28 June 2010

My Semester with an Evolution-Nazi

by Phil Johnson



hen I was in college (Southeastern State University, Durant, OK) and still a fresh convert to authentic Christianity, one of the hardest challenges I faced was what to do with the claims of secular scientists. I had a biology professor who was an ardent evolutionist.

Strike that. He was a fanatic who talked about little else, and he took up the subject on day one of the first semester.

His claims were so bold and his attitude so cocksure and self-satisfied that I was intimidated. He was quick-witted, sharp-tongued, and hard-core. After day one, neither I nor anyone in the class had the courage to raise any questions, because he made it clear from the start that he would ruthlessly mock students who dared to question anything. And I'm talking about conscientious students who asked honest questions, not argumentative people who challenged him. No one would have dared to challenge him.

At first.



I had grown up in a liberal denomination, a believer in theistic evolution, and yet this fanatic evolutionist's lectures were what first got me to think seriously about the questions of human origins and the creation of the universe. The more I tried to absorb the things this fellow was teaching, the more the ramifications of evolutionary theory troubled me. But the professor blew past or dismissed all the difficult (and, to me, obvious) questions his lectures raised.

Finally after several weeks of silent note-taking, I summoned the courage to ask about abiogenesis; and the second law of thermodynamics; and the presence of intelligent, ordered data in DNA; and the scarcity of intermediate forms in the fossil record; and whatnot. I didn't raise those questions all at once, but over a period of two weeks or so. I gradually got to the point where I suppose I was asking a question or two every day.

And something very quickly became obvious: this guy had no good answers to the hard questions. He had never really thought through those issues. He was a doctrinaire evolutionist whose presuppositions were dogmatically atheistic, and he had never seriously considered any arguments against his views. When I (and soon others) began to question his claims, he knew he was in over his head. His cool braggadocio gave way to agitated frustration.

So for three weeks he brought in a guest lecturer from the department of geosciences at the University of Texas in Dallas. And you know what? That guy had no sensible answers either. All the two of them could do was mock and fulminate against whoever was raising the questions. And trust me: they did plenty of that, laughing at one another's jokes and competing with one another to see who could treat the questioners in the class more condescendingly.

It turned out there were a dozen or so other Christians and lots of open-minded students in that biology class. The whole class collectively could see the lameness of the "answers," so they kept raising questions. Good ones. In the end, the geology "expert" took to cursing the questioners and then simply stopped taking any questions—giving long, tedious, angry lectures instead. Then when his three weeks were up, the whole topic of evolution was declared off limits, and we focused the rest of the semester on real biology.

If you analyze the fulminations of the New Atheists and the amateur atheist brotherhoods on the Internet, they are basically of that same type. Moreover, my impression is that science departments in most secular universities are even more despotic in their promotion of atheism today than they were when I was in college.



So my advice to students: summon the courage to challenge your professors. Ask the hard questions. It may cost you academic stature and several grade points, but I predict you'll discover what I did: naturalism is a religion, and an ill-tempered one. It's not really based on rational proof (as most naturalists claim). It's a dogma of the same style and with the same destructive potential as the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility.

Phil's signature

151 comments:

naturgesetz said...

Style? You're style-conscious? But seriously, what are you talking about?

Destructive potential? Same?

takeheed said...

For an example of just how vitriolic evolutionists are you could view this article in which Christian Creationists are labelled as 'certifiably deranged'. The article is on
http://www.takeheed.net/Take_Heed_2010/Current_Concerns/June_2010/believers_deranged.htm

GrayDave said...

Thanks. That explains the dislike of various sciences. Being exposed to that will have an effect. If you would like some real answers to questions, one place I found helpful was TalkOrigins.org.

Mark B. Hanson said...

One of my most eye-opening experiences was dealing with an evolutionist professor at Michigan State. I trotted out my arguments - privately, after class - and he patiently tried to de-convince me of each one.

One thing I found at the time (late 70's) was how lame some of the creationist writings were - careless in their footnoting or just plain wrong in their science. Although my professor didn't kill my belief in creation, he at least showed me what unbelieving scientists really believed, and what their evidence was.

Fortunately, the literature is much improved nowadays, and much more focused on the weaknesses of evolutionary theory. And I have found the evolutionists, for the most part, much less patient and more shrill.

olan strickland said...

Phil: naturalism is a religion, and an ill-tempered one. It's not really based on rational proof (as most naturalists claim). It's a dogma of the same style and with the same destructive potential as the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility.

Amen Phil! How dare we question the truth claims of science (falsely called) when it speaks ex-cathedra concerning origins.

DJP said...

Rats! If only I could have seen this freshly-posted, I could have guessed how folks would try to deflect your well-aimed points.

I see that The Festus Response has already been tried; the psychologizing you has already been tried... let's see, what does that leave?

Well, of course, saying that this one teacher - wait, these two teachers - was an exception, and now all anti-Christianists have calm and well-reasoned responses to the Bible. That has to be next.

Hm, what else?

donsands said...

"It's a dogma of the same style and with the same destructive potential as the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility."

And I think the last Pope endorsed Theistic evolution.

Thanks for the encouraging post.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might."

olan strickland said...

Dan,

either you're a prophet or the son of a prophet - or else you've been down this road before :)

Fred Butler said...

Dan asks,
Hm, what else?

I imagine sometime today someone will be posting links to a You Tube video or two in which the presenter is alleged to have the greatest arguments ever.

Johnny Dialectic said...

My advice to students in the same situation is to learn everything the prof is telling you, learn the course material, know it in and out. You will thus become a much more credible critic of the obvious weaknesses of evolutionary thought and naturalistic bias. I spent several years post-college studying primary biology texts and journals. It is wonderful confirmation of God's special creation. Critics often accuse Christians of practicing a "God of the gaps" science, while they (blindly) practice "Naturalism of the gaps." It's quite apparent in their literatue.

Tom said...

Phil,

I similar thing happened to me when I entered my honors biology class in public high school many, many years ago. The biology teacher was a hard-code fighting evolutionist. He made no bones about the fact that those who didn't hold to evolution were idiots. He showed Inherit the Wind in class and used it as a springboard to mock biblical Christianity. He knew several of the students were believers and he would purposely single them out about their beliefs. Of course, we were 15 year olds, and did not know the questions to ask...


That aside, I loved these statements:

“His claims were so bold and his attitude so cocksure and self-satisfied…”

“He would ruthlessly mock students who dared to question anything. And I'm talking about conscientious students who asked honest questions, not argumentative people who challenged him.”

“All the two of them could do was mock and fulminate against whoever was raising the questions. And trust me: they did plenty of that, laughing at one another's jokes and competing with one another to see who could treat the questioners in the class more condescendingly.”

For a moment there I thought you were describing a certain DJP. =)

Jim Crigler said...

Re: The graphic

Apparently, dinosaur tastes like ... oh, never mind.

Sir Brass said...

I even see something of the same attitude among those who claim to be Christian who hold to an Old Earth creationist view when dealing with Young Earth creationists. Its like they look down their long noses at the prole who would dare simply point to the bible and say "God said "evening then morning" to the jews in Moses' time and meant it." If you couldn't match their degrees, then you were simply dismissed as not knowing what you were talking about.

Escovado said...

GrayDave,

I love debating evolutionists who rely on TalkOrigins.org like it’s the Bible because that website has a lot of outdated and just plain wrong information in it.

Eddie Eddings said...

Love the term, "Evolution-Nazi"! It aptly describes so many of that myopic category. It is now a permanent part of my vocabulary. Thanks.

Citizen Grim said...

That dino-leg graphic is hilarious. And somewhat revolting. But mostly hilarious!

On the subject of decaying atheist dogma, I'm currently reading Who Made God by Edgar Andrews - sort of a scientific primer from a Christian perspective, but written in a pretty humorous and well, British, manner. It's a very easy read, and basically sets out to demonstrate that the best science can hope to do is describe the world, but it can't explain the world. Which is where God enters the scene.

I just looked, and yep, Challies reviewed it. Does the man read every book published by Christian publishers?

stratagem said...

1. You should all watch "Expelled", the movie by Ben Stein. It isn't a "Christian" movie per-se, but delves deeply into the insecurities of evolutionists, and why they have good reason to be so oppressive and defensive.

2. Sir Brass: "I even see something of the same attitude among those who claim to be Christian who hold to an Old Earth creationist view when dealing with Young Earth creationists."
So other than accusing OECers of not being real Christians, I'm glad you don't do that! (This post was so inconsistent that it made my day).

Steve Gentry said...

Phil,

The thought line running through your post seems to be that your professors had no real answers and all they could do was mock and fulminate against any questioners. Today, secular professors are just giving more of the same.

Well, I had a similar experience when I attended that bastion of fundamentalism, Bob Jones University. All the professors could do was mock and make fun of any science that disagreed with their views. The Bible Science Teams would have their debates on weekends to their friendly audiences and come back with their glowing reports about how they decimated the evolutionists or old earthers or whatever. They were good at ridicule.

It took a number of years to sift through the misinformation that had been thrown my way and finally come to the conclusion that they really had nothing to say and their arguments were primarily strawmen and fluff.

The posts and comments that I've been reading over the past week or so bring back a lot of memories of fundamentalism. Your strategies are the same as ever. Keep the troups in line by using pejorative terms to describe your opponents. No one wants to be labeled a "compromiser", so you use that term regularly, like a club to smack down any opposing views (or even better, classify them as trolls). You learned at least one thing well from your professors.

Holding an old earth view is not evidence of compromise and giving away the farm. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) defends Scripture vigorously and tenaciously. Modern Reformation recently published an article in defense of an ancient earth.

Everyone who doesn't see eye to eye with you or agree with you on the "proper" interpretation of Genesis, isn't a compromiser.

DJP said...

Should've seen that coming. The "I know you are but what am I?" response. Rats.

mikeb said...

Sir Brass is correct. YEC's are often viewed by old-earthers much the same way evolutionists view creationists in general: as fundamentalists crazies.

After all, why in the world would we take a natural reading of Genesis over science? Are you denying science? You haven't been reading Ken Ham again have you?? AHA, caught you red handed!

romey said...

Your strategies are the same as ever. Keep the troups in line by using pejorative terms to describe your opponents. No one wants to be labeled a "fundamentalist", so you use that term regularly, like a club to smack down any opposing views (or even better, classify them as trolls). You learned at least one thing well from your professors.

I agree completely, lol.

Johnny Dialectic said...

DJP,

Same to you but more of it.

Ahem.

All seriousness aside...we all have to do a little beam in the eye cleaning from time to time. Yes, even dedicated Hamites.

DJP said...

Oh yeah?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Tom: ""And trust me: they did plenty of that, laughing at one another's jokes and competing with one another to see who could treat the questioners in the class more condescendingly.”

For a moment there I thought you were describing a certain DJP. =)"


Steve Gentry: "Well, I had a similar experience when I attended that bastion of fundamentalism, Bob Jones University. All the professors could do was mock and make fun of any science that disagreed with their views. The Bible Science Teams would have their debates on weekends to their friendly audiences and come back with their glowing reports about how they decimated the evolutionists or old earthers or whatever. They were good at ridicule."

