Why the Church Needs Multiple Theories of Original Sin

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November 25, 2013 Tags: Adam, the Fall, and Sin, Evolution & Christian Faith project, Human Origins, Problem of Evil

Today's entry was written by Loren Haarsma. 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.

Why the Church Needs Multiple Theories of Original Sin
Jan Brueghel the Elder, “The Original Sin” (1616)

When Christians examine the evidence that God used evolution to create human beings, some of the first questions asked are: What about Adam and Eve? If God used evolution, do we have to give up the idea that humanity fell into sin? Then what about Christ’s redemption? These are important questions. Scripture teaches us to take sin seriously. Sin breaks our proper relationship with God. Sin would keep us away from God eternally without God’s rescue.

God’s shocking answer to the problem of sin was the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. During Lent, especially, we contemplate what Christ suffered for our atonement. The Word of God, “begotten from the Father before all ages,”[1] and “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”[2] He became an infant. He grew and lived as we do. He did not sin, but he suffered the terrible consequences of our sins—including denial and betrayal by friends, mob hatred, unjust condemnation by religious and secular authorities, and death by torture. His resurrection and ascension completed and vindicated his work on earth. Consider how vast the problem of sin must be, if God would do all that to solve it.

The church has developed multiple “theories of atonement” which seek to explain how Christ’s work solved the problem of sin.[3] Not every proposed theory of atonement has been accepted; many were debated and rejected. But many competing theories remain—still studied, preached, and compared with each other centuries after they were proposed. This is because scripture itself uses numerous images for Christ’s work: victory over evil, ransom to free us from slavery, covenantal sacrifice, substitutionary bearing the penalty of sin, an example for us to imitate, and more. Indeed, how could a single human theory fully describe Christ’s work? By holding in tension multiple theories of atonement, each with its basis in scripture and each recognized as incomplete, we do more justice to the magnitude and the mystery of Christ’s atonement than any single theory could.

How did we find ourselves in need of such divine rescue? God created us. God is good. God loves us. So why aren’t we sinless? That’s the question of original sin.

Following scripture, theologians over the centuries developed the doctrine of original sin by tracing it to our first human ancestors sinfully disobeying God’s revealed will. The Western church, both Catholic and Protestant, has largely followed Augustine’s formulation: God created the first humans holy and righteous; they chose to sin and this damaged them; the guilt of sin and disordered wills were passed by inheritance to all their descendants.

Just as theologians before Galileo understandably assumed that the earth was fixed and didn’t move, so Augustine and most ancient and medieval theologians who followed him understandably assumed that those first humans—from whom we all descended—were a single pair who lived in Mesopotamia a few thousand years ago.

In the last two centuries, the scientific study of God’s world allowed us to discover things about our ancestors that were unknown throughout most of the church’s history. Genetic and other evidence strongly indicate common ancestry between humans and animals, most closely with other primates. Hundreds of hominid fossils have been discovered which show a history of gradual changes over the last several million years, leading to the oldest Homo sapiens fossils found in Africa and dating to more than 150,000 years ago. Genetic diversity in the human population is not consistent with what we would expect if all humans had descended from a single pair of individuals, but instead implies that during the last million years or more, our ancestral population was never less than a few thousand individuals. Homo sapiens spread from Africa into Asia, Europe, and Australia more than 50,000 years ago, reaching the Americas more than 15,000 years ago. Some Homo sapiens interbred with Homo neanderthalensis and other similar populations already living in Europe and Asia along the way.

A variety of scenarios are being proposed by Christian scholars today for how we might understand the Adam and Eve of Genesis 2, and their disobedience in Genesis 3, in light of modern science. Some scenarios propose Adam and Eve as two individuals living in Mesopotamia just a few thousand years ago, acting not as ancestors but as recent representatives of all humanity. As our representatives, their disobedience caused all of humanity to fall into sin. Other scenarios propose Adam and Eve as two individuals, or as literary representations of a small group of ancient representative-ancestors, selected out of a larger population, living in Africa over 100,000 years ago at the dawn of humanity; they were ancestors—but not the sole ancestors—of all humans today; they fell into disobedience against God over a relatively short period of time with a fairly distinct “before” and “after.” Other scenarios propose that Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3 is a symbolic retelling of the story of every human who, over our long history, became aware of God’s claims on how they ought to live, and then disobeyed.

It’s tempting to think that the church needs to decide quickly which of these scenarios is right, and which ones must be wrong. I believe the church is better served by taking its time, holding several different scenarios in tension for a while as we think through the implications of each.

Just as scripture uses multiple images for atonement, it uses multiple images for sin and the damage caused by sin, including disobedience to law, broken fellowship, enslavement of the will, and corrupted desires. Ancient and medieval theologians—including Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen, Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther—while agreeing on core teachings about original sin and the need for Christ’s atonement, have proposed somewhat different theories about how human nature was damaged by sin and how sin is passed from generation to generation.[4] They wrestled with certain questions repeatedly without always agreeing. For example: how intellectually and morally advanced were the first humans who sinned? Did some humans live for a time in a state of fully developed moral righteousness, or is this a potential state that humans might have grown into through obedience over time? Does sinful disobedience require an explicit command to have been violated, or does violating the promptings of conscience count as well? Was human sin unavoidable? Did human disobedience damage human nature all in a single disobedient act (or pair of acts), or was it through accumulation of many disobedient acts over a longer period of time? How is humanity’s sinful nature passed to each generation?

As we consider the competing scenarios, long-standing theological questions will shape the discussion. For instance, some scholars argue in favor of recent representatives models in part because these scenarios seem most easily compatible with the ideas that the first humans must have started in a state of fully developed moral righteousness, and that human sin must have been avoidable. However, such scenarios require an explanation for the universality of sin: why would the sinful choices two individuals in Mesopotamia, who are not the ancestors of all humans, have such dire consequences for thousands around the world who could not have known about or participated in their choices? Alternatively, some scholars argue in favor of symbolic scenarios in part because these scenarios seem most easily compatible with the ideas that the promptings of conscience count as revelation from God even without explicit commands, and that the damage caused by sin accumulates over time. However, in such scenarios, humanity’s creation and humanity’s fall into sin—while theologically distinct ideas—both happen gradually over time with no clear “before” and “after” at a specific point in history.

If we do our job carefully, the church will be well served by the time spent working through the theological implications of these differing scenarios. If the problem of sin is so vast that it requires such an astonishing solution as the Atonement, perhaps we will also need multiple theories of original sin. Some theories of will be discarded as being inconsistent with God’s revelation in scripture. Those that remain should deepen our understanding and our appreciation of God’s grace and the immensity of the rescue God undertook through Jesus Christ.


  1. Nicene Creed; Greek translation taken from Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions (Grand Rapids, MI: CRC Publications, 1988) [return to body text]
  2. Phil. 2:6-7, Today’s New International Version [return to body text]
  3. There are numerous summaries of different Theories of Atonement. One recent study is: Peter Schmiechen, Saving Power: Theories of Atonement and Forms of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005). A lecture by Dr. Suzanne McDonald, What about the cross? [direct audio link] (Calvin College, 2011 April 28), gives a helpful summary in the context of discussions about human origins. [return to body text]
  4. Three excellent books providing an overview of models of original sin and atonement: [return to body text]

 


Loren Haarsma earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and did five years of postdoctoral research in neuroscience in Boston and in Philadelphia. He began teaching physics at Calvin College in 1999. His current scientific research is studying the activity of ion channels in nerve cells and other cell types, and computer modeling of self-organized complexity in biology and in economics. He studies and writes on topics at the intersection of science and faith, and co-authored Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design with his wife, Deborah.


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cfauster - #83635

November 25th 2013

Excellent essay. I appreciate the bibliography listing the three books. I’ve read George Murphy’s book Models of Atonement.  It’s very helpful.  He’s also published some essays available on-line, including his BioLogos essay at

http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/murphy_scholarly_essay.pdf

and several others elsewhere, including his essay “Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin” at

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2006/PSCF6-06Murphy.pdf

 


David Oh - #83658

November 25th 2013

Before we talk about theories of original sin, should we not first ask the question whether original sin even exists in the light of evolutionary reality?

Trying to rescue the Creation, Fall, Redemption model may be an exercise in futility.


2cortenfour - #83662

November 25th 2013

The “evidence that God used evolution” is actually pretty weak. After all, evolution (Darwinian style) is by definition a process unguided by intelligence. Natural selection is the guiding force, and it is not intelligent. Even God cannot guide an unguided process - it’s a contradiction (not a paradox - a contradiction). If you want to insert God into a creation story, might as well stick to the one He gave us instead of replacing it with one that has non-living matter somehow coming to life, “simple” (actually not simple at all) life branching off into all the flora and fauna, culminating in Mankind, complete with self-written specialized DNA code, and all in violation of known laws of science (eg biogenesis, entropy, etc).
Theologically, any theory of original sin which departs from the biblical narrative necessarily absolves humanity of its culpability in the matter. Evolution has humanity inheriting its “sinful nature” from the beasts - which we once were. And since (according to “evolutionary creation”) God “used” evolution, He is ultimately responsible for building depravity into mankind from the start.  If that’s the case, it seems like He is obligated to fix what He messed up in the first place: He OWES us salvation. Where is Amazing Grace in this scenario? Absent.
Praise God He gave us the real story in Genesis. Man was perfect - “very good”. He rebelled. We inherit our sinful nature from our representative head - the one man Adam (NOT our animal ancestors). And even though God would have been (and still is) perfectly justified in giving us all what we deserve because of OUR rebellion, He saves us by grace, through faith in the one Man Jesus Christ.
We can call Adam a myth, but we do so at our peril. In our common descent from Adam lies our solidarity with our Savior. Christ’s lineage traces to Adam (Luke 3). So does ours. If your lineage traces to an ape-man, you have no solidarity with Christ, because Adam was made in the image of God from the dust of the earth. He was “the son of God” (Luke 3), not the son of an ape-like hominid creature.
An aside:
The attempt to draw an analogy between multiple theories of the Atonement and multiple theories of original sin is fallacious. The theories of the Atonement are all based on an event which happened in real history - an event which has cosmic and personal spiritual ramifications. “All of creation” is impacted by what Christ did at the Cross (Rom 8), and none of the theories regarding this event call the EVENT ITSELF into question.
Not so with these “multiple theories of original sin”. They spring from the notion that Darwinian Evolution is a proven fact - a “fact” that rules out the biblical narrative of Creation-Fall-Redemption as historically accurate. Therefore, unlike the theories of the Atonement, which affirm and seek to interpret the event, the “multiple theories of original sin” deny the event itself and seek to replace it with an inferior Evolution inspired alternative. They remind me of something someone asked Eve: “Hath God truly said…?”


Mike Beidler - #83732

November 30th 2013

A few questions of a scentific nature, 2cortenfour:

(1) “By definition” evolution is an unguided process?  From whom do you get your definition?

(2) Why do you single out biology as a process that needs guiding?  Do you see embryological development as “guided”?  How about weather?  Chemistry?  Physics?

(3) Evolutionary processess violate the principle of entropy?  From whom have you received your definition of what the Second Law of Thermodynamics states?


2cortenfour - #83765

December 1st 2013

1. From eminent Evolutionists:
Sir Julian Huxley: “we can dismiss entirely all ideas of a supernatural overriding mind being responsible for the evolutionary process.”
Jacques Monod (Nobel laureate biologist): ” ... it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation…. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.”
Dr. Jerry Coyne (University of Chicago):
“evolution is, as far as we can tell, purposeless and unguided.  There seems to be no direction, mutations are random, and we haven’t detected a teleological force or agent that pushes it in one direction.”
And Encyclopedia Britannica: “Darwin did two things: He showed that evolution was a fact contradicting literal interpretations of Scriptural legends of creation and that its cause, natural selection, was automatic with no room for divine guidance or design.”

2. Because life is in a class by itself as a natural phenomenon. Further, we know that the development of individual living things is governed by specific instructions in the DNA code, which in turn requires an intelligent source.

The development of an organism from an embryo? Yes guided - by the above mentioned instructional program. 

Weather, chemistry, physics? Each operates according to laws which need to be accounted for - God is their Author. But those laws are not analogous to the language of DNA code, which provides detailed construction plans which, when carried out, result in a living organism.
As the above quotes reflect, many eminent evolutionists claim no analogous “program” or “teleological force” has ever been detected in connection with the development of life (from an evolutionary perspective).

