Creation vs Evolution: Impact on Witness and Faith
September 30, 2011
Updated June 28, 2018
109 comments 300 views
Evolutionary theory has apparently encouraged many people to separate themselves from God. Darwin and Dawkins and Templeton are some prominent examples. Part of our global mission is how we interact with science and culture within our own context, and how do we respond to it. So what is the best direction for us as Christians to pursue when we deal with this very volatile and pertinent issue, especially with non-Christians?
As a starting point, I would insert a link here which shows how a half-dozen scientists who originally were raised in the evolutionary paradigm have been persuaded by the evidence that the evidence for evolution is lacking.
Persuaded by the Evidence, Part I, Volume I
http://persuadedthemovie.com/ Part I of Volume I in this series, Creation speaker Ian Juby interviews six scientists who abandoned the evolutionary dogma.
What do you think?
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Speaking about evolution/creation.
I just finished watching the first video (over 43 min. long). The following are some initial thoughts.
There's at least one problem with the math in the section on the miller-urey experiment: namely the trial and error over 13.5b years was calculated doing the combinations one at a time. I think any one who can think of how many amino acid molecules can fit in an ocean, would give a "hey, wait a minute" to that statistic.
The discussion in the comments section of this video show the difficulty of dealing with this topic.
If I were to shape an apologetic, it would go something like this:
I would talk about the difference between fact and interpretation of fact. Since evolution, as the transformation of a generational line of one species into another, has never been observed directly, it can only be posited as an interpretation of observed facts. Science has had many theories to explain facts over the centuries, some of these are still accepted to this day, and others have been overturned by theories that explain the facts better.
Evolution is the currently accepted way of interpreting discoveries in biology, geology and paleontology (etc.), but does that mean it is the only possible, or even the best way of interpreting those facts?
Further, no scientific has shown that the universe was not created. To suggest then that the universe was not created because it doesn't fit with current scientific theory puts faith in scientists in the same way Christians put their faith in God.
But apologetics is rarely effective means of evangelism.
Instead, I would try to talk with the person as a person. Only the Holy Spirit can change a heart and mind (which is why apologetics can't!). So, if He's at work in someone's life, I would pray for guidance in the discussion and try to find that place in the person's life where the Spirit is beginning to work. It may be in a marriage or family relationship, or a major health issue, etc. Since the Spirit seems to be attracted to chaos (Gen 1:2), He can often be found in those areas of someone's life that seems most out of control. Then prayerfully invite the person to talk about what's going on, and if they feel any hope, or assurance. Ask to pray with the person (most will accede). Let the Spirit convince the heart and the mind will follow.
(Note: this process can take weeks to years.)
Our hope, whether as pastors or non-ordained believers, isn't in out-sciencing the scientists. Our hope is in God's grace, through Jesus, applied to us by the Spirit. Let's stick to what we're good at!
Richard, you have made several good points. First, about sticking to what we're good at; perhaps you are right, but we should remember that Darwin was trained in bachelor regular degree as precursor to being a parson, not as a scientist. And then, the claim of Ian Juby, robotics engineer, Dr. Carl Baugh, Dr. Austin, Dr. Jerry Bergman(two science PHDs and several master degrees), and other scientists, is that evolutionists are not practicing good science when they extrapolate or theorize about evolution. So that makes sticking to what you are good at a bit of a conundrum.
I think you are right that apologetics is rarely an effective means of evangelism. But that doesn't mean it can't be useful, particularly in removing barriers to evangelism. Just like offering cookies and conversation to someone who needs a relationship with a Christian, so apologetics can assist in reducing intellectual barriers to receiving and understanding who God is, particularly for scientists.
There is also a great deal of difficulty in convincing people that they are sinners in need of the grace of God, if (a) god is random, or randomness is god, (b) if sin is merely evolutionary principles at work (c) if what we see is all there is (d) if there is a god, then he created death, competition, survival and all the associated behaviours so how could any of it be sin. (e) if we are merely more sophisticated animals than the simple amoeba.
As far as the math of amino acids is concerned, of course you are right, there is much room for many amino acids both in the sea and on land, and in fact there are billions and trillions of amino acids present there today, contained of course in dna and proteins and living organisms. The fact that there is room anywhere, such as in space, say on Mars, or Jupiter or between the planets and stars is not really the issue. After all, they do not exist there, even though there is lots of space. The issue is for them to form first, and then combine randomly by chance under random conditions, into useable amino acids which also have to combine randomly into proteins, which then have to randomly combine and form into organisms. The stated odds of this happening were just for one simply protein. Developing all the required proteins for simple life would have been vastly even less likely.
Then these organisms had to have an environment that didn't kill them, which is different than the environment that they would have spontaneously developed in. And it would have had to happen in a lot less than 13 billion years, since all the further evolution would have had to happen subsequently.
And in spite of the great difficulty of randomly arriving at even a simple amino acid, or a simple protein, this still pales in comparison to arriving at an actual organism with all its many requirements for DNA replication and repair mechanisms, as well as all the concommitant necessary parts of even the simple single cell, and having that organism change into another organism in sequences to develop into the huge variety of species we have today, and having that happen randomly. In addition, there are all the biological mechanisms present today for preventing that from happening, which would also have to be overcome, reducing the possibility even further.
The point is not only about the high improbability, but that basing science on such high improbabilities is not really science, but blind faith. Any normal science that looked at something with such a high improbability, would normally postulate and conclude that it would not happen in that way.
This video is just arguing a bit from credibility, from authority, along with some supporting evidence. Ian Juby has another 24 free videos on you-tube dealing with issues such as radiometric dating of rocks and fossils, biogenesis requirements, various fossil combinations, hydroplate theory, sedimentary and igneous rock, Mount St. Helen's, flume sedimentation experiments showing cross bedding, etc., etc. The point is he is doing this from a science perspective. This is more relevant to those who use their five senses to look at nature and observe and make conclusions about what they see. For someone involved in science, it is like offering them cookies and coffee, or inviting them for dinner.
John, my comment about sticking to what we're good at is directed at me and others who aren't scientists.
I was a philosophy major at Calvin in the mid to late 70's, so I guess I'm qualified to deal with the logic of the arguments, and that's what led me to comment on the statistical probability claim in the video, which seemed to be missing an important element (number of molecules being compiled) in the argument. However, I'm not enough of a scientist to suggest how many numbers of amino acid molecules an ocean might reasonably contain (or if the ocean is the best place to combine the molecules) to adjust the argument.
I do know (and this wasn't mentioned in this video, but another one, that the Miller-Urey experiment was later proved invalid, since scientists now claim that hydrogen, being light, would not remain in the atmosphere long enough to be available for the conditions duplicated in the text (saw that on another video - Lee Strobels, The Case for a Creator). But again, since I'm not a scientist, I'm not qualified to verify the veracity of that claim either.
I do agree that, as a non-scientist, scientists seem to make a jump from observation to interpretation that parallels a heretic doing bad exegesis. It seems to me like a conclusion in search of evidence, rather than the other way around. I say "it seems to me" because I don't go to the symposiums, don't read the papers or journals, and only know what I pick up here and there and from watching nature-type shows on Discovery, National Geographic channel, and occassionaly PBS.
I guess an outside observer, such as me, can legitimately ask questions and raise suspicions about how they got their conclusions based on what seems like flimsy evidence. But if I ask the question, I'd better be ready to spend time trying to understand the answer. Perhaps a video like this would be a good basis for a discussion, but I suspect that a scientist committed to his/her world-view would spend more time picking apart the science, than dealing with the basic questions of how one can definitively exclude theism based on mere probability (if the probability is even there).
Since I'm not a scientist, but a pastor, I would approach such a person pastorally. Further, as a committed Christian, I believe in both the fallenness of the human mind and the power of the Holy Spirit. Reason (given the nature of the fallen human heart) is not a reliable tool to convince someone of the Truth (just talk to anyone having an affair: their logic is impeccable while being they are totally peccable at the same time!).
