Science and the Bible: Intelligent Design, Part 5

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December 18, 2012 Tags: Design

Today's entry was written by Ted Davis. You can read more about what we believe here.

Science and the Bible: Intelligent Design, Part 5
Raphael, The School of Athens (1511), Vatican Museums

We conclude the discussion of ID with two more conclusions and a very brief historical discussion.

(3) ID is NOT an alternative scientific theory to evolution, for it doesn’t even try to provide a coherent account of the history of nature from the Big Bang to now—and that is precisely what a viable candidate for an alternative theory must do.

As we’ve already seen, ID is a “philosophical critique of the explanatory efficacy of Darwinian evolution” (to borrow my own words), not an alternative “theory of everything.” Unlike “creationism,” which actually is an alternative “theory of everything,” ID does not offer answers to such questions as how and when birds came into existence, or how old the universe is, or whether humans and Tyrannosaurus ever co-existed. These and other topics in the historical sciences have been deliberately omitted from the official scope of ID, in order to keep the “big tent” in one piece. Indeed, the question of the legitimacy of the historical sciences in general is one of the largest elephants in the tent.

When all historical questions are left officially out of the ID platform, then it becomes very difficult for critics to see what actually counts as legitimate science inside the tent on such matters. Just as proponents of ID can fairly ask evolutionary biologists to propose plausible naturalistic scenarios that could perhaps have produced the first form(s) of life or the complexity of DNA or the relatively sudden diversity of the Cambrian explosion, so critics of ID can fairly ask IDists to propose examples of what actually counts as good science in the history of nature—against which the plausibility of those evolutionary explanations can be evaluated. In the absence of any such standard, then someone like Cornelius Hunter can simply sit back taking pot shots at evolution and various other parts of natural history, without offering any alternative explanations of his own or identifying any parts of natural history that are (in his view) well supported. A studied skepticism of this type amounts to a profound agnosticism about all things natural historical, and anyone who is really that agnostic about that much science has in my view undermined their own credibility as a critic of scientific explanations in those disciplines.

In my opinion, the inability of ID to offer an alternative history of nature counts crucially against its acceptance by the scientific community. The single most influential book in my discipline was written fifty years ago by the late Thomas Kuhn, generally regarded as a philosopher of science despite the great hostility that many philosophers have shown toward his ideas. If you’ve heard of “paradigms” and “revolutions” in science, then you already have at least a vague notion of what his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), is about. Basically, a paradigm is an overarching conception within a branch of science that determines how science in that field is normally done. For example, atomic theory functions as a paradigm in chemistry, and the universal acceptance of the periodic table as a convenient summary of atomic theory indicates the very wide explanatory scope and consent that are prerequisites for becoming a paradigm.


Source: http://skepticism-images.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/images/jreviews/Thomas-Kuhn.jpg

Evolution is the reigning paradigm in biology and a major component of the even larger paradigm of natural history that also includes cosmology and geology. “Once it has achieved the status of paradigm,” Kuhn observes, “a scientific theory is declared invalid only if an alternative candidate is available to take its place.” We might say that science suffers from a modern version of the old Aristotelian horror vacui: science abhors an intellectual vacuum. Better to keep an imperfect theory with all of its flaws than just to throw it away, leaving a state of intellectual anarchy in which nothing makes sense. As Kuhn says, “the decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another,” so if ID cannot provide a more compelling alternative account of natural history then a paradigm change is simply not in the offing (quoting 3rd edition of 1996, p. 77).

ID theorist William Dembski is well aware of this problem. Many years ago, in his book Intelligent Design (1999), he wrote, “As philosophers Thomas Kuhn and Larry Laudan have pointed out, for scientific paradigms to shift, there has to be a new paradigm in place ready to be shifted into. You can’t shift into a vacuum. If you’re going to reject a reigning paradigm, you have to have a new improved paradigm with which to replace it.” Dembski goes on to say that ID is the only logical alternative to “naturalistic evolution,” but that it can’t be considered because ID “we’re told, isn’t part of science.” The remedy, he says is to “dump methodological naturalism.” (p. 119)

Dembski’s analysis is on target, as far as it goes, but there is a further dimension he does not address. Presently there is no ID theory to function as an alternative explanation of the history of the universe and the life it contains, as ID proponents themselves admit. A few years ago, Phillip Johnson did an interesting interview in connection with the “NOVA” program series on PBS. He was directly asked, “So what does intelligent design say about how life was created and how we ended up with the diversity of life we see today?” His answer goes directly to my point: “Well, the alternative is not well developed, so I would prefer to say that, as far as I’m concerned, the alternative is we don’t really know what happened. But if non-intelligence couldn’t do the whole job, then intelligence had to be involved in some way. Then it’s a big research job to figure out the consequences of that starting point.” It remains to be seen whether progress on this front will be forthcoming from the staff of the Biologic Institute, a pro-ID research center established in 2005 partly for the purpose of creating an alternative account of evolution, and other ID people.

(4) Even though one of the most prominent ID advocates, Michael Behe, accepts the common descent of humans and other primates, most ID advocates reject human evolution, and many also attack other inferences to common descent involving the fossil record. Most are probably old-earth “creationists,” and thus it is not hard for their critics simply to call them “creationists.”

This is not news to anyone who has been following my columns on “Science and the Bible.” I won’t repeat things I’ve already said. I will only add the most recent example to support my conclusion. A few weeks ago, the Discovery Institute released a new book, written by two biologists from the Biologic Institute (Ann Gauger & Douglas Axe) and DI staff member Casey Luskin. Called Science and Human Origins (2012), the book argues that evidence for the common ancestry of human and other modern primates—including the genetic information stressed by Francis Collins in The Language of God—is not conclusive. They conclude that the evidence actually supports the existence of an original pair of humans (rather than a group of ca. 10,000 individuals), and that the fossil evidence for common ancestry is spotty and inconclusive.

Human evolution has always been the hard core of opposition to modern natural history. It was the main reason why there was so much religious opposition to Robert Chambers and Charles Darwin in the 19th century; it was the bottom line for William Jennings Bryan, who was willing to accept evolution for other animals (if necessary), in the 1920s; it is the main reason why OECs today continue to question “macroevolution” while accepting “microevolution.” If human evolution is not really at the core of ID as well, despite the very significant presence of Behe at the center of the movement, then why is so much attention being given to a book like this by the leading ID organization? What more can I say?

Historical Comments

Belief in “design” derives from pre-Christian Greek philosophers, especially the two guys at the focal point of the Raphael painting that heads this column (Plato on our left and Aristotle on our right). It has also been promoted by most Christian thinkers, including John Polkinghorne and some other theistic evolutionists of our own day. However the ID movement, which originated in the late 20th century and now defines the term “intelligent design” for all intents and purposes, is mainly opposed to evolution and derives much of its energy from popular anti-evolutionism.

I know quite a bit more about the history of each of the other four positions I’ve presented, and (to be frank) I would rather punt this one, referring readers to several histories of ID by authors more qualified than me on this particular topic. An excellent place to start is an article about Phillip Johnson’s unique place in the development of ID, written by historian Donald Yerxa, whose book (with physicist Karl Giberson) Species of Origins came out a few months later.

No future historian would ignore the various “insider” histories of ID, regardless of how sympathetic they are. Among these I especially recommend Stephen Meyer, “A Scientific History and Philosophical Defense of the Theory of Intelligent Design,” and Jonathan Witt’s “A Brief History of the Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design”. Dembski’s contribution to this book includes a brief view of the longer history (going back to the Greeks), but to the best of my knowledge it’s not available on the internet. Thomas Woodward, who earned his doctorate in communication with a dissertation on the history of ID, published his findings in Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design (2003).

