23 June 2010

Humanistic Religion and the Origin of Life

by John MacArthur



The following article is taken from John MacArthur's foreword to Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, eds. Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth. The book is a festschrift in honor of Dr. John Whitcomb.


he apostle Paul closed his first epistle to Timothy by urging the young pastor to guard the deposit of truth that had been entrusted to him, "avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Timothy 6:20-21). In the King James Version, the text famously speaks of "science falsely so called."

Over the course of human history, all kinds of speculative ideas have been falsely labeled "science" and mistakenly accepted as true and reliable knowledge by otherwise brilliant people. The now-discredited dogmas of older scientific theories are numerous—and in some cases laughable. They include alchemy (the medieval belief that other base metals could be transmuted into gold); phrenology (the Victorian belief that the shape of one's skull reflects character traits and mental capacity); astrology (the pagan belief that human destiny is determined by the motions of celestial bodies); and abiogenesis (the long-standing belief that living organisms are spontaneously generated by decaying organic substances). All those false beliefs were deemed credible as "science" by the leading minds of their times.

Consider just one of those—abiogenesis. Popularly known as "spontaneous generation," this idea has long been, and continues to be, one of the archetypal expressions of "science falsely so called." It is also one of the most persistent of all demonstrably pseudoscientific fictions. The notion that aphids arise naturally from dew on plant leaves, mold is generated automatically by aging bread, and maggots are spontaneously begotten by rotting meat was more or less deemed self-evident by most of humanity's brightest intellects1 from the time of Aristotle until 1861, when Louis Pasteur conclusively proved that non-living matter cannot spawn life on its own.

It is one of the great ironies of scientific history that the first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published exactly two years before Pasteur's famous experiments proved that life cannot arise spontaneously from non-living matter. The publication of Darwin's book marked the apotheosis of evolutionary theory, and it was rooted in the basic presupposition that under the right circumstances, life can spring on its own from non-living matter.

In other words, two years before abiogenesis was scientifically debunked, it was in effect canonized as the central dogma of modern secular belief about the origins of life. The discovery that fleas don't magically form out of decomposing dander on the backs of dirty dogs did not dissuade most in the scientific world from embracing the theory that all life in the universe arose by itself out of nothing. The belief that life spontaneously came from non-life remains to this day the great unexplained (albeit easily disprovable) assumption underlying the dogma of evolution.

The irony of that is utterly lost on many in the scientific community today, where evolution has become an article of faith—unshakable faith, it turns out.

Evolutionists have conveniently "solved" the problem of abiogenesis by repeatedly moving their estimates of the earth's age backward toward infinity. Given enough time, it seems, anything is possible. Trying desperately to keep the biblical concept of eternity at bay, evolutionists have thus devised an alternative kind of infinitude. Every time a challenge to current evolutionary theory arises, geologists and astronomers dutifully tack billions and billions of eons onto their theories about the earth's age, adding however many ancient epochs are deemed necessary for some new impossibility to be explained.

In the introduction to my 2001 book, The Battle for the Beginning, I suggested naturalism had become the dominant religion of contemporary secular society. "Religion is exactly the right word to describe naturalism," I wrote. "The entire philosophy is built on a faith-based premise. Its basic presupposition—a rejection of everything supernatural—requires a giant leap of faith. And nearly all its supporting theories must be taken by faith as well."2

Here, then, is a classic example of what I was talking about: the typical evolutionist's starting point is this notion that life arose spontaneously from inanimate matter sometime in eternity past. That requires not merely the willful suspension of what we know for certain about the origins of life and the impossibility of abiogenesis—but also enough deliberate gullibility to believe that moving-target estimates of the earth's antiquity can sufficiently answer all the problems and contradictions sheer naturalism poses.

Meanwhile, in the popular media, evolutionary doctrine and ever-expanding notions of prehistory are being promoted with all the pious zeal of the latest religious sect. Watch the Internet forums, programs on the Discovery Channel, interviews and articles published in the mass media, school textbooks, and books aimed at lay readers—and what you will usually see is raw assertions, demagoguery, intimidation, and ridicule (especially when the subjects of biblical theism and the Genesis account of creation are raised).

But question the dogma that all life evolved from a single spontaneously-generated cell, point out that the universe is full of evidence for intelligent design, or demand the kind of proof for evolutionary origins that would ordinarily pass scientific muster, and the ardent evolutionist will simply dismiss you as a heretic or a bigot of the worst stripe. What they are tacitly acknowledging is that as far as they are concerned, evolution is a doctrine that must be received with implicit faith, not something that can be scientifically demonstrated. After all, the claims of true science can always be investigated, observed, reproduced, tested, and proved in the laboratory. So to insist that evolution and so-called "deep time" doctrines must be accepted without question is really just a tacit admission that these are not scientific ideas at all.

Consider these quotations from typical evolutionist writers:
  • No biologist today would think of submitting a paper entitled "New evidence for evolution;" it simply has not been an issue for a century. (Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 2nd ed., Boston: Sinauer Associates, 1986, p. 15)
  • It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory. . . . All present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts. (R. C. Lewontin, "Evolution/creation debate: A time for truth," Bioscience (1981), 31:559)
  • Here is what separates real scientists from the pseudoscientists of the school of intelligent design. . . . One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity's sake, let's stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact. (Richard Dawkins, "The Illusion of Design," Natural History (November 2005), 53)

But as those statements themselves show, evolution is a dogma, not a demonstrable "fact." I stand by the position I took in The Battle for the Beginning: "Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. [It is] as much a religion as any theistic world-view."3

I'll go even further: science cannot speak with any authority about when the universe began, how it came into being, or how life originated on earth. Science by definition deals with what can be observed, tested, measured, and investigated by empirical means. Scientific data by definition are facts that can be demonstrated by controlled, repeatable experiments that always yield consistent results. The beginning of the universe by its very nature falls outside the realm of scientific investigation.

To state the case plainly: there is no scientific way to explain creation. No one but God actually observed creation. It did not happen by any uniform, predictable, observable, repeatable, fixed, or natural laws. It was not a natural event or a series of natural events. The initial creation of matter was an instantaneous, monumental, inexplicable miracle—the exact opposite of a "natural" phenomenon. And the formation of the universe was a brief series of supernatural events that simply cannot be studied or explained by science. There are no natural processes involved in creation; the act of creation cannot be repeated; it cannot be tested; and therefore naturalistic theories purporting to explain the origin and age of the universe are unverifiable.

In other words, creation is a theological issue, not a scientific one. Scripture is our only credible source of information about creation, because God Himself was the only eyewitness to the event. We can either believe what He says or reject it. But no Christian should ever imagine that what we believe about the origin of the universe is merely a secondary, nonessential, or incidental matter. It is, after all, the very starting point of God's self-revelation.

In fact, in its profound brevity, Genesis 1:1 is a very simple, clear, and unequivocal account of how the universe, the earth, and everything on the earth came to be: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That is not an ambiguous statement. Until Darwinian evolution undertook a campaign to co-opt the story of creation and bring it into the realm of naturalistic "science"—and especially before modernist skepticism began to seep into the church—no one who claimed to be a Christian was the least bit confused by the Genesis account.

Christians should not be intimidated by dogmatic naturalism. We do not need to invent a new interpretation of Genesis every time some geologist or astronomer declares that the universe must be older than he previously thought. Nor should we imagine that legitimate science poses any threat to the truth of Scripture. Above all, we must not seek ways to circumvent the clear meaning of God's Word, compromise our trust in the Creator, or continually yield ground to every new theory of falsely-so-called science. That is precisely what Paul was warning Timothy about.

