Genesis - Again!
May 26, 2011
Updated December 5, 2017
107 comments 545 views
A poster says: “For every complex problem there is a simple solution—and it is wrong.”
When the study committee on Creation and Science reported to Synod 1991, two of its members asked synod to adopt Declaration F: “The church declares that the clear teaching of Scripture and of our confessions on the uniqueness of human beings as imagebearers of God rules out the espousal of all theorizing that posits the reality of evolutionary forebears of the human race.” A third member agreed with this position but with five other committee members urged synod not to adopt Declaration F because, in part:
Against the advice of the majority, synod adopted Declaration F. Nineteen years later Synod 2010 declared that Declaration F was no longer part of our official position on creation and science. An overture to Synod 2011 contends, “the practical effect of that decision was to allow persons within the CRC to adopt evolutionary theories for the origin of humanity” (Agenda for Synod 2011, p. 634). The overture proposes a simple solution: that synod declare a paragraph of the 1991 report to be part of our official position on creation and science. The paragraph says, in part, “However stylized, literary, or symbolic the stories of Genesis may be, they are clearly meant to refer to real events…Any interpretation which calls into question the event character of the story told in these first and fundamental chapters of the Bible must be firmly rejected, whatever difficulties this may cause with respect to the scientific evidence” (pp. 403-4).
Is this really a solution? Though not impossible to do, synods generally don’t lift a single paragraph out of a report and declare it part of our official position. It adopts recommendations of study committees.
And how are we to understand “event character?” Genesis says that God made the first man by making a mud doll and breathing life into it and made the first woman by performing a surgical operation on the man. Are these actual events to be confessed or are they stylized, literary accounts that point to the real event: God is Creator? If scientists tell us that God’s testimony in his created world indicates that God used the processes of evolution to bring human beings into existence, doesn’t this also confess the same event: God is Creator?
Synods should resist simple solutions to complex matters. In an appendix to its report the 1991 study committee said, “If scientific activities continue apace in the next few centuries, one may anticipate many new discoveries that may be expected to have important implications for questions of origins. In particular, it should be possible to make much more definitive statements about the nature and origin of both the physical universe and its many diverse life forms, including man” (Agenda 1991, p. 433). The Human Genome Project has provided important information about human origins, and we are just beginning to understand the implications of these data.
The study committee noted, “Many members of the Christian Reformed Church are working in this area.” Synod needs to encourage those devoted Christian scholars to continue their study to help all of us more fully understand God's testimony in his Word Book and in his world book (Belgic Confession, Article 2).
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The problem is, how far do you go, and what are the implications? It is also a simple but wrong solution to simply say that it does not matter how man was created, or whether he was not directly created at all. It is also simple and wrong to say that man falling into sin is only an allegorical or sylized literal (meaning metaphorical) idea. It seems that because it is difficult to believe that God could make man out of dust, or woman from man, that we must find another interpretation? God could not do that, and therefore we must find another answer? But how could God create the universe in the first place? Where did God get that power?
John, no one is questioning God's power to create a man out of dust or to perform surgery on that man to produce a woman. God has the power to do anything that God chooses to do. Many Christians who acknowledge God's power are not denying "that" God created humanity. They are asking "how" God created humanity.
And by definition, that how cannot be evolution. Because evolution by its own definition means natural selection and random mutation. It's not random or merely natural if God 'uses' it. I sympathize with scientists who have to wade thru this, but it does the church no good to acquiesce in this regard until science further develops its understanding of 'how' beyond the Darwinian parameters of evolution so defined. We just look silly trying to monkey wrench evolution into the proclamations of Genesis, the Psalms, Romans and Hebrews. Sceince will ridicule us for not understanding evolution, or judge us for coming up with our own sanctified defintion of evolution that is inaccurate and not helpful to those scientists working in the field and struggling for a Christian worldview.
If we want to talk about this we first have to deal with evolution as defined: natural selection and random mutation.
Oh I know it's about the "how". But that's the point isn't it. They believe God is limited to what they consider to be "natural" means, which admittedly they say that God created those natural means.
The question remains: did God create man with sinful tendencies or not? Are man's sinful tendencies simply part of his God-created nature or not? or did God create man with the ability to obey Him completely and fully? Is God fixing His own mistakes?
In general, the hypothesizing about evolution always supposes no divine intervention. That is the presupposition and apriori assumption. Therefore under that theory it is impossible for God to intervene. Therefore according to that theory man must have descended from something, rather than being created from dust. It's not just about evidence; its about what that evidence is allowed to tell us.
Under that theory, there is no encouragement to look for dramatically different answers.
But if God can intervene, then where does God's intervention begin and stop?
I'm reminded of the odometer on a brand new car which has already travelled thousands of miles from Japan to New York. And I wonder if in science we always use the right odometer.
Professor Davis Young once said in a lecture something along these lines, "I think the earth is old, the geological record looks old. That's based on my understanding of geology right now. Granted, 500 years ago scientists believed the sun revolved around the earth. They were proven wrong, 500 years from now, today's scientific knowledge might be proven wrong."
While I agree that science can study and observe, such studies and observations need to be interpreted. Interpretations and understandings change over time. Therefore, the church must be very cautious in using scientific theory to interpret scripture. While scientific discovery may inform us about things contained in scripture, it is a very dangerous thing to suggest that scientific knowledge trumps the special creation of humanity by God, as described in Genesis.
If you haven't watched "Privileged Planet" yet, I encourage everyone to do so. In the movie/documentary, the filmmakers/scientists challenge Carl Sagan's premise in "The Late, Great, Planet Earth." By examining all the factors needed for life on a planet orbiting a star, in a solar system, in a galaxy, they conclude that the earth is extremely privileged. The mathematical probability of one planet having all the requirements for life, all at the right time, is a crazy number. The chances of having all the needed factors (20 factors are mentioned in the movie) in more than one planet is extremely unlikely. After watching the movie, I was convinced that it is much more likely that God created the entire universe in a very short period. And though it looks like God created an old universe, the conclusion is not that it is necessary for the universe to be old, but to be the size and diversity it is for the creation of life, and human life in particular. Could God have done it over a long period? Sure, but that is not the only conclusion to draw from scientific evidence.
Furthermore, evolution or change over time, while observable in short periods, such as the changes in the automobile over the last 100 years, does not explain changes in species. Scientists have tried to demonstrate the changes proposed by Darwinian Evolution, but have not been able to do so. Scientific knowledge regarding cells, let alone DNA, cannot explain it. And, if it were possible, the length of time needed for changes resulting in what we can observe now, would require a universe far, far older than what old earth/universe theorists hypothesise.
And that's not even dealing with the impossibility of abiogenesis, the creation of life from non-life. It just doesn't happen. Even accounting for God's activity and intervention, there are still other obstacles to overcome.
Finally, I agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, as soon as you move away from the special creation of humanity, Adam and Eve in the garden that's when you get rid of the saviour. For without special creation, without the innocence with the ability to sin, then there is no fall, and no need for a saviour.
Let's be careful with science and theology, respecting each discipline, but keeping the general revelation subject to the special revelation. Thinking about the article, thinking about the questions, I was reminded of the question put to Eve, "Did God really say...?" One can almost hear him ask, "Did God really create humanity specially, in his image?"
By definition God can't 'use' evolution or its processes.
Yes, that's exactly right! I'd forgotten that. Evolution assumes a blind watchmaker hypothesis (in this case the big bang is the watchmaker), there is no outside influence. God has revealed himself as being very influential in creation, not only in the beginning, but throughout, history (the plagues, the water from the rock, Jonah and the storm, Jonah and the fish, Jesus walking on water, healing, raising the dead etc.)
All I have to say is that we sometimes forget that God is also the God of science. he certainly gave humans the ability to study his creation and I think even reach certain conclusions that certainly support God as creator. We're seeing that evidence more and more. I think George is right -- God created it. If he chose to create it over billions of years that's his business and to not allow for that possibility is to minimize God's creative power. If we have the ability to measure the speed of light in three different ways and come to realize that some of the light we see from stars is billions of light years away, should we assume that God's just been playing a trick on us all and making it look like it's been there that long while it's actually only been there 6000 years? That's silly.
