Francis Collins and Karl Giberson Talk about Evolution and the Church, Part 6

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April 9, 2011 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins. 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.

Francis Collins and Karl Giberson Talk about Evolution and the Church, Part 6

This is the five in a six part discussion between BioLogos vice-president Karl Giberson and founder Francis Collins, co-authors of The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions (note: Francis Collins' work on this project was completed prior to his appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health). The conversation first appeared as "Evolution, the Bible, and the Book of Nature" in Books and Culture and took place during a conference at Azusa Pacific University in 2008.

Karl Giberson: Why is there such a scandal in the evangelical mind? I was very depressed when I read Noll’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. I began the book with the assumption that the scandal of the evangelical mind derived from the scandal of the American anti-intellectual culture. But then I found that American anti-intellectualism came from evangelicalism!

It does seem to me, though, that there’s a serious part of this that has to do with evangelicals and how we think. But not all of it, of course. Take astrology, for example. That remains popular, but it is not nurtured in any particular way, by evangelicalism. Or dowsing, where people find water by holding sticks and walking around in a field. Open up the Yellow Pages in New Hampshire where they all have wells, and you can find ads for dowsers and I have seen people get dowsers prior to digging a well. Things like this certainly aren’t nurtured in any way by biblical literalism or anti-evolutionary rhetoric. So, how much of this, do you think, derives from peculiarly Christian concerns and how much arrives from just a general lack of appreciation and respect for science and the scientific community?

Francis Collins: So you’re right, it’s both. And it’s particularly a problem because it is both. We don’t have scientific literacy at the level of advanced countries that claim to be technologically the most advanced in the world. If you look at what our high school students know about science, we rank way down there among the most developed countries in the world. That ought to make us really frightened for our future. So you have a population that is not well conditioned to basically consider what it means to say there is evidence for something. Evidence maybe has never really entered the thought process and a lot of people who are then faced with a decision about, “Am I going to believe this or am I going to believe that?” And astrology then climbs into the mind of someone who has not had that kind of training to explore the evidence behind a conclusion before adopting it. Now, on the other hand, you have on that sort of fertile ground—if you want to call it fertile—a way for unsupportable ideas to take root. You have advocates coming from the church saying, ‘now here’s what the Bible says, and we know that’s what it means.’ And it seems authoritative, and that adds an even greater likelihood of a wide embrace of a perspective that is not consistent with science, but there is no literacy to counteract it and it seems to have the authority of the church behind it. And so it’s the perfect storm for confusion about the truth.

KG: One of my theologian friends once said in great frustration, after we had been having this exact conversation, “I wish they had never put the Bible in the hands of ordinary people.” It seems to me that this is a huge problem. We encourage people to read the Bible, take it seriously, and yet there are certain, very automatic misunderstandings that are going to emerge in that. No one is going to pick up the book of Genesis and read that and not think of Adam and Eve as real biological parents of the human race. I reread your Language of God bio about your childhood, for example, and it didn’t occur to me for one second to think that you just made some of that stuff up to give different sorts of insights into your character. I just read it and believed it and that’s the natural way people read the Bible.

Francis Collins: And our literature today, for the most part, is written to be taken at face value unless it is clearly indicated as fiction. We get very upset when somebody publishes a novel and then it turns out that what they were describing as fact was actually something they made up.

I’d be very troubled about the solution being to take the Bible away. And of course, when that was the approach, that then means that the church authorities get to decide what they think is true and they’re not always so good at getting it right, either – everybody may have some conflict. I believe in the priesthood of the believer. It’s a concept that makes so much sense; it’s biblical; it’s certainly the way that Christ seems to be teaching us, but that means responsibility – responsibility not to just look at the most superficial level—and I think intellectually curious believers would agree with that and say “Yes, I want to go deeper.” But that deeper searching has to involve not only searching through the book of the Bible, but also the other book that God gave us—the book of nature—and trying to see how these things are in fact important and not trying to pretend that one of them is untrustworthy if it seems on the surface to conflict with the other. It’s our responsibility, as individuals and as a culture and I think to insist on this.

KG: But there is a huge burden on the teaching ministry of the church to pass on that level of sophistication, which you emphasize. I can’t imagine the evangelical church taking on that task.

FC: What we’re doing something right now is passing on a burden to the youth. And it’s a burden which many of them are going to be weighted down with to the point where they will not have their faith anymore. Right now, the church is passing on the burden by teaching “you have to adhere to this absolute literal description of what we say Genesis means” and they put a lot of energy into conveying that in Sunday school, in curriculums and home schools. and so on. It’s not as if the church is not already invested in providing a perspective on this issue, but unfortunately, they’ve invested in one that’s counter to the other.

KG: Maybe if the same energy was reversed it could be done, if there was resources and time available to provide a better understanding of the Bible.

FC: And maybe with the help of church leaders, like Rick Warren, Tim Keller, or Os Guinness— those that are willing to think “we know we are on the wrong track—not just politically, not just in terms of the stance we’ve taken that seems to be against everything instead of for God’s love—we’ve also been on the wrong track in terms of positioning ourselves in opposition to science, so maybe we can get this turned around.” But it won’t happen without church leadership taking it seriously.

That is where a lot of messages are delivered to people who are curious believers and they have to trust that those who say “I am here as an expert about God” are not. And they don’t have the time or the scientific training to assess that.

KG: Do you think that all of the evolution-bashing creationists are sincere? Does Ken Ham believe all the stuff that he says? He can’t say, “Were you there?” to the evolutionary biologists and really believe that is a meaningful challenge.

FC: You know, I don’t know. I’ve never met Ken Ham. I guess I would be even more horrified to imagine that he doesn’t believe what he says. He certainly is overseeing a large, complicated and expensive industry, and is dependent on people to give money to support the perspective that he represents. If he changes perspectives, a lot of that money would go away.

If he thinks about modifying his views about youth earth creationism, he’s going to see dollar bills flying out the window, and that probably doesn’t encourage the thought process! But is it sincere? I’d like to try to keep a high view of human motivation for important issues. I think I would say that, until proven otherwise, I’ve seen that most of those who are taking views that are scientifically irrational are still sincere about the perspective they have and it becomes about the effort to spread the truth.

We’re all very good, of course, at convincing ourselves that we have the truth. And it may be harder for people who have not gone through the experience of being refuted scientifically to face up to the fragility of their hypotheses. And, of course, if you are gripped by this sense that God has called you to stand on the tracks to stop this train that seems to be headed towards destruction—that’s a real mission calling if you think of yourself as a potential martyr to the cause.

KG: That’s how Ken Ham strikes me when he talks about evolution being the “lie that the deceivers of the end times will tell to lead the faithful astray from the truth.” It seems like he has that kind of “culture warrior” approach, where he knows who the enemy is and he fights them with whatever is at his disposal because the ultimate goal is to defeat the enemy and these are just tools.

FC: And it’s unjustified. We also see that in a lot of other cases like the movie Expelled which seems to have no particular concern about twisting the facts of the matter. It’s to get the point across that evolution is in fact a conspiracy and intelligent design is a noble effort.

The Edge of Evolution comes out and the author, Michael Behe, is completely sold on the idea of a common ancestor. So here’s Behe, the leader of the intelligent design movement, undercutting not just young earth creationists, but also old earth creationists in his opening chapter. You would think that would stir the ID community! That fragile coalition should come apart but it hasn’t, because ID is not defined by its core views. Likewise, young earth creationism, you might say, is defined by its insistence on a literal interpretation of Genesis.

KG: If you look at the way the young earth creationists read Genesis and if you read their expository stuff on Genesis, you find they nuance their interpretations of Genesis to make it as anti-evolutionary as possible. If there’s any ambiguity at all in the text, they choose interpretations that are as anti-evolutionary as possible.