Sadly, it seems evolutionary thinking and qualms about the Genesis account of creation have reached epidemic levels among professing Christians in recent decades. Too many Christian leaders, evangelical schools, and Bible commentators have been willing to set aside the biblical account of a relatively young earth in order to accommodate the ever-changing estimates of naturalistic geologists and astronomers. They have thrown away sound hermeneutical principles—at least in the early chapters of Genesis—to accommodate the latest theories of evolution.

When I encounter people who think evolutionary doctrine trumps the biblical account of creation, I like to ask them where their belief in the Bible kicks in. Is it in chapter 3, where the fall of Adam and original sin are accounted for? In chapters 4-5, where early human history is chronicled? In chapters 6-8, with the record of the flood? In chapter 11, with the Tower of Babel? Because if you bring naturalism and its presuppositions to the early chapters of Genesis, it is just a short step to denying all the miracles of Scripture—including the resurrection of Christ. If we want to make science the test of biblical truth rather than vice versa, why would it not make just as much sense to question the biblical record of the resurrection as it does to reject the Genesis account? But "if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

John MacArthur's signature

1: Alexander Ross, an early seventeenth-century Scottish writer and intellectual, harshly criticized Sir Thomas Browne for questioning the dogma of spontaneous generation. Under the heading "Mice and other vermin bred of putrefaction, even in mens bodies," he wrote: "He doubts whether mice can be procreated of putrefaction. So he may doubt whether in cheese and timber worms are generated; Or if Betels and wasps in cowes dung; Or if butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers, shel-fish, snails, eeles, and such like, be procreated of putrefied matter, which is apt to receive the form of that creature to which it is by the formative power disposed. To question this, is to question Reason, Sense, and Experience: If he doubts of this, let him go to Egypt, and there he will finde the fields swarming with mice begot of the mud of [the Nile]." Arcana Microcosmi, (London: Newcomb, 1652), book 2, chapter 10, 156.

2. The Battle for the Beginning, Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001, p. 11.

3. The Battle for the Beginning, p. 12.

106 comments:

Far Talk said...

Every time a challenge to current evolutionary theory arises, geologists and astronomers dutifully tack billions and billions of eons onto their theories about the earth's age, adding however many ancient epochs are deemed necessary for some new impossibility to be explained.

I have a red '89 Ford Escort. The engine smokes on hot dies if I stop after driving for a while. I have another car now, but my old Escort sits under a tree.

I'm hoping that after a few years, it will turn into a brand new camper. If that does not work, I'll just wait a few decades more, and then I am sure I'll have that camper I've always wanted.

At least I know that in just a few more weeks, the engine will stop shooting oil from the leaks the mechanics couldn't fix. I'm so glad that chance is so much more reliable than people.

And just think the kind of car I could drive by waiting billions and billions of years! By then, my Escort will have become an environmentally friendly, crystal-driven spaceship with warpdrive!

Bobby Grow said...

Mac. said:

. . . What they are tacitly acknowledging is that as far as they are concerned, evolution is a doctrine that must be received with implicit faith, not something that can be scientifically demonstrated. After all, the claims of true science can always be investigated, observed, reproduced, tested, and proved in the laboratory. . . .

And this is what gets me about "naturalists," the "scientific method" itself (as a 'conceptual apparatus' or method) is not provable. Which only further illustrates how "scientists" committed to evolution at a first order level stand on an a priori "foundation" that is informed by a metaphysical materialism (i.e. that matter is all there is, was, or ever will be). Further, what this should do for so called theistic-evolutionists or progressive creationists is foster the notion that if the above is true (i.e. the philosophical foundations of their "science" e.g. or naturalism), then they are trying to integrate to mutually exclusive truth claims --- or worldviews --- viz. their metaphysical materialism with Christian theism (this violates, for one, the "law of non-contradiction").

Anyway, I think that what Mac. is saying is right on; and that Christians who accept evolution need to deal with a philosopy of science and how that relates, or doesn't, to a Christian worldview. Thus far, from the other thread on biologos, those Christians who seem to be advocating for evolution have not dealt with the metaphysics that underly evolution, or better, naturalism, in the first place. That's their burden, as of yet I have not seen any evolutionists meet that burden (i.e. provide a good sound synthesis of metaphysical materialism and Christian theism).

Greg said...

Bobby Grow said: “…so called theistic-evolutionists or progressive creationists …they are trying to integrate to mutually exclusive truth claims --- or worldviews --- viz. their metaphysical materialism with Christian theism (this violates, for one, the "law of non-contradiction").”

But theistic evolutionists (or evolutionary creationists) are NOT metaphysical/philosophical materialists. If this is where the discussion is going, this is a critical distinction. The problem arises from the common use of the word “evolution”.

No doubt, the capital-E Evolution of Dawkins and others is a God-less worldview, start to finish. As you say, matter is all there is and all there ever was, in this view.

When theistic evolutionists talk about evolution (small e), they see it as a process or mechanism and as just one of the tools in God’s hand, sovereignly used in the creation of all we see.

So theistic evolutionists are not just tacking God onto a materialist worldview as you seem to suggest; they start with the premise that God is the author of it all and use the tools of science to discern His workings.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Greg,

Is it correct to call a theistic evolutionist a uniformitarianist too?

Zaphon said...

One of the cards played by "old-earth creationists/theistic evolutionists is that of using Natural Revelation to interpret Scripture in Genesis.

Since what can be known about God can be understood by "what has been made" Romans 1:20 then we should study creation to know what Scripture means.

However, 1.people still bring naturalistic presuppositions to the study of nature, and 2. natural revelation is incomplete and limited knowledge of the creator's existence, it's not a commentary on Genesis.

I'm glad MacArthur stated what I've long thought, that creation is not subject to scientific testing, since it's a supernatural non-repeatable series of events in the past.

When Christians of this naturalistic persuasion start tinkering with Genesis, inevitably it leads to a denial of death entering the world via sin first. Thus begins the insidious slide into sub-orthodoxy and strange teachings.

So my question to such compromising Christians is: If Scripture is really final & infallible in all it's words (as you say you believe), then why are you using the ever shifting, fallible and human standard of naturalistic science to trump what Genesis says?

Who has more to gain by this unholy marriage of naturalism and biblical exegesis-you or the atheist? If you are trying to bend the bible over backward to please men (sinful) then are you really pleasing God, and doing God service?

I think not, and sadly some Atheists understand this better than you do.

Bobby Grow said...

Greg,

I realize this is the assumption of the "theistic-[e]volutionist," and yet this is what I was getting at; how does an "Te" integrate these two "competing" belief systems w/o compromising the internal integrity of said "systems of belief"? In other words, what you've said about evolution being a "tool" in God's sovereign hands is just an ad hoc assertion.

Bethan said...

...although I do sometimes forget to use question marks......

Bobby Grow said...

Greg said:

. . . they start with the premise that God is the author of it all and use the tools of science to discern His workings.

And yet this is the conundrum. What we call "science" today, at least in the context of our discussion, "assumes" a naturalist/metaphysical materialist perspective. So all that you're saying really only gets us back to my original points. Since "science" is built on first order level foundations (like metaphysical materialism); then it's second order interpretations of the observable data will necessarily be informed by its prior committment.

My question is how you, assuming you're a theistic-evo., disentangle what counts as science today from its metaphysical moorings; and then still end up with what would be considered science?

mikeb said...

Wow, this is not going to make Dr. MacArthur very popular amongst old earth creationists. You do realize that most of the "intellectual" Christians and seminaries these days are running towards old earth creation, right?

Sooner or later we will all be assimilated! And all the YEC's, also known as "crazy, fundamentalist bibliolaters" will be gone.

GrayDave said...

