October 23, 2017

OK, You Asked…

By Chaplain Mike

I promise—this will be the end of discussion on the topic of “creationism” for a while.

Too many responders failed to grasp that yesterday’s rant was NOT primarily about creation vs. evolution, but about the culture-war tactics of the “creationists” (ala Ken Ham) who are not really interested in science or even in the Bible, but in winning the moral crusade they think God has called the church to fight.

However, the issue of creation vs. evolution is still there, isn’t it?

So I posted Michael Spencer’s thoughtful and careful explanation of how he came to his position on this. I thought it demonstrated the fact that someone who is a devoted Christian and lover of Scripture can legitimately come to a different conclusion on the subject without the sky falling down.

Many of you asked me about my own views. I have already written a post explaining my understanding of Genesis 1, but I thought today I would wrap up this conversation for now by letting you know what I think.

You asked, so here it is…(drum roll please)

The Bible should not be used to argue about the subject of evolution, because the Bible does not speak to the issue.

Period.

In brief, I agree (with some other thoughts of my own) with the Internet Monk here:

The young earth creationists believe that Genesis 1 is “literally” a description of creation. I do not. It is this simple disagreement that is the cornerstone of my objection. I believe that Genesis 1 is a prescientific description of Creation intended to accent how Yahweh’s relationship with the world stands in stark contrast to the Gods of other cultures, most likely those of Babylon. Textual and linguistic evidence convinces me that this chapter was written to be used in a liturgical (worship) setting, with poetic rhythms and responses understood as part of the text. It tells who made the universe in a poetic and prescientific way. It is beautiful, inspired and true as God’s Word.

Does it match up with scientific evidence? Who cares?

Exactly.

It’s not about “science,” folks. Never has been. Is not now.

As far as I understand at this point, Genesis 1 says only two things that are even remotely connected to the modern conversation about evolution:

  • The true and living God created the universe, therefore it is not self-existing. This point does not confront all formulations of evolutionary theory, only those that are atheistic and materialistic. Against those, the Bible leads me to stand with the church of all ages, holding a theistic understanding of our ultimate origins: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
  • Human beings are God’s special representatives on earth, made in God’s image. Again, this conviction is not necessarily affected by whether or not one accepts an evolutionary model. However, it does point out that human beings have a special place in God’s creation plan and are not merely advanced animals.

When teaching Genesis, these are the ONLY apologetic points I would make: (1) The Bible leads me to reject an atheistic, materialistic view of the universe and life. (2) The Bible leads me to accept that human beings have a special relationship to God and place in his plan. Period.

The rest of the text as far as I am concerned is an artful composition put together, not as a chronological depiction of “creation,” but as a grand literary vision of a Master Craftsman-King building his temple in the world (forming it and filling it) so that his glory may fill the universe, then resting on his throne to rule, with human creatures serving as his priests in the world.

Moses began the Torah with this composition in order to tell the Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land, “As it was in the beginning, so it is God’s plan for you today. As God turned the original wilderness into a good land and filled it with blessings, putting human beings in it to serve him, so God has chosen you and brought you through the wilderness to be his special people, to dwell in his well-prepared land, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the whole world with his glory.”

That is the message of Genesis. It introduces the Torah. If you want to read the punchline, see Moses’ final appeal in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Every key word and image Moses uses to challenge Israel in this passage is taken directly from the early chapters of Genesis.

That’s what it’s about.

Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) does not speak to the issue of evolution.

If you’re interested in science, study it well, and use what you learn to serve humankind. But there is no reason the subject of evolution should trouble your faith, any more than quantum physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, or any other scientific discipline should.

Science is not what the Bible is about. It is simply not concerned with the subject.

You asked…and that’s my answer.

Comments

  1. You said it. Amen.

  2. @Chaplain Mike,
    Well put. I (not necessarily anyone else) would further boil it down to this one point: the only purpose for Genesis is to set the stage for a personal God to sacrifice himself to save his creation that he loves so deeply. If Genesis isn’t about the Gospel, then it is time we accepted reality and accepted there is no creator god.

  3. Thanks, Mike.

    One conclusion that I have come to is that scripture is divinely inspired history. I read it as a record of God’s doings in the world. As a Christian, the history revealed in scripture is a record of who God is, and through Christ, who I am, as history is a potent source of identity. Some of this history is literal, some of it poetic, some of it wise and some of it philosophical. But it all steers towards understanding who God is.

    I do not need to fight an intense battle over whether Genesis 1 is literal or not. Rather I discover a God who brings order to chaos and peace to the storms. And it reveals that only God can bring order to my own choas and peace to my own storms. The saddness is that a person believes that order and peace can be found without God. That keeps me up at night.

  4. Well said, Thank you. Although I personally am not quite as comfortable “limiting” the reading of Genesis to pure poetry or literary device, I can appreciate that focusing on the two apologetic points mentioned really is what it’s all about; and that if all Christians could unite on those points, we’d have a much stronger voice in the world. When not viewed through the lens of YEC, I actually think that the Genesis account is much closer to modern science than many give it credit and I (and others dedicated to inerrancy) can honestly read the account in a way that honors traditional, conservative exegesis and yet arrive at a non-YEC view. But regardless of anyone’s detailed interpretation, I agree that the two key apologetic points are really what it should be all about.

  5. Thank you for some good sense, Michael Spencer.

    As a creationist, I cannot help feel that much of the discussion resembles a markedly less civil version of galilieo’s argument against geocentrism.

    I am deeply embarrased by the “science” and the “theology” coming out of places like answers in genesis. And, I am relieved for the children in churches everywhere now that Dr. Dino has been jailed for tax fraud.

    While there are occasionally some science types working on a political/philosophical agenda to prove something, the generic villification and demonization of scientists is despicable.

    Also the desire to force school’s to teach many things which are not found in scripture and are objectively and demonstrably false is deeply upsetting. To teach falsehoof in the name of Christ, and attempt to force others to do the same besmirches His reputation and the reputation of his church.

  6. Cynthia Jones says:

    This has been my opinion for at least 25 of my 40 years: How can I, a lowly human who only uses 5% of my brainpower, limit Almighty God who knows all and sees all, to my feeble understanding of what a day is — 24 literal 60 minute hours? How pompous of me! To add to the opinions posted in the last couple of days, I say this. I do not NEED to understand the intricacies of exactly how much human-understood time it took God to create the universe. I am perfectly comfortable chalking that one up to faith and getting the answer when I meet Him face to face (IF I’m so inclined to ask at that point! I have a feeling I’ll be too busy worshipping to ask such moot questions!).

    On another note, I live mere minutes from the Creation Museum (operated by Ham’s Answers in Genesis) and have never been. For one thing, I do not feel like taking out a second mortgage on my home to afford the cost of admittance. More importantly, I do not need to go and see Ham’s extravagant interpretation of the Creation in order to know what I believe.

  7. That Other Jean says:

    Thank you! My conception of God differs markedly from yours, but we’re together on these points. Genesis is about poetry, not science. God’s time is not our time—I rather like to think that the Mind of God started the whole thing off with “Let there be light!” then settled back to watch the show.

    • “I rather like to think that the Mind of God started the whole thing off with “Let there be light!” then settled back to watch the show.”

      Why?

      • That Other Jean says:

        Because I have no problem with earth being billions of years old and life on it evolving to its present forms, and I’m a theist. I trust that God was pleased with His/Her/Its/Their creation, including humans, when we evolved.

    • Quote: “Genesis is about poetry”

      Except Gensis 1-2 isn’t poetry.

  8. Donald Todd says:

    Over at a website called TED, there is a two-part series by a UC Berkeley physicist who explains time, as it is seen in several iterations. It is a fascinating presentation as I had not known that “time” could be seen scientifically from so many perspectives.

    My impression – as a relatively well-read layman – is that Genesis is not a science primer, but rather a correct theological view of God creating. It is a liturgical text. It does not teach the big bang. It is not about the merits or demerits of the solid state theory. It does not teach about the incubators of suns. It does not teach about gravity. It does not teach geography or climatology. It is not about the oceans’ currents or about the splitting of the continents over time. The dinosaurs are not presented, at least as such.

    It is about God and man, about a tempter, about free will and temptation, about the fall, and about the beginning of redemption. The part about man is about a unique animal who is able to apprehend that God exists and to respond to that apprehension, but who fails, takes creation with him in his fall, and who needs a redemption that when completed will include creation.

    Science and reason are to be congratulated everytime something new is discovered or uncovered. Being a layman I could not do the arguments on either side, but then I am not required to argue those issues, which I am not capable of arguing anyway. Jesus spoke about many things but He did not issue a textbook on biology or chemistry or physics. He was here about things much more important than those worthy subjects.

    He was here about the human race and its redemption. Thank You, Lord.

  9. I studied literature in my undergraduate studies, and it’s nearly impossible—having read more than my fair share of poetry—to read Genesis 1 without seeing all of the awesome poetic devices at play. Funny that in the midst of a thing that usually ends up being about science, part of our problem is that we don’t know enough about poetry.

    And for my part, there’s only this: I’ve grown weary of arguing with people who confuse “literal” and “true.” What’s funny is that most of them start to recognize the distinction when you ask a few simple questions, like “hey, did Solomon’s lover *actually* have eyes that were doves?” or “hey, do you think Jesus is actually a physical gate up there in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father? Or do you think he was using a literary device when he said, ‘I am the gate’?” Am I a bad Christian because I don’t believe that Jesus is actually a physical gate? (Of course not.) Is it true that he is the gate, in some profound, but not literal, sense? (Of course.)

    We can argue whether or not Genesis 1 is poetry (and I think it’s clear that it is, and powerful poetry, at that). What we shouldn’t argue about is whether or not there are parts of the bible that are *true* but *not literal.*

  10. Bravo, Chaplain Mike. And bravo to all of the commenters (thus far); Christian unity is a truly awesome thing when we (finally!) see it. 🙂

  11. Thank you, Mike, for this clear and lucid post, not just because I agree with it but because it helps us move toward unity as believers. Whenever I’ve taught other believers I’ve stressed the importance of not asking Scripture to do things or to answer questions that it was never designed to do or to answer. If we focus on the questions it was desinged to answer and address, we truly discover its beauty and relevance. Let us let the text be the text.

  12. I think a bigger problem in the evolution vs. creationism debate than the understanding of Genesis 1-2 is Paul’s Christology. His discourse on Adam vs. Christ in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 suffers serious damage, IMO, if there was not a single first man Adam who caused the fall and was created “from the earth” a la Genesis 1-2.

    YMMV

    • That discussion, the Christian community can handle. It’s the all-or-nothing, Creation vs. Atheism, Hamm-Dawkins Heavyweight Fight culture war that is pushing people from knowing God through Christ.

      The real war is the battle to pursuade people that God still matters (I’m thinking of the iMonk post, A God-Shaped Void?)

      • MWPeak:

        I’d love to read some of the discussion that has taken place in the Evangelical community re: this (assuming such discussion has taken place), and especially how theistic evolution deals with those passages. Any Webpages you can point me to?

        • BioLogos is dealing with this right now (assuming you mean the problems between evolution and a historic Adam, and whether or not a historic Adam is even important, etc.), and has been dealing with it over the course of… I dunno, a dozen or more blog posts. Check it out at http://biologos.com/blog/ — Pete Enns is the big contributor to this topic on the BioLogos blog, and talks through a LOT of great points.

        • Well, from this side of the Tiber, here’s a Wikipedia page dealing with the broad overview of things; basically, there hasn’t been any Officially Official Declaration on the matter:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#cite_note-31

          “Today, the Church’s unofficial position is a fairly non-specific example of theistic evolution, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a special creation, and that the existence of God is required to explain both monogenism and the spiritual component of human origins. No infallible declarations by the Pope or an Ecumenical Council have been made.”

          As for what the Catechism says regarding the creation of Man, here’s a link:

          http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt1art1p6.shtml

        • There’s another great site called An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution, which you can find here: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s the all-or-nothing, Creation vs. Atheism, Hamm-Dawkins Heavyweight Fight culture war… — MWPeak

        Not “Heavyweight Fight”, MW.

        More like Celebrity Deathmatch: Let’s All Gang Up On Darwin.

  13. And Paul’s Christology in these passages is tied to his hamartiology and soteriology and vice-versa. In other words, removing Adam as a special creation of God as the first man affects the doctrines of sin and salvation, methinks.

    • EricW,

      I think your point is the biggest issue I have with removing a literal Adam from the picture. I’d like to, and not for just argument sake, hear from Chaplain Mike as to how he reconciles the passages you mentioned without a literal Adam.

      Thanks,
      Austin

      • Not an issue for me. Adam was the first representative man. Evolution would not affect that one way or another.

        • Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by Adam being “the first representative man”?

          Is first representative man “generic” so that you are not referring to a single individual? If so, then how would you reconcile that with Romans 5 explicitly talking about “one” man?

          If what you mean is that Adam was a single individual, then were there humans that had evolved from animals before Adam that Adam did not represent? Or was Adam the definitive first human who had evolved from the animals who represented every other human who came after him? Or is this something you would say nobody knows but we just know that somewhere down the line Adam represented everybody else?

          Also, how did this first representative man fall?

          I understand that you believe that humans are not “merely” animals.

          Do you believe that Jesus is the only human who is not in any sense an animal? If so, then how could He fully represent animal humans on the cross if He was not an animal human Himself [Hebrews 2:14, 17]? If not, then do you believe the description of Jesus as fully God and fully animal human is accurate?

          • Don’t know, Benji. Your questions go into realms of thought far beyond the Biblical text.

          • Benji, I completely understand your question and it is a struggle for me as well. One Jewish writer suggested that when it says in Genesis, “Let us make man in our image,” the “us” was nature (the creature) and God (the creator).

