Confronting Our Fears, Part 2: Losing Biblical Authority

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November 13, 2012 Tags: Lives of Faith

Today's entry was written by Mike Beidler. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Confronting Our Fears, Part 2: Losing Biblical Authority

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17, ESV)

Throughout my various conversations with fellow believers, the most-mentioned anxiety over accepting an evolutionary creationist paradigm is the fear of losing the Bible as one’s spiritual anchor and source of authority—the texts that give the global Christian community its doctrinal and philosophical distinctiveness. Growing up in the Baptist tradition and later becoming a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, the inerrancy of “God-breathed”1 Scripture and its identity as the fount of all truth was paramount in defining my life as a Christian believer. Of course, while some would debate the veracity of such a doctrine as it pertains to this discussion, I believe that neither inerrancy nor authority is at issue when it comes to Genesis’ opening chapter. The real issue is hermeneutics—how we read the authoritative texts.

John Wesley (1703-1791), the eighteenth-century Anglican cleric and theologian who founded the Methodist movement in partnership with his brother Charles, held to a “literal” method of interpretation:

 

The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly.2

 

A modern adaptation of Wesley’s hermeneutic states, “If the literal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense lest you come up with nonsense.” But though this is a commonly-used interpretative method in evangelical Christian churches today, I have found that it unnecessarily lends itself to the fear of losing biblical authority. This tendency toward fear is especially acute when the individual doing the interpreting does not have at his or her fingertips the full scope of knowledge required to allow the biblical text to speak for itself—or rather, to allow God to speak through ancient genres with which the interpreter isn’t naturally familiar.

I readily admit that the “literal sense” of Genesis 1—as dictated by our own culture that focuses on material origins and unwittingly holds Genesis 1 hostage to the scientific method—does in fact rule out cosmological and biological evolution as God’s creative methods. But I would also ask the question of whether a “literary sense” of Genesis 1 allows for evolution. To read evolution into Scripture (eisegesis) or out of Scripture (exegesis) would be dishonest, especially considering that the author (or final redactor) of Genesis was not privy to modern scientific discoveries. I would also argue that a “literal” reading of Genesis 1, framed by our own modern paradigm, is unfaithful to the original intent of the author, and that we should take special care to read Genesis 1 “literarily” through the eyes of the ancient Hebrews, understanding what was (and wasn’t) important to them. Dr. Conrad Hyers writes:

This is the interpretive issue, and it cannot be settled by dogmatic assertions, threats about creeping secularism, or attempts to associate views with skepticism . . . . Nor can the issue be settled by marshaling scientific evidence for or against either evolution or six-day creation, since it would first need to be demonstrated that the Genesis accounts intended to offer scientific and historical statements. Otherwise the whole discussion is based on the wrong premises. As such it is scientific creationism itself which compromises the religious meaning of Genesis and is an accommodation to scientific language and method.3

Since Genesis was written in the Hebrew language and most of us can’t read Hebrew, we take for granted the necessity of translating from an ancient language into another in which we are fluent. Yet, we often forget that, because we are separated by at least 2,500 years from the culture that produced Genesis, we also need the culture “translated” for us as well.4

Returning to the text

Adopting Wesley’s hermeneutic strongly lends itself to ruling out both old-earth creationism and theistic evolution, but as a firm believer that “all truth is God’s truth,” I felt that I was missing something. Because I believed (and still do) that the six days of creation were six, successive, 24-hour periods (“there was evening and there was morning—the nth day”), I struggled mightily to understand Genesis 1 in light of what I had been learning about the vast age of the cosmos as determined by the best scientific minds, both secular and Christian.5 If the age of the cosmos truly was as old as the scientific establishment has led us to believe, I thought that digging deeper into the culture of the ancient Near East could help me reconcile the two opposing forces of scientific observation and biblical testimony.

It was at this time that I discovered the works of John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. His commentary on Genesis6 and his book on the conceptual world of the Hebrew Scriptures7 propelled me toward a realization that the focus of Genesis 1 was much less on the material origin of the cosmos and much more on the cosmos’ purpose as a functional and purposeful dwelling place for God—a cosmic temple, if you will. Furthermore, his reading actually accentuated mankind’s role as representative “image-bearers” of God, as wielders of his authority on Earth. I learned that the symbolism and literary structure of Genesis 1, including the 7-day structure of the creation week, had its roots in an ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cognitive environment that held the concepts of function and purpose to be more important than (but not entirely exclusive of) material origins, the latter of which currently guides our modern, scientific way of thinking. It even reconciled the seemingly contradictory accounts of a weeklong series of creative acts and a 14.6-billion-year-old universe.

With these interpretive tools in hand, I was able to successfully assuage my fear of losing biblical authority insofar as Genesis 1 was concerned, and my openness to evolutionary theory came quite naturally. If the preponderance of scientific evidence adequately explained the existence of all biological organisms, past and present, by evolutionary means, I could accept mainstream evolutionary theory8 while maintaining the theological authority of the Bible’s opening chapter. As long as I took pains to bridge the vast cultural gap when attempting to determine the theological message of the text—which God accommodated for the Hebrew culture and chose to express in a culturally bound literary form—I wouldn’t need to fear abandoning the Bible as a source of theological truth and spiritual authority. As long as I aimed to let the Bible to speak for itself, using the best biblical scholarship available to determine who wrote the various books of the Bible, to whom they were written, and when they were written, I could have confidence that the end result would be a more faithful pronouncement of what the Bible is actually telling us, millennia later, through ancient voices.

Of course, things are never that easy when it comes to biblical authority. The functional ontology and temple imagery of Genesis 1, as well as its parallels with other ANE creation myths and temple dedication texts, carry over into the next two chapters of Genesis, which feature the creation of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin and death into the world of mankind. What was I to do with the historicity of Adam and Eve?

If the Hebrew Scriptures stood alone as a source of spiritual authority in my life as a Christian, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. I could accept a mythological Adam and Eve within the framework of an etiological account9 of human origins, but there is this second corpus of literature held sacred by Christians commonly known as the New Testament. As a Christian, I now had an issue with Paul and his clear treatment of Adam as a real person rooted in human history. If that wasn’t enough, I was also confronted by the salvific role of Jesus himself. How could an historical, literal Jesus solve the very real problem of sin that resulted from the rebellious act of a mythical, literary Adam? I’ll address those issues next time, when we look at the second fear many evangelical Christians have about considering evolutionary creation: the fear of losing our Savior.

Notes

1. The literal meaning of the Greek word θεόπνευστος (theopneustos).
2. John Wesley, The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley (London: Epworth Press, 1931), vol. III, 129.
3. Conrad Hyers, The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984), 26; emphasis in the original.
4. John H. Walton, interview. From the Dust: Conversations in Creation. Blu-Ray Disc. Directed by Ryan Petty. Mountain View, CA: Highway Media and The BioLogos Foundation, 2012.
5. For a secular treatment, see G. Brent Dalrymple, The Age of the Earth (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994); for evangelical Christian treatments, see Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley, The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth (Grand Rapids: IVP Academic, 2008); Howard J. Van Till, The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us about the Creation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986); Howard J. Van Till, ed., Portraits of Creation: Biblical and Scientific Perspectives on the World’s Formation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990).
6. John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).
7. John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006). See also John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009); John H. Walton, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011); Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1987); Gordon J. Glover, Beyond the Firmament: Understanding Science and the Theology of Creation (Chesapeake, VA: Watertree Press, LLC, 2007).
8. See Daniel J. Fairbanks, Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007) and Keith B. Miller, ed., Perspectives on an Evolving Creation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003).
9. “Etiology,” Wikipedia, accessed October 08, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiology.


A commander in the U.S. Navy, Mike holds an MS in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego, a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and an AA in Persian-Farsi from the U.S. Army’s Defense Language Institute. Mike is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). He currently resides in the Washington, D.C., metro area where he works as a Middle East politico-military adviser, runs the popular blog “Rethinking the αlpha and Ωmega,” and helps administer the Facebook group Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection.

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wesseldawn - #74373

November 13th 2012

The argument that fear is any kind of a basis for belief is really a statement of unbelief!

It’s difficult to take someone seriously when one minute they’re stating the inerrancy of the scriptures and the necessity for a literal interpretation and next expounding the necessity for a cultural interpretation.

It must get tiring jumping so many hurdles to try and make the Bible fit your ever-changing philosophy; and this article is by no means unusual in this forum!

God would not make any mistakes, he would not need to change because He (and by virtue of that anything that he would inspire) would be perfect. His words would be as applicable today as they were to peole living in past generations…

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Mike Beidler - #74375

November 13th 2012

Wesseldawn,

Mark 9:24b (ESV):  “I believe; help my unbelief!”

I’m truly sorry that you don’t take seriously my claim that my faith is stronger and more vibrant than when I was a young-earth creationist, or that faith can exist alongside a certain measure of uncertainty.

YOU: ... one minute [you]’re stating the inerrancy of the scriptures and the necessity for a literal interpretation and next expounding the necessity for a cultural interpretation.

I’m unsure of where you believe I’ve argued that the Scriptures are inerrant.  The doctrine of inerrancy—which is a falsifiable doctrine—is quite different from the doctrine of inspiration and the stance that the Scriptures are theologically infallible and authoritative for the believer in matters of faith and practice.  As for interpreting the Scriptures through a cultural lens, I think it’s an absolute necessity, in many places in the Bible, for a proper understanding of what the original authors were attempting to communicate.

YOU:  His words would be as applicable today as they were to peole [sic] living in past generations…

Read 1 Cor 7:29.  Are you married?  If so, do you act like it? 

Contrary to your claims that I’m trying to make the Bible fit my “ever-changing philosophy,” I am actually desirious of allowing the Bible to speak for itself.  I respect, cherish, and hold sacred the Scriptures more than you know.

In closing, I would ask you to consider this:  Does a pastor or a layman have to be inerrant in order for their preaching or witnessing to effectively deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Can they still make mistakes and still be used by the Holy Spirit to regenerate the unbelieving mind so as to produce faith in the life of a human being?  You are selling God and the Bible short, my friend. 

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Mike Beidler - #74376

November 13th 2012

Wesseldawn,

I also want to point out this BioLogos essay on biblical interpretation.  Perhaps you could point out the points with which you take issue.

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wesseldawn - #74487

November 18th 2012

I find this Christian double-talk the most frustrating…you don’t believe the scriptures are inerrant but you do believe that they are inspired - inerrant and inspired mean the same thing. No human being is inerrant - but God’s words most certainly are. You’re trying to make the Bible “fit” your ideas and human circumstances, which is contrary to God’s unchanging nature.

