Monday, May 5, 2008

Ken Miller... again

A link through a recent commenter revealed this little tidbit from Ken Miller(on intelligent design):

"...let’s suppose, you think the moon is made of granite and I think it’s made of green cheese. And we get soil samples back from the moon, and you know what? They’re not made of granite. So I say, great, that’s evidence for the green cheese theory. Well, it’s not. It’s an entirely negative argument." [SOURCE]



Now, realizing that he's using a stupid example, I would disagree with him. If there were only two options, green cheese(a designer) and granite(no designer) and we see that granite is not an option, then we have a proof for green cheese by the law of non-contradiction.

Ken has the wrong picture here. You see, we can't prove it either way. We (as in everybody) do not have the 'lunar samples.' There is a faith aspect involved, duh, it's the whole point.

Besides, I have plenty of evidence for a designer: the universe and the rules that are followed (gravity, acceleration etc). But others interpret that evidence differently and rightly so, they have a different worldview. Their worldview is either devoid of God or denying His power. But don't tell me I have no evidence, because all you do reveal your ignorance.

I hope that I'm done with Ken Miller, I do not want to bash him. He is a doctor, a position I hope to attain to someday (hopefully soon), although thankfully not in biology. I do not think he is stupid, just perhaps misguided in religion, which is fine, since theology is not his forté anyway. I don't have a problem with him being an evolutionist, my problem comes in where he tries to call himself a Christian, which so far, I have not seen. A love for Christ does not seem to emanate from his writing.

But lets end off on a good note: The sun rises, the birds sing and the world works. Praise the Lord!

23 comments:

NP said...

Miller's point is that there are not necessarily two options only, and that basically presenting it as such is a false dilemma.

Even if currently accepted notions of evolution are correct, that does not make intelligent design true. There may be other natural explanations of the diversity of life (e.g. Lamarckism).

Bear in mind that Ken Miller believes there is an ultimate designer; he is not disputing that. What he disputes is the attempt to try and assert design where there is no scientific evidence for it. With respect to the Intelligent Design movement, its proponets assume that God routinely intervenes in his creation in order to create a new gene or a new structure. It is both an untestable and unfalsifiable theory, which means it is not scientific. As a scientist, Miller objects to attempts to classify Intelligent Design as a science, and sees it as a science-stopper.

NP said...

I meant to say, if currently accepted notions of evolution are incorrect...not correct.

Quintin said...

I know precisely what Miller meant, this blog is more a challenge to find out what other options could exist. That is the whole fallacy of Miller's argument: He takes a binary option and claims n-ary solutions may exist. That kind of straw man burns well! It is either 0 or 1, or is it 0.5?

Ah! You see, we have found Ken Miller's problem: faith. He wants to use His eyes to define God.

Next time your computer breaks, please contact the engineer(s) of your computer based solely on the facts found within the computer (of course you may make any assumptions as to where those components came from). You may not use any manuals to find out who they are. The manuals are too subject to interpretation to be understood correctly anyway.

The above analogy is meant to show what Ken Miller does with (his) God. He focuses on a shadow in creation not realizing God is more than physical!

What the Intelligent Design movement does with God, evolutionists do with nature:
"With respect to the [Evolutionist] movement, its proponets assume that [nature] routinely intervenes in [it's] creation in order to create a new gene or a new structure. It is both an untestable and unfalsifiable theory, which means it is not scientific." Amen!

Godless people will always seek a solution to a problem that exists in Christianity. Again, I am not adopting a "head in the sand" approach to observable science. But God told us where we came from, so why is all the interest on the "proving God wrong" side. Well, that's the way it's always been, since Genesis 3. Shock and horror.

NP said...

And exactly is this binary option? Evolution (based on Darwin) and Intelligent Design are not the only two options, unless you believe your Young Earth Creationism merits no serious contemplation (I would agree on that point, although in principle it still an option). Current theories of evolution may not be the only "naturalistic" explanation of how the diversity of life arises. Therefore, he is correct in asserting that ID proponents create a false dichotomy.

I would wager that Ken Miller's faith exceeds that of many creationists. Many creationists would find it earth-shattering for God not to feature prominently in discussions of how the diversity of life arises and other such questions. They feel the need to shoehorn God wherever possible, and feel that science ought to corroborate their religious convictions. It is in essence the primary motivation behind so-called "scientific creationism". Miller on the other hand posits that God exists and is the First Cause; he has sufficient faith to believe that even if natural explanations for everything beginning from the Big Bang to modern day human society are available, there is still ample room for God, because His God doesn't dwell in the gaps in our knowledge of how the world works. Ultimately, it is the salvific issues that matter, not bibliolotry.

Once again, you err in thinking that Ken Miller has no regard for scripture. The point is that he simply doesn't adhere to your narrow interpretation of it. You say that you know the four corners of the earth cannot be literal; likewise, Dr. Miller cannot believe in the bronze age creation myth of biblical literalism and remain intellectually honest in light of the mountains of scientific evidence that contradicts your position. So he is obviously not going to read Genesis 1 the same way you do, because you do have your head in the sand (not to sound insulting, but it is evident).

If you visit the discussion forums on CARM.org, on the Evolution board there is a topic where creationists are asked to explain their interpretation of the fossil record based on the observable evidence. Your input would be quite welcome.
If you claim that you don't have your head in the sand, then I will ask you what the significance of the following are: endogenous retroviruses, chromosome 2 fusion event, vitamin C pseudogene, Archaeopteryx, Tiktaalik, Pakicetus, DNA homologies, and pharyngeal arches.