The best overall history of design that I have seen was written by journalist Larry Witham, author of several well-written and interesting books. In By Design: Science and the Search for God (2004), Witham discusses the ID movement accurately, but that is not the lion’s share of the book. Finally, I recommend another print source, Nick Matzke’s essay, “But Isn’t It Creationism? The beginnings of ‘intelligent design’ in the midst of the Arkansas and Louisiana litigation,” in But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy, Updated Edition, ed. Michael Ruse and Robert T. Pennock (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2009), pp. 377-413. Matzke is a leading opponent of ID and not a popular figure among ID proponents, but his account of the symbiosis between ID and YEC, especially the major role played by creationist biologist Dean Kenyon, is well researched and should not be dismissed as propaganda, any more than ID opponents should dismiss some of the other sources I’ve mentioned.

I doubt anyone will have time to read all of these sources, but please add comments about any that you do get around to reading. I won’t be very active during the Christmas holiday, but I’ll drop in from time to time whether or not I leave any replies. I will be back again in about two weeks to close out this long series on “Science and Bible” with a call for you to weigh in with final thoughts.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!


Ted Davis is Fellow of the History of Science for the BioLogos Foundation and Professor of the History of Science at Messiah College. At Messiah, Davis teaches courses on historical and contemporary aspects of Christianity and science and directs the Central Pennsylvania Forum for Religion and Science.

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lancelot10 - #75545

December 20th 2012

If it looks like a fish swims like a fish breathes like a fish - it IS a fish.

In the April 2006 issue of Nature, Daeschler, et al. reported the discovery of several fossilized specimens of a crossopterygian fish named Tiktaalik roseae in sedimentary layers in arctic Canada. They confidently declared that Tiktaalik “represents an intermediate between fish with fins and tetrapods with limbs.”

Whatever else we might say about Tiktaalik, it is a fish. Like nearly all bony fishes, these fish have small pelvic fins, retain fin rays in their paired appendages and have well-developed gills—all consistent with an entirely aquatic life style.


Ed Babinski - #80573

May 30th 2013

Yes, a fish with a neck (fish don’t have necks but amphibians do), and a fish with a horizontally flattened skull with eyes on top (resembling an amphibian’s skull from the very next geologic period), and with thickened finger-like bones. All consistent with it being a cousin to both fish and the amphibians discovered in the geologic period directly afterwards. 

In fact they found Tiktaalik by searching for it at a place on earth where they knew exposed rocks could be found that belonged to the geologic period that directly preceded the arrival of early amphibians. So bingo for geology as well as biology. And creationism loses again. 


Seenoevo - #75569

December 20th 2012

Eddie wrote: “What might the Roman Catholic Church say is at least one eternal theological truth for each of the four wordings? And what does Seenoevo say?”

I don’t understand. Who cares what the Roman Catholic Church says? Or what Seenovo says? They or I have the answers?

You indicated you have the answers, via C.S. Lewis, for you wrote: “A writer such as C. S. Lewis could show him a better way.”

Then, what is the better way C.S. Lewis could show lancelot10 and me, regarding the theological truths expressed by the wordy Genesis 1-2 (e.g. the four examples I gave)?


Eddie - #75571

December 20th 2012

If you’re not going to take the time to first read Lewis’s works, I’m not going to invest any time in discussing them with you.  When I see signs, from your discussion, that you have read Lewis and comprehended Lewis’s overall position, then I will consent to help you understand some of the particulars.   

As for the Catholic Church, you indicated in another posting that the Bible was of little use unless there was an authoritative interpreter of it.  Since there is an ecclesiastical organization—the Roman Catholic Church—which claims competence as the authoritative interpreter of the Bible, I wondered whether you would affirm or deny the truth of that claim.  And if you would affirm the truth of the claim, then it would be reasonable to expect that you would have done research and discovered any official RC interpretation that exists of the passages you gave.  If you would present that interpretation, perhaps someone else here would then undertake to compare and contrast it with the teaching of Lewis.  But I’m not holding my breath.  I don’t think you are here to exchange ideas, but to condemn BioLogos, and to condemn evolution itself, as an un-Christian theory.

If you are really interested in the theological truths of Genesis, there are a number of learned commentaries and other theological works that you can read.  The place for detailed exegesis of Genesis is not a comments section on a blog site.  A couple of places you might start:  the commentaries of Von Rad and Cassuto.


Seenoevo - #75574

December 20th 2012

“If you’re not going to take the time to first read Lewis’s works, I’m not going to invest any time in discussing them with you. When I see signs, from your discussion, that you have read Lewis and comprehended Lewis’s overall position, then I will consent to help you understand some of the particulars.”

I haven’t read everything written by Lewis, just some (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, “Man or Rabbit?” from God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics). In those works, I just don’t recall him addressing what I asked about in #75519.   And of course, I read the four articles on Lewis here. I assumed the author presentation of Lewis’ overall position (re: Genesis) was reasonably accurate, and I think I comprehended it. But again, I don’t see anything about the theology I asked about in #75519.   You seemed to indicate that Lewis somewhere has addressed my questions. I just thought you’d tell us what he said.

Do Von Rad and Cassuto address the questions I had in #75519?

 

(This computer interface or something is arbitrarily bolding text I did not necessarily want bolded. I haven’t figured out how to undo the interface’s “magic”.)


Eddie - #75577

December 20th 2012

Lewis did not write detailed commentaries on Biblical books.  He refers to Biblical passages as needed, when relevant to the subject he is addressing.  It is possible that some Lewis fan has compiled a list of all of Lewis’s references to Scripture, and such a list might include some references to the passages you have in mind, but I’m unaware of where such a work can be found.  When I offered to help you with Lewis, it was not with regard to his use of those specific passages, but with regard to various aspects of his thinking regarding theology, literature, and modern civilization, with which I am fairly familiar.

My point about Lewis to lancelot was more general:  Lewis’s overall approach to Genesis, which does not require matching particular Biblical statements to particular historical events, is one which can, in principle, make it possible for a Christian to accept some form of evolution.  I am not saying that Christians must or should try to harmonize their faith with evolution; I am saying that Lewis’s understanding of how Genesis is to be read does not rule out such a harmonization if some Christians think it desirable.  And Lewis’s understanding of how Genesis is to be read flows from a lifetime of literary scholarship, not from any desire to make theology bend the knee to science.  Lewis’s motivation is therefore, to my mind, healthier from a Biblical point of view than the external motivation which seems to guide many TEs, i.e., to interpret the Bible in a way that is not offensive to consensus science.

It has been years since I read the commentaries of Cassuto and Von Rad, and I do not possess copies, but given that they are full commentaries which analyze pretty well every verse, it is very likely that they would have some comments which would help you to understand the intention of Genesis regarding the passages that you are curious about.  Other commenters whom you may find helpful are Westermann and Sarna, and I’m sure others here can suggest others.  

I notice that you did not answer my question about the Roman Church.

I would suggest that you try writing your comments in WordPad, and then pasting them in here.  That might get rid of the strange formatting, which might be a product of your word processor interacting with the flawed interface here.


Seenoevo - #75580

December 21st 2012

Then you’re not aware if Lewis, Von Rad, Cassuto, Westermann or Sarna had answers or opinions on the questions I had in #75519. Those questions, again, were

What would be the additional theological truths conveyed by the following additional words in Genesis 1-2?