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Mike Beidler - #74497

November 18th 2012

Wesseldawn,

inerrant and inspired mean the same thing

How so?  Do you have some sort of biblical reference to support this?  Certain Early Church Fathers?  A particular creed or ecumenical council?

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wesseldawn - #74573

November 20th 2012

inerrant means “without error”

- if God inspired something and God is perfect, it stands to reason that whatever He wrote must be also!

Mike, I find you so strange; that you would consider following something that you weren’t one hundred percent certain is correct! How can you defend something that you’re so unsure of?

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Mike Beidler - #74585

November 20th 2012

if God inspired something and God is perfect, it stands to reason that whatever He wrote must be also!

The only other thing in the Bible into which God is said to have breathed is Adam.  Clearly, he was not perfect.  Innocent, yes.  Perfect, no.

What linguistic evidence do you have that “inspired,” as used in 2 Tim 3:16, means “inerrant”?

How can you defend something that you’re so unsure of?

What is it that you think I’m unsure of?

I find you so strange; that you would consider following something that you weren’t one hundred percent certain is correct

Do you believe the architects who designed your house were infallible?  Do you trust implicitly the engineers who designed your car or designed the bridge over which you’re driving your car to your house designed by fallible construction workers?

Do you really think we require 100% certainty in something in order to follow it?  Do you really possess no doubts whatsoever in your life?  Is it that you no longer have faith but pure certainty?

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Keith Elias - #74896

December 1st 2012

Hi wesseldawn;

I find your position as a Christian very convincing:

I find this Christian double-talk the most frustrating…you don’t believe the scriptures are inerrant but you do believe that they are inspired - inerrant and inspired mean the same thing. No human being is inerrant - but God’s words most certainly are. You’re trying to make the Bible “fit” your ideas and human circumstances, which is contrary to God’s unchanging nature.

 

However, I have a problem.  There are places where scripture literal read contains false statements.  The most famous lead the Catholic Church to condemn the statements of Galileo and others asserting that the sun did not orbit the earth.  The Church relied on statements that the earth was fixed and unmoving for example:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms 93.1&versi>

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes 1:5&versi>

I know literalists who believe the sun orbits the earth, however, I assume you accept the science on this.  If so how do you maintain biblical innerrancy and accept such false statements?

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Laurie Ann - #74379

November 13th 2012

Wesseldawn,

I think whenever we are faced with shifting some of our views that have been part of the foundation of our beliefs we can be confronted with fear.  It’s not easy.  Part of the reason we have so many people resisting evolutionary creationism is because of that fear.  That’s part of the reason there was so much resistence to Galileo in his day.  We don’t want to have to think that any of our views regarding scripture may be incorrect because it can begin to shake our faith.

Also, whenever we read ancient texts - cultural interpretation is critical.  People from different eras and cultures have some of their own ways of communicating that may not be understood by future generations if cultural interpretation is not taken into consideration. 

I appreciate people like Mike and others who are willing to share their stories.  It gives hope and clarity to those of us who are still on the journey of moving away from YEC and toward evolutionary creationism. 

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wesseldawn - #74574

November 20th 2012

Laurie Ann,

 

I have no problem with evolution (Adam was of the dust/ground/primordial soup), I have a problem with people thinking that evolution (the strong survive) was God’s idea.

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Mike Beidler - #74586

November 20th 2012

As Creator, God could use any method He pleased in order to create.  Thankfully, our God-given minds are beginning to understand with greater clarity the methods by which He created.

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Steve Douglas - #74382

November 13th 2012

Wesseldawn, allow me to suggest that faith is not “belief without fear or doubt.” In fact, it is those who force themselves to come to grips with the extremely tentative nature of our beliefs, ideals, and expectations who best understand the Christian hope and, as a result, faith. 

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Leigh Copeland - #74387

November 14th 2012

Wessledawn,
//one minute they’re stating the inerrancy of the scriptures and the necessity for a literal interpretation and next expounding the necessity for a cultural interpretation.//

Perhaps it sounds like Mike has changed from “one minute” to the “next” because you missed or reject what I think is Mike’s conviction that a literal reading is and must be a cultural reading. 

 

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Chip - #74392

November 14th 2012

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the piece.  I commend your attempts to interpret Genesis in light of language, culture and history.  

While the topic is interesting, I’d say that the determination of intent is not nearly as straightforward as you have made it out to be.  Consider how easy it is for any of us to misinterpret the intent of a spouse or close friend. Such often happens (to me at least—more often than I’d like…) when we share the same language, culture and history; have a deep personal interest in what is being communicated; and can revisit communication (whatever the medium) if we want to try to clarify something.

In this case, you rightly identify the source of the text in question as 2500+ years and half a world removed from us, and further suggest that the author may not have been an author at all, but a redactor. 

Given this (assuming you correctly read my intent… , what I’m not saying is that we are compelled to read Genesis as a literal 6 days (not my view) and that culture and history doesn’t come into the picture.  I am saying that all of us should be skeptical of claims of gnostic-like insight into an ancient writer’s intended meaning (particularly when such is made without any reference to the text in question), as this makes for a pretty subjective theological foundation. 

Salaam,

-cp

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Mike Beidler - #74400

November 14th 2012

Chip,

Thanks for your comments.

I am saying that all of us should be skeptical of claims of gnostic-like insight into an ancient writer’s intended meaning (particularly when such is made without any reference to the text in question), as this makes for a pretty subjective theological foundation.

I agree that we cannot guarantee infallible assuredness of an ancient author’s intended meaning (which can certainly be different from the redactor’s intended meaning).  But that is not to say that we can’t, through intensive study of the ancient cognitive environment in which a document was written, make fairly confident assumptions about how to read a particular text.

That being said, I believe reading Genesis 1 from a modern, scientific perspective removes the reader a considerable distance from the rich theological truth and beauty inherent in an ancient Near Eastern reading of the text.  Would you agree?

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Joriss - #74404

November 14th 2012

Mike,

“That being said, I believe reading Genesis 1 from a modern, scientific perspective removes the reader a considerable distance from the rich theological truth and beauty inherent in an ancient Near Eastern reading of the text.  Would you agree?”

Why would a literal reading of Genesis 1 prevent a reader to enjoy the rich theological truth and beauty inherent in an ANE reading of the text? Can you give an example of something in Genesis 1 that is hidden for the eyes of them that take that chapter literally?

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Mike Beidler - #74413

November 14th 2012

Joriss,

Excellent, excellent questions!  I don’t have time this evening to answer them, but you can be sure I’ll revist your post tomorrow.  I’ve got some ideas in mind to help illustrate. 

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Mike Beidler - #74474

November 17th 2012

Joriss,

My apologies for not responding yet.  Lack of sleep on Thursday and lack of an available computer on Friday (the kids are forcing me to buy a laptop!) have forced me push my answer to the right.  I’ll do my best to get back to this evening.

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Mike Beidler - #74475

November 17th 2012

As you can see, my lack of sleep resulted in two typos above.  Argh.

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Joriss - #74480

November 17th 2012

Mike,
Don’t worry and don’t hurry, just take your time.
And have a good night’s rest!
Yes, chlidren have their wishes
Feel free to answer after the weekend or in the course of next week.
Have a good quiet weekend with much blessed sleep!

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Mike Beidler - #74484

November 17th 2012

Thanks for your patience, Joriss!

Why would a literal reading of Genesis 1 prevent a reader to enjoy the rich theological truth and beauty inherent in an ANE reading of the text? Can you give an example of something in Genesis 1 that is hidden for the eyes of them that take that chapter literally?

The difference between a woodenly literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and an ANE interpretation is brought into full focus if you read, in parallel, Henry Morris’ and John Walton’s respective commentaries on Genesis.  They are vast worlds apart in how they approach the text and how they exegete the text. Morris’ reading always approaches the text from his own cognitive environment (and unwittingly submitting the text to the altar of science as he understands it), showing an unnecessary preoccupation with re-reading the text (or reinterpreting the scientific data, in some cases) to explain what kind of light was created on Day One, and explain away why the sun wasn’t created until Day Four.  Walton’s approach, by contrast, draws out the symbolism and imagery inherent in the ANE cognitive environment, leading the modern reader to a treasure trove of theologically rich material.  For me, it was like moving from a two-dimensional stick figure drawing to a three-dimensional movie in 7.1 Surround Sound.

The literary structure of the 7-day creation period lends itself, from an ANE perspective, to the concept that the cosmos itself is God’s temple, in which he resides and from which reigns.  (Genesis 2 also lends strongly to the idea that the Garden of Eden served as a microcosm of the cosmic temple where mankind could meet with God face-to-face; cf. Ezekiel 40ff as well as John 7:38, in which John pushes the microcosmic temple to its most intimate level.)  Certainly, we see hints of the “cosmic temple” concept here and there throughout the OT (cf. Is 66:1a), but in Genesis 1 is this concept full-blown right out of the gate!  A woodenly literal reading, without access to theologico-literary parallels from Israel’s contemporary neighbors, misses this concept outright.  As well, the list of things created in Days 1-6 in Morris’ eyes are just that: a list, and one with no sensitivity to the ancient concepts of “structure creation” and “structure filling,” “functions” and “functionaries,” etc.

As another example, reading the text from an ANE perspective also aligns the account with how ANE cultures envisioned the extent and structure of the cosmos.  Check out the following papers and diagrams:

http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/godawa_scholarly_paper_2.pdf
http://www.internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/genesis_cosmology.jpg
http://rdtwot.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/universe.png

In the ANE cognitive environment, the “heavens” of Genesis 1:1 is something that existed physically and geographically within the ancient, three-tiered cosmology Israel shared with the surrounding nations (heavens, earth, and the underworld).  What we modern Christians have done, quite unconsciously because our reading of certain passages of Scripture have been heavily influenced by our modern heliocentric cosmology, is re-envision heaven as some other-dimensional place.  Recognizing this interpretive shift, we need to learn to shift our interpretation back to a hermeneutic more faithful to the text.  Through this process, the modern reader can see the principle of accommodation at work:  God frames His message using paradigms that make sense to the original audience; it is up to us to “decode” that original cognitive environment in order to draw out what Denis Lamoureux calls “infallible Messages of Faith” from the culturally-bound means by which those messages were transmitted and apply them to our situation in the 21st century.  Instead of rejecting ANE cosmology, we find ourselves respecting their paradigm.  And it is only through respecting ancient paradigms that we begin to understand better how they viewed themselves in respect to God’s cosmos: as “priests” in God’s cosmic temple, a concept which is echoed in the creation of the wilderness Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple, and becomes more fully fleshed out (no pun intended) in the Incarnation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us.

 

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Joriss - #74486

November 18th 2012

Thank you, Mike, for your response. I intend to seriously think about your explanations and take time to read more about these issues. Thanks.