Quintin said...

Thanks... I think.

Well, as much as it pains me to admit it, creationism falls under intelligent design, does it not? Either it was intelligently designed, or it wasn't. You see, the specifics within intelligent design can be debated, but either there is a God behind it or there isn't.

Yes yes, I've got my head in the sand, just because I put the bible ahead of science. Fine. I was trying to get ahead of you on that one. When God says He did it one way, I believe Him.

Haha I would love to have more input in the Creation - Evolution debate. Unfortunately I don't even have time to blog at this stage, my studies have reached a point where they require all my available time.

As for your challenge: great stuff to study, one day. What I find humourous, to a point it probably will be the focus in a blog of mine: if you tell me that science does not have all the answers (if you don't then I want all the answers), then how can you expect the bible to have all the answers? It is authoritative in what it does say, not in what it does not say.

All matters 'salvific'. Great. I'll take Jesus as fire insurance, but toss out what I don't like. Yeah that actually sounds like modern day Christianity anyway.

And finally - I will take the can of worms on this one: four corners. Please look up the Greek meaning of that word. You will see that it can either be a literal angle or a literal 'secret place.' So, since the word can be used either way I know that it falls under secret place. Those 'days' in Genesis can only mean literal days, in their context.

Quintin said...

"I would wager that Ken Miller's faith exceeds that of many creationists."

I just realized that you are 100% correct. He has to have faith because he can't go to the bible for any of his answers. All I have to do to him is provide some evidence 'proving' he's wrong and he'll bend.

I can say that Jesus is 'bronze age', then you don't need Him either.

By the way, picking holes in each others arguments will honestly go on for years. We can spend all day nit-picking each others theories. If you can ask about distant starlight you know what? I can give you models, but no answer. You wanna know why? The bible doesn't say and science has not progressed that far. Plus I can even pick holes in old-universe models over that one.

The question is: do we believe the bible. If so, what does it say? We cannot change our interpretation unless it contradicts other portions of scripture.

Look, the bible is for people who believe in God. Science is for everyone. Evolution is not science, it's a bad model. Things do not increase in complexity, do to the nature of the genome. Genes can become more predominant or less predominant but there is no case where a new gene just randomly appears: how can it? Everything we get is from our parents - 1 + 1 = 2 does not make 2 any more complex than both 1's put together (the nature remains the same). A simple example, but apt.

Quintin said...

I think I might, given the time, look into that CARM stuff after all. I'd ask you not to expect much, but I know you won't.

God bless.

NP said...

creationism falls under intelligent design, does it not? Either it was intelligently designed, or it wasn't?

Only in a very broad sense of the term, although the meaning of "intelligent design" as used by the Discovery Institute is far more specific, and they do not abide by Young Earth Creationism. In a very broad sense, I would say that Ken Miller and other theistic evolutionists believe in "intelligent design".

Acceptance of science does not mean one cannot believe in God. It does however mean that one cannot reasonably dismiss empirical evidence in favour of a particular, untested interpretation of scripture. As a Baptist, you may not have a regard for St. Augustine, but he wrote about this. Even literalists can have a different interpretation of certain verses; therefore, if empiricism contradicts any one interpretation, I would think that interpretation ought to be questioned.


Yes yes, I've got my head in the sand, just because I put the bible ahead of science.


I feel I should point out that you put a specific interpretation of the Bible ahead of science. I'm sure you've heard of the Westboro Baptist Church (who call themselves Baptist, but other Baptists are probably rather embarassed of them). I bring them up because they are just one of many examples where even those who believe in sola scriptura can have drastically different interpretations.

I also have to ask you why either has to be ahead of the other? Could it also be that they address different things? The Bible addresses the "why" and science deals with the "how"?

Haha I would love to have more input in the Creation - Evolution debate. Unfortunately I don't even have time to blog at this stage, my studies have reached a point where they require all my available time.

I appreciate that not every one has time to study everything under the sun in depth. I know very little about general relativity, and don't have the time to study in in detail. But if I wanted to say that general relativity is not science, it would be completely unwarranted for me to make that assertion without having a cursory knowledge of it. When one is not well versed in a particular field, isn't it sometimes better to just say "I don't know"?

What I find humourous, to a point it probably will be the focus in a blog of mine: if you tell me that science does not have all the answers (if you don't then I want all the answers), then how can you expect the bible to have all the answers?

I don't recall claiming that the Bible ought to have all the answers, as that is contrary to my view to begin with. In fact, I believe the opposite - that the Bible, if true, deals with issues that that science cannot deal with. Geology, paleontology, and biology just happen to be disciplines that science deals with. Soteriology isn't.

And finally - I will take the can of worms on this one: four corners. Please look up the Greek meaning of that word. You will see that it can either be a literal angle or a literal 'secret place.' So, since the word can be used either way I know that it falls under secret place. Those 'days' in Genesis can only mean literal days, in their context.


Interesting. So in that context, what are the four "secret places" that the Bible speaks of.

How about the pillars of the earth - what else can the Hebrew word for pillars mean?

I understand that the meaning of "yom" in a specific context is a significant in the debate between young earth and old earth creationists. My question is that even if it signifies a literal day, it does not necessarily mean that the entire chapter is meant to be taken literally. Many words in the parables take on a literal meaning; but the point is that there is a deeper, allegorical meaning.