1) “according to their own kinds” (i.e. not ‘one kind becoming many kinds’)

2) “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” (i.e. not ‘the beasts and man will have each other and green plants for food’)

3) “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground” (i.e. not ‘from another living thing’)

4) “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done” (i.e. not ‘made and will continue to make until the end of the world’)

 

Those authors may not know, and neither do I, what theological truths these verses are conveying. Maybe you have an opinion?

For now, I can only wonder why they were written at all. It’s worthy of pondering, isn’t it?

 

“I notice that you did not answer my question about the Roman Church.”  [“As for the Catholic Church, you indicated in another posting that the Bible was of little use unless there was an authoritative interpreter of it. Since there is an ecclesiastical organization—the Roman Catholic Church—which claims competence as the authoritative interpreter of the Bible, I wondered whether you would affirm or deny the truth of that claim.”]

People make all kinds of claims all the time. I would affirm that anybody could make that claim. Don’t you think anybody could make that claim, or deny that claim?

As for the truth of it, well, to paraphrase John 18:38, “What’s that?”

I will say this, though:

If what you say about the Roman Catholic Church’s claim is accurate, then, although they might be scam artists, they at least get some points for not being pusillanimous. In my book, at least.

 

The good thing about BioLogos is that here virtually all claims are heard, and none can be categorically condemned. In a sense, all claims are equal.

And that’s a good thing, isn’t it?


Eddie - #75590

December 21st 2012

The problem with the questions you are asking is the hermeneutical principle underlying them (which you have kindly indicated in your parenthetical remarks).

You seem to want to understand each statement as an independent theological proposition, rather than as part of an overall story with an overall point.

Thus, e.g., you seem to be drawing a distinction between creating fixed kinds, and creating different kinds by varying an original kind, and you seem to see a theological division there.  But if one looks at the bigger picture, in which the meaning is:  “God created all the things that we see,” the distinction between possible modes of creation may not be important at all.  To the ancient Hebrew mind, which was concrete and focused on the world as it appears, rather than hidden processes or abstract causes such as are dealt with by science and philosophy, a picture of the simultaneous and parallel production of distinct “kinds” may have seemed most in accord with “common sense”; and therefore it would make sense for a creation story to fall in with that way of thinking; but for all we know, the account is shorthand—the writer (God, or someone inspired by God) did not deem it necessary for the ancient readers to know the details of how God produced the different “kinds,” and therefore simply asserted that God did so.

The by-product of this terse literary strategy is that it lends itself to a kind of mechanical literalism; but since the point of the chapter is not theoretical or historical but spiritual—the dependence of the order and sustenance of the world on God—such a literalism would miss the point.

The same would apply to Adam being formed out of the dust of the ground, etc.  The point which hits me in the face is that we are ephemeral and vulnerable to dissolution, dependent on the grace of God for our very existence.  How man emerges from dust is not the point of the story, nor does the story suffer any if one imagines that the process took 3 billion years.  Of course, I am not saying that the writer of Genesis 2-3, if human, imagined any evolutionary process.  I’m merely saying that the writer, in his storytelling, may well have been trying to convey significance, not history—or at the very least, that you cannot assume that the writer was trying to convey history.  You would have to prove it by a lengthy discussion of the Hebrew text.  (And one of your first difficulties would then be to show how both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 could both be strictly literal-historical, since they give incompatible descriptions on the literal level—another good reason for doubting that either of the stories was meant to be understood as strictly historical.)

Another problem with your approach is that you seem to be driven by a need to take theological stands on particular issues, such as evolution, rather than by a desire to come to understand the Bible more generally.  Thus, because you have no guarantee that Cassuto, Von Rad, etc. will answer your specific theological questions, you seem disinclined to read them.  But anyone with a keen interest in understanding Genesis would want to read such commentaries out of a sheer thirst for Biblical knowledge generally.  I don’t know a serious student of Genesis who doesn’t recognize the names of the authors I mentioned and who hasn’t at read or consulted at least some of those commentaries.

One of my problems in these science/theology debates is that the majority of the people participating come in with a fixed theological position, and then quote-mine Genesis for whatever will help defend their position.  But serious Biblical study means suspending all such positions and getting to know the Bible up close and personal.  It means learning Greek and Hebrew—where economic circumstances and educational opportunities permit—and it means spending hour after hour on the stories, and hour after hour consulting the great Jewish and Christian commentaries on the stories.  I don’t find most theology/science combatants are willing to put in that kind of homework, and as a result most of what emerges from the debates is partisanship and proof-texting.  The better approach is to learn the Bible well because it’s worth learning well—and then, after some years of study, carefully approach particular current questions, whether evolution, or divorce, or something else, with the prudent and measured mind of a Bible student rather than the crusading mentality of a swashbuckling champion of causes, theologies, confessions, or denominations.


lancelot10 - #75585

December 21st 2012

v


lancelot10 - #75588

December 21st 2012

This is not a rude sign above  - I had posts blocked and was just testing - 


lancelot10 - #75586

December 21st 2012

Lyell started it all when he gazed at the geologic column and added the long time scale.

Eddie do you believe the sedimentary geologic column is one year old in the main and caused by Noah’s flood or do you go for the billions of years scenario.


Eddie - #75591

December 21st 2012

No, I don’t think the geologic column is one year old, and I don’t think it was caused by Noah’s Flood, and I think that anyone who believes these things is not only wrong in his science, but misunderstands the genre and purpose of the Flood story.  And I’ve also learned from bitter experience that arguing with anyone who believes these things is a huge sink-hole for time, because the kind of person who believes them is generally a dogmatist who is not interested in dialogue and has no intention of changing his mind based on scientific or literary evidence.  That’s why I won’t engage you on the question.  But you will find plenty of web sites where various sorts of people bicker over Flood Geology, if that’s the sort of conversation you go in for.


lancelot10 - #75593

December 21st 2012

Eddie  -   If Noah’s flood did not happen this would undermine the whole Bible.

I go by the bible and say it was nearly all laid down in the year of Noah’s flood and represents perfectly what we would expect from a global flood with billions of fossils encased in water laid sediment.  Indeed this was the general belief of most christians and scientists at this time where nearly everyone went to church and most believed genesis literally.

The billions of years age for the column - is the backbone of evolutionary science - so the deist Lyell got the right target for the devil. 

Interestingly I read somewhere that Templeman , Billy Graham’s preacher friend got his doubts from the geologic column and lost his faith - however maybe loss of faith comes first and man looks to evolution as his new non judgemental god.

The whole evolutionary theory is mainly built on the mythical geologic column of lyell - a lawyer. However with mountains lying on sediments up to 200 million years younger - with no sign of sideways movement - the whole time scale of the column is a figment of  imagination - the only conformity is that there is no conformity.  The sedimentary column was in the main laid down in the one year of the Noachin flood - this is what the whole argument is about although  athiests, deists, TE’s dress it up in other clothes to obfuscate the fact using such diversions as ERV’s  - tetrapods - whale anchor points - coelacanths with legs - etc.

With overwhelming evidence that the column was laid down in a year with soft curve strata and polystrate logs and now radio dating evolutionists still cannot admit the truth.


Eddie - #75599

December 21st 2012

You don’t “go by the Bible”—you go by your own interpretation of the Bible.  There’s a difference between what the Bible means to teach, and your own limited understanding of that teaching.  And it appears that you are unwilling to go back to school to expand that limited understanding.