The tu quoque responses were anticipated, expected, and perhaps even in some measure, justified.

So bottom-line.. What differentiates it for me... in the end....

is the Word of God!

And in the Word of God... there are instances of mockery and ridicule going in both directions. And God is God, and God is just and justified when He, on occasion, mocks and ridicules those who mock and ridicule Him in their disbelief.

P.S. Laughed at the title of the post and at the graphic.

stratagem said...

mikeb: My citation of Sir Brass's post was because he treats the OECers with the same condescension as he is accusing the OECers of treating the YECers.
He did that by insinuating that being an OECer raises the question of whether you are even a Christian!
(Just in case you didn't get my point).

I also wish people would stop lumping all OECers with evolutionists or theistic evolutionists. I lean toward an old-earth view but in NO way espouse evolutionary theories, theistic or otherwise.

stratagem said...

Steve - BTW, as always I haven't seen Phil mocking or deriding anyone for holding to another view. I have seen others doing that, but not Phil. So I'm not sure what you are talking about?

VcdeChagn said...

Should've seen that coming. The "I know you are but what am I?" response. Rats.

Stone him!

I also wish people would stop lumping all OECers with evolutionists or theistic evolutionists. I lean toward an old-earth view but in NO way espouse evolutionary theories, theistic or otherwise.

I (ahem) evolved from an OEC to a YEC. Of course the evolution was driven by the Word of God. I really wanted to stay an OEC but could not get past death before Adam's sin. In the end I decided to believe the Bible instead of my preferred interpretation.

Now I get to be a fundie nutbag. Oh well, I have good company.

mikeb said...

strategem, I see your point. Even true believers can be wrong on certain doctrines. However, OEC's appeal to science in much the same way TE's do, so while they are not the same, there use similar strategies. OEC's stop at the presence of man in the record, whereas TE's and atheist evo's keep going.

VcdeChagn, true for me too. I "evolved" from a deistic evolutionist, to a theistic evolutions, to a old earth believer, to a young earth believer. It's very interesting (and sad?) to see the very same arguments being proposed for these views that I myself once used.

And the issue of death and decay before sin is huge bridge to cross, especially when you consider Romans 8:19-22.

MSC said...

I'm just waiting for someone to come along and say we just need to read Jerry Coyne's book.

DJP said...

The guy who was Garibaldi on B5?

stratagem said...

VcdeChagn: I'm not really sure what your point was from the above reference about evolution and YEC/OEC. Plus, how do you get death of humans happening before Adam's fall from OEC alone, without adding in extraneous stuff like evolution?

Saved By Faith Alone said...

Phil said: "...but I predict you'll discover what I did: naturalism is a religion, and an ill-tempered one. It's not really based on rational proof (as most naturalists claim). It's a dogma of the same style and with the same destructive potential as the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility."

Amen Phil.... Amen!!!

I lead a class this last spring at my church for our high school kids called TrueU. It's a great program that I feel strongly helps prepare our kids for the naturalistic onslaught to come in college. Take a look:

www.TrueU.org

In Christ,

Dan H...

stratagem said...

mikeb - Glad you see half my point, but the other half of my point is that your interpretation of the text could be wrong.

VcdeChagn said...

Plus, how do you get death of humans happening before Adam's fall from OEC alone, without adding in extraneous stuff like evolution?

Death...not human death but all death. "Creation Groans" and not "very good" type death.

I didn't say human death. All death came through Adam. The Bible makes that clear.

If you are an OEC who believes that no death occurred before Adam, then I'm fine with that. Of course all the fossil layers, etc occurred within the last 6000 years or so.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I have to say that the "no death before Adam" argument sounded weak to me, when I first heard it from Ken Ham. When I researched it out biblically, I found it was even weaker. (I mean, seriously, who did death spread to according to Ro. 5:12?) This did not keep me from holding a YEC (as in ICR YEC) position, which I have moved on from through further study. I just found it a very weak support. Anyway, it's completely unnecessary to upholding a recent, 6 day re-creation.

Lynda O said...

He showed Inherit the Wind in class and used it as a springboard to mock biblical Christianity.

I see that I'm not the only high school student to have viewed that film during class time -- though in my case, it was an English teacher (for 11th grade) that thought it a great example of higher level, "critical thinking" and how we're so much smarter than those narrow-minded fundamentalists depicted in the movie. Evolution was taught in Biology class, but it was the social studies and English teachers that really promulgated evolutionary ideas into the social realm along with the social implications.

donsands said...

"We may not always have a complete understanding of the history revealed in the earth's layers, but Reformed theology should insist it is a real history." Modern Ref.

Interesting article. But I'm not sure what he means by this?

If some one is convinced the Earth is 180,000,000 years old, and it doesn't mess up Adam being made in the image of God, and Adam eating the fruit, and causing God to curse this world, then I'm alright with that.
I don't see it myself that way. Seems God made everything 6,000 years ago or so. And that's quite a long time from my point of view. I mean Adam lived over 900 years on the earth.
I'll be lucky if I live to be 90. Lord's will be done.

I like Modern Reformation a lot, but I disagree with this article.

DJP said...

I was not a Christian when I saw that, and my hatred of Christianity and narrow-minded, hypocritical, ignorant fundies was reinforced by it.

stratagem said...

V:
The Bible doesn't say there was no death of soul-less creatures before Adam. That is a made-up addition to the Bible. I recognize it's a widely-held, made-up doctrine, but still.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I can't help but think about this professor and the influence you may have had on his thinking years down the road. Who knows..your arguments may have planted the necessary seed for his enlightenment. Let's hope so!

Your graphic of the dino leg is enough to steer me in the direction of the organic produce section, bean sprouts and tofu don't look so bad now. Thanks for the health tip, Phil.

Lynda O said...

The Bible doesn't say there was no death of soul-less creatures before Adam. That is a made-up addition to the Bible.

One certainly would not get the idea, from just reading the Bible, that there were soul-less creatures that died before Adam. How would that be considered a creation that God called "very good."?

For some reason, OECs are reluctant to recognize the total severity of man's sin, that man's sin is responsible for the death even of non-human creatures and the problems of creation itself, and want to redefine "good" as meaning that God created a world with animal suffering and death. Yet God clearly cursed the creation AFTER Adam's sin, not before. And if animals had been dying for millions or billions of years before Adam and Eve, then surely Adam and Eve should have had no qualms about slaying an animal themselves, if it was that normal and common a thing.

Tom said...

Truth Unites writes:

"The tu quoque responses were anticipated, expected, and perhaps even in some measure, justified.

So bottom-line.. What differentiates it for me... in the end....

is the Word of God!"

That's why I often find a certain poster's repartees interesting in light of 2 Tim 2:24-26.

If I am a fellow believer who doesn't "see the light" on this particular issue, does making ad hominem comments about me win me to your argumentation? Probably not.

If I am a young earth guy, does pointing out the inconsistencies in another YEC's statements make me the enemy? I hope not.

Tom

stratagem said...

Linda - the fact that you think animal death is in ANY way something akin to human death, shows just how much secular thinking has assimilated into your thought patterns. You can't say, using only the Bible, that animals killing other animals is "bad" in God's view - that is a humanistic view, not a Biblical one.

So if plants didn't die before the Fall, what did animals eat? Rocks? If they ate plants then at least some portion of plants' cells died before the Fall. What did the Venus Fly Trap eat before the Fall? Something that didn't die, right, since we both agree that it didn't evolve the fly-eating mechanism later on.

So far, I've heard some YECs saying that "creation groaning" is somehow a proof for the modern-day idea that there was no death of creatures before the Fall. I've also now heard people say that because God pronounced his creation "good," that animals couldn't have killed other animals (based on some modernistic PETA-like philosophy, I suppose). While it is perfectly OK in my view that someone believes those things, they are just opinions and not endorsed by the Bible, from what I can see.

And there are a lot of YEC beliefs that are similar - Are they possibilities? Yes. OK to hold as opinions? Yes. But endorsed by the Bible? No.

I wish people would read the Bible for what it actually says and stop buying books by speculative authors that read all sorts of things into it, which sooner or later become so widely-held that Christians think they are Biblical facts. Oy vey.

Garrett said...

Hey Phil, thanks for the insightful post. The tactics of many haughty bio profs on this topic is shameful. As an undergrad, I sat through an entire lecture (as a YEC) by a prof who was trying to debunk creaionism, though it was patently obvious that he was not familiar with it, so he repeatedly set up, tore down, and mocked strawmen. I was furious. This was part of the reason accepting evolution was so difficult for me (heck, I'm still struggling!).

However, as I'm sure you know, we have all heard accounts of atheists who, in their tender years in Sunday school, had all the questions but got none of the answers, just calls to blind faith and dogmatic, empty appeals to authority. They assume, that because their pastors or seminary profs were clueless that the answers simply don't exist, but that need not be the case.

My upbringing was in many ways polar opposite to yours. I was raised in a conservative (albeit charismatic) church, and I was never at ease with evolution, though I had not been exposed to YEC apologetics. Then, I came across the "Creation-Nazi" that is Kent Hovind. Cocky, self-assured, anti-intellectual, constantly knocking down strawmen and spouting a steady stream of conspiracy theories, dubious facts, and ad homs. After realizing that he was one of the WORST the YEC side had to offer, I had to resist the baby and the bath water temptation and honestly examine the arguments of more reputable YEC think tanks, like Aig and ICR. It's difficult to this day, but I must resist the temptation not to lump the two together. Take for instance our friend Fred. I assumed the worst of him (sorry Fred!), but it turns out that he is well-read, scientifically literate, and generally accurate in portraying the positions he attempts to refute. He too considers Hovind to be a KJV-only quack!

My point is (yes Dan, I'm making it anyways!), as hard as it is for us (I was burned by Nazis and Commies on both sides!) we HAVE to listen to the best the other side has to offer, not making generalizations based on our limited experiences.

That said, most evolutionists (esp. online) are pagans, and act like it. No surprise there. However, 90+% of my other profs were great guys, had the answers, and were kind about fielding my questions. They didn't get all huffy puffy and defensive; they were respectful and articulate, and as a YEC I respected that, even if I wasn't immediately convinced.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Evolution Nazi: "No passing grade for you!"

Strategem: Although one cannot make an airtight scriptural case for no animal death before the fall, there are two suggestive threads of argument.

First, that humans were not specifically given animals to eat until after the flood (although this is an argument from silence). So our diet appeared to be vegetarian, anyway.

Second, in the millennial kingdom, it appears that both predation and carnivorousness (?? carnivity?) will be done away with (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25). Note that the second passage equates these with "evil" and "harm" (NASB). So a consistent OEC might need to say that the only animal death before the fall was from natural causes.

Mark B. Hanson said...

By the way, instead of "millennial kingdom" I should have said "new heavens and new earth".

Joey Phillips said...

My experience in college was a bit different (this was only a couple years ago now)..in that Evolution was never really discussed all that much. Profs took the approach along the lines of "Evolution may not be true, but in this class it is assumed" to avoid having to defend it. If they didn't take that approach right away it only took one or two arguments till they backed into that position.