I'd definitely like to read this book and see what it says. I've listened to debates, read a number books and articles, but I just can't buy that the earth/universe is 6000-10000 years old.

Everything hinges on an argument over the meaning of "day". Everything else has to have a dozen explanations to try and fit observable data into that definition.

Is it wrong to think God created everything just like he said but not in 6 consecutive 24 hour periods? Are stressing too much over "day" when there is more than one way to look at it?

Maybe the technical explanation of creation was beyond the scope of what was needed to explain it and beyond the abilities of Moses and the people of that time to comprehend?

Tyler Wallick said...

Festschrift??! Ususally, I have to hit Google for a definition during a Pyro post - but in the introduction?! You guys are killing me : )

mikeb said...

GrayDave, this is a dangerous statement you make:

"Maybe the technical explanation of creation was beyond the scope of what was needed to explain it and beyond the abilities of Moses and the people of that time to comprehend?"

Special revelation from God does not work that way. Maybe the miracles of Christ were beyond the abilities of 1st century believers to comprehend, so God told us an easier story? Maybe the Exodus was the same way? Maybe the whole Bible is beyond our reach to understand? Maybe God is too difficult to understand and we should just give up?

Greg said...

Bobby and Bethan;

Look, I’m not here to mount a defense of TE. I simply wanted to make sure people understood the difference in the starting places for atheistic evolutionist (no God) and a theistic evolutionist (God) since people generally see the word “evolution” and assume it’s always a very bad thing.

But I sense in your questions that another distinction might be helpful to highlight. That is, the distinction between philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism.

All scientists (YEC, TE, OEC, E…whatever) are methodological naturalists in the sense that their methods (observations, testing, etc.) are done on the physical stuff of this world. God or the supernatural is not testable, so our observations and testing can only be done on the stuff we have. This should pose no problems for Christians since this process has given us solid foundations in disciplines like physics and chemistry, and then, by their applications though technology, good things like modern medicine, agriculture, cell phones, the Hubble Telescope, etc. Science, properly done, can give us true information about the world around us; facts, I guess.

A philosophical naturalist is someone who says nature is all there is. It is a presupposition saying there is no God. Obviously, the Christian scientist starts with the presupposition that there IS a God. So while all scientists are methodological naturalists, not all scientists are philosophical naturalists.

This distinction becomes critical when, given a set of well-demonstrated facts, scientists or others begin to make metaphysical conclusions with them. The philosophical naturalist will look at the facts of geology or the apparent inter-relatedness of species on physical and genetic levels and say, “See, there’s no need for God here.” While the Christian scientist can look at the exact same facts and affirm that God made it all.

So, that’s why a Dawkins and a TE can actually agree about aspects of evolution based on the methodological naturalism both employ, but completely disagree as to what it means with respect to the existence of God.

Bobby, you seem to suggest that the very process of science is anti-God, so any conclusions it makes must also be suspect. This is precisely where the distinction between the methods of science (which are neutral with respect to God, since He can’t be tested) differ from the presuppositions one brings to the science. The process is good; it’s what you do with the results that sometimes goes bad.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helped a little.

Mike Riccardi said...

In other words, creation is a theological issue, not a scientific one. Scripture is our only credible source of information about creation, because God Himself was the only eyewitness to the event. We can either believe what He says or reject it.

To anyone really reading, that's a conversation-stopper. If the above paragraph is true, everything but YEC is false.

GrayDave said...

mikeb - Was it necessary to explain the that it took billions of years for the light from distance stars to reach earth? Or that it took millions of years for the continents to move apart?

The miracles were observable so I don't see the connection their at all.

Young earth insistence is an argument based a strict adherence to definition of a word. You then have to have a different explanation for every observable aspect of the creation.

I really hope that in my lifetime this can be cleared up somehow. Either a sliver of geological proof of a young earth, or something overwhelming enough in creation to show the earth is not young.

I keep looking because I can't throw out what is plainly reasonable to me, but none of my friends see it that way. (They all are convinced young earth people.)

GrayDave said...

Sorry for the grammar and spelling errors (their/there.) It's been a long day at work.

St.Lee said...

GrayDave said:
"Maybe the technical explanation of creation was beyond the scope of what was needed to explain it and beyond the abilities of Moses and the people of that time to comprehend?"

But of course we, being infinitely smarter and more evolved, could understand the technical explanation!?!

GrayDave said...

But of course we, being infinitely smarter and more evolved, could understand the technical explanation!?!

I can't tell if you're making fun of my comments or if you misunderstood me. Whoever wants to belittle my thoughts, go ahead. Where you got the idea that I said people are infinitely smarter now I don't know?

As a matter of fact, I do think we have a lot more knowledge of the universe now than Moses did. Am I wrong?

St.Lee said...

GrayDave, Sorry, but I can't leave this alone cause it seems so straight forward to me. The Bible uses the term "the evening and the morning" repeatedly in connection with each day of creation. Doesn't that suggest a day to you rather than an age? Do you think God got the order wrong in Genesis? Gen. 1:11-13 says God created plants on the third day, but the sun on the fourth. How long was that day/age that plants survived without the sun?

St.Lee said...

GrayDave, sorry, it was sarcasm. Didn't mean to offend you, but smart doesn't = knowlege.

I'd trade all my knowlege for Moses' any day.

Rob Bailey said...

I have no theological or conscience issues with the point of view of Dr. Mac. The statement, "No one but God actually observed creation," is of Job-like proportions. Something to meditate on.

GrayDave said...

This is a little game we could play forever. It's been 5 or 6 years ago since I went to a class at church about young earth. I started researching it. Looking for the response from the other side to what was presented, and then looking at the response to that. Back and forth, practically endlessly.

So I'll answer this question, but then I think I'll bow out. I am not an expert and I sure whatever I say will be lacking. I went ahead and ordered this book. As a side note, it was over $9 for shipping a $12 book. Are they going to hand deliver it!? :-)

I don't think the text automatically suggests a normal day. In fact, the wording about the earth bringing forth vegetation could imply a normal growth. A season, or many seasons for that matter. God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation", and the "the earth brought forth plants". Did they grow at supersonic speed?

God obviously could have done everything in 6 24 hour days. Adam could have been created, named thousands of animals and then got Eve all on day 6 like it says in the text.

But for now, general, observable truths about the universe don't allow me to think that way. Maybe someday.

GrayDave said...

GrayDave, sorry, it was sarcasm. Didn't mean to offend you, but smart doesn't = knowlege.

I wasn't offended. I am just zapped today more than usual. I almost never comment on blogs so it is a little new for me. This is just an issue I can't get out of my head. I grew in young earth churches, believed it, defended it, and now it doesn't make sense. So it is my own struggle.

I'd trade all my knowlege for Moses' any day.

Me too.

Bethan said...

Thanks for your reply Dave.

I totally agree that all scientific observation and testing can only be done on the stuff we have - the natural stuff. And of course as you point out this should pose no problems for Christians since this process has indeed given us solid foundations in disciplines like physics and chemistry, and so on that we build upon. It was the idea that there were laws within these disciplines that allowed science to progress (otherwise we would be arguing that there were a hundred possible reasons why sodium reacts with water and copper does not). The fact of natural consistant laws in science confirms to the atheistic scientist merely that there are such laws, whereas the Christian scientist will also believe that the laws were established by an all-wise creator. So far we are singing from the same hymn sheet, are we not?

The problem I have with the theistic evolutionist is not that he agrees with the athiestic evoutionist regarding undeniable natural laws but rather that they agree on the interpretation of inconclusive data.