When I'm talking to someone who is going through a legal or medical problem, I don't feel qualified to give any more than the most general kind of advice - and even then, depending on the actual situation, will probably encourage them to seek the advice of a lawyer or medical doctor. I've learned enough to know that what seems most obvious isn't always right. Same is true here: it may seem obvious that inverted layers in the geological strata disprove the theory, but scientists have been looking at these for years and there seems to be a consensus. The obvious may not be right - though I'd be fascinated to speak with someone who was willing to discuss this and explain it (provided they allowed me to ask some pointed questions along the way).
I do agree that evolution is a world-view and a statement of faith. But that's why we need to deal with it from a spiritual perspective -- the same way we'd deal with a Budhist, a Hindu, an animist, a modern 'pagan,' or a Muslim. While each situation requires a specific kind of response, we tend not to fight the entire religious system, but talk to a person caught in a place of emptiness, who is really searching for God (even if they don't know it, even the Budhist who doesn't believe in a personal god!).
So, yeah. Let's stick to what we're good at, and what we're called to.
I appreciate your point, Richard. Absolutely. I guess however, like you might suggest someone go to see a doctor if they think they have cancer, or check out a carpenter if they need their roof fixed, it might be good to suggest some of these creation scientists if people have questions about evolution, and especially if evolution is challenging their faith. I guess the other point is that not all scientists agree that macro-evolution is fact, and this would be important to know for someone who is struggling to reconcile a random universe with their understanding of God, sin, and salvation. Dr. Jerry Bergman published a book which contains a list of 3000 scientists who do not accept macro-evolution, or are creationists. And this does not contain those who did not want their name published because they did not yet have tenure at their university, and were afraid of their career implications.
I don't think everyone has to know everything in scientific detail about the problems with the evolutionary theory. Even Ian Juby is explaining things in a very simple, down-to-earth, understandable way, that can be understood by scientists, but also by many non-scientists. An actual scientific discussion would go much deeper. However, having witnessed some of these "deeper" discussions, it turns out that the precepts behind evolution are actually very very shallow.
In most cases, you get arguments like, "there is genetic diversity, and dna is made from similar amino acids, and there are similar pieces of dna in most organisms, and we find different fossils in different layers, therefore there must have been evolutionary decent." As a philosophy major who has studied logic, you will quickly see the fallacy in that. It is important for people to have a cursory understanding of the assumptions behind radiometric dating, because it sounds so precise, so "medical", so "scientific", ; how could it be inaccurate? The word itself sounds authoritative, and so people simply swallow the whole thing. Even scientists claim that you can test one method against another, without realizing that if assumptions for both methods are wrong, then the results will not be valid regardless.
It is important for people generally to know these shortcomings and shallow reasoning, since evolution is such an accepted, predominant assumed theory, called fact, by many. Many people get very upset when it is called a theory, since they feel that it is absolute undeniable and uncontestable fact. So in essence, in spite of all the problems with the theory, there is little if any serious debate and discussion. And christians get caught up in the after effects.
Anyway, layers that were actually inverted do not disprove evolution. However, the methods used to prove the layers are actually inverted, are often based on the assumptions that prove the theory. Many of these layers are called inverted simply because of the fossils they contain, in addition to containing certain types of minerals. Maybe they are not inverted layers after all, just laid down in a different order in different places. Then that yes would cast great doubt on the claims of evolutionists.
It is interesting that some of the most well-known scientists of the past were actually incredibly well-trained in theology. I'm told that Newton, Francis Bacon, and Galileo are some good examples of that. Darwin, who was self-taught in science, and not trained in science (since he neglected his medical studies and didn't finish that program), and likely gained an audience mostly because his father had lots of money, was trained in theology and the liberal arts, at a time when science was often termed, "natural theology".
Some earlier pastors were good at carpentry, fishing, and tent-making; in many cases it enhanced their service.
I believe it is a pastoral thing to direct questioners to the websites and books of these creationists, even while acknowledging that these creationists are fallible too, but at least are questioning and challenging, and doing so from a perspective of glorifying God, rather than putting God on the shelf.
There is another side to this discussion on evolution and creation that must be considered. Rich ended his perceptive log with the comment “Let's stick to what we're good at!”, At first I thought that he had said “Let’s stick to what we are called to”. I would edit that idea further to say, “lets stand vigilant in our calling as shepherds of God’s flock”. We are called to protect the flock that God has given into our care.
When students from our churches head off to Calvin College, we have a responsibility to protect them from potential heretical thinking. When we have science teachers who come from our denominational school, and teach the theory of evolution as fact, it creates head and heart trauma. We have a responsibility to respond intelligently but with great humility.
One of the most profound teachings in the book of Job occurs when God asks Job the simple question, “Where were you when I stretched out the heavens?” The answer is so obvious that Job does not need to respond.
When Howard Van Til wrote his book “The Fourth Day” his scientific views of astronomy relied on the principle of uniformity outlined in Newtonian Physics, which had been falsified by Einstein’s theory of relativity. A simple adjustment in Van Til’s assertations needed to be made. “It appears to me that the world is 4 million years old”—“but I wasn’t there when it came into being”
In Calvin professsor Schnieder’s article on “Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origin…” He uses Francisco Ayala’s genomic mathematical calculations to support his hermeneutical perspective. Yet Ayala’s mathematics are significantly problematic. Schneider is not a scientist—only a theologian who does his theology with an arrogance that requires a sound rebuke “Hey Schnieder, where were you when God stretched out the heavens”. He repeatedly makes assertions of certitude that expect the reader to accept them simply because he has arrogantly said they are true i.e. Job was written post-exhile, genomic sciences conclusions are---, “that paleo science has proved---that x,y, and z have occurred for millennium”. Proof really requires having been there. In fact there are actually plausible, scientific explanations of such phenomenon by adherents of short earth thinking.
When ever we look beyond the horizon of history our theories and “knowledge” are severely limited. This is true for both sides of the debate. I am neither a short age of the earth advocate nor a supporter of a long evolutionary perspective. Evidence for both perspectives have some merit. I am not even tied to a concordist hermeneutic, nor do I fully reject a more Barthian view of scripture--alla Schnieder an Harlow. But I must always admit that " I was not there when God stretched out the heavens", and I am convinced that I see through a glass darkly, and I know that faith is based on evidence of things not seen---and my eyes have not seen everything.
A guiding principle for all Calvin professors who claim to be interested in “academic freedom” --should be a guarded pastoral humility. A keen awareness of the limits of their “knowledge”, and the care of young minds for whom they stand accountable. They should be cautious of embracing ideas from world views where the adherents presupposition is that ther is no God. And they should definitely protect the flock from being driven like a herd, by the next extrapolation of "scientists" who have "certitude" because of the most recent scientific discoveries.
Calvin itself should seriously—in the name of academic freedom and integrity, hire and engage scientists, and theologians who can also carry the other side of the debate with serious humility. They should consider that they must also be vigilant to guard the hearts and minds of the whole Christian community that they serve. There witness in this controversial area should be gracious, meek, and full humility.
Finally, all should be aware of the Lord's question “Where were you when I stretch out the heavens?” The answer should be clear to all of us--"I wasn't there"
Great points, Dan. It's of course important to protect the flock, and professors should not forget that. On the other hand, as Christians, we know it sometimes will be tough. Tough to live, tough to stand up to temptation and mockery, and tough to witness. I agree that a certain degree of humility is also necessary for creationists. Well, you said "serious humility". And yes, true, perhaps. But don't you find that often serious humility translates as timidity? I would not like to see that.
And that can impact our global mission. If we do not have good answers for Genesis 1, and Genesis 11, and Exodus 8-11, we will begin to be very timid in explaining why John 1, or John 11, or John 20:31 are valid. Especially for those working in the scientific community. The global impact is then greatly diminished. The global mission is then inhibited and reduced.