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Ronnie - #74409

November 14th 2012

Cmdr. Beidler:

You stated:
“To read evolution into Scripture (eisegesis) or out of Scripture (exegesis) would be dishonest, especially considering that the author (or final redactor) of Genesis was not privy to modern scientific discoveries.”

You are correct in saying evolution cannot be read into or taken out of scripture, however, no matter who actually penned Genesis, God himself is the author (2 Timothy 3:16). As creator, He was very privy to what modern scientific discoveries would be made, and did not need to tailor His Word to accomodate a specific generation. This is where I think problems arise, by interpreting the clear Word of God in light of cultural understanding. The opposite should be the case.

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Mike Beidler - #74412

November 14th 2012

Ronnie,

Are you familiar with the principle of accomodation?

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Ronnie - #74431

November 15th 2012

I wasn’t, until you mentioned it. After a quick check, I can see this is what you mean by Genesis being written for the people of that time.

I have another point of view. From the standpoint of evolution, human beings today would be considered at the pinnacle of their physical and intellectual development. By comparison, humans at the time Genesis was written were either not as smart and/or had not developed a base of knowledge like we have today. Therefore, God gave them the book of Genesis and the Old Testament using language they could understand.

The creation viewpoint, however, is that Adam and Eve were the only two people, save for Jesus himself, who have ever lived in a sinless state, even if it only lasted a short time. They would have been the pinnacle of Gods creation, and since their sin brought disease, decay and death into the world, mankind has been on a slow decline. Adam, Eve and their descendants would have possessed great intellect and would certainly have understood the evolutionary scenario if indeed thats what God had used as His method of creation.

Furthermore, if God knew the ancient people would not have understood the evolutionary tale (if it were indeed true), He could have easily left the door open for a later, more scientifically advanced people to easily harmonize Genesis with evolution, all that would be needed is to not mention the 6 days or the genealogies.

I will say again, the Genesis account of creation is written in plain, straightforward terms which is supported by the whole of scripture.

 

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bren - #74433

November 15th 2012

 

Mike, this is meant to be a response to Ronnie below (having some trouble with some of the “reply to this comment” links, as I did for your response to me in your last article; I’m giving up!)

Ronnie,

(1) Evolutionary theory states that men were significantly dumber 3500 years ago?  I’d be very curious to know where you got that idea as it doesn’t seem to fit any understanding of the theory or even any additional hypothesis that I’ve ever encountered, but I’m open to correction.  As for not having the same base of knowledge, I would usually take that for granted (subscriptions to Nature or Science were reportedly quite low 4000 years ago (-;).

(2) I’m also curious about where the Bible specifies that we are in fact less intelligent today (or for that matter, less genetically “perfect”) than a few thousand years ago.  I’ve never been clear on where this idea comes from, it seems a major stretch from anything that the Bible says, but maybe you can point me to a passage that I failed to understand previously.

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Ronnie - #74435

November 15th 2012

I was making an inference from evolutionary theory itself, if at some point in time, humans “evolved” or “arose” from their ape-like ancestors, don’t you agree that humans are much smarter than apes? Taking that a little further, if evolution is in fact true, then we humans today should be smarter, more intelligent, more evolved than the first humans who descended (...ascended?) from apes however many years ago.

The reason I feel we today may not be as intelligent as was Adam is due to the effects of sin on our minds and bodies through the centuries. Again, this is what I infer from my bible study and there is no verse I can point to to verify this. This difference in intelligence may be slight, who knows, as there is no way to quantify it, its just my belief.

The point I was making is that if the writer of Genesis altered what God wanted to say (changing billions of years of evolutionary history to 6-day special creation) so the people of that time could understand the meaning of what He (God) wanted to say, then this just doesn’t make any sense. In fact its worse, it makes God out to be incapable of speaking truthfully, something His word says is impossible.

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bren - #74437

November 15th 2012

Ronnie,

I’m sorry, but to put it bluntly, that is not an inference from evolutionary theory at all.  I’m sure it is an inference from some kind of premise, but that premise is not widely recognized or for that matter, recognizable.  I agree that humans are smarter than apes.  I agree that they evolved from ape-like ancestors (I’ll leave “arose” to your better judgement).  But it doesn’t at all follow that our cognative abilities have been enhanced in the last 4000 years.  Perhaps there were strong selection pressures for mental capacity within that time frame, perhaps not; either way, it has precious little to do with our relationship to apes and there was precious little time for any selection pressures that may have existed to make much of a difference (Aristotle, Euclid and Archimedes lived at a similar temporal distance to us and we aren’t exactly teaching them to preschool classes!).

Its really the second point that makes me curious.  I simply don’t understand how we can make such efforts to take the Bible “literally”, adding nothing to it and taking nothing away from it as Deut 13 puts it, all the while reading something like a decrease in intelligence and genetic integrity due to sin into it’s pages.  It not only does not say such things, it doesn’t even make vague inferences in that direction.  Yet it is spoken with such confidence in so many circles!  I genuinly would like to understand where this comes from.  Is there a passage that can be understood in such a way, or a theological argument that fortifies this confidence?  I would be interested in any references if you have some..

For the last bit, I think the point of the main argument is that the target audience for Genesis was a few thousand years ago and their interest in such texts was far less materialistic and scientific than our own with numbers (like 7), patterns and symbolism holding far greater and deeper significance to them (for us for example, 7 is a number to look for in our grocery store receipts and phone books, for them it signified perfection and completeness).  We, just like every generation read our own concerns and emphases into the text, which means that it is read differently by each generation.  The task is then to try to understand it from the perspective of the target audience; difficult, but potentially very rewarding!

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Ronnie - #74449

November 16th 2012

bren:

Concerning your first paragraph, in evolutionary theory, early man and the apes they evolved from had much smaller brain capacities than modern humans, and though there may be no direct relationship, its this measure of brain capacity that scientists use to determine intellectual capacity, so I will disagree with you and say there is a strong inference (in evolutionary terms) that modern humans have more intellectual capacity than their early anscestors.

In your second paragraph, I mentioned in my reply above that it is only my belief. I do think that the effects of the curse, placed on all of creation after Adam and Eve sinned, has had a degenerative effect on all of us.

In your last paragraph, I would say that WE are the target audience of Genesis. It is not a scientific but a historical account of the creation event. God numbered the days and also defined the days (evening and morning), and tied the creation week with the fourth commandment to work for 6 days and rest for one. If God said He created all things in 6 days, I have faith that it is true. This for me isn’t potentially, but is very rewarding and awe inspiring!

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bren - #74454

November 16th 2012

Ronnie,

Interestingly, every time I state that evolutionary theory has little to say about our human ancestors from a few thousand years ago, you go back to discussing our ape-progenitors from a few million years ago.  Is it just me or is “one these things not like the other” to quote sesame street?  Feel free to discuss cultural evolution with all of its interesting Lamarkian characteristics within that time-frame, but any other kind of evolution?  Heck, we don’t even know if there was any sporadic, let alone sustained selection bias for mental improvement within that time frame and according to the theory that you are discussing this would mean that there should be no noticeable change unless genetic drift happens to head in that direction (completely by accident of course!).  Have smarter people really and generally had many more kids for the last few thousand years.  Arguably not.  Was our skull size or shape significantly different from those individuals 4000 years ago.  Here we don’t need to speculate; the answer is no (though we are somewhat taller for what it’s worth, but you can probably thank better eating habits and health care!).  Again, I think you may be mistaking evolutionary theory for something very different; how could this possibly be an inference from the theory based on what is said above?

As for the second point, thanks for clarifying that this is just an opinion and is not biblical, I appreciate your candor.  This argument is nevertheless used widely in creationist literature as being an obvious biblical inference and thus, a scientific building block, and while I don’t ask you to defend these writers and speakers, I would suggest that it should be treated in all cases for what it is; a personal opinion with no demonstrable basis in science or in scripture.  As I said, I was asking for references more because I wish to make sense of where this idea comes from.

End of the day, I find it hard to believe that Genesis is specifically addressed to us, with our particular perspective on what constitutes Science or history, just as I would find it hard to believe that the target audience was some group with a Hegelian or Marxist or Victorian progressivist view of history, or a Baconian view of Science.  History for us involves an arguably far more materialist, anti-progressivist, methodologically scientific and causally closed perspective than it would have before the 20th century, and it so happens, for a variety of reasons, good and bad, that these are just some of our modern biases, affecting how we handle such ancient texts.

If it is true, on the other hand, that a symbolism-rich genre and the desire to emphasize certain attributes of God as seen through his relationship to the creation are the key, theologically-driven interests of the writer of Genesis, while being couched in an understandably ancient cosmological framework (again, no journal subscriptions back then and certainly no reason to question to local “scientific” paradigm!), then the texts make sense in context, scientific or historical conclusions need not be strictly inferred, the God-glorifying purpose is successful for all people of all times and we cannot be accused of crude anachronism.  I don’t expect you to leap at this option, but it sounds better to me than assuming that all things should be viewed from the perspective of our modern “pinnacle”, and that God necessarily ensured that ancient texts were written from this superior viewpoint with particular modern genre distinctions in mind.

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Seenoevo - #74410

November 14th 2012

“… I believed (and still do) that the six days of creation were six, successive, 24-hour periods…”

“my openness to evolutionary theory came quite naturally… I could accept mainstream evolutionary theory”

How does one believe both in evolution and that the six days of creation were six, successive, 24-hour periods?

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Mike Beidler - #74411

November 14th 2012

Seenoevo,

I quote myself:

I learned that the symbolism and literary structure of Genesis 1, including the 7-day structure of the creation week, had its roots in an ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cognitive environment that held the concepts of function and purpose to be more important than (but not entirely exclusive of) material origins, the latter of which currently guides our modern, scientific way of thinking. It even reconciled the seemingly contradictory accounts of a weeklong series of creative acts and a 14.6-billion-year-old universe.

If you’re looking to Genesis 1 for a scientific account of the creation of the cosmos, you’re looking in the wrong place.  Genesis 1 doesn’t, and wasn’t meant to, provide such an account.  To the Hebrews, who lived in an ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cognitive environment, the processes resulting in the creation of material things weren’t as important to them as they are to us.  They were more concerned with the function and purpose of those material things.  Our modern, 21st-century cognitive environment doesn’t naturally allow for such ways of thinking.  It requires a bit of practice putting yourself in ancient shoes.  The Hebrews viewed the cosmos as God’s temple (cf. Is 66:1-2a; Acts 7:48-50; Ps 104:2-4), and its creation is couched in temple-building terms that are not meant to be taken literally, but rather symbolically.  The structure of the 7-day creation week meant so much more to the Hebrews than the dry, calendar week of Western civilization.