Science and Theology walk a fine line together, but there is room for them to walk together.
Of course God is the God of science and God, by definition, being all powerful, all knowing, etc. can do whatever he wants to do. On the one hand (the Bible) we have evidence of a process of creation. On the other hand, (empirical observation) we have evidence of the result of that process of creation. Being stuck in the present, we're only ever able to hypothesise about the past. Something to ponder, if you believe that God created Adam as it is described in Genesis, forming him out of the dust of the earth, breathing life into him, did God create Adam as a mature human being? If so, why? You can hypothesise that Adam had to be mature in order to be able to reason, obey, function and survive apart from other human interaction. Genesis seems to indicate that Adam was formed quickly, and fully mature, for the purpose of survival, to fulfil God's commands (tend the garden, name the animals, not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), etc. If Adam had to be fully mature in order to function and survive, then one could hypothesise that the universe also had to be created fully mature in order to support Adam's life. So, it is not as though God lacks the ability to create over a great period, or that he's trying to play a trick on us, rather, for life to exist on planet earth, the universe has to be exactly the way it is, as old as it is. He created it mature, in an instant, just as he created Adam mature, in an instant. Nor should we be put off by the suggestion that God somehow limits his power. We know he chooses to do so, as Christ chose to humble himself and take on human flesh.
Science and theology are complementary disciplines, for sure. We've seen the error of using the scriptures to define or limit science (Jesus said the sun rises and sets, therefore the sun moves around the earth!). Thus, we also must be careful to use science to define or limit theology. At the end of the day, science is the attempt to understand the empirical evidence. That understanding is limited and therefore should be placed under the authority of special revelation, for the same reasons we place the teachings of the church (creeds, 3 forms of unity, etc.) under the authority of scripture.
I'm curious what you thought of the Science and Theology class we took at seminary. I believe we were in that one together.
BTW, I think you could also easily hypothesise that God could have taken as long as he wanted to create the earth fully sustainable before he decided to make Adam in an instant fully mature and able to reason and survive the elements that God may have created over a very long time. Again it does not limit his power by any means.
I really appreciated that class, especially the Polkinghorne book. I understood the evidence presented in the "Origins" book, but I disagree with their conclusions.
Yes, God could have taken as long as he wanted. But did he? Is Genesis 1-2 simply telling us that God did it, in contrast with the creation stories of other religions? The repetitive "And God said..." supports this hypothesis. But what of the "and there was an evening and a morning the x day." Is it simply a stylistic device?
Unfortunately, we lack the ability to know. Our conclusions of the past through geology, fossil record, etc. are a bit like looking at a photograph of a person and determining from it his personality.
Since we cannot speak with certainty, that all our conclusions are simply hypothetical statements or theories, let us be very careful to use science to contradict what God has said. Let us humbly live in mystery, all the while keeping our eyes and minds open to new understanding.
See, I didn't have much trouble with Origins. I hear what you're saying regarding science and contradiction and all that. But this conversation is exactly the reason for this topic -- there are two sides to this discussion, both with some reasonable grounding and room for discussion and dialogue. Let's not forget the nature of Genesis that certainly is similar in style and nature up against other Near Eastern religious contexts with a significantly different twist. You raise the question, "But did he?" but the converse is valid as well. To think literally about the account is certainly up for discussion. Consider, along with your discussion, where all the cities and other people came from that God talked about regarding Cain. Where in the world did they all come from?
And if a day is like a thousand years (Peter is not meaning exactly 1000 years but rather God is not trapped within time and space), therein lies room for discussion in regard to the whole creation debate.
My thing is I'm not a scientist but a theologian and I agree with you that we cannot speak with certainty. I look at it this way, however God decided to do it is up to him, but I believe he did and it's amazing, mysterious and pretty complexly awe inspiring and humbling.
Allen, "that's silly" you say. I think you need a better justification than that. God's foolishness is greater than the wisdom of men... did I get that right? Does silly include people who restore old automobiles to look like new? Or young actors who play old people? What's the definition of silly? Maybe the apparent age of the universe is old to us because we are not using the right glasses. But, besides that, even if the universe was old, does that prove evolution? In the theory of evolution, they are tied together. But an old universe could exist without biological evolution.
Faith in God is the first thing that many people call silly. Are they right?
Hmmm, I'm not quite sure what your getting at although I do sense some antagonism in your response. I'm not suggesting evolution at all in my response other than perhaps adaptation of a species like plants and animals that adapt to their environment -- they don't become another species but there certainly is adaptation. God created it all for sure.
What I mean by "silly" is to consider evidence that I believe God has revealed to us by giving us the intelligence to measure something such as the speed of light and say it doesn't hold true when it comes to measuring light from stars because it goes against a literal 6 day creation.
I'm not sure that the context of the 1 Cor passage is the same as how you are using it. But nonetheless what I gather from your response is that perhaps in God's creating process he just threw in dinosaur bones and other "old earth/universe" stuff in just to throw us off? That seems quite out of character for God, at least the way he portrays himself in the Bible. While God performs many miracles and things beyond our understanding, he is straightforward and doesn't trick people -- at least not that I've seen.
And yes, I could agree that an old universe without macroevolution definitely could exist, but there seems to be plenty of scientific evidence that supports microevolution within the framework of God's natural order of things and his creating it all and not limiting him by any means.
Allen, it is interesting that some scientists can look at the evidence and conclude it is an old earth/universe. Others view the same evidence and conclude it is a young earth.
Concerning the fossil record, the most logical explanation is a worldwide flood. When I worked as a farmhand, we would occasionally discard the carcasses of the bulls and heifers that didn't survive after birth. I remember going back to the dumping ground a week later and there was hardly anything left! The few bones that remained were scattered over a wide area. This indicated to me that the animals found in the fossil record died cataclysmically when they were buried under mud, or water with high concentrations of sediment, which as the water receded turned into sedimentary rock. Demonstrations show that fossils can form in very short periods of time, a matter of decades or less.
We have to keep in mind also that until Darwin's evolution theory, the age of the earth was considered young. The age of the earth was extended to be older and older in order to account for all the changes in species according to natural selection. As knowledge of species complexity increased, so did the age of the earth. Now we're at a point mathematically where the earth is simply not old enough to account for the complexity of life. This is why some people are promoting the idea of panspermia—that life was brought to earth by aliens or some other means.
Did you listen to the White Horse Inn last Sunday? The podcast is available via iTunes. On it, Michael Horton interviews Michael Shermer, a skeptic. Close to the conclusion of the program, there's another guest who refutes the evolutionary hypothesis based on mathematical probability. It is well worth a listen, as I know you also reject the theory of macroevolution.
I wonder, if a young earth was still the operational framework, how astronomers would interpret the data concerning starlight and the constancy of light speed (which we know is affected by gravity; also, it is slowing down over time). I wonder what future exploration and knowledge will bring!
One last consideration: I wonder how long science will be queen. I think the discipline will be dethroned, though still important. Right now, scientific method is the definition of truth discovery despite its limitations to only natural observations. Some of the hypotheses and claims of science will be understood to be as accurate as Harold Camping was last Saturday.
White Horse Inn? Never heard of it. I don't usually go out of my way to listen to podcasts.
While I'm not a scientist, I think we have to be careful as well not to downplay science too drastically since it is the gift of science by God that has helped develop cures and help in identification of so many important discoveries. While it is not scripture nor should it be taken as such, it has validity in our discussion just as much as philosophy, mathematics, literary style and history. God's got a hand in all of it.
I'll be interested to see what happens at synod.
Allen, I'm antagonistic towards the use of the word "silly". I just think it is important to keep in mind the fact that many people would claim that for Jesus to feed 5000 men (plus women and children) with five loaves and two fish, would just be plain silly.
When we measure two distant objects by the angle of difference, and calculate their distance and thus the age of the light we are observing, it would seem to be silly to say that they are younger than 10,000 years. Perhaps so, but perhaps also there is a reason we do not yet know. This reason may be "miraculous", or it may be a phenomena not yet known or understood. There are some aspects apparently about the expansion of the universe for example which are difficult to measure in terms of estimating events of the past.
I don't think God threw in dinosaur bones to throw us off. But it is possible that the assumption about the age of these dinosaur bones is way off.
