Dembski, a theistic evolutionist, suggests a scenario that allows for the prior effects of humanity’s first sin much as the cross had efficacious prior effects for those who believed God before the crucifixion of Christ. Since God is not bound by time these things are not actually prior, but appear so to those of us who cannot see all things as present tense. “God can act retroactively, anticipating what from our vantage are present and future events,” he writes. From God’s view introducing natural evil into creation as a prior-result of sin is logical, even necessary, Dembski argues, for humanity to see the fullness of sin’s depravity. That is, that sin’s effects are so far reaching and so complete that all of creation was affected before sin was even introduced in actual history by the most prominent players.
He bases his view on two realities of time mentioned in scripture: kairos and chronos. Dembski introduces the concept citing Paul Tillich,
[Kairos describes] the feeling that the time [is] ripe, mature, prepared. It is a Greek word which, again, witness to the richness of the Greek language and the poverty of modern languages in comparison with it. We have only the one word “time.” The Greeks had two words: chronos (still used in “chronology,” “chronometer,” etc.): it is clock time, time which is measured. Then there is the word kairos, which is not the quantitative time of the watch, but is the qualitative time of the occasion: the “right” time.
Dembski himself then elaborates,
The distinction between chronos and kairos can be understood in light of the New Testament distinction between the visible realm (i.e., the physical world or kosmos and the invisible realm (i.e., the heavenly world or ouranos. Time operates differently in these two realms. According to the apostle Paul, “the things which are seen are temporal; but th ethings which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). The visible realm thus operates according to chronos, the simple passage of time. But the invisible realm, in which God resides, operates according to kairos, the ordering of reality according the divine purposes.
Notable for many Christians will be Dembski’s treatment of “young-earth creationism” in Part Two. In a strong rebuke he writes (p. 61),
“Uniformitarianism” is always a dirty word for young-earth creationists in such discussions, signifying an unwillingness by the scientific community to question the constancy of nature and thus to make room for a young earth. When young-earth creationists challenge uniformitarianism, they seem less interested in understanding nature on its own terms than in devising loopholes to support an otherwise untenable position.
Dembski admits in his introduction that the context of the book is our current “mental environment…the surrounding climate of ideas by which we make sense of the world.” How this might differ from the more commonly used worldview, the declines to say. He does, however, note that our mental environment includes the issues of New Atheism and its proponents: Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris. In a telling corollary, Dembski quotes Richard Dawkins,
I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.
then proceeds to link a decades old, but chillingly similar statement
The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light, and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.
which was made by none other than Adolf Hitler.
Dembski’s effort, if not wholly convincing, is certainly a thought provoking effort and worthy of a read of any Christian who desires to engage unbelievers in our current mental environment.
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