It was actually disappointing they wouldn't allow for more dialogue but it was easy to see why they did it. The few times there was actual debate about it the evolutionists were killed, and not even usually by me. And this was just a regular state college.

My profs must have been more easily intimidated than Phil's.

Fred Butler said...

Take for instance our friend Fred. I assumed the worst of him (sorry Fred!), but it turns out that he is well-read, scientifically literate, and generally accurate in portraying the positions he attempts to refute. He too considers Hovind to be a KJV-only quack!

Thanks.

Usually I am considered a rube by my opponents, but oh well.

Garrett said...

One last note on your particular objections; they may indeed have stumped your profs, in fact, those may have been valid, cutting edge questions which they had never been exposed to, but I know for a fact, all these years later, that nearly all evolutionary biologists would be familiar with those objections and could respond cogently. Here, I'll take a totally inappropriate, unconvincing sound-bite approach that wont (and shouldn't in this format) convince anyone just to prove that there are answers:

"abiogenesis; and the second law of thermodynamics; and the presence of intelligent, ordered data in DNA; and the scarcity of intermediate forms in the fossil record; and whatnot."

abiogenesis: lots of interesting theories and promising research (no, really!), but, in all candor (heck, even Dawkins and Coyne freely admits this), we'll probably never nail that one down for sure. Happened once, a LONG time ago, so the best we can do is give plausible scenarios. Here is what Coyne has said: "that's a problem which I think we have to be worried about, because I don't think we're ever going to solve it. We can replicate the origin of life in the lab and I think we will do that within the next 20 years, but that doesn't tell us that that's the way it happened. We can get closer to theories about how it originated, but since it was a one time event, 3.5 bya, all we can do is make inferences about how it happened, and like all scientists there are just some questions I think that we have to accept that we're never going to know the answer to." Told you you wouldn't be convinced! But at least this proves that evolutionists CAN be honest about their shortcomings. No conspiracies, no cover ups.

second law of thermodynamics: this is no problem for evolution since it applies only to closed systems and earth gets plenty of energy from the sun. Does the 2nd law mean that humans can't mature from zygote to baby and baby to adult? Yes, if the baby is a closed system, i.e., you don't feed the poor thing! We overcome the 2nd law everyday because we are open systems that consume lots of food and water. Same deal with earth, evolution's open system.

intelligent, ordered data on DNA: In short, what you must also account for on our DNA is the tons of not so nice stuff like this (from "Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome" by John Avice): "de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome. Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces." THIS is the kind of stuff I have to refute if I am to hold your position. Maybe I will some day. Some could be chalked up to post-fall degeneration, but some are so structurally basic to the very fabric of DNA structure and function that it seems most likely that God made DNA through ordinary providence. Maybe new data will show otherwise.

scarcity of intermediate forms in the fossil record: Well, in fact, there are tons of these, and even creationists have disagreements as to which "kinds" they fit into. Wikipedia has a small sampling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils I know, I hate to lazily cite wiki in these debates, but it's a good starting point and it has nice, colored pictures, which is always nice. Plus, some dinosaur with feathers won't convince you anyways, just thought you should know that scientists have proposed a myriad of plausible, often highly compelling transitional fossils, which, given the intrinsic limitations of the fossil record, is actually quite amazing.

stratagem said...

Mark Hanson
Thanks for the reply.
I guess you do get my point that the idea of there being no creature death before the Fall, is speculative; that is, it could be either true or false - but not provable via the Biblical text alone from what I can see.

Sure I could make a case for there being no animal death before the Fall of Man. But it would be pure conjecture.

And, I am not trying to dissuade anyone from holding a YE view - even though I personally think the OE view (without evolution) is more probable as the way the text was meant to be understood.

I am only trying to get people to distinguish from all the YE speculative stuff that isn't in the Bible that the Ken Hams of the world have brought in, from the stuff that actually is in the Bible.

stratagem said...

Garrett
So there are fossils that have led scientists to conclude that macro-evolution has produced all the various life forms that we see today.
What type of experiment would you set up to disprove that theory, using the scientific method?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Phil Johnson: "I had grown up in a liberal denomination, a believer in theistic evolution ..."

Steve Gentry: "It took a number of years to sift through the misinformation that had been thrown my way and finally come to the conclusion that they [the YEC's] really had nothing to say and their arguments were primarily strawmen and fluff."

Phil Johnson converted from Theistic Evolution to Young-Earth Creationism.

Steve Gentry converted in the opposite direction, going from Young-Earth Creationism to Theistic Evolutionism.

These conversions will continue to happen. I just hope that more people will convert away from Theistic Evolution.

mikeb said...

strategem, johnny,

Here we go again with the death thing. "the bible doesn't say" is not a valid argument. Because the Bible does say something about this situation. And no way around it, Romans 8:19-22 is not hard to interpret.

But as old earthers insist on twisting the meaning of the text, let me copy/paste my comments from challies.com on this subject:

Why does Paul say in Romans 8:19-22:

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

What is creation groaning for if not the fall of man which affected the whole earth? What futility was the creation subjected to? Here, creation does not include man because Paul says "not willingly", meaning sub-human creation had no choice in the matter. Moo (in his Romans Commentary p.514) states "With the majority of modern commentators, then, I think that creation here denotes the "subhuman" creation."


So, those who accept death before Adam's sin are, if consistent, saying 2 things:

1. When God said creation was "very good" in Gen. 1:31, God really meant death and decay are good.

2. Either that Romans 8:19-22 does not mean what it plainly, obviously means or...."so what if subhuman creation groans, that doesn't mean anything, pre-fall creation doesn't equaly the new earth, etc, etc, ad infinitum..."

Mr. Fosi said...

stratagem said: What type of experiment would you set up to disprove that theory, using the scientific method?

I like that you have taken a page from David's playbook. :D I think this is a good approach to take because you are proposing a way to substantially increase our explanatory and predictive power.

If you want to use fossils, since we don't have access to a time machine, this would have to be a semi-inductive thought-experiment where you predict what an intermediate between two organisms might look like, then see if such a fossil exists. This is something that's been done in the past with success. I don't have a reference for a specific organism at hand but I can cite a couple for you this evening once I'm home with access to my library if you like.

There may be another way to do this over a shorter time scale (i.e. in real time) using microbes and molecular methods but I'm just a filthy ecologist. Garrett would know more about this sort of approach and it seems as though he's better read than I am.

Lynda O said...

Stratagem:

Remember Dan's observation from a recent post, and the following warning:

"It is instructive that many commenters could not tell David apart from a "Christian" old-earther/ evolutionist. The contempt towards the Biblical text, and the fawning, unquestioning faith in (today's dominant, self-proclaimed version of) science were indistinguishable to many."

I am very serious here -- take heed. How is your worldview any different from that of the unbelieving atheist?

stratagem said...

mikeb
You make a very good case for the text of Romans saying what it says, and a very poor case for the text of Romans saying what you want it to say.

There is nothing in the text you've cited that says anything about creature-death before Adam - either pro or con.

Could God have created an ecosystem (as He did) that is amazingly self-sustaining, recycles and reuses all dead matter in perpetuity, along with all the vast amount of diverse creature life forms, and pronounced it "good" while soul-less creatures were dying at their proper time in accord with the way he designed it? Of course He could have.

And why the distinction between soul-less vegetable matter dying when it was eaten, pre-Fall, and soul-less animal matter dying when it was eaten?

You are trying to take a word like "futility" and are reading into it all sorts of conclusions about creature death that are not talked about. Since it is based on your own ideas and not on Scripture it comes out as indefensible, easily-refuted, and pretty speculative if you ask me.

RealityCheck said...

“I am only trying to get people to distinguish from all the YE speculative stuff that isn't in the Bible that the Ken Hams of the world have brought in, from the stuff that actually is in the Bible.”

Yes… by all means… let’s be careful not to listen to a guy like Ken Ham who has spent decades defending God’s word starting with the plain reading of Genesis. Give me a break!

St.Lee said...

Quote: "I wish people would read the Bible for what it actually says and stop buying books by speculative authors...."

That, coming from someone who apparently denies a six day creation, I find to be hilarious!

stratagem said...

Linda
Here's how:
1) I don't believe in evolution.
2) I believe God directly created all known creatures and created Adam as a literal individual.
3) I believe God created the world and all that is in it in six days. However, I believe they were "days" from God's perspective, not ours. Which could be a lot different.
4) I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, one with the Father and the sacrifice for all sins of those who put their trust in his sacrifice.
5) However, I don't believe all the other stuff that some YEC people want me to believe is in the Bible - but isn't.

Your last response shows that you haven't actually read anything I've written, or you'd know all of the above points already about what I believe. So I'm hoping this makes it so clear you can't miss it. Thanks.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

It is certainly true what you said about the New Atheists. I like what Justin Taylor quoted on his blog a while back:

"David Bentley Hart, author of Atheist Delusions (Yale University Press, 2009), reviewing 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, laments:

How long should we waste our time with the sheer banality of the New Atheists—with, that is, their childishly Manichean view of history, their lack of any tragic sense, their indifference to the cultural contingency of moral “truths,” their wanton incuriosity, their vague babblings about “religion” in the abstract, and their absurd optimism regarding the future they long for? . . .

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection. Among the New Atheists, there is no one of whom this can be said, and the movement as a whole has yet to produce a single book or essay that is anything more than an insipidly doctrinaire and appallingly ignorant diatribe.

If that seems a harsh judgment, I can only say that I have arrived at it honestly. In the course of writing a book published just this last year, I dutifully acquainted myself not only with all the recent New Atheist bestsellers, but also with a whole constellation of other texts in the same line, and I did so, I believe, without prejudice. No matter how patiently I read, though, and no matter how Herculean the efforts I made at sympathy, I simply could not find many intellectually serious arguments in their pages, and I came finally to believe that their authors were not much concerned to make any. . . .

I came to realize that the whole enterprise, when purged of its hugely preponderant alloy of sanctimonious bombast, is reducible to only a handful of arguments, most of which consist in simple category mistakes or the kind of historical oversimplifications that are either demonstrably false or irrelevantly true. And arguments of that sort are easily dismissed, if one is hardy enough to go on pointing out the obvious with sufficient indefatigability."

Lynda O said...

Strategym:

Go back and re-read Dan's post.

LYNDA

Steve Gentry said...

Steve Gentry converted in the opposite direction, going from Young-Earth Creationism to Theistic Evolutionism.

Well, not quite so fast. While I am completely convinced of an old earth, I'm not completely comfortable with adopting all of the macro evolution found at BioLogos.

However, I will follow the evidence to wherever it leads, and the evidence does seem to be leading to a support for macro evolution.

What I don't hold to is a wooden literalistic approach to interpreting scripture. I can believe the Bible is true without believing that your particular interpretation of it is true. You bring your own assumptions and prejudices to the table when you interpret Scripture, and to provide validation to your views, you accuse others who believe differently of compromise or worse.

The weakness of the "no death before Adam's sin" argument has been dealt with in previous comments but it's a good example of reading more into the text than is there.