FC: And this is revealing, isn’t it? This is not just about trying to find the truth in scripture.


Karl Giberson directs the new science & religion writing program at Gordon College in Boston. He has published more than 100 articles, reviews and essays for Web sites and journals including Salon.com, Books & Culture, and the Huffington Post. He has written seven books, including Saving Darwin, The Language of Science & Faith, and The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.
Dr. Francis Collins is a physician and geneticist known for spearheading the Human Genome Project and for his landmark discoveries of disease genes. Collins founded the BioLogos Foundation in November 2007 and served as its president until August 16, 2009, when he resigned to become director of the National Institutes of Health. (Note: All blogs written by Collins were completed before accepting his duty as director of the NIH).

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Andrew - #57529

April 9th 2011

The problem with education standards in America has nothing to do with creationism. To understand the problem you need to see how it was the importation of the Prussian education system that is the problem. This is based upon a Platonic vision for society where the masses are simply educated to the level of productive workers ruled over by a higher class security force with a group of philosopher kings at the top, reflecting the abdomen, the chest and the mind of a person. This led to educational programmes like Sesame Street that were mindnumbingly boring - so don’t blame creationism. Education standards were much higher in America 100 years ago before evolution was forced into the classroom, something William Jennings Bryan campaigned against. 

The wonderful thing about creationism is that it encourages children to think about foundational beliefs. The teaching of the Enlightenment has also led to confusion amongst evangelicals because it is basically incoherent for those brought up to believe that divine revelation forms a good foundation for society. There is a spiritual dimension that involves the sensus divinitatis and the witness of the Holy Spirit who leads us into ‘all truth’, something lacking in Enlightenment thought that only allows observation of the 5 senses and reason. 

So children are bored and confused by the present system. Creationism brings excitment and clarity for those who study it and rescues people from the hopelessness and incoherence of modern thinking.   


Paul D. - #57600

April 10th 2011

Creationism can be replaced with astrology or alchemy in your post without changing the argument you’re trying to make.


The wonderful thing about creationism is that it encourages children to think about foundational beliefs.”

I was raised in a school that taught creationism. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Andrew - #57610

April 10th 2011

Paul - I disagree, neither astrology nor alchemy provide rational coherent structures for understanding the world, whereas Scripture as divine revelation does provide a rational basis for a coherent worldview. 

I had a humanist education at school and a biblical education at home. I found it very confusing when the foundation of my secular education denied acceptance of revelation and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in contradiction of everything I was learning at home. At the time I didn’t know what the problem was, but now I do know, it is the core of Enlightenment thinking that only allows the 5 senses and reason to construct knowledge of the world. Once I recognised the problem my ability to learn increased dramatically. 


Gregory - #57547

April 9th 2011

“No one is going to pick up the book of Genesis and read that and not think of Adam and Eve as real biological parents of the human race.” - Francis Collins

Funny, I didn’t notice the word ‘biology’ in Genesis. Please cite passage & verse where ‘biological parentage’ is introduced as the assumed meaning. To me, Collins is ignoring the iceberg here in order just to talk about the (biophysical) ‘material’ of the ice. 

It seems instead that ‘most people’ (place, time) who read Genesis will think of A&E as ‘real, historical’ persons, but where ‘biological’ enters the conversation is unclear.

What Collins suggests may or may not be one’s (required) assumption if one is a ‘practising’ biologist. But it is by no means necessarily the view of non-biologists, i.e. which of course means most people. Let us not ‘over-elevate’ biology while we accept some biological insights. It may be one of the biggest spoken but not stated assumptions held by BioLogos leaders - the anachronistic talk of ‘biological’ parentage in Genesis - but I wonder if anyone else here also questions this seemingly easy assumption?

What justifies Collins’ conclusion of ‘No one’? If he substituted ‘spiritual’ for ‘biological’ the discussion would change significantly.

“People believe in eternal life because they believe that life’s beginning is spiritual, and therefore eternal.” – Tolstoy

As we know, Tolstoy more than most scholars was promoting views for the ‘ordinary people’ (i.e. peasants), to which Francis is attempting an appeal in encouraging ‘more science’ for evangelical Christians.

Why doesn’t Collins write more about ‘spiritual genetics’ or the ‘spiritual parentage of real, historical A&E/humanity,’ when he has already done as much in parallel mixing natural-physical science with theology in proclaiming “The Language of God”?

“I wish they had never put the Bible in the hands of ordinary people.” - theologian friend
“It seems to me that this is a huge problem” - Giberson

The Catholics & Orthodox on the list probably enjoyed that one.  Does this take us back to Gutenberg & sola scriptura, in addition to hermeneutics? There are some people speaking only to ‘evangelicals’ while others are addressing Christianity.

Andrei Korotayev’s views on this are interesting re: alternative to Protestant Ethic—> Spirit of Capitalism. Here: http://cliodynamics.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=187&Itemid=70

“That fragile coalition should come apart but it hasn’t, because ID is not defined by its core views. Likewise, young earth creationism, you might say, is defined by its insistence on a literal interpretation of Genesis.” - Collins

Interesting probe, the idea that “ID is not defined by its core views.” There is no doubt the elephant in the room for ID is religion, hidden under the title ‘Culture’ as in ‘Center for Science & Culture’ (CSC). But ‘pattern recognition,’ ‘specificationism’ & ‘information-implies-mind’ seems to be the ‘science or philosophy-oriented’ core of IDM-ID.

I would say the same thing about TE/EC; they are not defined by their core views (i.e. the basic def’n = ‘change-over-time’). Once one turns ‘evolution’ into a worldveiw (in this case a ‘theistic’ or ‘creationistic’ one) - which for the sake of argument I contend is what both TE/EC are effectively doing - the philosophical core becomes unstable by force of logic. Can TE/EC’s potentially ‘evolve’ into being something other than them-selves (i.e. expunging from or outgrowing ‘evolution’ in their worldviews)? In Collins’ & Giberson’s language, that seems to be a fair question.

One aspect of the ‘fragile coalition’ Collins doesn’t identify is the IDM’s general acceptance of ‘post-Darwinian’ thought. See “Celebrating Darwin’s Errors” in American Biology Teacher: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~allch001/papers/D-errors-NYU.pdf


Jimpithecus - #57573

April 9th 2011

Gregory writes in 57547: “Once one turns ‘evolution’ into a worldveiw (in this case a ‘theistic’
or ‘creationistic’ one) - which for the sake of argument I contend is
what both TE/EC are effectively doing - the philosophical core becomes
unstable by force of logic.”

Gregory, no one is turning evolution into a “worldview.”  Evolution is a biological process that must be incorporated into one’s understanding of nature, just as one must incorporate the evidence that the earth is four and half billion years old.  All FC and KG are doing is suggesting that in order to understand the universe as God’s wonderful creation, one must not jettison our understanding of that.  If you turn evolution into a “worldview,” then that is philosophical naturalism.  No one is advocating that. 


Gregory - #57575

April 9th 2011

“no one is turning evolution into a “worldview.” - Dr. James Kidder

Are you absolutely *sure* you’ve been looking at this carefully & professionally? Why write another absolute -‘NO ONE’, just like Collins’?

I have seen ‘universal evolutionism’ & talked with it in front of my eyes in real, historical people, James. Why do you persist in suggesting it doesn’t exist? Mere desire?
 
Theistic evolutionism & evolutionary creationism are *both* examples of ‘worldview.’ They are not ‘simply science’. They are as ideologically packaged as ‘intelligent design’ & no less so. That is not meant as a put-down, but simply as reporting on the reality of what ‘ideology’ & ‘worldview’ mean.

Even Biologos-associate Ard Louis recognizes this. Would you be willing to reconsider it for yourself?


Jimpithecus - #57577

April 9th 2011

Gregory writes: “I have seen ‘universal evolutionism’ & talked with it in front of my
eyes in real, historical people, James. Why do you persist in
suggesting it doesn’t exist? Mere desire?”