Couldn't the signficance of Genesis 1 be that, unlike what many contemporaneous religions in ancient times claims, there is only one God, and that He was responsible for creating everything (which is why they are all listed) rather than one god creating the birds, a different god creating light, etc? Couldn't that be the central message of the chapter, rather than that God literally created everything in six days? Just as the central message of the Good Samaritan is not that such an incident actually happened or is a matter of historical fact.

He [Ken Miller] has to have faith because he can't go to the bible for any of his answers.

Says who? He may not consult the Bible to understand a proton pumping mechanism in cell membranes or an explanation of the fossil record, because after all, the Bible is not a science textbook and shouldn't be considered as such. However, on spiritual matters, such as how one must behave (the golden rule) or the after-life, who are you to say that Ken Miller does not consult the Bible?

I can give you models, but no answer. You wanna know why? The bible doesn't say and science has not progressed that far.

Well, I certainly agree. And that's because the bible simply should not be expected to provide answers to certain questions.

Evolution is not science, it's a bad model.


Well, the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree. Now, you might say that they could still be wrong - but your assertion has no merit if you do not understand the evidence. I don't want to be condescending, but the arguments you present below in order to support your claim clearly show that you are not in a position to judge whether or not evolution is good model.


Things do not increase in complexity,


I see you live in South Africa. Does it snow there (except on the mountaintops)? Here in Canada we get lots of snow. Snowflakes directly contradict your claim. I would also say that all life forms contradict your claim, for example, you yourself began as a single cell long before you were even a human being. Do you still think things do not increase in complexity by natural processes?


Genes can become more predominant or less predominant but there is no case where a new gene just randomly appears:


That is simply not true. A large number of the genes in your own body arose from gene duplications which diverged over time so that they now perform different functions, e.g. the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors. If the thought of human evolution is not palatable, I could provide you with other examples: there is the gene for antifreeze glycoprotein in Antarctic cod, which arose from parts of a gene for trypsinogen - a completely different protein with a different function. Scientists have also been able to determine the putative mutations which could have led to the novel gene. There is also the example of the nylonase bacteria, which were observed to evolve new proteins that could digest nylon polymers.


how can it? Everything we get is from our parents - 1 + 1 = 2 does not make 2 any more complex than both 1's put together (the nature remains the same). A simple example, but apt.


It is not at all apt. Any mutation (could be a simple point mutation, or a chromosomal mutation) in one of your parents' germline cells could have been inherited by you. Sometimes, these mutations can be harmful in some way. Sometimes they may simply have no discernible effect at all. Sometimes they may have a beneficial effect, as in some of the examples given above. For you to say that there is no way for a novel gene to arise is incorrect.

Quintin said...

Great to hear from you again!

Something I do wish to ask: What is your worldview? Atheistic, Agnostic, Christian? You make it very difficult to tell. I would guess Agnostic.

Reformed baptist. I love Augustine, not everything about him, but he prayed well.

Yes, the bible does address the "why," but when it addresses the "how," I am forced to listen.

"it would be completely unwarranted for me to make that assertion without having a cursory knowledge of it"
You make a very good point about knowing what you refute: understand the argument. However I'm sure that if I turned around and said that evolution was a good theory you would have no problem with me, even though I know so little. The only problem you have with me is that I disagree with you. It is not my level of knowledge, that is a sub issue.

I also know what the bible says. I've studied that in great detail. This is why you and I disagree on so many levels: we work off of different foundations.

Interesting. So in that context, what are the four "secret places" that the Bible speaks of
if I knew, they wouldn't be a secret now would they?

How about the pillars of the earth - what else can the Hebrew word for pillars mean?
A piller is a piller is a piller. A foundation if you will.

But poetry is poetry is proetry.

Poetry is very common, especially when Job is lamenting. He is refering to the greatness of God. How awesome God is, how no man can answer Him. Job knew he was right and still manages to say "Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse."
Job 9:20 - Have you ever considered God in light of this?

"Couldn't the signficance of Genesis 1 be that ... there is only one God, and that He was responsible for creating everything"
Yes! But why say it in that manner then? Why say "the third day" at all? And why contextualize it with "and then there was evening and morning?" - every word must be truth in order for the God of Christianity to make any sense.

"Bible is not a science textbook"
Amen! You can't find cell membrane explanations there, nor should you. But now the fossil record...

The bible is a historical book. The purpose of the why is sometimes revealed in the how. God hates sin, He punishes it. He destroyed the earth in a global flood, the evidence for which can be found buried in the earth.

Let me propose a situation to you: "It doesn't really matter that Moses walked in the desert, since we have the law today anyway. Those stories don't matter as long as we get sorted out 'soteriologically.' So I have a moral foundation, but it does not matter as whether or not that foundation is based on real events." Would you agree with that statement?

"the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree"
Couldn't care less! As for not understanding the evidence, I always try, and creation wins.

Now on to stuff that is radically different:
Nope, no snow, but I never knew that water increases and decreases in complexity. Please explain the chemical nature of water when inside a snowflake. I thought it was H20, but clearly I must be mistaken.
Also, I will probably referring to mainly external articles, like this one on snow [HERE]

"you yourself began as a single cell long before you were even a human being"
I agree. What was in that single cell? Is it not all the complexity needed to generate the entire human being? I would love to know where this 'external' stuff comes from.