Most of you have made up your mind, not that the Bible is true, but that your interpretation of the Bible is true. Admitting that your interpretation might be flawed becomes synonymous with denying the truth of the Scriptures.

You can hide behind your interpretations of Genesis 1 & 2, but "truth will out" as they say.

Johnny Dialectic said...

mikeb,

1. When God said creation was "very good" in Gen. 1:31, God really meant death and decay are good.

The text is clearly a reference to the work of the 6 days. Indeed, all "very good." But look at verse 2. Not very good, is it? Not at all. When is "darkness" good in the Bible? When is the pairing of "waste and void" ever anything but bad? (see, e.g., Jer. 4:23). Four strikingly negative words there before God fashioned the earth. What does this tell you? It should at least give you pause to have another look.

2. Either that Romans 8:19-22 does not mean what it plainly, obviously means

I don't get your point here. Can you elaborate?

Note to Lynda: Would you make the same charge against Spurgeon, Torrey and Barnhouse?

stratagem said...

StLee
There you go again, lumping all OEC people into the camp of not believing in a six-day creation. I believe the six days are true but were written from God's perspective.

Many YECs will insist that when the Bible says "death" entered the world when Adam fell, it MUST mean physical death, even of bugs. They will insist that the six "days" must be EXACTLY as we understand them to be today.

But yet, we know that God said to Adam, "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Gen 2:17 NASB). Cite this verse, and suddenly those who insist that day means day, and death means physical expiration, aren't so sure anymore. After all, Adam ate the fruit and lived for 930 years. So either "day" meant 900 years, or "death" did not include physical death.

As I said I am tired of arguing and people just keep spounting the same old things they've been taught without critically examining them against the Scripture. Many of these things are purported to be "defending the faith" (the Ham example, perhaps) but in reality because they are speculative and nonsensical, end up subjecting the Faith to mockery and ridicule, unnecessarily.

That's how I see it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steve Gentry: "While I am completely convinced of an old earth, I'm not completely comfortable with adopting all of the macro evolution found at BioLogos."

Hi Steve,

Please elaborate a bit more about those aspects of macro evolution that you're "not completely comfortable with" at BioLogos.

St.Lee said...

Stratagem, just curious. What do you interpret "evening and morning" to signify, and why do you think the Lord chose to mislead his people for so long? Honest question.

mikeb said...

stratagem,

You've laid bare your foundations when saying, "were written from God's perspective". If you mean by "perspective" that God was behind it all, then agreed. But what you're really getting at is an issue of revelation and how it works. You're implying we couldn't understand billions of years at the time, so God made it simple for those ignorant people at the time and just said 6 days.

This type of thinking leaves scripture completely open to any interpretation, no matter how false. Maybe the whole Bible is written like this and we will need science to help us interpret it in the future. Maybe Christ didn't spend 40 days in the desert, because God just told us that so we could understand it better. Maybe it really wasn't water into wine, but more like someone 20 years to get some really good vintage wine.

That's why your presuppositions are off. The Bible was breathed out by God, but written by men from man's perspective. If it was written totally from God's perspective, we would never understand it. What language would that be in anyway, pentecostal tongues?

And to your comment, "There is nothing in the text you've cited that says anything about creature-death before Adam - either pro or con."

Don't pull that one. "There's nothing in the Bible on that clearly says you shall not commit abortion. There's nothing in the Bible that says _______." Paul is clearly implying that the subhuman creation is groaning due to the futility Adam subjected it to. Ok, according to your hermeneutic, tell us:
1. What is the futility or frustration mentioned in v. 20? Is Paul not clearly saying that subhuman creation is not what God intended it to be?
2. Why does subhuman creation groan?
3. What is the bondage subhuman creation will be delivered from?
4. What does it mean in v. 20 when Paul says "but because of Him who subjected it,"? Why did He, God subject it to futility? IS Paul not linking this back to Gen. 3:17, where God judges sin?
5.

Any honest commentary will agree that the creation groans to be set free from the bondage of decay (slavery of corruption), a bondage that occurred at the Fall and continues today. If decay was present before the Fall, how was it subjected to a bondage of decay even more so after the Fall?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

If the Lord says He will make a short work upon the earth…why in the world would we believe that He would give such an extended amount of time to animals living and dying before the fall. The purpose of God’s entering our world, as Jesus Christ, was to redeem a fallen people. God’s purpose was never to make an extended, lengthy life for the animal creation. I think the Bible says, “Come now, let us reason together (Isa 1:18).” And this is not taken out of context, it applies to everything He says.

Sorry for my small contribution, but I am learning about this subject as I go along. I have always just taken God’s word to be six literal days, and that seemed good enough for me.

Great posts, Linda!

Steve Gentry said...

Please elaborate a bit more about those aspects of macro evolution that you're "not completely comfortable with" at BioLogos.

Man and apes descended from a common ancestor.

Whales and hippos descended from a common ancestor.

Red and Black Redneck said...

This post brings to mind two things: First, I love Greg Koukl's technique of deflecting the inevitable accusations/questions from the aggrieved professor about the inquiring student being a holy roller or what-not by simply replying that the questioner had not made any assertions about his beliefs. Rather, he simply wants the evidence from the professor who made the assertion and insisting that the professor bear the burden of proof to support such assertions.

Second, in my first semester of law school, a professor somehow got to the topic of abortion and was arguing for pregnancy to be classified as a disability (I think this was about the time that the Family Medical Leave Act was being debated in Congress). I made the mistake of asking what the disability was and when did a condition that was a direct and natural consequence of a willful act come to be considered disabling. She (and most of my female classmates) spewed and huffed and puffed but never could adequately give a logical answer. They seems especially offended by the idea that the action had a consequence for which they might be held responsible. Needless to say, in that one class period, I limited my law school dating chances from already pretty low to just about non-existent.

donsands said...

"Man and apes descended from a common ancestor."

Will we ever find the missing link?

Brad Williams said...

If someone believes that everything is created ex nihilo, then there is no reason to reject YEC. Seriously, creating something out of nothing is the weirdest thing in the history of history. It is waaaay weirder than starlight 2 billion light years away being seen in a 6-20,000 year old universe.

I wonder what nothing looks like? <---I speak as if insane.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Steve Gentry said: "Man and apes descended from a common ancestor."

This would then explain how apes can become holy as He is holy, right?

God conforms us to His image, and I would like to know how apes read Scripture to have their minds renewed and conformed to the mind of Christ. We all, animals, plants and humans, were created after our OWN KIND. It is a law of nature that a seed can only produce its own kind. The same as the seed (the Word of God) of the new birth, it produces in us the nature of Christ.

Bobby Grow said...

It seems like what Phil shared here is just his experience with his biology profs.

So this represents a sample of how some evo profs act; and then how some don't.

I have many many anecdotal examples of the kinds of profs that Phil mentions as well (in fact they've destroyed the faith of at least a couple of peoople I know).

Escovado said...

Garrett:

"second law of thermodynamics: this is no problem for evolution since it applies only to closed systems and earth gets plenty of energy from the sun."

An open system requires an energy conversion mechanism to direct the energy towards useful work. If not, then energy flowing into the open system will increase entropy, not decrease it. Abiogenesis has nothing of the sort available to it. The energy from direct sunlight wreaks havoc on organic molecules. Abiogenesis is a complete failure from the start.

"In short, what you must also account for on our DNA is the tons of not so nice stuff"

Most of the stuff you listed is the result of either the second law's ravages on genetic information or the fact that science has yet to understand how the information is used. You do you remember that the creation is cursed, right? There has been no conclusive proof of "gross imperfection at the molecular level" that has anything to with bad design. Interestingly, if this news report is true, then is looks like a use has just been discovered for some of those "vestigial" pseudogenes: The RNA Code: Pseudogenes Functional, Help Prevent Cancer.

Furthermore, Garrett, I really don’t understand how you can call yourself a Christian while at the same time slandering God by accusing him of gross imperfection in his designs.

No Garrett, the burden of proof is on evolutionists: please prove using the empirical scientific method how DNA, base-4 digital encoding system that is both self-replicating and error-correcting, arrived out of the random interaction of atoms in the primordial soup.

Red and Black Redneck said...

This series of comments has caused two questions to come to mind:

First, in Genesis 2:17, God does not need to explain to Adam what "death" is. Does this imply that Adam had observed death of animals and therefore needed no explanation?

Second, in Genesis 3:16, God tells Eve that he will multiply her pain in childbirth. Does this imply that Adam and Eve felt pain before the fall? Here, I am thinking of the "enjoyable" or "satisfying" pain one feels when one has worked hard like after a day in the yard or garden or in my case, an afternoon spent planing a tabletop by hand. And if that is so, can we look forward to the same type of "pain" in the new heavens and new earth? I guess that makes three questions.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Red and Black Redneck said: "First, in Genesis 2:17, God does not need to explain to Adam what "death" is. Does this imply that Adam had observed death of animals and therefore needed no explanation?"

Absolutely not! When you tell your child not to touch a hot stove, or run across a busy highway, or take a ride with strangers, it is implied that danger lurks everywhere. We do not have to witness first hand the results of such actions to know of impending doom and the possibilities of catastrophes happening. A warning is sufficient enough for even fallen creatures to understand.

Red and Black Redneck said...

@ Mary Elizabeth - Isn't that because the child knows what "hot" is and has a concept of danger that needs not be fully defined? In a pre-lapsarian and possibly death-less world, that concept would need some explaining. The text might not imply pre-fall death of animals, but that explanation isn't logically satisfying.

Tim Bushong said...

"The text might not imply pre-fall death of animals, but that explanation isn't logically satisfying."

Mmmm...inferences...tasty AND logically satisfying!

GrayDave said...

Furthermore, Garrett, I really don’t understand how you can call yourself a Christian while at the same time slandering God by accusing him of gross imperfection in his designs.

Here we go.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Hi Red:

I think it is because God, like moms and dads, know best. When we question what God has said, no matter how many times He has said it, we are questioning His veracity, not taking Him at His Word. This is sin, undeniable. It was just ONE sin enough to put us in the hot soup we find ourselves in now. Count how many times, in Scripture, the Lord tells us to listen to Him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Me: "Please elaborate a bit more about those aspects of macro evolution that you're "not completely comfortable with" at BioLogos."

Steve Gentry: "Man and apes descended from a common ancestor."

Steve, a request for clarification: So you don't believe that man and apes descended from a common ancestor, contra BioLogos. Is that right?

Daryl said...

Escavado,

It's one thing to wonder what Garret is smoking on his way to his current set of conclusions, but to wonder why he calls himself a Christian?

As if.

I think he's wrong, seriously so. But read his posts, he's no evolutionary apologist, he's trying to get this right.
Maybe he'll get it, maybe he won't. But to wonder about his salvation is way out of bounds.

RealityCheck said...

Escavado,

I have to chime in here and agree with Daryl. Garret's conclusions are not the same as mine, but based on what I've read, I think he is sincere (unlike some others) in seeking answers to questions that he has. Therefore, I wouldn’t question his salvation and also think you’re out of line to do so yourself.