I can’t compel an unwilling person to learn.  So I won’t debate with you.  But let me make this clear:  You think you are helping the Christian cause, but you are harming it.  More people will be repelled by Christianity than attracted by it, when they read your posts.  So if your goal is to drive people away from Christianity, by all means, continue to do what you are doing.  But if your goal is to attract people to Christianity, then make yourself more informed; enroll in a B.A. program in religion in a serious, non-sectarian, non-fundamentalist university, first thing in the New Year.  Learn Biblical languages.  Learn Biblical hermeneutics.  Learn ancient history.  Learn the history of Christian thought.  Take a course in religion and science from someone who actually knows something about the subject.  It’s never too late to get an education.

My remarks are blunt and critical, but in making them I aim only at your long-term good, and the long-term good of the cause you claim to serve.  Farewell and Merry Christmas.


Eddie - #75607

December 21st 2012

“I read somewhere that Templeman.”  It is Templeton, not Templeman, that you are talking about.  You should check your facts, instead of going by memory.


Ed Babinski - #80574

May 30th 2013

POLYSTRATE LOGS? 

There are different kinds of polystrate logs. The Joggin’s formation in Nova Scotia features buried forests with trees and their roots lying at the same horizon. It’s a buried forest. So are the Yellowstone formations, as one of Price’s flood geology students admitted. They are forests buried by volcanic eruptions and mudslides, which occurred several times in the Yellostone area as attested by the occaisional thin layer of ash found in the Green River formation which is separated by thousands of thin layers of varves that do not contain ash, but totalling several million varve layers in fact. These volcanic eruptions occured from time to time, and their ash is preserved in a very thin layer found occaisionaly between thousands of other varves. 

Deep in coal mines you can see trees with roots that are preserved in situ, along with footprints of dinosaurs around the base of the tree. Those trees grew at that level once, long ago, and dinosaurs walked around at their base before a volcano, mudslide, rain storm, flood, tsunami, buried them. Which means it takes time for a tree to grow and form roots at a specific horizon in the geologic record. There’s plenty of strata beneath it and above it. So Flood geology is falsified. Just consider how long it takes a tree to grow. 

The tree trunks blow down by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens are another version of buried logs, they landed in Spirit Lake and sunk in upright position at the bottom of the lake, but there’s no footprints of any animals around their base, just mud, the no roots in situ. And the logs do not line up like a forest in situ would. So, there’s many ways for logs to be buried in the fossil record, and none of them disprove geology. 

The relative order of strata found in the geologic column is confirmed around the world. Every deposit has the correct relative order, but no single deposit features sediments from every time period, which is as expected. Though there’s at least eight or more thick strata found around the world that do contain at least some sediments from every major geologic period. So the geologic column has been verified beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

What about “reverse strata?” The largest widest known terrain of “reversed strata” is the Lewis Mountain formation. Morris made use of it in The Genesis Flood. But his fellow creationists, Steve Austin and Kurt Wise, both admitted that such a formation proved modern geology rather than refuted it. They admitted that the uplift of the nearby mountain pushed the older strata above the younger strata, and that you can tell that is the case because experiments indicate that the older strata is continuing to move inch-worm-like above the younger strata, and many defomations are clearly seen, and the older strata which is on top contains rocks contain crystals that only arise after being cooked over great time and under great pressure, and such pressure does  not exist at the level where the rocks are now, so that older strata would have had to have been underground originally rather than on top where it is now. While the younger strata on the bottom does not contain such cooked rocks, meaning it has only had the older strata piled on top of it relatively recently. So the BIGGEST KNOWN CASE OF REVERSE STRATA proves the truth of modern geology. 

Even the person whom Morris sent to the Lewis Mountain Overthurst to take pictures of the reversed strata did not know what to take pictures of. He was a creationist biologist named Walter Lammerts. He admitted that the photos that appeared in The Genesis Flood were of stuff he had no way of knowing if it was even the reversed strata he was seeking to photograph. He guessed it might be. Lammerts made that embarrassing admission in an interview for the book, The Creationists. 

 


lancelot10 - #75601

December 21st 2012

Well I suppose many people were driven from Christianity by the apostles themselves when they spoke out with blunt literal truths - paul was called mad and the disciples were called unlearned by the pharisees and scribes.

I actually am professionally qualified and am 63 years old - an evolutionist athiest for 35 years and bible believing 6 day creationist for 25 years - so I can take ridicule from those who profess to be wise.

Jesus said the gospel can be understood by a child - you did not need a professorship.


Eddie - #75605

December 21st 2012

Translation of the above response:  “I’ve made up my mind about theology.  Don’t confuse me by suggesting that I should get some theological education first.”


Roger A. Sawtelle - #75618

December 21st 2012

lancelot10,

I am glad that you believe in the Bible.  However I have found that Creationists and atheists seem to be two sides of the same coin, both have a worldview based on an ideology rather than faith.

A fundamentalist ideology is better than an atheist one, but not by much.  Christians are called to have faith in Jesus Christ, not the Bible or a narrow theology/ideology.      


Seenoevo - #75619

December 21st 2012

“You seem to want to understand each statement as an independent theological proposition, rather than as part of an overall story with an overall point.”

Didn’t Scripture already provide the overall story with an overall point? As I wrote earlier: “Genesis 1-2 might have been condensed down to just one verse, something like “In the beginning, God created all things, including the heavens and the earth, [and] all things on the earth.” Scripture clearly emphasizes that God created everything, and often does so with few words (e.g. Isaiah 44:24, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16).”

In fact, a reasonable person doesn’t even need Scripture to get the overall story with an overall point, namely, “Nothing comes from nothing; something must come from something else, and ultimately from an eternal Something; and since there is something (e.g. the questioner and everything around him), there must be a Something who was involved in everything coming to be.” (I think Aquinas gets into this in more detail. See also Romans 1:20.)

Any reasonable person could reason to this conclusion. Even, I believe, the PhD-less, mentally-challenged “ancient Hebrew mind, which was concrete and focused on the world as it appears, rather than hidden processes or abstract causes such as are dealt with by science and philosophy”.

 

“But if one looks at the bigger picture, in which the meaning is: “God created all the things that we see,” the distinction between possible modes of creation may not be important at all.”

Agreed. But to repeat yet again, my points is: If the modes of creation are not important at all, then why does Genesis delve into it? Why doesn’t Genesis just say “God created all the things that we see”, and leave it at that?  But Genesis does go into detail on the creation account, so there must be an intent behind the detail. If the intent is not to elucidate the physical but rather the metaphysical (or theological), then what are the metaphysical/theological lessons for my four passages from Genesis?

 

“a picture of the simultaneous and parallel production of distinct “kinds” may have seemed most in accord with “common sense”; and therefore it would make sense for a creation story to fall in with that way of thinking”

The Bible is, I think, the biggest selling book of all time. It’s considered distinctive and unique, not only because some say it’s the word of God, but because it tells us some surprising things, things we wouldn’t expect (e.g. a God whose ways are not like ours (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9), a God splitting a sea, a God coming to man as a baby through a virgin, a God suffering a human existence capped by a crucifixion.)

Does Scripture lead a reader to think it is interested in telling us things which already ‘fall in with our way of thinking’? Don’t most people recognize that it’s full of surprises? Why would the writer of Genesis feel the need to ‘go against type’ and so condescend to the readers by making up a story they could supposedly more readily accept? 

 

“The same would apply to Adam being formed out of the dust of the ground, etc. The point which hits me in the face is that we are ephemeral and vulnerable to dissolution”

Wouldn’t people who had already witnessed the death and disintegration of other people and other living things for many, many years already be well aware that “we are ephemeral and vulnerable to dissolution”? For the ‘mentally-challenged’ Hebrews, this was news?