3. I realize Biologos has an article claiming Evolution does not violate the 2nd Law, saying the Earth is an open system and the Law has not been successfully applied to living systems.
However, the basic idea - that any natural process results ultimately in a decrease of order over time - I think applies to hypothetical Darwinian Evolution.  From “simple” one-celled organisms to the immense complexity found in the human being over billions of years?  The input of raw energy (sun)  into an open system (earth) is not enough. It has to be informational, instructional energy in order for matter to be organized into the complex machinery required for life, and subsequently for living organisms to become increasingly more complex in defiance of entropy.
(I realize living things decrease entropy for a time, but 1. they possess the apparatus to accomplish this - an apparatus lacking in the general environment of the earth - and, 2. ultimately even living things disintegrate. Entropy wins.)
From what I understand, any supernatural intervention by God to “guide” Evolution defeats the whole concept. It must be said instead that God “wrote the code” to guide evolution beforehand, and is letting the process play out. But, one more time… “we haven’t detected a teleological force or agent that pushes it in one direction.” - Dr. Coyne (leading evolutionist)


Eddie - #83771

December 2nd 2013

Hello, Mike.  Good to see you posting again.  I hope all is well with you.  (When last we communicated, it was privately.)

I am not taking the side of 2cortenfour regarding Christian theology overall, because I do not read the Bible in the same way that he does—I’m in no way committed to the view that Genesis 1 is “history” in the sense of a precise news report.  I also disagree with the idea that evolution necessarily contradicts the second law of thermodynamics.  However, I think I might be able to make clear where 2cortenfour is coming from, in regard to your first two questions.

The popularly known (and popularly heavily sold, by scientists and popular science writers) version of evolution in the last 75 years has been neo-Darwinism.  The classical neo-Darwinians (Mayr, Gaylord Simpson, etc.) certainly conceived of evolution as unguided.  So also have most of the leading scientific promoters of evolution in the public arena, e.g., Asimov, Sagan, Gould, Monod, Dawkins.  And if you go back to Darwin’s Origin of Species and his other writings, it’s clear that Darwin wanted no truck or trade with any kind of guidance of the evolutionary process.  When the leading voices are so united in the notion that evolution is not guided, but is merely the interaction of unplanned mutations with natural selection, it is no wonder that this is how the public will understand evolution.  

I realize there is some attempt by TEs lately to try to argue that neo-Darwinism and original Darwinism ought to be neutral on the question of guidance—that the idea of guidance belongs to metaphysics or theology rather than science.  But historically, that’s revisionist.  That’s not the way professional evolutionary biologists have thought of the process.  The standard view has been that evolution is non-teleological—is directed to no particular ends.  So that is where 2cortenfour is coming from, regarding your first question.

I’m not saying that “evolution” has to be unguided.  I’m merely reporting on what Darwin thought about evolution, and what the classical neo-Darwinians thought about evolution, and what most of the leading voices have been teaching the public.  If you step outside of the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian paradigms, you can find thinkers who believe that evolution could be in some sense “guided” or plotted out in advance.  For example, Henri Bergson, while not accepting that individual species were planned, like works of art, thought that the “life force” had a semi-steering effect toward at least local results of evolution; Michael Denton thinks the whole process is teleological, culminating deliberately in man; and James Shapiro, while agnostic about any overall plan or purpose, argues that organisms can re-engineer their own genomes in response to environmental challenges, and thus, as it were, have a sort of control over where evolution goes.

Significantly, of course, all of these people (and others I haven’t named) have been critical of Darwin and/or neo-Darwinism; whereas most TEs, especially the biologist-TEs, ignore or dismiss all of the above people, and in fact they ignore or dismiss all versions of evolutionary theory that aren’t heavily neo-Darwinian.  There appears to be a sort of professional commitment among the biologist-TEs to the specifically neo-Darwinian formulation of evolution.  Thus the tension between a guided or planned, and an aimless, evolutionary process.  Yet if one does not require a mechanical adherence to neo-Darwinism, evolution can be conceived of in ways that are potentially compatible with planning, guidance, etc.

Regarding your second question, I think 2courtenfour has not argued that “biology” needs guiding.  He is not saying anything that broad.  I think he is suggesting that “evolution” would have to be guided to keep on track with God’s plans.  And the reason for this is that evolution is quite different from (to use your most specific example) embryological development.  Embryological development carries on according to a pre-arranged template; chicken embryos don’t turn into cows, acorns don’t turn into pine trees, etc.  Evolution, understood in a Darwinian manner, doesn’t have such a pre-arranged template to follow; it doesn’t and in principle can’t know where it’s headed.  So while there are built-in constraints to keep embryological development “on track” for certain very narrow and precise goals, there are no such constraints to keep Darwinian evolution “on track” for such narrow and precise goals.  This is why the analogy between embryological development and evolution, so dear to so many TE writers, is seriously faulty.

But again, if one opted for a teleological model of evolution, in which the process has a built in tendency to “unfold” in a certain direction, then evolution would be parallel to embryological development.  But very few, if any, of the biologist-TEs, conceive of evolution in that way.  Maybe Conway Morris, to some extent, and maybe Denis Lamoureux, to a lesser extent.  But pretty well all the others talk not about built-in lines of development, but about random changes which just happen to work out after natural selection takes charge.  There must have been over a dozen columns on BioLogos trying to sell “randomness” as having great creative power.  That’s perfectly in line with classical neo-Darwinism, but it’s not the emphasis of Conway Morris (from what I’m told), and certainly not the emphasis of Denton.  

Back in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, theistic evolutionists (e.g., Asa Gray, Warfield) were very big on the idea of God’s divine guidance or planning of evolution.  Today’s TEs mostly recoil at that idea.  It is interesting to map the changes in Protestant Christian theology between then and now with changes in how TEs think about evolution then and now.  The correlation is quite suggestive:  precisely as “freedom” (meaning not the divine freedom, but the creature’s freedom) has become more important in Protestant theology, and God’s sovereignty and control have been greatly downplayed (and by some Protestant theologians even rejected), theistic evolution has become much more enamored of the “freedom” and “creativity” of nature, and has stressed “randomness” or “chance” as the means of facilitating this creative freedom.  It thus appears that the TE of 2013 is different from the TE of 1890 or 1910, at least partly because Protestant theology has changed in the interim.  And some of us at least are dubious about the orthodoxy of those changes in Protestant theology.  Hence our call for detailed theological discussions on this site, regarding the teachings of Calvin, Luther, Augustine, etc. on sovereignty, providence, omnipotence, etc.  


Lou Jost - #83668

November 26th 2013

Along with all the theories produced by “the church”, reasonable people should also consider the theories about original sin and Adam/Eve that come from outside the church culture. Many scholars recognize the whole thing as an origin myth, a pre-scientific means of explaining where people came from and why life is hard. The myth also functions to bolster community identity, as it shows that the group writing the myth is the divinely chosen group, just like the origin myths of nearly every culture everywhere. There is no mystery here, and all theological difficulties melt away if one is just brave enough to see this myth for what it is.


Lou Jost - #83669

November 26th 2013

I am sure someone will complain that the secular solution does not solve the theological problem of explaining Jesus’ sacrifice for a non-existent fall. But just as for the original Fall story, reasonable people should also consider non-church analyses of the Jesus story.


2cortenfour - #83696

November 27th 2013

Thanks, Lou, for demonstrating the inevitable.
“...just as for the original Fall story, reasonable people should also consider non-church analyses of the Jesus story.”
A “non-church analysis” would no doubt employ methods similar to those which have led to the Biologos-style interpretation of Genesis 1-11. “Science” (code for Darwinian Evolution, uniformitarian geology, etc) has “proven” that the miraculous instantaneous creation described in Genesis could not have happened, since we “know” Evolution is true, etc.
Here are a few other things we know from science:
- virgins don’t have babies
- people can’t walk on water
- people don’t rise from the dead
- people born blind don’t suddenly see
- paralyzed people don’t just get up and walk
- two loaves and five fish cannot feed 5000 men and the accompanying women and children
And on it goes
So this is the slippery slope. The ramifications are clear. The Bible is like a seamless garment. When one thread is pulled - especially a foundational one like the veracity and historicity of Genesis, which multiple biblical authors affirm, including Jesus - the whole thing begins to unravel (not in reality, but in the minds of those who are led to doubt).
Since both the Bible and Evolution cannot both be true, one has to give. According to Biologos, the Bible does. I disagree.
Regarding living things, it all comes down to this question: “What actually produced the immense variety of life we see?”
Theistic evolution balks at the notion that God directly created living things fully formed, opting instead to believe that God used Evolution. However, there are two basic problems:

1. If simple, one-celled life gave rise to ever-more complex organisms over billions of years without divine intervention at myriad points along the way (that would be Intelligent Design), is it not a violation of the Law of Entropy? After all, when things just sit there for extended periods of time, they become DISORGANIZED, not organized. Things tend toward CHAOS, not order. “But the Earth is an open system” does not rescue the Evolutionist here - closed systems are theoretical: nothing actually exists in a complete vacuum. No exceptions to this Law of science have ever been observed.
2. DNA language is JUST THAT: a language. Languages/codes are produced by intelligence. If Evolution-through-mutation-and-natural-selection (natural processes/laws) are to account for life, devoid of direct intervention by God, it must be said that a natural process is able to produce language. But natural processes/laws only produce patterns - nothing comparable to the encyclopedic content of a genome. Furthermore, DNA information is IMMATERIAL - the product of a Mind (DNA itself is simply the medium).
[Incidentally I find it very intriguing that “In the beginning was the Word” (language- information) and now science discovers that the driving force behind life itself IS language.  Science is finally catching up to the Bible]
I challenge evolutionists - theistic or otherwise - to grapple with these two problems. Really dig into them. Don’t gloss over the difficulties or try to explain them away. Ask yourself what makes sense.
Everything created itself?  Think about that statement.
“In the beginning God…” makes more sense


Lou Jost - #83697

November 27th 2013

Whether it is a slippery slope or not, the truth is what matters. Surely you don’t want to lie to yourself and others. So try learning more about entropy and about evolution, and you’ll see why BioLogos and the vast majority of the world’s scientists conclude that evolution is real. Draw whatever conclusions you want from that fact. But don’t lie to yourself about it.


2cortenfour - #83699

November 27th 2013

Hi Lou
Thanks for your response.
Entropy is self evident in nature. Darwinian Evolutionary theory violates this Law.Things do not become more organized over time. Time disorganizes. Is that a lie?

On DNA code:
Can you please name one natural process or law (other than the hypothetical process of Evolution) which produces not a pattern, but a language or code, consisting in information which can be discerned and put to use in a system, like DNA information?

Because a majority believes something (and make no mistake, Evolution is a belief), it doesn’t necessarily make it true. The cogency of an argument is the test of whether a proposition is tenable, not the number of people who believe it. After all, there are more on the broad than the narrow way (Matt 7:13-14), and there will ultimately come a day when the whole world will be deceived. (Rev 12:9)

And in that day, as in this, the test of truth lies in whether the idea being advanced conforms to the Word of God.

I hope you will dig deeper into the information problem. It is a legitimate one for Evolution (one among many), and much has been written about it.

But more importantly I hope that if you do not believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and that your sins can be forgiven through His atoning sacrifice at the Cross, that you will come to the knowledge of that Truth and be delivered from the wrath of God, which remains upon all who reject the Son. (John 3:36)
I would assume that many of the Christians who contribute to Biologos would express the same desire. Sadly, it seems evident that their endeavors are engendering more doubt than belief.

 


PNG - #83700

November 27th 2013

It’s pretty evident that you know essentially nothing about the great mass of evidence indicating that evolution happened, regardless of what the mechanism was. If you want to be informed, the Resources on this site are a concise way to find out about these things. If you don’t want to find out, you shouldn’t go around pretending that you know what you are talking about.


2cortenfour - #83701

November 27th 2013

Hello PNG
Sorry, but “You don’t know what you are talking about” and grand declarations about the mountains of evidence that “evolution happened” don’t address the two points I raised.

To repeat:

Entropy is self evident in nature. Darwinian Evolutionary theory violates this Law.Things do not become more organized over time. Time disorganizes. Is that a lie?

On DNA code:
Can you please name one natural process or law (other than the hypothetical process of Evolution) which produces not a pattern, but a language or code, consisting in information which can be discerned and put to use in a system, like DNA information?

I’m well aware of what Evolution claims to account for, and of the “mountains” of “evidence” which supposedly support it.

I am proposing that the above two problems are fundamental, foundational, and insurmountable obstacles to the cogency and explanatory power of Darwinian Evolution.


Lou Jost - #83703

November 28th 2013

Even if your objections were right, they wouldn’t change the fact that we can see evolution happened. We can still argue about how it got started (your DNA objection only addresses the origin of life, not evolutin once the code existed) but not about the fact of evolution.

Regarding entropy, I’ll bet you have not studied much physics in college and graduate school. You can see you are wrong just by thinking about the immense increase in complexity between an embryo and a human adult. The immune system of the adult contains  more information than that of the embryo, through a process of “mini-evolution” during the human’s lifetime.


