Disentangling conflations in popular conversation

Alastair’s response has raised precisely the concern that I think I was trying to get at, but didn’t perhaps make entirely clear – that words like ‘biology’, ‘nature’ and ‘creation’ get conflated in these conversations in an unhelpful way.

In a similar way, the line between ‘description’, ‘explanation’ and ‘prescription’ is very often blurred. Thank you Alastair for drawing out those distinctions – that is really helpful. (For a popular example in media currently, see this video on why Hilary Clinton shouldn’t be president because of female hormones and the Bible)

I am by no means saying that this kind of flawed reasoning is the norm on the conservative end of this conversation, and I’ve certainly also experienced some very awkward line blurring from liberals. I suppose my broader question is – if we can’t seem to clarify these differences in popular conversations, as Christians, should we be making use of them at all? And, if so, how? What are the limits we should impose on referencing any kind of ‘natural’ (here meaning not scriptural – e.g. the ‘two books’ or revelation, nature and scripture) argument when trying to dialogue? And how can we avoid getting into extended debates about defining terms, rather than making genuine headway in our understanding? We have to assume that most people who are taking up this conversation do not have degrees in biology, or theology, or human psychology – and yet will often encounter these very different disciplines mixed up in each other. How much disentangling do we need to do?

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