The facts about geology are - the presence of certain types of rock in a particular arrangement, with the presence of some fossils, nothing more nothing less, whether you believe in a world-wide flood or not. The conclusions someone arrives at about how the particular composition and arrangement came about are not the same as the ones I make about sodium and copper because I do not have the event happening in front of me. Likewise inter-relatedness of species on physical and genetic levels tells us on a scientific level that.....yes you've guessed it that there is inter-relatedness of species on physical and genetic levels - nothing more, nothing less. How we interpret the inter-relatedness depends upon our presuppositions.

Is the idea that God used evolution creatively to bring about what we have today anything more than a presupposition? I do not think it can be. The next question in my mind is whether the bible points us to that presupposition or whether biblical revelation is being made to fit in with that presupposition?

Having reached this conclusion the reality in my mind is that I am not really arguing with a theistic evolutionist on a scientific level. I am actually arguing on a theological level.

stratagem said...

What a great article!

mikeb said...

GrayDave, you're operating under the presupposition it's an old earth, so of course all the evidence you see will point to that. There is evidence that points to a young earth, but you accept those secular scholars' views who explain it away.

The argument over what 1 word means doesn't matter that much. So what if the Hebrew word "yom" can mean other things than a day. The rule is "what does it mean in the context of this section of the Bible?" The natural reading says it means 24 hours. Everyone understood that, until people presuppositions changed.

Now the argument goes like this:

It must not mean a 24 hour, because the gods of science have told us this could not be. Therefore even though the context points to a literal day, it cannot, now way, not possible mean what we would think it means upon reading it without any outside knowledge. Therefore everyone who holds to the 24 hour view (including the Israelites of the Bible) must be forcing their opinion on on that single word. But today we understand it better, since God has revealed it to us by science (general revelation). Therefore general revelation (science) informs us of how to interpret special revelation (Scripture).

Anyone see the problem here? IT'S COMPLETELY BACKWARDS. Special revelation always informs and corrects us on our view of general revelation, never the other way around. The Bible clearly teaches this. Study Psalm 19 comparing vs. 1-6 to 7-14. Also study Romans 1:18-3:20, where Pauls moves from General revelation to all men to special revelation given to the Jews.

The Torah was written for the people of Moses' day. The view that the Israelites of this day could not understand is a complete contradiction. Especially when you consider what Moses says in Deut. 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law."

If it is in the Scriptures, it's not a secret anymore. It has been revealed to us.

Greg said...

Bethan;

I understand your points. I think the TE would say that the undeniable physical laws that you say you agree with, when properly applied in the field of geology, for instance, demonstrate that the earth is very ancient. Radioactive elements decay in certain ways and at certain rates; molten rock cools and crystallizes at certain rates and has known effects on the rock around it; salt or chalk deposits form under certain conditions – all these suggesting very long ages for the whole thing. The estimates of ages are thus empirical facts, the result of studying these things within the bounds of the laws of chemistry / physics, and not because the scientist presupposed a certain age upon them.

And your last point is spot-on. Ultimately, your discussion with a TE is a theological one. You may reject the TE’s age estimates a priori based on a theological commitment. In other words, you will reject the estimates because you have said beforehand that the result is impossible. We are all free to do that, but we have to recognize we’ve left science behind when we do it.

Please don’t read into this any harshness on my part. I’m trying to figure this out with the rest of you. I just think we should be clear about the implications, what we gain and what we lose when we say there is only one acceptable way to understand the creation accounts.

Greg

Bobby Grow said...

@ Greg,

You said:

Bobby, you seem to suggest that the very process of science is anti-God, so any conclusions it makes must also be suspect. This is precisely where the distinction between the methods of science (which are neutral with respect to God, since He can’t be tested) differ from the presuppositions one brings to the science. The process is good; it’s what you do with the results that sometimes goes bad.

Ah, you've read Moreland and others like him as well. I'm aware of the distinction that folks want to make between methodological and philosophical naturalism; which is what my point on first order and second order was about --- you still haven't disentangled those two.

The thing is, Greg, is that the kind of science you're going to end up with as a methodological naturalist (and as a Christian, which is the context of this post) is not neo-Darwinian evolution; but something more akin to Intelligent Design (which I'm a fan of) --- and didn't you know that ID is science after all ;-).

So I am not denying the place for "scientists" in the academy; instead its the "peer reviews" that do that!

Bobby Grow said...

Woops I meant to say:

. . . and didn't you know that ID is'nt science after all?"

Wyatt Roberts said...

@GrayDave

You're not alone. I grew up believing that evolution was a conspiracy invented by evil scientists to eliminate God from the picture. Heck, John MacArthur (the author of this blog article) says almost exactly that:

"Evolution was invented to kill the God of the Bible...Evolution was invented to do away from universal morality and universal guilt and universal accountability. Evolution was invented to eliminate the judge and leave people free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences."
From: Creation: Believe It of Not, by John MacArthur

This seems to be the prevailing view among most American Christians today...well, at least down here in the Bible Belt. I believed the very same thing -- until I actually started listening to people outside the echo chamber, outside that small, safe circle of people who believed exactly as I did. Much to my surprise, I found that what they were saying actually made a lot of sense to me.

So I know where you're coming from.

Sellman said...

Every time a challenge to current evolutionary theory arises, geologists and astronomers dutifully tack billions and billions of eons onto their theories about the earth's age, adding however many ancient epochs are deemed necessary for some new impossibility to be explained.

The currently accepted age of the earth is 4.5 billion years. To the best of my knowledge the above statement by Dr. MacArthur is completely false. The development of radiometric age dating techniques gave us the above value, not any problems with evolutionary theory, real or imagined. Most of what is called evolution occurred in the last 540 million yrs or so, the start of the Cambrian period.

John Sellman

CR said...

Greg and Wyatt,

I have the same question I asked you both in the last thread. If we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, when the Bible presents itself as history we must accept it as history. No? So, when it presents something to us in the form of history, don't we have to accept as history.

I'm not sure where Wyatt stands, but Greg, you said you believed in the supernatural creastion of Adam. If I'm not mistaken, you said you rejected a pre-Adamic evolution. Again, I'm not sure where Wyatt stands, but it is good that you reject a pre-Adamic man because that's what evolution teaches.

You do realize that the origin of the world is presented is presented in the same form as the origin of the Adam. It's being presented in the form of history. You said again, in the other thread that you rejected the evolution of man. You don't insist that we cohere science when it comes to the origin of man, but you are insisting that we must cohere science when it comes to the origin of the world.

Frank Turk said...

"in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth" is one of the most-offensive and most-central doctrines of the Gospel. I'm grateful for the faithfulness of Dr. MacArthur to have been a voice of serious consideration of this subject for years.

Creation is the first miracle. Relinquishing it to time and chance is simply an admission that we don't believe God can do, that God is.

Great stuff, and thanks to Phil for posting it from a hero of the faith.

CR said...

Greg: When theistic evolutionists talk about evolution (small e), they see it as a process or mechanism and as just one of the tools in God’s hand, sovereignly used in the creation of all we see.

The small "e" evolutionists are still wrong Greg and here's why. Let me start with man because you said you reject evolution for man. The clear teaching of the Bible rejects the notion of man having developed and advanced. It rejects the notion of man ever having been in a stage of upward development. The clear teaching of the Bible is that everything (but let's stick with man for a moment) has been reduced from an original state of perfection to its present state and condition.

I take it you believe that for man. Well, Greg, it's the exact same thing for the origin of the world. In fact it, Genesis, speaks of the creation in the exact same manner. The creation of man is in the exact same historical context of the creation of the world, Greg.