2cortenfour - #83704

November 28th 2013

“your DNA objection only addresses the origin of life, not evolutin once the code existed”

Not really. If you start with the one-celled organism, it has the required information to build that organism and to propagate itself. Evolution is supposed to have started here and culminated in human beings. The instructional code required to build the human brain, for example, was not present in that primordial life-form. Therefore the new specified coded information must be accounted for.
Even theistic evolution does not allow for God intervening in the process to insert the necessary information. It attributes the additional “code-writing” to mutation and natural selection - natural processes which are not intelligent and which routinely DECREASE the genetic information in a population of organisms. Therefore Darwinism is wanting in its explanatory power here.

“You can see you are wrong just by thinking about the immense increase in complexity between an embryo and a human adult.”

Of course living systems decrease entropy for a time. This is because they are designed to do so. Outside energy AND information has been inserted into the system, and this required a Designer. Plants, for example, use the energy of the Sun to decrease entropy, organizing themselves into stems leaves, etc. But entropy triumphs in the end. Can you name one organism that does not ultimately die?
The analogy between the development of a human being from an embryo and the evolution of all of life from the original single-celled life-form doesn’t work very well. The human being develops according to the set of genetic instructions inherent in the DNA code from the moment of conception. It is a completely guided process from the start, and any glitch in the code produces effects harmful to the person.
Conversely, the evolutionary process is driven by randomness. There is no governing force except the environmental pressures which reduce the gene-pool, as organisms which are “less fit” are eliminated. There is no plan, no teleology, no goal in mind. There is no “mind” involved. With DNA language, a Mind was definitely involved - and it is consistent with the Genesis account to say that God was involved intimately and individually in the creation of all the flora and fauna that exist (at least at the “family” or “kind” level).  The bottom line is that a plain reading of the Genesis account corresponds perfectly with what we observe in nature - what can be TESTED through the scientific method. Living things reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen 1:12) with variation occurring within those created kinds (eg horses, zebras, donkeys, etc in the “horse kind”).  Evolution has organisms somehow reproducing AGAINST their kinds. This is not observed in the present. It is simply conjecture about the past - a conjecture which has been successfully employed to show that God is dispensable when it comes to explaining the origin of life.


Lou Jost - #83705

November 28th 2013

Your argument about information theory is wrong again. The information content of the genome becomes more tightly correlated with the environment over time, through natural selection. Your other arguments are also fairly nonsensical. You also fail to address the conclusive evidence (from fossils, biogeography, DNA, etc) that evolution really did happen. Even if we did not have a way to explain it,  it still undeniably happened.


2cortenfour - #83706

November 28th 2013

“evolution really did happen. Even if we did not have a way to explain it,  it still undeniably happened.”

There are some scientists (not a majority, obviously) who are happy to deny that it happened. They see the evidence pointing in an anti-evolution direction.  And not all of them are presupposing the literal truth of Genesis - they just consider the notion that design without a Designer, code without a writer, etc., is nonsense of the highest order.

“Fossils, biogeography, DNA” etc. can point to common design just as easily as they can indicate common descent, depending on the presuppositions which are brought to the investigation.


I don’t expect my view to sway you, because I don’t see the world through Evolution-colored glasses. I presuppose the truth of God’s eyewitness account of Creation - and what He revealed matches what we see and can test today - dogs make dogs; reptiles make reptiles; humans make humans. . Evolution is a particular interpretation of the various lines of evidence which precludes the direct involvement of God, and which cannot be tested directly in the laboratory. It contradicts what we see around us.
Personally I refuse to take the glory which is due Him for designing roses and giraffes, wooly mammoths and T-Rex’s, and Man in His image, and give it to the hypothetical random process of Darwinism. You can if you want to,
(I realize this is an impasse, so I’ll stop here) Happy Thankgiving!


melanogaster - #83707

November 28th 2013

“On DNA code:
Can you please name one natural process or law (other than the hypothetical process of Evolution) which produces not a pattern, but a language or code, consisting in information which can be discerned and put to use in a system, like DNA information?”

Easily. The process that produces highly-specific antibodies (encoded by the DNA of the B lymphocytes that produce them. This process has been documented in an incredibly detailed way and occurs over the course of only 2 weeks.

How does the clear-cut existence of this case change your conclusion?

Have you considered learning about basic biology before pontificating?


2cortenfour - #83711

November 29th 2013

“How does the clear-cut existence of this case change your conclusion?”

The immune system operates exactly in accordance with the intelligently produced genetic instructions in the DNA code. Certain things happen at certain points in the process according to the precise and detailed program inherent in the system.

This, therefore,  is not analogous to the hypothetical process of Darwinian macro-evolution. In evolution there is no overarching “program” which governs precise changes along the way, with a specific goal in mind. It is by definition unguided: randomness is inherent in the system, not precision.

It’s an apples to oranges comparison. So, no, this fallacious argument does not change my conclusion.


melanogaster - #83719

November 30th 2013

“The immune system operates exactly in accordance with the intelligently produced genetic instructions in the DNA code.”

That’s just empty bluster. You haven’t studied it and now I’ll bet you’re afraid to. The acquired immune system operates by genetic variation and selection.

Hint: your use of the term “DNA code” suggests enormous ignorance. Try writing about real mechanisms.

“Certain things…”

More empty bluster. Name five of them, then.

“… happen at certain points in the process…”

Which points in which process? You are faking it, and badly.

“… according to the precise and detailed program inherent in the system.”

The program that you’re afraid to study leverages a lack of precision to achieve more genetic variation. You’re all bluff.

“This, therefore, is not analogous to the hypothetical process of Darwinian macro-evolution.”

Darwinian evolution is genetic variation and selection.
The acquired immune response uses the identical mechanisms. Your claim, clearly made from utter ignorance of how the acquired immune system works, is fatuous.

“In evolution there is no overarching “program” which governs precise changes along the way, with a specific goal in mind.”

There is no overarching program which governs precise changes along the way in the immune response, either; the choice of which V, D, and J segments are joined is random. They are identical in that way, not merely analogous.

“It is by definition unguided: randomness is inherent in the system, not precision.”

Randomness is inherent in the immune response. You don’t know what you are talking about.

“It’s an apples to oranges comparison. So, no, this fallacious argument does not change my conclusion.”

You have yet to show anything about my argument to be fallacious. Your assertions are nonspecific, empty and false.

If you don’t understand the immune response, aren’t you bearing false witness if you pretend to understand it?


2cortenfour - #83730

November 30th 2013

“The program that you’re afraid to study leverages a lack of precision to achieve more genetic variation. You’re all bluff.”

So you ARE saying there’s a program guiding it.

“There is no overarching program which governs precise changes along the way in the immune response,”

But you just agreed there was a program .... Odd.

The point is there is no analogous “program’ present guiding the mindless, random, unintelligent process of hypothetical molecules-to-Man Darwinian-style macro-Evolution. If there was it would be “Intelligent Design” (anathema to even “theistic evolutionists”).
But thanks for your response.


2cortenfour - #83731

November 30th 2013

Also I’d like to add that your attempts to “poison the well” in this discussion are not helpful. Basic logic is enough to refute your assertion that b-cell maturation is analogous to Darwinian Evolution.

Immune system: designed and goal-oriented

Darwinian process: not designed: no teleology

But Royal Truman, Ph.D has written on this. So here’s the link to a technical article showing how the analogy between b-cell maturation and Darwinian Evolution is fallacious.

http://www.trueorigin.org/b_cell_maturation.asp

Excerpt:
” As we shall see, B-cell hypermutation to home in on solutions within an acceptable tolerance, is another example of only superficially “random” behavior.  All necessary equipment has been prepared in advance, and the “random” hypermutations begin only after a careful process of preparation to ensure suitable candidates have locked in on the goal, and they are then carefully guided towards the intended target.

There are material differences between NDT models and the immune system processes described by Dr Max[4].  He is not attempting to “prove” evolution by this example, only to provide a conceptual analogy.  I shall summarize first some observations, which are not totally independent of each other, and then put the pieces in a more complete picture together to show why the two processes of mutation and selection are fundamentally different.”


melanogaster - #83742

November 30th 2013

So you ARE saying there’s a program guiding it.”

Only in the same sense that there is a program guiding evolution.

“But you just agreed there was a program .... Odd.”

What’s funny is that I directly answered your question. What was it again?

“The point is there is no analogous “program’ present guiding the mindless, random, unintelligent process of hypothetical molecules-to-Man Darwinian-style macro-Evolution.”

Evolution isn’t random because selection isn’t random. The two processes are beautifully analogous.

“Basic logic is enough to refute your assertion that b-cell maturation is analogous to Darwinian Evolution.”

You didn’t even read what I wrote. It wasn’t limited to B-cell maturation. You clearly know nothing of the subject.

“Immune system: designed and goal-oriented”

Uses genetic variation and selection. Rapid evolution. What was your question again? Why have you abandoned your question?

Why did God design the immune system to use genetic variation and selection if it doesn’t work?

“But Royal Truman, Ph.D has written on this.”

Why would Royal Truman’s Ph.D. be relevant? And why did you only quote a bit about hypermutation, when my point was much broader?

Could it be that not only do you not understand it, you are afraid to look at the details of God’s creation for yourself?


2cortenfour - #83749

November 30th 2013

“Only in the same sense that there is a program guiding evolution.”

There is no program of which you speak. You’ve simply made an assertion, nothing more.

Since you are obviously convinced that Darwinism is gospel-truth, I see no point in continuing this discussion.

Truman’s article shows conclusively the foundational problems with your argument. He is an expert in the field, so I recommend his work to you.

Also, your point originally was to demonstrate a natural process which produced language like DNA information. I remain unconvinced that the case you cited came even remotely close to proving that.

You allude to “God’s creation”. Yet by your faith in Evolution you remove Him from any direct involvement in the design and construction of living things, giving His glory instead to the hypothetical natural process of Darwinism.
I choose to believe His Word in Genesis, and extoll Him for His exquisite work in nature, which He did directly, instantaneously, and miraculously, just as He said.

I’ll leave it at that.

 


melanogaster - #83778

December 3rd 2013

“Truman’s article shows conclusively the foundational problems with your argument.”

False.

“He is an expert in the field, so I recommend his work to you.”

No, he is not. You are bearing false witness. What part of Christianity justifies the deliberate violation of a Commandment?

“Also, your point originally was to demonstrate a natural process which produced language like DNA information. I remain unconvinced that the case you cited came even remotely close to proving that.”

You can clone your rearranged antibody and T-cell receptor genes. They have new, highly functional sequence information that was not present when you were born. This information was created by variation and selection in 2 weeks.

I directly answered your challenge and now you are desperately running away from it, flinging falsehoods like your claim that Truman is an expert in the field to mask your retreat.

“You allude to “God’s creation”.”

I do indeed.

“Yet by your faith in Evolution…”

You are violating the Ninth Commandment again. I have no faith in evolution. Science isn’t about faith, it’s about trying to disprove your own hypotheses.

What kind of Christian puts false words in the mouths of others?

“… you remove Him from any direct involvement in the design and construction of living things, giving His glory instead to the hypothetical natural process of Darwinism.”

You’re missing the irony here. If God directly designed us, He designed our bodies to use variation that is random with respect to fitness, coupled with selection.

This is a process that you claim won’t work, yet it produces new information in 2 weeks, whether God directly designed it or not.


2cortenfour - #83786

December 3rd 2013

Dr Royal Truman has a Ph.D., specializing in organic chemistry.
I would say he is well qualified to critique the claim that the process you cite is analogous to biological evolution, or that the process “writes” its own new language through blind chance, which it doesn’t.
Take care

 


Eddie - #83788

December 3rd 2013

2courtenfour:

You may not yet be used to the combative style of melanogaster.  Don’t take his verbal aggressiveness personally.  He’s like that to everyone.  Some people have dealt with this by ceasing to respond to him; others have left the site, repelled by it.  Your choice is either to argue with him, and be thick-skinned enough to take his often abusive replies (you’ll almost certainly be called a liar, hypocrite or coward many times over your exchanges with him), or simply to ignore him.  The latter is probably a better choice, as it is attention that he seeks.

He has done his “violating the ninth commandment” schtick dozens of times.  He is of course consciously misrepresenting the sense of the commandment to score a debating point against you.  The commandment concerns testimony in legal cases, not opinions on science or other theoretical matters.  And beyond that, the crucial thing about violating the commandment is that violation involves knowingly telling an untruth, not merely making an error.

Above, you called one scientist an expert in a field; melanogaster (Fruitfly) disagrees with you that the named scientist is an expert.  But even if he is right, all that would prove was that you were in error, not that you stated something you knew to be false.  So there would be no violation of the commandment, because no dishonesty was involved.  And in any case, since the commandment concerns legal testimony, not theoretical matters, the charge is irrelevant.  

So why does Fruitfly make the charge?  It’s obvious—the charge is always levelled against Christians.  The implication is that the Christian he is disagreeing with is not acting in a Christian manner, but being hypocritical, professing faith while violating a commandment.  Of course the person is never doing that; but Fruitfly isn’t worried about characterizing anyone’s motives rightly; he just wants a rhetorical point, and “violating a commandment” serves that purpose well.