Garret,

Smarter people than me are dialoging with you… including Phil, who wouldn’t be if he didn’t think you were sincere. I only want to offer one piece of advice. On your blog I noticed this statement, “I seek, by God's grace, to understand the underlying harmony between general and special revelation”. That seems like a noble goal, but be careful, despite the suggestions of people like Hugh Ross that nature is a 67th book, it is not. This world is broken and man, with his predisposition towards sin, can not be trusted… can not even trust himself to understand what he sees. Trying to carry too much worldly knowledge around may not keep you out of heaven but it may make your head just big enough that you hit it on the way in. God bless.

trogdor said...

Genesis 2:17 wasn't written to Adam and Eve, it was written to Israelites who were plenty familiar with death. We don't know what else God explained to the first couple - perhaps he elaborated on what it meant to surely die, perhaps he just stopped there, and they figured that when the one who had just formed them from dust/bone gave them a warning, even if they didn't know exactly what it meant, it was bad. We don't know. We do know what God had Moses tell the Israelites, which needed no elaboration.

stratagem said...

StLee and mikeb;
Well I'll answer you both at the same time.
1. What does "morning and evening" mean...
from man's perspective, we all know what it means.
From God's perspective in the midst of the chaos of creation, I am not sure what it means. What is "morning and evening" (if there were such a thing) in heaven, in earth years? You don't know - neither do I.
I already cited the Gen. 2:17 example. What does "day" mean there? What does "die" mean there? Not the same things you are saying they mean, that's for certain.

2. mikeb, I have not said that because something was written from God's perepective that He is dumbing it down for ignorant people. YOU said that - and it's a great example once again of someone just spouting off what they've been told.
Unless you deny that the Bible contains no symboloic language, you are being quite inconsistent in my opinion.

Anyway, I have real, substantial bones to pick with evolutionists. Would be nice if we could get off the "Genesis needs no interpretation" nonsense.

stratagem said...

mikeb
Sorry I missed the "according to your hermaneutic, what does creation yearn to be free of?" thingee.

Creation yearns to be free of being in subjection to sinful Man. That's how I would interpret that. Not that cockroaches didn't die before Adam fell. If you think cockroaches dying is a tragedy, then you are more affected by secular thinking than you believe you are.

stratagem said...

Mr.Fosi:

That's what I thought: You can formulate theories from the fossil record, but you can't prove those theories (and I can't disprove them, either).

The "thought experiment" line is creative but doesn't apply. Einstein used thought experiments to formulate theories, but he didn't use them to TEST theories he had formulated.

So if that's the best an evolutionist can come up with, you shouldn't be putting the impramateur of "science" on theories formulated from the fossil record.

Escovado said...

Daryl, GrayDave & RealityCheck,

I have dealt with Garrett before over at GTY. I don't doubt Garrett's sincerity at this point, but he does not appear to be fully contemplating a lot of the stuff he is writing.

mikeb said...

Red and Black Redneck, you're assuming Adam and Eve had to learn what death is by watching it, but how then do you explain Adam naming the animals and even Eve? How did he learn that one? You appear to be presupposing your view upon the text. A natural reading would imply that Adam and Eve were "pre-programmed" with the language, so they wouldn't have to go through the normal stages of learning and growth, possibly the reason God created them full grown.

DJP, I thought there was a law here or something when people say something, then you reply, then they come back and say "that's not what I said. Where did I say that?"

Stratagem, allow me to apologize, as you did not explicitly, straightforwardly state God dumbed down revelation for the people of Moses day. Pray tell what you meant when you said "were written from God's perspective"?

And even though you did not answer my questions regarding Romans 8:19-22 I asked above, I'll answer your question on Gen. 2:17. Day there means exactly what you think it means, a 24 hour day. The day Adam and Eve ate of the tree they died spiritually and began to die physically. The Hebrew there says "dying you shall surely die", also found in Num. 26:65 where the sinful Israelites did not die all at once, but over a period of 40 years. The context makes quite clear in Gen. 2 that Adam & Eve died spiritually that instant. Also, they begin decaying physically that moment and did eventually die. I'm not sure what your issue is with this verse? The context makes it clear, as in Gen 1, what day and death means. Are you implying God was saying something else in Gen. 2:17 than what I just said above?

Escovado said...

Just to futher clarify my position: I wasn't even thinking about Garrett's salvation in my OP. However, comments like "gross imperfection" are the kind of things I see on a regular basis over at blogs like Pharyngula.

Garrett said...

Fred: "Usually I am considered a rube by my opponents, but oh well."

I know a YEC rube when I see one; you're no rube. You do your homework.

Stratagem: "What type of experiment would you set up to disprove that theory, using the scientific method?"

3 words: poodle in precambrian. In other words, a fossil out of sequence (in layers of wrong age) that didn't follow the fish-amphibian-reptile-mammals and birds, etc. pattern. If the nested hierarchy of traits (goups w/in groups) wasn't fond as predicted, then the theory would need some major revising. As for molecular evidence, find a fossil gene encoding feathers in a mammal or a nipple in a bird. That would cause quite a stir.

Escovado: "An open system requires an energy conversion mechanism to direct the energy towards useful work."

Sure, like some simple metabolic process, or photosynthesis with early cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). How those evolved? I haven't a bloody clue, not my area of expertise, nor have I looked into that question. So for abiogenesis, your point may indeed pose a huge problem for self-assembling RNA molecules or something like that. But, once evolution gets started, the 2nd law is irrelevant, which was my whole point since most YECs use it against the process of evolution itself, not abiogenesis per se. Good point though, I'll look into it.

"Most of the stuff you listed is the result of either the second law's ravages on genetic information or the fact that science has yet to understand how the information is used."

The cell/nucleus are super tiny and aren't closed systems, so I think the effects of chemical thermodynamics or mutation would be negligible in only a few 1,000 years (mistakes are rare and are usually repaired). I'm assuming you think the 2nd law didn't operate until after the fall (a problem for digesting food, stars burning, etc.). But that's a side note.

As for your second point, I won't personally go down the "junk DNA is not junk, scientists jumped the gun" road, but that narrative is, for many reasons, just not accurate. You can get great info on that topic here (he's a Calvin college prof and knows this controversy backwards and forwards): http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/search/label/Junk%20DNA

"I really don’t understand how you can call yourself a Christian while at the same time slandering God by accusing him of gross imperfection in his designs."

Well, that wasn't my phrasing. Actually, that's more of a problem for you, since you think God made it that way miraculously, whereas I said he made it via 2ndary causes. Really, it's a problem for both of us, unless you think God fundamentally reconfigured the design of DNA after the fall, since 6,000 years of mutation surely wont get you from "perfect" to what we have today.

Daryl: I really don't take it personally; in fact, I would have said the same not so long ago to someone entertaining my views, which most people have only encountered coming from enemies of the faith. Perfectly understandable.

Garrett said...

Escovado:
"the kind of things I see on a regular basis over at blogs like Pharyngula."

I explain that phrase (not mine) you don't like above. And dude, that is the 1st (and Lord willing the last!) time I have ever been compared to P.Z.; I feel like I need to take a long hot shower every time I visit that blog. Don't get me started :P

Garrett said...

RealityCheck: "That seems like a noble goal, but be careful, despite the suggestions of people like Hugh Ross that nature is a 67th book, it is not."

I've read "The Battle for the Beginning" and Dr. MacArthur was dead on with his critique of that. We're on the same page here.

"This world is broken and man, with his predisposition towards sin, can not be trusted… can not even trust himself to understand what he sees. Trying to carry too much worldly knowledge around may not keep you out of heaven but it may make your head just big enough that you hit it on the way in. God bless."

Ha, you sound like my old man. You're both right, thanks for that warning. I think it's right on.

mikeb said...

Stratagem, you said "Creation yearns to be free of being in subjection to sinful Man."

Read verse 21 again. Subhuman creation is in "slavery to corruption". It groans to be set free, to be redeemed in a sense (cf. v23). It is not talking about being subject or slaves to humans here. The whole point Paul is making here is that creation is as it should be, what God intended it to be. Man's fall into sin changed the goodness of God's creation.

mikeb said...

"creation is as it should be" should read "creation is NOT as it should be" in my last comment.

stratagem said...

mikeb
I think your interpretation of what Paul meant in the verses cited is entirely plausible. However, it's not the only possible interpretation by reasonable, Bible-believing people, by a long shot. Man has introduced a tremendous amount of damage into the world by his direct actions; trying to unscramble the egg and say "this part was by design, this part wasn't" or "this is because of man's direct action, this is because creation is groaning" as you are trying to do, is non-productive time spent, in my opinion.

If you want to think that carrots didn't die when they were eaten, or that anthills were never stepped on by elephants before Man fell, then have at it. I won't subject the Faith to the ridicule such theories deserve.

Go back to the earliest posts I made several days ago on this subject and you will find that I don't disbelieve six literal days, I only believe that it is one of several possibilities of what God actually did and how He did it. Yet, you keep hammering away that your interpretation is the only one that can be accepted. I don't accept that, sorry.

Maybe you think one's faith is suspect if they are open to other ideas on this subject. OTOH, I know sincere believers who know the Bible well and say you can't really be a first-class Christian if you don't speak in tongues, or if you drink wine moderately, or dance, or _____.

Yet while you are hammering at this, there are meanwhile people here who are espousing the truly ridiculous and unsupported claims of evolution and even non-theistic evolution while we split hairs over what a literal day means and why it's vitally important for me to accept your opinion on the age of the Earth. And since it's based on interpretation, it is opinion, make no mistake about it.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Trogdor:

I think the whole issue with Adam and Eve was one of TRUST and who they would believe, Satan or God. Our faith is like that, right, trusting in the veracity of God's Word WITHOUT question?

That is why I likened obedience to our parents in my above post. Those people who gave us life have our best interest at heart. Is God any different? He gave us life and we should NEVER question His commands. This was "THE TEST" A&E faced, and they failed miserably at it, thus the fall.

Knowing and believing God is truthful and trust worthy is the very rock on which we stand, and when we demand an explanation as to why "anything" from the hand God, we are simply denying all of God's credibility. To know God is to take Him at His Word without asking questions. At least this is the way I see it.

So I do not believe that A&E were given an explanation, God's Word should have been sufficient enough for them. This was the ultimate test of faith and trust.

Escovado said...

Garrett,

You will know me as “Don Jordan” from the GTY blog. That is my real name.

“3 words: poodle in precambrian.”

Or a rabbit in the Precambrian. Even if one was found, a secondary set of just so-stories would be introduced to put the rabbit or poodle back where it belongs.

"I'm assuming you think the 2nd law didn't operate until after the fall"

You assume too much as you always do.

”But, once evolution gets started, the 2nd law is irrelevant, which was my whole point since most YECs use it against the process of evolution itself, not abiogenesis per se.”

Sorry, Garrett, the 2nd law is one of the fundamental laws of physics and it is not going away no matter how many magic wands you want to wave. Biologists are the only scientists who seem to believe that the laws of physics, chemistry and math don’t apply to them. You can jumble DNA with all with all the gene duplication, frame shifting and mutations you want, but you can’t come up with any mechanism that can solve the plethora of engineering problems needed to create even some of the simplest animals through time, chance and the laws of physics. Natural selection can’t save the day because an enormous gulf exists between genotypic change (a molecular mutation) and phenotypic selection. The “princess and the pea analogy” John Sanford uses in his Genetic Entropy book beautifully illustrates the problem.