Bottom line is that dinosaur bones do not prove maco-evolution.
Those who are not scientists often approach science as if it were some type of demi-god. Science is only a refined way of making observations. Science includes mathematics, statistics, and probabilities. Science also includes assumptions. The main assumptionis always uniformity, continuity. Science will always deny miracles because they do not fit into the assumption of uniformity and continuity. Science by itself will deny the resurrection based on observation and probability. However, Christians practicing science can do so, if they realize the limitations of science, and use science in the context of God as creator and sustainer.
Vanderweit's recent banner article about evolutionary teachings, neglects this important aspect of science; that its deductions often relies on unprovable assumptions. Often even atheistic scientists admit that 'science" makes mistakes, such as the prediction of the coelanth being a prehistoric fish since it was in the 'ancient" fossil record. But they claim that science corrects itself, without realizing that the mistake was not a scientific mistake of observation or deduction, but a mistake based on an incorrect hypothesis, on incorrect assumptions. Yet, due to their blind belief in their hypothesis, they continue to maintain this hypothesis, this theory. They generally refuse to consider any other hypothesis that may operate outside of their "naturalistic" and "atheistic" parameters and assumptions.
They also want to force deists to operate outside of the context of their deity, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary. This is a subtle but dangerous and a sad side to this discussion. They are saying in effect, "oh yes, you can have your god, of course, but please don't let it affect your work, your science, your public life, and not even your private life too much. it's a good side-line, a bit of personal comfort, but mostly not-relevant to anything important..." They prefer the blind watch-maker to a personal God. This is their context; this is their assumption. What is our assumption?
Darwin, Hegel, Marx, Modernism, Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions...
Darwin's theories on evolution fit in with the dominant philosphy of his time.
Hegel's philosphy of the dialectic says society is moving towards greater and greater levels.
Hegel was highly influential on Marx. The social revolution of Marx is part of the dialectic.
Modernism was at its highest point at this time. There was great optimism about the human race.
Enter Darwin. evolution fits this philosophy. Evolution is another dialectic pattern. The human race wtih all of its great achievements is the crown of creation, and we can only get better...
We must keep in mind that this is not so much science based on pure obectivity--Darwin's empirical observations about the nature of nature (metaphysics) and the nature of humanity were rooted in his preusuppostions. His worldview was shaped byh the dominatn philosophy of the time.
When Christians say evolution might be ok, then they should realize they are borrowing from a "modern" worldview, chiefily a Hegelian worldview rather than a biblical worldview.
I would rather base my convictions on a Biblical worldview.
Enter world war I. Then World War II. Hegel's optimism was shattered. Postmodernmism begins to develop. The human race is seen in all of its ugliness.
Thomas Kuhn writes a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, arguing that all science is rooted in a person's worldview. (He doens't use the term worldview, if I remember my reading correctly). Scientific theories are slow to be changed or proven wrong because each scientific age has a set of convictoins why which one operates on. If you operate on different convictions and challenge a current theory you are deemed heretical in the scientific world. In other words, your world view or set of presuppostions determines how you look at the scientific data. Therefore science is always changing based upon the world view.
Given the history of philosphy and the history of scientific thought, why would we Christians base our beliefs about Genesis on something that is in perpetual flux? Why would we lean so heavily on ideas that arose out of a false worldview? Of course not evey worldview has it wrong. Van Til and Bahnsen show us how there is some truth in every worldview.
I fear that this allowing of the evolution view point is another way our denomination is becoming more like the world. We of a Reformed background with the greats like Abraham Kuyper should very well understand the importance of a distinct Biblical worldview rather than always trying to accomodate to the secular worldview of our age.
Steve, you just absolutely hit the nail on the head. Well stated.
Kuhn's term was 'disciplinary matrix'. The terms worldview and paradigm are synonyms.
Although he was a secular philosopher, Kuhn's work ought to be required for every seminary student along with Van Til. It's absolutely brilliant and shows just how SUBjective the scientific community actually is. Vern Poythress has picked up the torch from Van Til on many of these issues.
It seems that in so many ways, the CRC has it's 'glasses' on backwards. Too many interpret scripture through the lenses of general revelation rather than the other way around.
Thanks for this.
It is a significant part of the discussion that is forgotten.
I have been looking for a resource that traces the history of origins and haven't been able to find.
Anyone know of one out there?
You folks might want to check out this article - which also touches on the Calvin College duo. Richard Ostling, formerly Time Magazine religion editor, was/is a member of the Ridgewood CRC, New Jersey. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/june/historicaladam.html Cover StoryThe Search for the Historical AdamThe center of the evolution debate has shifted from asking whether we came from earlier animals to whether we could have come from one man and one woman.Richard N. Ostling | posted 6/03/2011 12:00AM
Steve Van Noort and Chad Werkhoven, in their 6/03/2011 postings do add very helpful thoughts to this discussion. I would like to echo some of these concerns. My own reflections (over the past 27 years) and reading in this area lead me to share the following concerns:
1. I am concerned that we not capitulate to what we are told is the "vast consensus" and the "overwhelming evidence" that leads to believe that theistic evolution assuming a gradualist, uniformitarian development of life is the only acceptable view to be held by prudent and informed believers. We are often accused of taking a "God of the gaps" approach, yet few acknowledge that there are many inconsistencies and "gaps" in neo-darwinian evolutionary theories. Let's be done with saying that young earth, 24-day creationists are incapable of doing responsible and credible science. Let's quit dissing "intelligent design theorists as not quite doing responsible science or engaging in "folk science" at best (ala Van Til). It seems to me that even theistic evolutionists fall under the banner of "folk science." All creationists of young earth or old earth stripe that i know, believe in evolutionary processes for adaptation and change within species. But we've moved into a whole new realm of speculative and interpretive theorizing when we move to evolution producing new species out of existing species.
2. Lets agree that, beyond the core doctrines of the Scripture, which are perpiscuous (sp?), some of these areas aren't, e.g. trying to lay rationally bare all points of the interplay between God's predestining decrees and man's will. But I would contend that the "Book of General Revelation" has greater perspicuity only in science done in present time with immediately observable phenomena, but increasingly less so as we move to the earliest beginnings. Science in this realm is, of necessity, more speculative and open to misconstructed hypotheses, etc. So, when we get in a shoving match between the Book of Special Revelation (i.e., the Scriptures) and the Book of General Revelation (i.e., creation and our scientific approximations of how it works), humility is in order when speaking of beginnings on both sides of the conversation. Scripture should not be the first to be radically reinterpreted or scrapped.
I'm not terribly sympathetic when our own scientists "whine" that if God, by an intervening miracle, produced in a moment or a day a fully mature human that in all other situations would appear to be at least 20-30 years of age, that God is somehow "playing a trick on us." This is unworthy and anthropomorphizes God's motives for what He has done. Simply because the earliest points of beginnings might be beyond the reach of our ability to give a total scientific explanation doesn't mean that God deceived those who are called as scientists to unfold and explore His creation. Frankly, I have not been sold on a young earth and 24-hour days of creation; yet, I would still maintain it is possible and not improbable given the character of almost every other miracle God has done as recorded in the Scripture, e.g. water-to-wine, feeding the 5000 and the resurrection.