Of course, no true Christian would misrepresent the sense of the ninth commandment in order to score debating points against another Christian.  And this is just one of the many un-Christian things Fruitfly has done here over the course of his stay here, which put his own claim to be Christian into serious doubt.  So bear in mind that the person you are debating with is possibly not a Christian at all.  That may help you to decide whether or not debating him is worthwhile.

 


Hanan D - #83802

December 3rd 2013

>But even if he is right, all that would prove was that you were in error, not that you stated something you knew to be false.

Indeed.

I was actually quite shocked - though with a little chuckle - that he actually brought up the 9th commandment.


Eddie - #83789

December 3rd 2013

Fruitfly wrote:

“What kind of Christian puts false words in the mouths of others?”

A very good question, and one that Fruitfly should have thought about when, posting as “john” here a couple of years ago, he accused Rich of being a creationist, and maintained the accusation even when Rich denied it, and cited as his evidence opinions expressed by an unidentified someone—not Rich—on another website which he said belonged to Rich.  And when Rich denied owning or operating any website whatsoever, and stated in no uncertain terms that “john” had confused him with someone else, and asked him to identify the website from which he had got the mistaken identification, john would neither identify the website, nor apologize for the misidentification, nor retract his charge (which was based on that misidentification) that Rich was a creationist.

This was, morally, the equivalent of “putting false words in another’s mouth.”  If you impute an idea to a person that the person has explicitly denied holding, you are just as guilty of conscious misrepresentation as you are when you impute words to the person that the person never said.



Darach - #83676

November 26th 2013

I agree we need multiple theories as the church explores the meaning of Genesis post Hutton and Darwin and we need to hold them with gentleness and grace in dialogue with one another. The idea of Adam and Eve as representatives is a very simple solution in line with the traditional understanding of Original Sin and Adam’s federal headship.

But it is also a really good opportunity to explore the whole question of Adam and Eve, the fall and Original Sin which the church in the West has accepted pretty much without question from Augustine. Even Calvin and Luther accepted these ideas without question. The problem is, because the reformers left these ideas unquestioned, they are intertwined with all our ideas of salvation and redemption. So questioning the existence of Adam and Eve for many raises the question, then why did Jesus die? Yet the bible never says Jesus died to free us from Adam’s sin, or that we somehow inherited Adam’s guilt. It is our sin he died for.

Genesis 3 doesn’t show us how we got a sinful nature, the bible doesn’t say that either. Nor does it say that Adam and Eve were somehow holier than everyone else. Adam and Eve were as weak as any of us. Eve disobeyed God because the fruit was desirable, Adam disobeyed simply because Eve handed him the fruit. What it does show us is that with our natural human desires, we can never live a life fully obedient to God. As Paul says, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God 1Cor 15:50.

The problem with the traditional understanding of Adam and Eve is it says they could have lived sinless lives that God’s original plan for them was what we call salvation by works, with the Gospel as God’s plan B because they failed. But the Gospel was always God’s plan and purpose from before the universe was created.

Darach Conneely


2cortenfour - #83698

November 27th 2013

“Yet the bible never says Jesus died to free us from Adam’s sin, or that we somehow inherited Adam’s guilt. “

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned - ” (Rom 5:12)

“All sinned”. How? In Adam all of humanity “sinned”, because he contained in himself the entire human race. Just as Levi paid the tithe to Melchizedek, because Levi was “still in the body of [Abraham]” when Melchizedek collected the tithe from Abraham (Hebrews 7:5-10), so we partake in the sin of Adam, for when he sinned, we were “still in the body of our ancestor”. 

We are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners. Christ came to reverse the effects of the Fall and crush the head of the serpent, who holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). We benefit individually, of course, because we cease to be “in Adam” and find ourselves “in Christ” at the moment we are born again.
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”(1 Cor 15:22)

“Nor does it say that Adam and Eve were somehow holier than everyone else.”

The first humans were declared, along with everything else God had made, “Very good.”  Considering the source of this statement, we can infer that Adam and Eve were in a state of perfection. The fact that they were created in God’s own image, and had not yet marred that image by their rebellion, indicates that they actually WERE holier than anyone else.
By they had the power to choose. They chose to defy God’s command.

If we say that God used survival of the fitttest - ie death (“the last enemy” - 1 Cor 15:26) - to bring mankind into existence, and somehow allowed humans to inherit their depravity from the beasts, we come perilously close to charging evil to God’s account.

To be clear, God did not create an accursed world. It is cursed on OUR account, and God is reconciling all creation, and all who put their faith in Him, to Himself by pure grace and infinite love. As soon as we allow Evolutionary conjecture to rule out the true historical narrative of Gen 1-3, biblical soteriology is sacrificed.


Darach - #83772

December 2nd 2013

Sorry for the delay I didn’t see your reply :(

Paul doesn’t say death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam, he says death spread because all sinned. The idea we all sinned in Adam comes from a mistake in the Latin translation Augustine used, instead of saying ‘because all sinned’, it said ‘in whom (ie Adam) all sinned’. Reading Romans  5:12 as ‘death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam’ is trying to add the mistake from the mistranslation back into the original text.

You need to be careful how you use the Melchizedek passage, the writer isn’t talking literally but is stretching the meaning of the text, (Heb 7:9 you might even say), to show its symbolic significance that Christ is greater than the Law.

   ‘We are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners.’

Doesn’t sinner mean someone who sins? I know ‘we sin because we are sinners’ is a popular phrase to describe the sin nature we are supposed to have inherited from Adam. But the bible doesn’t say that either.

   ‘Considering the source of this statement, we can infer that Adam and Eve were in a state of perfection. ‘

As you say it is something you infer rather than anything the bible says. It is really odd that Creationists end up disparaging and condemning the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Beasts aren’t depraved, they are God’s creation and on a number of occasions God tells us he provide prey for ravens and hungry young loins. God made humans with natural desires that are part of our very good creation, it is only when we put our desires before God that sin comes in. Read the story of how Eve fell. There is no suggestion she was in a state of perfection. Her desires were the same as any of us has Gen 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.


2cortenfour - #83774

December 2nd 2013

“It is really odd that Creationists end up disparaging and condemning the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.”
Let’s test this statement. “Post Hutton and Darwin” we “know” that death has always been in the world, and it is the engine which pushes evolution to its current summit in humankind, with a glorious “post-human” era still to come! Mass extinctions, disease, nature red in tooth and claw, natural disasters, famine - death galore, for millions of years. And “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4b) - uniformitarian style.  So God used evolution, and is responsible for all these (what many would call) ills. He put cancer in right from the beginning (evidence of cancer is in the fossil record). Famine and plague.  And all this continues to this day. All “very good”.  All part of God’s beautiful and wonderful creation.

Starving children because of drought? 
“Very good”.
Crack babies?
“Very good”.
Thousands killed by floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, earthquakes, volcanos, etc?
“Very good”.
People wallowing in filth, hungry and homeless in the wake of disaster?
“Very good”.
Children in hospitals in extreme pain suffering from dread diseases?
“Very good”.
Homicidal maniacs killing dozens or hundreds of people?
“Very good”.
????

The point is that when people look around, yes there are some glimpses of glory and beauty, but you don’t have to look too long to find all that is wrong in this world. And assuming there is a God, there are two explanations:

1. God made the world as it exists today. Everything that is happening now has been going on since time immemorial, and God is responsible - even for all that is “wrong”.

Or the biblical view, expressed in the opening pages of Scripture
2. God created the earth, the universe, living things and Mankind in an ACTUAL “very good” state. Nothing was wrong. No death, disease, disaster, mayhem. God provided richly for His creatures. This changed (history is NOT uniformitarian) when the first man took the fruit from his wife and ate, in defiance of the clear command of God. And this act of rebellion cast humanity into a state of alienation from God. And God cursed not only Mankind with both physical and spiritual death, but all of creation was then “subjected to frustration” and exists in “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:20-21).  This is why there is corruption and death. The sin of our original parents brought God’s curse. And Jesus Christ came to fulfill the prophecy that was spoken by the real God to the real Devil, in the presence of the real man Adam and the real woman Eve, in real-time history:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:15)
And when Christ crushed the serpent’s head, He opened the way for people born spiritually dead (because of our descent from Adam: “by NATURE objects of wrath” - Ephesians 2:3; “sinful at BIRTH” - Psalm 51:5) to be made alive forevermore through faith in His substitutionary sacrifice at the Cross. And one day “death and Hades” will be thrown into the lake of fire, and God will make “a new heaven and a new earth”, where “there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev 21). A complete restoration of Eden. God fixes what we messed up, by pure grace.

So from an evolutionary standpoint, the “beauty and wonder of God’s creation” must include even death, disease, disaster, decay and corruption. On this view, what we instinctively know to be evil is somehow deemed beautiful and wonderful.

But Genesis makes clear that death is an intruder into God’s “very good” creation. It is the “wages of sin”- Original Sin. And one day death itself - “the last enemy” (1 Cor 15:26) - will be destroyed. That is Gospel - Good News.


Darach - #83839

December 5th 2013

‘“everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4b) - uniformitarian style. ‘

You have heard of the chixchlub asteroid impact? Wiped out the dinosaurs? Paleontology is hardly ‘everything goes on as it has’. Good thing too that Trex and th Velociraptors were wiped out before early humans volved.

‘Thousands killed by floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, earthquakes, volcanos, etc?’

See how you have just confirmed creationists’ dislike God’s creation?

Yes it was environments factors like that that molded our evolution and taught us to work together and care for one another. As I said God provides prey for hungry lions. Not very nice for the gazelle, but part of the amazingly wonderful world of nature God created. Is God wrong to feed ravens and hungry young lion? God created a very good world where life is mortal. He gives the gift of life to his creatures, it is just a short life but it is still an amazing gift. Even more wonderful still he created a world where life is mortal and his Son  could lay down his life for us.

‘crack babies… Homicidal maniacs killing dozens or hundreds of people?’

Moral evil is our doing.

There is no suggestion in the bible that nature’s bondage to decay is the result of the fall, it never says animal death is the result of Adam and Eve. Since we know carnivorous dinosaurs existed long before man arrived on the earth, shouldn’t you take a closer look at option (1) that God created all these things, and start looking for reasons he might have done it that way? Jesus told us John 15:13 greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. How could an immortal Adam in a perfect paradise have ever learned the meaning of real sacrificial love?

‘So from an evolutionary standpoint, the “beauty and wonder of God’s creation” must include even death, disease, disaster, decay and corruption. On this view, what we instinctively know to be evil is somehow deemed beautiful and wonderful.’
Don’t confuse the doctrine the fall you were taught with instinct. Most non christians recognise the amazing beauty of th natural world, just watch an Attenborough documentary.

‘But Genesis makes clear that death is an intruder into God’s “very good” creation. It is the “wages of sin”- Original Sin. And one day death itself - “the last enemy” (1 Cor 15:26) - will be destroyed. That is Gospel - Good News.’

Genesis never says animal death is the result of the fall. It doesn’t say Adam’s physical death was the result of the fall either. He was warned he would surely die on the day he ate the fruit, but he didn’t die physically until years later, his death that day was spiritual. I don’t think death being the last enemy helps either, it is God’s enemy now but so is Satan, who God created good.


PNG - #83717

November 29th 2013

There is a short essay on this site on why the second law of thermodynamics does not rule out evolution.  http://biologos.org/questions/evolution-and-the-second-law

For a more detailed essay with more background, see here. Dr. Harvey is a Christian and a physicist who has used thermodynamics routinely in his work.  http://steamdoc.s5.com/writings/thermo.html 


sy - #83733

November 30th 2013

Im sorry I have arrived at this discussion a bit late. If I may I would like to make a few points about the interesting debate on evolution above between 2cortenfour and others.

2cortenfour stated “Since both the Bible and Evolution cannot both be true, one has to give”. I (and many others) reject that statement. I happen to believe that the Bible is inerrant, but we human being are not. It is our job to understand God’s word in light of God’s works. This is not easy, and requires interpretation and analysis.

And if we must take Genesis 1 literally, then what do we do with Genesis 4:7. Ken Ham has quite a detailed and very non literal interpretation of where Cain’s wife came from. The point being, we dont know what the Bible’s truths are, we must work hard to find them.

As for the idea that God plays no role in evolution, I dont happen to agree with that. I think there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. (But I will leave that for another time).

I think it would be a good idea to take a look at the questions Mike Biedler posed above.


Lou Jost - #83768

December 2nd 2013

Sy and 2cortenfour, 

Sy is clearly right about the science, and I think 2cortenfour is right about the theology. Our current knowledge of the world shows that the Bible is not inerrant.

This can hardly be surprising—the writers of those texts clealy had no special knowledge about the way the world works.