I think that we may disagree on the nature of complexity - would you say that if I grew another arm I would be increasing complexity? Because I would not - the genetic information for an arm is there beforehand (no pun intended). Something like gills would be differing complexity.

"A large number of the genes in your own body arose from gene duplications which diverged over time so that they now perform different functions"
Isn't it amazing that in every single human being these things "evolve" in exactly the same way (and by the way had to have happened in my parents as well, ad infinitum)? Wow! That is so unlike any randomness I've ever heard of... It's almost un-random... or whatever. It's also amazing that I did say 'randomly.'
Reading material: [HERE]
Is it the same principle as the cod?

Now look, as I said, this can go on for years - but I am not going to ask you questions I think you can't answer in order to break you down. That's the playground technique of winning an argument. I would ask you if you have ever considered who God is, what His view of sin is? If we have sinned against an infinite God, the punishment we deserve is infinite.

NP said...

You guessed right - I am agnostic.

However I'm sure that if I turned around and said that evolution was a good theory you would have no problem with me, even though I know so little. The only problem you have with me is that I disagree with you. It is not my level of knowledge, that is a sub issue.

Well, if you said evolution was a good theory, I would have no way of judging your knowledge about biology and related fields, just as I would not be able to judge how much astronomy and physics you know if you said the earth revolves around the sun.

However, when somebody says they do not accept evolution, it is often an indication that the person either does not know of or understand the evidence for evolution, or simply ignores it.

I also know what the bible says. I've studied that in great detail. This is why you and I disagree on so many levels: we work off of different foundations.


Dr. Francisco Ayala has also studied the bible in great detail, yet his understanding of it will be different from yours. Once again, it's the interpretation of the bible, not the bible itself, that is the important factor here.


But poetry is poetry is proetry.

Agreed; if only we could agree upon which passages are poetry and which ones aren't. I regard, most of the Bible as poetry, but then again, I'm not a Christian. ;)

But why say it in that manner then? Why say "the third day" at all? And why contextualize it with "and then there was evening and morning?" - every word must be truth in order for the God of Christianity to make any sense.


Perhaps the number of days of creation is significant in a numerological sense. Six for the end of the beginning six-six-six for beginning of the end?? :p

Interesting you bring up the morning and evening part; I've always wondered how there could be morning and evening when the sun was not created until the fourth day? Anyway, I have always read it as a poetic device - like a merism.

As far as every word being true is concerned, I wonder what the merit is of taking every phrase and considering it to be literally true. If understood as poetry, every word would be true, but only when taken as a whole. One cannot take a single verse from a random poem and expect it to always make sense.

Let me propose a situation to you: "It doesn't really matter that Moses walked in the desert, since we have the law today anyway. Those stories don't matter as long as we get sorted out 'soteriologically.' So I have a moral foundation, but it does not matter as whether or not that foundation is based on real events." Would you agree with that statement?


Ah, but today much of the law is in fact irrelevant because of the New Testament.

And I personally would be worried if our morality simply depended on accepting certain events as historical. No, I think we should be moral out of compassion for our fellow human beings.

Nope, no snow, but I never knew that water increases and decreases in complexity. Please explain the chemical nature of water when inside a snowflake. I thought it was H20, but clearly I must be mistaken.
Also, I will probably referring to mainly external articles, like this one on snow


It's not the water molecule itself that increases in complexity, but rather the arrangement of water molecules.

I offer it as a simple example to counter your claim that complexity never increases - it does, and can do so by purely natural means. Now I don't mean to apply this as an analogy to how life arose, which is what the AiG article is addressing. At this stage we do not know enough about abiogenesis to truly know - it may in fact turn out that under certain conditions it would also be inevitable that self-replicating molecules and the building blocks of life would form. Nonetheless, I agree that there is a difference between "self-ordering" and "self-organizing". Nonetheless, in replicating systems, the latter has been shown to occur, usually by means of natural selection. If you go from GOD to GOOD by way of an insertion mutation, the beneficial effects of GOOD would be favoured by natural selection and thus contribute to self-organization.

I agree. What was in that single cell? Is it not all the complexity needed to generate the entire human being? I would love to know where this 'external' stuff comes from.


It is not "external". It is intrinsic, and has evolved over time.

I think that we may disagree on the nature of complexity - would you say that if I grew another arm I would be increasing complexity?

Yes, because even if the genes for growing an arm are present in your genome, you would still need a genetic change that would modify your developmental program in order to grow a third one.

Isn't it amazing that in every single human being these things "evolve" in exactly the same way (and by the way had to have happened in my parents as well, ad infinitum)?


Well it's not so amazing when you consider that the reason genes are shared by humans (and why some of those are shared with other organisms) is because of common ancestry. They do not evolve independently in each individual.

That said, there is much to be amazed by in the natural world. I hadn't realized our sense of awe or incredulity falsifies anything.

Wow! That is so unlike any randomness I've ever heard of... It's almost un-random... or whatever. It's also amazing that I did say 'randomly.'


Randomness is only a part of the equation. The other component - natural selection - is anything BUT random.

Reading material: [HERE]
Is it the same principle as the cod?


No, the research on the cod did not require recreating an ancestral protein based on a sequence inferred from a phylogenetic tree. The genes for the antifreeze protein and the trypsinogen are present in the genome. Based on sequence homologies, the scientists were able to determine which exons of the trypsinogen were duplicated, in order to give rise to the anti-freeze protein.

I would ask you if you have ever considered who God is, what His view of sin is? If we have sinned against an infinite God, the punishment we deserve is infinite.