Genesis 1’s “creation language” cannot easily be separated from its original ANE literary context.  Because Genesis 1 was not produced in a literary contextual vacuum, but rather produced within an ANE cultural milieu of which ancient Israel was an integral part, the Bible’s use of creation language in Genesis 1 is couched naturally in “temple” terms.  As both John Walton and Peter Enns argue, the author(s) of Genesis 1 drew his/their literary inspiration from a number of other chronologically earlier texts produced by its ANE neighbors, such as Sumeria, Ugarit, and Egypt.  Some of these texts describe temple dedications or temple construction and share Genesis 1’s seven-day structure.  Just as Genesis 1 describes YHWH fashioning the cosmos from the chaos over the course of a seven-day period, these aforementioned non-Hebrew texts describe either the dedication of a temple to its god over a seven-day period or the construction of a temple over the course of a seven-day period. (Obviously, no significantly large temple complex could be built over the course of a literal seven-day period; rather the “holy” number associated with the temple’s construction gives the period religious significance.)

Further parallels are also seen in how the seven-day periods are divided.  During the first three days of this seven-day period (cf. Days 1-3 of Gen 1:3-13), the outer structure of the temple itself is created.  In the specific case of Genesis 1, Walton points out that time, weather, and agriculture – all extremely important to agrarian societies – serve as the foundation by which society is ordered.  Without rulers for these various domains, however, the domains are not yet fully functional.  Thus, a second three-day period follows in order to fully tame the chaos out of which God is ordering the cosmos.  In this second period (cf. Days 4-6 of Gen 1:14-25) instruments and utensils for use within the temple are created.  Day 6 (cf. Gen 1:26-31) culminates in the dedication/creation of a priestly caste, identified in Genesis 1 as divine image-bearing humanity.

We moderns, on the other hand, live in an entirely different cognitive environment.  We speak and think in a different language, that of material science.  We ask material questions, and science provides (to the best of its ability) material answers.  The ancient Hebrews asked not “what?” but “who?” and “why?”  Their creation account reflects those concerns.  When you expect material answers from a text that actually doesn’t address those concerns, a misreading of the text will occur.

I can now, after much practice, move back and forth between cultural paradigms.  I no longer have to settle for being cognitively dissonant, and I feel quite comfortable accepting the evidence for evolution at the same time I appreciate the theological relevance of Genesis 1.

I highly recommend the books listed in footnotes #6-7 in the actual blog post.  If you give those a shot, I think you’ll come to appreciate the angle from which I now view Genesis 1.

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Dunemeister - #74418

November 15th 2012

The bible doesn’t have authority. The Church does. Why does anyone consider these 66 books as scripture but not, say, the Gospel of Barnabas? How did the four gospels we know make it into the canon, but the 35 other gospels extant in the fourth century didn’t? Simple. The church made some decisions. Based on what? Based on the fact that these writings affirm what the Church had always believed since the beginning, and the others don’t.

It’s because we have an authoritative Church that we have an authoritative scripture. It’s because evangelicals so often get this backward that we have issues with interpretation.

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Dunemeister - #74419

November 15th 2012

To put this a bit less starkly, I should have said that scripture does have authority, but that its authority is derived from the Church. The Church, as the Body of Christ, gets her authority from Christ, her Head.

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Mike Beidler - #74423

November 15th 2012

Dunemeister,

Perhaps you could elaborate on how the authority of the Church bears on the question of a young-earth, evolution, and hermeneutics ...

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Dunemeister - #74430

November 15th 2012

Sure. When we are doing exegesis or determining the range of meanings of a text, the question ought not to be, what sense I, as an individual, make of this text. Nor should it be what sense my favourite, self-selected theologians make of this text. Rather, it should be what sense the Church has made of it.

This information is found in the Patristic writings (those penned by people recognized for their sanctity and perspicacity), the creeds and canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and in Holy Tradition, all of which have equal authority to Scripture (as all three are the fruit of Spirit in the Church guiding her into all truth as Christ promised). Of course, for most evangelicals, the Patristic writings and Councils are a bit take-it-or-leave-it, and Holy Tradition is a contradiction in terms. As a result, evangelicalism displays, not a diverse unity, but a blooming, buzzing confusion and a bewildering profusion of theologies and praxis (but we all hold to a “high” view of scripture(!)).

It would be illuminating to review all the ante-Nicene Fathers, for instance, for their handling of Scripture generally and Genesis in particular. How do they exegete various passages? What principles do they follow? Are they bothered overmuch about interpreting Genesis in such a way that a “plain” reading is vindicated? Or do they show more flexibility? Is the message on the surface or is it lurking beneath the surface?

Such an exercise would demonstrate not only how the authority of the Church bears on theological questions but on how we are to live. It’s quite radical.

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Mike Beidler - #74472

November 17th 2012

Dunemeister,

Firstly, I have to ask whether you’re a Frank Herbert fan.  If so, I salute you. 

When we are doing exegesis or determining the range of meanings of a text, the question ought not to be, what sense I, as an individual, make of this text. Nor should it be what sense my favourite, self-selected theologians make of this text. Rather, it should be what sense the Church has made of it.

I agree with you in part.  In my particular case, I am not attempting to make sense of the text “on my own.”  I am relying on those who are experts in the field.  And I am very careful to ensure that they are indeed recognized experts and not uneducated, self-proclaimed experts.  That being said, I’m looking at my 38-volume Early Church Fathers collection, and I cannot even begin to tell you how diverse the early Church fathers were, even when it came to understanding Genesis.  I’m afraid that we cannot simply rely on them to bring us to a proper understanding of what Genesis 1 is saying, especially considering that they did not have the same access to other forms of ancient Near Eastern literature as we do in order to make a proper literary comparison.  We are, as a matter of fact, better suited than they were, even though they were closer to the time of composition than we are.  (Check out this fascinating compilation of Early Church Fathers’ views on geocentrism.)

This information is found in the Patristic writings (those penned by people recognized for their sanctity and perspicacity), the creeds and canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and in Holy Tradition, all of which have equal authority to Scripture (as all three are the fruit of Spirit in the Church guiding her into all truth as Christ promised).

The Patristic writings, creeds and canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and Holy Tradition have equal authority to Scripture?  This is where we’ll have to agree to disagree.  I will, however, agree with you that “evangelicalism displays, not a diverse unity, but a blooming, buzzing confusion and a bewildering profusion of theologies and praxis (but we all hold to a ‘high’ view of scripture ...”  It is what it is.  To be sure, the Roman Catholic Church, despite appearances, is not as monolithic as one would think.  When schisms occur, which faction is correct?  The Eastern Orthodox would argue that it is the legitimate successor to Apostolic teaching.

It would be an excellent exercise, of course, to review ALL of the ante-Nicene Fathers.  There are, of course, several non-exhaustive summaries available:

Genesis 1-11 (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, Volume I) Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives Reply to this comment
kels - #74426

November 15th 2012

I think the fear for me was the echoing of so many voices telling me that if I walked away from this specific interpretation I was being unfaithful to God and calling him a Liar. Frightful words indeed!

Oddly enough—my interpretation is no different than theirs, I still believe God created, he redeems, he upholds. I just accept the same scientific evidence that brings me “germ theory, gravity, etcetera…

I’m in awe at his creation and the inspiration he provided the authors…Yahweh really is bigger, better, the only one worthy of worship! Something as simple as the “sun” being demoted to the 4th day leaves me with a sense of awe at what the writers were inspired to write.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #74429

November 15th 2012

Mike,

Thank you for your essay.

I think that you are right in saying that fundamentalists are acting out of fear in ascribing inerrantcy to the Bible.  Fortunately Christains are called to act out of faith, rather than certainty or fear. 

One Biblical principle which I have found to be most helpful in understanding the Bible is this.

God’s word is not to be confused with God’s Word.  God’s word is the Bible composed of inspired words about God.  God’s Word as found in John 1 is Jesus Christ the Second Person of the Trinity and the Source of God’s created order. 

The Bible is sacred but not divine.  Jesus is God, Jesus is without sin and perfect.  The Bible is not perfect or the Bible would be God, because only God is perfect.  We are not saved by faith in the Bible, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 

God does not call us to live by sight, but to live by faith.  If we were to live by sight, we could just learn the Bible and follow it.  That to a large extent is what the Pharisees taught, but Jesus taught that this Legalism is wrong.  Creationism can be and is, I fear, for many a new kind of Legalism. 

Salvation is based on grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not faith in Creationism or evolution. 

  

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Mike Beidler - #74471

November 17th 2012

Roger,

I can’t even begin to tell you what’s RIGHT with what you’ve written! 

If you read this series carefully, you’ll see that I refer to the Bible as the “word of God,” and Jesus as the “Word of God” or “Logos.”  I think it’s extremely important to make this distinction.  Too often, we evangelicals are guilty of making the sacred Scriptures a fourth member of the Trinity, rather than simply accepting them as divinely inspired tools by which God leads people to the Truth.  If we as believers, along with professional pastors, priests, and preachers—all fallible human beings capable of the grossest sins—can lead people to the infalliable truths incarnated by Jesus the Christ, then we should also be willing to accept the concept of imperfect Scriptures when viewed as a canonical whole.  That being said, I do believe the OT Scriptures, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the assistance of the biblical authors’ pesher and midrashic interpretive methods, are adequate in pointing those for whom the OT is considered sacred to Christ.  In the case of the NT gospels, histories, and pastoral letters, the Scriptures reach a new level of reliability and trustworthiness.  In the end, I prefer to preach the doctrine of biblical adequacy (2 Tim 3:16-17) over the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

Thank you so much for your voice, Roger!  It is much needed in this conversation.

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Seenoevo - #74457

November 16th 2012

Apart from the ups and downs of academic/technical discussions of this subject, how does belief or non-belief in a literal-Genesis 1 creation affect the secular aspects of one’s daily life? How does it affect the religious aspects of one’s life, including one’s growth in holiness?

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Mike Beidler - #74473

November 17th 2012

Excellent questions, Seenoevo!

For me, the transition from a woodenly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 to one that respects a literary reading of those chapters and helped me to understanding the principle of accommodation, i.e., God meets us where we are and is willing to speak theological truth to us through means that are not completely foreign to us but rather through genres with which we are familiar.  This includes utilizing scientifically inaccurate paradigms.  I do not view this as God “lying” to the reader, but speaking truth to the reader.  Who, when their 3-year-old child asks where babies come from, launches into a detailed discussion about the act of sex, reproductive organs, eggs, sperm, birth canals, etc.?  None of which I’m aware.  Instead, we accommodate the truth in ways that our 3-year-old understands.  Once the truth is revealed at a later age, I would find it hard to believe that our children would accuse us of lying to them in previous iterations of the “birds and the bees” discussion.  (Of course, Santa’s a whole ‘nother ball game.)