2cortenfour wants to ignore reality to preserve his belief in the inerrancy of the bible. Sy wants to preserve his belief in inerrancy by finding strained metaphorical interpretations of the parts of the Bible which conflict with reality.

However, neither of you have good reasons for believing in inerrancy in the first place. It is an absurd belief on its face. The solution to the disagreement between Sy and 2cortenfour is obvious: their premise is wrong.. The Bible is a cultural document and is certainly not inerrant in any meaningful sense.


GJDS - #83775

December 2nd 2013

“Multiple theories of original sin”...... I just cannot improve on this - it speaks volumes on the perilous state of the Protestant/evangelical/TE/ (whatever else goes in this mish-mess).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #83791

December 3rd 2013

Eddie, melogaster, and 2cortenfour, Lou and sy,

Dr. Truman is right about the immune system.  It does have a random aspect, but it is part of a predictable process.

Dr. Truman is wrong about evolution, because evolution also has a random aspect (variation), but is also predictable because it is governed by nonrandom natural selection.

Thus evolution is basically determinate, although most Darwinists refuse to recognize this.  Thus anyone who argues that evolution is not determinate has the science wrong. 

Determinate evolution does not deny God’s control over Creation, but the contrary. 

Please do not argue that evolution is random, when it is not.  Argue about how selection determines evolution.     


Lou Jost - #83795

December 3rd 2013

I think you are partly right; sometimes NS is predictable. But the variation that provides the raw material for NS is regarded by scientistst as random both in its timing and in its actual products. Likewise, thinks like meteor impacts are essentially random, and can change the entire direction of evolution.

By the way, though meteor trajectories seem determinate in the short term, tiny quantum-mechanical random variations in the state of the early universe would have huge effects on their actual timing and path and size. Quantum-mechanical randomness (which current physics accepts as irreducible) is thus at the heart of the evolutionary process, and the current products of evolution on earth could not have been predicted (even in principle) by a intelligent entity with  access to complete knowledge about the state of the very early universe.

However, perhaps statistical predictions could have been made about the rise of intelligent beings on SOME planet somewhere in the universe….


Hanan D - #83803

December 3rd 2013

>But the variation that provides the raw material for NS is regarded by scientistst as random both in its timing and in its actual products. 

Very interesting Lou.

What do you think of that Melongaster? 

“But the variation that provides the raw material for NS is regarded by scientistst as random both in its timing and in its actual products. “

Does that fit in with a God that specifically intends a specific outcome? It’s called the blinde watchmaker for a reason no?


Lou Jost - #83808

December 3rd 2013

I have nothing to say about the theology, of course. But some of the mutations that provide raw material for NS are random in a quantum-mechanical sense (this was first experimentally proven by the Nobel laureate H J Muller in the 1920s). So the particular course of evolution on this planet is fundamentally unpredictable and indeterminate, in the quantum mechanical sense.

There have been many long arguments in physics about whether quantum indetermimacy actually just reflects our ignorance of some underlying “hidden variables”., as in classical statistical mechanics. Current thinking is that there are no hidden variables, because if they existed, they would have to possess strange nonlocal properties.


melanogaster - #83837

December 5th 2013

“Does that fit in with a God that specifically intends a specific outcome?”

Absolutely. Note that Lou wrote about how it is regarded by scientists, not how it is regarded by God.

Do you see why I keep pointing out that your theology diminishes God to the level of man?


Nick Gotts - #83912

December 12th 2013

As you admit, the majority of evolutionary biologists (almost all evolutionary biologists are Darwinists) disagree with your claim that evolution is “basically determinate” - so I’m afraid it’s you, the non-expert, who “has the science wrong”. The fact that a process contains nonrandom elements does not make it determinate. The mass extinction at the K-T boundary provides a clear case: without that chance event, it’s practically inconceivable our own species would have evolved.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #83807

December 3rd 2013

Lou,

My point is simple.  While Variation is random, Natural Selection is not.  A species is constantly producing millions of variants.  Many of these variants are not particularly exceptional, but may hold the key to an exceptional variant of the future.

Many are so outside the norm that they do not survive.  Some variants might contain a special adaption to the environment so that they might enable the rest of the life form to better survive and flourish.

The key is adapt to the environment.  A variation might allow a creature to adapt to a dry climate.  This would not help in the rain forest, but it would in the desert.

Natural Selection accepts what is helpful, and rejects what is hurtful.  It ignores that which is neutral until it is needed or becomes a problem.

Of course there are some adaptions which have good and not so good aspects.

Adaptions are by definition not random, but are in response to a specific need.  Again the timing is also based on need.  Life developed in a specific pattern as the earth’s environment changed.  This is not by random chance.   

Now I don’t think that most Christians believe in a kind of determinism that you say that quantum-mechanical randomness makes impossible.  However I would note that Dennett believes that human actions are determined by their genes, even though that is a somewhat different issue.

For most of us it is most important that God created a universe for us to live in and a moral structure that makes it possible for humans to live in peace with our environment and others.

It is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities that God provides for us and we can not provide for ourselves.         


Nick Gotts - #83911

December 12th 2013

On what grounds do you say:

Dennett believes that human actions are determined by their genes

I have read a large part of Dennett’s work and I cannot recall any statement that even suggests that.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #83818

December 4th 2013

2contendfour wrote:

As soon as we allow Evolutionary conjecture to rule out the true historical narrative of Gen 1-3, biblical soteriology is sacrificed.

Not so fast, my friend.

You have overlooked the biblical soteriology of John 1:1-14.  The truth of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not dependent on three chapters in Genesis nor in a particular understanding of the meaning of these three chapters.

Jesus the Logos of Creation is the Alpha and Omega of our faith.  We need to try to get Creation and Evolution right, instead of making this a debate as to which side is right, conventional science or conventional theology. 

Disproving one does not prove the other.  We need to understand that we there is always room to grow in scientific and spiritual understanding and a fuller understanding of reality is usually found in a reconciliationary approach.    


Nick Gotts - #83898

December 11th 2013

The church “needs” multiple “theories” of original sin, because none of them make the slightest sense in the light of modern science. The solution is simple: abandon the hopeless project of trying to reconcile Christianity and science. Either go with the full-on ignorance of such as 2cortenfour, or grow up and admit to yourself that Christianity is a load of hooey.


2cortenfour - #83908

December 11th 2013

Nick
Your honesty is actually refreshing. There seems to be a blind spot which is common to many commenters on this forum - namely that Darwinian Macro-Evolutionary Theory (for which you used the code-word “science”) is inherently incompatible with biblical account of origins. But you and a few others grasp this quite well - much to the chagrin of the Biologos crowd, I’m sure.

Organizations like Biologos, as well as many scholars and scientists, seek to reconcile the apparently contradictory narratives of the Biblical and Darwinian accounts of origins, thereby removing a “barrier” to belief in Jesus and the Bible. Obviously they haven’t succeeded with you yet. So, questions:

What is your general sense of how efforts like this are being received?
Do you see people more encouraged to believe the Bible and put their faith in Jesus in response to the claim that Evolution is compatible with Scripture and Christianity?
Or do people by and large view these endeavors as you do - as an exercise in futility?

I ask because I’m confident one goal of Biologos, as a Christian organization, is to see unbelievers, atheists, etc. put their faith in Christ. It wants to us to see that when Genesis says God created living things “according to their kinds” (dog-kind, cat-kind, shark-kind, horse-kind etc) and designed them to reproduce “according to their kinds” (with variation within those created “kinds”), it doesn’t contradict Evolutionary Theory (even though Evolution requires ALL life to have been produced as the “offspring” of a one-celled primordial life form, branching off into all the plants and animals we see around us over billions of years. This necessarily requires organisms to reproduce AGAINST their “kinds”. In fact, in the Evolutionary scheme, if there ever was an “Adam”, he would have been the mutated “son” of a non-human ape-like hominid “Mom and Dad”, instead of “the son of God” of Luke Ch 3). Is this effort meeting with success?

The study of origins is not hard operational science like chemistry, physics, etc, but rather is a forensic, historical investigation, akin more to archaeology. The origin of life canno be repeated in a laboratory, and no one was there making a record of the layers of sediment which contain the fossil record being laid down, for example. We have the artifacts, but they must be interpreted within a framework. The conclusions drawn rely heavily on the presuppositions brought to the evidence.
So, for instance, what would you expect to find if I told you there was once a worldwide flood that killed the majority of living things on earth? You might say “billions or trillions of dead organisms quickly buried and fossilized in sedimentary rock layers laid down by the flood waters all over the planet”.
And that is exactly what we find. But since “uniformitarianism” (with a few catastrophies here and there) is the primary framework through which the evidence is viewed generally, you would probably say the layers were laid down over millions of years. But rocks don’t tell you “I was solidified in 1,203,498 BC”. That date is arrived at through an extrapolation of current processes into the distant past, assuming those processes have always been the same. It is the result of the paradigm being applied.
The biblical paradigm is one of catastrophism and holds to the assumption that current processes have NOT continued indefinitely into the past. There was a global Flood - which changed the physical world irrevocably. Before that there was the Fall of Man into sin, which was a spiritual incident with physical ramifications for humanity as well as the cosmos. And before that was the Creation, which would have necessarily employed different processes than those we see in operation today. Consequently, different conclusions are drawn from the study of the same observed phenomena.
So just one more question:
What if Christianity is not just a “load of hooey”, the Bible is God’s true and reliable Word, and your eternal destiny depends upon whether or not you accept by faith Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross as payment for your sins and His death-defeating Resurrection for your justification before the Holy God?
Don’t let “science” dissuade you from entrance into God’s family.


Nick Gotts - #83909

December 12th 2013

No , we most certainly do not find in the geological and fossil record what we would expect to find if there had been a worldwide flood. That the earth must be at least millions of years old, and that very different forms of life existed at different periods, was well-established decades before Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, and it was established by Christian (and indeed, creationist) geologists and paleontologists who, unlike modern creationists, were honest and conscientious scientists. I’m not really that interested in discussing anything with someone as invincibly ignorant as you - if I recall correctly, even Answers in Genesis now recommend creationists not to spout the nonsense about the second law of thermodynamics being incompatible with evolution. (The second law applies to closed systems, and the earth is not a closed system - you may have noticed a bright yellow object in the sky sometimes, emitting light and heat which affect what happens on Earth: the increase in entropy within that object as it produces this heat and light, far outweighs the decrease concomitant on evolutionary processes.)

Your claim that creationists just draw different conclusions from observing the same phenomena is simply false: there is absolutely no modern creationist science worth the name. Modern creationists quote-mine real scientists, distort their findings, and try to force their ridiculous beliefs into classrooms. They practically never do any real research themselves.

As for your “one more question”, we know the Bible is not true and reliable, because it’s packed with internal contradictions and absurdities.


2cortenfour - #83914

December 12th 2013

“Modern creationists…practically never do any real research themselves.”

From an article at this link:
http://www.examiner.com/article/growing-list-of-scientists-who-consider-young-earth-creationism-yec-a-fact-and-evolution-as-bunk

“rest assured there are well studied, hard working, credible, peer reviewed, well published scientists who claim YEC as a fact.