We assume so often that our global mission is all about reaching out in missions or aid to foreign lands. Yet at home and in Europe our church attendance has dropped to to 25-35% of the population. Much of this is due to affluence, or irrelevant leadership, and to a great deal of excess humility translated as timidity. But some of it is also due to ceding certain precepts and territory to Christ denying principles, values and philosophies, including the philosophy of natural history. It is ironic that while we confess and proclaim that God is lord of all of life, we often too easily allow certain disciplines and certain philosophies to kick God out of the picture, or to put God on the shelf in the back of the closet.
I don't think we have to apologize, even though being humble, about seeking good answers to scientific ore real questions about how our perception of the universe and its parts fits with what God has revealed in scripture. We know that when Christians are accused of being "flat earthers", that is not a scientific nor a valid claim, but it is made by Satan in order to discredit the followers of Christ. The fact that the bible talks about the "circle of the earth"(Isaiah 40) is an inconvenient fact, and more conveniently ignored in the quest to discredit God. It is relevant to the discussion on evolution to demonstrate the disconnect between scripture and those who discredit it. But whether christians actually did believe or not in a flat earth at one time, is irrelevant to the truth or untruth of the theory of evolution or seven day creation. Yet it is often brought up, which simply demonstrates again how much of this discussion is often not about science, but about discrediting scripture, and discrediting God.
As Christians we need to provide tools for each other to demonstrate the power of Isaiah 40, the realithy of Genesis 1, and the significance of Genesis 11. And this includes looking at the rocks and fossils from the perspective of the power and majesty of God. How God can use the natural laws which He created and installed in the universe in such a magnificent and fantastic manner to bring about what we see today, in ways we can barely imagine.
The verse in scripture that says something like, "the people say that things are proceeding as they have always done, going on as they always have, so where is the coming of Christ? of that great day of the Lord?" warns of the fallacy of uniformitarianism.
" Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. "
A certain type of uniformitarianism can be lethal. Fatal.
Yes, we must have an answer to those who ask about the hope we have, and provide that answer respectfully (1Pe 3:15).
But I think the issue in how to do this is part of the answer. In my philosophy of religion class with Alvin Plantinga (he was still at Calvin when I was there - great teacher, BTW!), we learned to take on the great minds on their own turf and deal with their arguments. But at best we came to a draw. We couldn't prove God's existence (with the possible exception of Dr. Plantingas iteration of the ontological argument), but we could prove that the proofs challenging His existence didn't work.
The question we face is ultimately a world-view question: "What is a reliable source for truth?" Our culture has answered that question with the scientific method, and sees as real only those things that can be tested, are observable and repeatable. All truth is impersonal and sterile. It's the world view that has an average pew-sitter asking the question "What do you thing REALLY happened?" when someone is healed through prayer (instead of responding with gratitude and praise!).
When the Church abandons the world-view of the Bible, in which God is more real than matter itself (passim), where our struggle is ultimately not against what we can see, but what we can't (Eph.6:12), when it's not about proofs but power (1Cor. 2:4), etc., when it trades in the Truth (who IS Jesus) for mere truths about Him, or in other ways tries to lean on it's own understanding (Prov.3:5), the Church has already lost it's heart and it's power.
My guess, about college kids who loose their faith, is that they never saw the church be the Church: where God actually and perceptually lives by His Spirit (Eph.2:20), where the presence of God (Gal.3:5,e.g.) is more important than truths about Him (James 2:19!). What we have, in our Evangelical subculture is a salvation that is a mere, impersonal legal transaction, where (as Tozer puts it), "What He did for me seems to be more important than what He is to me," (A. W. Tozer, Born After Midnight (Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread, 1989)).
The question post-modernism asks is not "Is it true that God exists?" Their question is "Is God real?" and by that they mean, "Can He be experienced?" The Bible's answer to that is without question: "Yes!" The problem for us who come out of modernism is that we instinctually mistrust experience, to the point where we exclude it altogether. While subjectivism may make a god and theology out of serendipity, the opposite extreme is no less a sin against the Truth.
All that to say this: What we're good at is bringing the powerful, life-changing presence of God Himself with us wherever we go. Why settle for mere logic and argument, when God is with us! Not to reject logic, nor argument, just to point out it's severe limitations, alongside the unlimited power of God.
Those videos are helpful in the sense that they expose the severe limitations and inconsistencies of the science. But the spiritual question raised concerning those who lose their faith after being exposed to the science is a completely different issue (IMHO), which exposes a kind of spiritual disease in the student, if not in the church that nurtured him/her.
Okay, I'm starting to ramble a bit. This world-view stuff is hard to talk about. It's so sub-conscious and foundational to our thinking we can have difficulty explaining it. So instead of rambling more, trying to say it better, I'll just stop.
You raise a number of interesting points, Richard.
I agree that proof of God's existence is based on circumstantial evidence, and on eyewitness acounts. Not on the basis of a repeatable scientific experiment. The proof is seen in faith. We see the proof by our faith.
"When kids lose their faith..." of course, we confess (by scripture) that God does not lose anyone who belongs to Him, so perhaps they never had that faith to begin with, although they thought they did, and others thought they did. I'm reminded again of Charles Templeton, a preacher and a friend of Billy Graham. But I would say that it does not have to do with their view of church; it has to do with their view of God, and of themselves. We are not christians first of all because of what we think of the church, although the church may be a place or group where we learn about God, and are brought closer to Him. The church does not mean much by itself until we understand who God is, and what Christ has done for us.
To say that the presence of God is more important than the truths about Him, is a bit hmm, a bit obfusicating, don't you think? I mean, the presence of what God? Why would He be present? Why not distant? or, if present, why would that be a good thing and not a bad thing? You see, we cannot understand the presence of God without understanding who He is. And that means knowing what is true about God.
To say that God is present, means understanding that God is active, and that our lives are not accidental random events, which is to understand a much different presence than the pantheistic notion that God is equal to what He has created. God could be just as distant even though nearby, if our relationship to Him is not imbedded in His purpose for us, and our response to Him.
The problem with God's presence being real, is that we need to have an understanding of God. The problem is that if God did not really create us good, or with the capacity to obey and love, and repent, if we are mere accidents of random events and natural selection, then our relationship with God is similar to us being a sitcom on television, and God watching. Or our relationship is similar to us being rabbits in the forest, or carrots in the garden, and God simply harvesting us, even though He doesn't really need us, nor intend any future for us, nor really have a reciprocal relationship with us. So that is kind of an existential problem.
From a logistical and apologetics point of view, it is impossible for God to be real if God does not exist. We would call that mental illness. But yes, if God is real, and can be experienced, then we need to know who God is, what has he done, and what does He intend and desire for us. Otherwise we are deceived by our experience, and we are creating God, rather than being God's creatures.
A practical problem is that if scripture told the story of creation and Noah's flood as mere fables, to teach us lessons without the backing of reality, but with the substance and weight of 'Sleeping Beauty", or "Aesops Fables", then it becomes for us difficult to differentiate the resurrection from a moral fable, and it becomes difficult for us to give more weight to the parables of Jesus, or the prophecies of the day of judgement, the day of the Lord. Nor can we then differentiate God's commands for us apart from the moral and ethical judgements of society. Even while our faith may prevail, our witness becomes weaker and timid.
For that reason, I believe God wants us to place Him and His scriptures into the context of the discussion of origins. I believe that God wants us to realize that He is in control of current happenings and natural events even today. That just as God reveals himself to us in nature, in the ordinary things of plants and animals and rocks and weather and bodies in space, so He also reveals himself to us in natural history, in earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes. If we ignore God when we look at these things, our eyes will be darkened and we will see dimly.
And if our eyes are darkened, we will not be able to share the light of the Word, and the light of the World, with the world. And that will impact our global mission.