”Actually, that's more of a problem for you, since you think God made it that way miraculously, whereas I said he made it via 2ndary causes. Really, it's a problem for both of us, unless you think God fundamentally reconfigured the design of DNA after the fall, since 6,000 years of mutation surely wont get you from "perfect" to what we have today.”

I think Sanford makes a pretty good case that the human genome is deteriorating at a much faster rate than is commonly believed. And 6,000 years has been more than enough time. With that new announcement of the discovery of function for pseudogenes, I think a very large percentage of the “gross imperfection[s]” are reflective of science’s lack of understanding. Ultimately, the burden of proof is still yours.

“I explain that phrase (not mine) you don't like above. And dude, that is the 1st (and Lord willing the last!) time I have ever been compared to P.Z.; I feel like I need to take a long hot shower every time I visit that blog. Don't get me started :P”

OK. I’ll play nice. ;)

mikeb said...

stratatem,

"However, it's not the only possible interpretation by reasonable, Bible-believing people, by a long shot." And "And since it's based on interpretation, it is opinion, make no mistake about it."

Thanks for the postmodern slant on Biblical interpretation. Are you saying every interpretation is an opinion and there is not One true interpretation meant from the writer? Could you please direct me to other evangelical scholarly viewpoints on Romans 8:19-22? To deny what Paul is teaching here is a dangerous method of hermeneutics indeed. There maybe different viewpoints, and those arguing the different viewpoints may even be in the Faith, yet there is only one True interpretation God wants us to make of Paul's text. Our job is to figure that true interpretation. To say "oh well, there are room for different viewpoints" is very postmodern and ecumenical.

"Maybe you think one's faith is suspect if they are open to other ideas on this subject."

I thought this discussion was over a believer's interpretation of Gen 1&2. The fact that you think otherwise is telling indeed!

"...there are meanwhile people here who are espousing the truly ridiculous and unsupported claims of evolution and even non-theistic evolution..." Agreed. And I'm not sure our discussion of the age of the earth is what Phil had in mind with his post. So I shall refrain from further discussion on it here.

Bobby Grow said...

You know so much of this conversation, in my view, is a waste of time. This thread illustrates why.

It is a back-and-forth based upon a priori commitments on either "side." The data has nothing to do with it in most cases.

Something isn't "true" because that "something" is internally consistent within the framework it's placed (i.e. coherentist understanding). Something is "true" because it correlates or corresponds to reality.

What doesn't seem to be under discussion here, much; is the philosophy "behind" modern science, or the philosophy "behind" 'creationism'. And yet this is where the discussion must reside (if folks want to avoid circles). Anyway, much of this (i.e. exchanging the "data") reminds me of theology discussions wherein "proof-texting" predominates (it's a fruitless exercise).

mikeb said...

Bobby grow, there is certainly a philosophy behind modern science, but creationism is based on theology. (At least it should be, but some OE's base it on science.)

Something is true because God declares it to be. What God says is true will "correlate or correspond to reality", but Man will not accept it due to Sin. Hence you have postmoderns these days saying "who's reality, yours or mine?" Our discussion resides in our belief about the Biblical God and how that matches with reality, not philosophy, which is mans view of the world.

stratagem said...

mikeb:
There is one primary meaning that the Author intended for every verse. From that simple unarguable statement, you make the logical jump to a separate subject, which is the question of whether your interpretation of Gen 1 is the right one. THAT is what we are talking about. That is not postmodernism. Your bringing into the discussion the charge of postmodernism, simply because I am unwilling to accept your interpretation as being unchallengeable, is a non sequitur and shows that you are unable to prove your point. I am the one who is conservatively unwilling to read into the text what you have (esp. with regard to Romans 8) and you are the one doing the speculating.

I already told you what I believe Romans 8 means. It means that when the Lord returns, the world will be fundamentally changed; Man will no longer reign as ultimate authority over the earth and creation will benefit as a result. It does not mean that once again, carrots will not die when they are eaten, does not mean that Venus fly traps will not catch flies, does not mean cockroaches will continue to grow to the size of mountains. Because those things never were, and therefore never will be. You make yourself silly by arguing otherwise.

"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it..." You tell me who is "the one" who subjected it, in the verse above... man, or God?

"To deny what Paul is teaching here is a dangerous method of hermeneutics indeed."
I agree, if that's what I were doing - but I am only denying what you say it is teaching, not what I hear Paul teaching. Mike vs. Paul - big difference in authority level in my book.

I do agree with you that it is best we drop this. You can't be convinced that you don't have all the answers, because you've been told these are the answers, and I don't care to try to undo all you've been taught.

Bobby Grow said...

MikeB,

I'm aware of the noetic effects of the 'Fall'; in fact what I said agrees with what you just said, I think.

I just think this "debate" is so old; I would much rather talk theology, even with the naturalist; since they are as much theologians (of the self) as anybody.

As far as the TE, I just think they're out to lunch; but I want to be nice about that still. And this is what I was getting at; it doesn't seem like TE's are very thoughtful or critical in their appropriation of neo-Darwianism (usually). I often see this as more of a rhetorical or political move on their part (scholar qua scholar); or it's just easier to live in the academy as a Christian and evolutionist (much less conflict this way).

This should be a discussion about the merits of metaphysical materialism (naturalism) vs. Christian theism/Trinitarianism (supernaturalism). In fact this is the discussion that Gen 1--2 is really about; i.e. the Creator God introduced to His covenant people contra the pagan (naturalist) deities surrounding the "nation."

I think this discussion should be about 1st order commitments vs. the 2nd order (i.e. data discussions) stuff that leads to nowhere. It's all about the interpretive lenses (Kant was right on that); and God's Word must be the spectacles (to borrow from Calvin). W/o the God of Redemption we will only end up interpreting the God of Creation in the likeness of ourselves (Rom 1).

Anyway, we probably agree, MikeB.

Steve Gentry said...

Me: "Please elaborate a bit more about those aspects of macro evolution that you're "not completely comfortable with" at BioLogos."

Steve Gentry: "Man and apes descended from a common ancestor."

Steve, a request for clarification: So you don't believe that man and apes descended from a common ancestor, contra BioLogos. Is that right?


Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence from biology and genetics that suggest a common ancestor. I may not like it and I may not be comfortable with it, but I can't ignore it.

I haven't completely solidified my thoughts on this subject and doing so on a hostile blog probably isn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but nobody said I was smart, so let's give it a try.

Let's just suppose for a moment that evolution and natural selection is the means that God used to bring man into existence. Pre-hominoid beings (a common ancestor) branched and man evolved.

What's to say that 6 to 10 thousand years ago God broke through space and time and interacted with man and breathed into man the "breath of life" as Genesis says. Since God is Spirit, it isn't a far stretch to say that the "breath of life" was spiritual life. From that point forward we have man as we know him today - complete with original sin.

Man was created from the dust of the ground - that's consistent with both the Bible and evolutionary theory.

Just a thought.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence from biology and genetics that suggest a common ancestor.

That should read "common Designer" and then you're okay. Same data.

Daryl said...

Stratagem,

Creation was subjected to futility by God, not man.
God alone has that power and authority.

He did it in response to Adam's sin, true enough, but it wasn't done by man.

Therein lies part of your difficulty I think. If we are indeed to rule and reign with Christ in the new heavens and the new earth, then the issue is not whether or not man rules the earth. But rather, the issue is has God released creation from the curse under which He himself has placed it.

I think the imagery of the lion laying down with the lamb rules out the idea of carnivorous animals continuing in that vein in the hereafter, which, granting that it's an interpretation, I take backwards to say that that was the case in the original paradise as well.

I like your mode of discussion, Strat, but I think you bring one major major premise to the argument, which you cannot (or at least have not) shown from Scripture, and that is the idea that God wrote Genesis from his viewpoint, not mans.
This seems to underly your whole explanation for the Old Earth.

If, say, God wrote Genesis to be understood by man, in "man language". How would that change your interpretation?

By the way, as far as life (carrots and coak-roaches) and life (people and animals) I see Genesis 1 as making that a plain distinction where God describes both man and animals alike as having "the breath of life."
That would be my explanation of why animal death is excluded both pre-fall and in the eschaton.

Incidentally, it's been demonstrated many times that apparently carnivourous animals do very well on a vegetarian diet, if that's what's available. Not an argument for the "other side", just an interesting foot note. And, for the record, something I discovered (and not from Creationists...) long after I had concluded what I believe Genesis teaches.

Anyways, I like your input here, but the whole "God's view point" thing and the bit about who cursed creation are sticking fairly pointedly in my craw.
Perhaps a further explanation might be forth-coming?

Thanks,

Daryl said...

Johnny D.

Good point.

Steve Gentry,

Then why do we have a week? What would the connection be from evolutionary development (in a very different order than what Genesis presents) and the current 6 days plus a rest?

Bobby Grow said...

@ Steve Gentry,

You said:

Let's just suppose for a moment that evolution and natural selection . . .

Why?

There is no evidence for natural selection; ID has made this point quite clear.

Why do you want evolution and the Bible to work together, is my question to you?

Mr. Fosi said...

stratagem: That's what I thought: You can formulate theories from the fossil record, but you can't prove those theories (and I can't disprove them, either).

I guess I don't know what you mean by "prove" since it's kind of a dirty word in science as I know it. That gets back to David's point a couple metas ago when he talked about "degrees of proof". He was really talking about statistical probabilities and that's the best you can do with science.

Since you don't think a person can formulate testable hypotheses from one type of physical evidence, I wonder why it should be so for any others. I mean, when the police collect evidence, what are they to do with it? Throw up their hands because they can't use it for anything? Yes, yes, the police can generally investigate the whole crime scene and find all that can be found. No, geologists can't do the same, but let's not pretend that a partial data set is useless.

A person can formulate testable hypotheses using the fossil evidence at hand but the "tests" aren't manipulative experiments. They are searches for correlations, which I think is the basis of your gripe and I won't pretend that I like correlative studies either since correlation does not causation make. I also won't pretend that it's completely useless... Just not a solid as manipulative science.

Be careful about mixing the words theory and hypothesis because they are not the same thing.

The "thought experiment" line is creative but doesn't apply. Einstein used thought experiments to formulate theories, but he didn't use them to TEST theories he had formulated.

Not creative but useful. :D The "rabbit in the Precambrian" is one such. The test of the experiment is to see if the predicted outcome is borne out in reality.

So if that's the best an evolutionist can come up with, you shouldn't be putting the impramateur of "science" on theories formulated from the fossil record.

I don't know if it's the best an evolutionist can come up with. I was just doing my best to answer the question. As I mentioned, I'm just an ecologist.

I'm surprised that no one has brought up endemism and biogeography as other things that are well-explained by evolutionary theory. Obviously, that a phenomenon is well-explained by a particular theory doesn't mean the theory is actually true but people who do science are wont to lean upon things that merely explain natural phenomena in spite of whether they are true.