I am not suggesting it doesn’t exist.  I am saying that there is a difference between philosophical naturalism, the idea that the universe is all there is (what you call “evolutionism,” and methodological naturalism, the idea that you can use scientific methodology to understand the workings of the universe.  The worldview that you are picking up on in KG and FC is “theism,” the view that God created the heavens and the earth.  The only reason that I am a “theistic evolutionist,” is that I practice evolutionary palaeontology.  If I were a geologist, I might be a “theistic geologist,” or if physics, a “theistic physicist.”  The key is the belief that God created and sustains the universe. 


Gregory - #57580

April 9th 2011

Sorry Dr. Kidder, but the USAmerican philosophy of science (PoS) in which you are schooled, on this - i.e. the proper realm in which to discuss types of ‘naturalism’ - is impoverished (if not outdated). I am trained in other schools & Fosbury Flop (or Brill Bend) you & yours on this topic. Shall we raise the bar?

So, when you write to me about ‘philosophical naturalism’ as many in English PoS now do, I know already that you are not anywhere near the cutting-edge on this topic.

The worldview that I am picking up on in FC & KG is ‘universal evolutionism.’ If KG is *really* prepared to ‘drop the baggage’ of the term ‘evolution,’ as he has hinted here, then he will step forward & address this himself. How are FC & KG *not* universal evolutionists, James? How are you not? You imitating KGs (like #5 Boston!  words in a language he betters you at is not imo the proper way for us to spend our time.

You’ve got your paper on human origins, homo sapiens sapiens sapiens, A&E & Orthodoxy still to write, right? In the ‘bio-anthropological’ realm, I will of course grant & respect your levels of expertise that I don’t have. But that is amazingly precarious territory, which is why I’ve tried encourage you! To deflect from that daunting territory, I can only imagine that is why you are pursuing me here out of character on this topic in a battle or game (on ideology & worldview) you are not trained properly to win.

“The key is the belief that God created and sustains the universe.”

100% agreed, James, Amen! Where we part is that you ‘perceive’ (using some senses, pre-linguistically) & also ‘conceive’ (linguistically, theoretically) this is done ‘evolutionarily’ and therefore since (we believe) God sustains the universe & (you believe) God does this ‘evolutionarily’ that there is *nothing that doesn’t ‘evolve’ except God*. Am I wrong in stating this, James?

What your chosen fields have taught you (most conveniently for the atheists among your colleagues) to forget is that there are also ‘characters,’ known properly (nowadays) in HSSs as ‘persons,’ in the universe, here on Earth, in your community/neighbourhood & mine & not just ‘out there’ in ‘nature,’ objective to grab and positive to ‘know.’ Find words to openly acknowledge those real, historical characters, that supra-real, supra-historical Character & I think you’ll find the key to your paper. Well, I’m a bit of an anthropologist too, James.

You may have to banish some of your dearly held, but unnecessary ‘naturalisms’ en route to the publication, but as a ‘theist,’ like FC, KG, myself & most others here participating at BioLogos, in terms of priority, that shouldn’t be a problem.


Gregory - #57629

April 10th 2011

Fyi, from an on-line forum found last night (the parallel controversy over a USAmerican & Canadian & between two British peoples’ ‘innovations’ brought a grin-breath-sigh):

“i just did a bit of research after my initial post and discovered the Brill Bend was the popular name for Debbie’s version. I can believe that both Fosbury and Brill developed it at the same time (similar to Darwin and Wallace with regard to natural selection). i can also see why the “Fosbury Flop” would stick as the common name for the technique since he won gold at Mexico City.”  - ‘Daisy’
&
“Neither knew the other was doing it.”
&
“Her technique was quite evolved…”

http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=18166

p.s. James, ‘real, history’ says I was (briefly) coached by Debbie Brill. :)


Jordan - #57583

April 10th 2011

Amen, Jim!


Jon Garvey - #57592

April 10th 2011

A sentence in John Lennox’s book drew my attention yesterday, and set me thinking radical thoughts. What would happen if science did the unthinkable and simply dropped methodological naturalism? Some scientists would be overtly seeking how events happen according to the laws of physics. Some would (like Galileo) would be seeking how God makes things happen ... through the laws of physics.

Sometimes the latter’s suppositions would tend to actual error: Galileo resists non-circular orbits because of God’s perfection. But the former might well equally resist because the circles are more “beautiful” and obvious than the dirty ellipses. In biology theists could overcome difficulties by resort to miracle. But by the same token naturalists are prone to gloss over difficulties by the panacea of “time and chance”.

Most of the time, though, the science ends up the same, the difference being the “I declare I am  a theist, which is why I put “To the glory of God” in my first para, or “I declare am an atheist, which is why I keep making the philosophical claim of pure chance.”

So it would be swings and roundabouts. That would seem to leave the real issue in the realm of personal taste - “I don’t want God mentioned in my papers as it makes me gag over my cornflakes.”


Steve Wilkinson - #57599

April 10th 2011

I was encouraged the other day when this article came across my twitter update  http://biologos.org/blog/on-answering-answers-in-genesiss-question/  I thought everyone was starting to talk and play ‘nice’ again… or at least try to. Then, I run across this irresponsible piece of journalism over on CNN this evening: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/10/my-take-jesus-would-believe-in-evolution-and-so-should-you/
Yes Karl, there are more than just you and the fundamentalists. And, I’m guessing Jesus would have started off by defining evolution, rather than trying to pull that one over on the readers.


And, btw, in response to this article, even theistic evolutionists better be ‘old earth creationists’ unless you’re all now swinging towards some form of eternal universe and deism. Same with I.D. as I pointed out in another article response… your other choice is materialistic naturalism. And, again, there are several views on Genesis 1-11, not just the literalists and the poetic non-historical.

Gregory - #57620

April 10th 2011

“there are several views on Genesis 1-11, not just the literalists and the poetic non-historical.” - Steve W.

Well put. Gosh, that’s something you’d think we might also see in some of Jimpithecus’ writings!


Andrew - #57612

April 10th 2011

The challenge to the theistic evolutionists, which they shy away from, is concerned with scientific hermeneutics. If the book of nature is a book, as we believe it is, then it requires an interpretative framework to read it.

For those of us who have read a little in the philosophy of science we know that all data sets need interpreting, and that often there are different ways of interpreting the data. So why do TEs try and make out that their interpretation is the only scientifically valid one, and anyone who reads the data differently is somehow anti-science?

I have read a lot about challenges in biblical hermeneutics on this forum, but who will engage with creationists in scientific hermeneutics?


Jordan - #57616

April 10th 2011

Hi Andrew,

#57612— “For those of us who have read a little in the philosophy of science we know that all data sets need interpreting, and that often there are different ways of interpreting the data. So why do TEs try and make out that their interpretation is the only scientifically valid one, and anyone who reads the data differently is somehow anti-science? “

I would guess it has something to do with the fact that no other alternatives have been offered that do a better job of explaining the data at hand. Can you think of an alternative scenario that does a better job of explaining the fossil record, biogeography, genetics, development, and homology than evolution? I can’t.

Andrew - #57617

April 10th 2011

Creationists are developing models to explain all of these, although from a biblically based core belief system.


Jordan - #57618

April 10th 2011

Hi Andrew,


I understand, but the question is whether they do a better job of explaining the data than evolutionary models. For example, YECs will say that the fossil record was deposited by the Flood, but they often overlook things like trace fossils, nests, salt deposits, and other features that floods cannot explain. YECism also does not explain homology, which is an issue that Todd Wood regularly calls attention to. Then there’s the YEC problem of trying to explain plate tectonics in a 6,000 year timeframe, which requires miracle after miracle in order to explain away the excess heat that their catastrophic model would produce.