John, I guess I'm less optimistic than you that we can ascend from truths about God to an experience of Him; a sort of Jacob's ladder of knowledge, if you will.
I suggest a qualitative difference between truths and the Truth. Even a cursory reading of the gospel of John suggests such a difference and challenges (I think) the entire foundation of western empiricism, which asserts that only facts are true. Other truths are derived from facts and depend on those facts for their veracity.
That epistemology is a house of cards waiting for a gust of wind. It's a sham, a shell game, a clever lie, at best a distraction. Despite it's intricate and careful construction, it's slight of hand, a magicians trick to make us look the other way, when the main thing disappears. In the end it is fact without meaning or purpose; a pretty veneer on a foundation full of holes, a foundation built on the assumption that we can know the creation without first knowing the Creator.
I choose not to stack the cards better than the atheists and agnostics. I'd rather find the answer 'blowin' in the Wind' -- the Wind of that Spirit who first brooded over the chaos in anticipation of creation, and still broods over it today. The emperor has no clothes, and this sort of science, for all its pretentiousness, has less to offer us as people, than the vacuum of space. It can, and has given us a few luxuries, a few medical breakthroughs, but it's also given us more efficient weapons, harmful and illicit drugs, nuclear disasters etc. But more significantly, this worldview undermines the concept of purpose and meaning in life. It would not be hard to say that this world view has gained us the world, while it has lost us our souls.
I also believe God wants us to put the Scriptures into the discussion of origins, and I believe the version recounted in Scripture more than the one told by the self-proclaimed 'scientists' because I don't trust them, and I do trust the Scriptures. But the scriptures don't focus their attention on the specifics of how God created things, but on His goodness, graciousness, and glory in creating. Brueggeman says it better. He says the Genesis account "...is concerned with God's lordly intent, not his technique" (italics his, Genesis. Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1982.). We don't have to bow at the alter of empericism, and do that false god proper obeisance to engage in the discussion.
The matter of origins is extremely important. It shapes our entire view of reality. For that reason, it's essential that we believers begin with the Scriptures, or better, the message and teaching of the Scriptures. The message there is that the creation is "good." That's so much more important than "true," especially when it's a holy God saying that word. "True" comes in at such a disappointing and distant second place, by comparison. The so-called creation scientists who try to make their own house of cards, also seem to trade in "good" for "true," and wonder why people aren't impressed with their findings.
So, what place does science have? I think a Christian scientist looks at facts in terms of meaning, rather than trying to derive meaning from naked facts. Telemeres, fossils and geological strata aren't merely facts in some way independent from the Creator. They are facts that express the mind of the Creator. Instead of explaining Him away, their purpose is to leave us in awe of Who He is. A good scientist will always see the individual facts as part of a web of facts, which is connected to other webs of facts, and others, and so on. An atheist scientist sees it all holding together with some sort of ineffable "unified field theory." We see it holding together with a persona, but ineffable God, all things hold together in Christ. The atheist scientist is practising a religion, and reading the book of creation through the lens of that religion, all his observations must support his basic, unspoken assumption that this fact must exist independent of a personal Creator. The lens is distorted and therefore so are his conclusions.
Though scientists accuse us of looking at the facts with our eyes closed, I'd suggest that they are the ones who are blind, not to the facts, but to their meaning. And as we as Christians look at the facts, we should see them in terms of what the really are: expressions of the mind of our Creator, regardless of what others say they are. We can look at them in awe, not shying away from the mystery, nor the paradox, and certainly not explaining them away as if a mere fact can trump the reality of God in my life and my heart.
My point about the church is just this: when the church is just about doing religious-looking things, and teaching theology, children of the church will leave it out of sheer boredom, if nothing else. If the best we have to offer are theological truths (no matter how well articulated), then we have a sort of practical deism, where, if God exists, He really isn't involved in my life. If we don't know God our Creator (that is personally, the way I know my family), and His Son, if we aren't growing in knowing Him better and better, then we're vulnerable to the waves and winds of this worlds doctrines (Eph 4:13-14). We don't need churches that teach us about God; we need churches that introduce us to Him, so we can meet Him for ourselves.
Okay, starting to ramble again. Time to stop.
These ideas are very useful, by R.deRuiter; about the most 'real' so far in the discussion.
Hang in there, bro!
Excellent points, Richard. As Christians, we should always start with an assumption based on what Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
And Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God."
Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word. The word was with God. The Word was God."
These are our starting point.
But when it comes to mission, we know that only God can bring someone to Him. We cannot do it on our own. Not by reason. Not by being nice. Not by bring coffee and cookies. Not by apologetics or reason. Even the answer to our prayers requires God's permission and plan and will.
Still, how do we be obedient to Him? How do we prove He matters to us? How do we know we are presenting and obeying God, rather than a creation of our own imagination?
The epistle of John says that if we belong to him, we will obey His commandments. And what does He command? To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to love our neighbors.
To love our neighbors sometimes includes apologetics, as well as coffee and cake. If we ignore what impediments they have, or ignore their paradigm and their frame of reference, we are not getting to know our neighbors. If we use apologetics merely as a tool to beat them down and defeat them, then we are not loving our neighbor, but if we use it as a way of protecting them from storms, from insecurity, from purposelessness and aimlessness, then we can love our neighbor and demonstrate God's love.
If you regard belief in evolution like an addiction, then would you try to bring faith as a gift of God, and ignore the addiction? Especially an addiction that is so difficult to reconcile with miracles, with faith, with knowledge of sin, and with a sense of sacrifice and forgiveness?
That only facts are true, is semantics (to me at least). That God exists, is a fact. That God loves me is a fact. That God has forgiven me is a fact. Maybe empiricism is better described as talking about facts concerning what we can sense, feel, taste, touch, etc. But I agree that empiricism is a small box to live in.
I agree we depend on the work of the spirit. Totally. But scripture reminds us to test the spirits, to see whether they are of God, whether they are "true". This testing is also the work of the Spirit.
I don't think as Christians we ought to live in an either/or when it comes to faith and reason. Faith guides our reason, and reason substantiates our faith. So while I agree that knowing things about God is not the same as knowing God, God does not ask us to put our brains and thinking and reason into the garbage, nor separate our reason from faith as if reason was bad and faith was good. God created us with reason, just like we are created with eyes to see and ears to hear. And the Spirit makes the eyes and ears of our heart work properly; he also guides our reason, and claims it for God/himself.
Your last paragraph is interesting. Maybe you express some things a bit different than the way I think of them. I think I agree, that teaching theology is different than living theology, but then, that should be part of teaching theology. Our theology should teach that God is involved in our life, always has been and always will be. But I would argue that true teaching about God, is in fact actually introducing us to Him, so that we meet Him. Otherwise it is false teaching due to omission of the vitality and presence of God.
Great points, Richard!
Hey!? I agree Richard's ideas are "real", but are you suggesting that comments made by Dan K and myself are not "real"? And if so, which comments and why?
It is hard to say ---but he seems more athentic, humble, open to God's variety, freedom to change. To get a slight flavor of what I mean, please read pp. 138-141 from Scott Hoezee's Proclaim theWonder, Baker books.
Okay, I agree Richard is very open, and humble. But authentic? Everyone is authentic, especially here, I think.
I have just gone through a Meyer's Briggs personality analysis, and have found it interesting how people of certain personality types relate to other personality types. It is important to realize that being open to change, and being humble, does not make a person more "real" or authentic. They are just different. The fact that people are different, means they respond differently to different things and to different approaches. Some people react with their feelings, while other people react with their logic and thinking processes. People that are openly emotional are not more "real" than those who control the expression of their emotions; they are just different people. But it is important to realize how you react to something.
If you react to someone's expression of love with cold logic, rather than with emotion, you will fall into the trap of suspicion.