This principle of accommodation has allowed me to view the Scripture in an entirely new light.  It has forced me to focus my faith not on the sacred Scriptures but on the One to Whom the Scriptures point!  My faith has become so much more Christ-focused.  My energies have become less directed toward proving Scripture true and more toward proving the Living Christ to be true by means of my words and actions.

As for the “secular aspects” of my daily life, you’d be surprised how much evolutionary theory undergirds those archetypal truths that Genesis 2-3 teaches about the universal sinfulness of mankind.  (More on this in Part 3.)  To this end, I actually find evolutionary biology to be a more powerful tool than the Scriptures.

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Merv - #74477

November 17th 2012

I too would like to reply to Seenoevo’s query about how all this affects ‘secular’ aspects of one’s daily life.  But first I take issue with your use of the word secular.  I maintain that for the Christian there is or should be no secular partition of  life from which Christianity is excluded.  If there is, something is seriously wrong with their spiritual state.

But that aside…   I have found that releasing oneself from a modern scientific mindset is not a one-time thing but an ongoing process (much life forgiving somebody who has grievously wronged you—you probably have to keep at it with much prayer as old wounds get re-opened or bitterness flares up again).  So immersed am I in our modern culture that I find my Bible reading and meditation is tainted with my own acculturated mindset of being a ‘literalistic truth detective’.  E.g.  as I read a passage my attention is caught by something comparable to a cross-examination lawyer in a courtroom finding an inconsistency in a witness’ testimony.  I’ll be reading along and suddenly think “wait a minute—didn’t I just read that it happened a different way in that other passage?”  or “I thought all those people were wiped out earlier—so why are they suddenly popping up in this later Bible story over here?” ...and so forth.  This happens a lot to anyone who spends time studying the Bible in detail.  Literalists become hermeneutical gymnastic experts putting out all the small fires that pop up by re-interpreting so as to make all inconsistencies go away.  But the earnest seeker of truth eventually comes to a realization that, just as we all use hyperbole, figurative speech, sarcasm, humor, wild and emotionally laden caricatures ... so also the Biblical authors and prophets make use of all those same tools to appeal and plead with their stubborn audiences.  When I let go of this misplaced ‘detective zeal’ and just take in the story for the point it’s making I am freed to pay attention to something much more important:  the message.  Instead of getting all tied in knots over whether something meets a modern courtroom or laboratory criteria for ‘truth’, I can just move past that in faith that the Truth found in the Bible is exactly the truth they needed and that I need now, and study it to discern what important things God wants me to learn from that.  

Granted, all this is probably not what you have in mind when asking about how ‘secular’ life is affected, but this approach spills over beyond Bible study.  How one approaches God (or acquiesces in humble and joyful submission when God captures them, rather) is going to affect how you approach everything in life whether you take it to be sacred or profane.  We can get so focused on legalistic details (like tithing our dill and cumin) that we neglect weightier matters of justice and mercy.  Jesus didn’t let us off on the details, but he sure reamed the Pharisees for not attending to the larger matters.  “I desired mercy, not sacrifice” seems to me strikingly parallel to “I desired your heart, not your scientific endorsement for how my ancient people understood things.”  If we can shed our obsession with placing science in the judgment seat of all things (which is what so many of us creationists unwittingly do) we can let it [science] take its rightful, properly limited place among the blessings of an age we happen to be in.  Now hopefully you can understand why I react against the Gould-like partitioning (NOMA) that some propose as a model for science-faith interaction. 

This may not have been the direction you were aiming your question.  Nevertheless I found it a useful springboard to get at something that needs addressing.  Thank you.  And thank you Cmdr. Beidler for sharing your experiences in all this.

-Merv

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wesseldawn - #74459

November 16th 2012

I’m sorry to be so late in replying but I travel alot these days.

It was disconcerting for me to see how so many people tried to justify the argument of change: there’s always some excuse why Christians are able to change their entire theology in order to accommodate the latest fad of thought! It’s this very behaviour I wanted to point out…that so many intelligent people do not see how wrong this is!

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

God will remain consistent throughout the ages and neither time nor cultural diversity would change His consistent message. 

If there’s inconsistenty it only reveals that something is wrong with the theology…and in time that theology will need to change to accommodate other thinking because it’s flawed. God however, would not need to change His message - ever- because it’s perfect from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Beidler - #74465

November 17th 2012

Wesseldawn,

I would agree with you and Scripture that God does not change.  But his mode of communication—which includes accommodating His message in ways His intended audience can understand—certainly does.  This concept has immense backing by the testimony of Scripture, which directly contradicts your assertions.

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Mike Beidler - #74466

November 17th 2012

I’d also like to point out that many in the Church thought heliocentrism was the latest “fad of thought.”  Whoops.

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wesseldawn - #74488

November 18th 2012

More double-talk Mike…you opposed me from the beginning - let’s have some straight talk here. If God does not change - that means that His words (and their meanings) would not change.  You are directly contradicting God’s very character because you say that He wasn’t smart enough to factor in cultural diversity and time factors from the start. I uphold God’s unchanging and all-powerful nature - you on the otherhand are the one who’s trying to make excuses for the faulty interpretation of the scriptures. The interpreting is faulty - not God - so you had better go back and rethink your ideas.

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Mike Beidler - #74494

November 18th 2012

Wesseldawn,

Let’s get one thing straight: I do not believe God “wasn’t smart enough to factor in cultural diversity and time factors from the start.”  God could have if He wanted to, but the preponderance of the evidence is that He didn’t.  Why?  Because (1) He didn’t want to, and (2) He didn’t need to.

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wesseldawn - #74502

November 18th 2012

so let me see if I understand you…God wants us to follow His commands but He didn’t make them clear (because He didn’t want to/need to) so that means that we have to guess...but we’re going to hell if we don’t guess correctly!!

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Mike Beidler - #74504

November 18th 2012

Wesseldawn,

You have a great talent for purposely misunderstanding and/or twisting words to your own ends, obfuscating the topic of conversation, and verbal shadow-boxing.  It’s like taking a walk in the Winchester Mystery House.

I have a feeling you do this because you feel inadequate to the task of actually discussing things sensibly, so you purposely draw all sorts of unwarranted conclusions in order to demonize your opponent.  It would help if you actually stayed in the ring.

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wesseldawn - #74521

November 19th 2012

how we read the authoritative texts.

The problem begins there…according to you it’s all dependent upon “us” but left to our own devices we are certain to get things wrong. If the way to God depends on knowing the correct interpretation (“you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”), and God being kind and compassionate, would not leave it to chance!!

This tendency toward fear is especially acute when the individual doing the interpreting does not have at his or her fingertips the full scope of knowledge required to allow the biblical text to speak for itself—or rather, to allow God to speak through ancient genres with which the interpreter isn’t naturally familiar.

This is elitist...another problem I have with your brand of theology…but what if someone does not have access to such knowledge?

Speaking of Gen. 1, you must also consider Gen. 2:4:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. 

To me Mike, you seem to forget (or are perhaps are unaware) that the scriptures were not authored by human beings (penned but not authored) and as such, God Himself must be the interpreter. And, He would have left a logical method for doing so that we could all follow and all arrive at the same conclusions!

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Mike Beidler - #74537

November 19th 2012

Again, you seem to love putting words in my mouth.  Nowhere do I suggest that the “way to God” depends on “knowing the correct interpretation.”  I do, however, believe that knowing the correct interpretation leads one closer to the truth.

He would have left a logical method [of interpretation] for doing so that we could all follow and all arrive at the same conclusions!

Since you believe that God would not leave interpretation to chance, please explain to me (1) why Christianity is so divided doctrinally if the Scriptures are, in their entirety, perspicuous, and (2) how it is that one knows he or she possess the true interpretation?

This is elitist...another problem I have with your brand of theology…but what if someone does not have access to such knowledge?

Then I guess you have an issue with Paul, who seemed to have no problem with members of the Body of Christ serving as “teachers” (1 Cor 12:28-29; Eph 4:11).  Elitist, indeed.

Now, if someone does not have access to such knowledge as ancient Near Eastern literature or other such learning tools, then they simply don’t and are at an intellectual disadvantage, not a soteriological disadvantage.  I believe the Scriptures are clear enough to lead one to salvation.  I certainly don’t think one’s salvation hinges on accepting evolutionary theory.  In fact, if you read my series carefully, it’s not even aimed at detractors such as you.  It’s aimed for those who are actually taking the time and effort to examine the evidence (scientific, literary, etc.) and may be struggling at reconciling their faith in Christ with the scientific evidence for evolution.  Again, this seems not to be descriptive of you.

I’ll say it again, Wesseldawn, I don’t think you any less a Christian for believing in a young earth or a literal Adam.  And if you think I am less a Christian for believing in evolution or an archetypal Adam, that’s your prerogative.  But I will say this:  I’m more confident in Christ as an evolutionary creationist than I was a young-earth creationist, and there’s nothing you can say to change that fact.  Would that you could hang out with me for a week as I go about my daily life, perhaps you wouldn’t be so hostile and combative.

As for your assertion that the Scriptures were authored by God, could you provide some sort of evidence in this regard without resorting to circular reasoning?

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wesseldawn - #74568

November 20th 2012

The Bible doe not say “closer to the truth will set you free”! It says “the truth will set you free”, therefore it must be possible to know all truth.

Actually I do believe in evolution:

Adam (ruddy/soul/animal) came from the dust of the ground (mud/primordial soup).

I don’t believe that evolution was God’s plan as in the beginning everything was created perfect. So my question to you is what happened to it that it became imperfect (evolution)?

 

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Mike Beidler - #74587

November 20th 2012

To what scientific evidence are you appealing when you claim that the cosmos was once “perfect”?

As for evolution being allegedly “imperfect,” I would suggest otherwise:  It’s the perfect method to produce all the various flora and fauna we see today, as well as all the wonderful physical objects scattered throughout the cosmos.  Amazing, actually, how God was able to accomplish so much “from so simple a beginning” and by means of such a beautiful process.

When it comes down to it, Wesseldawn, the concepts of beauty and perfection are in the eye of the beholder.  If you can’t see that in evolutionary processes, I would submit that you may not have studied it enough for it to awe you into worship of the Creator. 

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wesseldawn - #74605

November 21st 2012

I didn’t say the cosmos was perfect - this is only an imperfect reflection; the real reality that God created (which we cannot see) is unchanging and perfect.

Oh sure this world is beautiful (in some places) and for some people…if you’re not born horribly deformed….or what about abortion, (I bet those children think the world is a lovely place!). And as long as you didn’t happen to be born in a war torn or poverty-stricken country, I suppose you might call it “beautiful”. The animals fare no better, the smaller and weaker being prey for the stronger.