I have wondered about God, but do not understand sin.

For me to consider who God is, I have had to have access to His gospel. If I were born in South Africa in the 6th century AD, and had told a few lies or looked at a woman in lust, would eternity in Hell await me?

Quintin said...

NP,

Please forgive me, since Friday my life has been blessed with an extra dose of busy... I will reply to your comment as soon as I get a chance. I have read it and am considering my response. Be well and God bless!

Quintin said...

I agree with you that interpretation is the factor here, but it isn't just interpretation of the bible, I would argue that the interpretation of the evidence found in the world is also a factor. I'm not unwilling to look into the world and it's amazing constructs, but I use the bible as the guide to those things. When I see something that indicates an old earth, I review my assumptions because of what God said.

Interesting, because the number of man is six. You are probably 100% correct there. The number 7 is used as a perfect number, it is God's number, indicating His completeness. The number six indicates man's shortcomings. 666 Is the (supposed) sign of the beast, indicating he is the epitome of man.

"I've always wondered how there could be morning and evening when the sun was not created"
It was this comment that brought me out of the confusion I had while discussing with you. Thank you. It reminded me of the basics: The problems with evolution and old earth go far deeper than simply Genesis. There are many slippery slopes that one slides down:
- The issue of death before sin - death is the evidence that God has cursed us all in father Adam. To think that it was an empty or pre-existing threat is accusing God of lying.
- The issue of a man and woman - in order for macro-evolution to work - the male and female would have to have been produced at just the right time together. Beyond that, God said He made the woman from the man's flesh, to think that they developed distinctively is once again making the lying God accusation.
- The genealogy of Jesus - Jesus is said to be a descendant of Eve (by the bible). If Adam and Eve are (intended) mythological figures, what is the transitional form from a myth to a real person?

"One cannot take a single verse from a random poem and expect it to always make sense."
I wish most confessing Christians thought like you in this regard. But Genesis is not a collection of poetry. We see from reading the entire book that it is historical narrative. There are examples of poetry, but it is when people speak. Psalms, on the other hand, can clearly be seen as a collection of poetry.

Ah, but today much of the law is in fact irrelevant because of the New Testament.
Sorry to correct you on this issue, but Jesus said "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will never pass away." [Matthew 24:35][Mark 13:31][Luke 21:33]
Constantly Jesus says that He did not come to abolish the law. The law is there to convict us, and Jesus in fact intensified the law (murder to hatred, adultery to lust, etc.) He affirmed the law. There are 3 ways to look at Mosaic law, all coming out to a similar conclusion:
1. Follow none except which the NT confirms
2. Follow all except which the NT releases
3. Only follow Jesus' rules, which He said was a summary of the law anyway.

For example, the golden rule was nothing new in the OT, it is found quite easily in Leviticus 19:18 and it is easy to see an end of the sacrificial system in the OT as well, God constantly says it's a heart-issue "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."[Psalm 51:16-17]

"And I personally would be worried if our morality simply depended on accepting certain events as historical. No, I think we should be moral out of compassion for our fellow human beings."
Amen brother! The objective of this post was not to condemn Ken Miller. I cannot determine his salvation. But what I can say is that the bible loses authority for those who deny the historical account. If I can't believe the historicity of Genesis, why should I believe the historicity of the God-man who affirms it? Creation is a secondary doctrine, but those who truly love His word do tend towards young earth 6 day creationism. R.C. Sproul, I heard, has recently changed from old to young.

"...even if the genes for growing an arm are present in your genome..."
But will the girl born with two faces have children with two faces ["Baby girl in India born with two faces"]? Will the defect be duplicated? The biggest question is, if she dies as a result, what could possibly tell the genome that this is a not-cool mutation?

The biggest and best question I have, which is more directed at atheists, is: "What came first: Information or the ability to represent it?" Information is something that cannot have evolved. An interesting book, which probably says it better than me is: In the beginning there was information, by Werner Gitt. I like page 159.

And finally:
"If I were born in South Africa in the 6th century AD, and had told a few lies or looked at a woman in lust, would eternity in Hell await me?"
There is a reality that needs to be considered: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23]. We have all broken His commandments, by the very fact you are human I can righteously call you a sinner. That means our imaginary friend in Africa is ok, since he doesn't exist. Let God deal with the imaginary people. Now the fact of the matter is, without God, we are in the same boat as someone who has never had a bible. Even with the bible, people will forgo salvation (Matthew 7:21). So what I can say is that it must be God who saves! As in the Psalmic verse I quoted, we must humble ourselves before God. It is when we subject ourselves and humble ourselves that we can, in faith, say that He has saved us. If someone has no bible, they can come to this conclusion, and God has promised that He will answer! But the big question (I am full of these today) is: "What are you going to do?"

I feel obliged to tell you that comparing ourselves to other men is condemned by Christ. We compare ourselves against His holy and perfect standard. That will lead us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, who was the fulfillment of that perfect standard. This needs to be done every day and with every situation.

God bless and keep well!

NP said...

I agree with you that interpretation is the factor here, but it isn't just interpretation of the bible, I would argue that the interpretation of the evidence found in the world is also a factor. I'm not unwilling to look into the world and it's amazing constructs, but I use the bible as the guide to those things. When I see something that indicates an old earth, I review my assumptions because of what God said.