These are serious problems for the YEC model in that they obviously do not do a better job of accounting for the data than an evolutionary model. That’s why evolution is currently the only scientifically valid option.

John - #57621

April 10th 2011

Andrew:
“Creationists are developing models to explain all of these, although from a biblically based core belief system.”

Developing models isn’t enough, Andrew. Almost all creationists lack the faith to test their models. Testing models (hypotheses) is the essence of science. I’m a scientist, and the more confident I am that a hypothesis to be correct, the more eager I am to design and execute an experiment with the potential to falsify it. 


Where is the creationists’ confidence and faith?

Gregory - #57622

April 10th 2011

If we want ‘biblically-based’ homes does it mean we should pour bibles into the cement & wire foundations we build our houses on? How literalist should we become in our reading of Genesis 1-11?

I am not impressed by what you feel is shield-work for the Church. You are distorting the Bible by claiming that it ‘demands to you, Andrew, in a personal language that thus cannot be disproven’ that the Earth is a few thousand & not millions of years old.

I will defend the vastly more important opinion you hold, i.e. that A&E, in line with mainstream Abrahamic religions, were ‘real, historical,’ people/persons from Jordan with little difficulty. I doubt he’ll tow the anti-real A&E rope very far here at BioLogos.

But will you not ask yourself how much ‘natural science’ you actually know, how (un)qualified you are to make judgements about geology, zoology or cosmology & how (un)fairly you actually treat knowledge by requiring all scientists to be either ‘creationists’ or ‘wrong’?

It might be like you’re an apple high up in a lone tree on a hill in a huge field, talking to the other apples, about whether or not there are (might be) other fruit out there. You may not know anything about the other fruit, Andrew, but it is out there. Learn, learn, learn…


Andrew - #57635

April 10th 2011

A creationist Flood model may hold a core belief dogmatically with auxiliary hypotheses held less tightly. So I believe problems will be overcome as the model develops in sophistication, but it won’t be scientifically provable, neither will evolutionary models. They will all only correspond satisfactorily to our prior beliefs. There are problems with flood models, but these are much less serious in my view than those presented by the narratives of macro-evolution and long-age geology.

Homology is not a serious problem because we know for instance that specific human technology is used across multiple platforms. By analogy homology is therefore a mark of common design, not common descent. 


Andrew - #57637

April 10th 2011

John - perhaps you will remind me again, how do you test 500 million years of geological and evolutionary change in a lab on a Monday afternoon?

The history of science shows that people do not work according to Popper’s falsificationism, but hold core beliefs dogmatically. Science would never advance if people just give up at the first problem hurdle. Most scientific research programmes follow Kuhn or Lakatos, where auxiliary hypotheses are able to absorb the criticism levelled against the core programme.


John - #57656

April 10th 2011

Andrew:
“So I believe problems will be overcome as the model develops in sophistication,…” 

How will a model develop in sophistication without hypothesis testing?

”...but it won’t be scientifically provable, neither will evolutionary models.”

News flash, Andrew—no conclusion is ever considered to be proven in real science. Every conclusion is provisional. Real scientists continue to test hypotheses and theories, while cargo-cult scientists wave their hands wildly, demonstrating their lack of faith.

“They will all only correspond satisfactorily to our prior beliefs.”

But if you truly believe something, why such reticence in doing the empirical testing yourself to demonstrate it to others?

“There are problems with flood models, but these are much less serious in my view than those presented by the narratives of macro-evolution and long-age geology.”

Is your view an informed one, or is it based on warm, fuzzy hearsay?

“Homology is not a serious problem because we know for instance that specific human technology is used across multiple platforms. By analogy homology is therefore a mark of common design, not common descent.”

How do you explain the patterns of the DIFFERENCES, Andrew? That’s part of homology too.

“John - perhaps you will remind me again, how do you test 500 million years of geological and evolutionary change in a lab on a Monday afternoon?”

I’ll remind you that we study hypotheses about events that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago when we sequence any new member of one of multiple protein superfamilies. These hypotheses predict the pattern of differences, and the hypothesis that you have no real faith in your position predicts that you will deliberately misrepresent those patterns as vague similarity.

“The history of science shows that people do not work according to Popper’s falsificationism, but hold core beliefs dogmatically.”

OK, I’m calling your bluff. I don’t think you’ve studied the history of science at all. If you have, let’s discuss the history of immunology, particularly the tests of predictions of hypotheses regarding 1) clonal selection, 2) induction of tolerance, and 3) the requirement for recognition of altered self. Keep in mind that all of these are highly relevant for the curing of enormous numbers of leukemias and lymphomas in children by bone-marrow transplantation, particularly in preventing GVH and HVG complications.

“Science would never advance if people just give up at the first problem hurdle.”

But creationists ARE giving up by pretending that science isn’t about testing hypotheses.

“Most scientific research programmes follow Kuhn or Lakatos, where auxiliary hypotheses are able to absorb the criticism levelled against the core programme.”


Then apply your claim to all three immunology hypotheses listed above. My hypothesis is that you are misrepresenting wishful thinking as history.

John - #57657

April 10th 2011

Jordan:
“I understand, but the question is whether they do a better job of explaining the data than evolutionary models.”


Jordan, this is just wrong. You are allowing people like Andrew to frame science in a false way and you are adopting their false frame.

The question is whether a hypothesis or theory predicts data that we do not have in hand. Evolutionary theory has a long track record of doing so.

IDCreationists are afraid to test their own hypotheses because they are either misinformed or lack faith in them. This is why they pretend that science is about debates instead of empirical testing of hypotheses.

Science works by making us do our interpretation before seeing the data. This prevents a great deal of cheating and sloppy wishful thinking.

nedbrek - #57662

April 10th 2011

John, to say that a hypothesis is true because it predicts data is affirming the consequent.

You are content with this, because you have adopted an empty epistemology (you never know if anything is true - as you say “no conclusion is ever considered to be proven in real science. Every conclusion is provisional”)


John - #57666

April 10th 2011

Ned, having grossly misrepresented my position before, does so again:

“John, to say that a hypothesis is true because it predicts data is affirming the consequent.”

But I’m not doing that, any more than I believe that any species could evolve into any other, a belief that you falsely attributed to me and tens of thousands of other people without exception.

“You are content with this, because you have adopted an empty epistemology (you never know if anything is true - as you say “no conclusion is ever considered to be proven in real science. Every conclusion is provisional”)”

Again, you are grossly misrepresenting my position. I don’t state that a hypothesis is true, and I don’t state that I never know that anything is true, because anyone can see that not everything is a hypothesis. 

It seems that you have no explanation for the differences in the data I challenged you with since you are going back to the deceitful strategy of misrepresenting the positions and thoughts of others.


Jordan - #57670

April 10th 2011

Hi John,


I agree completely with everything you’ve said. Prediction is an extremely important facet of science, but another important facet is the ability to draw together disparate pieces of information into a coherent explanatory whole (this theorizing is what allows us to make predictions, after all). My point is simply that an evolutionary framework is capable of drawing together more pieces of information than, say, YECism.

Jordan - #57671

April 10th 2011

Andrew,


Nothing in science is “provable”, so being able to choose between a YEC and evolutionary model doesn’t come down to proof. It comes down to which one passes the test of falsifiability. Biological evolution has not been falsified to date; YECism has.

Also, homology is a serious problem from a YEC perspective, and your suggestion that it is easily accounted for by “common design” suggests that you aren’t familiar with the problem. Todd Wood describes the problem here:

and here:

Andrew - #57701

April 12th 2011

Jordon - I think your response is a little simplistic. You need to engage with Kuhn and Lakatos and get past Popper.