You seem to see only one side of things and completely miss the other. I’m not saying it’s all bad and some of it is really good but for a large percentage of people it’s not that way.

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wesseldawn - #74571

November 20th 2012

Further to that (I didn’t answer all your questions) Paul actually said that “not many of you should be teachers”.

I’m not hostile, just looking for clarification and you misunderstand Paul as he would never be elitist!

Didn’t you ever wonder why there’s so much repetition in the Bible?:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (Prov. 9:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7)

wisdom/knowledge = synonyms

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. (Prov. 15:33)

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (Prov. 16:6)

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28)

If you do a search in a concordance you will find many more references than these.

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Seenoevo - #74490

November 18th 2012

“As for the “secular aspects” of my daily life, you’d be surprised how much evolutionary theory undergirds those archetypal truths that Genesis 2-3 teaches about the universal sinfulness of mankind. (More on this in Part 3.) To this end, I actually find evolutionary biology to be a more powerful tool than the Scriptures.”

How do evolutionary theory and evolutionary biology help teach about sin, and teach in ways more powerful than Scripture does?

Was pre-Darwin man, and is today’s evolution-doubting man, at a disadvantage (vis-à-vis theistic evolutionists) in understanding sin and its gravity?

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Mike Beidler - #74496

November 18th 2012

Seenoevo,

Great questions!  If you don’t mind, I’d like to defer my answer until you read Part 3 of this series in which I touch on this subject.  If your question isn’t answered thoroughly enough, feel free to re-ask the question on that particular post so as to keep the subject matter together.  Thanks in advance!

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Seenoevo - #74540

November 19th 2012

“please explain to me (1) why Christianity is so divided doctrinally if the Scriptures are, in their entirety, perspicuous, and (2) how it is that one knows he or she possess the true interpretation?”

Has Christianity always been so divided and uncertain doctrinally?

 

Considering adultery (Mat 5:32, Mat 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, and especially 1 Cor 6:9),

What is the salvation status of a Christian who is divorced and remarried?

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Edward Tigchelaar - #74816

November 29th 2012

Mike:  I just read two of your articles for the first time and compliment you on the thoroughness of your research and the clarity of your position.  Reading Part 2, Biblical Authority, I got the distinct sense that  you are trying to fit scripture to the “findings”* of science instead of vice versa.  I would like to quote one biology professor who often said to us: No scientist worth his/her salt can provide scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution.   Over the years I have concluded that he is right.   There was no conclusive proof for evolution then (mid 60’s),and, with the known complexity of DNA, there is even less proof today.  The Theory of Evolution, weak and fragmented though it is, is the best “science” can produce.  Evolutionary creationism (as I understand it) while giving credit to God as Creator, follows the same evolutionary thought line and as such, and I say this being respectful of your understanding, must be discarded too.

* take age of earth as one example.  You referenced 14.6; others will support 18.5 while still others 6.1.

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Mike Beidler - #74850

November 29th 2012

Thanks for your comments, Edward.

I got the distinct sense that you are trying to fit scripture to the “findings”* of science instead of vice versa

If I were to attempt to fit science into the cosmology of Scripture as you suggest (“vice versa”), we would have no choice but to believe in a geocentric, flat earth, three-tiered cosmos.  The numerous allusions in both the OT and NT to such a cosmology are clearly in line with other ancient Near Eastern depictions of how they viewed the world.  However, I think you and I both know that isn’t the case given our extensive exploration of outer space by both mechanical and telescopic means.  So, we are left only one choise: to recognize that Scripture presumes an ancient cosmology—which is not unreasonable since geocentrism and a flat earth are the paradigm of the limited vision the ancient Near Eastern peoples possessed—and safely disregard that cosmology as incidental to the inspired message.  Is it not too hard to believe that God would speak in terms the ancient Hebrews could understand, even through scientifically inaccurate paradigms?  To speak in modern terms would result in two problems: (1) Scripture would have contained a cosmology which made no sense to them, and (2) it would subject the “divinely inspired modern cosmology” to additional correction a millennia from now, thus leaving them in the same boat as we find ourselves now—that is to say, our descendants would view our modern cosmology, allegedly reflected in ancient Scripture, as quaint.  They, too, would disregard our cosmology as incidental.

No scientist worth his/her salt can provide scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution.  There was no conclusive proof for evolution then (mid 60’s),and, with the known complexity of DNA, there is even less proof today.

I am curious to know if you’ve exposed yourself to any scientific literature since the mid-60s that are in favor of evolution.  If so, I would ask what those titles and/or authors might be.  That issue aside, what is really the driving factor in your decision to reject the evidence for evolution?  Is it an overriding theological paradigm, or is it purely based on the scientific evidence itself?

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Edward Tigchelaar - #74880

November 30th 2012

Mike:  Answering your last question first, it is purely based on the lack of scientific evidence itself.  This position has remained consistent since Professor Bengelink (Calvin College Grand Rapids Michigan) first made the statement in an advanced Biology class in the mid 60’s; i.e, evolution lacked scientific evidence, and a corollory to that, no evidence exists for macroevolution.   At the same time, I know of no one who disputes micro evolution; variations within a species….dog, wolf, fox etc.   However, there is no reliable scientific evidence confirming that micro leads to macro.

The law of biogenises states that “life comes only from life”.  Most evolutionary scientists accept that law.  Yet, the theory of evolution claims that life came from nonliving matter through natural processes.  (Ref: Page 5 of: In the Beginning, Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown Ph.D.).

Mike, I accept the Bible as the Word of God and while the first 11 chapters of Genesis create problems for some good Christian scientists, I have never had a problem accepting these chapters at face value.

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Mike Beidler - #74929

December 2nd 2012

Edward,

it is purely based on the lack of scientific evidence itself

That’s a pretty hefty assertion, one that is borne out of either (1) a pre-existing theologico-ideological bias; (2) innocent ignorance of the evidence available to us, especially that collected over the half-century since the 60s; or (3) the willful refusal to consider the evidence objectively without bias.

It’s ironic that Calvin College—the very college at which Professor Bengelink taught—has morphed into an evolution-friendly seminary.  Why do you think that’s the case?  Could it be that the majority of biology professors have been convinced of the evidence?

I know of no one who disputes micro evolution; variations within a species….dog, wolf, fox etc.   However, there is no reliable scientific evidence confirming that micro leads to macro.

There is no difference between macroevolution and microevolution.  So-called macroevolution is merely the end (?) result of a lengthy series of microevolutionary steps.  A position that attempts to parse the difference between macro- and microevolution fails to appreciate the concept of deep time.

The law of biogenises states that “life comes only from life”.  Most evolutionary scientists accept that law.  Yet, the theory of evolution claims that life came from nonliving matter through natural processes.

The law of biogenesis is still valid today, but only insofar as the law is limited to the scope of this planet.  This is because the conditions for abiogenesis no longer exist on Earth. This law is not necessarily valid in other locales throughout the universe.

As for your claim that the theory of evolution posits that life came from nonliving matter, that’s absolutely wrong.  The theory of evolution claims nothing about how life first began.  It is an explanatory theory about how various forms of life arose after the first life-form came into existence.  You are conflating the separate (albeit related) ideas of evolution and abiogenesis.

As for Walt Brown, PhD, his doctorate is in mechanical engineering—hardly one to be in a position to comment on evolutionary biology.  Many of his radical theories have been debunked quite thoroughly.  See this critique for a sample.

I have never had a problem accepting these chapters at face value.

Have you considered the possibility that your “face value” reading of Genesis 1-11 isn’t the proper reading?  Every culture and time can potentially possess a different “face value” reading, so why do you believe that yours is the correct one?  Have you ever read Augustine’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis?  Here’s a quick summary.

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Edward Tigchelaar - #74968

December 4th 2012

Mike:   Thanks for your response. To address  your questions/ comments: it is not borne out of the options you cited (1), (2) and (3).  It is based purely on the lack of scientific evidence.

With respect to my dear alma mater morphing (heaven forbid) there are no doubt differences of opinion among faculty members (to be expected) but no statement contrary to Bengelinks position has been issued by the College, at least to my knowledge.  At the same time I have been away from Calvin for quite some time, and if during the interim they have gone awhoring after other gods, I may have to pay them a visit.

Micro/Macro.   Mike, I think you may have drifted into the arena of speculation with respect to micro morphing into macro through what you reference as “deep time”. There is no evidence to support macro evolution.  Period.  (I know there are differences of opinion here, but I have seen no evidence).

With all due respect to your statement on Biogenises, I would like to deal with this subject one planet at a time.  Did conditions ever exist for abiogenesis on planet earth?  I am not aware of any.

The theory of evolution as postulated by Darwin and others since, basically suggests that the earth and everything on it resulted from “a big bang” (I think Darwin dealt more with a chemical soup) followed by organisms evolving eventually into humans.  Where is Genesis 1 in that definition?  If as you suggest the theory kicks in only after the first life form came into existence then a flea and a elephant originated from the same gene pool.   But, as stated above, no scientific evidence supports that position. I am aware that speculation does abound.   

Mike, I believe Walt Brown put out a fair challenge to any one interested in debating with him.   I do not find his preconditions to be either biased in his favor or unfair to a challenger.   You seem like a most knowledgeable and considerate person.   My suggestion is to take Walt up on his challenge.   Frankly, I find his ideas on origins to be consistent with Scripture and his understanding of geology most refreshing…particularly the formation of the Grand Canyon.

I had never read The Literal Meaning of Genesis by Augustine and did follow up on the summary you provided.   Thank you.  

Lastly, accepting the Scriptures at face value has kept me from drifting into what a former boss used to refer to as “rabbit trails”.   Rabbit run fast but usually in a circular fashion.   I have found that many statements in the Bible are difficult to understand.  i have also found that over a life time, as opposed to deep time,  light does begin to break through and I am humbled that God has the patience with me and other earthlings, that He does.

Thank you for your comments and questions Mike.