It never speaks of the creation (or man) ever in the point of history in incomplete development, evolving over eons. It only speaks of the creation (the world and man) being in a state of perfection (never in an evolving developing state) and then after the Fall, God cursing the creation. Again, the Bible never speaks of the creation (world and man) developing and evolving over eons reaching to a state of perfection and then losing that perfection.

CR said...

In other words, I'm saying this Greg: I appreciate the fact that you reject the evolution of man and you affirm the supernatural creation of Adam. But you have to admit, plainly and clearly, that does not cohere to the science of our day. Just as a young earth doesn't cohere to the science of our day, neither does a supernatural man.

You would have to either affirm the supernatural creation of, well, the creation both man and the world or reject them both and cohere with the other evolutionists the creation of man over eons of developement.

Rob Bailey said...

@Frank- Creation is essential to the Gospel, and first in order. That is the exact reason the Genesis account is so vehemently attacked.

GrayDave said...

Creation is the first miracle. Relinquishing it to time and chance is simply an admission that we don't believe God can do, that God is.

I believe the earth is old, and that it was the first miracle. It has nothing to do with time and chance. Seeing how wondrous the universe was formed and brought forth life on the command of God over the billions of years is even more amazing than the magic trick of instant, fully developed, already aged, creation.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Evolution is a fact?

The physical, historical resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact.

Pooka said...

"There's nothing an agnostic can't do when he doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."

Likewise, there's nothing a theistic evolutionist cannot convince himself of when his premise is that science is on par with or superior to the Word of God.

I'm convinced that "christian Science" is a collection of folk who have lifted one foot out of the mire but have yet to set it on the solid ground of the revelation of God's truth.

That probably didn't help, but the point is that if we don't take the only trustworthy source of creation seriously, literally with a sense of humility as the created, we're not going to come close to an answer. Nor are we going to come close to the Creator.

Pastor Pants said...

Another great post!

I particularly liked how he contrasted the inconsistency of rejecting creation (on the basis of secular "science") and yet accepting the resurrection. Superb!

stratagem said...

Someone in this forum mentioned evolutionary science and advances in physics and chemistry, in the same paragraph. I think that these can in no way be equated.

The thing that separates them are that chemistry and physics involves ongoing principles where observations can be made, hypotheses formed, and hypotheses tested in real-time via experimentation, to see if they have predictive value.

Evolution, especially macro-evolution, deals only with past events and while observations and hypotheses can be formed based on observation of fossils, experimentation cannot really be done to test those hypotheses.

That is the Achilles heel of evolutionary theory, in my estimation. Since hypotheses are always formed with the paradigm of the hypothesizer in mind, it really calls into question whether evolutionary theory can be called "science" at all. Dogma-based guesswork might be a more accurate description.

Greg said...

Bobby and CE;

Trying to be concise: The TE can stand next to you in church and give full voice to the Creed, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

The debate is about the process, not the Author.

YECs maintain, based on a hermeneutical assumption, that God operated more or less instantaneously to bring all we see into existence, fully formed and operational – the cosmos, man, the whole thing – and very recently.

The TE, while believing that God is the Author, looks at the world around him and believes that there is actually evidence of parts of that process. Using the tools of science, which he believes are extensions of the common graces of reason and observation, he discovers real truths (not infallible, but reliable) about parts of the process. By these lights, the process appears to have been slow and lengthy.

To the TE the process is no less miraculous (in fact, maybe it seems more amazing!), but it is, at least in part, accessible.

Daryl said...

I think those that see billions of years of evolution as more amazing than instantaneous creation...need to give their heads a shake.

But that's just me.

I do seriously think, however, that this whole idea of God creating things with the appearance of age is troubling.
Troubling in that, we live, what, 80 years, maybe? We have recorded observable history and science for what, 4 thousand years?
Who exactly do we imagine ourselves to be, that we can know if a rock shows age? Ever seen a young rock?

Well yes, we have. Mt. St. Helens.
Funny thing. Dating of those rocks, when they were measurably 10 years old, show dates in the multi-millions of years.

Something clearly is amiss with scientific "dating".

Nobody has ever cut open a rock and found a date. Certain hoped for processes are noted and then, based on preset assertions, dates derived from that.
Trouble is, depending on what kind of thing you're looking for, you get a different date. No two dating methods give the same answer, so how can any of that be tested?

I don't think that anything was created with the appearance of age. It was created fully formed, no doubt. But with age? On what basis is that claimed?

On the basis that things are millions of years old. So even there we try and squish faulty science and infallible Scripture together.

All that to say...what Riccardi said.

stratagem said...

Daryl - I don't understand what you are saying in that last post. Since thigns do appear to be older than 6000 years, YEC-ism would pretty much require God to have done things that make the universe appear older than it actually is. OEC-ism would not require God to have done that. That's where you're losing me, because I know you subscribe to YEC theories.

CR said...

But again, Greg, by challenging the process you are making this a debate about Author.

By I insisting the creation developed or evolved you are saying that the creation did not start from an original state of perfection. You are saying that there were stages of development and evolution (hence there were stages where the creation was imperfect) until at some point it reached a stage of perfection.

Most TEs reject outright any original stage of perfection both for the world and man so it's odd that you embrace this "process" for the world but not man. I don't see, bibically you can reconcile this.

Daryl said...

Strat,

I'm saying that we don't know what a million year old rock ought to look like, so on what basis can we say that the earth looks so old.

Mt. St Helen's is an example. There we find 30(or whatever it is) year old rock, that tests out in the millions of years.
Can anyone look at that new rock and tell the difference between that and "million year old rock"?

Maybe it's a lame argument (wouldn't be the first time...) but it seems to me that saying things have the appearance of age implies that we have seen, first hand, rocks and things that we know to be really old. And we don't.

Adam didn't think Eve had the appearance of age, he had nothing to compare her to.

I just question where the idea of "appearance of age" comes from. I think it comes from the a priori assumption that science can tell us something about the age of things.

stratagem said...

Daryl

Well I think I do see where you are going with that now, thank you.

The rock example is valid, but easily challenged. For instance, if you read The Theory of the Earth by Hutton (1785), that is the one where he actually did know the age of the worked stones in Hadrian's Wall (1500 years old, at that time) and could compare the weathering on the surrounding stones, which is where he got the idea for his theory of an Earth that is older than 6000 years. The flood could explain some of that weathering, but one year of flooding couldn't account for the wearing away of entire mountains, leaving the hard basaltic rock center, nor could one year of flooding account for the wearing away in other places of the hard basaltic cores of volcanoes themselves.

No one seriously challenges the idea that certain stars hundreds of thousands of light-years away (the measurements involve things that, unlike evolution, can be tested), yet we can see their light. In other words, we are seeing these stars as they were hundreds of thousands of years ago, not as they are today (in fact we don't even know if they still exist). If the world is only 6000 years old, we would not be seeing them at all because the light wouldn't gotten here yet, or God would be presenting light to us, filling in the gap in the light record, portraying a star as it never actually existed. I just don't think God did the latter, and there's nothing in the Bible that even remotely says he did.

I could probably go on all day coming up with examples like this, but you get the point.

I don't pretend to know the answers to such conundrums (now someone on both sides of this debate will pretend to know them, but they don't). I also DO NOT DISCOUNT the possibility that the Earth is only 6000 years old, because making the Earth and everything in it in six days exactly as we know them would be an incredibly easy thing for God.
I do tend to lean toward the Earth being much older than 6000 years, but I am not going to "correct" someone for thinking that, because it just isn't totally clear to me which view is correct. I do know there is a heck of a lot of speculative nonsense on both sides of the debate.
Thanks sir.

Daryl said...

Strat,

Thanks for the answer. I think my argument still stands, because none of us know what a newly made earth ought to look like, nor do we know what newly made starlight acts like etc etc. Many things change as they age, including the physical properties they have. Why not light and everything else.