So, when we come to the first humans I fully believe it possible to believe that two individuals were created by a special immediate act of God. Literarily, I can see how "dust of the earth" could also be figurative and not exclude evolutionary processes just as "knit in my mother's womb" figuratively describes conception and gestation culminating in actual birth. However, I more appreciate Derek Kidner and Tim Keller as they attempt to craft a "permissible" view and a "possible" view that still takes seriously the historic event character of the opening chapters of Genesis. I'm not comfortable with the idea of pre-hominid forebearers of the human race, but these two efforts at a concordist approach to Scripture and Science strike me as much more faithful to both. Kidner and Keller and others rightly see that to deny the two original humans (even if culled from pre-hominid forbearers) results in no gospel. I am convinced, moreover, that neither science nor our theologizing will be able to conclusively nail down these matters. Is it possible that God created in 6 24-hour days and is it unworthy to embrace a personal preference for this view of origins? I think not. Is it permissible and possible to see a vastly old universe and interpret Gen 1 as a highly stylized and exalted prose, using figurative descriptions of God's creative work that in no way address the actual length of days or the processes by which He formed man from the "dust of the earth"? Certainly! But, as Keller et al. warn, Genesis 2 is a retelling not in conflict with Genesis 1 but more is narrative more historical in character than poetic and, even if culled from 10 or 100,000 pre-hominds, the first two humans were at the very least such upon whom God bestowed His unique image and who fell in an actual historical fall. To say otherwise, Keller notes, is unsafe and not necessitated by either science or Scripture. Some theistic evolutionsists have even admitted with a bit of a sneer that Common DNA (between primates and humans) does not conclusively prove Common Descent, but as easily argues for Common Designer. So, even 98% shared DNA between humans and primates does not compel or prove the view that man arose from primates via evolutionary processes. But this admission has been dismissed with a sneer by some who derisively chide that we're putting God in the gaps. Folks, frankly I think permissible and possible is the best we can get in this area. You may like one view better than the other, find it more compelling, and only one view (maybe with modifications) will actually be found to be true. But If our theologizing in some areas of reflection must admit to unresolvable mystery, why don't we expect the same of some areas of the scientific enterprise?
My concern is that no miracle recorded, of the original creation or any other, in Scripture can be scientifically analyzed to correct conclusions about age and processes; not any. If we say of the more traditional views of biblical origins that they're to be scrapped because they cannot be harmonized with our current scientific musings, what do we do with all the rest biblical miracles? Are they, too, suspect? Surely we are not suggesting that creative miracles in the scripture could not have happened because they do not conform with the current scientific consensus of gradualistic, uniform evolutionary processes. Did Jesus "deceive" or "trick" the crowd at the wedding in Cana by producing a grape wine of the best sort from water and not even using the grapes or normal processes of fermentation? Did he do this to trick scientists or play games with them? Did He sin against the calling for scientists to explain the creation when he produced from a few loaves and fishes, by a creative miracle, enough food to feed a crowd of more than 5000? This spontaneous production of so much food from so little original biomass certainly could not be accounted for by our scientific formulae of physics and matter. No, I don't want to argue for a flat earth or a geo-centric universe or repeat the historical tragedy of censuring Galileo. But neither do I want to utterly cave to a science held hostage to atheist materialism and make as Berkhof called it a "theology of embarrassment."
I would like to see our institutions of Christian learning invite to their faculty the diversity of theoretical views and their proponents, within the bounds of what scripture may, with integrity, be considered to allow. Wouldn't it be neat if Calvin and Dordt and Wheaton, et al. all had on their faculties colleagues in the sciences and the theology departments of young earth and ancient universe, of a limited theistic evolutionary view, some of intelligent design, all respectfully reflecting, interacting in a robust conversation without hubris and thinly veiled slander? I fear when we let one group get a lock on our institution and we refuse to hear dissenting voices we create a worse environment for doing responsible science and theology. I think this is especially true in this matter of bio-origins and the beginnings of all things. I believe our Synod needs to do something constructive to address these matters. Simply dropping Declaration F or reinstating it does not fix the problem. I initially felt reinstating Declaration F was called for, but I do no longer. But I believe the recent articles by Daniel Harlow and John Schneider have not been helpful either, however well intentioned these men may be.
Sorry for being so long and rambling. But I hope this gets traction with some of us in the conversation. I'm praying for our Synod and all you delegates, our professors and the churches. May God guide and lead us well and for His glory.
Mr. Black, Mr. Grey, Schleirermacher, Derrida, worldviews...
young earth evidence certainly makes it possible for a young earth.
Evolution evidence certainly proposes the possibility of a very old earth.
As long as you look at science both views will be possible. And I fear if it is just science vs science we will get nowhwere in the debate. I twill be like Mr. Grey and Mr. Black talking to each other (see Van til, The Defense of the Faith). I appreciate young earth evidence because it gives evidence to the view I support. . But neither side can prove with absolute certainty. I wish evolution supporting people and young earth supporting people will acknowledge what Thomas Kuhn has said, we interpret scientific data based on our worldview. Evolution supporting people in my experience tend to be arrogant making it seem like science is the end all and be all. If we are like Mr. Grey and Mr. Black we get nowhere.
A better approach is to look at the worldviews behind each positoin. This is a presuppositional approach. Do seminaries no longer teach Van Til for apologetics? Do seminaries not make their studetns read Thomas Kuhn?
The Worldview of a "Christian" evolutionist
1. limited effects of sin upon human reasoning. We can rightly and accurately make scientific claims apart from the special revelation and having our eyes opened by Jesus Christ.
2. if science contradicts scripture then science trumps scripture. God's Word is no longer authoritative, infallible, inerrant, and so forth. Science is God's infallbile book or rather our empirical observational abilities is Goid's infallible book.
3. The bible is not clear. Rather we have to deconstruct or peel away the layers of cultural rhetoric to get to what the Bible really means. I hear ehcoes from Scleirermacher and Derrida. Philosphers of the past still live today.
4. view of God: God is limited to working in scientific systems. No room ultimately for miracles.
The World View of a six day creationist or young earth
1. sin greatly affects human reasoning. We can only correclty interpret science through the Word of God. We need renewal of the mind that only comes through Christ as he peels away our scales. Secualr scientists do make correct claims, but only in so far as they operate under common grace or they borrow from a Christian worldview even though they do not know they are borrowing.
2. God's Word is the ultimate authority because God's word is authoritative, inerrant, infallible. God cannot lie. We can make mistakes in interpreting science and even in interpreting scripture. Yet we can rightly know creation and the Bible.
3. The Bible is clear. It was written in historical settings and so forth, but there is a perpescuity that does not lead to the extreme of deconstruction.
4. God can do miracles. Science cannot explain miracles such as Lazarous being raised form the dead or Christ's resurrection or the tongues of fire and so forth.
science vs science will get us nowhere. We are better off fighting against worldviews.
Now you have to ask yourself, like Van Til would ask: can the "Christian" evolutionist worldview sustain itself?
I would say no. Because ultimately it does not leave room for God to save us through Jesus who was fully man and fully God. And this does not offer an adequate solution to the problem of evil and our need for salvation. For the very possiblitiy of a "Christian" evolutionary worldview, it has to borrow from the young earth worldview, as it still wants ot maintain some notin Biblical authority and historicity of Jesus Christ.
Steve, it is good to fight against worldviews, especially in the church. Philosophers and theologians love to fight and debate worldviews. But for a worldview to mean anything to a scientist, you must be able to demonstrate and show how it is affecting the scientific work they do. It is not just enough to say that it must be having an impact. You have to show the mechanism of the impact of their worldview on their work.
Our christian colleges would spend their time more profitably if they challenged the theory of evolution scientifically as well as philosophically and theologically. Maybe it is an uphill battle. But there are plenty of people, scientists, schools, colleges and universities who defend, accept, and swallow the theory of evolution and use it as a basis for interpreting everything they see. We do not need any more of those. We need people who are willing to stick out their necks, to postulate alternate theories, to examine other possibilities, to critique the status quo (which is the evol theory) and to search for other mechanisms. We really don't need a christian college that teaches and lives by a theory that ridicules scripture, miracles, belief, faith, God. There are plenty of secular universities that do that.
The fact that we're having this conversation even now, in 2011, is ridiculous. The amount of scientific illiteracy in the comments here is also ridiculous. Evolution isn't something you can just wish away - it's a fact, more proven and better understood than gravity.
I mean, seriously. How can you justify this in the face of all the evidence? I've never been so ashamed of my denomination.
For more of my thoughts, I wrote a lengthy article here. But seriously, people, come on! Didn't you ever take bio in highschool?
Todd, I told you that Ian Juby was mild compared to this type of comment from sevandyk and people like her.
People like me? People who support good science?
Somehow, I don't think that's what you meant.
I think you do support good science. But in addition to that, you also support poor science. It seems you have come from a background where evolution was the only possible paradigm. It is the only framework that you can really see (that's why my comment about seeing with the eye of the ragworm) you see something, but not clearly, and not the whole picture. This may become clearer to you as you read some of the following posts.