I admit that I am guilty of that particular behavior. It is a good feeling to think that you understand something and it is even better when you are able to formulate a hypothesis, test it and find it supported. This, I think is part and parcel of the Apostle Paul was talking about in the beginning of 1 Corinthians and I bet you'll agree.

I'm sorry if these thoughts are coming across half-baked. I admit I've only been seriously thinking about this for a short time and I'm still far from being a scholar of either the Bible or of the professional biological literature.

mikeb said...

Bobbygrow, ok we agree. I misunderstood you before.

Stratagem, nowhere did I imply my view was the correct interpretation. I was simply implying we cannot accept "there are multiple view so why even debate it" argument.

Your way off on Romans 8. Man is God's ultimate creation, and will still be in charge (under Christ of course) ("rule the nations", "reign with Christ")in the new earth. Animals will still be under Man in the order of things, the difference will be that none of creation will be subject to sin. We'll all taught things, yourself in included. Not all of it is true. When you find that scholarly evangelical view of Romans 8 that matches your, please send my way. I'd be interesting in reading it and finding out how they deal with the whole meta-story of the Bible in relation to Romans 8.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steve Gentry: "Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence from biology and genetics that suggest a common ancestor. I may not like it and I may not be comfortable with it, but I can't ignore it.

I haven't completely solidified my thoughts on this subject...
"

Hi Steve,

I fully understand that you haven't solidified your thoughts on the subject. And that's fine.

But would you say that at this point in time, based on you following the evidence where you think it leads, and regardless of how you feel about the "evidence", that you do indeed affirm a common ancestor for man and apes, even though this common ancestor has not yet been found?

donsands said...

"Since God is Spirit, it isn't a far stretch to say that the "breath of life" was spiritual life." -Stephen

I think it's a far stretch.

How about Noah and his family, and the ark, do you believe that this is true Stephen?

By the way, this is not a hostile blog bro. You have to remember when we argue in e-mail, blogs and such, it's not the same as face to face. The TeamPyro three amigos are good brothers. And the regular commentators are as well.

And there has been times when hostile words come forth, but I have always seen Phil put a end to that sort of thing.

I guess maybe it depends on your definition of hostile.
I have seen hostile, and been part of it, and it ain't TeamPyro.

Garrett said...

Oh, hey Don, didn't recognize you! I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on the 2nd law. As for your statement that "a very large percentage of the 'gross imperfection[s]' are reflective of science’s lack of understanding. Ultimately, the burden of proof is still yours," I think you're just flat out ignoring the facts. There are pervasive structural idiosyncrasies and less-than-ideal mechanisms that appear to have been cobbled together over time in an impromptu, makeshift way. And I think you're still missing the point by equating "gross imperfection" with "non-functional." So your premise is false, namely, that evolutionists relegated 98+% of the human genome (non-coding) to the non-functional, "junk DNA" dust bin, only later to realize "Hey wait guys, this ERV is regulating something here!" That just wasn't the case. "There are several interesting types of non-coding elements found in animal genomes, existing in hundreds to thousands to millions of copies. Many of them have well-known properties [...] and many are like Yugos, or rocks, or logs, or roadkill: they're junk, but junk that may, occasionally, be put to use. Biologists have long known this, and suspected from the very beginning that even parasitic DNA elements would occasionally be co-opted by their hosts." In my genetics course, the prof was careful to note that the common "junk DNA" label was misleading for a number of reasons. Do check out Dr. Matheson's blogs on "junk DNA." Imperfect things can still function, albeit imperfectly. Please read Avice as well.

Wyatt Roberts said...

Phil wrote:

"Finally after several weeks of silent note-taking, I summoned the courage to ask about abiogenesis; and the second law of thermodynamics; and the presence of intelligent, ordered data in DNA; and the scarcity of intermediate forms in the fossil record;"

So you were using certain scientific propositions/theories you accepted as true -- the second law of thermodynamics, DNA code, and fossils -- to challenge another scientific theory, namely evolution.

Phil, is your employment of those particular scientific "truths" (call them whatever you like) because you see them as more accommodating to a literal view of Scripture, whereas evolution is not? How do you decide which scientific facts are acceptable, and which are not? Is it just a matter of which ones are supportive of your interpretation of Scripture? I do not intend to offend you or insult you at all.

Full Disclosure: I ask, Phil, because I believe in evolution, and I am trying to understand where you're coming from. I have served Jesus since I was a child (I'm 46), and believed in a literal account of Genesis for most of my life. As ironic as it may sound, I ended up believing in the theory of evolution precisely because I asked a lot of hard questions, questions that I didn't want to ask. Honestly, I didn't want to believe in evolution. It wouldn't have been much easier just to "tow the line" and continue believing as I always had.

I'm not looking for a fight. I love God, and I know some people here, because I believe in evolution, probably think I'm lost as a goose, or that I'm a heretic, or, as you described the folks at BioLogos, am just pretending to be a Christian. Short of rejecting what seems to make a lot of sense to me, I don't suppose I can do anything to change that.

Escovado said...

Garrett,

"Do check out Dr. Matheson's blogs on "junk DNA." Imperfect things can still function, albeit imperfectly. Please read Avice as well."

I intend to check them out. =D

Joe Cassada said...

"When I (and soon others) began to question his claims, he knew he was in over his head. His cool braggadocio gave way to agitated frustration."

I experienced this very thing in high school science. A student (who wasn't a Christian) asked simply, "How exactly is evolution possible? I mean, how does it work?"

Our teacher, who was normally quite stoic, absolutely exploded on the young man. "How dare you ask such questions! Leave your religion in church! This is a science class!"

The poor kid never mentioned a word about religion.

Jacob said...

1. What does "morning and evening" mean...
from man's perspective, we all know what it means.
From God's perspective in the midst of the chaos of creation, I am not sure what it means. What is "morning and evening" (if there were such a thing) in heaven, in earth years? You don't know - neither do I.

Actually we do because He told us: "the first day" (or "day one"). If they weren't 24-hour periods, why call them days? The ONLY thing that would do for the original audience would be to confuse them. God is not an author of confusion: If he wanted to convey that they were longer periods of time than day, He would and could have explained that very easily. Yet there is not a single word of ambiguity or mystery given, but a very direct and clear statement that the creation was completed in six DAYS.

Steve Gentry said...

But would you say that at this point in time, based on you following the evidence where you think it leads, and regardless of how you feel about the "evidence", that you do indeed affirm a common ancestor for man and apes, even though this common ancestor has not yet been found?

I will answer that with a cautious, weak "yes". I keep hoping that additional evidence will be uncovered that shows man is completely unique, but I'm not holding my breath.

And, by the way, just because something hasn't been discovered yet, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Steve Gentry said...

There is no evidence for natural selection; ID has made this point quite clear.

Why do you want evolution and the Bible to work together, is my question to you?


I'm not going to argue the evidence for natural selection. There's plenty of discussion at BioLogos for that.

Evolution is mainstream science and ID is not. There's a reason some theories become mainstream and others do not.

Science looks at the natural world and tries to understand it. The Bible says God created. It doesn't tell us the mechanisms and processes. So when science looks for those mechanisms, I try to harmonize the discoveries with the Bible.

I'm not ready to discard scientific discoveries just because it contradicts someones favorite Biblical interpretation.

Steve Gentry said...

Then why do we have a week? What would the connection be from evolutionary development (in a very different order than what Genesis presents) and the current 6 days plus a rest?

I don't doubt that we get our 7 day week from a literal interpretation of the days of creation. I don't have a problem with that. I don't see any evolutionary connection to a 7 day week.

stratagem said...

mikeb:
I'm glad you are off of the "my speculations about the side-implications of Romans 8 as it impacts the pre-Fall world, is the correct one." We both agree that Creation was affected by the Fall, so we are only talking about how it was affected. Seems to me you can't support the level of detail you are getting into about the pre-Fall world, using Romans 8. Maybe bugs didn't die pre-Fall, but if so, it's a speculation on your part because there is nowhere that says that directly or indirectly. That is my primary point in this discussion.
Since you seem to be insisting on having a Recognized Authority OK any Biblical interpretations of Romans 8, then let's go with Spurgeon, who obviously had no issue with the idea that animals lived and died for many eons before the Fall, since he said so.
Personally, I prefer the approach of reading the text and trying to understand what it's saying, though, as opposed to relying on a Recognized Authority.

Steve Gentry said...

Steve Gentry said: "Since God is Spirit, it isn't a far stretch to say that the "breath of life" was spiritual life."

donsands said: "I think it's a far stretch."


There's a better discussion and explanation here.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Steve Gentry said: "And, by the way, just because something hasn't been discovered yet, doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

Very true. But what is usually expressed by that sort of statement is not science, but faith. You may ground it in science's track record, or the trajectory of discovery or some such, but if you believe in it before it is "discovered", it's still faith.

Consider Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." How much assurance some biologists place in what "will someday be discovered"!

And why is it somehow illegitimate for the YECs to turn that around, and say, "well, someday we'll discover evidence for the Flood..."?

mikeb said...

Strategem, please refer me to where Spurgeon took that view on Romans 8? (You're implying a lot from a previous comment on this blog about Spurgeon.) I'm not saying you need an authority to back up your view, but certainly you're widely read on the subject and have looked at all the different views to check your own. We are all sinners you know, and can sometimes make mistakes in interpretation, so it's good to check yourself with people who spend 24/7 studying Scripture (multitude of counselors).

And Romans 8 speaks of all subhuman creation, so no need to chastize that view by saying "bugs died" or carrots were eaten, as if that's a completely crazy idea. It's not speculation on my part. You're simply not connecting Romans 8 with the Fall like Paul is clearly intending. Stay with me here: Romans 8 says subhuman creation was subjected to decay, implying there was a time when there was no decay. Where does decay lead? Death. Where did death come from? Adam's sin(clearly explained through Romans). When did Adam sin? After creation was called "very good" by God. Therefore no death and decay before Adam's sin. This is really not a hard concept to grasp here.

If subhuman creation was subjected to decay at a certain time, surely you agree there was a time when it was not subjected to it, right?

donsands said...

"There's a better discussion and explanation here."

Interesting post, but still seems to be forcing Darwinism into the Bible, like a square peg in a round hole.

Thia statement is an interesting one:
"...you’d finally be able to explain where it is that Cain found his wife (answer: from the other humans walking the earth east of Eden; Genesis 4:16-17)."

I have to admit that I am befuddled where Cain found his wife, and yet she must have been his sister, or half sister, or cousin, if we stick with the way Moses wrote Genesis.

And Stephen, if we leave Adam and Eve, and go on to Noah and his fam, where do you stand upon these Scrptures?

stratagem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stratagem said...