But I take your point.

I suppose what I'm pushing against, is the idea presented by some, that since things look to us like they are old, then God is somehow dishonest if the Bible teaches 6000 years.

stratagem said...

Daryl as far as that last paragraph, most of the discussion is about the question "does the Bible say the Earth is 6000 years old?" Clearly just as there is no rock dated "2 billion BC", there is no Bible verse saying "the Earth was made 6000 years ago." Hence the debate and the need to interpret Scripture.

Bobby Grow said...

@ Greg,

Many, many of my friends are TE; so let me be clear, I'm not questioning their or your "Christianity" --- I see this as a secondary issue, albeit with important interpretive issues at stake (so very important).

I realize you don't really want to argue to much, and that's fine; I don't either. I just think there are methodological issues that you need to parse through in re. to synthesizing evolution with Christian theism. Evolution stands, necessarily, on a certain metaphysic in order to continue to support its interpretation of the data. And that metaphsyic is at odds with the Christian one.

I don't buy the methodological/philosophical dichotomy on naturalism. Once you replace the "natural process of chance, time, and space" with God as the causative agent behind evolution; then you're methodological naturalism takes on such a different hue from traditional "science" that you've ended up with a hybrid that no one will recognize (except those in that camp). I.e. You CAN'T separate philosophical (first order) from the methodological (second order). So the question is what is the first order committment (materialism or Christian theism)? If the latter, then the conundrum that I originally mentioned continues; how do you disentangle "evolution proper" which necessarily stands on metaphysical materialism in order to make its interpretive decisions; from what you're calling [e]volution with a little "e"? I'm looking for how you would clarify this apparent equivocation, but so far you haven't whatsoever.

John said...

While Mac doesn't get into this per se, he alludes to the difference between deductive science and inductive science. Theories of origins are inherently inductive. So, I have some problems with people who talk about science as if it only consists of repeatable lab experiments. Repeatable lab experiments are generally deductive science, while most science is actually inductive. For example, when I talk about the life cycle of an angler fish, I am unable to even create a natural habitat in a controlled lab environ, let alone experiment. Instead, I observe as much as I can in the available evidence, and infer the life cycle. I think Francis Bacon wrote about this, but I can't remember the book. Anyway, just a clarification.

Daryl said...

Strat,

I guess that's where I'm confused. Not to run back into our discussion on the other thread, but where in Scripture does the idea of 10,000 years come from?

As I indicated before, the 6,000 year figure comes from the using numbers provided in Scripture and doing the math up until we're into events that can be dated from extra-biblical sources.
I realize you don't agree with that assessment, but, short of buying in, at least a little, to the atheistic view that the world is billions of years old, where does the additional time come from.

stratagem said...

Daryl
I can't answer that, because I don't have any issue with Man being only 6000 +/-2000 years old; my issue with YEC is on the age of the Earth (only) and perhaps, non-human creatures. I suspect the universe and Earth are way older than 6000 years although I don't know how old. In other words, I have a view similar to what Spurgeon seemed to have (but that is strictly coincidental).

I also suspect creatures and plants have been around a lot longer than 6000 years. But that's because I regard the creation "days" as being very different than our days. I believe Adam was a real person, not a symbolic type-figure, and not the result of some evolutionary process God-directed or otherwise.

As far as the geneologies are concerned, I'm not an expert but I'm sure you know that many scholars believe there were gaps in the geneologies, based on the fact that some of them include generations that the others don't. These are not regarded as "errors," but rather having to do with different methods of reporting geneologies that were used at various times and places. That really isn't an issue for me since I regard Adam as being somewhere around the time that civilization first started, which even science regards as no more than about 10,000 years ago. (I am aware that Anthropologists claim that there were tribes 200,000 years ago, but their dating methods are more assumptions and speculations than they are science). My own cockamamie idea is that just about as soon as Man was created, highly-complex civilizations and achievements ensued (such as the pyramids, which were at most 1000-2000 years after Adam.
Thanks Daryl

Bobby Grow said...

@ Darryl,

Actually the 6000 yrs comes from Usher's chronology which can be found in the Scofield Reference Bible. Just using the chronology will not provide a completely accurate picture since large blocks of genealogies are left given; given the fact the Bible is concerned with emphasizing the Davidic line. So I suppose the earth could be 6000 yrs old (I lean YE, but probably not 6000 yrs); but not based upon biblical chronology alone.

Daryl said...

Bobby,

It's my (perhaps incorrect) assumption that the time of the Exodus and other related happenings can be dated from extra biblical sources.
Genesis gives enough numbers to accurately count forward from Adam to the Exodus.

The dating issues for me, never came from genealogies per se, but from spans of years given in Scripture.

Strat,

We agree on much more than we disagree.

I have Ussher's book... haven't read it all though.

David said...

What are the dating methods used by science to determine that the earliest civilizations date to 10,000 years ago?

stratagem said...

David - tell us why that matters, please, before someone wastes time answering you. And do it using non-uniformitarian assumptions.

David said...

Why does it matter? Well, if the methods used to date a site that 10,000 years old are the same as the methods used to date a site that's 20,000 or 30,000 years old, then why question the methods when they produce dates of 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000 years?

stratagem said...

Yes but that's a simplistic application of logic... it assumes that people here do accept the dating methods that result in the 10,000 or 5,000 year old sites... which many of us have big questions about. Plus, the residuals being measured to do the dating become less reliable the older the sample. You know that.

stratagem said...

...and that's before one even further knocks the legs out from under those methods by disallowing the uniformitarian assumptions those methods are built upon.

donsands said...

"..then why question the methods"

I think it is wise to question dating.
Just like global warming should be question, but ...

Greg said...

Bobby said:
a) “I don't buy the methodological/philosophical dichotomy on naturalism.”
--and--
b) “Evolution stands, necessarily, on a certain metaphysic in order to continue to support its interpretation of the data. And that metaphsyic is at odds with the Christian one.”

Not to frustrate you further, but…if you truly can’t see or accept the difference between MN and PN then you will never see how a TE can affirm small-e evolution and yet retain the belief that God could use such a mechanism.

So I’m saying that statement b) is false, and I’ll take another run at this. It’s really about the difference between evidence and the interpretation or application of that evidence.

The TE would say that there are God-neutral lines of evidence that support a view of the inter-relatedness of living things across time, place and species. Evidence from “micro-evolution” (a YEC-friendly concept) would even be part of that set. These lines of evidence come from the application of what we know about physics, chemistry, biology, geology, biochemistry, etc. – the tools, the methods of science.

If the science is done well, both the atheist and the theist can agree that they have some “facts” about the world. It’s the next step where the philosophical presuppositions kick in; one claiming no need for God, the other seeing Him operational at the finest levels of detail.

Not sure if this will help our discussion or not. Your TE friends can probably do a better job in person since this kind of discussion is a little clunky via blog posts.

mikeb said...

The 6,000-10,000 yr estimate comes from the Bible, not science. YEC's start with the Bible first. Using the chronologies in 1&2 Chronicles, Matthew 1 and Luke 1, and working backwards, the youngest number is around 6,000 (Usher and others hold this.) Conservative scholars of today would say that there are a few gaps in the chronologies, therefore we can't hold to only 6,000 yrs. old (Grudem and others). But at most, with gaps taken into consideration, 10,000 is about as old as you can get from a the Bible.

Of course, this doesn't matter to an old earther, as they would agree man has been around 6000-10000 yrs long. It's what happened before man came along that they would disagree with. Which means we're back to the "day doesn't really mean a day issue."