 

“(And one of your first difficulties would then be to show how both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 could both be strictly literal-historical, since they give incompatible descriptions on the literal level—another good reason for doubting that either of the stories was meant to be understood as strictly historical.)”

Wasn’t this alleged discrepancy between Genesis 1 & 2 put to bed by scholars long ago? Actually, why would one even need a PhD in order to see and understand that the two chapters are saying the same thing with different points of emphasis leading to differences in the sequence of presentation?

 

“Another problem with your approach is that you seem to be driven by a need to take theological stands on particular issues… rather than by a desire to come to understand the Bible more generally…  But anyone with a keen interest in understanding Genesis would want to read such commentaries out of a sheer thirst for Biblical knowledge generally. I don’t know a serious student of Genesis who doesn’t recognize the names of the authors I mentioned and who hasn’t at read or consulted at least some of those commentaries… But serious Biblical study means suspending all such positions and getting to know the Bible up close and personal”

Encouraging “seriousness”, and promoting a certain understanding or definition of “seriousness”, certainly helps the employment prospects in some quarters, doesn’t it? Publish or perish; get “serious” or suffer.

‘All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. Make certain first to consult a PhD.’ [Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 3:16]

 

“The better approach is to learn the Bible well because it’s worth learning well—and then, after some years of study, carefully approach particular current questions, whether evolution, or divorce, or something else, with the prudent and measured mind of a Bible student rather than the crusading mentality of a swashbuckling champion of causes, theologies, confessions, or denominations.”

Am I a “swashbuckler”? If so, this ‘unserious’ ‘swashbuckler’ is putting his sword back in its sheath.

Until the next prolix pirate scene, that is.


Eddie - #75621

December 21st 2012

“Wasn’t this alleged discrepancy between Genesis 1 & 2 put to bed by scholars long ago?”

On the contrary; it has been confirmed again and again.  On the strictly literal-historical level, the two accounts are incompatible, and can only be harmonized by violent forcing which distorts one or the other account, or both.  I know of no Biblical scholar at any world-class university or seminary who thinks otherwise.  It is only the fundamentalist “scholars”—Protestant and Catholic (though thankfully there aren’t many Catholic ones, Catholics generally being too sensitive to embrace blockheaded literalism)—who are still trying to harmonize.  But the serious scholarly world has left them long behind.  (Of course, this is not to say that the two accounts are incompatible on other levels; indeed, I would argue they are intentionally different and meant to complement one another.)

On another point:  seriousness as I mean it has nothing to do with success in academic careers, or how much one publishes; it has everything to do with intellectual honesty and intellectual rigor.  I despise much that goes on in Biblical studies in the universities as much as you do; but the fact remains that the level of intellectual discourse about the Bible is considerably higher at the great universities and university-affiliated seminaries than in the little fundamentalist colleges and Bible institutes.  Rubbish exegesis that would win applause in a local Baptist congregation will be quickly exposed as bad scholarship when tested against the criticism of the most learned Presbyterian, Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic, and Jewish scholars.  Honesty and rigor are only kept up by competition—by the presence of those with different views from one’s own.  That can’t happen in the self-congratulatory, self-reinforcing world of fundamentalist churches and seminaries.  That’s why the best Bible scholars tend to leave the world of fundamentalism, as too intellectually suffocating, for the less tribal, more cosmopolitan world of interdenominational scholarship.  

I certainly did not say that the Hebrews were “mentally challenged.”  I did not say that abstract thinking was superior to concrete thinking.  The point is that if you are producing a revelation to be read and understood by such people, you have to know how they think.  If Genesis had been written in the metaphysical language of Aquinas, the ancient Israelites wouldn’t have had a clue what it meant.  That does not preclude saying “surprising” things—but the surprising things have to be stated in a language that is intelligible to the reading audience.  Moses told the Israelites they had to give their slaves a day off.  That was surprising, but still intelligible in their language.  But if the writer of Genesis had started talking about genomic alterations over the space of millions of years, reinforced by natural selection, causing creatures to slowly transform into other creatures, it would have completely lost its farmer and shepherd audience.  So it spoke of God making “kinds” without giving any details of how God made them.

Have you read the work of Denis Lamoureux on Genesis 1, by the way?

On Genesis 2, of course the ancient people knew of death and dissolution.  But the origin from dust story drives home pictorially the point that this is not some unfortunate accident that happens to people, but is their essential nature and destiny —they are but animated dust—unless by divine grace their dustlike nature is transcended, and they achieve immortal life.

It seems to me that you are trying to “wing it”—to become a self-taught Biblical scholar by ad hoc reasoning.  Yet you would not try to teach yourself quantum physics or econometrics; you would seek teachers.  I suggest that you seek teachers to help you with the Bible.  I’ve recommended some books by good teachers.  I also recommend live instruction at a high-quality university.  You will find that if you acquire such instruction, many of your questions will be answered, and that you will have gained the skills to find the answers to others yourself.  Perhaps you could join Sir Lancelot X in January, if he begins his B.A. program in religious studies then.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Seenoevo - #75625

December 22nd 2012

Seenoevo: “Wasn’t this alleged discrepancy between Genesis 1 & 2 put to bed by scholars long ago?”

Eddie: “On the contrary; it has been confirmed again and again. On the strictly literal-historical level, the two accounts are incompatible, and can only be harmonized by violent forcing which distorts one or the other account, or both.”

With, as they say, all due respect, to the scholars, I see no conflict between Genesis 1 & 2.

However, for the sake of argument, even IF a conflict between the two was maintained, even IF a conflict was proven, then

1) It does not logically follow that neither chapter is true on a “strictly literal-historical level”, or, in other words,

2) The possibility is logically left open that one of the chapters is true on a “strictly literal-historical level”.

3) If only one of the chapters is true on the “strictly literal-historical level”, it would likely be chapter 1.

And maybe we should have a “serious” discussion of how verses such as Isaiah 44:24, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16 are in conflict with both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. For those verses just say ‘God made all things’. Shouldn’t we seriously be open to the interpretation that this means God literally created all things, sun through man, simultaneously? Why not? It would provide an opportunity for additional serious scholarship, debate, publishing, and PhD’ing. Because now we have “discovered” Bible verses which are not only incompatible with the traditional understanding of the Genesis 1 creation account, they’re also in conflict with every known evolution theory.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

 

“seriousness as I mean it… has everything to do with intellectual honesty and intellectual rigor… the level of intellectual discourse about the Bible is considerably higher at the great universities and university-affiliated seminaries…Honesty and rigor are only kept up by competition—by the presence of those with different views from one’s own.”

Are you aware of any professors at what you consider to be the “great universities and university-affiliated seminaries” who have addressed my questions about the four sets of Genesis verses? If they haven’t yet, maybe they could in the future?

But since I’m not part of the academic establishment, they probably wouldn’t receive me into their court and entertain my questions. I guess there could be a slim possibility that they would, if only for “competitive” purposes. Even if they failed to be nice enough to give me the benefit of the doubt, regarding my intellectual honesty, they would hopefully have enough interest in the “competition” to intellectually and rigorously answer my questions. They could even make me look foolish, and put me in my “unserious” place. I would think it might be a reasonably attractive opportunity for an academic.

Or maybe you could be my surrogate, and ask the questions for me, and report back with their answers? (That’s my Christmas wish!)