 

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bren - #75011

December 5th 2012

Hi Edward,
If I may make an observation or two, there is no known mechanism by which micro-evolution can avoid turning into macro-evolution in deep time.  In other words, if there is constant, cumulative change (microevolution) and this continues over vast stretches of time, then it becomes macroevolution by definition.  A bit like using a camera, there is nothing to stop a small detail from becoming part of a larger overall pattern when you zoom out.  In order to oppose the possibility of such a move from micro to macro, you would need to postulate some kind of barrier to such cumulative (inherited) change, explain the nature of the barrier and then test for it in order to advance it as a legitimate theory.  Change, when it comes to genetics, doesn’t circle back around to where it was before for obvious thermodynamic and statistical reasons (entropy happens, to keep it short), it always branches outward and develops into new patterns.  I haven’t ever seen any real effort to develop a barrier theory of some kind, but I’d be curious to see how one might go about it.  Simply put, macroevolution is generally seen as microevolution writ large, with the added feature that extinction now becomes a part of the overall pattern of observed results.
Of course, you can always simply deny deep time, but given the number of unrelated lines of evidence that point to vast amounts of time, this is currently a very tall order; it must be explained why these lines of evidence all give the same impression without having any known relationship.  For example, you gave some wildly fluctuating numbers for the age of the earth, but I’m afraid you may be misinformed, as consensus has been building around a date of 4.5 billion years since the 1950s with multiple dating methods all coming to the same conclusion.  I’m open to an explanation as to what might have led to these wild coincidences, but I’m not sure that they can really be ignored.
Abiogenesis is simply not possible on planet earth at this time for the simple reason that it is filled with life.  Any fragile developing system that may give rise to life over long periods of time would be quickly scavenged by the highly sophisticated life forms that are already to be found in every nook and cranny of the planet.  This would not have been the case billions of years ago.  In any case, abiogenesis, while being a fascinating field of research (though frustrating, for the simple reason that the development of life is unlikely to have left behind many clues and this makes it difficult to test hypotheses) is simply and explicitly not a part of Darwin’s theory.  Darwin had little to say on the subject because there is little he could have said and evolution does not at all depend on the outcome of such considerations.   And as a side note, no, the big bang does not relate to the subject either!
You have repeated a few times that there is “no evidence to support macroevolution”, and I’m wondering, is that a quote, or is it based on your own assessment?  The reason I ask is because it is a constant refrain in creationist literature, and it is sort of a bewildering statement.  It’s almost as though the scientific journals have simply had nothing to say on the subject for the last 150 years, and it is just in the classrooms and media that scientists have been pretending to have vast hordes of data, while you can hear the crickets as soon as you glance at what they are actually up to in their ivory towers.  Is this how the situation is viewed?  A more temperate statement would be; “I understand that there are vast amounts of data taken to support common descent and that it is constantly being tested by new incoming data, but I would consider the conclusions of such tests to be mistaken and I think I can find errors and alternative interpretations on a case-by-case basis”.  A little unwieldy as a sentence, but it sounds more like a judgment and less like a blanket denial.
I might add, while I seriously doubt what you have said, I find that you say it very gracefully and in good faith.

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Edward Tigchelaar - #75036

December 6th 2012

Bren:
A friend of mine once said that emails can be easily misunderstood.  So too can responses to questions on origins.  Therefore I appreciate receiving your considerate questions/comments.

With respect to the second sentence in your first paragraph the use of the word “If” is key.  If all that follows your word “if” does indeed happen, your observations are valid.  Of course the opposite is true “if” they don’t happen.

It seems that without deep time evolutionists are at a loss to explain the origins of life. (nor can they with it, but that is a separate issue).  The widely fluctuating numbers you ascribed to me Bren are not my numbers.  I was simply quoting the range of estimates given by others.  As noted, scientists cannot agree on the age of the earth and therefore do not agree on the span “deep time” represents. 

I was on a field trip in the Grand Canyon and the geologist leading our group stated unequivocally that the earth is 18.5 billion years old.  As we later rafted down the Colorado River the ‘oarsman’ was asked how the Canyon came to be, how old etc.  He replied that he had taken about 18 Professors down the river over a 4 year period, each accompanied by their students and said he heard 18 different explanations.  There is no consistency it seems among evolutionists on this point.  Contrast that position to the position of Creationists.

A “Macroevolution Conference” held in Chicago in 1980 produced the following statement by Roger Levin who writes for Science.  “The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution.  At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear No.  (Roger Lewin, “Evolution Theory Under Fire” Science Vol 210, page 883).

This position is consistent with the Evolutionary Tree I recall studying at College.  No evidence could be shown then for macro evolution, and I believe even more evidence exists today to show that microevolution plus time does not equal macroevolution.

I love the words in Genesis 1 “In the beginning God…...”.  He did not tell us how, but he did say here is what happened.

We have often been asked jokingly, what came first the chicken or the egg.  It is however a serious question, for evolutionists cannot answer that question ...but creationists do.  (Think of it: an egg holds a developing chick.  It breathes through about 10,000 microscopic holes in the shell while it is developing.  Just as it is about to break out of the shell it needs an extra shot of oxygen and it is found in the small air cavity at the top).  Did that just happen through deep time or did God first create the Hen and the Rooster?

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Keith Elias - #74948

December 3rd 2012

Hi Edward;

 

no evidence exists for macroevolution

 

 Why aren’t the following six images evidence of macroevolution?

 .

 Simplified tree of horse evolution:

 http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/pix/horse_anagenesis.jpg

 .

 Here is a skeleton of hyracotherium (greyhound size, about 55 million years):

 http://lillibridgesite.com/images/uploaded_pictures/hyracotherium_medium.jpg

 .

 Here is a skeleton of Mesohippus (about 33 million years):

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7c/Mesohippus_01.jpg/799px-Mesohippus_01.jpg

 .

 Here is a skeleton of Merychippus (about 15 million years):

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/Merychippus_01.JPG/800px-Merychippus_01.JPG

 .

 Here is a skeleton of Pliohippus (about 5 million years):

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f1/Pliohippus_01.jpg/800px-Pliohippus_01.jpg

 .

 Here is a rear view illustration of a horse’s leg:

 http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/89-093f1.gif

 showing the splint bones which are interpreted as vestiges of the toes lost from its ancestors shown above.

 

Keith Elias

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Edward Tigchelaar - #74969

December 4th 2012

Keith

Thank  you for taking the time to set out the information you did.    However, I must disagree with you that the information provided confirms macroevolution.

It may be helpful for me to define what I understand by the term ” macro evolution.”  In it simplest form, those who support macro evolution believe that all life emerged from a “single cell” (although neither Darwin or Augustine knew just how complex a single cell is).  Therefore, a flea and an elephant came from the same gene pool, originally.

Keith, as per the diagrams you referenced, small horses can over time be bred to become large horses or they can naturally evolve to become large horses (micro evolution).  However, they started as horses(small) and ended as horses(large).  The only difference is size.   (Short men, tall men: all are men).

 

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Keith Elias - #74976

December 4th 2012

Edward;

In it simplest form, those who support macro evolution believe that all life emerged from a “single cell”

 .

There is a considerable amount of evidence for this root linkage, but before presenting it, I would like to get a clearer idea of where you draw the line between micro and macro evolution.

Which of the following would count as micro-evolution for you:

1) All cats (house cat to lion) have a common ancestor?
2) All carnivores (cats, dogs, weasels) have a common ancestor?
3) What about if you add seals (pinnipeds) within carnivores?
4) All mammals (dogs, bats, cows, whales, etc) have a common ancestor?
5) All tetrapods (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians) have a common ancestor?
6) All vertebrates (tetrapods, fish and sharks) have a common ancestor? 
7) All animals (vertebrates, arthropods and molluscs) have a common ancestor?
8) All eukaryotes (plants and animals) have a common ancestor?

Knowing where you make the separation will tell me what evidence needs to be presented.

 .

... small horses can over time be bred to become large horses or they can naturally evolve to become large horses (micro evolution).  However, they started as horses(small) and ended as horses(large).  The only difference is size. ...

 .


I am surprised you view Hyracotherium (also called Eohippus) as a small horse. They had three small toes on each hind leg and four on each front leg for a total of 14 toes (not hooves).  At the time they lived there were at least six sub-species, some as small as house cats.  In addition they had relatively *much* smaller teeth than horses, presumably because they ate leaves and fruits rather than grasses. (Some researches think they may have scavenged carcasses.) In general their diet and dentition was more like that of a deer than a horse.

If a deer evolved into a horse, would that be “micro-evolution”?  Does the transition from Hyracotherium to the modern horse still seem like “micro-evolution” to you?

Keith Elias

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Edward Tigchelaar - #74996

December 5th 2012

Keith

I believe I answered your question(s) in the second paragraph of my response to you of December 4, 2012.

Sincerely,

Ed

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Keith Elias - #74999

December 5th 2012

 

I believe I answered your question(s) in the second paragraph of my response to you of December 4, 2012.

 

From the content of that paragraph I’m afraid I cannot tell if you believe a small animal with 14 toes that probably never ate grass could be considered a horse.  Given that, it is very hard for me to guess where you draw the line between micro and macro evolution.

 

My first guess concerning what evidence in support of evolution was relevant to your beliefs appears to have been wide of the mark - although I’m still not sure.  I would like to be able to present you with better targeted information.

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wesseldawn - #75010

December 5th 2012

The theory of evolution as postulated by Darwin and others since, basically suggests that the earth and everything on it resulted from “a big bang” (I think Darwin dealt more with a chemical soup) followed by organisms evolving eventually into humans.  Where is Genesis 1 in that definition?

It’s not in Genesis 1 it’s in Gen. 2:7:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Man (translation=ruddy) was not from the dust/ground but rather was “of” it; meaning that it was a product of he dust/ground itself (meaning it was the dust/ground) - primordial/chemical soup. How much clearer can it be? 

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Keith Elias - #75054

December 6th 2012

Hi Wesseldawn;

(Note I like and have used the Darby translation because it sticks as closely as possible to the original instead of trying to be easy to read)

Gen 1:20 says “And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls ...”

and

Gen 1:24 says “And God said, Let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind ...”

which suggests to me that God let life form naturally presumably (given the evidence) using evolution.

Concerning your reference to Gen 2:7, I can say “I made an airplane from raw materials”, but in a single sentence I cannot provide all the details, consequently evolution could have been the mechanism used by God to create Adam’s physical form and then He later breathed a soul into him.

From Darby:
Gen 2:7 “And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul.”

Also the order of creation (especially of the animals) in Gen 2 flatly contradicts the order in Gen 1, so it is not reasonably to read them too literally.

Along the same line, I asked you above (but you may not have noticed) how you can retain the literal truth of scripture when some of the statements (if read literally) are flatly false.  I presented some of the examples used to condemn Galileo:


1 Chronicles 16:30 “Tremble before him, all the earth: The world also is established, it shall not be moved.”

Psalm 104:5 “He laid the earth upon its foundations: it shall not be removed for ever.”

Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to its place where it ariseth.”

So how do you maintain that when read literally the bible is innerant when a literally reading clearly presents errors?

 

Keith Elias

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Seenoevo - #75038

December 6th 2012

“there is no known mechanism by which micro-evolution can avoid turning into macro-evolution in deep time. In other words, if there is constant, cumulative change (microevolution) and this continues over vast stretches of time, then it becomes macroevolution by definition… In order to oppose the possibility of such a move from micro to macro, you would need to postulate some kind of barrier to such cumulative (inherited) change … Change, when it comes to genetics … always branches outward and develops into new patterns.”