Dr. E. Theo Agard, Medical Physics
Dr. Kevin Anderson, Microbiology - Biography
Mark Armitage, Biology - Biography
Alexander Arndt (analytical chemist, etc.) [more info]
Dr. Steve Austin, Geologist
Francis Bacon (developed the Scientific Method)
Dr. Geoff Barnard, Immunologist
Thomas G. Barnes (physicist) [more info]
Dr. John Baumgardner, Electrical Engineering, Space Physicist, Geophysicist, expert in supercomputer modeling of plate tectonics
Dr. Jerry Bergman, Psychologist
Edward A. Boudreaux, Theoretical Chemistry
Prof. Linn E. Carothers, Associate Professor of Statistics
Dr. Eugene F. Chaffin, Professor of Physics
Arthur V. Chadwick (geologist) [more info]
Dr. Donald Chittick, Physical Chemist
Dr. John M. Cimbala, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Bob Compton, DVM
Melvin Alonzo Cook (physical chemist, Nobel Prize nominee) [more info]
Dr. Ken Cumming, Biologist
Dr. Jack W. Cuozzo, Dentist
Dr. William M. Curtis III, Th.D., Th.M., M.S., Aeronautics & Nuclear Physics
Dr. Raymond V. Damadian, M.D., Pioneer of magnetic resonance imaging
Dr. Nancy M. Darrall, Botany
Dr. Bryan Dawson, Mathematics
Prof. Stephen W. Deckard, Assistant Professor of Education
Dr. David A. DeWitt, Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience
Dr. Don DeYoung, Astronomy, atmospheric physics, M.Div
Dr. Geoff Downes, Creationist Plant Physiologist
Dr. Ted Driggers, Operations research
Robert H. Eckel, Medical Research
Dr. André Eggen, Geneticist
Prof. Dennis L. Englin, Professor of Geophysics
Prof. Danny Faulkner, Astronomy
Prof. Carl B. Fliermans, Professor of Biology
Prof. Dwain L. Ford, Organic Chemistry
Prof. Robert H. Franks, Associate Professor of Biology
Robert V. Gentry (physicist and chemist) [more info]
Dr. Paul Giem, Medical Research
Dr. Maciej Giertych, Geneticist
Dr. Duane Gish, Biochemist
Dr. Werner Gitt, Information Scientist
Dr. Warwick Glover, General Surgeon
Dr. D.B. Gower, Biochemistry
John Grebe (chemist) [more info]
Dr. George Hawke, Environmental Scientist
Dr. Margaret Helder, Science Editor, Botanist
Dr. Kelly Hollowell, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacologist
Dr. Ed Holroyd, III, Atmospheric Science
Dr. Bob Hosken, Biochemistry
Dr. George F. Howe, Botany
Dr. James A. Huggins, Professor and Chair, Department of Biology
D. Russell Humphreys (award-winning physicist) [more info]
Evan Jamieson, Hydrometallurgy
George T. Javor, Biochemistry
Dr. Arthur Jones, Biology
Dr. David Kaufman, Human Anatomy - Biography
John W. Klotz (geneticist and biologist) [more info]
Leonid Korochkin (geneticist) [more info]
Dr. John K.G. Kramer, Biochemistry
Lane P. Lester (geneticist and biologist) [more info]
Dr. Jason Lisle, Astrophysicist
Dr. Ian Macreadie, molecular biologist and microbiologist:
Dr. John Marcus, Molecular Biologist
Frank L. Marsh (biologist) [more info]
Dr. George Marshall, Eye Disease Researcher
Dr. Ralph Matthews, Radiation Chemist
Prof. Andy McIntosh, Combustion theory, aerodynamics
Dr. David Menton, Anatomist
Dr. Angela Meyer, Creationist Plant Physiologist
Dr. John Meyer, Physiologist
Colin W. Mitchell, Geography
Dr. Tommy Mitchell, Physician
Dr. John W. Moreland, Mechanical engineer and Dentist
Dr. Henry M. Morris (1918–2006), founder of the Institute for Creation Research.
Dr. Arlton C. Murray, Paleontologist
Dr. John D. Morris, Geologist
Dr. Terry Mortenson, History of Geology
Stanley A. Mumma, Architectural Engineering
Isaac Newton (helped develop science of dynamics and the discipline of calculus / father of the Law of Gravity / invented the reflecting telescope) - See also a refutation of the argument Newton was a creationist only because there was no alternative)
Dr. Eric Norman, Biomedical researcher
Michael Oard, Atmospheric Science - Biography
Prof. Chris D. Osborne, Assistant Professor of Biology
Gary E. Parker (biologist and paleontologist) [more info]
Louis Pasteur (helped develop science of bacteriology / discovered the Law of Biogenesis / invented fermentation control / developed vaccinations and immunizations)
Dr. Georgia Purdom, Molecular Genetics
Dr. John Rankin, Cosmologist
Prof. J. Rendle-Short, Pediatrics
Dr. Ariel A. Roth, Biology
Dr. Joachim Scheven Palaeontologist:
Dr. Andrew Snelling, Geologist
Dr. Timothy G. Standish, Biology
Prof. James Stark, Assistant Professor of Science Education
Prof. Brian Stone, Engineer
Dr. Esther Su, Biochemistry
Dr. Stephen Taylor, Electrical Engineering
Charles B. Thaxton (chemist) [more info]
Dr. Ker C. Thomson, Geophysics
William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) (helped develop sciences of thermodynamics and energetics / invented the Absolute Temperature Scale / developed the Trans-Atlantic Cable)
Dr. Michael Todhunter, Forest Genetics
Dr. Royal Truman, Organic Chemist:
Leonardo da Vinci (helped develop science of hydraulics)
Dr. Larry Vardiman, Atmospheric Science
Prof. Walter Veith, Zoologist
Dr. Jeremy Walter, Mechanical Engineer
Dr. A.J. Monty White, Chemistry/Gas Kinetics
Dr. John Whitmore, Geologist/Paleontologist
A.E. Wilder-Smith (chemist and pharmacology expert) [more info]
Dr. Kurt Wise, Palaeontologist
Dr. Thomas (Tong Y.) Yi, Ph.D., Creationist Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Patrick Young, Chemist and Materials Scientist
Dr. Henry Zuill, Biology”

I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive.

BTW I love that link you posted! LOL


Eddie - #83923

December 13th 2013

2cortenfour:

I tried to defend some of your points above—earning precious little thanks from you for it!  Now I must correct some of your errors.

Regarding your list:

Isaac Newton was certainly not a YEC in the modern sense of that term.  YEC in the modern sense is a direct response to “higher” Biblical criticism and to Darwinian evolution.  In Newton’s era these were not issues.  Certainly Newton did not share the anti-intellectualism that the vast majority of YECs until very recent years have shared.  For example, supposing that he had children, he never would have thought of sending his children to a “fundamentalist” college to “protect” them from evil worldly learning; he would have sent them to Oxford or Cambridge, not Bob Jones or Oral Roberts.  He also had unorthodox interpretations of the Trinity and unusual interpretations of Biblical prophecy.  The YECs of 20th-century America would have run him out of their churches (if they didn’t string him up).  It’s clear you’re including him on the list either because you are ignorant of what he actually thought about Christianity, or in order to enlist his prestige for your side.

Francis Bacon’s views on the age of the earth are nowhere stated in his works, so claiming him as a YEC is utterly unwarranted.  Also, the general worldliness of his life and writings makes it unlikely that his Christian faith was deep.  He wasn’t really a scientist, in any case; he was actually a philosopher trying to justify the new natural science.  You can scratch him from your list.

I’d also be surprised if Pasteur was anything like an American YEC.

To call Leonardo da Vinci a YEC (or even to put him on a list of YECs in hope that his prestige will rub off on the others in your list of mostly non-illustrious scientists) is absurd.  The men of the Renaissance were far too culturally sophisticated for the backwoods mentality that generated YEC in America.

Jerry Bergman does seem to be a creationist, though I’m not sure he is a YEC, as opposed to an OEC.  In any case, he is not a psychologist but a biochemist or biologist.

I think you should take the time to learn something about the primary sources before blindly passing on lists of the above sort.

 


2cortenfour - #83932

December 13th 2013

Eddie

Belated thanks for your support for some of my points in response to Beidler’s questions.

Also thanks for your insight into Melanogaster’s rhetoric. I don’t take his or others on this forum’s insults personally - although they may be intended that way. Since their personal attacks (ad hominems)  and attempts to “poison the well” are logically fallacious, I see them as a sign that their confidence in their own arguments is waning. They need to bolster their points by deriding the character of their opponents instead of simply staying on topic.


On the above list, I agree that including DaVinci, etc, on the above list is a stretch by the author - I suppose no one can actually know what view they would hold if they were alive today. However it doesn’t take away from the major point being illustrated - ie that claims like “No real scientists are Creationists” or “Creationists don’t do real science” are quite false.

 

 


Nick Gotts - #83940

December 13th 2013

What a blatantly dishonest comment. I said quite clearly that:

Your claim that creationists just draw different conclusions from observing the same phenomena is simply false: there is absolutely no modern creationist science worth the name. Modern creationists quote-mine real scientists, distort their findings, and try to force their ridiculous beliefs into classrooms. They practically never do any real research themselves.

You even quote a truncated version of my statement yourself. If you dispute this statement, point to the real creationist research done by modern creationists.


Nick Gotts - #83924

December 13th 2013

Copy-pasting a list including people who’ve been dead for centuries, and people with zero relevant expertise, is about the level I’d expect of you. I notice you don’t actually point to any recent peer-reviewed creationist science. That’s because you can’t.


GJDS - #83920

December 12th 2013

I have to admit to finding some humour in your statements:

“.. we know the Bible is ...” followed by your nonsense, and,

“... the church needs multiple theories ....” with additional nonsense.

Indeed I have waited and waited for many years to find this self-professed knowledge of the Bible from aggresive atheists, and I must confess I have yet to see anything but some rubbish parroted over and over; if this is what you consider knowledge, and you apply the same criteria to science, we scientists would need to fear you greatly. 

As for what the church needs and what Christianity is, apart from the odd humour I sense in your remarks, just what is you insight, background and knowledge on these matters? I guess it is because Darwin told you so? Such remarks by people who claim a scientific outlook (and qualifications) harm the sciences, and should be discouraged. If you (and I recall Lou is similar) have some insightful theological arguments (especially if, as you seem to claim, they are also supported by science), make them in a clear manner based on some (dare I hope, deep) theological aspect, and I am certain Christians would respond in a serious manner. Otherwise why do you make such silly comments?

Having a dissagrement with creationists is just that, and it is wise to confine your comments to the points that you dissagree with regarding science with them. If you wish to attack Christianity, then at the very least, become informed first.


Nick Gotts - #83925

December 13th 2013

I notice you don’t actually identify any “nonsense” in what I’ve said. That’s because you can’t. As for contradictions in the Bible, let’s start with the two conflicting birth narratives in Matthew and Luke - and yes, I have seen the ludicrous and grossly dishonest attempt to reconcile them by pretending that Matthew refers to events two years after Jesus’s birth, when there is not the faintest hint of this in the text. Or we could look at the contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection: who went to the tomb, what they saw there, who was told, to whom Jesus appeared… Then there are the two conflicting genealogies of Jesus, and I’m still just scratching the surface. Pretending there are no contradictions is simply a bare-faced, shameless lie. As for absurdities, apart from minor things like saying insects have four legs, the whole tale of the flood is utterly absurd. How did koalas and wombats get to the ark, and then back to Australia afterwards? How did Noah collect all the insects, snails, nematodes, and other land-living invertebrates? What were the lions, tigers and other predators fed on? How could eight people possibly look after millions of animals anyway? Discussing science with YECs is a waste of time, since they are either grossly ignorant or grossly dishonest - generally both - apart from the few such as Kurt Wise, mentioned in 2cortenfour’s copy-pasted list, who admits that the evidence is against his beliefs.


Nick Gotts - #83928

December 13th 2013

I guess it is because Darwin told you so?

I just noticed this. How amusing that you think others have the same childish reliance on the word of authorities that you do.


2cortenfour - #83943

December 13th 2013

“if I recall correctly, even Answers in Genesis now recommend creationists not to spout the nonsense about the second law of thermodynamics being incompatible with evolution.”

Here is what they actually recommend:

“So the argument that the second law of thermodynamics *began at the Fall* is one that we believe Christians should not use.” - Answers in Genesis article

The article points out that energy transfer existed before the Fall. AIG does not say Evolution is compatible with the Second Law.

“The second law applies to closed systems, and the earth is not a closed system - you may have noticed a bright yellow object in the sky sometimes, emitting light and heat which affect what happens on Earth: the increase in entropy within that object as it produces this heat and light, far outweighs the decrease concomitant on evolutionary processes.”

This increase in organization of matter, which Evolution says happened through chance mutations constrained by natural selection (facilitated by virtue of the fact that the open system of the earth receives raw energy from the sun) consists of some pretty mind-boggling phenomena.

Here are a few things this hypothetical blind evolutionary process is supposed to have produced over a few billion years:

DNA language, described thus:

“For me, as a believer, the uncovering of the human genome sequence held additional significance. This book was written in the DNA language by which God spoke life into being. I felt an overwhelming sense of awe in surveying this most significant of all biological texts.”
-Dr Francis Collins (Biologos founder)

...“language”...a “biological text”...

“DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”
-Bill Gates

...“like a computer program”...

The living cell, described thus:

“[T]here is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.” -Richard Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker)

“A living cell is a marvel of detailed and complex architecture. Seen through a microscope, there is an appearance of almost frantic activity. On a deeper level it is known that molecules are being synthesized at an enormous rate.” -Carl Sagan

And ultimately human beings - specifically the human brain, described thus:

“Some say that the brain is the most complex structure in the universe,” - Sebastian Seung, a computational-neuroscience professor at MIT.

“Jeff Lichtman, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University, was discussing the “wiring” of the brain on a molecular scale. His team had constructed a wonderful model from data of a tiny portion of a human brain. In an effort to understand how the individual microscopic components are connected (a field of study he refers to as “connectomics”), he conveyed the complexity of the machine that gives us thoughts, emotions, memories and consciousness. That model only consisted of a sand grain-sized volume of simulated brain matter and it was enough data to fill my computer’s hard drive a hundred times over. A grain of sand… over a hundred terabytes of data!” -  Ian O’Neill   (Discovery News)

All this super-complex organization of matter! Steadily increasing over billions of years in direct defiance of the Second Law, culminating in the most complex phenomena known to mankind - the human brain - and all because we have solar radiation bathing the earth.