The question no one really answers is WHY they believe this. Why do they want to not take a literal reading of Genesis 1, as it was clearly meant to be read.

Redeemed said...

Hi, I've lurked around this blog for some months now, I have read the posts and I'm not a troll. I am just curious to know how Young Earth Creationists deal with the apparent contradictions of order between Genesis 1 and 2 if they are both read as historical narrative?

DJP said...

Short answer: respect the text, and there aren't any.

Genesis 1 is like an overview. Genesis 2 is a tight-closeup. The former is clearly sequential and chronological (day one, second day, third day). The second assumed we have enough of an attention-span to recall the sequence of the first chapter long enough to focus in on the creation of man (and woman).

That readers in the 1800s proved far stupider than Moses expected can't be blamed on him.

That's the short answer.

Bobby Grow said...

Greg,

I fully understand your points; I've been through this discussion many times with my friends, and I remain unpersuaded.

Surely there are neutral points of data available. But that's not what I am talking about, and I don't believe that's what you're talking about. TE is all about the interpretive process, as is "everything" we do (whatever the discipline). I just see evolution as grounded in metaphysical materialism, in origin, and apparently you don't.

What I find most interesting about TE is that they "use" darwinian mechanisms in order to interpret the data; if not the TE would no longer be TE and would most likely be ID (Intelligent Design). IMO, ID goes where the data goes.

The problem with Evolution, in general, whatever kind, is that there is simply no persuasive evidence for holding to that perspetive. Natural selection doesn't work, there are no multiple universes (infinite regress), etc. etc. Why you would hold to macro-evolution or speciation when there is no evidence for it (conceptually or emperically) is beyond me, Greg. And this is why I see TE as non-sequitur; the actual mechanisms for evolution are moot, as far as I see them. So one must rely on a philosophical naturalism in order to come to the interpretive results one does when they say they are only following methodological naturalism.

I'm starting to feel like a broken record; and I'm sure that so are you, Greg. You haven't explained how you can hold two mutually exclusive perspecitves at once; you've just asserted that you do. The gaps in macro-evolution are filled in by a metaphysic interpretation; to say that God used natural selection, for example, is a non-starter to me since the observable evidence and data says that such a mechanism doesn't work.

Origin of life science is all about "filling in the gaps" (ID included). To mix theology and "science" is a strange brew indeed . . . rather "negative" endeavor (methodologically). Christian theology should be positive in orientation which means that we start and end with who/what has been revealed in Christ. Our noetic structrues are so screwed up because of the fall that all of our interpretive processes must be reorienteda and recreated in Christ by the Spirit. My problem with TE and other endeavors like this is that it has the wrong order of knowledge; i.e. it starts with epistemology and then tries to move to ontological questions via analogia (by analogy), instead we the "order of knowledge" must start in Christ (ontological) and move to humanity (in Christ) as He imposes His Christoformed theo-logic upon our categories of thought --- this is true science (i.e. the object/subject should be allowed to shape its own categories upon our conceptual frameworks).

Anway, I digress, and soapbox, Greg. Good talk . . . peace.

David said...

"It assumes that people here do accept the dating methods that result in the 10,000 or 5,000 year old sites... which many of us have big questions about."

My mistake.

When you said...

"I regard Adam as being somewhere around the time that civilization first started, which even science regards as no more than about 10,000 years ago."

...I assumed that you accepted the scientific methods that produced the 10,000 year date. I assumed that you had no argument with the scientific methods used to derive the 10,000 year date. But if I understand correctly, I believe that you are saying is that you come up with a possible date for Adam of 10,000 BP from the Bible alone and without the use of science. Do I understand this correctly?

David said...

Sorry, forgot to address the last comment to Stratgem.

David said...

DJP,

Just to be clear, you're saying that Genesis 2 is not sequential and not chronological, yes?

Also, I just have to ask. Why don't we get another Adam when God uses Adam's cells to be make Eve?

Daryl said...

David,

Sorry but yo're asking rather foolish questions.

What do you mean, why didn't we get another Adam when God used a rib to make Eve?

Because God was making a woman, He wasn't cloning a man.

as has been stated earlier. One cannot reject the supernatural power of God and expect to understand anything of Scripture, let alone the plainly miraculous.

DJP said...

Here's what I'm saying, David.

Short answer: respect the text, and there aren't any.

Genesis 1 is like an overview. Genesis 2 is a tight-closeup. The former is clearly sequential and chronological (day one, second day, third day). The second assumed we have enough of an attention-span to recall the sequence of the first chapter long enough to focus in on the creation of man (and woman).

That readers in the 1800s proved far stupider than Moses expected can't be blamed on him.

As to the other, what, question? Because God didn't want to make another Adam.

Were those supposed to be serious questions?

David said...

Daryl,

"Because God was making a woman, He wasn't cloning a man."

Ah, so God supernaturally removed all the Y chromosomes and added an X chromosome to all of the cells he took from Adam, yes? I'm just curious about how this was done. I'm into mechanisms.

"Were those supposed to be serious questions?"

Well, yes, actually.

As stated above, in the case of Adam and Eve, I'm curious about the mechanism. I like to understand how things work.

In the case of Genesis 2, you didn't really answer my question, and the answer is not clear from the repetition of your previous statements. So, again, you're saying that Genesis 2 is not sequential and not chronological, yes?

Also, I've always been puzzled by the dust thing. If Adam is formed from dust, why is the chemical composition of human bodies a poor match for the composition of dust? Why start with dust at all when what you are making is quite chemically different from the starting materials?

Maybe the dust hypothesis is really just a reflection of Bronze Age human's observation of decomposition (dust to dust, etc.). In a pre-chemical science age, it would appear that humans are made of dirt. It's a reasonable conclusion, given what these folks were able to observe, but it's also wrong.

Halcyon said...

DJP:

You can answer David one more time if you like, but I have to say that my troll-senses are tingling.

Greg said...

Bobby;

No worries; Sorry I wasn’t more clear for you. CR too.

I’m going to make what may seem like a crazy recommendation given all the things I’ve said: Go and visit Todd Wood’s blog.

A biochemist by training, Dr. Wood is absolutely YEC in commitment, but he has become a kind of favorite of TEs and others outside of YEC circles because he “gets” the science. This whole problem you and I have been talking about -- the reliability of science as an enterprise, the nature of evidence, etc. – he lays out nicely and maybe in ways you will trust more than from me. He generally blogs about recent reports in science, drawing from Nature and Science as well as YEC pubs. It’s thoughtful stuff, heavy lifting if you aren’t in the sciences, but it’s refreshing to see him interact with the latest findings in honest terms.

He caused a stir not long ago in a now famous post called, “The truth about evolution”, in which he basically calls out sloppy YECers and says, Yes, there is real evidence for evolution, there’s a lot of it, it is not a theory in crisis, and that it absolutely works as a scientific theory. He ultimately rejects evolution because of a faith commitment, but he is unflinching about real weight of the evidence in favor of it. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to get across about the reliability of the method of science vs what you do with it philosophically.

Start at this link, and then read all the follow-up links at the bottom where he unpacks his whole perspective. http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html

Cheers

David said...

Halcyon,

What's a troll?

Bobby Grow said...

Greg,

Good talking with you. I'll check out Wood's stuff. I don't accept the "science" of evolution (in its macro forms), I just don't.

I think ID offers a better way forward for scientists; but unfortunately it has been black-balled, simply because of the problems of causation.


Since you've thrown out a link, here's a post I've done on ID and correlation relative to theology that I've posted quite awhile ago. You should check it out, let me know what you think; here's the link: http://recreatedinchrist.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/intelligent-design-and-its-god/

Thanks for the tone of your correspondence.

