Normalists and Abnormalists

I’m currently reading Abraham Kyuper’s On Calvanism (it’s not so much about calvanism-as-TULIP as it is calvanism-as-worldview). One of the more interesting sections is about the relationship between faith and science. Kuyper argues that there is no conflict between faith and science but between the underlying philisophical systems of the “Normalists” and the “Abnormalists.” I have quoted liberally from it below, but no worries, it’s in the public domain:

“Notice that I do not speak of a conflict between faith and science. Such a conflict does not exists. Every science in a certain degree starts from faith, and, on the contrary, faith, which does not lead to science, is mistaken faith or superstition, genuine faith it is not.”

“Hence it follows that the conflict is not between faith and science, but between the assertion that the cosmos, as it exists today, is either in a normal or abnormal condition. If it is normal, then it moves by means of an eternal evolution from its potencies to its ideal. But if the cosmos in its present condition is abnormal then a disturbance has taken place in the past, and only a regenerating power can warrant it the final attainment of its goal.

Of the Normalists he states…

Materially, however, they reject the very notion of creation, and can only accept evolution – an evolution without a point of departure in the past, and eternally evolving itself into the future, until lost in the boundless infinite. No species, not even the species of homo sapiens, originated as such, but within the circle of natural data developed out of lower and preceding forms of life. Especially no miracles, but instead of them the natural law, dominating in an inexorable manner. No sin, but evolution from a lower to a higher moral position. If they tolerate the Holy Scriptures at all, they do it on condition that all those parts which cannot be logically explained as a human production be excinded. A Christ, if necessary, but such a one as is the product of the human development of Israel. And in the same manner a God, or rather a Supreme Being, but after the manner of the Agnostics, concealed behind a visible Universe, or pantheistically hiding all existing things, and concieved of as the ideal reflection of the human mind.

Of the Abnormalists he states…

The Abnormalists, on the other hand, who do justice to relative evolution, but adhere to primordial creation over against an evolutio in infinitum, oppose the position of the Normalists with all their might; they maintain inexorably the conception of man as an independent species, because in him alone is reflected the image of God; they conceive of sin as the destruction of our original nature, and consequently as rebellion against God; and for that reason they postulate and maintain the miraculous as the only means to restore the abnormal; the miracle of regeneration; the miracle of the Scriptures; the miracle in the Christ…

In summary he says…

Not fath and science, therefore, but two scientific systems or if you choose, two scientific elaborations, are opposed to each other, each having its own faith. Nor may it be said that it is here science which opposes theology, for we have to do with two absolute forms of science, both of which claim the whole domain of human knowledge, and both of which have a suggestion about the supreme Being of their own as the point of departure for their world-view.

This passage was strikingly similar to the introduction to the book Where the Real Conflict Lies by Alvin Plantinga which I read last time I was at Barnes and Noble. If I ever pick up that book, you can expect to see some excerpts form that as well.

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6 thoughts on “Normalists and Abnormalists

  1. jeffwatton

    I was just watching again Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed. These passages resonate with the expressed worldviews. But when you have one of the leading evolutionary apologists writing The God Delusion it is obvious that there is a desire on the part of the Normalists to defeat Abnormal thinking.

    1. stevenkopp Post author

      Jeff,
      Very true. Expelled is a good movie.
      What’s amazing about the above passages is that they were part of lectures given back in 1898. Since that time the divide has only intensified.

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