What is important to recognize is that there are key differences in the way in which physical evidence can be interpreted and how one interprets a religious text. That means that empirical evidence about the natural world should be interpreted and tested according to prior observations. Therefore, a car crash for instance would have to be studied based on Newton's laws of physics, unless and until there is sufficient evidence to indicate that these laws of motion can be superseded by a better theory to explain kinetics on a macroscopic level. One could interpret a car accident as having been caused by ghosts, but the best interpretation is probably one that is based on calculating the velocity of the car and its angular momentum based on accepted laws.

The problem with applying a similar approach to scripture is that God has not explicitly given any rules by which scripture should be interpreted. In other words, any assumptions that you use for a textual analysis of scripture cannot be corroborated in the way that Newton's laws can be tested by studying the motion of a pendulum or a ball rolling down a slope.

Given these conditions, it is unreasonable to then interpret physical evidence based on what is ultimately a highly variable interpretation of scripture. The scientific method is both universal - in that a Muslim, a Christian, and an atheist can all arrive at the same scientific conclusion by following it - and pragmatic in that it has been shown to work time and time again. I think creationists need to ask themselves why they abandon it when it comes to aspects of science that are not compatible with their interpretation of scripture.

- The issue of death before sin - death is the evidence that God has cursed us all in father Adam. To think that it was an empty or pre-existing threat is accusing God of lying.


I know of many Christians who find this bit of scripture perfectly compatible with an acceptance of modern science. If one understands it to be allegorical, then God is not a liar.

- The issue of a man and woman - in order for macro-evolution to work - the male and female would have to have been produced at just the right time together. Beyond that, God said He made the woman from the man's flesh, to think that they developed distinctively is once again making the lying God accusation.


Again, God would only appear deceitful if one clings to a literal interpretation of the verse rather than an allegorical one. Assuming the bible is true, some of the deeper truths of Genesis would still remain whether one takes it literally or as an allegory.

If Adam and Eve are (intended) mythological figures, what is the transitional form from a myth to a real person?

You tell me - isn't Jesus also supposed to be the son of God? ;) (just teasing)

On a serious note, I don't see why this should be an especially problematic issue. If Adam and Eve are allegorical figures, then any reference to descent would be allegorical in nature. This is not to say there is no truth to the statement, but that there is a different level of truth here.

We see from reading the entire book that it is historical narrative. There are examples of poetry, but it is when people speak. Psalms, on the other hand, can clearly be seen as a collection of poetry.


Perhaps it is not apt to call Genesis poetry, but I still maintain that it is poetic. I certainly wouldn't call it entirely historical, though.


Vis-a-vis the issue about the Mosaic Law, I'm still unclear about this. I've heard the verses you cite before, but I still find it difficult to reconcile them with my observations of Christians today. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm unaware the specific scripture where Jesus does away with the dietary laws in Leviticus.

But what I can say is that the bible loses authority for those who deny the historical account. If I can't believe the historicity of Genesis, why should I believe the historicity of the God-man who affirms it?

I have heard this line of reasoning (or rationalization, if you will) before, but I think the problem here is assuming that certain parts of the Bible are meant to be historical when they probably aren't. And it's also a slippery slope argument, even if one leaves the issue of inerrancy aside.

But will the girl born with two faces have children with two faces ["Baby girl in India born with two faces"]? Will the defect be duplicated? The biggest question is, if she dies as a result, what could possibly tell the genome that this is a not-cool mutation?


If she passes away as a result - and based on previous cases of diprosopus it is likely to be during infancy - the defect is unlikely to get passed on. In other words, there is nothing telling the genome that this is either a cool or not-cool mutation. The beneficial or detrimental nature of a mutation is decided upon by environmental and other factors. So a detrimental mutation as in this case would not spread in the gene pool - this is based on natural selection, which also explains why sickle cell trait is more prominent in malaria prone regions of the world.

The biggest and best question I have, which is more directed at atheists, is: "What came first: Information or the ability to represent it?" Information is something that cannot have evolved.

It really depends on what you mean by information.

Let God deal with the imaginary people.

But these are not imaginary people; there are millions of real people who have existed in the past and who haven't had access to the gospel. My issue here is with any religion that claims a fair God and yet stipulates that faith in Him is necessary for salvation. I'm sure you have also heard about the uncontacted tribes in the forests of Brazil - they are not imaginary just because they are out of sight. Nor are the children who grow up in Islamic countries.

Quintin said...

"The scientific method is both universal - in that a Muslim, a Christian, and an atheist can all arrive at the same scientific conclusion by following it"

I fully agree, and there is the rub - we cannot affirm God materialistically. Science is now probing into that area with so called 'origin-science.' Faith has always been the biggest part of it.

"I know of many Christians who find this bit of scripture perfectly compatible with an acceptance of modern science."

So do I. That doesn't make them right. If God has a problem with my interpretation, He's going to have to change it. I would rather call every man a liar, and let God be true (Romans 3:4).

I would suggest you read this [letter]. Manuel and I have common experience here.

"You tell me - isn't Jesus also supposed to be the son of God?"
I thought I'd just pick up on this - Jesus is the physical son of God. He was born of a virgin.

I have a question now - possibly for your christian friends: What is the significance in going into such detail (in Genesis)? The problems that flow are: (a) why us the word days? (b) why give a specific order? (c) what is the allegorical significance of the rib? (d) why make death the punishment? why not just the curse on the earth? I'm really asking here.

"'m unaware the specific scripture where Jesus does away with the dietary laws in Leviticus"
[Acts 10:9-16]. The passage even has a Christophany in it (verse 30).