You provide an excellent example of exactly what gives me great concern about this discussion. Your tone is belittling and patronizing. I am not a specialist in science, though for the past 27 years beyond my post graduate studies, I have read widely in this subject. I've considered the works of those I agree with and those I don't. I've even had my views opened to ways of framing this issue I would not have earlier imagined I might allow or adopt. But I justify "having the debate" because there are many credible dissenting voices at Phd. level in various scientific, legal and philosophical disciplines. And anyone who has taken high school bio, on the subject of evolutionary theories knows that the high school level discussion is merely a propagandistic selling of the GTE with little or no honest discussion of the tertiary level of discussions of difficulties that the promoters of GTE know full well exist . These "gaps" in the theorizing of those scientific proponents of GTE simply refuse to go away because they have not been adequately resolved by the current evidence. And, yes, while I do not use my Bible to do science, I think it has more implication for the scientific enterprise than simply "baptizing" theistic evolution with a stamp of approval by saying "God did it, no matter what the processes might be." This is far too limiting of the role the Scriptures have to play in regard to science of any other discipline in our world.
You should consider the historian Barbara Tuchman's definition of folly, which has been amply illustrated in history. Folly is when a majority which doggedly persists in an idea where there is also a persistent minority of dissent, which fails to get a hearing. That is roughly a paraphrase, but accurate to the idea. Consider the scientific/ medical establishments ridicule of Louis Pasteur's idea of germs as the cause of disease. It was not the religious establishment that rose up in lock-step ridicule of his life-saving theory turned fact; but the medical specialists and others in the scientific community. So, we all have our "poster child" for the foolish mob verses the wise few. Admittedly this sword cuts both ways.
Not at question, here, is whether there are biological evolutionary processes at all, but whether macro evolution suffiiciently accounts for the gradualist rise of all species from one primordial living cell. This discussion touches on philosophical, theological issues and epistemological questions as well as purely scientific inquiry. Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, A.E. Wilder Smith, Philip Johnson, and many others, all raise highly credible doubts to the neodarwinian mantra of evolution as the GTE. Johnson, admittedly not a scientist, but a legal scholar and analyst of evidence, has contributed to his discussion with such clarity and charity of discussion that even his critics have quoted his text with appreciation and as an example of how to carry on this debate. Infact, Stephanie, no less a heavyweight than Alvin Plantinga, weighed in on this evaluation of Phillip E. Johnson's, "Darwin on Trial" and stated: "Shows just how Darwinian evolution has become an idol." Have you read Johnson's book? Michael Denton remarked, "Unquestionably the best critique of Darwinism I have ever read." Theologian Richard John Neuhaus, observed, "Calm, comprehensive, and compellingly persuasive."
Did I mention that not one of these credible voices feels compelled to subscribe to GTE although on the evidence they have been convinced of an ancient universe and other related issues? Are these also morons who somehow just didn't grasp their high school biology courses or must be assumed to disbelieve in something as fundamental as gravity? You and I both know better.
So, this is why we and many others are having and will continue to have the debate. The issues here are of such gravity that they deserve it and much better than the dismissive ridicule that you have brought to it in your posting.
Neil Culbertson, Pastor
and avocational reader of science texts for and against the Grand Theory of Evolution (GTE) and many other fascinating and interesting features of this vast wonderful creation of God.
GTE? I've never heard it referred to that way. Interesting. Anyway, here's a few thoughts.
[quote]Not at question, here, is whether there are biological evolutionary processes at all, but whether macro evolution suffiiciently accounts for the gradualist rise of all species from one primordial living cell. This discussion touches on philosophical, theological issues and epistemological questions as well as purely scientific inquiry. [/quote]
Well, no, it doesn't. The answer might have implications for philosophy, theology and epistemology, but the answer will only be found by scientific inquiry. That is, the fact that the world was round (or germ theory or how to do organ transplants or how to calculate the probability of winning the lottery) was established through science only. These other fields had to adapt to these discoveries, but they did not bring the discoveries about.
When the CRC asks, "Does our theology allow evolution?", they're asking the wrong question. They've got it backwards. Evolution is true or it isn't, but it's truth is not dependent on Reformed theology. They should be asking if evolution is true, and, if it is, what this means about what the CRC believes.
[quote]Did I mention that not one of these credible voices feels compelled to subscribe to GTE although on the evidence they have been convinced of an ancient universe and other related issues? Are these also morons who somehow just didn't grasp their high school biology courses...[/quote]
Or they're lying. Or they never really looked into the issue. Regardless, it's a moot point: there are many more brilliant scientists who disagree with you. (See: http://ncse.com/taking-action/list-steves) The way to resolve it isn't to take a poll - it's to look at the evidence, read the papers, review the experiments and make up your mind. And the evidence is not on the side of creationism.
[quote]The issues here are of such gravity that they deserve it and much better than the dismissive ridicule that you have brought to it in your posting. [/quote]
You may use more words than I did in my original post, but you are just as dismissive as I was.
Thank you for the lively interchange. You make some good points. Science isn't determined by poll taking, I knew when I listed these folks that I was reverting back to the Medieval approach of proof by citation of "authorities" and you were quick enough to catch it. But I wasn't merely taking a poll, but highlighting that credible persons in other disciplines have raised serious questions to how scientists are currently interpreting the "evidence". I'm not refuting that there is evidence out there that needs to be accounted for. However, I think because of epistemological concerns, no area of investigation, even science, can claim autonomy from these other important disciplines as scientists do their work. If the human capacity for reason has been impaired by the effects of the Fall, then we must be cautious about being too absolute in conclusions drawn in any area of investigation, science and theology as well. And, if the Fall of creation has impaired the creation itself in any way (which I believe Scripture indicates) then we shouldn't be surprised that there are limitations on our ability to accurately describe events as far remote from our immediate investigation as the very beginnings. I'm much more confident of the abilities of science to unfold and explain "real time phenomena" that can be empirically tested by direct observation and experimentation than trying to reverse engineer to draw conclusions about events that happened possibly aeons ago.
Have you read Tim Keller's paper that was offered on the website Biologos.com? Keller, interacting with Derek Kidner crafts a view which takes the Scriptures seriously and does in fact embrace the view of macro-evolution to explain the origins and development of biological species up to humans. He takes the view I believe I hear is also yours; however, from his listening to Scripture sees no need to interpret the evidence to the denial of two original human parents of the race, even while allowing for the possibility of their selection from a population of pre-human hominids. Its not my preferred view, but given my stated preference for a certain latitude of possibilities and permissible scenarios accounting for Scripture and physical evidence, I am only concerned that we not too hastily adopt an interpretive view that prevails among some (or many) to the exclusion of others. So, I hope you see I'm not entirely dismissive of a God-backed theistic evolutionary view of the processes by which life may have arisen under God's direction. I'm not sold on this view, but not dismissive either. Some days I lean toward a vastly ancient universe. Other days of the week I'm a young-earth creationist, simply because I think its possible in line with all other miraculous deeds God has performed that would be beyond the investigative capabilities of our present science. Let's end our dialogue here for the time being. Again, thank you for the lively exchange. :-)
This is my last post on this. I have said everything I could to philosophically defend the "traditional" view.
I do not have time for spell check either. I write in haste so I can get other work done.
I am not sure how evolution is more proven and understandable than gravity. Under "normal" circumstances every time you throw an object up in the air it falls at 9.8 m/s/s. Every time. I am not aware of any "natural laws" that we can measure happening right now in the area of evolution.
However, if you want to insist on evidence, there is plenty of other evidence that shows that evolution can' thappen and the earth is young. One of these authors is Micheael J. Behe has a book called Darwin's Black Box. Also, I remember in seminary we had a guy from a university talk about the inadequies of evidence for evolution.
for every scientist that that cites evidence for evolution there is another scientist that can cite evidence against evolutoin and young earth. There are some brave ones who risk being ostracized andgo against the popular trends in the scientific community. I am thankful for any sacrifice they make. they go against the trend to stand for what they beleive in the truth.
I am convinced that evolution is not the way to go for the following reasons
1. Thomas Kuhn has shown that science is always changing. And any change usually comes at great sacrifice because the scientific community often persecutes those who go against it, even when the established community is wrong. this may be happening right now as there are scientists challenging the established norm of evolution.