Also the work of Todd Wood I have seen suggests some surprising similarities between different organisms, and some dissimilarities between otherwise near identical organisms. The Darwinists tend to ‘cherry pick’ the bits they like and ignore the rest - and then claim it is falsified ! 


andrew - #57713

April 12th 2011

John - I think you need to read up on what creationists actually believe. Creationists don’t dispute scientific evidence if can be demonstrated in real time, but the narratives that are imposed upon science for reasons of naturalistic ideology. The way in which human blood cells search for a ‘key’ to latch onto viruses does indeed resemble an evolutionary process, but it also resembles a highly complex search engine technique analogous to mathematical iterations. No one, not even the creationists, dispute how the immune systems works. 


nedbrek - #57723

April 12th 2011

John, every time you say anything like “hypotheses predict the pattern” that is assuming the consequent.  Predicting patterns is useful, but not a foundation for truth.  It’s postmodernism, abandoning any hope of absolute truth for pragmatism.

“I don’t state that a hypothesis is true, and I don’t state that I never know that anything is true”
You have said repeatedly that evolution is true (“as true as gravity”).

“It seems that you have no explanation for the differences in the data”
I can go back and look at it.  But my epistemology is not based on providing explanations.


Jordan - #57739

April 12th 2011

Hi Andrew,


My response may be simplistic, but I’m more curious to know how you think it’s wrong. Or perhaps more importantly, how you think the philosophy of Kuhn and Lakatos support YECism.

And your assessment of the problem of homology for YECs is just plain wrong, to be blunt. Please read the sources I provided you. You need to account for the nested hierarchy of life (the pattern of both similarities and differences), and the “common designer” argument can’t do that. Wood explains this quite clearly.

Andrew - #57756

April 12th 2011

Jordon - Lakatos believed it necessary to hold dogmatically core beliefs in science, and this is certainly the case with creationism.

Presumably a ‘common designer’ can do what he or she likes.


Jordan - #57761

April 12th 2011

Hi Andrew,


I hope you’ll understand that dogma is the opposite of science.  My understanding of Kuhn and Lakatos is that they both advocate that favoured theories sometimes must invoke ad hoc hypotheses in order to be sustained, if only until they are falsified by some better theory that both explains more data and invokes fewer ad hoc hypotheses. In this sense, YECism in no way fits the bill as a replacement for an evolutionary model. And I really doubt either Kuhn or Lakatos would argue otherwise. The working theory gets to dogmatically invoke ad hoc, not its replacement!

I also hope you’ll realize that “a common designer can do whatever they like” is not a scientific explanation. A scientific explanation for why the sky is blue does not consist of “because God can do whatever He wants!”

Jon Garvey - #57767

April 12th 2011

“Dogma is the opposite of science.”

Does that make Crick’s Central Dogma of the genetic code unscientific?


Jordan - #57769

April 12th 2011

I don’t think the term “dogma” as used in that phraseology fits with the dictionary definition I’m using: “a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof”. I doubt very much that Crick would have insisted that his “Central Dogma” holds true even if there were evidence against it.


John - #57779

April 12th 2011

Andrew wrote:
“John - I think you need to read up on what creationists actually believe.”

We were discussing your claim about the history of science, but you seem to be running away. Were you falsely presenting hearsay as your own reading of scientific history?

“Creationists don’t dispute scientific evidence if can be demonstrated in real time,…”


Virtually all of them do. The most common misrepresentation is that of nested hierarchies as nothing more than similarity. That is disputing the scientific evidence itself that exists in real time.

”... but the narratives that are imposed upon science for reasons of naturalistic ideology.”

No, Andrew, they don’t stop there at all. They deny and misrepresent the actual evidence. Todd Wood is an exception.

“The way in which human blood cells search for a ‘key’ to latch onto viruses…”

Oh, now that is funny! You run away from discussing the history of empirical science and you then completely misrepresent the very phenomenon with which I challenged you! Read slowly, now: cells are not searching for anything.

”... does indeed resemble an evolutionary process,”

And the way you described it doesn’t resemble reality!

”... but it also resembles a highly complex search engine technique analogous to mathematical iterations.”

Tell me more, but in the historical context in which you were claiming that hypothesis testing wasn’t important.

“No one, not even the creationists, dispute how the immune systems works.”

Yet you, just now, grossly misrepresented how it works!

Andrew - #57878

April 13th 2011

John - I hoped it might be possible to have some serious dialogue on here without polemical arguments.

But ironically the reason evolutionists get so heated in debate is because their/your beliefs are held dogmatically. Why not admit it, just as creationists admit their/our science begins in belief? All causal claims must ultimately begin in claims that are not justified causally, but held for some reason of prior belief.


Gregory - #57623

April 10th 2011

“no other alternatives have been offered” - Jordan

Ah, the confidence of a man who has no other options!

Karl Popper warned about this already in 1970. He encouraged ‘scientists’ to be on the lookout for ‘alternative theories’ to ‘evolution’ (e.g. its epistemology). 40 years later, what has changed, Jordan?


Jordan - #57624

April 10th 2011

Are you suggesting that there are other theories or frameworks out there that do a better job of explaining biology than evolution, Greg?


Gregory - #57628

April 10th 2011

I am speaking about ‘Evolution and the Church’.

Popper was not just speaking about ‘just biological evolution.’ Are you?

The full name as listed will do fine, Jordan. There has been a ‘Greg’ posting here.

Respectfully Thanks


nedbrek - #57630

April 10th 2011

Hi Jordan, (57618) “I understand, but the question is whether they do a better job of explaining the data than evolutionary models.”

But do you see that “an explanation satisfying to me” is not a standard for truth?  We are not the judges of what is true and what is not.


Jordan - #57632

April 10th 2011

Hi nedbrek,


The question posed by Andrew was why evolution is seen as the only scientifically valid model.  The answer is that the evolutionary model does the best job of providing coherent explanations for what we see in creation. That isn’t to say that it’s necessarily true, just that it does a better job of satisfying the virtues of science than any other model. If you don’t view coherency as a virtue of science, that’s fine, but most scientists do.

nedbrek - #57645

April 10th 2011

Isn’t truth what really matters?  Who cares if we can construct the most fabulous castle in the sky, if it has no foundation?


Jordan - #57648

April 10th 2011

Certainly truth matters. It’s all that matters. But who, other than God, has unfettered access to the truth? We all struggle to find the truth, whether it be through science, religion, or whatever. You might say the Bible contains the truth—and I would agree—but whose interpretation of the Bible is closest to the truth?


nedbrek - #57658

April 10th 2011

Any interpretation which is inconsistent must be false.


Gregory - #57659

April 10th 2011

Universal evolutionism is an inconsistent interpretation.

Jordan, do you agree or disagree?


Jordan - #57673

April 10th 2011

Not sure what you mean by this, nedbrek. Inconsistent with what?


nedbrek - #57721

April 12th 2011

Hello Jordan, interesting outage we had!

I believe TE creates an inconsistency in God’s nature.  That is, it pleases God for animals to proclaim sin analogues, but then God is displeased when we do the same.

In other words, TE makes God’s creative pleasure contradict the moral law (which is classically held to be an expression of God’s character).


Jordan - #57742

April 12th 2011

Hi nedbrek,


Yeah, not sure what happened to Biologos, there. Weird!

Still not entirely sure that I understand your problem. You’re saying that evolution produces a discord in that God is pleased with, say, the predatory behaviour of lions, but not with that of humans? If so, I don’t see how this is any more a problem for an evolutionary framework than a YEC framework since the situation is the same for both of us.
I suppose you might chalk predation up to the Fall (although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that) and justify your position that way. But the Bible gives God the credit even for predatory behaviour among animals (e.g., Job 39). It isn’t described as something wrong or sinful by nature (if it was, I would have to wonder why God would take credit for it).
Maybe there’s a parallel to be found in the story of Adam and Eve’s nakedness. When God created them, they were naked; nakedness only became sinful and shameful after the Fall. How do you account for the discordance in God’s nature when He accepts human nakedness one minute and despises it the next? Maybe our answer to the problem of God’s nature in light of evolution lies there.

