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From The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard:

Two Harmful Myths

Unfortunately, a number of myths associated with this part of disciple training on behalf of Jesus are now dominant. One is the idea that questions about God as creator have recently been conclusively settled in the negative by the progress of “scientific knowledge,” and that nothing of significance can be known of God from examining the order of nature — or anything else there may be.

One hundred years ago, by contrast, the general assumption was that those questions had been settled in the positive: God was regarded as manifestly present in nature. These positive answers were routinely taught as knowledge in schools at all levels, and the few dissenters were heard. No doubt the dissenters often were not treated with dignity.

Now the pattern is almost exactly reversed. But just as the positive answers in earlier times were sometimes based more on readiness to believe then on accurate thinking — though there was really no need for that — so the negative “answers” that now dominate our culture are mainly based on a socially enforced readiness to disbelieve. And those negative answers, which find no God in nature, really do need help from social conditioning.

As I said earlier in a similar connection (chapter 3), absolutely nothing of substance has changed in the last century or more with regard to the basic issues about God, the world, and the human self. [Footnote 11*] In this type of book we can only state that the reasons for believing God is the creator, which were good reasons in other years still are good reasons, and in training the apprentices of Jesus we should present them thoroughly and carefully, updating them in any way appropriate.

To understand why the negative prejudice is so strong now, just reflect on how the entire system of human expertise, as represented by our many-tiered structure of certification and accreditation, has a tremendous vested interest in ruling God out of consideration. For, if it cannot do that, it is simply wrong about what it presents as knowledge and reality — of which God is no part. As we noted earlier, God currently forms no part of recognized human competence in any field of knowledge or practice.

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*Chapter 9, Footnote 11: The technical discussion of “Intelligent Design” in nature is currently at a very exciting and intellectually profitable boil. See Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: The Free Press, 1996).

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 330-1.

In footnote 8 in Chapter 9, Willard directs readers to his essay “Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence,” in Does God Exist, edd. J. P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990, pp. 196-217.  This is now online, and I have provided the link.

   

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