2. Science then is not based on pure empirical evidence. All evidence is filtered through a worldview. Your worldview determines your conclusions. That is why scientists can find evidence for both positions.
3. the worldview of an evolutionist and even Christian evolutionist does not square away with a world view formed by sound exegesis of the Bible. As shown above the evolutionist worldview cannot support itself.
4. so why would you change the so called traditional understanding of the Bible's view on creation just because science filtered through a faulty worldview says so?
thanks for sharing your personal blog. I am disturbed how you have bought into a secular world view. You write, "They would rather appease the members that think evolution is evilution and who haven't moved beyond the bronze age. They would rather tiptoe around knuckle-draggers than take advantage of our increased knowledge to better understand our place in the universe."
So apparently a presupposition (or heart commitment) you hold is that the latest scientific evidence and what is accepted at large by the community is the way to interpret all of reality, even the Bible. If that is a presupposition of your then you must know that this is a statement you TAKE ON FAITH!!! This belief of yours is no more or less faith based than the view that God created the world in six 24 hr days. This often gets scientists riled up: their views are based on dogma just as much as any religion.
There is no way for you to substantiate that your interpretation of science is correct. David Hume has proven that a long time ago. All you can do is say this is the evidence and it is excpeted by community, therefore it is likely true. that is the best you can say: evolutoin is likely true. And Thomas Kuhn also has shown that the scientific is always changing. what starts off as persecution often turns into acceptance by the whole community. Therefore something as highly theoretical as evolution can only be hypothosized that it is likely true. I wish the scientific community would acknowledge this more.
Similarly, the evidence that shows a young earth or no evolution is evidence that only shows it is likely true.
Therefore, highly theoretical areas of science can only show something is likely or possibly true.
Would you base your view of creation on something that is only possibly true?
Would you say that anybody who goes against the prevailing scientific commmunity is in the bronze age when they can only say it is possibly true?
why do evolutionists get all riled up over something that is only possibly true? Is it because they don't want to be persecuted?
There is absolutely nothing compelling about current science to lead me to accept evolution. There is nothing compelling in science to alter the traditional understanding of Genesis. As for me, I think the more solid ground is to stand on a Biblical worldview. General revelation should always be interpreted in light of God's Word. It is Jesus Christ who opens our eyes to see the world for what it really is. Let's look at the world through the lense of scripture rather than vice versa.
You suggest a lot of authors for me to read, and it's funny, because I have read them. I've read Behe's stuff before and he's wrong. He hasn't done his research, he cherry-picks the data (not unlike you do) and his reasoning is sloppy and inconsistent. I'm familiar with Thomas Kuhn, who thought that the changing nature of science was a virtue, since it meant science could change it's mind in the light of new evidence. He would not have appreciated his work being misinterpreted like this. I've read Hume, who was not a scientist but a skeptic and a man who would have thought your unwavering acceptance of the Genesis as literal fact intellectually disgusting. The fact that you would claim Hume proved anything shows you do not understand his goals and ideas.
But anyway, how many biology texts have you read?
[quote]I am not sure how evolution is more proven and understandable than gravity. Under "normal" circumstances every time you throw an object up in the air it falls at 9.8 m/s/s. Every time. I am not aware of any "natural laws" that we can measure happening right now in the area of evolution.[/quote]
Fallacy - an argument from ignorance. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's impossible. Gravity is not well-understood, but it is easily observed. Evolution is also easily observed (just look at dog breeding) but it's also very well understood. As for natural laws, you could take a look at natural selection....
This doesn't mean it's proven. No scientist would say that. They would say it's well supported, or that evolution is useful for making accurate predictions. They would say the same thing about Germ Theory, or Kinetic Molecular Theory - not that they're proven, but that they make accurate predictions. Do you doubt the existence of germs or atoms, too?
You seem to be convinced that, since science changes, it is faulty. This is not the case. Science makes predictions, uses evidence, and adapts as our understanding grows. This is it's strength. This is the reason you have a computer to type your stupid ideas on and place them on the web - science is good at finding answers, and not afraid to admit when it's wrong. It's the reason you can sit in a room with electric light, unafraid of scurvy or rubella and be an ass.
[quote]There is absolutely nothing compelling about current science to lead me to accept evolution. There is nothing compelling in science to alter the traditional understanding of Genesis. As for me, I think the more solid ground is to stand on a Biblical worldview. General revelation should always be interpreted in light of God's Word. It is Jesus Christ who opens our eyes to see the world for what it really is. Let's look at the world through the lense [sic] of scripture rather than vice versa.[/quote]
But with this paragraph, I realize we will never understand. While I may be convinced if you have evidence that the world is young or that creationism is true, you claim that nothing about science today can change your mind. This makes it obvious that you do not know anything about modern science. Go read "The Greatest Show on Earth" or "The Rough Guide to Evolution" or "Why Evolution is True" or "Your Inner Fish". Ask yourself why God would give us all this evidence if it was all a lie. Ask yourself why we find fossils from billions of years ago if God made the world so recently. Ask yourself why we find evidence of human civilization from thousands of years before the claimed beginning of the world.
Then ask yourself if it perhaps more likely that what science has shown to be the case is true. Ask yourself if it is more likely that Genesis is a metaphor, that Adam and Eve are literary characters, that this is the useful parable that God told Moses so Israel could understand, a little, about where they came from.
Stephanie, I'm impressed by your intellect, but dismayed at how quickly you dismiss Behe and others who disagree with your point of view. Rather than denigrating their conclusions, it would be most helpful if you explained why you disagreed with them rather than characterising their points of view as "not having done research, sloppy, inconsistent, cherry-picking."
Evolution is an attempt to explain a series of observations. In this case it is quite different from the natural law of gravity. Ironic that you mention dog breeding for these reasons: dog breeding is human directed--argument for intelligent design. Evolution within dog breeds are still within one species. Attempts to breed different species fails. When farmers breed horses and donkeys, the result is a mule, which, being sterile, cannot continue to reproduce, thus it fails.
Further, macroevolution has never, ever been proven. The fossil record shows no transitionary animals. We would expect this. Mathematically, the complexity of life, even in the simplest living thing, indicates that macroevolution is impossible. There simply isn't enough time in a 15 billion year old universe to account for all the changes necessary to produce life as we know it.
Science is limited by human understanding. Solomon was right, there is nothing new under the sun. The most dangerous situation facing science right now is what C.S. Lewis coined "Chronological Snobbery." It is the belief that humans today are so much smarter than any humans who have ever lived before. The ancient Greeks possessed great knowledge and technological ability (running water, sewer systems, knowledge that the earth was round, knowledge of the magnetic polar fields, heliocentrism, etc.). But we like to think that we're so much smarter than they were.
Stephanie, please be careful, not only how you write, but in how you interact with others. On your blog, "Casting Off" you show great concern for the marginalised in society, but not so great concern for those who are willing to disagree and not accept your point of view, I'd be disappointed to consider you a hypocrite.
Facts are not the same as theory. Evolotion is one theory attempting to explain the facts. Creationism is another theory attempting to explain the facts. Evolutionary theory is antagonistic toward God, it begins with the assumption there is no God, selection happens naturally and randomly. The Bible speaks otherwise, God began creation and he is continually involved in creation, not only in the lives of people, but also in the beings of creatures. If you consider Genesis a metaphor, do you also consider the plagues as metaphor? Is it all metaphor? Did Jesus really become conceived of a virgin woman by the Holy Spirit? Wouldn't an evolutionary theory say it is impossible?
Respectfully, it seems you want to have your cake and eat it too.
[quote]Rather than denigrating their conclusions, it would be most helpful if you explained why you disagreed with them rather than characterizing their points of view as "not having done research, sloppy, inconsistent, cherry-picking."[/quote]
Behe's main argument is that some systems in organisms are irreducibly complex - that is to say, they are mutually dependant on each other and so could not have evolved separately. A common example is the eye - some people claim that half an eye is no good, so it is irreducibly complex and could not have evolved. However, as it turns out, half an eye is about half as good and many creatures have such structures, like in the rag worm: http://bit.ly/kxj4VP. The rest of his examples are similarly easy to refute. (More criticisms can be found here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe/review.html)
[quote]Evolution within dog breeds are still within one species. Attempts to breed different species fails.[/quote]
That is rather missing the point. By selecting for different traits, the population changes over many generations until the small differences between individuals add up to something huge. A good example of this is the domesticated silver fox, which was simply bred to be tamer and ended up with a very different appearance and brain structure. Anyway, you're wrong about breeding different species. See: Beefalo.