            When the term “animals” is used, there is a limit placed on that particular part of nature. For example, we believe that animals cannot reason or comprehend beauty.

            Human are creatures in the sense that we function with nature. We eat, reproduce and rest, all in an effort to survive and perpetuate life. But man has something different granted to him by God that takes him beyond mere survival into something more, something … well …holy.

            So humans are not mere animals in that their only purpose is survival. In the sense of the creature, Jesus had physical needs, such as a food and comfort, but He was more than just an animal, more than even a creature in the image of God. He was God Himself.

            I believe that Adam and Eve were probably literal people, even if the account in Genesis does not answer every question about them. At some point, God differentiated between that which is animal and that which is man. Both are creatures, part of nature, but man is meant for more than mere survival.

            If this is confusing, I apologize, but I am trying to reconcile Paul’s word about death through one man Adam in parallel to life through one man Christ with our understanding of this world.

          • The argument Paul makes in Romans is that Adam’s sin in Genesis is a template, which all human sins inevitably follow. There are a lot of parallels between Adam’s sin and how he describes his own sin. He heard the commandment of God (thou shalt not covet) and was immediately tempted to do all sorts of coveting, which he did.

            Adam is a representative of all humanity, and always has been. The fact that his name literally means ‘man’ is supposed to clue us in to this fact. The scriptures say, as at Adam, all have sinned, can be read as, everyone sinned, as men always do. many of the early readers of the text probably saw Adam as a literal man, but they also understood that he was a representative of all men.

            People who aren’t Christian often ask, how can we all be guilty of Adam’s sin? This is a good question. If Adam is only a single, literal person, how can everyone who ever lived be guilty of his particular sin? The answer is that we’re not. We’re guilty of our own sins, which are patterned after the original sin.

            In any event, if Paul’s argument depends critically on Adam’s sin being the sin of a single individual, then scripture already destroys his argument, because Eve sinned as well. The ‘one man’ parallel is already broken, because there is no ‘new Eve’ who was perfectly righteous alongside Jesus. If we follow this argument to its logical conclusion, we will see that only men were saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, and not women. Hopefully you will agree with me that this is clearly ludicrous.

            Lastly, your “animal human” argument is specious. Jesus became fully human. In as much as humans are like animals, Jesus became like an animal. In truth, humans are more like animals than they are like God. Both are mortal and both were created (and on the same day even). Even Solomon acknowledges this in Ecclesiastes: “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath (ie spirit); man has no advantage over the animal.”

            The phrase “animal human” is meant provoke a reaction. We’re supposed to think, “How could the glorious creator stoop so low as to become an animal?” This is the same reaction people had to the idea that God could stoop so low as to become human. This is the response we’re supposed to have to the incarnation. If the incarnation doesn’t offend us in some way, then we don’t understand it.

            So rather than reject the phrase, “animal human” I will embrace it, because it reminds us of what God really did for us in Christ. He became a creature, a created thing. A thing that eats food and drinks drink; a creature that excretes and urinates; a creature that must breathe air to sustain itself; a creature that is doomed to die; a creature that does die in a terrible fashion. All this is done for our sake, to remove our guilt for the sins that we have committed.

            Properly understood, evolution doesn’t damage the message of the gospel, it reinforces it.

          • Benji, you are asking good questions, and contrary to what others think, you aren’t going beyond the biblical text–except to draw out the logical ramification and implications of those who in fact DO go beyond the biblical text in reading evolution into Genesis. The only way for a Christian to believe evolution is to go beyond the text–right into error. You are in no way out of line for pushing against the extra-biblical notion and showing it for what it is–a mangling and confusing of the Bible. The points you bring up in this thread are utterly relevant to the Biblical text.

            And there is still that pesky problem that observational science has nothing at all to do with evolution, and can make no strides with it whatsoever. Origins is historical science, and cannot be replicated, observed, or falsified. Therefore, obervational science has not and cannot prove evolution. What is amazing is that so many believe something that has no evidence, no proof, no testing, no experimentation, and no observation. God-haters have advanced it and Christians are being deceived right and left.

            • Oh great. Another commenter who doesn’t read or respond to the actual post. Sigh.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Chaplain Mike, I’ve been attending SF cons since 1975, and have sat in on a LOT of con panels. Most of them veer radically off-topic in the first ten minutes. Why should a more chaotic blog comment thread be any different?

          • It’s heartbreaking. It really is. I long for heaven and unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by Adam being “the first representative man”?

            I always figure that meant Adam was the first “man” who was fully human in the eyes of God, the first creature on Earth of whom Elohim could say “Made in Our Image”. The classification is more legal than biological; where evolution would be a continuous spectrum, a legal definition has to draw the line between “Pre-human” and “Human” at a certain definite point, and this was it.

            Note that this classification would hold true regardless of the origin of Adam’s species, whether by instant creation or slow evolution or deliberate Uplift from a predecessor species. At some point, the threshold is crossed and we have the First True Man.

            As for “animal humans”, I’ve been dealing with the concept in Furry Fandom for years. What makes them human, whatever their form? What makes them “people” instead of “animals”? And what is the difference other than “Transcending the Animal”?

            (I’m approaching this from the POV of a long-time SF fan who has always had a soft spot for upright talking animals. In Gifts of the Jews, the author (whose name I can’t remember) takes us through a pre-Torah pagan sex ritual in Sumeria, with two-legged animals howling in rut on the steps of the ziggurat. Animals. Not human. The point of the book (at least the one this geeky SF litfan and Furry took from it) was how God’s purpose in Torah and Bible is for us to Transcend the Animal. We were made for more than eat, sleep, and rut. And a lot of contemporary culture is joining a lot of Furry Fanboys in trying to “race to the bottom” and once more become nothing more than two-legged animals.)

        • Paul had a big mind. I don’t think it would have been a problem for him, either.

          • Can’t get this to post under Jimmy’s comment, but the Catholic Church does indeed believe that there was a “new Eve,” and that’s the VIrgin Mary. (See the Catechism: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c3a8.htm#726).

            Eve was created without sin and with free will, and she chose to disobey God. Mary was created without sin, and chose to say yes to God. Through the sin of Adam and Eve, man fell. Through the grace and obedience of Jesus and Mary, the world is redeemed.

            I realize that the Evangelical community has a problem with the sinless nature of Mary, but the Catholic Church has always taught that through her state of being completely filled with grace, her birthing the Head of the Body of Christ and her appearance in heaven striking the head of the serpent (among other things), that

            ” . . . the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]).

        • Chaplain Mike,

          You say in the reply below that the idea of Adam being literal goes beyond the realm of the text. As a priest, I have to say that while your summation of the rest of the Creation poetry is correct. We have no idea how God brought the world into order beyond His autonomous work. 6 Billion years or 6 seconds, the time and mechanics are indeed beyond the scope of the text.

          However, by the end of the 2nd Chapter the textual evidence suggests that we’ve moved into a poetic history that assumes Adam and Eve’s literal humanity in perfection. A literal man who brings sin into the world and a perfect world are both essential to the Story.

          If that’s not the case, then the literary critic needs to find a point in time where the people become literally historic. Simply put, if Adam’s not literal then who is? Cain? Noah? Abraham? Joseph?

          Fr. Greg Smith+
          Associate Rector/Chaplain to the Citadel

          • No, Greg. When I said, “goes beyond the realm of the text” I was responding to several of the dozens of questions Benji was pouring out in his comment. By the time I got to the bottom of his extensive interrogation, I had forgotten a few of the earlier questions. I’m OK with Adam being a historical character.

      • Yeah, not to be bullheaded,, but even if I could accept the “non-literal day” gig, I’m not sure how Adam comes into account.

        Just to reiterate from the last creation/evolution post I participated in: I’m really not that concerned with the age of the earth. My issues with evolution are elsewhere. There’s no real need to re-list them at the moment.

        Gotta go.

  14. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    Chaplin Mike,

    Thanks for addressing this issue…… I read the other post where the comments are closed…. good for you on that one. I used to be a hardcore, fundie YEC – this is not the case any longer and part of that was reading Michael’s posts in the past amongst other things. I still tend to believe that God did create as put forth in Genesis else how did anything or anyone of us get here to begin with. That’s not scientific but, as you said in the other post, stand where you’re at and back off the other which is what I’m doing here – I’m not a scientist…. not dumb either lol!

    Bottom line – I believe the Earth may very well be much, much older than many think/realize and creation – what I belive – happened but that didn’t necessarily mean the Earth was not in existance before that moment. It says that God’s spirit hovered over a darkend, unformed Earth….. one that, possibly, had a catastrophic event prior to his putting the it together and the start of creation. See, I told you I wasn’t a scientist…… but this is just the way I see it and you, Michael and others have a much better grasp on this but no – I’m no longer YEC ….. I think there is some validity to evolution – not that I buy it all but some things over the course of time have evolved from an initial creation to something similar or even altogether different. Doubt that humans at creation looked exactly like what we see today – perfection went out the window with one decsion and then evolution really started – the evolution from life to death (physically speaking)…… is not physical life a process or an evolving towards the ultimate….. death and yet a reborn spirit – a beliver – is an evolution from death to life.

    Now all that may sound patently silly and uninformed and unscientific but, if you get right down to it – we are evolving from birth to death (physical) and from death to life (spiritual) if we are belivers. Did God create this universe and all in it? Yes! Has there been evolution of various kinds over time since creation – especially after the fall – Yes, most certainly. After perfection was gone there would seem to be a necessity for evolution in order for creation to continue on otherwise it all stops after the first of its kind dies – evolution to survive and re-create or reproduce if you will. All one has to do is look around to see evolution else nothing exists.

    Well, that’s my 2 cents worth and it may sound silly, misguided and all the other descriptions you might want to apply to it.

  15. I was first convinced that there was more to the story as I thought about the character and nature of God. Is He really that impatient? Is He in a big hurry? Did He just create an ancient looking world in six days so He could get to the good part? Didn’t sound like Him to me. I am seeing that many evangelical Christians are coming to similar conclusions and that is encouraging. Now, if we could get the evolutionists to admit that many of their theories are more religion than scientific method we might get closer to understanding the creation that God made.

    • I don’t know that it’s a matter of impatience (there’s plenty suggesting we really can’t fathom the length of God’s patience). I’ll ask like I did before: Why not create a fully-developed universe? What’s deceptive about it?

      • A lot of the “deceptive” part, to me, stems from the fact that if God created a fully mature universe, then He has fundamentally deceived humanity. We can look at a million different things from a hundred different categories of investigation – and we can’t find out the truth.

        What we find are only apparent meteor strikes on the moon, earth, other meteorites, other planets, etc. Apparent radioactive decay. Apparent light from other stars.

        None of those things actually happened. God must have formed the meteor impact craters on the Moon himself to just look like they were caused by meteorites. He must have formed all the radioactive elements in just the right proportions in all the right places across the world to look like they have decayed for billions of years. He must have created light along the way to look like it came from a far-off star, passed through some dust clouds, and was bend by the gravity of some other stars.

        None of that stuff actually happened, God just made it look like it happened. And He did it so well that there’s no way we can tell it was actually God doing it rather than natural processes.

        To me that causes some issues with God being deceptive in what He has revealed in His creation.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          A lot of the “deceptive” part, to me, stems from the fact that if God created a fully mature universe, then He has fundamentally deceived humanity.

          Omphalos, by Gosse. First formulation of the idea, back in late Victorian times. Now called “Last Tuesday-ism”.

          Didn’t fly then (Gosse got piled on from both sides), and doesn’t fly now.

          • To their credit, most major YEC groups reject that “Mature Creation” view. (ICR, CRS, AIG, CMI, etc.)

            Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not ascribed to by rank-and-file YEC believers, but at least the more “official” representatives of the movement don’t espouse it. (for the most part, anyway)

    • Jonathan says:

      Much of evangelicalism is about the “what does this mean *to me*” when it comes to scripture than about the no-kidding “what does this mean” of classical orthodoxy.

  16. I have to agree that it’s no big deal. I would also agree that turning Genesis into a science lesson robs it of its message. I’d gladly make room for many different views on origins. Considering that my son will have to learn evolution if he has any hope of scholarships and a higher education, I really don’t think that such openness is reciprocated by those in charge.

    I would like to know: if evolution has no impact on ones view of Genesis, does that end any criticism of evolution? I can think of many whimsical pokes at evolutionists by G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, and neither of them strike me as rabid, foaming-at-the mouth younger earthers; neither were anti-scientific or anti-academic.

    I still struggle with some of the hand-wringing by Christians over Genesis. I understand that believing that in six days God created a new universe which appears old is hard to swallow, but if God used evolution to defy every law of thermal dynamics to raise order out of disorder, planets out of dust, complex life out of simple organisms, is that any easier to accept? Either way, God would have appeared to have violated the very natural laws which he had ordained.

    Maybe I feel jealous of evolutionists who have no doubts with which to struggle…or perhaps they are not allowed to doubt.

    • Analysis and critique of evolutionary theory is in the domain of science. That’s not my area.

    • Jonathan says:

      Ox, I hear you. It seems there is no criticism of evolution allowed, even from totally secular non christian apologetic. Why is that? I think it’s because, unless one is otherwise prepared to accept the idea of Aristotlean “stasis” (i.e., that the universe and world just have always been there), then only other alternative beside evolution is some sort of Deism, Intelligent Design at the least. That is antithetical to evolutionist materialists. To me, knowing what evolution is, no deism allowed, a *compromise* of *theistic evolution* is just untenible, not suppored by either side. If the two are separate and don’t speak to each other, why would I allow evolution theory infect scripture?

      • Actually, “criticism” of the evolutionary model goes on every day as scientists test the theory and debate the implications of new findings.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ox, I hear you. It seems there is no criticism of evolution allowed, even from totally secular non christian apologetic. Why is that?