Isn’t evolution happening to some degree all the time in all living things?

But then, why would bird wings evolve relatively quickly in geological time (e.g. within tens of millions of years) but then not change for the next 130 million years? http://phys.org/news/2012-11-early-birds-old-school-version-wings.html

Why would certain insects not change for the last 230 million years? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827180021.htm

How could a fish currently swimming in our seas have escaped evolution and not changed at all for the last 400 million years? http://phys.org/news/2012-10-million-year-old-coelacanth-texas-fish-species.html

If evolution is on-going for all living things, why didn’t these things not change for so long?

Has anyone identified any biological mechanisms that could cause this kind of stasis?

What about this?

“Therefore, repairing damage and maintaining the integrity of its DNA is one of the cell’s highest priorities.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004112156.htm

Or this?

““In fact, there is more than one identified mechanism for ensuring that genetic code is copied correctly. The challenge now is to find out – through a combination of experimental biology and modelling – which mechanism is dominant.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623090157.htm

 

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Keith Elias - #75048

December 6th 2012

Hi Seenoevo;

Isn’t evolution happening to some degree all the time in all living things?

New variations are constantly arising and if they are beneficial or not too detrimental they may be retained in future generations.

But then, why would bird wings evolve relatively quickly in geological time (e.g. within tens of millions of years) but then not change for the next 130 million years? http://phys.org/news/2012-11-early-birds-old-school-version-wings.html

The referenced article does not say that ancient birds are the same as modern ones. The primary change that has occurred in all groups over time is the replacement of muscles in the limbs (including the wings) by tendons thus reducing the weight of moving members. This in turn has caused major changes to the core skeleton that are so great that when Archaeopteryx was first found it was assumed to be a small walking dinosaur. Among other things all Jurassic birds had long bony tails. No extant bird has a tail (just a little nub called a pygostyle used to support tail feathers).


Why would certain insects not change for the last 230 million years? http://wwwsciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827180021.htm

 

I don’t know enough about insect evolution to make a specific comment on this case, however the lack of physical change would not preclude changes in say digestion, brain function, the immune system etc.  Further the ancestors of insects (and separately of spiders) crawled onto land at least 410 million years ago (35 million years before Tiktaalik), so the mites described already had 180 million years of evolution behind them, which could well have been enough time for some groups to reach something close to an optimum form. (See also my comment about stasis below)


Also although not relevant to your basic point; mites are not insects, they are Arachnids (spiders). Arachnids are more closely related to horseshoe crabs than they are to insects. 

 

How could a fish currently swimming in our seas have escaped evolution and not changed at all for the last 400 million years? http://phys.org/news/2012-10-million-year-old-coelacanth-texas-fish-species.html

 


In general, since fish live in a comparatively unchanging environment they need to evolve less than their relatives which crawled out onto the very different land environment, however, fish have actually undergone a lot of evolution. The most obvious change is like that of birds. The peripheral bones have been eliminated and replaced by lighter fins. Thus (from memory) fish like (the bony limbed) Coelacanths dominated the seas 200 million years ago and are almost extinct now. Armour plated fish dominated the seas about 400 million years ago and are now completely extinct etc.

 

If evolution is on-going for all living things, why didn’t these things not change for so long?



There are now good and easy to read entry level books on all major groups (fish, birds, mammals, plants etc). If you read them you would realise that there is no group that has not undergone major evolutionary change with the last 65 million years. Waterbears (Tardigrades) might be an exception, but in biology every rule (including this one) has exceptions.

 

Has anyone identified any biological mechanisms that could cause this kind of stasis?

 

Yup, the obvious: If the environment (predators, food etc) doesn’t change and no beneficial variations arise, then a species will remain (at least superficially) unchanged.  (If the environment changes and an adequate variation does not arise the result is often extinction)  Note that sometimes species can just move to another location when say, the climate changes.

(continued next beyond 5000 chars)

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Keith Elias - #75049

December 6th 2012

continuing:

 

What about this?

“Therefore, repairing damage and maintaining the integrity of its DNA is one of the cell’s highest priorities.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004112156.htm



Most changes are detrimental, so the cells that survive are usually the cells that retain what’s working now.

Or this?

“In fact, there is more than one identified mechanism for ensuring that genetic code is copied correctly. The challenge now is to find out - through a combination of experimental biology and modelling - which mechanism is dominant.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623090157.htm

 

Again organisms generally benefit from retaining what is working. Generally, significant changes are retained only if they are beneficial (or not harmful).

Keith Elias

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Lou Hamby - #77763

March 24th 2013

Mike—

I like what you said about hermenutics a lot, and I htink this is very insighttfull, however where you took this with resepct to evoution/creation.  I have to stop at that point.  You make some very intersting comments, and I have to say as you implied abou the bible, “I am” a young earth proponent, but I don’t buy into all of the young earth views but some of it I think is clearly factual, and has evdeinces?  

I am big on intelligent design, and we know there was a designer…or you wouldn’t have such a vew. My question to you is as soon as you turn to the evoutionary paradigm, because “you” beleive this has the best answers, I think you run your Christian ship into the ground to sort of speak, trying to explain nuances of Genesis.  But if you’ll alow me,  exchange with you.. here are some ideas that might not float in your boat so to speak….

1.  When the earth was void, without purpose, God was preparing earth to recieve the full creation of the biosphere, animals and man, scince we both know that God has foreknowledge it is clear that not only was the earth part of the creation, but it also implies to me that the earth was only apart of previous exsistance Geneis 1/2.  So I seperate the creation of the earth (understand the Hebrew) from creation from the Universe.  So my quesiton again to you which you sort of touch on, is why would a God or creator who can indeed create a universe with such diversity and trillions on trillions of stars and glaxies, need anymore than 6/24 hour days to create earth and then He rested, (understanding the Hebrew) and Gods foreknowldge and all that implies.  So indeed it was 6/24 hour periods “for me” but I also imply that the universe could be a week older than earth or 4. 6 billion years older, I just know tha the Hebrew desnot give us anage but certianly implies exssitence previous to earth???  I hope you understand that view.  So there is no conflict for me between a Creationists/bible view with the age of the Universe implied by science, but they might be wrong even about old age, I am open to that.  

2.  I do not accept Ushers chronology I know good men have done well to come up with 6,000 years, but let me state what if it was 10,000 or 50,000, that is still young earth???  

A recently developed and much more advanced C14 protocol testing on acutal dino bones, bones of man, and mammoths ahve come up with recent dates that challenge anything out there.  One allsuarus came in at 16,000 years.

For all intensive purposes man, dinos, and mamoths ohs and others were contemporaries per this AMS c14 testing of actual bone.  Since c14 has a half life 5,800 year no I repeat no c14 in a 65million year old dino, but since Mary Schwitzer who is not a creationists and others with blood and collegen have came up with such, one or a group of creationists palentologists had this sequencing done, and whalla we had young dates.  The bible does not say actually how old the earth is, but I also beleive there is evdeice for a young earth, not 6,000 years but young.

2.  If you’ve read Eldrige and Gould (evoutionists), the implication from a creationists point of view certianly challenges elvoutionary paradigms and Darwinian exepctations.  They stated what is factual about the fossil record, so much so that even creationists agree with the fossil record reflects their evidence and study.

So again, every time a T-rex, Mammoth, or other dino is dug up, its skeletal remians is a product of its DNA.  We see these in museums across the world, they are called out taxonomically the same everytime, what we don’t see is T-Rex wanna be ancestors…. I say that because each implied ancestor also has the same horizontal lineage problem that is unbroken of “it’s” specie, so the evlutionary paradigm and teaching is like “pie in the sky” for me, I don’t see it.  

Now to furthur codify this oreintation, one only needs to look for instance at living fopssils, that might be the horse shoe crab, Texas Horned Lizard, Tuatara, Flying gecko, Gila Monster and others, all have not changed their body plans one iota. Add to this for instance the hundreds of thousands of amber incased insects and lizards, spiders nad others that all hold to the same body plans that they originally existed with from the beginning of creation by a Designer.  

There are exceptions to body plan changes, that might be for instance the Goode’s Honred Lizard, or a dogs who are domesticated and hybridized, it seems that no DNA module can change without new information.  While evoution implies gene changes, these cannot produce new body plans, and in fact often cause the body plan to be less affective, my point is that all the living fossils I am aware have not changed at all except under the prescence of hybridization, of which we can point to such animals.  So body plans can change and do, but your beleif that adaptation can change body plans is flawed.  

Recently a pink Iguana was found at the Galapagos Islands, one undescribed.  It was later found that it was a hybrizdization between two of the populations that was thought not to be able to breed and produce offspring. My point is that hybridization does change body plans but because “design” and similar homology or morpholgy infers something to evoutionists, this is a farce.  Any intelleigent design advocate can redily point out the nuance design features carried through differnt animal species and that is used over and over again.  For instance the sand lizard catagory and shovel heads, fringe toes, Black bars under the tails, and nsotrils that close off.  This is reapted with many poulations (sand dune dwellers across the world).  This is a “design feature” it is not evoution nor is it adaptive variation as implied by Darwinian inferences.  How many times have I read a paper on reptiles of which I am a semi-expert on lizards of the south west…and a certian morphilogical attribute is infered to be from some ancestor (because of Darwinian expectations and teachings).  But when push comes to shove there are no ancestors or even any linkage or “proof” there is such (certianly inference form homology which is mistaken for actual design). A bat and a flying squirrel use the webed skin foil design because they “were” designed!!!!  This is not some ancestor of both in the far distant past millions of years ago???  This is the brilliance of a Designer contained in the DNA… where is the co-oberation DNA evdiences of the two links??  There is none.  If we “wait long enough” there still won’t be.  But I will give you this as we delve into DNA we find there are information bits that are responsible for out ward design apeprances, those will be found in similar appendages, such as a shovel head or fringe toes etc.  This “is” design!! Plain and clear my firend!!!!  Mike ajure by Christ, not tobe carried away with this, evoution falls hsort in ever way.  I tell you that creationist shav eit worng in som eareas,a nd still are trying to use the vbile for their science book, when God has left us a revelation of himself in nature!!  If it was goo denough for Solomon thaen we shpoudl consder the revlation, understna dit in the lght of the laws that GOD set forth in creation, and be confident there is a harmony between God’s revelation, the bible and all truth!!! 

 So for me Mike, Evolution falls short in explianing God’s work.  His revelation in nature is much more clear if we give that an open door instead of closing that off for a non-guided mechansim that implies the need of “some” help of God…. Cheers!!!

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