Continued…


Eddie - #75629

December 22nd 2012

Regarding your four questions:

Suppose you were an engineer, and your firm was asked to answer four questions pertaining to a potential new environmental project by a government agency.  Would you expect someone to have written a book or article answering exactly those four questions?  Why should you?  Maybe the engineering problem the government is trying to solve has never been formulated before, so there is no formulaic answer in the textbooks or journals.  So what would you do?  Gripe at professors of engineering for not having ready-made answers to your questions?  No, what you would do—if you were a competent engineer— would be to look systematically through the engineering literature for material relevant to the questions the government is asking, and then, using your own training and ingenuity, recast the results of your research in a new framework so that you can answer the government’s questions. 
 
It’s exactly the same in Biblical studies.  What a trained Biblical scholar learns to do, when he can’t find a direct answer to a given question, is to find material relevant to answering a given question.  So, for example, if one’s question is about certain passages from Genesis 1, one learns to consult, e.g., verse-by-verse commentaries on Genesis, some of which are quite detailed in their discussions.  Sometimes a huge volume (as in the case of Westermann) is devoted exclusively to Genesis 1-11.  It is very likely that you would find much material relevant to answering all four of your questions in Westermann’s commentary.  I am not about to go through it and determine exactly what fraction of your concerns are dealt with, but many of them would be.  And what might not be dealt with, directly or indirectly, by him, might well be dealt with, directly or indirectly, in the commentaries of Cassuto, or Skinner, or Von Rad, or others. 
 
If you took up a program in Biblical studies at a decent university, one thing the library would have is the Internationale Zeitschriftenschau für Bibelwissenschaft—a massive bibliographical reference work (originally in bound volumes, now doubtless also online) which covers just about everything in Biblical studies.  It has a variety of sections.  One of the sections goes verse by verse through the Bible, giving you journal articles, from the 19th century through to the present, that discuss that particular verse (and surrounding verses, usually) of the Bible.  If you did a program in Biblical studies, your professors would help you to get familiar with this reference tool and use it to good effect.
 
Have I ever seen your four questions, exactly as you formulate them, answered directly in any commentary or article?  Not as far as I can remember.  Have I ever read articles or commentaries or other literature which deal with the particular Biblical passages and/or themes that you are asking about, and deal with them in great depth?  Yes, I’ve seen lots.  And I gave you some starting points.  If you lack the initiative to drive to the library in that car you have just mentioned, and take up those starting points, that is not my problem.  I’m not an “instant answer to Biblical questions” service.  Nor is any other Biblical scholar.  You have to do the heavy lifting yourself.  Life is so unfair, isn’t it?

Seenoevo - #75626

December 22nd 2012

Continuation …

“The point is that if you are producing a revelation to be read and understood by such people, you have to know how they think. If Genesis had been written in the metaphysical language of Aquinas, the ancient Israelites wouldn’t have had a clue what it meant. That does not preclude saying “surprising” things—but the surprising things have to be stated in a language that is intelligible to the reading audience.”

If long-ages-evolution was God’s creative way, why would Genesis need the metaphysical language of Aquinas? And, although you didn’t mention it, why would Genesis need technical biological language? If the writer of Genesis wanted to communicate accurately God’s evolutionary truth, but in a necessarily short and simple way for the simple people, don’t you think the simple Hebrews could have understood something like the following?

“there was evening and there was morning, another day. But every day was as a thousand years for the Lord… and over many many such days the Lord took the dust and the water and from it made plants and animals… and from the first born of the plants and animals he made more kinds of plants and animals…  and after many many more days had passed, the Lord caused one of the animals to go into a deep sleep and took one of its ribs and closed it up with flesh and so made the first man… and the Lord provided the animals each other for food, and it was good… and the man also ate the animals for food, and it was good. Some animals also ate plants. And sometimes man made a salad, as well… and the Lord saw all that he had made and saw that it was good, and so took a rest… But so that it would be very good, the Lord resumed making more kinds of living things the next week… but every week is as a thousand thousand years to the Lord …”

Wouldn’t the Hebrews (and us moderns, too) get that? And it would make my questions about the four sets of Genesis verses go away. If Seenoevo could make the story acceptable for evolution, certainly God and his scribe could, couldn’t they?

Why didn’t they?

 

“Have you read the work of Denis Lamoureux on Genesis 1, by the way?”

No, I haven’t. If you can assure me he directly and fully addresses my questions, I will.

 

“But the origin from dust story drives home pictorially the point that this is not some unfortunate accident that happens to people, but is their essential nature and destiny —they are but animated dust—unless by divine grace their dustlike nature is transcended, and they achieve immortal life.”

Continuing my book of Genesis-reformed,

“and after man’s sin, the Lord told man ‘You will die, and you will return from whence you and the animals came, to the dust and the water…”

 

“It seems to me that you are trying to “wing it”—to become a self-taught Biblical scholar by ad hoc reasoning. Yet you would not try to teach yourself quantum physics or econometrics; you would seek teachers.”

As I was going to my car the other day, a man asked me “You’re not going to use that thing are you?” I was startled, and responded “Well, yes, I am.” He said “Do you understand the workings of internal combustion engines, transmissions, the computer software, automotive design and manufacture, and the history of automobiles?” I said “Well, no.” The man said “Let me teach you about these things.” I said “No thanks. I got to get going.” The man said “Well if you don’t know these things, you shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel.” I was fascinated, and a bit flummoxed, but I was also running late. I said “Thank you. Merry Christmas.” Then I got in my car and drove off.

 

Interesting read here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324461604578189293023870974.html?mod=opinion_newsreel

As John Wayne might have said,

Merry Christmas, pilgrim!


Eddie - #75630

December 22nd 2012

Yes, the Bible could have provided a crude, non-technical version of evolutionary theory suited to the Hebraic mind—but you don’t seem to have considered the possibility that the author of Genesis—whether you consider that author to be God, Moses, or some divinely-informed scribe or group of scribes—might have deemed that such historical-biological information was not important to provide.  The author—let’s say God—might have decided that, for now, the important take-home message was that God thought up the “kinds” and made them; God would of course know that later, once men developed natural science, they would begin to suspect that the “kinds” might have been made through a more subtle and complex process than previously imagined.  But Israel did not need to know that in the beginning.  Nor did the early church.  So the fact that God did not mention evolution in Genesis does not prove that evolution did not happen.

(And of course, if you are paying attention at all to my various conversations on this site, you will know that I am not declaring dogmatically that evolution did happen.  All that I’ve said is that the Bible can be read in such a way as to allow for evolution.  The implication is that the question whether evolution happened, and the question by what mechanisms it might have happened, are empirical and theoretical questions rather than theological ones.  And I’m quite content to let the truth or falsehood of both the occurrence and the purported mechanisms of evolution be determined by empirical and theoretical considerations, and leave the Bible out of it.)

The car analogy is not a good one, because one can be a very good car driver—skilled manually, safe and courteous on the road—while knowing almost nothing about what makes a car work.  But one can’t be a very good interpreter of the Bible without knowing a fair bit about such things as:  the historical background, the perils of relying only on English translation, genre, literary devices, etc.

(I’m not of course saying that a clumsy and untrained Biblical interpreter can’t be a good Christian.  I’m sure that many of the Europeans who hid Jews from the Nazis, for example, were uneducated folks whose opinions on Genesis would have made Bible scholars wince—but they were closer to God than many an arrogant Harvard or Duke Bible scholar.  But we aren’t talking about that.  We are talking about discerning what an ancient Hebrew text meant, and a sweet, kindly, little old Christian lady who is going straight to Heaven is not necessarily, or even normally, the best guide to that.)