        Because of the Vast Secular Humanist Conspriacy puppetmastered by Satan and involving EVERYONE except the True Believers of AIG and the Kentucky Creation Museum, of course.

        When you hear a rhetorical question like Jonathan’s above, it’s usually a sign that Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory logic is now in effect; the Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs and Won’t Be Taken In.

    • A (useful?) quibble: You write: [i]Considering that my son will have to learn evolution if he has any hope of scholarships and a higher education, I really don’t think that such openness is reciprocated by those in charge.” [/i]

      Actually, I don’t think that the requirement that people learn about the theory of evolution in biology classes represents anything like a lack of openness by “those in charge.” Whether or not evolution theory is actually vindicated, it is a major scientific concept that has had a huge effect on the entire field of biology. A biology class that doesn’t teach evolution is therefore failing to prepare students. A person who does not understand the theory is, at least in the area of biology, not well-educated.

      In any case, there aren’t many ways to police whether someone actually accept an idea. The only thing you can do, and the only thing most professors want to do, is ensure that introductory level students submit an a solid essay or exam.

      Regarding the right to criticize, I think definitely exists but has to be earned. It definitely requires us to represent the scientific claims accurately and to discuss their merits on scientific terms. If we are talking about something else — religion or philosophy — we need to make to clear that we’re talking about another topic.

      Regarding C.S. Lewis: “In Reflections on the Psalms,” he asserts a viewpoint on Genesis and Job that takes both as non-historical, but still important. I’ll have to see if I can find the text.

    • I think we’re perfectly entitled to critique the use of the theory of evolution as some kind of hammer-over-the-head atheist “Gotcha!”

      In order to do this, though, we have to have some grasp of the science involved. Simply saying “Yeah, well, the Bible doesn’t say that!” isn’t going to cut any ice. You have to at least sound as if you’re familiar with what you’re disagreeing about.

      • We are, and we should. Evolution is hardly an atheist gotcha. At present, scientists still don’t have a solid theory as to the origin of the first living organism.

        Even if they did though, you still need to account for the origins of the universe. You need to explain why the laws of the physical universe are such that stars can form, and can create complex matter, which forms the building blocks of life.

        The “origins of the universe” questions aren’t really scientific questions either. Theoretical physicists routinely step outside the bounds of science to postulate “multiple universe” hypotheses, or similar arguments, which are only made to support the idea that the universe could have come into existence without God. I am, admittedly, only a layperson, but I know enough about science to know that a theory without experimental or observational support, which can’t be falsified, doesn’t really count as science.

        Additionally, scientists can’t really argue that the universe has always been here, because of the second law of thermodynamics. We know our universe is steadily falling apart. If it were infinitely old, entropy would have maxed out a long time ago, and we wouldn’t exist.

  17. One problem we have is that we don’t see story as a valid means of communicating truth, unless we can somehow make the story historically factual. I’m not certain the ancient worldview had that problem. Thnk of it this way – The Matrix had a powerful effect on my life. Seeing that movie helped me understand how culture – much of it conservative religious culture – had blinded me to an understanding of which Kingdom I belonged to. Through that movie I came to see that much of what I’d been told had been a lie told to keep me from knowing the truth, that I was a slave to powers and principalities of THIS world. Does it matter that I came to see that while watching a movie?

  18. Mike,

    Do you not know what you meant when you said “Adam was the first representative man”?

    • Yes. Adam is the first of a long line of people chosen by God to be his representatives in the world, culminating in Jesus.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Speculating on that line, it could be extendedto mean that Adam was the first man to be contacted by God, regardless of his physical origin.

        Ever played Sim Earth? What if God did that for real? Writing the software, booting it up with the Big Bang, then kicking back to see what happens? Maybe with a little operator tweak (like biogenesis) now and then, but mostly staying hands-off, playing by the rules He set up? And then (cheezy trumpet fanfare from Sim Earth) here’s something He can interact with directly, does so, and the story of Adam & Eve commences.

  19. Jonathan says:

    Further to EricW’s points above, removal of a literal Adam in the garden as the first man would also do a job on the sin/death start of the fall. Well, apparently sin and its product death didn’t *literally* start with Adam as the first representative *fully* human; actually death had already been going on for millions and billions of years before that point. As in Adam all die…well…not exactly. Wages of sin is death…well,kinda true….in a manner of speaking, that is. You all are right, it is a compromise of the Gospel in the creation account.

    • A thought: If there weren’t already death in the world before the Fall, God’s warning to Adam and Eve that if they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad they would surely “die” would mean nothing to them as they’d have no reference for or understanding of the term “die.”

      • Yes, they would have had a completely sufficient reference-God could have simply explained to them what death is. That is reference enough. Language communicates truth.

        • That’s true. He could have explained to them that “death” was the absence or cessation of some or all of the things they were presently experiencing and enjoying.

    • Spiritual death, not physical death. Plants die even in Genesis – how else do you explain “God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened.”

      (Side note: if Genesis is to be taken literally, then we should all be vegetarians).

      Whatever the original plan for human life, whether there would have been a form of physical death or whether humans would have been taken up as Enoch was, or how it would have been, I have no idea. However, what we do know is the results of the Fall – separation from God, the effect upon our wills and intellects, the inclination to sin, and the peril of our souls.

      “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Years ago, when the God’s Creatures list was melting down in the YEC Uber Alles Celebrity Deathmatch, I suggested the same thing (citing a lot of tracts that defined “death” in context as “spiritual separation from God”).

        I got turned into a pile of rocks for the suggestion. Apparently There Is Only One True Interpretation, and All Heretics Must Be Burned.

  20. SottoVoce says:

    Let me throw out a few questions that I started asking when I was working through this.

    1. I assumed, as a YECer, that animals were not carnivorous before the fall, because if they were, death would have occurred before the fall, right? But if animals (and people) can’t eat other animals, they have to eat plants. Which means that the plants die. Which means that some kind of death had to occur from the very beginning in order to sustain life. How can we reconcile that with Genesis? On top of that, how then did carnivorous animals come to exist? Did they just pop into existence after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, or did existing animals abruptly change their habits? How would such a thing have occurred?

    2. Part of the nature of human cells is that they live and divide for a certain period of time and then commit programmed suicide. There is a condition that causes cells to become immortal. It’s called cancer. If there was no death, how did the human body function normally?

    3. If we assume there was no death before the fall and leave the question of plants aside for the moment, that would lead to the conclusion that every creature born would have lived forever. The earth is of finite size. Wouldn’t we and the other animals eventually have outgrown its capability to sustain us?

    Now I can think of some reponses to these questions that are still in line with the literal interpretation. Perhaps the “no death” thing only applies to human beings, not plants or animals. Perhaps “death” refers only to the death of a whole organism, not its parts such as cells. And God is plenty big enough to make more land if we need it. But that’s an awful lot of stretching without much scriptural backup. And there are plenty more questions where those came from. I haven’t even started on whether Adam and Eve got bruises if they fell out of a tree yet.

    • Interestingly enough, in the Adam and Eve story, I think they would have to eat the fruit from the tree of life in order to live forever (the story does not tell us if they did eat the fruit from the tree of life before the fall, but I think they did not, by implication). Instead they chose the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

      Now let me say that I think the “fruit” in both cases is a symbol of some sort, and the Adam and Eve narrative (even if Adam is a literal individual) is a simplification of what happened, telling us only what we need to know. (And I think if they at the “life” fruit, the story would say so explicitly).

      In any case, I believe that the fact that there are both trees in the story *may* imply that Adam and Eve are not inherently immortal beings. Even so, I think it is clear that God wanted Adam and Eve to live forever and take care of his creation (thus the tree of life), but they chose rebellion and death, and thus separation from God.

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      Just a thought on number 2 regarding human body functioning normally…….. wondering if there was a diference in flesh and bone vs. flesh and blood? Adam said of Eve after her creation – bone of my bone / flesh of my flesh. In the NT it talks of flesh and blood not being able to be a part of the kingdom. A human system with blood will, in time, break down and die then the, as scripture puts it, the corruption of the body….. we would say decomposition. Yet a body in a state of glorificaion would not have blood but would be sustained in another way that gives it ability to be eternal – to live forever…… perishable body (now) – imperishable (eternal with God). There is a distinct difference between the two body types mention.

      Another thought then comes to mind – if this body, placed in the ground after death, is the one to be raised again incorruptable it seems 1) that it’s a glorified or perfect body and 2) one that would appear to have no blood in it. Brings back the statement about flesh and blood not being able to inherit the kingdom of God – it would seem that flesh and bone can.

      All this is just things I’ve thought about/read over the years – again, as I stated above in another post, I’m not a scientist but some things tend to make a little sense, at least to me, once you look at what’s being said. This may be completely out in left field somewhere, perhaps I’m just looney so take it and disect it as you like. Thanks!

      • Hi, Guy…

        I recall reading a book about 13-14 years ago that took literally Jesus’ words about “A ghost does not have flesh and bones as I have” to mean that his body did not have blood in it (for different reasons than you state above).

        I don’t think that this (or the other) interpretation is correct. Even if it were true (about a connection between blood and not being able to inherit God’s kingdom), we would never be able to figure that out from anything the Bible tells us. We moderns have a tendency to try to read into the text things that were never intended to be there. That’s exactly one of the reasons the Genesis interpretation problem exists–trying to think that God encoded scientific (or modern) ideas into the biblical text.

        So when the writer says “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, it’s not saying anything about blood per se, but referring to the existing state of human nature (present human nature = “flesh and blood”). Using the phrase “flesh and bones” or “flesh and blood” is probably just a matter of literary device, but a biblical scholar would probably be more knowledgable about such things.

        Regards…

        • The Guy from Knoxville says:

          I can agree on the ghost thing – at best ghosts could be better described as demonic spirits or fallen angels etc. Grandma and Grandpa aren’t floating around trying to get your attention to let you know they are fine in their new state – lol! My only contention is that the distinction between flesh/blood – flesh/bone is clearly made on several occasions in scripture and I tend to think there is a reason for that but, that does not mean that it is so…. mearly something that would, on the surface, explain a thing or two.

          As to the science – no I don’t think there is some kind of science or scientific knowledged encoded in scripture but, I do think that God, being creator of this planet called Earth and the universe, is not ignorant of what we call science and if the processes God used in creation were know to us even the greatest scientific minds would be baffeled – a great many things are not as they seem yet others are. I also agree that scripture is not a text book and too many folks on the YEC/Ham and similar try to make scripture say things that are not there – a dangerous thing to do btw! Yet, at the same time, Genesis was included as part of scripture and for a reason – there is a need to know where or how we (humans) came into existance so the beginning chapters of Genesis are there partly to explain that but it also includes the Gospel as well which I think should be the primary focus anyway.

          All that said to say this – God allowed Genesis to be part of scripture and he has/had his reasons for doing so and being who he is – creator of this universe – he could have just as easily made all this in a day or two or over several decades or centuries etc – however he wanted – I just tend to think it was done just as is written in Genesis but specifics were left out for a reason or purpose. If you want to open this a little more – what about the passages in Job or Christ’s words and Paul’s writing in the NT about creation…… there’s a reason for it being there but whether you take it as literal, poetic or literary device etc there’s no denying its existance and it’s there for a reason and whether you accept that or belive that is ultimately between you and God anyway – your salvation does not depend on what you believe or don’t believe regarding Genesis anyway but sensible discussion is a good thing on these matters. Always interesting here on this site!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I recall reading a book about 13-14 years ago that took literally Jesus’ words about “A ghost does not have flesh and bones as I have” to mean that his body did not have blood in it (for different reasons than you state above).

          Many-many years ago, I remember a radio preacher (who sounded like J Vernon Magee on Meth and in-your-face) who devoted an entire sermon to how Christ’s Resurrection Body was FLESH AND BONE, NOT FLESH AND BLOOD. He seemed to find some sort of cosmic significance in that “flesh and bone” description. I didn’t understand his tunnel-vision on that description then, and I don’t understand it now.

      • When Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection, He refers to Himself as having flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Maybe “flesh and blood” is an idiom for a mortal being. And the Scriptures say the life of the flesh is in the blood. So maybe a body without blood is a body in which the flesh has no life… in which case, now that the bloodless “flesh” has no life, it cannot give “sin in the flesh” its power (Romans 7-8), so neither death nor sin hold power over a being of “flesh and bone.”

        I know the above fits into the category of playing with words. But it’s Saturday, which is my play day. 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You know, that kind of makes sense; Christ was making some sort of pun on concepts and seeing if anyone got it.

  21. Thanks for this post. My tenative views are similar.

    Whether not everyone can agree in all your points, I think all should be able to agree that there is some room for good-faith disagreement on this issue. It also preserves us from some potentially serious errors — like getting so roped into science having to come to one, very particular conclusion (which it does not appear to be reaching) that we feel we must fight current scholarship in a frenzied, desperate way . . . and potentially loose. Accepting that Genesis does not absolutely, positively (or at all) teach a literal view of origins would improve the dialog immensely, just by making evolution less threatening and permitting a more open-ended, curious, and honest discussion in which theologians don’t have to take inflexible positions on a science that they barely understand and which is (as science always does) ever-shifting.

  22. I know that Catholics are “allowed” to believe that the universe is older than 6000 years. We are also taught that Adam and Eve were the first humans. Nevertheless (I am not a very good Catholic!) I know from reading various blogs that it is written that Adam and Eve had daugthers (or was it granddaughters?) who married sons of Egyptian kings, I may have the details wrong, but the point is that there were other people around at the time of Adam and Eve, if Adam and Eve were “actual” people at all. I know a lot of Christians say that we HAVE to stick with Adam and Eve as the first people and that they sinned and that we then all sin and therefore need Jesus to redeem us. But…my faith in Jesus remains intact whether or not I believe all this about Adam and Eve or not. I believe God created humans with free wills and that he created them to have conscious awarness of his existence, power, love. BUT…humans used their free will to not listen to God and go their own way instead. Barriers were then erected between themselves and God and they became more and more under the influence of evil. It took Jesus to set things right again. I could go on about how he did that, but will end this comment now. I don’t want anyone to leave Jesus because of what they cannot believe about Genesis.