Peace.

Jacob said...

@David: "Were those supposed to be serious questions?"

Well, yes, actually.

As stated above, in the case of Adam and Eve, I'm curious about the mechanism. I like to understand how things work.


Sorry Dave, but God didn't deem it relevant or important enough to give us the "how", just the record that that is what happened.

Don't seek for a leaf on a tree that's not even in the forest. When I see someone do that, I can't help but think of the wonderfully ironic pseudo-Christian book title, "Adventures in missing the point".

Redeemed said...

I'm somewhat confused about the references to the 1800s; if it so happens that my questions sounds like a 19th Century objection to Young Earth Creationism, that is entirely coincidental. My question comes from my own reading of the text a few years ago.

Why do we follow Genesis 1 and not Genesis 2 for the Chronology of creation? I've heard arguments for both - and, frankly, neither have been as convincing as I'd like. You said it was only the short answer; if there are good resources with longer answers to this particular question, could you please refer them to me (you can also answer yourself if you like :D).

Wyatt Roberts said...

@Redeemed

"Why do we follow Genesis 1 and not Genesis 2 for the Chronology of creation?"

Yes, exactly what is the Official Orthodox Christian position on this? I mean, that's what we're supposed to be doing, right? Following orders?

(In all seriousness, though, that is a very good question.)

Bobby Grow said...

Wyatt,

Maybe that's asking the wrong question; maybe the point of Genesis 1--11 is an introduction to Yahweh, and not concerned with offering answers to questions it never intended to answer --- relative to the modernist questions that both evolution and creationism tends toward asking. We should allow the context of scripture determine its own emphases and categories; I don't think most of this thread has been cognizant of that, at least the comments that try to use Gen. 1--2 to answer questions that revolve around the evolution/creation debate. I have a post that gets into this with more detail if you want to read (I thought I would post the link instead of trying to reproduce it here):

The Empirical Facts of Genesis 1--11

Jacob said...
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Jacob said...

Why do we follow Genesis 1 and not Genesis 2 for the Chronology of creation?

Because a straightforward reading of the text makes that clear. This goes back to reading comprehension and consistent hermeneutics, things sorely lacking among most Christians today.

David said...

"Because a straightforward reading of the text makes that clear."

People keep saying this, but no one is explaining why there is no chronology provided in Genesis 2.

DJP said...

Redeemed - did you see that I answered your question? I don't understand your re-asking it.

David said...

DJP,

Maybe Redeemed is looking for a more detailed answer than the one provided.

DJP said...

Is (s)he looking for a troll to be his/her mouthpiece?

David said...

Ooo, you called me a troll. I'm so hurt!

Ok, then I'm looking for a more detailed answer than the one provided. Is there a chronology in Genesis 2?

GrayDave said...

DJP
Genesis 1 is like an overview. Genesis 2 is a tight-closeup. The former is clearly sequential and chronological (day one, second day, third day). The second assumed we have enough of an attention-span to recall the sequence of the first chapter long enough to focus in on the creation of man (and woman).

Genesis 2 is regarded as a more detailed explanation of Day 6. Which still leaves me wondering how Adam was created, was placed in the garden, named all the animals, got lonely for a help-meet, and God created Eve all in one day? Even if he didn't sleep, that is quite a day, wouldn't you say? That is why I think there is legitimate reason to believe that the plain reading of the text does not point to strict 24 hour days.

DJP said...

Not at all. The indicators of the meaning of the days are too firm, too solid, to abandon because of guesses, maybes, and I-wonders. It's your reconstruction that's iffy, not the narrative. How many animals did he have to name? How fast was Adam's emotional processing, and his thinking? (That is, even accepting your gloss "got lonely"; that is not what the text says, exactly.)

Wyatt Roberts said...

GrayDave

Which still leaves me wondering how Adam was created, was placed in the garden, named all the animals, got lonely for a help-meet, and God created Eve all in one day? Even if he didn't sleep, that is quite a day, wouldn't you say?

Well, if Adam did pull an all-nighter, and named "all the beasts of the field and fowl of the air" in one 24-hour period, with about 30,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, that would be one animal every three seconds, give or take.

DJP said...

...and you arrived at that number, how? And are certain of Adam's pre-Fall intellectual capacity, how?

David said...
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David said...
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David said...
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David said...

Ooops, I've been posting on the wrong thread.

Wyatt Roberts said...

I was mostly kidding, Dan, although I do think it's a fair example of how anachronistically some people read the Bible.

In any case, the "about 30,000" is an estimate. Here are some references:

MAMMALS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammal and http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/

BIRDS: Gill, Frank (2006). Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12827-6; also Clements, James F. (2007). The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World (6th ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9.

REPTILES: http://www.reptile-database.org/db-info/SpeciesStat.html, also http://animals.about.com/od/zoologybasics/a/howmanyspecies.htm

AMPHIBIANS: http://research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/

By the way, I made no comment about Adam's intellectual capacity.

DJP said...

Oh good; so you have no problem with the 6-literal-day creation record as it stands. Progress!

Wyatt Roberts said...

:)

David said...

Still wondering. Is there a chronology presented in Genesis 2?

Greg said...

Back to the festschrift for a moment…

I’ve read somewhere that MacArthur doesn’t actually believe there’s a thing called “creation science” preferring “theology of creation”, or something like that. So I’m curious why he would supply a forward to a book that celebrates one of the originators of the modern “creation science” movement.

I can’t access a chapter index, so maybe it’s all about theology and not about the science. If that’s the case, then never mind.

Clearly, they have the theological commitment in common. But still, MacArthur seems to have no use for the science itself, so… any thoughts?

David said...

Don't want to say if there's a chronology in Genesis 2? Wise move. Otherwise, you'd have to explain how God created animals after God created Adam.

Redeemed said...

"Genesis 1 is like an overview. Genesis 2 is a tight-closeup. The former is clearly sequential and chronological (day one, second day, third day). The second assumed we have enough of an attention-span to recall the sequence of the first chapter long enough to focus in on the creation of man (and woman)."

No offense, but that doesn't really answer my question. Think of a sports match. Taking a slow motion replay of part of a sports match doesn't change the order things happen in.

Genesis 2:4-7 says that No shrubs plants etc had appeared on the surface of the earth - how are we to take that when we compare it with Genesis 1. To be somewhat crass: did God create heaps of seeds? Now I see that verse 8 has the garden of Eden, perhaps even with plants established pre Adam(the ESV and NIV are rather different here), but the passage itself makes it clear that Eden was not the whole world (2:10-14). Is it that the creation spoken of in Genesis 1 was somehow initially confined to Eden?

Methinks I got labelled a Troll a bit fast. Anyway...

One more thing: I'm not a biologist so I am going off what other people have told me, but I'm fairly confident that modern evolutionary biologists do not subscribe to abiogenesis. I don't know how different their new arguements are, but I'd thought i'd let you know.

DJP said...

Who labelled you a troll? Not I.

And so, Why do we follow Genesis 1 and not Genesis 2 for the Chronology of creation? was answered, as I said. Now you're asking new questions.

Redeemed said...

David: interestingly, that argument only holds in some bible translations. For example in verse 19 it says "Now the LORD God HAD formed out of the ground...".

Redeemed said...

"Is (s)he looking for a troll to be his/her mouthpiece?" interpreting it along the lines of: "only trolls like trolls to be their mouthpiece" - but it seems I've misinterpreted this.

It seems to me that if you take Genesis 1 to be strictly chronological, then it seems you must also take Genesis 2 to be Chronological on account of the Geographical detail. My questions are related to my perceived problems with doing this.

Redeemed said...

... and I wasn't really convinced with the answer either.