I agree the sun is an awesome source of power, and life depends on it. However it lacks the one thing necessary to account for the above-mentioned wonders: an Intellect.

Raw energy plus time is not sufficient to produce those results. There must also be INFORMATIONAL energy injected into the system - an apparatus which will harness the energy and turn it into useful work (like a plant, which takes sunlight and uses it to grow). No such apparatus is present in the general environment of the earth. As you have pointed out in this forum, Evolution is indeterminate. There is no program, no overarching teleology, no machinery to utilize the sun’s power. Living things couldn’t have just built themselves.

In the case of DNA, an encyclopedic amount of information is present.
Information is immaterial.
Abstract.
The product of intelligence, and intelligence only.

That “bright yellow object in the sky” has immense dynamism, but it can’t write DNA code or build nano-machines.
If it could we would be justified in bowing the knee and chanting:
“All hail Ra!” 

I submit it was the Son (of God), not the Sun who “spoke life into being”, as Collins puts it.

“In the beginning was the Word…. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”  John 1:1,3
“His eternal power and divine nature..have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that [all human beings] are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
It is at His Name we will bow our knee.
Willingly or unwillingly.
We will all confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (See Philippians 2:10)


Nick Gotts - #83945

December 15th 2013

All this super-complex organization of matter! Steadily increasing over billions of years in direct defiance of the Second Law, culminating in the most complex phenomena known to mankind - the human brain - and all because we have solar radiation bathing the earth.

No, it is not in contradiction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Stop repeating this lie. No-one has said that heat from the sun is a sufficient cause of evolution, and the attempt to imply that this is the claim of evolutionary biologists is a typical piece of creationist dishonesty.

 


Nick Gotts - #83910

December 12th 2013

I recommend the following link to the deep thinkers of Biologos - I think it may just be the answer to your prayers!

http://static.neatorama.com/images/2008-06/new-synthesis-evolution-creationism.gif


GJDS - #83926

December 13th 2013

Response to #83925

The ‘nonsense’ I referred to was the statement that the church needs theories of original sin, or statements like that from you. But thank you for providing the gist of that atheist parrot:

  1. Conflicting accounts of the birth of Christ. In fact we have two people each providing their accounts of the birth of Christ. Where is your analysis of each account, with references to early manuscripts, and the debates anti-Christians would have put forward (over a period of 2000 years) that would prove your point? This is one of so many examples of the puerile stuff you people bring up as a counter to centuries of analysis and scholastic criticism. As for the genealogies, what can anyone say – I suppose that you have researched genealogies of Israel and understand what genealogies meant to the Jewish civilisation, and all other such knowledge, and armed with that you are ready to inform the world of your blinding insights. I think not, and I stand by my remarks that your idea of knowledge would send great fear throughout the scientific world.

  2.  Your puerile nonsense concerning the resurrection should not be dignified with a response, except to note that even you lot should tire of parroting such stuff.

  3. Now we have your ‘crowning glory’; how many animals were placed in the ark – I heard this nonsense when I was young and had started attending an English school where someone taught Sunday school. I was just as amused then as I am now – I thought Anglo-Saxons may have an intellectual shortcoming, but now I think that atheists may have cornered that market. 

    I suggest that you undertake some study, consider the teachings of Christianity that are commonly referred as Patristic writings, and then go on to later writings. You will find a great deal of material that is serious thinking, along with many examples where educated and intelligent people took as given current views on the earth and animals and what have you. You may be surprised to discover that the theological outlook has been sound for almost 2000 years, and the varying views on the earth and nature have been taken as just that, current views. You are making odd comments on matters that you plainly do not understand. As for your angst with YECs I will leave that with the US culture stuff; you can go on exchanging such views. However, proposing theories such as original sin should be left to those who understand such matters – and I am convinced you are not such a person.


Nick Gotts - #83927

December 13th 2013

I notice you don’t even attempt to counter any of the examples of contradictions and absurdities I gave. That’s because you can’t.

And you’re evidently too stupid to notice that it’s Loren Haarsma who says the church needs multiple theories of original sin.


GJDS - #83929

December 13th 2013

Good comments - the knowledge and authority of absurd atheists who have nothing else to do but make nuisances of themselves. Perhaps this as close to intellectual honesty you lot can get to.


Nick Gotts - #83931

December 13th 2013

If you had an ounce of intellectual honesty, you would not seek to divert attention from the contradictions and absurdities in the Bible to which I drew attention, but would either admit their existence, or point to specific places where they are dealt with in a manner you consider satisfactory. You don’t, because you can’t.


GJDS - #83934

December 13th 2013

Exert a measure of self control - YOU make these absurd claims - to use your phrase - are you so stupid that you cannot see that it is you who makes claims regarding the Bible. Thus even you must realise eventually that you should substantiate such absurd claims, otherwise you can be labled as intellectually dishonest. I have pointed out a way that most interested people can deal with your problems regarding the Bible; your response is to act in this ‘nut-case; manner.

 When anyone make sstatements such as yours (i.e. there are contradictions and other nonsense you spout regarding the Bible), then it is for them to provide a basis for this, not demanding that I justify such remarks with a response. Do you get it!

I have read the Bible, and commentaries, and theological text, and criticisms from Christians and non-Christians, and I intend to read more. I do not have a problem with opinion that differs from mine, as long as such opinion is backed by good intellectual research and scholarly endeavour. Each person is then entitled to reach their own position. The remarks I read from you and others on this site simply do not stack up, and look like ignorant, anti-Christian nonsense.


Nick Gotts - #83938

December 13th 2013

Don’t be so ridiculous. I have already made clear some of the reasons why the story of the flood is absurd. As for the contradictions I mentioned, they are obvious to casual inspection.

Birth narratives:

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was taken from his birthplace in Bethlehem to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod; according to the Gospel of Luke, his parents took him directly to Jerusalem as soon as Mary’s “days of her purification according to the law of Moses” (40 days from Jesus’s birth) were over, and thence to Galilee. Well, maybe this was the first of Jesus’s miracles - he (and his parents) could be in two places at once. There are other less obvious contradictions: for example, Matthew says Jesus was born during the reign of Herod, while Luke places the (ludicrous) story of the Romans obliging everyone to return to an ancestral place of residence in the time Quirinius was governor of Syria, which took place after Herod’s death.

Resurrection:

The Gospel of Mark has three women going to the tomb, seeing “a young man” there who tells them Jesus has risen, then going away and telling no man. There’s actually an internal contradiction even in this one gospel, because immediately after this, Jesus is said to have appeared to Mary Magdalene early on “the first day of the week”, and her going to tell the disciples. Matthew has two women going to the tomb, meeting an angel, meeting Jesus and then (it is implied) telling the disciples. Luke has multiple women (more than three) going to the tomb, meeting two “men with shining faces”, and telling the disciples, who regard their words as “idle tales”, but nevertheless, Peter (no-one else is mentioned) goes to see and sees discarded “linen clothes”. John has Mary Magdalene going to the tomb (no mention of any other women), finding it empty (no mention of anyone telling her Jesus had risen), telling the disciples, then Peter and another disciple running to the tomb, seeing the linen clothes, going away, and then Mary seeing “two angels” and then meeting Jesus (without anyone else being present). So: which women went to the tomb, what did they see there, did they tell the disciples, which of those disciples, if any, went to the tomb, who first saw the risen Jesus?

Incidentally, the risen Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark that those who believe can drink “any deadly thing” without it hurting them. I assume that, as a believer, you’ve tested this claim by drinking an extensive range of deadly things. If you haven’t, then clearly, you don’t really believe this piece of piffle any more than I do.

Genealogies:

Anyone can compare those in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 for themselves, and see that not only are the names different, so is the number of generations between David and Joseph. Whatever genealogies meant to 1st century Jews, this is a contradiction.

You keep boasting about how widely read you are, but you don’t even attempt to point to any specific sources that could explain these absurdities and contradictions. That’s because you can’t, but you don’t have the integrity to admit it.


GJDS - #83941

December 13th 2013

Response to #83938

I have stated before that each of the difficulties you have when reading the Gospel have been considered in great detail. If you are not aware of this, here is an easily accessible link regarding the genealogies. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06410a.htm this material in the Catholic Encyclopaedia has considered every detail on the subject (but if you, like Lou, are paranoid and think there is a vast conspiracy, there are other sources). Intellectual integrity would require you to examine such material, and then offer a scholarly and well researched rebuttal in support of your odd and ‘nutty’ views. 

I can offer material on other difficulties you have, but based on your behaviour, I suspect that I would waste my time, since you have already declared yourself the “source of wisdom and knowledge”. Surely your statement about taking poison proves your hysterical state of mind. 

I do not make ‘claims’ regarding my readings, but state a simple fact; your response again shows the contemptuous outlook you present in these exchanges.


Nick Gotts - #83944

December 15th 2013

Hilarious. I’m not surprised you’ve been so reluctant to supply specific sources dealing with the contradictions and absurdities, if your link to the Catholic Encyclopedia is typical of their quality. The section on the Gospel of Matthew’s genealogy says:

The list of the First Evangelist omits certain members in Christ’s genealogy

But there’s absolutely no indication in the text that this has been done, and it is explicitly stated (Matthew 1:17) that all generations have been listed:

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations

So the Catholic Encyclopedia calls the author of the Gospel of Matthew a liar.

With regard to the Gospel of Luke, your source says:

St. Luke does not explicitly draw attention to the artificial construction of his list, but this silence does not prove that its recurring number of names was not intended

So your source admits that the genealogy is not a real one, but nothing in the text says so.

On the section on the “harmony” of the two genealogies (*chuckle*), it says:

The third series of St. Luke agrees name for name with the first of St. Matthew; only the order of names is inverted.

In other words, the two are admitted to contradict each other.

Dealing with the “first difficulty” (that the two genealogies trace Joseph’s ancestry to different sons of David), we have:

Both St. Matthew and St. Luke give the genealogy of St. Joseph, the one through the lineage of Solomon, the other through that of Nathan. But how can the lines converge in St. Joseph? St. Augustine suggested that Joseph, the son of Jacob and the descendant of David through Solomon, might have been adopted by Heli, thus becoming the adoptive descendant of David through Nathan. But Augustine was the first to abandon this theory after learning the explanation offered by Julius Africanus. According to the latter, Estha married Mathan, a descendant of David through Solomon, and became the mother of Jacob; after Mathan’s death she took for her second husband Mathat, a descendent of David through Nathan, and by him became the mother of Heli. Jacob and Heli were, therefore, uterine brothers. Heli married, but died without offspring; his widow, therefore, became the levirate wife of Jacob, and gave birth to Joseph, who was the carnal son of Jacob, but the legal son of Heli, thus combining in his person two lineages of David’s descendants.

But there’s nothing whatever in the text to justify any of this: it’s just making stuff up, based on a presupposition that the two genealogies must be “harmonious”. Indeed, this is pretty much admitted with regard to the “second difficulty”:

The reader will observe that we suggest only possible answers to the difficulty; as long as such possibilities can be pointed out, our opponents have no right to deny that the genealogies which are found in the First and Third Gospel can be harmonized.

The intellectually honest response to the clear contradictions between the two genealogies is to admit it, and to admit that we have no reason whatever to believe in either. I do indeed have contempt for your lack of intellectual integrity, but my original target in pointing out that the bible is full of absurdities and contradictions was the claim that it is “God’s true and reliable Word”.

I can offer material on other difficulties you have, but based on your behaviour, I suspect that I would waste my time, since you have already declared yourself the “source of wisdom and knowledge”. Surely your statement about taking poison proves your hysterical state of mind.

A feeble excuse for your failure to respond substantively. Contrary to your lie, I have not declared myself the source of wisdom and knowledge. Nor do I see anything hysterical in pointing out that Jesus is quoted as saying that if those who believe drink “any deadly thing” it will not harm them, and employing a bit of sarcasm to point out that you evidently don’t credit this absurd claim any more than I do.


GJDS - #83946

December 15th 2013

Response to #83938

Your response is sufficient for me – yes I think you have become hysterical. However I at least agree with you on one thing – it is hilarious that an aggressive anti-Christian atheist will quote scripture.

You claim contradictions (the source is wrong, made up and full of lies, and yet you claim not be the source of all knowledge). Before you become a bigger fool, note the following: contradiction a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another; the statement of a position opposite to one already made. contradiction in terms a statement or group of words associating incompatible objects or ideas.

You set yourself up as a biblical scholar, and yet all you can do is pour scorn on an article that quotes its sources and also points out that if these two accounts are read as if they are providing identical accounts, such a reading is clearly incorrect.

You than add to your nonsense by deciding that a contraction (if anyone can understand your ramble) is based on the Bible as “God’s true and reliable Word”. This seems to you to require either identical accounts (which is, as I said, a nut’s idea), or else it must be made up, because you can decide what it ought to be. Genealogies are indeed from both father and mother – how could this be made up?