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      JoanieD,

      I agree with that last sentence above about not wanting anyone to leave Jesus because of what they cant’ believe about Genesis……. so true – these are not salvation critical issues! Eternity in heaven or hell is not dependant on your position on Genesis. It’s almost like the end time issues that people get going about….. not of this is salvation critical. Once salvation is dealt with then one can discuss all this other but paramount to this is your relationship to God through Jesus Christ – if that’s not right the rest doesn’t really matter.

      • Savannah says:

        It seems to be great sport for some Christians to make up lists of “tenets” that other believers must follow of they are truly believers – and this list has nothing to do with the Apostle’s Creed! I have been told numerous times that I cannot be a Christian because of things like not believing in a pre-tribulation rapture, for voting democratic sometimes, and for not being a YEC-er, among other sundry and seemingly arbitrary “rules”.

        It has not really made me want to “leave Jesus”, but it has certainly made me want to spend a whole lot less time around “Christians”.

        • The Guy from Knoxville says:

          Savannah,

          I can totally identify with all that which is one of the reasons my wife and I have gotten away from the legalist fundi churches (rural SBC for me and hardline COC for her).
          Don’t know how many times I have been whacked (esp last church – an SBC) because
          I didn’t go straight down the line – the SBC line – on these and other issues

          I have no issues with the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed – both great statments of faith that have the gospel clearly spelled out….. even the Te Deum is a fantastic statment of belief again with the gospel clearly there. I have no intention of leaving Jesus but church and some of the people in it can really make you want to stay away from it.

          People want to major on minors which have nothing to do with one’s final eternal destiny after we leave this place called Earth. Interesting – yes / salvation critical – no!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I don’t want anyone to leave Jesus because of what they cannot believe about Genesis.

      Then wake up, BECAUSE IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW ALL OVER THE PLACE. When YEC Uber Alles becomes The Gospel, guess what happens if you can’t believe YEC.

  23. Karl from Columbus says:

    Chaplian Mike,

    I am sorry you do not see the what Creatationist like Ken Ham are trying to promote, which is the Biblical Truth of God’s Word. If God just wanted to be poetic, would he use such specific terms (“And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day… “and so on ). If you spend any time reading or listening to Ken Ham and some like him, you would see he shows how Scientific Facts do work with the descritions in the Bible, and in the reverse he has done a great job showing how the Worldly views of creation not only have many holes in it, but makes less logial sense then from a Biblicial point of View.

    As far as why it is important for Christians to understand Genesis and the argument by some that it has Nothing to do with Jesus and our Salvation, I would have to respectfully disagree. The reason some on the “there is no God” side likes to ripe apart the Creation story in Genesis is that if you can put a crack in the Bible (particularly in the beginning), then how can you truely believe any other part of the Bible. Trying to hurt the reliability of God’s Word helps them to deny the rest of teh Bible, therefore all about Jesus and Hid Salvation. This is dangerous ground and why this subject is so important.

    Some want to argue that what I believe the Bible says in Genesis and what they believe in Genesis is just a matter of oppinion. A couple of questions I have with others oppinion on these verse being poetic:
    1) With God’s detailed description and the use of the word “day”, if this is only poetic then at what point in the Old Testament does the word “day” start meaning day? I mean, if you thinnk about it, everywhere else in the Old Testament where they say “day”, they mean what you and I know as “day. So why is it only in the first 2 chapters of Genesis, the word “day” has a different meaning?
    2) There are places through out the Bible that poetic language is used, when God described Genesis to Moses to write down, why would God not make some kind of explaination that is was a poetic like story of the beginning of creation, when we can not find difference with the other chapters of Genesis. When does Genesis go from poetic language to historical text?

    In the end, there is much science out there that points toward a Bibicial View of Creation as described in Genesis. WIth the Liberal News media and Liberal University Profesors pushing thier view and not aloowing another point of view, it is no surprise to me that so many would fall for the lies of this world and not stand on the Truth of God’s Word. God did not leave His Word out there with no Science to back it up. The more and more we learn through Science we see more and more how the Biblicial View and not the world view stands up to debate.

    With all that said, if you don’t believe the Genesis story of creation as written, how can you believe any other part of the Bible including the rising of Jesus Christ, maybe to some out there this is just a poetic use of words to describe how Jesus lives on even though he never really rose from the dead (which I believe the Bible and the witness that He did rise from the dead)? I pray this makes sense. If you don’t want to believe the Bible to be all true, then I can’t blame you for not agreeing with the Bibical satory of Creation, that there is One God, and that Jesus Christ lived a perfect live, died for our sins and rose again beating sin, death and the devil for our salvation.

    If you still think you can believe in the Bible and Jesus and not in Genesid chapters 1 and 2, then please answer my 2 questions above and help me understand where I am going off the wrong way. Thanks, this is a great discussion that needs to be had in the Church and we should never talking to others in Love on these and other issues. God Bless!

    • Karl from Columbus says:

      Sorry, need more coffee… that last pharagraph:

      Genesid = Genesis

      The last sentance should have read “… had in the Church and we should never talk to others “except” in Love on these issues. God Bless!”

      Just to clarify. 🙂

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      Karl,

      Myself and others statement of these issues not being salvation critical is simply stating that what you believe or don’t believe does not determine whether you are a beliver in Christ or, if you will, saved or born again. Positions on this issue, end time issues and others are constantly used to beat other believers over the head, so-to-speak, and label them as lost, hell bound unbelievers and all this because they don’t take the creation part of Genesis literally or don’t believe in pre-trib rapture or any number of other “you have to believe this or your lost” items or subjects. That’s all I’m talking about when I say this is not salvation critical.

      Just about every person commenting on this post, including Chaplin Mike, have clearly stated that the gospel is present from Genesis to Revelation and everything in between. No one here has denied Christ or God. I’m a believer, saved, born again but I have issues with pre-trib rapture and other end time things taught these days…… does that make me an unbeliever or lost?? I think not! Other folks here are the same as me – believers, saved, born again and they have some issues with taking Genesis account of creation as literal….. does that make them an unbeliever or lost?? I think not! I tend to believe that the Genesis account is correct and happened just like it’s stated or presented – the folks here have no trouble with my belief and I have no issue with their positions because when you get right down to it our unity is in Christ, in his gospel – the fact that we are all believers/saved/born again – however you want to put it.

      Don’t think anyone has denied The Bible as the true word of God either – I believe it is and some of these issues also are dependant on how one interprets scripture as well……. many things come in to play here but the unity comes right back to Christ, the gospel – the news – good news of redemption and what that means to all of us who are believers and to those who will be as well as those past who have gone ahead like Michael Spencer who started this wonderful place to begin with.

      • The Guy from Knoxville says:

        Clarification on start of first paragraph:

        Myself and others statement of these issues not being salvation critical is simply stating that what you believe or don’t believe does not determine whether you are a beliver in Christ or, if you will, saved or born again.

        Should be:

        Myself and others statement of these issues not being salvation critical is simply stating that what you believe or don’t believe about this subject does not determine whether you are a beliver in Christ or, if you will, saved or born again.

      • Karl from Columbus says:

        Guy from Knoxville,

        I guess if I gave the impression that you are not a Believer or “saved” if you don’t agree with the Biblical creation story was not the point I was trying to make. As I did not see anyone say they “denied Christ or God”.

        My point is that looking at the polls and talking with both non-believers and those that were once believers and are now no longer Christians, the majority of them point to the fact they can not believe the Bible to be true to what it says. The creation account in Genesis and the so called statment of “science does not support the creation story” is what leads even some believers away from the Truth of God’s Word since they are told only one-side of the science and not the whole picture as Ken Ham and others like him try to do. And for non-believers that watch believers argue over if Genesis charpter 1 and 2 are true or not, they then are tempted to consider the rest of the Bible as poetic or just a good story. That is where the danger is, and I believe there is no reason why anyone should doubt if any of the Bible is true or just a good story.

        Christinan interpret the whole Bible as literal, strictly speaking as you would any book (Even though the Bible is not like any book ever written). This means you need to treat a verb like a verb, and a noun like a noun. You are to treat historical accounts as history, hyperbole like hyperbole, poetry like poetry, and parables like parables. You cannot interpret the Bible according to your own prejudices and wishes. And if Genesis chapter 1 and 2 are not written as a poetic account, but written as a historical account, I don’t see why you wouldn’t read it as a historical account?

        Here in Genesis 1 and 2, if God wanted to have Moses tell the creation story in a poetic way, why the detail of “and there are evening and there was morning”? If creation happened under hundred of thousand or millions or billions of years, why didn’t God just say so? God knew we would be reading His word now, He knew we would be having this debate. Also, why would he not told Moses and the Isrealites the truth, did He feel they counldn’t handle it?

        When in the Old Testament did the word “day” stop being poetic and started meaning what we understand as “day? If the word “day” in Genesis is poetic language, then what about the account of Noah in Genesis chapter 7 verse 17 for example, “For forty days the floor waters…”, did that mean day as we know the word day, or was this also like the creation story and was just poetic?

        So, I am not saying you or others that don’t agree in the Biblical Creation story as not being Christian, I just want to understand how you choose to not believe the creation story as written and then do believe in the other parts of the Bible as written. Not saying I’m perfect or got all the answers, just if you can see from my questions above, there seems to be a disconnect somewhere and I am only looking to see where that might be. Thanks.

        • In my opinion, there are many good reasons for looking at “day” in the account here as something other than the 24 hour cycle we are familiar with—good reasons that a person believing in literal interpretation as the general rule can be comfortable with.

          1) doesn’t the next chapter start out saying “in the day that God created the heavens and the earth”? so now creation is presented as one “day” instead of 7 days—an indicator that day is to be understood more broadly

          2) the sun and moon that determine “day” as we know it weren’t even around for the first few days—-why should the first day be 24 hours (the length of an earth day) instead of a different time (like the length of a day on Mercury or Pluto—neither of which were created yet either)? It seems to indicate the possibility that a fair reading is to think of day as something with a broader meaning

          3) the use of “evening and morning” to me is simply an idiom indicating “beginning and ending”

          4) a lot went on in chapter two that all seems to be associated with Day 6 from chapter one; assuming these aren’t two different accounts stitched together by a later editor, a reasonable harmonizing of the accounts makes “day” 6 to be a long period of time—one can say something miraculous allowed Adam to do all he did in chapter two in one 24 hour period, but to me a more satisfying explanation is simply that it wasn’t 24 hours

          To me, the length of time isn’t important and I don’t know that ancient Hebrew even had words for the eons of time we think are involved. Even if they did, what purpose would it have served to fill our minds with this information? It’s the fact that God created organization, understood as a series of creative periods with distinct purposes that matters. There was darkness and then God created light—that pattern of light and darkness or evening and morning is repeated again and again as an indicator of God at work in creation for a distinct purpose. Our experience of specific 24 hour periods that are representations of the original creation periods (however long they took) remind us that every day we can participate in doing God’s work in the world with purpose and that just as God rested, we should also take a day to rest. My point is that there is a rich symbolism, chock full of theological importance to “days”, “evening”, “morning”, “light”, “darkness” that has nothing to do with any scientific principle or literal-to-the-point-of-saying-that’s-all-there-is kind of reading. I have no disrespect for those who believe in literal 24 hour days, but I see a greater richness in an expanded meaning that doesn’t conflict with science and still recognizes authority, inerrancy, etc in the text.

          Peace.

          • Jeff, as much as I admire your attempt to fit the Biblical and scientific evidence together, you are missing my point entirely. You are making the same mistake as those who take them to be six 24-hour days. You assume a scientific perspective behind the Scriptures that simply is not there.

            A day is a day. Genesis presents a seven-day scheme. It is a literary construction, a way of describing God’s work in artistic terms.

          • I wasn’t really addressing your point, Chaplain. I was saying that there are alternate ways of reading Scripture that are closer to the YEC/science oriented view (and still true to non “liberal” exegesis) that offer enough gray area that exactly your points about the important theology should be emphasized. I don’t fully agree with all your literary points, but they don’t bother me and I think that’s a perfectly viable way of looking at things. I don’t think it’s the only way, but we agree on what’s important I believe.
            Thanks.

          • By the way, Chaplain, please don’t misunderstand my use of the word “liberal” in my reply—with all the sometimes angry comments flying around, I want to make it clear I’m not accusing you of being “liberal” and all the negative meanings people attach to that word!

            I do in fact have a science background so it’s natural for me to bring a scientific perspective, just like you, I presume, will bring a more literary perspective. I thought my comments about the symbolism and theological meaning above actually would have conveyed that I do appreciate the literary perspective, but I personally feel I don’t want to fully abandon the “scientific” view. I’m on no crusade to make people “see the light” about my interpretive scheme—I appreciate your sensible way of bringing out the message and saying let’s not worry about scientific details that aren’t there, and even if I partially disagree about those details not being there, I can get fully on board just proclaiming the message!
            Thanks.

        • Are you suggesting that poets use a different language than non-poets? That would make no sense.

          Poetry, by its very nature, uses the same language as prose, but often in an allegorical sense. So I have no difficulty understanding Gen. 1:1-11 to be allegorical language that built on the everyday world with which the hearers were familiar.

    • Savannah says:

      I live near Columbus, too – I think I may have run into Karl before!

      Karl, the more science we understand, the more the Ken Ham version of things is NOT confirmed. The whole ID contingent (many of whom are completely embarrassed by Ken Ham) has done all kinds of contortionist intellectual gymnastics to try to fit clear evidence of old earth and all the rest into the 6-literal-day creation paradigm.