[quote]The fossil record shows no transitionary animals.[/quote]
Please define what you mean by "transitionary". I don't think we're thinking of the same thing, because I can think of several such fossils, some of which I saw with my own eyes at museums. Here's a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils.
[quote]Stephanie, please be careful, not only how you write, but in how you interact with others. On your blog, "Casting Off" you show great concern for the marginalised in society, but not so great concern for those who are willing to disagree and not accept your point of view, I'd be disappointed to consider you a hypocrite.[/quote]
I'm sorry that you think my tone is too harsh. I was pretty upset when I wrote the first comment - I'm honestly sad that this is still an issue. But I do not hold respect for bad ideas or bad science, and will not pretend I do. I think people should not face discrimination. Ideas, especially bad ones, deserve no such protection. If you thought I was attacking people personally instead of their ideas, I apologize.
[quote]Facts are not the same as theory. Evolotion is one theory attempting to explain the facts. Creationism is another theory attempting to explain the facts. [/quote]
[quote]Evolutionary theory is antagonistic toward God, it begins with the assumption there is no God, selection happens naturally and randomly. [/quote]
Not randomly - due to selective pressure from the environment, or through human intervention.
Regardless, evolution is not antagonistic towards God. It just does not require him. By this logic, my laptop is antagonistic towards God, as is my toaster and the plants growing by my window. Are embryos antagonistic towards God? How about rain? These are all things that we understand well, and all things that have purely natural explanations, just like the diversity of species. That doesn't mean God isn't part of it - it just means he set it up well enough that it doesn't need to be micromanaged.
[quote]If you consider Genesis a metaphor, do you also consider the plagues as metaphor? Is it all metaphor? Did Jesus really become conceived of a virgin woman by the Holy Spirit? Wouldn't an evolutionary theory say it is impossible?[/quote]
I don't know. That's a question for theologians. I don't think we need to be afraid, though - if it's true, all evidence will point there.
There are already some theories: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1006052713779
"As noted already by Darwin, the fossil record is woefully incomplete. Ideally, this list would only recursively include 'true' transitionals, fossils representing ancestral specie from which later groups evolved, but most, if not all, of the fossils shown here represent extinct side branches, more or less closely related to the true ancestor. They will all include details unique to their own line as well. Fossils having relatively few such traits are termed "transitional", while those with a host of traits found neither in the ancestral or derived group are called "intermediate".
Since all species will always be subject to natural selection, the very term "transitional fossil" is essentially a misconception. it is however a commonly used term, and a useful concept in evolutionary biology. The fossils listed represent significant steps in the evolution of major features in various lines, and therefore fit the common usage of the phrase."
This quote from your article makes it abundantly clear that the theory of evolution postulates that every species is actually transitional and/or intermediate. That the "intermediates" are only intermediate relative to other species. This transition is not proven, nor even provable. It is merely assumed. The evidence could never ever prove that members of one species changed into another species. It can only demonstrate that some species resemble other species in many ways.
[quote]the theory of evolution postulates that every species is actually transitional and/or intermediate. That the "intermediates" are only intermediate relative to other species. [/quote]
YES! Yes! Exactly! That's exactly right!
[quote]This transition is not proven, nor even provable. It is merely assumed. The evidence could never ever prove that members of one species changed into another species. It can only demonstrate that some species resemble other species in many ways. [/quote]
... Now you may have lost me. Are you saying that you would need a specimen of every single creature leading back to a common ancestor to believe that evolution occurred for that case?
What about looking at the DNA, and seeing how much is the same? What about using mathematical models to track how fast the DNA of a creature changes through time, and then applying those models in other similar situations? That's far more common than looking at the shape of fossils and guesstimating relations.
I mean, if you doubt that creatures that resemble each other closely - in phenotype(physically) and genotype(genetically) - are related, you're not doubting evolution. You're doubting genetics and that's a whole other kettle of fish. I'm not sure how you could doubt genetics now that we can look closely at gametes, DNA, etc.
Perhaps you could clarify?
How much evidence, keep in mind it is circumstantial evidence, not eyewitness testimony, nor even conclusive, how much evidence would be necessary? First, we do not see evidence happening of progressive evolution. We see deleterious effects of mutations, we see mild variations in populations, we see local adaptations; but we do not see on a large scale evolution happening. For every supposed transitional event or species, we see ten times or one hundred times as many gaps in the transitions, both in the fossil record, and in present day species differences. So in light of the lack of evidence, as Darwin alluded to, and in light of the fact that so much evidence points to degradation, deleterious, useless, and harmful as well as lethal mutations, it would seem that we would need a huge preponderance of evidence to counter this. However, we have very little.
In order for just a little successful progressive evolution to occur, we would need multitudes of unsuccessful but potentially beneficial mutational events to occur. It would have to be constantly around us. Just because some evolutionary events happened in the past is no reason for nature not to keep trying to repeat that over and over again. Evidence would be a lack of species. Where everything is transitory, transitioning, in flux and indistinguishable, slowly progressing to an ever expanding number of indeterminate half-species. Every time you thought you had a species, you would discover that one-third of that species was still transitioning from another former state, and one-third was transitioning to another new yet undefinable state.
What we have as evidence can be explained and understood by different hypotheses. For example, the similarity in dna between various species denotes a similar designer, not necessarily a similar origin. Just as a plastic body car and a metal body car could potentially look identical and even function identically, yet originate from different sources but have the same designer. Or two metal cars both made from the same type of metal, may still have not been made in the same factory, and even the metal may not have originated in the same mine.
If you assume that evolution was true, then it would make sense that dna was similar in some ways between similar species. But you cannot use the converse argument to prove evolution; ie. just because it is similar that does not prove a similar origin of material. After all, all living matter is made from the same basic building blocks, such as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, calcium, phosphorus and various other minerals. It would make sense that dna is ultimately another building block, although more of a computer module that controls the other materials. Therefore similarities in DNA as to functions would make sense, just like most teeth containing calcium. There is no inherent need for an evolutionary principle to explain it. (Unless you are in an evolutionary paradigm that you can't escape from.)
While similarity in human DNA can demonstrate whether two people are related, it is more true that disimilarity can prove they are not related. The reason that similar DNA is used to demonstrate paternity, for example, is primarily because the pool of suspects is small. But it takes very little disimilarity to prove that they are not related even though they are both human. Yet, in spite of vastly greater differences between various species, it is postulated that some similarities in DNA must mean they are related. Perhaps it depends on the definition of "related", but by the same token we know that we are related to plants because we are both made of carbon and nitrogen.
Quote: " Science makes predictions, uses evidence, and adapts as our understanding grows." Science is a discipline, a way of observing things and drawing conclusions. It is not science that makes predictions; it is human beings who are called scientists that make the predictions. This is a very important distinction. Science does not adapt. It is people who revise scientific procedures who adapt. Early scientists used their eyes to observe. Modern scientists use microscopes and telescopes to aid their eyes in their observations. Early scientists used simple math; modern scientists use complicated algorithms and integrated models.
Most scientists use correlations to attempt to draw conclusions. But establishing cause and effect through correlations can be faulty.
The reason that Steve and others use the statements of scientists to counter their own conclusions, is that their own statements do not always logically require the deductions and position conclusions that they make. This is a legitimate form of argumentation; nothing wrong with it. Evidence often does not only lead to one conclusion; often it leads to several possibilities. Having your mind closed to other possibilities is not the fault of science; it is a failing of the scientists who practice science.