"It really depends on what you mean by information."
It really depends on what you mean by evolution.

"My issue here is with any religion that claims a fair God and yet stipulates that faith in Him is necessary for salvation."
I'm sorry for being unclear. I was not being facetious. The reality is that everyone is a sinner. We all have fallen short of His glory. Our faith cannot save us. NOTHING we do can save us. It takes a fair judge to pass the correct judgment. If we have offended a holy infinite God, He is being fair in sending us to hell.

God's graciousness towards us is Him giving salvation (Eph 2:8). Now God can give it to whoever He wants. It does not make Him any less loving (since all men do not die immediately upon their sinning) or any less fair. Faith is a gift that is given to those who he saves. Even repentance is a gift ([Acts 11] and [Timothy]), which is necessary to salvation.

God has promised to save from every nation and every tribe. Now I say this to you in all honesty. I held a bible 30cm from my face and was just as helpless as those unreached people. God Himself had to actively change my heart. The bible is the guide, but it is Christ who saves, and Christ alone.

NP said...

I fully agree, and there is the rub - we cannot affirm God materialistically. Science is now probing into that area with so called 'origin-science.' Faith has always been the biggest part of it.


I also agree that God is beyond the scope of science. But why do you assume that the study of origins is de facto a supernatural process? Furthermore, evolution itself does not deal with first causes - it's a purely natural process, as far as we can say for certain.

If God has a problem with my interpretation, He's going to have to change it. I would rather call every man a liar, and let God be true (Romans 3:4).


And how exactly is God going to change it?

have a question now - possibly for your christian friends: What is the significance in going into such detail (in Genesis)? The problems that flow are: (a) why us the word days? (b) why give a specific order?


I know you disagree with how some people interpret the word yom, but if the passage is meant to be allegorical, the literal word does not matter.

Let me ask you this: what is the significance of God creating different things on different days? He could've done it all in an instant. Does it have significance, or is it just the way it is?


(c) what is the allegorical significance of the rib?


You tell me what the significance of it is. God didn't have to create Eve from Adam's rib.
Does this significance change once the passage is taken allegorically, or does it make more sense?


(d) why make death the punishment? why not just the curse on the earth? I'm really asking here.


I don't know...but again, you tell me.

[Acts 10:9-16]. The passage even has a Christophany in it (verse 30).

Thanks, I didn't know of this passage. But what about the other laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy? E.g. stoning disobedient children, not wearing mixed cloth, etc?

It really depends on what you mean by evolution.

Evolution, simply put, is the process by which heritable changes spread though a population over time.

Quintin said...

"why do you assume that the study of origins is de facto a supernatural process?"
Because Genesis 1 says so. Further than that, the conditions under which all that exists was created are unique conditions that have not been observed or repeated.

"And how exactly is God going to change it?"
The bible. I would challenge you to read the testimonies at old earth sites:
[answers in creation]
[God and science]
You see, these men were very badly (and in an un-Christian-like manner) treated by creationists. Creationists treated the issue of six day creation like it meant the difference between heaven and hell, which it does not. However, that does not make their old earth interpretation right. You see these men were doomed to interpret the bible via circumstance before they ever changed to old-earth. If you read those testimonies (I have not read them all) you will see the lack of one phrase: "I was searching the scriptures and realized that, by taking scripture as a whole, that man evolved from beasts."

"He could've done it all in an instant."
Amen. That was the mistake they were making in Martin Luther's day (saying He did it in an instant). Six days was used to give us the pattern on our work week. God was instituting how man ought to work.

"Does this significance change once the passage is taken allegorically, or does it make more sense? "
Yes it does. It means nothing if taken allegorically. To be honest I see no meaning in it at all. God is saying that man should not look down on woman - she is of exactly the same flesh and blood (and bone) of man. (Just so you know: I'm not feminist - I think that men and women have different functions.) A macro-evolutionary creation model means that someone is less than the other: in terms of gender, race, etc.

"why not just the curse on the earth?"
Death had to be the punishment for disobedience. You see, Christ died. He never should have since He never sinned. That is what makes Christ the only possible atonement for sin. If Christ came to a world that knew death before disobedience, Christ should have died anyway. That makes His death for the payment of sin trivial. But Christ paid it, and rose from the dead, putting away the curse of death for those who believe. Therefore we look forward to resurrection through Him.

"But what about the other laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy?"
Oh I see what you mean. The punishment for sins committed was executable during those days because God allowed them to. That is why they could 'kill' without breaking the sixth commandment. However Jesus came with forgiveness from God, which should force us to consider the manner in which we treat others. If God can forgive me, He can forgive others too. In addition the execution of that judgment was done under authority, the kind of authority that governments provide today. I would, for example, consider supporting the death penalty for first degree murder (a lot of Christians have made up their minds, but I would prefer to think about it). So stoning is out: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." (John 8:7)

I'll get to the cloth now, but just to tell you: God still takes disobedient children very seriously:
"They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

People who are disobedient to parents are associated with some wicked vile sins. God does not change His moral standards.

Secondly the cloth: Christians are told that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is what comes out of his heart - paraphrase of [Matthew 15:17-18]
So here we have a principle for all that kind of stuff. It does not matter to God what is on the outside (clothes, food etc.) but rather the condition of your heart. Of course we can still obey that stuff if we want, but even then an orthodox Christian cannot hold it over others.