On the other hand, if you react to someone's expressions of details and facts and logic with an emotional reaction or with an expression of "feeling" about the personality of that person, then you will cause suspicion and frustration in the other person.
So the reason I asked why you thought Richard was more real, was not really to discover your feelings so much as to find out how you would substantiate that statement. So I can see he is more real to you in a very subjective sense; it is simply how you "feel", but I cannot see how that applies to the discussion of whether we ought to consider emphasizing teaching more creation alternatives rather than going with and being swallowed up by the general cultural flow of evolutionary teachings. Maybe you could make the connection and clear that up for me.
I do not have scott hozee's book.... and would need a justification for getting it.... I would prefer your synopsis of the idea expressed in it.
FWIW, I'm not sure I understand the more 'real' or "authentic" moniker either.
I was talking about our epistemological starting point and strategy. I'm also passionate about not caving in to the noetic structure and assumptions of modern empericism. Finally, I think the church needs to focus more on what some call "hosting God's presence" than merely speaking God's truth(s) (not in a mutually exclusive sense, of course), and that failing in its primary focus, the children of the church are more in danger of being persuaded by competing truths.
I'd be curious about which of those things our friend finds me more "real" or "authentic."
I take it to be meant as a compliment, but I'm not sure what it means. But since I like being complimented, I'm looking forward to an explanation.
(Edited to include the "authentic" adjective.)
And while we're waiting for that explanation, I will just present a few "facts" that some people may not be aware of, at least as I understand them. Fossils have been discovered of dragonflies that have four foot wingspans, and huge reeds that are 120 feet tall, not something that we would see today. Some of these reeds, as well as tree fossils, transect many rock/earth layers which are dated by evolutionary methods to be millions of years old, and different in age from each other. A satisfactory answer as to how these reeds could survive long enough to be covered by so many different layers of different "deep time" ages has not been given. The catastrophic deposition of water formed layers with trees and reeds embedded within them gives a much more satisfactory answer.
A new short video on some scientists/mathematician conversion from evolutionary belief to skepticism and disbelief in evolution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKPKuk6gF-4 This is part 2 of a new series by Ian Juby who interviews these individuals, Dr. Jerry Bergman, with several PhD degrees and masters degrees associated with genetics and medicine, and Alan Bergman, an actuarial mathematician. This is interesting and enlightening from several perspectives. In one case the change from atheism to belief in God accompanied the examination of the scientific evidence, and in the other case, the change from a sort of irrelevant theism to an understanding of Christ as Lord of Life, and how that opened up the eyes to the revelation of nature and the inconsistencies of evolutionary theory.
Interesting recent news from London is that some scientists have discovered that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light, thus putting Einstein's theory of relativity into a non-absolute finality. It is this type of thing that keeps me humble about the state of our knowledge at any given time. The fact that gravity can bend light, and also this new information about things faster than the speed of light demonstrate that theories we hold about "deep time" and past uniformity of present observed processes are always subject to the discovery of new information. In addition, any new information is also subject to subsequently as-yet undiscovered information. (We don't know what we still don't know. But God does know. )
John, Thats pretty cool news. neutirnos also shift between particle and wave. I person have believed that speed doesn't exist outside its specific visual context. Scienctist can't understand the aparent increasing velocity of univesal expansion which leaves the universe beyond human comprehension. The more we find out the greater the paradox. Scienice is not appart from God. Like you said or I think you said it is the heart of the believer that can enterprate the data of science and see His Creation.
Quatum mechanics has established that a particle can exist two places at once under certain criteria. That also speaks t His omnipresence. Sciece contains a bouty affirmation if one chooses that kind of postalate. We do live in God universe and science is a great tool of God in the correct context.
Hey Guys, The spell check is to quick for people with cognitive difficulties. I can't get through to webmaster. The new password rules and captcha makes it aa bit more of a problem. I'm sure would be helpful if you know what I mean.
We also half to remember science began to florish because of the churches of the time. They had the power and money to kick the reniesance into gear.
Richard, you said a while back, "The matter of origins is extremely important. It shapes our entire view of reality. For that reason, it's essential that we believers begin with the Scriptures, or better, the message and teaching of the Scriptures. The message there is that the creation is "good." That's so much more important than "true," especially when it's a holy God saying that word. "True" comes in at such a disappointing and distant second place, by comparison. The so-called creation scientists who try to make their own house of cards, also seem to trade in "good" for "true," and wonder why people aren't impressed with their findings. "" ""
I think this is an important statement. It is one I disagree with however, for this reason. It is a false (not true) dichotomy. How do you know if the message in scripture, that the creation was created "good", is true? How do you know what part of the creation is "good"? How do you distinguish between what God declared "it was good", compared to what is not so good anymore? Wouldn't you have to believe in the truth of scripture first, to believe creation was made good?
Evolutionary theory would postulate that creation was not made good. It just was. And by our standards it would not be good, unless weeds, disease, strife, battles, murder, hatred and selfishness are good.
It would seem that truth and goodness are inseparable. The truth is also that God often turns evil for our good. But that doesn't make the evil good on its own.
John, of course I believe that the Scriptures are true, in every sense of the word 'true.'
But I think it's a mistake to get so embroiled in the factuality of the creation story, that we miss the message in the creation story. Though I firmly believe that Genesis 1-3 is historically accurate, I don't think that those chapters are there primarily to teach us a history lesson. They are there primarily to teach us about the nature of our Creator, the creation, and us as creatures in relation to the rest of creation and our Creator.
While I also believe that the message of chapters 1-3 are rendered all but meaningless, if those chapters don't represent what actually happened, that message is still much more important than the mere factualness of it's setting. My point was that so much attention has been given to the factualness of the creation story, that the message of the Bible in that story is being lost.
The other part of my argument is that we must soundly and thoroughly reject the 'scientific,' AKA 'empericist' world view that sees mere, measurable facts as the only reliable truth. Such a world-view collapses in on itself and cannot even live up to it's own criterion, since that world-view can not be demonstrated emperically as either the only, nor the most reliable world-view for reliably discovering all the facts there are. We must thoroughly reject not only the conclusions of this world-view, but the world-view itself!
In other words Genesis 1-3 was not written primarily to be an apologetic against other creations myths (including the 'big bang' myth), it was written to invite us into fellowship with and worship of our Creator.
I do not take for granted, the "of course" part of your first statement. There are some even within the crc who do not "of course" take every part of scripture as "true". In spite of their profession of faith. In spite of their signing a form of subscription. But I am glad you take every part of scripture as true.
You are right we should not miss the primary message of the creation story, that God is creator and maker and that what He makes he declared good. But earlier you said that "good" was more important than "true", (which while I understand you are refering to chronology and actual events as "true"), is misleading in the sense that truth is downplayed. You see if there is no truth, then there is also no good. Truth embodies both the realities of good and evil. God is as much true, as he is good. Jesus did not say "I am the Way, the Good, and the Life." He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Truth is good, even when it reveals evil. Especially when it reveals evil.
When we suggest that scripture's truth might be relativised, or that it is subjective, or that it is more important to be "good" than to be "true", then we are missing something about who God is. When God allowed Satan to subject Job to misery, we can only say that God is good, because we know first that God is true. And we know God is true through scripture, through His Spirit, through faith. A false scripture hinders the work of the Spirit, and weakens our faith. And that is not "good".
God wants us to struggle with Genesis 1, with Genesis 11. Not to toss it off as some allegory just because some quasi scientists (and real scientists) have decided that their world view does not permit Genesis 1 to be true.
The great difficulty in arguing that Genesis 1 is not true in a meaningful sense, that creation did not happen in seven days, that things were not created in that order, but yet that creation was "good", is to discover a true basis for that conclusion. If creation did not happen in seven days, then there is no basis for saying that creation was "good", since both conclusions are based on the same written word. The basis for describing our relationship to the creator is also lost, since why should that be more true than creation by fiat in seven days?