      BTW, Ken Ham et al. have no corner of the market on the “Biblical truth of God’s Word”.

      I also have to take issue with your argument that those of us who do not hold to your view of creation are such non-thinking imbeciles that we have simply fallen prey to the “liberal” news media and “liberal” university professors. If that your idea of great discussion, it is no wonder why we in church can’t seem to have one on this topic. We just talk past each other and condemn each other with our preconceived notions and that’s all the further it ever goes.

      For me, I simply don’t know exactly how everything happened (and I don’t think anyone else does, either). I look at science and I look at Genesis, though, and I really don’t have any problem reconciling the two, as I believe in a God bigger than the god that we, the Church, have shrunk down to fit into our litle box. God does not need Christians to tell fantastic tales to protect His Word and its integrity from non-believers. God is the creator of intellect and the desire for discovery.

      The very idea that if one doesn’t believe in the strict YEC version of things, they simply cannot believe that scripture is true, that Christ ever rose from the grave, and all the rest of the actual tenets of our faith is ridiculous. It sets up so many false choices and pushes people away from the gospel. There are some black and white beliefs necessary to our faith; however, this is just not one of them.

      • Karl from Columbus says:

        Savannah,

        “take issue with your argument that those of us who do not hold to your view of creation are such non-thinking imbeciles that we have simply fallen prey to the “liberal” news media and “liberal” university professors.” OK, I was not trying to call you or ANYONE imbeciles, that would be mean. I do believe some people are misinformed by the liberal media and education system, but most of the people I know on that side are smart people and I would be hard pressed to ever call them “imbeciles”. Since I don’t believe what you believe, does that imply I am a “imbeciles”, I would hope not. We just have two different oppinions, if your is not from the liberal media and education, then great.

        As far a Ken Ham, your right he is not the only one. I just mention him for 2 reasons: 1) Chaplain Mike talked about him above. and 2) I have read and heard Ken Ham speak personally. Not saying he is the best or only person talking on this subject, but I would argue his use of science is hard to debate. I have studied science and read people on both side of these arguments and feel the evidence is much stronger not only on a Biblical Creation view, but that it would be on a young-earth. This is a large subject and I full understand that in this blog forum there is no way either fo us will have teh time or space needed to explain All of our view to the other. I guess this is were we have to respectfull agree to disagree.

        Take care and Gold Bless!

        • Karl from Columbus says:

          ok, my typing is just not working today, above, last line should be God Bless, not Gold Bless. lol. Need much more coffee. 🙂

        • Savannah says:

          No, you didn’t use the word imbecile, nor did I post that you had; if you had, then I would have quoted you.

          You simply let us know that you were of such a caliber intellectually or spiritually or whatever that you could never be taken in by the “liberal” news media or the “liberal” college professors like those of us who believe differently have been.

          So there are any number of words I could have chosen, such as dupe (for instance), to express how you coming across to me. The particular descriptive word was not that important.

          But you are not alone in this attitude, as both “sides” of this (and nearly any non-essential theological argument) issue are happy to question the native intelligence of the “other side”. That goes to my point about why it is so hard for the differing views within the church to ever be calmly and rationally discussed. It isn’t terribly long before it digresses into an argument over who’s the “real Christian”, who is denying the “first adam, so must be denying the last”, and who has “checked their brain at the door”, etc.

          • Karl from Columbus says:

            I am just passionate about what I believe and will admit my tone above was a bit hard. I tried to state my position above by saying “many fall for the lies of this world” in regard to the news media and education system bias I see. I did not say “ALL” so not to include those as yourself that don’t blindly go with whatever the news media or thier teachers tell them.

            My wording above was too strong and for that I say “Sorry.” I pray you and others would forgive me for being too strong in making my point, that was not what I intended. I am a sinner like everyone else and I need God’s Mercy and Grace every moment of my life. I would never claim to be “caliber intellectually or spiritually or whatever that you could never be taken”, and sorry if that was how I was coming across.

            I do believe people who disagree with me when it come to this issue of YEC can be a Christian and it also does not mean they “checked thier brain at the door”.

            I believe this is an important issue and I would argue there are dangers, in my opinion, to not believing in YEC. I would perfer to calmly and rationally discuss this issue and pray that this would be possible at some point. Take care and God Bless!

        • “As far a Ken Ham, your right he is not the only one. I just mention him for 2 reasons: 1) Chaplain Mike talked about him above. and 2) I have read and heard Ken Ham speak personally. Not saying he is the best or only person talking on this subject, but I would argue his use of science is hard to debate. I have studied science and read people on both side of these arguments and feel the evidence is much stronger not only on a Biblical Creation view, but that it would be on a young-earth.”

          As to “his science is hard to debate”, there’s a lot of committed Christians who totally disagree with this statement. Utterly and completely.

          And this is a discussion that can go on for 1000s of posts. I’m not trying to start that but just to make the point that many very smart Christians who understand science at a very deep level do not agree. And I understand that there are also many who feel as you do.

  24. Karl, read my other post on my understanding of Genesis 1. I do believe it is “true.” I just don’t believe it has anything to do with “science.” Any kind of literature must be read according to its genre, its context, and its author’s intent. In the case of Genesis, the genre is a kind of exalted prose that goes beyond mere journalistic reporting and it is organized around a 7-day literary scheme, the context is the Torah, and the author’s intent is to challenge the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land after Moses’ death.

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      Mike,

      You put that well in this reply to Karl – hope what I wrote above is not out of place based on your reply here. I was trying to explain the “salvation critical” issue – that one must believe as I do on A-Z or you can’t possibly be a believer/saved/born again etc. Not saying that you don’t believe this at all and this reply clears the water so-to-speak. The science is the issue and you’re correct Genesis goes beyond as you stated.

    • Karl from Columbus says:

      Chaplian Mike,

      I guess that is where I might be missing your point. You say “I do beieve it is true”, but “I just don’t believe is has anything to do with science.” First, you say it is true, I am happy to hear that, I just don’t understand how it does not have anything to do with science. Science is just the understanding of what happens in this great universe God has created. I see God giving us (and particularly moses and the Israelists) Genesis 1 and 2 as His account of how this all began. God could have said, I made it all and you just have to trust Me on it. Or God could have said I made all over millions or billions of years. But God did not say that, He gave us not only days, but described the days “there was evening, and there was moning”, which does not lead me to see it as a poetic statement. With that said, I am not sure what you mean by “author’s intent is to challenge the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land after Moses’ death.”? What kind of challenge to the Israelists would God be trying to give by being poetic? I would think (and this is my oppinion) that is God was trying to inpress His greatness to me, that fact that he could make everything in a short period of time and with an order to it all, shows me an awesome God that is all powerful and completely truthful as He was not trying to be anything but up front with where and how we all came to be.

      WIth that said, if I am missing understanding you, please let me know. It is not me intention to put word in you mouth that you did nto say. I will look up your post on Genesis 1 and see what you have to say there. Thanks for your conversation on this and sure hope to talk to you again. Off to work so catch later. God Bless!

      • Have you read my earlier post on Genesis 1, Karl?

        And by the way, don’t put words in my mouth. I never said it was poetic. I said Genesis 1 is exalted prose, not journalistic reporting of events, organized around a seven-day literary scheme.

        • Karl from Columbus says:

          Chaplian Mike,

          I just read your post on Genesis 1. I think I want to read again and double check a couple things before responding. I do see better where you are coming from in some of this, just thinking about some of the responses so far and I see I need to spend a lot more time praying about my response before just responding.

          As far as “don’t put words in my mouth. I never said it was poetic”, OK. You said “exalted prose”, which a prose work that has poetic characteristics such as vivid imagery and concentrated expression. I used “poetic” using this definition of Prose. You said prose, I see it as poetic. Sorry if I am making to big of a leep with the use of these words. I did not think I was given the definition of prose. My bad.

          Take care and God Bless!

        • Karl from Columbus says:

          I keep re-reading your post on Genesis 1 and your post above; I think understand where you are coming from. I just don’t know what more to say other then I do not fully agree with Genesis 1 being “exalted prose, not jounalistic reporting of events, organized around a seven-day literary scheme.” What you say and what Sailhamer, Waltke and Walton say about Genesis 1 is an interesting point of view that I would admit I have not heard before.

          With what I have studied and seen from science, it does help lead me in the direction of Genesis 1 being more then just “exalted prose”. As I mention above with God using extra description of each day (morning, evening) and not just saying day1, day 2… leads me to believe He was doing a kind of reporting of events. Also with my question of how can we determine when in the OT the word “day” starts meaning a “day” without it being just “exalted prose” as it seems that no where else in the OT does the question of what “day” means ever comes up? I know you talked about the “author’s intent is to challenge the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land after Moses’ death.” I just does see why God would not just be straight forward with the Israelists about the origins of creation? Maybe this is where I am missing your point. I know you say in your post on Genesis 1 that Genesis1:2-2:3 explains the origins of the Promise Land, but I guess this is just where I am at with this for now.

          I will definetly be looking more into this subject as you and others here have shown me that the whole Genesis 1 thing is not as clear cut as I thought. Which is good, I always appreciate hearing a different point of view to understand where others might be coming from. At this point, I hope we can agree to respectfully disagree as I not sure where else to go with this at this time. Thanks for the topic, it’s been quite the experience.

          Also, I want to say sorry if I was a bit strong with some of the points I used earlier. It really was not my intention to offend you or others here on this blog with my comments. I guess I get passionate about things sometimes and need to slow down and not let myself answer too quickly. God, I pray, is working on me with that. Take care and God Bless!

          • Savannah says:

            Karl, I had no “reply” option above, but did not want to ignore your apology, which I very much appreciate, along with the humility that it takes to apologize. I have answered too quickly many-a-time, and am no better than anyone else when it comes to that (or much else). Anyway, thanks for listening.

  25. The reason some on the “there is no God” side likes to ripe apart the Creation story in Genesis is that if you can put a crack in the Bible (particularly in the beginning), then how can you truely believe any other part of the Bible. Trying to hurt the reliability of God’s Word helps them to deny the rest of teh Bible, therefore all about Jesus and Hid Salvation. This is dangerous ground and why this subject is so important.

    Karl:

    How do you and Ken Ham, et al., explain or accomodate the divergences between the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Septuagintal text of the Old Testament, esp. since the latter was the very-much-preferred text of the authors of the New Testament when they quoted the Old Testament? (In fact, some NT affirmations or arguments depend on the LXX text being used.) I.e., the existence of the MT/LXX divergences seems to me to be “a crack in the Bible” that the Bible itself seems to contain.

    • Karl from Columbus says:

      EricW,

      “Despite the striking divergence of meaning here between the two, nearly identical consonantal Hebrew source texts can be reconstructed. The readily apparent semantic differences result from alternative strategies for interpreting the difficult verse and relate to differences in vowelization and punctuation of the consonantal text.

      The differences between the LXX and the MT thus fall into four categories.

      1.Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the LXX. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. Most obvious are major differences in Jeremiah and Job, where the LXX is much shorter and chapters appear in different order than in the MT, and Esther where almost one third of the verses in the LXX text have no parallel in the MT. A more subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36.11; the meaning ultimately remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads “…al tedaber yehudit be-‘ozne ha`am al ha-homa” [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or — which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the LXX reads according to the translation of Brenton “and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall.” The MT reads “people” where the LXX reads “men”. This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse. Scholars at one time had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the LXX was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, variant Hebrew texts of the Bible were found. In fact this verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa) where the Hebrew word “haanashim” (the men) is found in place of “haam” (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.
      2.Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. A good example is Genesis 4.7, where there is a difference but the meaning still comes out the same.
      3.Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues (i.e. a Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, thus some difference is intentionally or unintentionally imparted). For example, in Psalm 47:10 the MT reads “The shields of the earth belong to God”. The LXX reads “To God are the mighty ones of the earth.” The metaphor “shields” would not have made much sense to a Greek speaker; thus the words “mighty ones” are substituted in order to retain the original meaning.
      4.Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek (Diverging revisionary/recensional changes and copyist errors)”

      WIth that said, the “crack in the Bible” is not so much a “crack” as a small difference in describing the same thing. Their meaning, those which hold importance, are not compromised. Great question, Thanks EricW!

      • There is also 5. (which could be a subpoint of your 1.): Differences in meaning between the Masoretic Text and the LXX due to what appears to be a different vorlage for the LXX such that the meaning does NOT ultimately remain the same between the MT and the LXX. Hebrews 10:5 depends on the LXX version of the Psalm; the Hebrew text, no matter how it can be construed, cannot result in the LXX rendering. There are other examples, too, some of which I’ve asked about on B-Greek and found out that there is no good answer. Augustine argued with Jerome (who wanted to use the Hebrew text for his Vulgate where it clearly showed a different text than the LXX or showed the LXX translation to be in error) that God had inspired the errors or changes in the LXX (which was the Church’s Old Testament) and hence the LXX reading should be preferred where it differed from the Hebrew for whatever reason (see pp. 51ff. in The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon by Martin Hengel). To me, the NT’s and Church’s use of the LXX raises some difficult questions re: what is “the Bible” when it comes to the details, whether of text or of canon.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And now we’re getting too into Biblical minutiae understandable only to specialists and scholars.

  26. “In any case, I believe that the fact that there are both trees in the story *may* imply that Adam and Eve are not inherently immortal beings. Even so, I think it is clear that God wanted Adam and Eve to live forever and take care of his creation (thus the tree of life), but they chose rebellion and death, and thus separation from God”.