You seem to assume certain conclusions without examining them, such as "why we find fossils from billions of years ago". The whole point is whether those fossils really were from billions of years ago, or whether the reasoning behind the age-verification of these fossils is faulty. You seem to be accepting this age-verification on blind faith, without understanding the sampling process or the assumptions behind the measurements of mineral half-lifes, and the fact that fossils age is determined based on where they are "supposed" to fit in the geological history, based on where other fossils are found. Ian Juby in one of his you-tube videos gives a good example of the inaccuracy of measuring ages of some fossil layers, and how circular reasoning resulted in a final age determination. This is not a good scientific practice, but it happens very often in this branch of science. Objective measurements of age are not really that objective at all.
I suggest that you visit Ian Juby's You-tube videos, and that you check out Walt Brown's book, both of which are available on the internet. Walt Brown's book will take you awhile, since it is over 400 pages of heavy reading.
By "science", I meant the sum of human knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictive models. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. I also took the liberty of personifying science in order to reference the idea of scientific consensus. When I said, "Science knows x," I meant that the consensus among scientists in the relevant field was x. i.e. Science says our planet is round -> Most (likely all, :P) physicists and geologists agree that our planet is round. Again, I should have clarified.
Regarding the age of fossils, evidence for the correctness of dating procedures used by modern science can be found here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/wiens.html. This article was written by a Christian geologist in hopes of educating fellow Christians about the correctness of modern dating methods. I do not accept it on blind faith - we know that science is able to date fossils, rocks, etc correctly through experiments and evidence.
[quote]....how circular reasoning resulted in a final age determination. This is not a good scientific practice, but it happens very often in this branch of science.[/quote]
Do you have a source for this claim? This is a pretty serious accusation to make.
Check out Ian Juby's you-tubes. He describes how the age of some fossils changed due to circular reasoning. The age of some fossils originally based on "objective" radio-isotope measurements was assessed at 269 million years and then dramatically reduced to something like 20 million years when they realized it would not fit into the preconceived paleontological hierarchy.
The age of fossils is based on a model. The model postulates how long it takes for certain animals to evolve, and works backwards from what we have today. It also correlates fossils to rock layers. If the radio-isotope dating does not match the perceptions about the age of the fossils, then it will be revised and redone until they match, usually in favor of the perceived age of the fossils. This appears to be so regardless of whether the rock layer appears to be too old, or whether it appears to be too young. For example, instances of layer inversion, where younger fossils are found in layers underneath the older layers. The whole model hangs on the theory, and then the model is used to prove and demonstrate the theory. Circular reasoning.
Radio-isotope dating depends on uniformity and consistency. If things have changed over time, such as atmospheric concentrations, radio-activity bursts and stimulations, it would be difficult if not impossible to measure the impacts of anything beyond human history. We suspect things have greatly changed over time, and that is why the age of people dramatically declined since the days of Noah, indicating a lack of uniformity. The decrease in the age of people also fits with the genetic changes and even with elements of genetic deterioration, mutations, etc, which have a huge tendency towards degradation, even though genetically we would postulate under the assumptions of the evolutionary theory that people who live longer have a genetic advantage to pass on those genes.
The suggestion to read "The Greatest show on Earth" should be followed by a suggestion to read some of Jonathan Sarfati's books, including a refutation of the above book, in "Evolution, the Greatest Hoax on Earth", or "Refuting Compromise", or "Refuting Evolution". Jonathan is a PhD in Chemistry and an international chess master, and has done an impressive job of revealing the inconsistencies in Dawkins' book.
Good posts, Neil, I appreciate your views. and Steve, too.
Hey folks, discussion is fine. Disagreement is fine. But making personal attacks on those who hold a different opinion are not so fine. Let me remind you of the comment policy that governs the Network:
"Comments on The Network are monitored to make sure they are appropriate and respectful. When commenting please take note of the following guidelines.
I'm new to the Network myself and am on it because I was asked to make some comments about Synod 2011. I don't know how the folks in charge of the Network enforce these policies, but I'll bet they'd rather have those who post be respectful to each other than deleting what's been posted. When stuff's deleted, conversation stops. So let's have a good conversation guided by the comment policy. Thanks.
A quote from your link: "Unfortunately, Behe doesn't mention the Krebs in his book. A pity. Here is a complex biochemical system, clearly an excellent hook on which to hang his thesis. Right? However, closer inspection of the literature reveals problems with such a "Krebs cycle is irreducibly complex" hypothesis..."
Why would you try to refute a comment that Behe never made, as you acknowledge yourself? Seems a bit like bait and switch?
Irreducibly complex does not mean that you could not have a smaller eye, or a different eye. It means you need more than half the parts to make it work. If you take 90% of it away, you do not have something useful, and usually if you take one small part away, it is also not very useful. This reduces the chances based on random mutations, to get a combination of simultaneous mutations that would produce something useful, and this must be combined with a larger organism in which there are other parts that are also complex, and need to be there for the whole organism to function. It is not only that you need all the parts, but they must also be there at the same time, in the right position, of the right size, and fitted together properly, and then hooked up to the larger organism properly. A perfect eye without a brain behind it would also be useless.
The eye of the ragworm is useful to the ragworm, but not to the human; it would be like walking around with your eyes closed.
The beefalo tends to revert back to the bison. This appears to be more of a selection than a mutation. There is an assumption by evolutionists that recessive genes must have originated from a mutation, but how is that proved?
You say that evolution is not antagonistic towards God. But I would say that you are looking at the theory with the eye of the ragworm. In other words, whenever someone might suggest that perhaps some species or great orders were individually created, the evol theory and those that propose it and support it would laugh. They would say that scientific investigation has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with any interventions by God. It deals only with naturalistic explanations of how things happen and how they came to be. They would declare the feeding of the fivethousand impossible, and therefore irrelevant, and scientifically untrue. There would be no examination of possibilities, no testing of alternatives. It is a belief system that does not tolerate other hypotheses.
The theory of evolution also suggests that man is nothing more than a sophisticated animal, no more and no less. That religion, and our idea of god is something that evolved throughout time, and is continuing to evolve, due to our relationship with the rest of nature, our fear of the unknown, and our desire for security and purpose. That God is man-made, rather than man being God-made.
Facts are proven by the theory, and the theory proves itself. (Instead of the other way around.)
Computers, cameras and toasters are extensions and creations of man. Used well, they can be good, and used poorly they can be antagonistic towards God, like the people who made them.
Sir, your post is full of non sequiturs. I'm not sure I even understand what you're trying to say. Here's my best guess. Feel free to clarify.
First, I'm not sure how I'm like a ragworm. The "in other words" did not really explain. Is it because you think I'm not seeing the whole picture? That I'm seeing things in black and white? (both of which, I don't think I am.)
[quote]In other words, whenever someone might suggest that perhaps some species or great orders were individually created, the evol theory and those that propose it and support it would laugh. [/quote]
Why shouldn't we laugh at the idea that species are created distinctly if this is not the case? You're confusing blind tolerance with truth. The question isn't whether people are nice about other ideas - it's whether those ideas are true.
[quote]They would say that scientific investigation has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with any interventions by God. It deals only with naturalistic explanations of how things happen and how they came to be.[/quote]
Yes. We have big brains and a desire to explain things - features that many people believe came from God. We use our brains to investigate the world around us, but, in so doing, we cannot assume a God.
This is because God is not controllable. You cannot do an experiment with God's involvement and without. But, by assuming no divine influence, we have been really quite successful in figuring things out. ie. Medicine, clean water, the nature of the solar system. We're good at this. Assuming a god did not work out - when we did that, people thought a chariot pulled the sun across the sky.
[quote]It is a belief system that does not tolerate other hypotheses. [/quote]
[quote]The theory of evolution also suggests that man is nothing more than a sophisticated animal, no more and no less. That religion, and our idea of god is something that evolved throughout time, and is continuing to evolve, due to our relationship with the rest of nature, our fear of the unknown, and our desire for security and purpose. That God is man-made, rather than man being God-made. [/quote]
No. The theory of evolution does not postulate that god is man-made. That's atheism. Evolution is about the diversity of life on this planet, and has nothing to say about the existence of gods.
I'm beginning to think that your problem isn't with evolution, but with science generally and natural explanations for things specifically. That's a problem, in my mind, but also an indicator that we will not reach a solution. I think science is a powerful tool for finding truth, and you think it's... what? Wrong? Blasphemous? Dangerous?
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