Thus you see that truth is more important; it is primary. Without truth, good does not exist.
"Truth embodies both the realities of good and evil ." I want to clarify this statement from the previous post, since it might be misunderstood. It does not mean that evil can be equated to truth, since it opposes truth.
What I mean by this statement is that truth embodies the struggle of good vs evil. That Jesus is the truth, because he defeated evil, not just because he was good. That truth reveals falsehood and evil to us, and also points out the good to us.
"Good" requires truth, as "evil" requires falsehood.
John, I think you missed my point again.
Here's what I said above, that you seemed to suggest I didn't say: "While I also believe that the message of chapters 1-3 are rendered all but meaningless, if those chapters don't represent what actually happened, that message is still much more important than the mere factualness of it's setting. My point was that so much attention has been given to the factualness of the creation story, that the message of the Bible in that story is being lost." (underscore added for emphasis)
In other words, while it is neccessary to view Creation as presented, the most basic truths in Genesis 1-3 are not the mere factuality 'that it happened this way and not some other way.' No. The basic truth is that God created this creation for life, particularly for human life, so that we could have fellowship with Him. A secondary truth is that the creation is harmonious and beautiful and good, even very good.
I also argue that emperical truth, is only somewhat interesting, even as it brings something to bear on this story. It's about as interesting as knowing which color socks Martin Luther King was wearing when he made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, or what time it was precisely when he have the speech, and who exactly were in attendence. Yes, those details can be interesting from a certain perspective, but don't let those incidental details make you miss the speech! Now by saying those details are unimportant, I'm not calling into question whether he actually said anything, that he said it on a certain day or at a certain time, to certain people, while wearing certain socks. I'm just saying that those facts are a paltry distraction from what was said.
Similarly, when we focus on the mere factualness of the creation story, we miss the point. Not that there is no factualness there, it's just that the factualness of what's there is a paltry distraction from what we are being told there.
Richard, I definately did not miss your point. In fact, I restated it and acknowledged it: "You are right we should not miss the primary message of the creation story, that God is creator and maker and that what He makes he declared good ."
You have now changed "true" to "factualness"... maybe a good thing.
It is not that I deny what you are saying, in that if we focus on the factualness too much it may make us forget the underlying theme. But the focus in the other direction is just as much a problem. If we deny the factualness (not you, but others), then the underlying theme loses its validity. Martin Luther's socks may not have made a difference to his speech, but the alternative to creation by fiat and the creation of man by God, is presently a never-ending process of evolution which makes a big difference to whether God created the universe "good" or not. And it makes a big difference to whether man is truly in the image of God, and whether there is such a thing as sin or not.
In the Martin Luther analogy, the significance of where he was, who was there, when he made the speech, and the state of the country at the time is very significant to the impact of the speech. If he had made the speech in his bathroom to his mirror, or if merely written in some op-ed piece in the local paper, it simply would not have had the impact, and would not be seen to be important in the same way.
When people are defending the literalness of Genesis 1, they do so primarily in order to validate the underlying theme. It is not merely for the sake of the empirical facts themselves.
Richard, I sense also a bit of an emotional reaction to some of these discussions. Maybe like, "do we really have to get all so wrung out about this debate?" I sense you want peace (which is a good thing) and not strife. You want people's faith to hold together, and not be sidetracked by empirical arguments. You also want a focus on spirit, as opposed to "facts", a spiritual/emotional connection with a good God, instead of a concentration and focus on cold facts and truths.
I understand all of this, and I empathize with it. But I also believe that we are to worship God in Spirit, and in Truth. If we neglect truth under the guise of spirit, we will eventually discover that we have lost the spirit, and gained a false spirit. I know this from discussions with buddhists and with bahai and with moslems. It is the spirit of truth that is given to us, not the spirit of falsehood. Annanias and Sapphira died for no other reason than that they followed the spirit of falsehood; they lied about the empirical facts.
It is absolutely important and essential to know and believe and sense/feel that God is good, and God is love. This should become part of the blood flowing in our veins. It should be the essence of every word coming from our mouths. But it is the truth of this statement as found in scripture, that helps us to understand that God is good even when we do not feel that God is good in our personal lives, or in the lives of our friends or in the lives of strangers.
It is falsehood and evil that wants us to put truth on the back shelf compared to the goodness of God. But it is a false dichotomy (I am speaking more broadly than just Genesis 1, but the principle applies).
If God is good, how can he allow evil? If God is good, how can he allow the flood? If God is good, how can He allow eternal punishment?
But God must be true to Himself. If we understand that, then we can understand God's goodness.
And we must be true to God.
Sorry to put in three posts here in a row.... but I came across an excellent expose of evolutionary paleotology, put together by Street Church Adelaide. Youtube - "Evolution - A Crumbling Theory ( StreetChurch Adelaide )
Facts are not always facts, even when it comes to empirical science. Evil and falsehood not only wants to pervert scriptural truths, but it perverts scientific and "natural" evidence as well, if the motivation is there.
Sorry to put in three posts here in a row.... but I came across an excellent expose of evolutionary paleotology, put together by Street Church Adelaide. Youtube - "Evolution - A Crumbling Theory ( StreetChurch Adelaide )
Facts are not always facts, even when it comes to empirical science. Evil and falsehood not only wants to pervert scriptural truths, but it perverts scientific and "natural" evidence as well, if the motivation is there.
I think that there's something tangential but important in your last statement, and one that I would like your perspective on. It seems that sometimes the scientific enterprise is conflated with the doctrine of general revelation. I think that there is some overlap but at the same time important distinctions between the two. You refer to it as "Christ's other book of revelation". I have recently read it in the Banner as "creation revelation"...both of which draw squarely from the Belgic confession. My only question would be, revelation of what? Data, or a person?
I wonder if part of this debate also comes from differing ideas concerning the doctrine of general revelation...there are those who are "maximizers" of the doctrine, creating in effect a two-source model of authority, and there are minimizers, and there are those in between. It was helpful for me in seminary when one of my professors was speaking about general revelation and then said "now, remember, general revelation is revelation *of God*. He then went on to expound what he thought was a mistaken idea of general revelation, that it is primarily about data and not about the fact that the world is transparent to God's glory, only occluded by our own fallenness and spiritual darkness.
As one source I read says "the content of general revelation deals with God and various aspects of his being and activities. Any efforts to widen the scope of general revelation to include information or theories about aspects of creation, humanity, or anything else besides God do not have support from the Bible, which limits the scope of general revelation to information *about God*. General revelation performs the limited function of enabling all persons to know that God is and something of what he is like." This person, one would think, would be a "minimizer" of the doctrine, which he would probably see as having been broadened too much by automatically linking it with the scientific endeavor.
Rinsen, you said, "I mean, how in the world can you argue with his "best" argument against Creationists about shared genes? ""
You didn't specify the entire argument. But the way I normally hear the argument about shared genes is that since genes can be transferred from one species to another, or since genes in some species are similar to some genes in entirely different species, these species must somehow be related, and must have descended from a common ancestor. It is an old argument. (Correct me if I am wrong in this summary of the common genes argument).
It seems to be a good argument since genes are instrumental in formation of structures of organisms. However, all genes are made of the same types of materials; they are just organized in different sequences. If you want to use the argument of shared genes or common genes, it is as valid to say that because all organisms are made of carbon compounds (thus the term "organic" is related to complex carbon molecules), they must have come from a common ancestor.
It would in essence be like saying that all living things on earth must have originated from a common ancestor simply because they are living.
The counter argument to that is that the same creator created all living things because He used a common materials and common genetic patterning process.
The E theory postulates that because a certain type of car looks like another type of car and is made of the same type of metal or plastic, it must have been made at the same factory. We know that isn't true, although we also know it was likely designed in one office.
Shared genes are consistent with evolutionary theory. But shared genes are not inconsistent with creation science.