I mentioned Lamoureux because he has lectures on his web site which introduce one to the literary study of the Bible.  I don’t agree with Lamoureux about everything, either on exegetical detail or even on general hermeneutical principles, but his lectures are helpful to wean literalist-inerrantists away from mechanical understandings of Genesis as “history”  —and he speaks the evangelical “tongue” much better than I do, so he might be a better bridge than I am.  Of course, I am not sure that you are a Protestant evangelical—your questions on that front indicate that you might be of another persuasion.  If so, you might be interested in knowing that Westermann’s commentary on Genesis has been translated and praised by Fr. Scullion (S. J.).

That’s all I have time for.  Best wishes.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #75634

December 22nd 2012

Ted,

While doing some research on the web to try to understand some of the resources you listed, I came across a book by Michael Ruse on the philosophical roots of Design. 

In trying to understand his point of view by reading the exerpts on the web it seems clear that Ruse as a professor of philosophy and a non-believer (postmodern relativist it seems) places his understanding on Plato and Aristotle, rather than the Bible, esp John 1 Logos, and these views are very different.

Now there may be much confusion historically between the Greek and Biblical views of s=]design and and how it works, as a theologian I do not feel bound to accept the philosophical view, but I am bound to accept John’s understanding and theology, which is very different the Greek. 

Even so Greek view of telos or purpose does contain truth.  The purpose of the heart is to pump blood to provide oxygen, nourishment, and other vital chemicals to the body.  When the heart stops working the body suffers and dies.

The Greek view seems to be that the telos is internal, while the Jewish/Christian view is external and based on natural laws and conditions.

For Darwinism there is no internal telos, only random change.  Natural Selection logically provides the telos of the process, but this is denied by Darwinism.  IMHO this is not true, because it rejects the science of ecology and everyday observation. 

I read recently a study which found that it was “natural” for humans to find meaning in things.  As it turned out the researcher attributed this to a childish understanding of life that believed that water is for drinking and food is for eating and air is for breathing until we modern humans learned from science that this is all wrong.           


Seenoevo - #75639

December 22nd 2012

“paying attention at all to my various conversations on this site…I’m quite content to let the truth or falsehood of both the occurrence and the purported mechanisms of evolution be determined by empirical and theoretical considerations, and leave the Bible out of it.)”

Then why are you posting your thoughts on this website, which is foremost, I think, an evangelical Christian (and maybe even Bible-based) website? Why aren’t you quite content to post only on “secular” websites which give no heed to Scripture, and certainly no heed to reconciling Scripture with evolution?

 

I thought of some more verses of Scripture-reformed:

“I will meditate on thy precepts,
and fix my eyes on thy ways, but only after the wise men I like tell me what thy precepts and ways actually may mean…

Even though princes sit plotting against me,
thy servant will meditate on thy statutes, after I check with certain rabbis on what your statutes imply…

I remember the days of old,
I meditate on all that thou hast done;
I muse on what thy hands have wrought, or at least I will muse after I spend much time getting educated so that I can question the historical background, the perils of relying only on the translation I’m using, the genre, the literary devices, …” (cf. Psalms 119 and 143 reformed).

 

I have no problem with the pursuit of, and attention to, scholarship in Scripture or history or biology or economics or anything else. But when the scholars say things which violate my sense of logic, my experience of the world, my “plain” reading of Scripture, and several millennia of understanding of Scripture… then, I have a “problem”.

I’m also bothered by the fact that after several millennia of consideration of Scripture and after 150+ years of discussion of evolution and its impact on Scriptural interpretation and after many years of research and reading by many PhDs and ThDs, that none of the learned and very well-read contributors here have a ready response that would satisfy my questions about those four sets of Genesis verses.

But they sure can talk about mollusks.

http://biologos.org/blog/surprised-by-jack-part-4-mere-evolution


Eddie - #75644

December 22nd 2012

You are willfully and knowingly (as indicated by your ellipsis) presenting my phrase “leave the Bible out of it” out of context.  I certainly “give heed to Scripture” quite as much as you do (probably more, as I do not—as I suspect you do—rank another source of spiritual authority as equal to Scripture).  But, as you know perfectly well, my point was that if the Bible can be read as compatible with evolution, then there is no Biblical imperative for rejecting evolution, and therefore evolution, if it is to be rejected, must be rejected for empirical and theoretical reasons (as I plainly stated).  Your willingness to ignore my explicit qualifications in order to score a cheap debating point—making it look as if I don’t care about the teaching of the Bible on matters where the Bible is not neutral—is evidence of a lack of intellectual probity on your part.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

As for the four aspects of your “problem”:  (1) your “experience of the world” is obviously quite different from mine; (2) on a “plain” reading of Scripture, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other on many points (it is only by artful contrivance, not by “plain reading” that they can be harmonized in every respect); (3) as for your logic, you’ve demonstrated precious little of it, since most of your posts consist virtually entirely of rhetorical questions, not exposition; and (4) you have given no indication that you have any knowledge whatsoever of what “several millennia of understanding of Scripture” has to say (I’ve seen no discussion of even a single Church Father, Scholastic, or Reformer during your entire tenure here).  So your anguished protest against Biblical scholarship gets no sympathy from me.

I have my own philosophical and theological objections to what the Biblical scholars do; but my objections proceed from inside knowledge of the field, its technical side, its methodological discussions, etc.  And they are tempered by my great respect for what modern Biblical studies has accomplished.  Your objections, on the other hand, strike me as the standard populist resentment of the masses against those more intellectually disciplined and informed than they are—a reaction that is so typically American, and that goes a long way to explaining why America has always been inferior in theology and philosophy to Europe.  In America, and only in America, are the greatest minds supposed to kowtow to the views of the folksy and the Philistine.  Your rhetoric is the rhetoric of the folksy and the Philistine.  I reject it.  


Seenoevo - #75645

December 23rd 2012

The Seenoevo, whose person or words have here been described as, or have here been associated with, the “typically American”, “standard populist”, “inferior in theology and philosophy”, ‘demonstrating precious little logic’, “folksy and the Philistine”, ‘shameful’ … will continue the commentary and questioning.

 

“The by-product of this terse literary strategy is that it lends itself to a kind of mechanical literalism; but since the point of the chapter is not theoretical or historical but spiritual—the dependence of the order and sustenance of the world on God—such a literalism would miss the point.”

Couldn’t we fairly say the point of perhaps every verse in the Bible is spiritual, that is, ultimately spiritual, in the sense that, even though some Bible verses appear to be theoretical statements or historical statements, they are part of a canonical narrative which is ultimately making a spiritual point or points?

If the answer to the above questions is “yes”, then wouldn’t this statement - “but since the point of the chapter is not theoretical or historical but spiritual” – be essentially meaningless or superfluous?

More importantly, was the “is not” in “the point of the chapter is not theoretical or historical but spiritual” a deliberate, well-considered and serious choice of words? Or would the author prefer to redo with something like “may not be”, “might not be”, “many scholars believe that the point of the chapter is not”? 

As it now reads, it sounds like a settled matter or like a dogmatic statement. Is this Eddie dogma? You wrote earlier that “you will know that I am not declaring dogmatically that evolution did happen.”  Would you likewise say that you are not declaring dogmatically that Genesis 1 is not historical-literal? Because it sounds like you’re saying dogmatically that Genesis 1 is not historical-literal.

 

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

 

If I said I’m not, not at all, are we going to have to continue going over more of your responses?

Because I’m not.


Eddie - #75646

December 23rd 2012

Seenoevo:

My conclusion that Genesis 1 is not to be read in a historical-literal fashion is not the product of any dogma.  It is a considered judgment, reached on the basis of 35 years of study of Genesis, study grounded in a lengthy training in Biblical studies which you apparently do not possess and apparently have no interest in acquiring.  And my judgment is shared not by “many” but by “most” scholars competent to discuss the Hebrew Bible.  (Including the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars, if that little piece of data happens to be of any interest to you.)