Daryl
I agree with your input on Romans 8 being that God is the One who subjected Creation to futility, it wasn't Man directly.
The question in my mind was whether the death of plants, animals, and bugs was part of that curse, or was simply part of his design for the ecosystem He created. The curse pronounced by God dealt exclusively with difficulties He pronounced upon Mankind as a result of Man's disobedience. The rest of it that people have filled in the blanks on is, in my estimation, speculation and therefore fair game for dispute.
When it comes right down to it, there is even a difference between animals dying and animals killing each other (ref: lion laying down with the lamb). So there is a lot we don't know about the world as it was, pre-Fall, and as it will be, post-Christ's return.
Just so you know, in general I find the Bible to be very very clear, with only two exceptions: the Creation week, and the book of the Revelation. Everyone claims to have it all figured out in regard to these two items, but since few of their interpretations match it tells me that we know a lot less than these teachers would like us to think they know. I know I don't know what they mean very clearly. As far as Creation week, I reject most of what science has to say about the beginning (Big Bang, evolution, etc) as being unsupportable and driven by a desire to cut God out of the picture.

stratagem said...

mikeb:
You are inserting "subhuman" into the text, and "decay" as meaning subhuman life didn't naturally expire the way God set things up originally. I don't accept those premises, which are necessary for your interpretation to require that I accept your conclusion. We won't resolve that difference of opinion.
As far as Spurgeon, go back a read his quotes on life going on for millions of years previous to Man showing up, setting up the world as a suitable habitation for man. That view is incompatible with your interpretation of Romans 8. IOW, your interpretation of Romans 8 is not universally held.
BTW, by making that statement so definitively, Spurgeon was obviously a lot surer about OEC theory than I am. I'm not so sure of OE (or, YE) at all. I am sure the Earth and universe were created by God, though.

mikeb said...

strategem, Still waiting on your reference to Spurgeon's interpretation on Romans 8. You're assuming Spurgeon worked backwards into Romans 8 based on one old earth leaning quote you've read. Maybe he did, but I'd like to see it in writing. In a debate, it's good to back up your statements with proof. The only sermon I could find on this text, Spurgeon actually said "Creation glows with a thousand beauties, even in its present fallen condition...this is not the world which God pronounced to be "very good. "The curse has fallen on it since the fall, and thorns and thistles it bringeth forth, not from its soil alone, but from all that comes of it."
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0788.htm

It appears he did not hold to the thought of subhuman death and decay being a "very good" world. Also, OE's usually say there were always thorns and thistles before the fall. Appears that Spurgeon takes the thorns and thistles as being a result of the Fall.

Ktisis in Romans 8:19-22 is subhuman creation. Check a few Greek lexicons (maybe the Pyro team can comment here). Then compare that to other Greek words for creation. Then put it in context with what Paul is saying.

You're argument is changing. Earlier you said "Creation yearns to be free of being in subjection to sinful Man", implying that you agreed "creation" here meant subhuman creation. Now you are saying I inserted "subhuman" into the text. Which is your view?

Steve Gentry said...

donsands said: And Stephen, if we leave Adam and Eve, and go on to Noah and his fam, where do you stand upon these Scrptures?

This seems a little off topic but I don't have a problem with the account of Noah.

Jugulum said...
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stratagem said...

'"In the 2d verse of the first chapter of Genesis, we read, ‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' We know not how remote the period of the creation of this globe may be-certainly many millions of years before the time of Adam. Our planet has passed through various stages of existence, and different kinds of creatures have lived on its surface, all of which have been fashioned by God. But before that era came, wherein man should be its principal tenant and monarch, the Creator gave up the world to confusion."'
-C.H. Spurgeon, 1855

You can ponder how that squares with your interpretation of Romans 8. You don't have to post that, though, because frankly I'm not all that interested in hearing your same interpretation of Romans 8 for the fifth time. We aren't getting anywhere here.

Jugulum said...
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donsands said...

"This seems a little off topic but I don't have a problem with the account of Noah."

My point is that from these 8 humans, we have all the other humans whoever lived. The billions and billions of people all go back to Noah as our father.

I would have thought Biologos would have a problem with this, since it's not far removed from Adam and Eve really. We have Noah and his wife as our first parents after the flood, and his three sons as well.

I thought it corrolated with Adam and Eve.

Steve Gentry said...

Mark Hansen wrote: Steve Gentry said: "And, by the way, just because something hasn't been discovered yet, doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

Very true. But what is usually expressed by that sort of statement is not science, but faith. You may ground it in science's track record, or the trajectory of discovery or some such, but if you believe in it before it is "discovered", it's still faith.


Perhaps, but all faith is not equal. If I see bear tracks in the woods, I can be reasonably sure there is a bear in there somewhere (even if I can't see him). That may be faith but it's based on solid evidence.

The evidence for a common ancestor is fairly strong. See here and here.

Jugulum said...

Argh. I had a significant typo--leaving out the beginning of a sentence. So I'm reposting:

I have a comment on the earlier discussion of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

Garrett said,
"second law of thermodynamics: this is no problem for evolution since it applies only to closed systems and earth gets plenty of energy from the sun."

Then Escovado replied,
"An open system requires an energy conversion mechanism to direct the energy towards useful work."
and later,
"Sorry, Garrett, the 2nd law is one of the fundamental laws of physics and it is not going away no matter how many magic wands you want to wave."

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics doesn't actually say anything about energy conversion mechanisms. As far as the 2nd Law goes, Garrett's response was both accurate and adequate.

It's not wrong to say that a "mechanism" is required for local entropy to decrease, but it's not particularly meaningful, either. (One such mechanism is a black rock sitting in a pool of water. The sunlight will heat the rock more than the water, so you'll end up with a local increase in entropy.) A "mechanism" is just "a process, technique, or system for achieving a result"--a mechanism is always required, for everything. (In Newton's 1st Law, you need a mechanism to apply a force.)

It's like saying that a person needs a "method" in order to achieve something. It's tautological. (By definition, a method or mechanism is a way to achieve something.)

That doesn't mean that abiogenesis or evolution get a free pass here, intellectually. The rock-in-water is a very simple mechanism, and it's only going to achieve simple results. It's not going to offer an explanation for abiogenesis or evolution. "How would natural processes achieve the required results?" is the right question.

But when you bring up "an energy conversion mechanism to direct the energy towards useful work", you're not talking about a restriction placed by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. And the 2nd Law doesn't tell us about how complex of a mechanism is needed; it doesn't tell us that naturally-occurring mechanisms would be inadequate.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics isn't "going away"; it simply doesn't state the restriction that you're applying.

mikeb said...

SteveGentry, are you saying you have more faith in scientific evidence than faith in Biblical evidence?

We all have faith in something. But it's our underlying presuppositions that cause us to interpret evidence.

Steve Gentry said...

donsands wrote: I would have thought Biologos would have a problem with this, since it's not far removed from Adam and Eve really. We have Noah and his wife as our first parents after the flood, and his three sons as well.

I don't want to become the defacto spokesperson for BioLogos, but here is an article that addresses the Genesis Flood.

Steve Gentry said...

mikeb asked: SteveGentry, are you saying you have more faith in scientific evidence than faith in Biblical evidence?

No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm simply saying that when science uncovers truth it isn't necessary to throw it away because it doesn't line up with our favorite interpretation of Scripture. Truth is truth, no matter where it comes from.

mikeb said...

SteveGentry,

You say "Truth is truth, no matter where it comes from." What are you calling truth? Let's not blur the lines hear. The truth is that genes of different species look similar. Yet, you seem to be implying from these facts that the truth is man and apes have the same ancestor. This does not follow. There are plenty of species that physically look similar, yet their genetic code is nothing of the sort.

The Bible says man was created from the dust of the ground. Dust does not mean the elements found in apes (or a common ancestor as you propose). The Hebrew word here afar is not ambiguous, it clearly means "dry earth, dust, powder, ashes, earth, ground, mortar, rubbish". And you cannot claim that dust contextually here could mean the elements of a common acenstor. If so, it would make Gen. 3:19 state "And to a common ancestor you shall return" instead of what it really says "And to dust you shall return."

Yet you claim science proves man was descended from a common ape-like ancestor. These are two opposing statements. The law of contradiction states that "contradictory statements cannot both at the same time be true". Both cannot be true. So which is it, from the dust or from a common ancestor? If from a common ancestor, you deny the plain truth of the Scriptures.

Daryl said...

Steve,

Perhaps not, but we dare not accept anything that contradicts our understanding of Scripture as truth, unless we first re-examine Scripture and assure ourselves that we are indeed, understanding Scripture right.

What I'm seeing is a tendency to first set aside our understanding of Scripture in the light of scientific "discovery" rather than first setting aside an apparent discovery in the light of Scripture.

The common ancestor bit being a prime example.
There simply is no way to get from Scripture that we are descended from anything but man. And so we must set aside, or reinterpret any data, that suggests a common ancestor.

Sir Aaron said...

If I see bear tracks in the woods, I can be reasonably sure there is a bear in there somewhere (even if I can't see him). That may be faith but it's based on solid evidence.

First, that a bear is in the woods is a conclusion. Sure, it's based on man's understanding and experience which means that under normal circumstances the conclusion is probably the correct one. However, it's still a conclusion which could be wrong. You could test your conclusion 500 times and on the 501st, you could still be wrong, especially if God told you ahead of time that He put the tracks there.

round.tuit said...

Death and disease before sin? I don't think so. Is not the earth itself groaning as a consequence of sin?

I don't think a fella could go wrong with the Word of God as the source of his beliefs and to start his thinking from it. It works for me.

Joshua Cookingham said...
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Joshua Cookingham said...

I think the biggest issue here is one that people keep bringing up, that of interpretation.
Now, as far as I can tell, the evidence for Microevolution is strong, but no creationist disputes that. I'm not learned enough to elaborate on macroevolution, But I do know for a fact that abiogenesis is bunk, mostly because of the enviornment used to determine the results.
The main issue I have here is that Theistic Evolution tries to find an origin story that squares with Scripture and it's version of science, which is...Impossible.
Genesis is a historical narrative, regardless of whether people believe in the story or not. It's written in the exact same style as other books of history(Exodus, etc) and no where does the style indicate that it's intended as an allegorical/poetic/metaphorical creation fable. Kind of funny, the most obvious fact(Genesis is written as history) is the most deflected.

RealityCheck said...

I stopped reading the debate a while back so excuse me if this is now off the mark a bit (or if I’m now talking to myself) but I know at one point there was some discussion about “day” from Gods perspective or mans. Snooping around I ran into this article on the Creation Ministries International website entitled, “Why is CMI so dogmatic on 24-hour creation days?”. The article is a response to a person taking issue with CMI’s 24-hour stance. It starts off with a section entitled, “The days were ‘God’s days’ not ‘man’s day’s”. It then goes on to address many of the things that have been brought up in the last week or so on the different blogs that have addressed this issue. I think it’s convincing but to each there own.

http://creation.com/why-is-cmi-so-dogmatic-on-24-hour-creation-days

stratagem said...

I should probably write a webpage entitled "Why I'm dogmatic on everything else in the Bible, but undecided about 24-hour (or 24-million year) days."

Sir Aaron said...

Or you could just draw a picture of a fence and you standing on it.

RealityCheck said...

“or 24-million year) days."”

Yeah, and you could name it “roundsquares.com”

stratagem said...

Aaron - I agree - that would pretty much sum up my convictions on this "critical" point of theology.