    I often wonder, when I read the early chapters of Genesis, how important it is to add the ‘backdrop’ of that other ancient biblical book, the story of Job, merely because the revelation of God through scripture is that we are not merely examining a fundamental regarding the nature of all reality which commences with ‘natural’ death in humanity, but a corruption – the existence of evil – which has plagued heaven and earth. There are clearly profound ‘mysteries’ (the very word used by Paul) here, and I cannot help but think they have great bearing on what we find recorded about creation and mankind’s fall, as well as the coming redemption of the created order (heaven and earth). If this is indeed the case, there are probably pieces to this puzzle we simply do not posses at present – they could well be beyond our capacity to understand – but it is the astonishment which arises from what we are told which should, I think, lead us to the place Paul reaches in Romans 11:33-36 regarding both the character and work of God.

    Regarding the work of creation itself, I’ve been very enriched by Georges Florovsky’s work on Creation and Creaturehood, provided as the final section of the work ‘The Patristic Understanding of Creation’ (Erasmus Press). It certainly begin to generate thoughts of the kind that would have married perfectly with the Apostle’s conclusion.

  27. I am about to leave for the day, but I just wanted to say something about Jesus and Paul referring to Adam, Jonah, Job, Lot and others. (This hasn’t been mentioned yet, but often comes up on these discussions.) Just because Jesus and Paul referred to them doesn’t mean they believed that these people were actual people. They COULD mean that, but they don’t HAVE to mean that. Let’s say I can tell that someone is lying to me. I may say to them, “I can see the lie on your face. Remember Pinocchio!” That doesn’t mean I believe that Pinocchio was a real being, but he is a portrayal or someone (or something!) that clearly showed when he was lying. Or maybe I will say, “Remember Scrooge” to make a point about someone cutting themselves off from love and generosity. But I don’t believe that Scrooge was a human being who existed in human history. But the story of Scrooge does tell a “true” story. For something to be true, it doesn’t have to be literal and the people referred to do not have to be “real” people.

    Have a good weekend, everyone! We are getting SNOW here where I am in Maine. Up to six inches, they say. And I haven’t even finished raking the leaves yet!

    • Jonathan says:

      Jesus considered Genesis to be a factual account. He quoted from Genesis’ creation account as factual support to his position regarding marriage based on the order of creation: “Have you not heard that in the beginning, God created them male and female and for this reason a male shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh? Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man put assunder.”

      Paul used the orders of creation in Genesis, “for Adam was formed first, woman after him” and admonishing that, “this is not just I, Paul, speaking, but it is a command from the Lord” as factual support for his instruction on the proper role of women in church.

      They weren’t referring to nice litle fictitious object lessons to make their point. They were treating it as historical fact to back up their position.

      The account of Jonah and the big fish is about as folly as a man rising up and walking out of a tomb after three days of being dead. Maybe that was Jesus’ point in using that historical analogy. People aren’t going to believe either story. Jesus said even if a man rises from the dead you will not even believe him. Sadly, many Christians don’t even believe in an actual physical bodily resurrected Jesus either. Yet, as Paul said, if Christ were not raised, our faith is in vain, we are still dead in our trespasses, without hope. But God *Almighty* used a big fish to spare Jonah. God raised Jesus bodily back to life. Easy Peasy.

  28. The irony in the Hamite belief that there was no animal death before the fall, is that evolution becomes necessary after the fall. Grass eating animals like lions needed to evolve into creatures whose teeth are capable of killing and eating other animals.

    • Variation within species is not macro evolution.

      If God changed them, then it would have been much more immediate than millions of years. That isn’t macro evolution.

      • “macro evolution” is one of those nice-sounding phrases which don’t actually mean anything specific.

        And the term “variation with species” is horribly inaccurate – enough so that it really ought not be used at all. If variation within species is “micro evolution” and variation outside species being “macro evolution” then macro evolution is accepted even by most YEC groups.

        Dogs are a common example used as examples of significant variation without changing to a “different” animal. However, that’s simply not an accurate picture of what YEC scientists believe.

        YEC scientists hold that the camel and the llama come from the same parents – that’s WAY outside the “variation within species” concept. ICR and AiG (and other YEC groups) also hold that the giraffe is included in the group which came from a common set of parents with the camel and llama.

        (The same thing is true of dogs, bears, otters, skunks, and pandas – they are all believed to come from the same pair of animals off the Ark.)

        When you have a single pair of animals off the Ark evolving into three different animals as widely varied as giraffes, camels, and llamas, then the term “variation within species” is a completely useless and inaccurate term. Ditto for the “microevolution” vs “macroevolution” terms – wildly horribly inaccurate to use.

        I realize this is more on the science side of the discussion than the literary side of things, but statements of “microevolution”, “macroevolution” and “variation within species” has been one of those bizarrely ignorant things that get continued on by people who just don’t know any better.

  29. Chaplain Mike,

    I understand you wanting to champion science. But I do not understand you not wanting to champion theology.

    Your statements about Adam being the first representative man are theologically thin, as if your view of the doctrine has no complications in it. Your championing a consensus in science, but you seem to avoid a tension in theology that your doctrine has.

    It seems that you believe that your view of the genre of the first chapter of Genesis is a proven theological fact. Your championing what you believe to be solid, irrefutable scientific theories, but you seem to be avoiding that your theological conclusions are not facts.

    Whatever position Christians (not just you, brother) hold on creation/evolution, it should matter that they are theologically studied and sound in equal proportion to the their confidence in their scientific views. It seems easier (and foolish) to stand behind science and scientist than it is to stand behind good, consistent, studied, articulated theology.

    You’ve done a very good and noble and commendable thing in working with this blog like you have, but please express your theology as deeply and as passionately as you do your views on science. (I am not speaking of other theological issues, I am only referring to your theology on the issue that’s being discussed in these creation/evolution threads.)

    -Steve

    • I don’t recall expressing my views on science. In fact, I haven’t studied science for a very long time. It’s not my area.

      I just said the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about the subject. Period.

      And I fully explained my view on Genesis 1 in an earlier post. A future post will be devoted to Genesis 2-3. The comments section is not the appropriate place for a fully developed statement of exegesis on a passage like that.

  30. Some thoughts:

    1. I think a large amount of attention on the “young earth/old earth” idea shifts attention away from what is most important concerning evolution. I think the relationship between the first Adam and last Adam is the foundational issue.

    2. I think focusing almost exclusively on “Genesis” or “the Torah” [its genre, etc] can shift attention away from the authoritative interpretations of the New Testament on the Old Testament. Plus, I think it can tend toward a myopic way of reading the Bible.

    3. I think Christians at this time in church history should seriously consider calling the idea that man evolved from animals not merely an error, but heresy. I think a confessional stand which excludes theistic evolutionists might be necessary.

    4. I think presuppositionalism [which is offensive minded] might be the only sure defense against evolution for the health of the church. I think integrationism leaves sufficient room open for it to come in.

    5. I don’t think it is merely folks like me who are closed minded. I think convinced theistic evolutionists are closed minded to allow for the possibility of creationism. I also think their box [i.e., framework] is in a sense “too little” to allow for the possibility for what I believe in as well.

    6. I think theistic evolutionists are the true “troublers of Israel” who bring division into the body of Christ.

    7. I think the “majoritarianism of the academics” argument could possibly be turned against the theistic evolutionists [if they want to use this argument] when it comes to other doctrines. I doubt the majority of academics consider the full Deity of Christ and His resurrection worthy of academic credibility. If so, then what justifies theistic evolutionists “selectivity” for using this argument [if they do] when it comes to evolution, but not other doctrines?

    8. I hope full orbed atheists attack theistic evolutionism from one side and creationists attack it from the other side. I think theistic evolutionists will be come back with rhetoric instead of justifiable reasons for their view. I think they will come back with “both you guys are extreme and fundamentalists and want certainty” type stuff. Are convinced theistic evolutionists not “committed” and “certain” of their theistic evolution?

    9. Either one considers the Bible to be fully authoritative or not in their lives. If it is fully authoritative, then no matter what field of study a person is studying, they will have to view what they study through the lens of Scripture since Scripture teaches that God created and controls everything. The Bible has something to say on everything either implicitly or explicitly. If someone does not want to view what they study through the lens of Scripture, but wants some other lens [which ultimate derives from finite man who is limited], then the Bible is not functioning as the ultimate authority in their lives. Period.

    10. I think Christians need to have a grace empowered backbone [including Reformed academics] towards evolution. I think Christians need to fear God more than fear being called a fundamentalist or whatever.

    11. I think Christians need to be on their toes to spot an erroneous mysticism that might sound good on the outside, but in reality debunks the ultimate authority of Scripture.

    • A thought: doesn’t the text say something like “God said let the land bring forth..” and then “the land brought forth…”? If so, doesn’t this mean that a literal reading implies a natural process possibly much like evolution at work? (started by God clearly as the first cause but worked out in detail by natural, second causes) I’m not actually advocating this theistic evolution viewpoint—what I’m saying is that it seems there is enough “gray” in what constitutes a truly literal reading that theistic evolution could actually be supported (not as a “copout” but as an honest literal reading) and therefore as Chaplain Mike (and others) have been arguing, perhaps focusing on the theological message on which there is the widest possible agreement and importance seems the most fruitful use of this portion of Scripture.

      • JeffB

        I think they are trying to unscramble an egg that was not meant to be unscrambled. The theological truth and the historical are wrapped up in each other.

      • No, “the land brought forth” is simply referencing the source of what was brought forth. No evolution there. The land inside my cold frame is bringing forth lettuce and spinach–the source is not the method.

    • There are denominations and churches where you can be right at home.

    • Benji—

      1. I think you’ve said what you need to say now.

      2. I will let your words remain so everyone can be fully aware of where you stand.

      3. Unfortunately, most of what you say has nothing to do with the content of the post.

      4. No more comments will be accepted from you on this comment thread.

      5. Good luck on all future heretic-hunting adventures.

      • Thank you, Chaplain. Benji and his type are one of the main reasons I am making a beeline from the SBC back to my Anglican roots.

  31. Perhaps another perspective… the issue of evolution vs. creation is (while a huge issue) only an example of the larger presupposition problems that many Christians face. The issue is relevance and rational thoughts. As (primarily) Republicans they claim they want “smaller” government then support laws banning gay marriage. They state they are against stem cell research then (usually) do not have an issue with invitro fertilization (where the remaining, fertilized “test tube” eggs are thrown out as waste).

    These examples and scores of others make those who follow Jesus increasingly marginalized when so many leaders are- without information- making Holy Crusades in the name of the Cross. During the 1980’s this may have been merely irresponsible but in today’s day and age of information it is absolutely inexcusable and damning of the main issue.

    Dillard once wrote, “How disappointing on the heels of Jesus comes the Christians.” Exactly.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Wasn’t there a documentary film entitled Lord, Save Us From Your People?

      • Christians (as a generic whole) seem to love useless Crusades. e.g. homosexuality, evolution, and prayer in schools. What are any of those things directly gaining the Kingdom? If you keep “Jerusalem” at the cost of the worlds’ collective souls what have you done?

  32. It seems to me that a lot of people arguing for a literal interpretation of Genesis seem to miss one huge bit of logic: While all facts are true, not all truths are fact. It is completely possible to say something that is not factually correct, while saying something that is entirely true. As a poster on Scot McKnight’s blog brilliantly said, the prodigal son is the most true story I’ve ever heard, yet it never happened.

    I agree completely with Chaplain Mike that the non-negotiable message of Genesis is that God is master and originator of all creation and that mankind holds a special place in the created order. Maybe it’s that I’m under 40 so the Modern mindset is somewhat alien to me, but Genesis’ factual correctness doesn’t affect my view of God’s sovereignty and scripture’s authority whatsoever.

    • Jonathan says:

      Prodigal Son is a parable Jesus told. It is an obvious metaphorical device. Jesus used parables to teach lessons.

      Genesis gives no indication it is to be taken metaphorically. Jesus and the Apostle Paul give no indication that Genesis is to be taken metaphorically. They treat it as truth and *fact.*

      Was Jesus, *the Word Made Flesh,* wrong about Genesis?

  33. I wish someone had told me this 25 years ago when I first entered the murky water of creation science. This past year I had a biology class in which evolution was a main topic. It was so cool to learn what science was talking about. It never threatened my faith because I agree that science is not what the Bible is about. All the fun classes I could have taken had I only know this years ago.

  34. LightTheFires says:

    Chaplain Mike, thanks for a thought provoking post. I appreciate your intellectual and theological honesty. After reading through a bunch of the comments, I’m really curious about where you would place evolution on a theory – fact continuum. Let’s use a 5 point Likert scale with a 5 representing something as close to fact as we can get (the earth is a sphere) and a 1 representing something a bit closer to speculation. I’d put string theory on this end, but I know there may be some disagreement –at least you get the scale.

    I’m asking because I’m curious about how we should view the young-earth creationists. Are they blithering idiots that can’t see beyond the end of their nose? Or are the folks on the other side of the table making a reasonable but different interpretation of facts, faith and science.

    • I’ll say it again: my interest and expertise in no way lies with scientific questions. I honestly don’t know how to answer your question. Scientific questions should be evaluated by those who study those disciplines.

      But as to the second part of your comment, I don’t think many YEC folks come at these questions because of science, but because they are committed to what they think is important in winning the culture war.

      • LightTheFires says:

        I don’t think anyone would quarrel with someone that asserted that the earth orbits the sun and not the reverse. I’m curious about how confident you are about the position you’ve taken –or put it this way, how confident are you in the scientists you are standing behind?

        • That has the appearance of a very, very poorly laid trap.

        • One question: Huh?

          • LightTheFires says:

            As you do with many things, the folks on this board have polarized on the topic of evolution. My question was an attempt to understand if you really do inhabit the poles of this argument or if you sit in the middle. Folks in the middle tend to be rationale and open to the discussion of ideas. From your response, I’ll consider your mind closed on this one –which is disappointing.