The biggest problem with evolutionary theory still remains. We do not see it in the fossil record; there is a lack of intermediaries in proportion to existing and fossil species. We also do not see it occurring today in a consistent and dominant way; only we see what we think "might" be evolution occurring sporadically and rarely here and there. Predictions of missing links are consistently proved wrong. There is more speculation than proof about various intermediary species. Conclusions about ancient prehistoric fossils are shown to be wrong when the same type of animals still exist today (such as coelanth). Even radio active dating methods are not determinative, and have been found to be interpreted in various ways (because they rely on certain assumptions), and are made subject to the demands of the theory.
For all these reasons, we can conclude that there is no preponderance of evidence for evolution. The only preponderance of evidence is in the eye of the believer. Say it often enough and you will believe it. Say "preponderance of evidence for evolution" often enough, and you will begin to believe it, but that doesn't make it so.
Like I said, somewhat tangential, but I would say that part of what is at issue is where theologians/Christians have tried to situatate the scientific enterprise within the loci of theology. Protestants, especially in the last hundred years have tried to situatate it within the area of revelation. As far as I understand, other traditions such as Catholicism, seem to have situated it more under the doctrine of creation and "natural law", without making much reference to revelation.
But that, in my understanding is the historical interpretation of the doctrine...both general and special revelation are primarily revelation *of God*. If this is neglected I think the whole doctrine is somewhat skewed. You could, I suppose make the same distinction in special revelation. Jesus refers to the scribes and teachers of the law who "search the scriptures" for the least bit of information but miss the point...that they reveal himself. This is only revealed by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. They have the data but not the import of the data.
Is data that is discoverable by unaided human reason by definition not revelation? Is it rather, the medium of revelation? And isn't that revelation about a Person?
Rinsen, I do not reject out of hand the geological time scale. I merely question it. There are instances where dating of certain rocks and layers has huge ranges, and where dating is revamped to suit the fossils contained in the layers. I am not a conspiracist, but I have seen the impact of group think.
You said, "we are faced with a God who assembles creatures "as if" they shared the same genetic script but actually, they don't. This is supposed to be an explanation? Just like the various fossil strata appear to be extremely old, and predictably laid down in layers going from more simple to more complex "
Actually creatures do share genetic building blocks, yes. I did not say that they do not share the same genetic script in various parts. They obviously have some similarities and some differences. If they did not have differences they would be the same species, or even identical twins, etc.. What I did say was that these similarities in dissimilar organisms by themselves do not prove inheritance of origin. They may demonstrate a similarity of planning and design.
It is also interesting when looking at genome size, that some fish and amoeba and some plants have a much larger genome than mammals (homosapiens). While other plants, bacteria, insects, and some fish have a smaller genome than homosapiens. For example one measured amoeba genome was 670Gb in size, one fish genome was 130Gb in size, two plant genomes were about 130Gb in size, and the human genome is 3.2 Gb in size. Some bacterium had a genome three times as large as the human genome, while others were much smaller or similar to human genome in size. From a genetic perspective, I'm not sure how that supports the simpler organism vs more complex organism theory.
The fact that some fossil layers are old.... but what is old? Is a thousand years old? Is ten thousand years old? Once a fossil layer is formed it does not visually look older. Neither do the fossils. So they are determined old because of fossils of strange animals we do not see anymore today, and because of radioactive dating.... but radio active dating is based on assumptions about parent rock materials. When carbon material is still discovered in rocks supposedly millions or hundreds of millions of years old, then the carbon dating method is deemed invalid for that rock layer, but.... the carbon 14 is still there in amounts much larger than it should be. When volcanic rocks less than ten years old are measured by Kr-AR methods to be millions of years old, then the method is deemed invalid, because the rocks are obviously too young to be measured.... but why does the method then not date them as young, instead of old? How can we prove the assumptions for radio-active dating are actually right, outside of the previous preconceptions about the age of the rocks.
It is interesting that fossils in the rock layers are generally also sequenced by size to some extent.
When we have fossils that transect layers of rock that are "dated" as millions of years difference between layers, then how do we justify or explain the existence or survival of these fossils (half exposed and half buried) during the layering process?
You also said, " The theory of evolution had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the findings of carban dating ..." Well, you are partly right. Without carbon dating, the theory of evolution was still orginally postulated. But the theory of evolution had difficulty with shorter time frames of time, since mathematically the probability of evolutionary processes based on what we see today, required ever increasing amounts of time. The radio-active dating methods began to give validity to these longer time periods. But, the radio-active dating methods were based on certain assumptions about uniformitarianism for earth processes. For example, one assumption is consistency in the rate of formation of C14 in the upper atmosphere over time.
You might find it oddly liberating if you were to really examine all the fundamental assertions of the E theory.
I assume you believe at least some of scripture. How do you decide when your perception of observable facts trumps scripture? How do you know that your interpretation of observable facts is correct? Would your observation of observable facts lead you to deny that Elijah, Elisha, Jesus and Peter raised someone from the dead? Would it lead you to deny that Elijah's prayer for three years drought was answered; was it going to happen anyway? Would it lead you to deny that Jesus made the lame walk, the blind to see, and deaf to hear?
Y'all good people should read Genetic Entropy by J.C.Sanford; very scholarly work both scientific and math'l..
Would open a lot of eyes!!
To Rinse and hang dry: The article by matson identifies "creationist" geologists as the ones who worked out the geologic column. True, they believed God created. But they believed also in a kind of blind watchmaker kind of god, who set things in motion and then merely watched it happen. They are not creationists in the sense of how the bible describes creation.
His comment that C14 has nothing to do with dating geological ages is a gross exaggeration. It may not be the method used to date anything millions of years old. But it is the method used to date things within the last 10,000 to 20,000 years. So it is the beginning of the radio-active dating process.
The problem with coal and other carbon artifacts is that all the C14 is not actually decayed away. With better equipment, it is now detected. Zeroing in instruments with carboniferous coal in the past merely assumed it was gone.
Index fossils seem to a valid tool to correlate to strata. However, this only says that certain strata (a type of rock layer) contained these fossils. It says nothing about the age of the strata, nor the age of the fossil. Therefore the index fossils are not useful for dating strata. As an example, a certain layer contained fossils of the coelanth. It is dated by evolutionary theory to be very old. Other layers above that, and thought to be younger, do not contain the coelanth. Yet, the coelanth fish still exists today. So why do the younger layers not contain fossils of the coelanth?
This same problems exists for many other fossils of animals and plants that still exist today.
In reality, the geologic column does not actually exist anywhere on earth, except in the minds of evolutionists, and in school textbooks. It is a theoretic arrangement of layers, which has monstrous gaps in any particular location on earth. Matson's statement that the geologic column has been found in places on earth, is then clarified by his statement that "some of the geologic periods are missing either because they were never laid down at the location or because they have since eroded away." Perhaps it is semantics, but....
The validity of various radio active dating methods is always dependant on assumptions. Matson has made some good arguments about uranium-lead in zircon correlating to different layers somewhat consistently. However, others have disagreed:
" "The crucial problem with these methods, in accordance to the invalid assumptions, is the fact that Uranium minerals NEVER exist in a closed system, only and always in open systems..... "Yet another factor to take into view is that the daughter products were most likely present from the beginning. There is no way possible to know whether or not the daughter components were actually absent from the original system. This possibility is evident in the case of modern volcanic eruptions. Sidney P. Clementson performed detailed studies on modern volcanic rock, and endeavored to obtain their radiometric ages. All of the uranium-lead ages he produced for the volcanic rock he studied were vastly older than the rock's true age. A majority of the tested rocks put forth ages of over a billion years, when in fact it was known that the rocks had been formed in very recent times." " http://www.trueauthority.com/cvse/radiometric.htm
I should point out that generally Hovind is not used as an authority, although he has made some very good points over the years as an educator. People like Ian Juby, who have actually examined many fossil sites and geological strata, and others such as Bob Gentry, have examined some of the E-theory claims in much more detail. Have you seen Bob Gentry's work on zircon crystals?