In bluntly declaring that you are not ashamed of willfully misrepresenting my words by consciously omitting the all-important context, you have revealed yourself to be motivated not by truth but by the desire to win the argument at any cost.  This is actually not a new insight for me, but merely an explicit confirmation, from your own pen, of what I have deduced from the pattern of gamesmanship which runs through all your posts on this site.  You play at Biblical interpretation as if it is a branch of military tactics, with the foe to be defeated on the battlefield being the one who has come to theological conclusions different from your own.  Genesis has become for you an arsenal of passages to be seized and used as weapons.  This being your attitude, there is nothing more we can usefully say to each other.  But I would encourage you to reflect upon your own motivations for conducting yourself as aggressively and disdainfully in theological debate as you do.

In any case, as you have willfully misrepresented me and show no contrition, this will be my last response to you.


lancelot10 - #75647

December 23rd 2012

I can imagine Lyell standing in front on the hardened sedimentary rock at mt st helens saying this rock and the plant and tree fossils are millions of years old and the rock layers have been laid down over billions of years.


Seenoevo - #75650

December 23rd 2012

Lancelot10,

I posted this question a number of times on recent blogs here and have yet to receive any responses. Perhaps you could address it?

Before 2005, in the entire history of paleontology, geology and biology, what was the probably universal consensus on the range of time within which a dead organism either completely decomposes or fossilizes (in a non-freezing environment)?

(Hint: This may involve old T. Rex.)


lancelot10 - #75659

December 24th 2012

I thought I mentioned the T Rex dino flesh on one of the blogs .  You can google up the tendon bits.   The high priests of the evolution god are now in obfuscation mode and are looking into the method of preservation of the T. Rex soft flesh parts .  The blood found in the T Rex bone they decided after wasting two years must be rust.   However many museum fossils are not completely stone - eg many have bone protein.  All impossible if the fossils are more than 1 million years old let alone 70 million years.

So there is no evidence of evolution in the bible and scientific evidence always shows a young earth - such as C14 dating of so called ancient fossils but still the gnostic evolutionists somehow know that God had to learn how to evolve.


Seenoevo - #75651

December 23rd 2012

“this will be my last response to you.”

Anticipating the unfortunate possibility that you won’t actually do what you say you’re going to do or not do here, Seenoevo, who has most recently been called ‘aggressive and disdainful’ … will continue the commentary and questioning.

 

“My conclusion that Genesis 1 is not to be read in a historical-literal fashion is not the product of any dogma. It is a considered judgment, reached on the basis of 35 years of study…”

Could your considered judgment, reached on the basis of 35 years of study, be wrong? Actually, allow me to ask the question differently:

Would you give the traditional literal-historical interpretation of Genesis the “death sentence”?

That is, say you were on the jury in a hypothetical “Court of Falsehood”. [It’s called “Court of Falsehood”, not “Court of Truth”, I think, for reasons similar to why real jury or court decisions are always either “guilty” or “not guilty”, but never “innocent”, or why most people realize that someone “escaping conviction” doesn’t necessarily mean that that someone was truly innocent.] This “Court of Falsehood”, like the God of the Bible, has a very harsh view of falsehood, and will mete out severe punishment for things determined to be false. Your duty is to judge whether the defendant is false. The defendant is the proposition that Genesis 1-2 is literally-historically true.

[Most people realize that in actual courts of law if someone is convicted, the chances are pretty high that that someone was guilty. And people realize the chances of true guilt are very, very high where someone is convicted and sent to the electric chair (i.e. given the “death sentence”). People realize the chances of the convicted’s guilt are very, very high for “death sentence” cases because the sentence results from the unanimous opinion (i.e. not just the opinion of “many” or “most”, but of “all”) of the jurors, which they decided was beyond a reasonable doubt, after considering all the evidence and testimonies and arguments the legal experts could produce. Of course, many people now know, and all people should know, that some death sentences turn out to be “unfortunate”. Sometimes, later evidence proves the convicted was actually not guilty. The jurors’ opinion, which was well-informed, beyond a reasonable doubt, and unanimous… was wrong. Better late than never? When some of the unjustly convicted never get to hear the good news?]

So again, for anyone out there,

Would you give the traditional literal-historical interpretation of Genesis the “death sentence”?

 

Since I posted my four questions in #75519, Eddie was good enough to respond to me and the post 9 times with almost 4,000 words. Did anyone out there learning anything? I didn’t. I certainly didn’t have my questions answered.

And based on prior experience, I strongly suspect that even with “the iinitiative to drive to the library in that car”, when I got to the library I’d read even more words, and really learn nothing.

 

Many people have of a high view of ‘high education’. I have a higher view of ‘true learning’. Many seek scholarship, I seek sapientia.

 

 

“And my judgment is shared not by “many” but by “most” scholars competent to discuss the Hebrew Bible. (Including the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars, if that little piece of data happens to be of any interest to you.)”

I don’t know what’s going on with you and the Catholics, but you’ve brought them up about 8 times in your 9 responses to my #75519. Maybe you should look to Rome?

Maybe you’re just dying to know if I’m Catholic?

Yes, I’m catholic. I’m a catholic questioner; I question universally.

I especially am interested in questioning those who act like they know it all, or who act like they know more than just about anyone they dialogue with on websites.

Merry Christmas.

 

Speaking of which, I had a “Catholic” thought today. Who do you think celebrates Christmas more purely and intensely than anyone else, ever?

 

Mary Christmas?


Eddie - #75718

December 28th 2012

“Maybe you’re just dying to know if I’m Catholic?”

No; I already know the answer to that question.  I just thought you might wish to be more forthcoming with the others here, so that that they would know where your peculiar line of rhetorical questioning is intended to lead them.

“Who do you think celebrates Christmas more purely and intensely than anyone else, ever?”

I don’t generally judge the purity and intensity of the Christianity of others, but if your question has in mind the gravity and beauty of the Christmas worship services, I’d say, offhand, perhaps the Anglicans.

Happy New Year to you.



Roger A. Sawtelle - #75658

December 24th 2012

All You All,

Give unto Nature that which is Nature’s and to God that which is God’s.

A blessed Christmas and wonderful 2013.

Roger


Christy Hemphill - #75705

December 27th 2012

Dr. Davis, thank you so much for sharing your teaching experience in this series. We home school in a remote location out of the U.S. and I have been looking and looking for material like this to use to supplement secular middle school and high school science textbooks and explain the variety of perspectives Christians have in an objective way without lots of propaganda and misconstruing of opposing views. I have compiled the posts and will be saving it for the future.  And whenever BioLogos decides to finally publish materials for home school science instruction, I will be so excited.


Ted Davis - #75746

December 30th 2012

Thank you so very much, Christy, for your kind expression of appreciation. Your diagnosis of the problems with typical material for homeschoolers is dead on target, unfortunately. I am not aware of any plans on the part of BioLogos to produce its own material for homeschooling, but please let me underscore the great value of this particular book (http://biologos.org/resources/books/origins) and the accompanying web site (http://www.faithaliveonline.org/origins/). That is always my first recommendation to homeschooling families, especially for those with children at the high school level.

I’m deeply gratified that my columns are helpful. The overall approach I take to this topic is (if I may say so) also taken by many of my colleagues at Messiah College who teach other topics. If you find this approach refreshing, then I hope you will think of us when the time comes to visit colleges with your children.


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