            I have no idea what winning the culture war means and have no interest in propogating the battle. Every now and again you might consider listening to what the other side of the table (And I’m not talking about me) has to say on something before you dismiss them. Ciao.

            • FYI, I was reared in YEC in my early Christian days, exposed to it, studied it, took tests on it, etc. thirty-five years ago. It never rang quite true then, when I knew very little about the Bible. Now that I’ve studied Genesis and taught it for that length of time, YEC makes no sense to me whatsoever.

              • Ok, give me some details. What exactly does not make sense?

              • Like you, Chaplain, I was raised YEC and had issues with it even as a kid. In recent years, I’ve come completely around to your view that there really is a literary thing going on in this story and that its theological message and symbolism is what really counts—-there’s no need for culture wars, etc. However, as someone who does know the science at least a little bit and is able to read the story through a lens other than YEC, I actually see both in broad outline and even in some of the fine details a great deal of correlation with what science tells us today and I personally don’t believe it to be coincidence. Although I would not wish to make science the ultimate arbiter of the truth of falsehood of the Bible by tying Genesis too tightly to any one scientific theory, I think that I can recognize the correlation that exists now and not just stop at the “literary only” approach. I like to think that the God who writes good stories is also the God that has the power to put them into reality. I would like to be no more dogmatic about this (other than in the two key points you emphasized) than in Revelation interpretations—we weren’t and haven’t been at either end of the time continuum but we can understand and act on the key revelaed truths given us. As others have said, let’s hope for some easier topics soon!

            • Also, I was raised (weak) Catholic, and learned evolution and the old-earth in school. I have only begun to investigate a young earth recently (after becoming a Christian). As a non-Christian (false believer) I struggled a lot with the old earth. The young earth approach, while not perfect, works a lot better in every regard.

            • Savannah says:

              Me, too, exactly. Raised on YEC all the way in Christian school – my Bible even had a notation that God had created the world in 4004 BC. And it didn’t ring true for me, either. I don’t feel dogmatically about much beyond 1) God created all, and 2) the earth is very old and there has been life on earth for a very, very long time (although not that long when stacked up to more than 4.5 billion years, which I think is the estimated age of the earth). I can’t ignore evidence just because it doesn’t mesh with the Genesis creation story, and my view is that Genesis is pre-scientific language to describe pre-scientific events to pre-scientific people.

              Beyond that, I don’t know when He did it, or How he did it, but just that He did it, in His own time using His own methods.

              • Savannah says:

                I had meant that to be a comment on Chaplain Mike’s post above, so please imagine it there so that it makes some sense 🙂

              • “Ring true” is an appeal to emotions. Our emotions are irrelevant. What is important is what is consistent and true.

                What has convinced you that the earth is very old?

                • beach ranger says:

                  “What has convinced you that the earth is very old?”

                  Ok, I’ll bite (in no particular order):
                  -Records from ancient civilizations (Sumerians, Egyptians)
                  -Dendrochrology
                  -Lake sediment core analysis
                  -Coral reef core samples
                  -varves
                  -ice cores
                  -fossil stratigraphy
                  -geologic evidence of many geomagnetic reversals
                  -geochronology
                  -biogeography
                  etc.

                  • I’m not aware of any recorded history older than a few thousand years (the Sumerians are notorious liars who claim tens of thousands of years for their kingdoms – even secular historians don’t believe them). How do you reconcile this with the claim that human beings are millions of years old?

                    Dendrochronology (tree rings) – again there are no living trees older than a few thousands years. Some attempts have been made to “chain” trees backwards – even these don’t go further than ~10k. Same with coral reefs, the oldest reef is a few thousand years old.

                    Fossil stratigraphy is dependent on the dating of the rock layers, which is a separate thread. There is no single excavated site which present the layers in the orthodox old earth model (you must interpolate between sites using rock dates).

                    Varves, lake sediments, and ice cores are all dependent on the assumption of uniform deposition.

                    Overall, I see a big list of things which have been force fit into the old earth view. I don’t see an argument that these things are true.

                    • Interesting in that you have to assume/”force fit” quite a bit in order for your view to hold. Radiometric testing has to be wrong…therefore God must have at some point changed the rates of decay…and your evidence for that? “God has dealt differently with different people at different times.”

                      I’m not a scientist. And as a Catholic I don’t have a stake in this: either position is fine, so long as one holds to the theological truths of Genesis. But…that was a pretty weak line of argument.

                    • This is actually a good point. The argument is not over “evidence”. The evidence is the same for everyone (except conspiracy theorists). The argument is over interpretation and presuppositions.

                      Atheists (those with the presupposition there is no God) need evolution and the old earth. As Christians, we are free to adopt it or abandon it.

                      The old earth interpretation adds nothing scientifically, and causes a lot of headache theologically. I say abandon it. If “the world” thinks we are crazy or a cult – we are more likely to be correct! The world is blind to the truth.

                    • beach ranger says:

                      Hi nedbrek,

                      This is not the first time I have seen the argument regarding the presuppositional approach to scientific evidence. In an online discussion with Jonathan Sarfati of CMI, I decided to read his book “Refuting Evolution” to get his take on the issue. If I could paraphrase his chapter on presuppositional bias it would be “Yes creationists are biased towards a young earth, but atheist scientists are biased towards an old earth so both are of equal epistemilogical worth” and proceeded to prove the point by quote mining several famous atheist scientist scientists.

                      What I find irritating about this logic is it ignores several important facts:

                      -Yes some scientists are atheists but many are not! There are thousands of devout Christians in science in this country alone (just read some of the publications of the American Scientific Affiliation http://www.asa3.org ). I have read books by them and I am personal friends with others. It would be an insult to suggest they have been duped in some way by the atheists at the top of their fields.

                      -Many of the industrial revolution era geologists in England, the same ones who first began to believe a young earth and global flood were untenable in the 18th and 19th century, were also Anglican priests. This is a far cry from the atheist scientist who is searching for any means to exclude God from creation.

                      -Although the religious beliefs of Darwin varied and are difficult for us to know, it is safe to say he was not an atheist at the time he formulated his theory.

                      What bothers me is how widespread the conflation of evolutionary theory with atheism is. Even my own pastor said so during an oddly placed anti-evolution rant in the middle of the Easter service. I wish people would evaluate the theory on its scientific merit rather than reject it because of its perceived philosophical ramifications.

                    • I wouldn’t say atheists are “biased” towards an old earth, so much as it is required for their viewpoint to stand up.

                      For example, comets and the Oort cloud. There is no evidence for this, but it is part of orthodox astronomy. In effect, they don’t need evidence. Whatever conditions are necessary for the existing facts to fit together into the view will be created (hypothesized).

                      A catchy phrase: “A good philosophy can never be made to abandon his position based on evidence alone.” You can always explain away evidence.

                      I mean no insult to say that a great many Christians have been duped by Lyell (who claimed to be a Christian) and Darwin. More people are duped into not believing in God. It is the way of the world, to replace truth with lies.

                      If you can, read “Evolutionism and Creationism” by Ben Sonder (it is only 100 pages). It has a lot of interesting stuff. It lead me to another, much bigger book (called “The Creationists”).

                      There is an interesting quote from pages 12 and 13:
                      “In fact, Darwin himself stated that his main goal in writing On the Origin of the Species was ‘to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”

                      If you read Darwin’s notes you will find he was very angry at God:
                      “I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world” (his daughter Annie died at age 10)

                      Darwin and Lyell were part of a time when men sought to explain away miracles, to find truth apart from God (from Darwin’s notes):
                      “By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, — and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become … I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation”

                      Like I said, a Christian can believe in evolution (although there are several frightening theological implications), but I do believe evolution is a lie and everyone who believes it is being duped.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                      If “the world” thinks we are crazy or a cult – we are more likely to be correct! The world is blind to the truth.

                      That’s pretty much what the Victorian-era “Zetetic Astronomy” movement said.

                      They’re now called The Flat Earth Society.

                    • Sorry, forgot to respond to one point:
                      “God must have at some point changed the rates of decay…and your evidence for that”

                      Nothing I can be certain of, but Hebrews 1:1
                      “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways”

                      There is also revelation in nature. To assume this revelation is constant and unchanging is unwarranted.

  35. Posting these things at close of business on Friday is just mean 😛

    “Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) does not speak to the issue of evolution.”

    Sort of true. If you reject the straight-forward interpretation of Genesis 1, you have to start double thinking a lot of things (Noah’s flood, the age of the patriarchs, etc.)

    I have a lot of issues with evolution. Breaking them out:
    1) Science – it’s junk science; since no one is debating the science, I’ll leave it at that

    2) Hermeneutics – I don’t let the Pope interpret my Bible for me, why should I let atheists like Richard Dawkins do the same?

    3) Opposites – An evolutionary interpretation inverts a lot of Biblical ideas:

    A) “Man brought about death” or “Death brought about man”. The driving force of evolution is death, the death of individuals allows for the next (evolved) generation.

    B) “Woman came from man” or “Man came from woman”. The XX pattern will breed true. This is the earliest (asexual) mode. (It is believed) some mutation resulted in the XY form.

    C) Does God care about animals? The young earther believes the first animal was killed as a sign of the sacrifice of Jesus (to create a covering/atonement). The old earther believes animal suffering and death is “good” (On the fifth day, God said it is good).

    As scientists, we should reject evolution as junk science. As Christians we reject evolution as a danger to important Biblical concepts and a plain reading of the Bible.

  36. Mike,

    I appreciate your willingness to keep delving into the topic and plainly state your position and your intention stated in the comments to post on Gen. 2-3 later. You say that you don’t believe that Genesis has anything to do with science. Evolution, however, is not only science, it’s history–explaining what happened long ago to bring us to where we are now. The Bible, including Genesis, seems to also be, amongst other things, about history. I’d be interested in knowing at what point you (and others in the IMonk community) believe that Genesis starts to tell a literal “these events are actual historic events that occurred as described” history as opposed to a poetic/exalted prose literary vision of greater truths. At Adam and Eve as real flesh-and-bone first people? Cain and Abel? Noah and the Flood? Tower of Babel? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph? None of it until the Exodus?

    Thanks for all your work and for throwing yourself out there!

  37. Mike,

    Let me through in some of my thoughts:

    One thing I think that would help is to maybe replace the words “exalted prose” or “poetry” with the word “mythic”. I think Genesis 1 can be fruitfully viewed as mythopoeia. Instead of explaining this in detail, maybe one should read more mythic works – like the first part of Tolkien’s Silmarillion, the Ainulindalaë. It is as good an introduction to the genre as any.

    I find that those that argue most vociferously for literalism and YEC’ism are the ones most wedded to modernism. In that they most resemble Dawkins and his kin. They do not seem to get either pre-modern thought, or understand the limits of logical / scientific enquiry. Dawkins himself, from what I’ve read, seems to reject philosophical enquiry in favour of “hard science” – much the same as the Creationists try to do.

    As to the poster above that claimed that evoultion is “junk” science, but that nobody is actually speaking about the science here – I posted to comments in the first post last week that nobody took up – comments covering my fields of expertise – geology and geochronology.

  38. I have WAY too much work to do , at work no less, to dive into all this, but I thot I’d let you know, Chap Mike that you are blessed and prayed for. Why not pick an easy topic next time like peace in the Middle East, or the role of women in ministry ???

    I very much appreciate your zeal towards unity in the church and majoring in the majors (grace, the gospel, the Kingdom of God); this whole cosmology thing does NOT qualify as a major, at least as far as scripture directly addressing a full explanation of such.

    God’s rest to all who love HIS SON, YEC’rs and theo evo’s included.
    GReg R

  39. Hello Some Geo,
    I see a reference to Ar-Ar dating. I won’t comment on the reports from AiG, but push straight to the heart of the matter:

    Any radiometric dating technique relies on assumptions of starting ratios and geologic processes. These are based on:
    1) Cosmic and planetary evolution (where do the heavier elements (particularly the unstable isotopes) come from)
    2) Uniform processes

    The first point has not been shown. To some extent it is circular (it assumes an old earth to prove the old earth).

    The second point is the killer. You mention CSI, not sure if you read XKCD, but they did a really good spoof on that: http://xkcd.com/683/
    The truth is, there is no science which can reveal history. No model that reflects reality to any reasonable degree can be “rolled back” in time to tell you how we got here.

    For example, an object is at location X, with V=0. Tell me where it was at time -1 (it may have undergone acceleration).

    • Some Geo says:

      nedbrek: 1) No. The rate of decay depends on observation.
      2) Big no – you’d have to destroy most of modern physics.

      Also, you assume we are all idiots – only some of us are ;).

      There is no such thing as a single measurment age. For instance, in Ar-Ar geochronology, we look for several plateau ages that all have adecent margin of error within a 95% probability.

      What happens is this: 40K decays to 40Ar. We know the rate of decay. Thus measuring the two isotopes should give us the age. But: The old K-Ar method left itself open to the problem of possibly measuring non-radiogenic Ar, ie 40Ar that naturally occurred in the rock. But – we also know that there is a constant relationship between 40K and 39K in nature. So – if we can measure the amount of 39K, we should be able to tell how much of the 40K was there, and measuring the 40Ar, that should give us the age. Furthermore, we also know that there is a fixed ratio between 40Ar and 36Ar in the atmosphere. We also know that other elements (like Ca) can also produce 40Ar upon decay, but the same process also produce other stable isotopes of Ar, 37Ar for instance. so, we do the following. We isolate unaltered (fresh) mineral grains that contain K, irradiate that in a reactor, which turns the 39K into 39Ar (this is a short-lived isotope). We then only need to measure the different Ar isotopes
      (40, 39, 38, 37 and 36) in a MS, and then we can calculate what should be the true age of the grain. BUT: we go one further, and heat the grain up slowly, to release the gas step by step. the lowest temperature step seldomly yields a good age, because it would be most likely to be affected by alteration processes. What we look for therefore, is a plateau age – ie the age remains the same through a minimum of 3 temperature steps, within a 2σ error. Then we look for a statistically identical result from several grains, before we even start suggesting that this could be tha age of the mineral grains.