Merv - #57762

April 12th 2011

Hi, Jordan and nedbrek—hope you don’t mind if I join in, but I’m fascinated with this too, and wonder if the Bible hints at this “innocence” vs. “knowledge of good and evil” in other ways as well.

Jesus tells a parable in which several servants are trusted with investments from the Master.  The first ones do what is expected without question and are rewarded for that.  The last one responds with an observation that “he knows the master is a hard man, and that he reaps where he didn’t sow”, which the servant proceeds to use to justify his fear.  (which was well-founded as it turns out.)  But the master’s response was even more interesting.  He doesn’t call the servant’s observations wrong or call him a liar.  He is condemned instead as a wicked and lazy servant, who—with the knowledge he had should have at least earned a pittance of interest in a bank account if nothing else.

To me this sounds like a parable about trust and relationship.  The first servants were single-minded in their pursuit to do what the master wanted.  The last one seemed to let his trust founder on the dangerous shoals of insights that he had into how the master himself does or does not work.  Perhaps this is scary commentary on our fixation with trying to “figure God out” or find his fingerprints—catch him in the act of “interfering” with creation.  I’m not sure.  But innocent trust in him without need of fully understanding Him carried the day in that parable at least. 

“So you know that the Master uses predation and death to his own purposes ... so why didn’t you just….”?

—Merv


Jordan - #57763

April 12th 2011

Interesting insight, Merv. I take it to mean that you don’t agree with nedbrek that our assessment of God’s character need play a role in determining whether God works through evolution or not?


Merv - #57776

April 12th 2011

I’m still wrestling with that myself so that I’m not even ready to “cleanly disagree” or agree over that yet.  Given the extent that an evolutionary past is part of our factual mental baggage, it does have to coexist with our convictions about how God does or does not work in this world.  So maybe that sounds more like I’m agreeing with nedbrek, if that is what he is saying.  But since I am less hostile towards evolutionary science and deep time than nedbrek is (sorry if this mischaracterizes you nedbrek—please correct me as necessary), I may be approaching the same subject from a different angle.  I.e. how can we understand these things in complementary ways, rather than rejecting one of them on the grounds that they demonstrate contradiction.

—Merv


nedbrek - #57822

April 12th 2011

Merv, I think that is fair.  The problem I see is that these contradictions are only the beginnings of troubles.  I have boiled my argument down to its bare necessities.


John - #57785

April 12th 2011

Ned wrote:

“John, every time you say anything like “hypotheses predict the pattern” that is assuming the consequent.”

Nope. Ethically speaking, you really should try to restrict your use of quotation marks to actual quotes.

The hypothesis of common descent predicts: 1) Where new sequences will mathematically fit in the pattern; 2) that nested hierarchies will be superimposable, after allowing for systematic and experimental errors that are easily swamped by the volume of data in hand; 3) that we can see multiple organismal nested hierarchies repeated within the nested hierarchy of a protein superfamily.

So your fake quote was misleading and any description of this as mere similarity is misleading.

“Predicting patterns is useful, but not a foundation for truth.”

That’s your attempt to misrepresent it to trivialize it.

“It’s postmodernism, abandoning any hope of absolute truth for pragmatism.”

If there’s a pomo side here it’s yours.

Me: “I don’t state that a hypothesis is true, and I don’t state that I never know that anything is true”

“You have said repeatedly that evolution is true (“as true as gravity”).”

I suggest that you find some quotes with context, as I was clearly distinguishing between evolution the phenomenon (both observable and historical) and evolutionary theory regarding the mechanisms that produce evolution.

Now, show me where *I* said “as true as gravity,” Ned. You still haven’t admitted your false attribution of beliefs to thousands of people.

Me: “It seems that you have no explanation for the differences in the data”

“I can go back and look at it.”

So you weren’t being honest when you expressed an interest in the data?

nedbrek - #57823

April 12th 2011

John, I’m not sure what your purpose is.  I am willing to take on faith that the science is in your favor.

But I still reject your position, because I do not believe things based on scientific arguments.  I believe in God as described in the Bible.  You must make arguments in those terms.


John - #57842

April 12th 2011

Ned:

“John, I’m not sure what your purpose is.”

It’s to understand why evolution denial is a tribal (even though Jesus Christ clearly denounced tribalism) shibboleth for many US fundamentalists.

“I am willing to take on faith that the science is in your favor.”

There’s no need to, but you clearly haven’t done anything of the sort. You’ve been mendacious about the science. Twice, you’ve grossly misrepresented my views and the views of others. I’ve no doubt that you will continue to do so if you continue to comment here. Why is this shibboleth so important? Why is it more important than obeying the Ninth Commandment, for example? Why, if evolutionary theory is so horrible, are you so compelled to misrepresent it?


“But I still reject your position, because I do not believe things based on scientific arguments.”

There you go again! Science isn’t a debate, no matter how many times allegedly devout Christians deliberately and falsely portray it as one. If your child is dying of leukemia, what do you believe about the efficacy of bone-marrow transplantation?

“I believe in God as described in the Bible.“No, Ned, you believe in your tribe and its belief in a few carefully selected parts of the Bible, a book that is chock-full of metaphor. Tell me what the story of the Samaritan woman at the well means to you. 

“You must make arguments in those terms.”

I think you’re tacitly admitting that you were being deceptive when you claimed to be interested in the evidence.

nedbrek - #57900

April 13th 2011

John, if you’re truly interesting in the history of YEC, I heartily recommend Ronald Numbers “The Creationists”.  He goes into great depth, and is pretty fair (he is not a creationist himself).  I think others here also recommend him.

To summarize Numbers, the movement is fairly young, dating from around 1900.  It was largely a reaction against mainstream Protestantism’s acceptance of evolution.  Adventists played a large part in it, believing the literal creation week played a key role in their honoring of the Sabbath.  They needed a curriculum for their medical schools which would be consistent with the Bible.  Fundamentalists were also interested, but lacked the academic resources.

I find it telling that the Fundamentalists have survived today (grouped in with Evangelicals), while the mainline Protestants are effectively dead.  Evolution isn’t the sole cause, but it is indicative of their problems.


nedbrek - #57821

April 12th 2011

Jordan (57742) “Still not entirely sure that I understand your problem. You’re saying that evolution produces a discord in that God is pleased with, say, the predatory behaviour of lions, but not with that of humans?”

Beyond that, the moral law - lying (any misrepresentation of the truth), sex outside of marriage, stealing.  What I sometimes refer to as “sin analogues”.


Jordan - #57826

April 12th 2011

Hi nedbrek,


The moral law doesn’t apply to animals.

nedbrek - #57829

April 12th 2011

Sure, I’m not saying it does.  But it does say something about God.  That is, God made the animals to behave in a certain way.  And He is pleased when they do.  Then He made man from animals, and man (unsurprisingly) acts the same way.  Suddenly, God is angry.


Jordan - #57837

April 12th 2011

I guess my question to you, nedbrek, is why you think this ‘problem’ is restricted to just an evolutionary scenario? In a YEC scenario, God creates man naked like an animal—and is pleased with this—and then is suddenly upset with man’s nakedness after the Fall. Similarly, many YECs argue that God once allowed inbreeding, only to later change His mind. How do you account for God’s change in nature in the YEC scenario? Could the same explanation not extend to the evolutionary scenario?


Gregory - #57838

April 12th 2011

“why you think this ‘problem’ is restricted to just an evolutionary scenario?” - Jordan

Two words/names: Adam & Eve.

There is no room for ‘spirit’ in evolutionary biology. It doesn’t matter in cosmology that “Darwin forgot the spirit,” but it does matter when real, historical people are involved.