Even you must realise, under all of the rubbish you continue to post, that no-one is claiming identical treatments by Mathew and Luke, Indeed, if reason were to shine momentarily in your mind, the two accounts provide each person’s account and this in itself is of value to Christians. Yours is the penultimate ‘made up angst’; God’s word must conform to your nonsense, otherwise it is absurd.

We have made our respective positions clear and I for one cannot see the point in continuing this idiotic exchange. If that gives you cheer, than that is good (I am not refering to XMas and the man in a red suite - so do not get excited again). I have given up asking why atheists with such anti-Christian views post on sites such as this – but I guess I will just have to stop asking such an obvious question. Btw I, or any Christian, would not need to entertain or answer the drivel you bring up. As I said at an earlier post, each Christian is taught by the Gospel to consider these matters, seek out any and all reliable information, and as a matter of conscience, come to his/her own conclusions as to the truth. I again say, you are not the source of truth – but your angst in itself is instructive.  


Nick Gotts - #83948

December 16th 2013

I at least agree with you on one thing – it is hilarious that an aggressive anti-Christian atheist will quote scripture.

It was, of course - as you must be well aware if you are actually able to read for comprehension - your source that I called hilarious: it abjectly fails to resolve the contradictions between the genealogies, and in effect calls the author of one of them a liar. I have pointed out clear contradictions between the gospels, on the genealogy of Joseph, on the birth of Jesus, and on the resurrection; you have not provided sources that resolve these contradictions, because you can’t. Your latest response is simply bluster, as I think must be clear to everyone but you. Incidentally, why shouldn’t an “aggressive anti-Christian atheist” quote scripture? I see nothing wrong in an aggressive anti-atheist Christian quoting from, say, <I>The God Delusion</I>, or from Russell’s <I>Why I am not a Christian</I>, or from Ingersoll or Nietzsche. How better to argue against a viewpoint one disagrees with than by quoting from texts that express or support that viewpoint and then commenting on those quotations? I think your veneer of scholarship is wearing very thin indeed here.

Before you become a bigger fool, note the following: contradiction a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another; the statement of a position opposite to one already made.

Er, quite. If two genealogies of a person are inconsistent with each other - if both cannot simultaneously be accurate - then that is a contradiction. If it is stated in one place that Jesus was taken from his (alleged) birthplace of Bethlehem to Egypt, and in another that he was taken from that alleged birthplace to Jerusalem, that’s a contradiction, because both cannot be true. (I should perhaps not assume that you are aware that Jerusalem is not in Egypt; I assure you, it isn’t, and wasn’t at the relevant time.) If the four gospel accounts of events after Jesus’s death and alleged resurrection differ with respect to which women went to the tomb, what they saw there, whether they told the disciples, which of those disciples, if any, went to the tomb, and who first saw the risen Jesus, then there are contradictions between them. All your bluff and bluster can’t hide that fact and indeed, there are many Christian biblical scholars who do not attempt to deny it.

I don’t, of course, set myself up as a biblical scholar - that’s another of your many lies - I simply noted obvious contradictions and absurdities in the Bible, in response to the ludicrous claim that it is “true and reliable”. If you could point to satisfactory resolutions of these points, you would have done so, but you lack the elementary honesty to admit this.


GJDS - #83954

December 16th 2013

I am placing this post simply for the information and not as an exchange with anyone. It is important to understand that a considerable amount of scholarship exists on the Bible, and it is impossible to provide a comprehensive treatment of every topic that an anti-Christians may pose – and in any event, that is something for apologetics, and those with a genuine interest can easily access these and read what has been written regarding apparent differences in the Gospels – after that it is up to each person to decide what they believe. However it is blatantly false to claim that scholars have failed to address any genuine problems people have encountered in these books.

Regarding the genealogies of Christ, the following are useful references:

W McDonald; J. Vernon McGee; KVJ Commentary, M Henry; Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary.

McGee: “The genealogies were very important to the nation Israel, and through them it could be established whether a person had a legitimate claim to a particular line. For example, when Israel returned from the captivity,….. It was possible in Ezra’s day to check the register of the tribe of Levi and remove those who made a false claim.

Evidently these genealogies were …..  kept in the temple because Israel was a theocracy, and actually the “church” and the state were one. This genealogy was obviously on display and could have been copied from the public records until the temple was destroyed in a.d. 70. The enemies of Jesus could have checked them and probably did. This is interesting and important because they challenged every move of the Lord Jesus ….”

Nelson’s commentary gives a detailed discussion of each name and mentions the unusual practice of including four women in the list, in addition to Mary. The point is clearly made: “In view of this, Jesus could be physically of the line of David through Mary but legally be the son of David through Joseph.”

Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. 1999. Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary . T. Nelson Publishers: Nashville.

Anyone with a genuine interest, or is anxious, can consult these references (and others mentioned therein) for a detailed examination of the available information. It should be obvious that a comprehensive treatment of every objection that some may have concerning the Bible would take book length responses, and is not appropriate for these posts.


Nick Gotts - #83955

December 16th 2013

However it is blatantly false to claim that scholars have failed to address any genuine problems people have encountered in these books.

And of course I haven’t claimed they have failed to address them - but that they have produced no satisfactory solutions. If they had, GJDS would have linked to them.

Evidently these genealogies were …..  kept in the temple

Where’s the actual evidence that such genealogies existed?


*crickets*

The point is clearly made: “In view of this, Jesus could be physically of the line of David through Mary but legally be the son of David through Joseph.”

But the genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are both, explicitly, genealogies of Joseph - and they contradict each other. GJDS’s <A href=“http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06410a.htm”> own link</A> says:

It may be safely said that patristic tradition does not regard St. Luke’s list as representing the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin.


Eddie - #83959

December 16th 2013

Comments on this war over clashing genealogies in the Gospels:

1.  The article in The Catholic Encyclopedia is embarrassingly bad.  It brings “special pleading” down to a new low.  Its level of logic and persuasiveness is about what could be expected of a sophomore with a “C” average after imbibing about twenty bottles of beer at the campus pub.

2.  Speaking not for GJDS, or for all Christians, but only for myself, I’ll
offer this opinion on the (obvious and inescapable) misfit between the genealogies:

The discussion is a waste of time.

If the genealogies could be shown to harmonize perfectly, it would not prove
that Christianity was true.

If the genealogies could be shown to be utterly irreconcilable, it would not
prove that Christianity was false.

Matthew and Luke are writing theological (or perhaps prophetic) works, not histories. The theologian (or prophet) works in accord with a set of rules that are quite different from those of the historian.  The theologian or prophet is allowed a degree of invention that is absolutely forbidden to the historian.

Matthew and Luke write in a tradition of Old Testament genealogy in which important people have appropriate genealogies.  It is quite likely that they wrote independently of one another, and that their main source was Mark, which contained no genealogy, which left each of them free to invent (where “invent” does not exclude divine inspiration) a suitable genealogy for Jesus, in accord with the understanding of Jesus that each of them was presenting.  Drawing on tradition, they would be likely to construct genealogies in which the names were grouped in sevens, fourteens, or tens, and in which great names such as Noah, Abraham, David, etc. appear as nodal points.  Thus, the genealogies we have represent two different adaptations of pre-existing OT tradition.

The different adaptations are no more in “contradiction” with each other than two different jazz versions of the same standard.  Each genealogy is valid when read in the context of the Gospel to which it belongs.  Neither genealogy is of the slightest use when pulled outside of its Gospel context and forcibly joined with the other genealogy.  The right question to ask is:  “What function does Matthew’s genealogy have in Matthew’s Gospel?”  The wrong question to ask is “How can we harmonize Matthew’s genealogy with Luke’s?” 

Atheists waste everyone’s time when they criticize Christianity for “contradictions” such as this.  And fundamentalists only encourage this waste of time by insisting that the genealogies can be reconciled on the literal-historical level.  They just feed the atheists ammunition by making Christianity stand or fall on the historicity of a list of generations whose function was not historical, as we today understand the term.

For the same reason, trying to determine the age of the world by adding up the ages of all the Biblical characters is a fool’s errand.  And saying that the Bible is “false” because this procedure yields a wrong age of the world is equally imbecilic.


GJDS - #83960

December 16th 2013

My point was to show that there is scholarship availabe for those who are bothered with the two geneologies - I am of the opinion that one is for Joseph and the other is for Mary - however, that is something that people can work out for themselves.

To look for so called contradictions in such passages is not only a waste of time, but also an indication that such critics have not bothered to examine the question. For those who are so ignorant, a good beginning is often an encycopedea.

The list of names are clearly chosen for a reason, and that is to highlight the important epocs (if you like), that all show, or are prophetically relavent, to the birth of Christ. I think the historic fact of the destruction of the Temple in 70AD is important when seeking some way to authenticate each name - but that is hardly something anyone would make up.

I have a verbal geneology on my mother’s side that goes back a few hundred years - when I consider the wars and conflicts, and movement of people, in that region, I tend to think the verbal version is more reliable than what remains of the documented one.


Nick Gotts - #83964

December 17th 2013

I tend to think the verbal version is more reliable than what remains of the documented one.

You’re clearly capable of believing anything you want to.


GJDS - #83966

December 17th 2013

Obviously you are in a position to judge which report is reliable and which is not - people who have spent an innordinate amount of time accessing records of births and deaths that go back lengthy periods from regions that have faced a great deal of would tell you otherwise. My remark on this matter is based on experience - your comments inevitably rely on arrogance and a self-referential outlook.

I again point out the obvious, regarding the Gospels, that a great deal of scholarship is available for anyone who is genuinly interested, and once anyone avails themselves of this, they would be able to reach a reasonable position. Making odd remarks about what others believe just makes you appear odd, and uninformed.  


Nick Gotts - #83963

December 17th 2013

I pointed out the existence of contradictions in response to 2cortenfour’s absurd claim that the Bible is “true and reliable”. I agree that Christianity does not stand or fall by the consistency of these two genealogies; but they (and the other contradictions I pointed out) do show that the gospels are not factual accounts of what happened - as you agree. Since we cannot trust them as accurate accounts of mundane matters, clearly we cannot trust them when they make extraordinary claims of miracles such as the resurrection.


Eddie - #83965

December 17th 2013

I don’t think that “cannot trust” is the right way of speaking about the genealogies.  “Cannot trust” might well suggest that the genealogies are meant as historical information, but are not reliable, whereas in my view the genealogies are not meant as historical information.  (At least, not primarily as historical information; however, they might contain a core of information which the author regarded as historical even in our modern sense.)  

On the other hand, certain events in the Gospels seem to be presented by the authors as reports—albeit secondhand reports in most cases.  Those reports do not agree in all details—the order of events, exact words spoken, time of day, etc. often diverge somewhat in the four Gospel accounts—but they converge in the broad outline of the life and teaching of Jesus.  This is consistent with reports such as we might get today (from news sources who were operating somewhere near the scene, but not right at it) of, say, some foreign revolution; we would expect the broad outlines of the story of an event to match, but some mismatch regarding details, due to the imperfect information of our various sources.  Thus, we would not “trust” all the details, but the considerable overlap of versions of the story would incline us to think that the revolution occurred in something like the way our sources depict.  We would instinctively construct a “curve of best fit” for the revolution’s probable course, and we could “trust” that such a curve gave a reliable picture overall, though not Euclidean reliability regarding all the details.

There is no doubt that literalists and self-styled “inerrantists” understand the Gospels as reports, and reports that are uncannily accurate (beyond what we’d expect of writers in the situation of the Gospel authors) from start to finish; so against such people one can speak of “not being able to trust” this or that aspect of the Gospel accounts, and of discrepancies in the genealogies as strong reasons for distrusting everything else in the Gospels; but “not being able to trust” becomes less relevant as one moves into a non-inerrantist, non-literalist interpretation.

If the only point of the genealogies is to point up in a dramatic way what a remarkable and important person Jesus was in the history of Israelite spirituality, then they are perfectly “trustworthy” in that function, even if they are not “trustworthy” in the modern historical sense.  And if the point of the Gospels overall is to highlight the life and teaching of a man who was sui generis, the existence of discrepancies (the exact hour of the crucifixion, the exact words above the cross, the exact order of events, etc.) in matters of detail does not make the account untrustworthy, any more than discrepancies in the details given in our lives of Napoleon, Gandhi, etc. make our portraits of such people fundamentally untrustworthy.

Of course, if one finds the Gospels untrustworthy primarily because of the miraculous events which they narrate, that is a different matter entirely.  Then the question is not about so-called internal contradictions, but about the plausibility of miraculous events, whether the accounts entirely agree or not.  If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John entirely agreed regarding every detail of the life and teaching of Jesus, I do not think that Coyne, Dawkins, Dennett, etc. would suddenly start “trusting” the Gospel accounts as reliable reports.  I think the miraculous events would continue to be a deal-breaker for them.

  


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