      IE: It is not simplistic.

      The same rigour goes for other methods as well – Rb-Sr , U-Pb etc(read up on the word isochron – that is how we negate the effects of not knowing how much of the element where there in the beginning). We are generally only confident about ages where different methodologies, using different minerlas, produce the same result. Disparate results are studies and dissected to understand why.

      • Again, you are assuming: “we also know that there is a constant relationship between 40K and 39K in nature”. This ratio holds today. We have no guarantee that this ratio has always held. Similarly, we know the rates of decay of radioisotopes today, we have no idea what those rates were in the past.

        Processes are uniform today, because God upholds them in a uniform way. We have no knowledge of how God mediated processes in the past – in fact, we know that God has dealt differently with different people at different times.

        • Some Geo says:

          That argument is the same one used by creationists trying to increase the speed of light to make for a smaller, younger universe. It violates the laws of physics. And it still doesn’t answer the paleontological argument (see below). There are also a host of other factors – sedimentation rates, for instance – we know that we have had, within the stratigraphic colum, mulitple ages of glaciation, deserts, forests and everything in between. This we can see based on the sedimetological evidence. You cannot pack that into 6000 – 10000 years, and have a global flood as well. We also know that many of the same rocks have been buried, undergone orogeny (mountain building), become high-grade metamorphic rocs, and that the subsequent mountains were eroded – and not through a single flood, because of multiple cylces of climatic variotion. We know of massive igneous events throughout earh’s history, events such as the Bushveld and Sudbury complexes, events that causd uplifting, with gradula erosion and- and. We know of migrating hotspots though 100’s of millions of years (We can trace the Tristan hotspot for over 200 Ma, over 1000’s of km’s). We know of changes in the atmosphere, changes that caused the deposition of the red beds in the late archean. These are all processes that by there very nature require inordinate amounts of time.

          As I have said, I have read some of the Creationist publications, especially those geared towards scientists, and not the popular material. I have yet to read any within my fields of expertise that either carries any shred of weight, or deals intelligently with the matter at hand. Not a single one.

          • “That argument is the same one used by creationists trying to increase the speed of light to make for a smaller, younger universe. It violates the laws of physics.”

            The antecedent of “That” is not clear to me… I assume you are not suggesting that God does not uphold the laws of physics – that the laws of physics are independent of God or that God is subject to these laws?

            Again, I am not making any specific argument about the speed of light (Uniformitarian views of the speed of light and the age/size of the universe are also problematic – see dark matter).

            You say “we know”, this is epistemological arrogance. You can say “we believe” or “our interpretation of evidence suggests”.

            Again, these interpretations are based on the rates we see today. Similar effects can happen (even today) very quickly, given sufficient energy (see the Mount St. Helens eruption).

        • Some Geo says:

          I use ” we know” within a general scientific context. Epistemological arrogance – for that matter we cannot even prove “absolutely” that 1 + 1 = 2 (see Godel). So where does that leave us?

          Volcanology happens to be something I know something about – and Mt St Helens was nothing new. I’ve worked with more volcanic rocks than most geo’s. How your statemnt pertains to anything here I’m not sure – unless you re trying to channel the propagandistic (ie, not scientific) drivel that AIG and ICR wrote baout Mt St Helens. On the regional scale, catastrophies are not unknown and unseen in the geological record.

    • Some Geo says:

      Furthermore: Although I’m not a paleontologist, I have touched upon the subject in my geological education. Here’s the thing that Ham and all his cronies do not tell you. In rocks that are older (see previous post0, we find more primitive life forms: The oldest I’ve ever looked at where stromatilites in Archean rocks from the Kaapvaal Craton. Stromatolites are basicly footprint fossils from algal mats in a shallow ocean. These asre still seen today – look at the coast north of Perth in W-Australia. The younger you go, the more complicated the life forms get. This is true – there are no dinosuar fossils in archean rocks. And the are archean, not because they do not have dinosaur fossils (as per the circular reason charge), but because they have been shown to be by reason of radiometric dating.

      Furthermore, detailed stratigraphy can reveal a relative age – and even just reltively we can find that younger rocks contain more developed fossils. Radiometric dating adds an absolute timescale. And there are many methods, all which confirm the same basic timescale:

      Ar-Ar, U-Pb (various methodologies), Rb-Sr, Pb-Pb, Sm-Nd, Re-Os – and these are the older chronometers (ie, due to a slow rate of decay, they give good ages for older rocks). Elements with a faster rate of decay such as C, Cl and U-Th are used for younger rocks.

      • 1) There are elements of self-selection: if a result is widely off what the expected value, it is rejected as tainted.
        2) No one is denying that there is some amount of uniformity in these layers. At the time they were formed, it was likely in a uniform manner. However, we cannot extrapolate the uniformity of today to the past with assumption that nothing has changed.

      • To clarify, if we strip out the assumptions (“older”, and “more primitive” – these are things you are trying to prove – that “more complex” forms arise from “simpler” forms [although how one makes this judgment is also suspect]):

        Certain animals are found in certain rock formations. They are always found in these sorts of formations. Other animals are found in other formations. That’s all. That is uniformity. A sort of uniformity we would expect under any model. Certain data can be interpreted to sort these formations by time, but it cannot be shown that the circumstances which would give rise to these data (according to our models) apply across the time spans required. It cannot be shown because no one was present to observe the conditions at these times.

        To say that “this form is simpler” is to apply our assumptions (simpler forms give birth to more complex forms). That is, a bacterium is very complicated, and does the job is was designed for very well. It may have fewer functions than me, but “simpler” is a value judgment. It has not been demonstrated that any animal can give rise to radically different animal (animals bring forth according to their kinds).

        • Some Geo says:

          Nedbrek: You have an amazing tendency to repeat mantra’s, and ignore the elephant in the room.

          • I am trying to be methodical and clear. If you have a disagreement with one of my points, it is spelled out there for you – step by step.

            What is this “elephant”?

    • nedbrek – this is something of a dead argument. The most recent position by AiG and ICR in the RATE study is that radiometric dating is a fundamentally sound process. The recognize that the measurements and assumptions and derivations which make up the process are fundamentally solid and reliable science.

      They hold that the whole process of radiometric dating works and gives reliably accurate results, but that the results need to take into account a million-fold increase in the rate of radioactive decay which occurred during the Flood.

      The process is fine, according to them, it’s just that the numbers need to be divided by about a million for measured things which existed before the Flood. So I wouldn’t suggest trying to find difficulties in the methods of radiometric dating, since the major YEC scientists seem to support their basic accuracy except for the effect of the miraculous million-fold increase in the rate of decay during the year-long Flood.

      You’re arguing against the scientists in the YEC camp on this particular issue.

      • I’m not sure how one can say a process works if it yields 6 orders of magnitude in errors… I’m not proposing any specific model. What I’m saying is much, much stronger – I’m saying no model can be built and independently tested (history is not repeatable and observable).

        • The ICR and AiG position is that there is nothing wrong with the natural parts of the measurement – everything is solidly determined and if it weren’t for a miraculous change (the divinely-caused accelerated radioactive decay) then the measurements would be perfectly valid.

          They’re saying that the science and methodology of the measurements and the reasoning behind them are fine – the only reason they are six orders of magnitude off is that God did a miracle to cause them to be off.

          What you’ve been doing is arguing that the methodology and science of the radiometric dating process are fundamentally untrustworthy – not because of possible miracles in the past, but because of natural limitations. ICR and AiG disagree with that view. They hold that the process and result is reliable if it weren’t for a particular miracle.

          As for the argument that we can’t reliably know history because it’s not repeatable and observable – I will ignore that as the pot of shite it is.

          • We can only know history if it is revealed to us. This can be orally, or through written records.

            I’m curious how you believe that you can show George Washington was the first president of the United States, using repeatable and observable science.

          • Did you not get that little line about ignore a pot? A argument about whether or not we can reliable know that George Washington really existed is completely asinine.

          • Calling me ignorant does not prove your point. Science is all about repeatability and observability. I’ve challenged you to show that history is the same, that’s what the origins debate is about – history.

          • I wasn’t calling you ignorant. I certainly wasn’t intending to give that impression either, and hopefully I haven’t.

            I am ignoring the silly argument that we can’t REALLY know history because history isn’t a repeatable experiment.

            Definitely not calling you ignorant.

          • We cannot know history through science (repeatable, observable experiments). That should be obvious. We know history through revelation.

          • Science is not just “repeatable, observable experiments”.

            I may retract some of my statements above if you think that’s what science is.

          • That’s curious. What is your definition of science?

  40. Savannah says:

    Same thing as has convinced the whole peer-reviewed scientific community. I’m not a scientist, but I can take in and process information just fine.

    We all use all kinds of criteria to decide what we believe and what we don’t believe. It’s not ever a purely intellectual process. At some point, one has to have confidence (an emotion) in a belief. I was merely identifying with Chaplain Mike’s statement of YEC not ringing true for him. I can’t speak for him, but I doubt either one of us made any decision on the matter on that alone.

    • Savannah says:

      When I post for some reason, it does not place my post under the reply I selected. The post above (hopefully, it is above – LOL) was in response to Nedbrek’s 4/19 post at 4:16.

  41. Amen to Benji’s 11-point list above.

  42. beach ranger says:

    Hi nedbrek,

    Just a few points of clarification:

    Regarding the Sumerian civilization, I wasnt referring to the extreme ages attributed to their kings, but rather the fact that their earliest civilizations civilizations began prior to 5000 BC, which is older than the earth according to the chronology of Ussher. By the same logic, tree ring chronologies dating back 10,000 years, such as with the bristlecone pines show that 1) the earth is at least 10,000 years old and 2) they were not disturbed by a worldwide flood at any point in the last 10,000 years.

    Much has been said in preceeding posts by some Geo regarding fossil stratigraphy and radiometric dating. I dont have much to add except that I have read some of the RATE group’s literature and I find it interesting that they have finally come to the point where they concede that the oldest rocks on earth have undergone 4.6 billion years worth of decay, they just believe it all took place at an extremely accelerated rate during the flood. Such a million-fold increase in decay rate would release so much heat it would liquify the earths crust and boil away the earths oceans. The RATE scientists portray this as a minor problem to be solved by further research, when in reality, it is a violation of the known laws of physics!

    I also find the creationist models of hydrologic sorting and progressive ecological flooding to be especially wanting. We can find ancient fossilized cycad and gingkophyte forests with nary a anthophyte pollen grain. To quote Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller “Trees are good at a great many things, but running uphill isnt one of them”. We also find zeuglodon fossils with fossil ammonites in the gut, but nary an osteichthyan bone to be seen.

    I find your use of the phrase “force fit into the old earth view” to be somewhat ironic. Is it really mainstream science that is doing the “force fitting” or is it the creationist scientists with the 6000 year old earth presuppositions? Lets use ice cores as an example. I read meteorologist Michael Oard’s article regarding the Greenland ice cores and their supposed ages of over 100,000 years. In order for the creationist model to work, the core would have to have been growing at 1.5 to 2 meters per year, literally hundreds of times more precipitation than expected through conventional analysis. This really seems to be a force fitting of the data to match the presuppositions of a young earth.

    These evidences and many more are what convinced me that our world must have been created much longer ago than 6000 years.

    • In case it’s not clear, I’m not espousing Usher’s 4004 chronology or anything at AiG…

      To me, 6k vs 10k is rounding error (especially in light of millions or billions). Also, it is easy to expand from 6k to 10k (it’s not hard to imagine circumstances where trees add two rings per year).

      Re. rates of ice growth – I don’t need to provide an alternate model to question the validity of the old earth model. Indeed, my entire point is that _no one_ can build a good model of the past.

      I do find the young earth attempts at explaining the ice age (singular) much more satisfying than old earth attempts. It is very difficult to set up circumstances where the temperature is low enough to sustain ice growth, while keeping precipitation high enough to build glaciers.

      If you view the ice age as an environmental reaction to the Flood (massive drop in overall temperature, combined with huge influx of water) – it is easy to imagine an ice age. This casts an interesting light on the current global warming scare.

  43. Some Geo says:

    Nebrek – this is my final contribution:

    The “elephant in the room” is your entire dependance on “van Tillian” reasoning. Your entire approach rests on the very weak foundation of Van Till’s presuppositionalism. I find it ironic that for somebody claiming to derive everything from Scripture only (ie solo instead of sola Scriptura), your epistemological framework depnds on the questionable efforts of a 20th Century Philospher. I say questionable, because a self-referencing argument will quickly indicate to you that a closed philosophical system such as what van Till presupposes, cannot work. Also, Romas 1 preculdes that.

    • I’m sorry that was your last post. I would be very interested in hearing about a philosophical system which operates without presuppositions…

  44. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Too many responders failed to grasp that yesterday’s rant was NOT primarily about creation vs. evolution, but about the culture-war tactics of the “creationists” (ala Ken Ham) who are not really interested in science or even in the Bible, but in winning the moral crusade they think God has called the church to fight.

    This Veteran of the Christian Psychic Wars has had enough of “winning the moral crusade.”

    “Don’t let these shakes go on;
    It’s time we had a break from it…”

  45. Bill Tripp says:

    I find it odd that Christians can believe God raised Jesus from the dead after being tortured and crucified. His body lay rotting in the tomb and God raised Him from the dead. Why is it so hard to believe God created the Universe within a time frame of six human days. Which of the above presents a problem for God. Please help me understand the rabid opposition to the six day creation viewpoint.