Your philosophy here, Jordan, is very flimsy, probably more than you realize (from the unabashed praise you’ve made here to anti-Adamists), if you are going to base it on the ideology of ‘theistic evolutionism’ or ‘evolutionary creationism’. But you don’t seem really to want to address that, i.e. the ideology in those views.

p.s. i had forgotten or perhaps got confused: Nedbrek, you’ve learned enough about geology & comology now to reject a few thousands of years as the ‘age’ of the Earth and now accept ‘millions’ of years, right? I am not asking about ‘biblical literalism’ in that question.Thanks. G.


nedbrek - #57895

April 13th 2011

Nakedness is an interesting example.  The Bible is full of comparisons between clothing and righteousness.

Thus, we see that the original state of man was naked (God sees them exactly as they are, and there is no problem).  After the first sin, “they realize they are naked” - that is, they can no longer stand righteously before God.  They attempt to cover themselves (works righteousness), but instead God makes a covering/atonement for them (grace).

Keep in mind, I believe that God almost always “acts out” symbols.  So, don’t say, “this is just a metaphor”.  The metaphor is made meaningful by being history.

As to inbreeding, it was obviously necessary in the beginning (Cain and Seth married their sisters).  Similarly, after Noah.  Obviously, inbreeding becomes more and more of a problem over time, and the command was given to Moses to forbid it (for their own protection).


nedbrek - #57896

April 13th 2011

Gregory, nope, the more I learn, the more my “faith” in deep time and common descent are shaken.  But, I’m familiar enough with it to understand most of where you’re coming from.


Jordan - #57925

April 13th 2011

I guess we’re in full agreement, then, that God’s attitude towards sin can change in light of our own awareness of good and evil.


nedbrek - #58003

April 14th 2011

Hello Jordan, I am saying God’s attitude doesn’t change.  Before, A&E had a right relationship, so their nakedness was good.  After, their relationship was severed, and they required a covering (atonement).  That is, sin makes nakedness wrong (nudists are effectively rebelling by proclaiming there is no sin - they deny original sin).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58015

April 14th 2011

Ned,

You say that humans should not act like lions, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that humans should not kill animals in order to eat them.  Today we buy our food at a restaurant or grocery, but just because we did not personally kill the cow does not make us innocent of its death when we eat a hamburger or steak.


nedbrek - #58061

April 15th 2011

Hi Roger, I don’t recall talking much about meat eating.  I’m talking about sexual sin, deception, and murder.

It’s interesting you pick lions (I have mostly been looking at close “cousins”).  Lions practice infanticide, as do many types of animals; although I am not sure how prevalent it is in our close cousins (although I believe there are some monkeys which do likewise).


R Hampton - #58080

April 15th 2011

Speaking of which, cats require high levels taurine (as well as arginine and cysteine) in their diet - hence their dependence on meat, especially hearts, livers, and other vital organs as food. Vegetarians who want to keep their cats on a vegan diet, supplement
their food with synthetic taurine (taurine only occurs naturally in
animal tissues).

They require two to three times the protein that omnivores, such as dogs or humans, do. As strict carnivores, cats rely mainly on nutrients found in animals—
high protein, moderate fat, and minimal carbohydrates—to meet their
nutritional needs. Cats’ bodies are adapted for metabolizing animal
protein and fats. And animal-based proteins also contain complete amino
acids—such as taurine, arginine, cysteine, and methionine. These are
essential for cats, whose bodies don’t make them in adequate amounts.
-WebMD Healthy Pets, 2011

Cats are particularly suseptible to taurine deficiency, which can cause blindness and heart problems. I could go on, but the point is the cat is “built” to be a carnivore and nothing else.


nedbrek - #58109

April 16th 2011

You need to think outside the uniformitarian box!  You’re assuming that the cats of today have been the same for millions of years, then try to map that back to an young Earth - of course this will fail.

There are many events which could account for this change from the original design:
1) The Fall
2) The time before the Flood (when all flesh became corrupted)
3) The (singular) Ice Age, when animals were forced to adapt rapidly


R Hampton - #58185

April 18th 2011

I don’t buy that argument. If you take the position that animals were designed for a purpose (which plays some role in Adam’s naming of them), then Cats were clearly designed to be carnivores. What then is the purpose of a cat that is a vegetarian? Seems to me a that such an animal already exists - the rabbit.

So if the Fall was an immediate evolution of a small set herbivores into a much larger set of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores, then Adam needed to name hundreds/thousands more animals after he left the Garden. Yet it seems to me that the Bible implies the naming of animals was completed before the Fall.


nedbrek - #58197

April 19th 2011

The purpose of all creation is to glorify God.  It is clear that God loves abundance and overflow - look at the stars!  Why are there so many types and sizes and colors, when one will do?

Naming dealt with establishing Adam as the head of creation.  After the Fall, that relationship was marred.


Jimpithecus - #58214

April 19th 2011

Nedbrek, how do you account for the evolution of all different kinds of animals over the course of recorded geological time?  This is especially true in the human fossil record, where there is clearly a succession of forms from Australopithecus all the way up to Homo sapiens. These finds have been systematically ignored or treated incompetently (http://scienceandcreation.blogspot.com/2010/04/acts-and-fiction-icr-tackles.html) by groups like AiG.  

Singular ice age?  There’s not a shred of evidence for that position.


Jimpithecus - #58215

April 19th 2011

Sorry, got the group wrong in the link.  It was the ICR, not AiG that bungled the interpretation of Australopithecus sediba


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58125

April 16th 2011

Nedbrek:

 I’m talking about sexual sin, deception, and murder.

Sexual sin is sex outside of marriage.  Animals except for humans do not get married.   Lying is wrong, but other creatures do not lie.  Murder is the deliberate, unjustified killing of another human being. 


nedbrek - #58127

April 16th 2011

Roger, Jesus said whoever looks with lust commits adultery in their heart (even single people).  Similarly, any misrepresentation of the truth is a lie.  Jesus said anyone who is angry without cause or hates anyone is guilty of murder in their heart.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58141

April 17th 2011

Ned,

Non human creatures do not do any of these things.  Your problem is you do not understand what sin is.  It is alienation or separation from others and God because of human selfishness, just like the that of Adam and Eve.  The original sin was none of these behavioral sins, but the deliberate betrayal of the trust God placed in them and us to respect the rules of God’s Creation.    


nedbrek - #58142

April 17th 2011

I’m not saying animals sin.  But these thoughts and desires are the results of chemicals and neural patterns - which animals do have.

Sin is more than selfishness, it is transgression of the law.  It is the violation of God’s character (it is proclaiming that God is a liar, thief, murderer, or adulterer).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58147

April 17th 2011

Animals do not have thoughts and desires.  Only instincts or needs.


nedbrek - #58154

April 17th 2011

Ok, Roger.  And what do you tell the homosexual who says that his desires are instinctual needs?


Merv - #58179

April 18th 2011

In the whole issue of what sexuality has an “abomination” status vs. an “endorsed” or created status, people often point out that homosexuality is shown scientifically to be natural as if this scores them a point for the “endorsed” side.  (some even consider it a “knock-down” point.)

I’ve never seen convincing logic about why this is even relevant.  Don’t get me wrong—I think we may well be called to revisit past theological traditions about how to handle (or let go of) this singular issue of sexuality that has monopolized so much focus.  But if I am convinced it is entirely on other grounds than what is “natural”.  For one thing, violence is natural.  So are predispositions to drug and alcohol addictions, and any number of heterosexual impulses including rape, adultery, porn addictions ...  None of us would try to defend all those things on the grounds that they can be explained as a function of brain chemistry and evolution (and they can).  And on the other side—it is decidedly “unnatural” to be kind to your enemies or to lend to someone to someone who will never be able to return the favor or repay you. So not only is the “natural = good” formula useless—it’s probably dangerously wrong in many cases.  You can ask “so how does God’s “good creation” come to be that way?”  And that’s a good question.  People spend a lot of time debating that or whose fault it is, but meanwhile—the observed reality of things are that it just is. 


