in crusading for a belief system that, in essence, just represents a disbelief in someone else’s belief system? That does seem a bit pointless.
And don’t miss Part 2! Here we see true progress in theology: debates about angels on pins have been replaced by debates about precisely where in the hominin lineage we became sinful. (My money is on Homo erectus.)
Taking the corpus of Biblical literature as a whole, here we have a ‘grand narrative’ of creation, alienation from God due to human sin and disobedience, redemption through Christ, and a new heavens and a new earth. We have the possibility of fellowship with God through freely willed choice. Our nearest cousins, chimps and bonobos, to the best of our knowledge, do not. So the curious Christian is likely to ask at least some time during their lives, “Well, when did that possibility first begin? When did people first start knowing the one true God in such a way that they could pray, walk with God, and be responsible to God? When could they first be judged by God because they had sinned?” It is those kinds of questions that the Retelling and Homo divinus type of models are interested in addressing. Did all this happen rather slowly, as in the first model, or rather fast, as in the second? Notice that the questions raised are not to do with the origins of religion (however defined), which is another kind of discussion altogether, but with the origins of spiritual life, knowledge of God, the time when humans first became answerable to God for their actions. . . .
. . . Think of the Retelling Model. Here in this context it is imagined that a population of early humans at some unspecified time come to an awareness of God as creator and of (at least some of) their responsibilities toward God, but reject the light that they have received. This is perceived to happen as a process over a long period of time, maybe thousands or even tens of thousands of years. In the case of the Homo divinus Model, such ‘spiritual enlightenment’ is seen as occurring less as a process, more as a saltation, again in a small human community or even in a single couple.
Are these “Models” really all that different from the “Flood Model” of Henry Morris and Duane Gish? In all of these cases the models, unlike those of science, originate not from observations of nature but from a book of fiction.
See Eric MacDonald for the antidote.