I will look at the rest of the article later.
I read that already. You should read the third last sentence in that paragraph.
Rinse and hang dry - is that really your name? My previous post is out of sequence because you added three other posts. In response to your accusation of me not reading the entire article, you are mistaken, I had already read it and I referred to it too. You should read this statement matson made, "Some of the geologic periods may be missing, either because they were never laid down at that location or because they have since eroded away. "
In regards to radio-active dating methods you should check out these two sites, highlighting that sometimes methods have an error range of millions and hundreds of millions of years. " youtube.com/watch?v=3wMV8Hw99yg&feature=relm fu" on C14
or: youtube.com/watch?v=bGB-PfFSV2w&feature=relm fu on other rock dating methods. (you have to get past a bit of humour first).
Rinse and hang: yes I am aware of group think, and fully aware of it in many different contexts. For that reason I tend to be as hard on those I "group" with, as on others.
I didn't ask my questions about what you believe or don't believe in scripture in order to be "fear mongering". I asked it to understand how you differentiate between what you believe or accept, compared to what you do not accept. If "science" says that there is no way that the flood could have happened, do you then accept the science and reject the story as mere fable? If science says there is no way that Moses could have parted the red sea, then do you accept that conclusion? If science says there is no way someone could be raised from the dead, do you then accept science and reject the resurrection? The Bahai's take everything about the resurrection symbolically, and deny Jesus physical resurrection just as they accept evolution; how are you different from that?
The fear mongering is just in your own mind. These are real questions, not rhetorical accusations.
What's interesting also is how thick a single geological layer of rock can be. For example, carboniferous rock (often limestone) can range from 300 ft to 42,000 ft. thick. 42,000 ft is more than the height of mount Everest. One layer, formed over a period of only 60 million years (out of 4,000 million). Displacing most other layers completely. Does this fit with a uniformitarian approach?
We know, and have seen in certain places, hundreds of feet of sediment laid down in less than one year. This is also evident in the fossil record. Sediments can be laid down very quickly, and layered by water. Yet, the geo-evolutionary perspective presented is always that of mountains slowly eroding to form sediment that eventually layers over the flat lands and creates more fossils. Which type of sediment formation have we actually seen more of?
Rinse 'n, I don't think you are really listening to what I said. The article you quoted speaks for itself, and it contradicts itself. If you can't see how it contradicts itself, then that is your problem. I have a degree in science, as well as some postgraduate studies. And a B.A. as well. You have not answered my question: Is an incomplete column still a column? They (not I) claim that their geologic sequence columns are all missing a layer somewhere; all have gaps.
There are creationists who claim the column exists, and other creationists who do not. Why should I choose one over the other? I am just going by what they say about it. Matson contradicts himself.
Rinsen, I agree with you that some creationists believe that the entire geologic column is represented in a number of places on earth. The unknown is really whether all of the sedimentation from each geo period is represented or not. When erosion occurs, it is difficult to demonstrate how much erosion has occurred. The thickest layers found on earth for the various periods when added together would make a 200 mile long column. This might not be the maximum, since even those thickest layers could theoretically have eroded some. The deepest column presently would be about 16 miles. So it is possible that some of those "intact" columns could have had some erosion taking out portions of various time periods, even though the major time periods are still represented. So for example if the Ordovician period lasted 80 million years, there may still be several millions of years not represented in that column for that period.
So that may be a technicality about completeness of the column. However, I agree that some creationists believe the entire geologic column is represented in a number of places on earth at a scale that satisfies them.
Interesting debate. And very telling. It seems that a hypothesis related to "global witness" is easily dissolved into worries about protecting the "flock", seperating out wolves in sheeps clothing, and mincing words about very obvious points of fact, such as the geological column. I don't think these are helpful ways of turning the tide that John Zylstra is lamenting.
I enjoyed Jeff's reminder that the two books of revelation both reveal God and not just any old (sorry) fact. This is something that every Christian scientist/apologist/philosoper would need to keep in mind. It might help us find a productive way out of the Bible/science debate without us reeking of paranoia and grasping at straws.
Here is an example of why we are losing the "war": http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/cuozzo_cg.html
Norman, I started to read the talk origins link, but it had so little science in it, I couldn't finish reading it. I want to clarify that mine is not a lament. My point is one of shifting direction, and realizing that there are implications of faith in the approach to the interpretation of Genesis 1, and that it is worthwhile to examine alternatives to evolutionary theory. It is important to realize that the issue is not settled, and that various scientists including PhDs are discovering major problems with evolutionary theory, and are proposing alternatives. Walt Brown is one example, and Creation Ministries International is another example. I suspect neither one is 100% correct, but both are worth considering, and refinements are possible that make the alternatives more viable. I have just begun to have a look at Creation.com, and I appreciate their approach as well.
This issue is partly about protecting the flock; if you have difficulty being a witness to your children because of this issue, as many people do, then many children (or first mission field) are leaving the church because of it. But it is also about our mission in the world to others for exactly the same reason. If God is irrelevant (as evolution proposes), or if God created evil and death not as result of sin but as normal and "good", then our message of salvation rings hollow. God reveals himself in the physical world, but usually we cannot understand this revelation without the context of scripture.
Thanks for trying, John.
As for our first mission field, it seems to me that a strategy of demonizing any sort of science that isn't "young earth" or which refuses to abide the historical, logical and theological sense of Scripture (i.e. modern fundamentalism) will inevitably make a ghetto of Christian faith and "science". In other words, it's not evolution that's driving thinking people away from faith. It's much of the church's public reaction to it.
I believe that the above mentioned endeavor is mostly about preaching to itchy ears and is not at all interested in convicting skeptics, Christian or not.
Norman, I don't think it is about demonizing "any sort of science". It's about drawing attention to the consequences of various approaches to science, as well as recognizing the impact that these approaches have had on people like Dawkins, Darwin, Templeton, etc. Evolution as a theory can no more drive people away from faith than a wooden image of a sungod. But our acceptance of it, especially in its totality, can definately encourage people to remove themselves from God. Those endeavors that present information which shows the difficulties with the evolutionary theory, are attempting to encourage people not to reject the bible the way that Templeton or Dawkins have done.
Can skeptics be convinced? Not easily, but possibly. It is difficult to change paradigms which have now existed for nigh on 100 years or more. So they won't change quickly. But that is no reason to give up, and it is no reason to ignore the difficulties with the evolutionary theory. It is no reason to stop investigating alternative explanations of various phenomena. It is no reason either to ignore God's preemptive powers, and our finite understanding and ability to see. The very light that God created, limits our ability to see the present completely, since we are limited in our perception by the speed of light. But our pride and human ego seems to ignore that fact, and resorts to our supposed superiority over God's power and word.
This is a battle that is worth fighting. Meanwhile, we also realize that God will sort it out for us in the end.
There's plenty of pride and egotism to go around, John. That's for sure.
My take on it is based on shared experiences of young people with a natural tendency to skepticism and curiosity. This is about a preacher telling them that if you shoot a skunk in the woods and let it rot for a couple of weeks, the bones are just as worthy as being called a "fossil" as any other. This is science teachers shutting down thoughtful student objections in the classrooms of our Christian Schools. This is indeed about demonizing fellow Christians because they are not YECs.
Tell you what. I have randomly selected a paper written by a present day YEC by the name of Helder -- "How to Respond to Secular Science". She is better trained in the sciences than I am. But I want to show you how her approach is not at all interested in "winning the battle" against skeptics of any stripe. It's about triumphalism, propaganda, arrogance and ghetto science.
Give me a couple of weeks to give her paper a more careful read and go through it point by point.
Norm, hope you enjoy her paper.
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