Merv - #58180

April 18th 2011

...the #### comment that was automatically filtered above was meant to
refer to p*rnography addictions.  Big brother does keep a tight watch on things, doesn’t he!?

—Merv


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58163

April 18th 2011

Ned wrote:

And what do you tell the homosexual who says that his desires are instinctual needs?

Well, it looks like at last we have come to the real problem.  I think that you are correct in indicating that if homosexuality is “natural,” then it is hard to say that it is sinful. 

Of course we must separate homosexuality from pedofilia, which can be heterosexual or homosexual and is always wrong. 

I do not know if homsexuality is natural or not, but I do know that this one issue must not be allowed to determine our theology and how we read the Bible.  The tail must not wag the dog and God’s grace is better than all the legalism in the universe. 
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nedbrek - #58198

April 19th 2011

A bunch more here…

1) I agree that one point must not define our theology.  However, I have picked one point to show the failure of your theology.  More on that later.

2) I’m not sure why you keep bringing up legalism.  I am not a legalist.  However, do think we have a fundamental difference in our view of God’s law - that is, you seem to think it is some alien thing which God applied for a while, but it is now entirely gone.  I believe the Law is the expression of God’s attributes, therefore, it is never gone.  We do not live under law because Jesus lived perfectly under the law.  We must not downplay the Law, because it informs us about our God, and it teaches us to cling to our Savior.


nedbrek - #58200

April 19th 2011

Merv, I think the natural vs. unnatural is a sticking point for deep time and common descent (which is why I stick to it, so to say

“so how does God’s “good creation” come to be that way?” - Right.  Either God made it that way, our it became that way despite God’s intention, or it is that way because of sin (which requires it to have changed recently - God made it good, and we messed it up).

Have you read Dawkins’ “Selfish Gene”?  He basically promotes the gene to the status of a god (it is immortal, creator, and law giver) - then he rebels against that god! (a true rebel, that one).  He says, in effect, “yes [sin] is natural [and therefore good], but we have evolved to the point where we can reject our nature” (of course Dawkins would never acknowledge sin).

As Christians, we must decide if our nature is good or evil (it certainly seems evil).  Then we must decide how our nature became evil (if God is good and all powerful).

I actually appreciate Dawkins in this regard.  Many atheists cling to the idea that our nature is basically good (or neutral), and that all that is necessary for salvation is education.


Merv - #58203

April 19th 2011

nedbrek wrote:  “I actually appreciate Dawkins in this regard.  Many atheists cling to
the idea that our nature is basically good (or neutral), and that all
that is necessary for salvation is education.”

I join you in this rare bit of appreciation for Dawkins, nedbrek.  Dawkins actually got something theologically right although he, of course, only knows how to recognize the natural aspect of it.

Regarding the sinfulness of sexuality, you don’t have to convince me—I don’t think there is any aspect of our natures that is not tainted with sin (either homosexuality or heterosexuality).   When the church is challenged as to why the former is to be singled out as more heinously sinful—I have a sympathetic ear for that challenge.  I realize this still ducks the question of how one still receives at least basic Biblical sanction while the other is never given even that.  But if we are to use biblical analogies to confirm “legalized” or “endorsed” status of x but not y, then we continue down a trajectory that also violates much else that is taught in the New Testament.  Our relationship with the law of Moses is both complicated and simple at the same time.  We are to be children of Sarah, not Hagar. 

—Merv


nedbrek - #58216

April 19th 2011

“But if we are to use biblical analogies to confirm “legalized” or “endorsed” status of x but not y…”

I agree 100%.  I am no theonomist.  I don’t believe a nation can be Christian (founded on Christian principles, yes - but people (and, generally, a minority) are Christians, nations are not).


nedbrek - #58201

April 19th 2011

Ok, for Merv and Roger - why homosexuality is sinful:

Again, it is proclamational (my spell checker doesn’t like it, but I do!) - we must look to the purpose of sexuality, which lies in marriage.

In the beginning God created one man and one woman to join together in marriage (Matthew 19:4, if you abandon this, I think you have huge troubles, but that is a side topic).

Why?  Because the man is a symbol for Christ, and the woman is the symbol for the Church.  Marriage is symbolic of the union between Christ and the Church (it also has elements of the relationship between Christ and the Father - equality and submission).

For two men to come together is a proclamation of both polytheism (two gods), and rejection of salvation (for there is no Church).  Similarly, two women (which a rejection of Christ).  It also disrupts the notion of headship (for how can we know who is to submit?).

This is the “abomination”, the disfigurement of the proclamation of who God is (God’s “glory”).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58202

April 19th 2011

Nedbrek,

I am sorry, but you are mistaken.  You said that God’s Law tells us about God’s attributes.  God’s Law says You shall not commit adultery, because God’s attribute is Faithfulness. 

God is not homosexual, but neither is God heterosexual.  God is faithful.  God’s Law is basically the Ten Commandments.  When you start bringing in other constructs of the Torah, you might as well bring in all the cleanliness laws, dietary laws, etc.  This is why you are a legalist.  Jesus plus anything leaves out Jesus and makes you a legalist as Paul clearly says.


nedbrek - #58218

April 19th 2011

Hello Roger, I am afraid I have no idea what you are talking about!  Where exactly am I mistaken?  Also, I never said Jesus plus anything.  I am referring to Romans 7:13
“Did that which is good [the Law], then, become death to me? By no means! But in
order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me
through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become
utterly sinful.”

The Law is the school master which teaches us that we are sinful.  It the mirror of God’s perfect holiness and justice which reveals our true appearance (that we are sinners).

I’m pretty sure you disagree, but you still haven’t told what you think about the Law.


nedbrek - #58219

April 19th 2011

Hello Jim (58214), “Nedbrek, how do you account for the evolution of all different kinds of animals over the course of recorded geological time?  This is especially true in the human fossil record, where there is clearly a succession of forms from Australopithecus all the way up to Homo sapiens. These finds have been systematically ignored or treated incompetently (http://scienceandcreation.blogspot.com/2010/04/acts-and-fiction-icr-tackles.html) by groups like AiG.”

How can explain what I have not observed?  You have an explanation which is consistent, that does not make it true (that is “hard science fiction”)

“Singular ice age?  There’s not a shred of evidence for that position.”

We agree that there was a recent ice age, there is plenty of evidence for that.

As I told John, I don’t change what I believe about God based on purely human stories.  I believe what is most consistent about the Bible.  If you have a Biblical argument, I will hear it.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58239

April 20th 2011

The Law is the school master which teaches us that we are sinful. It the mirror of God’s perfect holiness and justice which reveals our true appearance (that we are sinners).

Nedbrek,

You seem to be unaware that there are two kinds of Law in the OT.  The first is the basic Moral Law based on the Ten Commandments.  This is what Jesus and Paul were talking about when they spoke of the Law.  The other is all the rules and regulations including circumcision found in the Torah. 

Jesus and Paul said that we must adhere to the Decalogue which was summarized aas Love God and your neighbor.  The Sabbath was in a sense rewritten to make the first day of the week the LORD’s Day of worship.

Paul’s objection to the Judaizers is that they tried to impose the whole of the old covenant on new Christians.  When you try to impose something outside the basic moral law, the Ten Commandments, such as the headship principle and the taboo against homosexuality, you are doing the same thing.  You are making salvation dependent upon something that faith in Jesus does not require.   

We might agree that some things are beneficial to faith and good order, but if God does not require them, then neither can we.  Love is the standard of faith, heterosexuality is not. 


nedbrek - #58241

April 20th 2011

Roger, are you saying homosexual acts are not a sin?


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