"Evolution, simply put, is the process by which heritable changes spread though a population over time."
I agree with that - that does happen. I just do not see those changes bringing about changes into different kinds. The girl with two faces is human, any children she has will be human.

What I mean by information is the data that is represented by organic compounds such as the genome. But realize this line of questioning is fruitless, given your answer to the meaning of evolution.

NP said...

Well, if you're going to say that the bible is going to change your interpretation of the bible, then you're just back to square one. If you have an incorrect interpretation of scripture, you are probably not going to be corrected by it. So how could God change your interpretation if it is incorrect, and how would you know that's what He wants?


If God was decreeing how many days man must work before resting, he could have done so through allegory. He wouldn't have had to create everything in six literal 24-hour days Himself.

A macro-evolutionary creation model means that someone is less than the other: in terms of gender, race, etc.

I assume you mean theistic evolution when you say "a macro-evolutionary creation model", and I disagree that it means anybody is "less" than another. Evolution itself makes no pronouncement of values, i.e. a woman is not "less" than a man. Science itself is merely descriptive, not prescriptive. I would presume that theistic evolutionists will consider the Bible to be prescriptive, and therefore the significance of Genesis 2 would not be lost on them.

In fact, it's absurd to think it must literally be true in order to have meaning. Even assuming the literal account is true, it would only be fair to say that Adam and Eve are of the same flesh. But subsequent human couples are not literally of the same flesh, but rather spiritually/allegorically/whatever.

I agree with that - that does happen. I just do not see those changes bringing about changes into different kinds. The girl with two faces is human, any children she has will be human.


I don't think anybody is denying that the girl is human.

Speciation is generally a slow process that plays out over several generations. It's very rare to get speciation in just a few generations (although such cases are common amongst plants through hybridization). A child with a debilitating mutation is not a different species.


What I mean by information is the data that is represented by organic compounds such as the genome. But realize this line of questioning is fruitless, given your answer to the meaning of evolution.


Well, the data encoded by DNA is known to increase. We have ample evidence of gene duplications, for instance, and subsequent divergence.

Quintin said...

I understand that you see my interpretation of scripture as unnecessarily recursive, but if God gave one word then that has to dictate.

You see, this is an area known as 'hermeneutics.' It's the art and science of interpretation, specifically of a biblical text. I start by trusting in my own understanding, then I read proverbs and I realize that I must ask God for understanding. So my interpretation changes. But I always go back to the same book.

"He wouldn't have had to create everything in six literal 24-hour days Himself."
I understand what you are saying and I agree. But here is the problem: that word (in similar contexts) always is used to mean a 24 hour period.

The interpretation is known as the historical grammatical method (that I use, and most people who care enough). It says you can't interpret the bible in any other way other than those to whom it was written. Now, since Creation until 1 B.D. (Before Darwin), the Greeks, the Hebrews and the contemporary Christians interpreted it as 6 literal days. The suggestion of taking Genesis 1 and 2 figuratively is 5000 years after the fact. Granted, it wasn't evolutionists, it was catholics. They said God did it in an instant.

"Evolution itself makes no pronouncement of values"

Ok, which race is more evolved than the other? You may wish to not answer this question... remember I come from post-apartheid South Africa. And surely, in the name of human progress, we should only allow the more evolved of the species to bear children? Would that not be logical?

"..it's absurd to think it must literally be true in order to have meaning.."
Agreed. I apologize for my poor word choice. I just don't see the meaning. Surely Moses, if not inspired, would have caught on that light needs a source etc, and not written it like that? I mean, people may have been unevolved back then, but they weren't complete idiots (perhaps some bits were missing?)

"Speciation is generally a slow process that plays out over several generations."
Agreed. It's not macro-evolution. [species vs. kind]. But I apologize, I had forgotten about speciation. The girl was a silly example.

I think that Isaac Newton said it the best, and it sums up my problem with 'evolution':
"Did blind chance know that there was light and what was its refraction, and fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These and other suchlike considerations, always have, and always will prevail with mankind, to believe that there is a Being who made all things, who has all things in his power, and who is therefore to be feared." [Isaac Newton]

NP said...

You see, this is an area known as 'hermeneutics.' It's the art and science of interpretation, specifically of a biblical text. I start by trusting in my own understanding, then I read proverbs and I realize that I must ask God for understanding. So my interpretation changes. But I always go back to the same book.


Well, let's take Matthew 13:32. It may seem a trivial point, but somebody reading this passage in its simplest sense would surmise that the mustard seed is the smallest seed. But we know that it isn't - thus some rationalizations have been offered by biblical scholars. For example, Jesus may have simply meant that it was the smallest of all seeds known to farmers of the region (your "historical grammatical method"), but if you weren't aware that there are seeds smaller than the mustard seed, you might not seek alternative interpretations in the first place.

But here is the problem: that word (in similar contexts) always is used to mean a 24 hour period.


And the word for "samaritan" in the parable of the Good Samaritan is most likely used in a literal sense as well. But that does not mean that the Samaritan in the story was real.


The interpretation is known as the historical grammatical method


I'm just curious, but what is the scriptural basis for this method?

Now, since Creation until 1 B.D. (Before Darwin), the Greeks, the Hebrews and the contemporary Christians interpreted it as 6 literal days. The suggestion of taking Genesis 1 and 2 figuratively is 5000 years after the fact. Granted, it wasn't evolutionists, it was catholics. They said God did it in an instant.


Because there was no need for it to be interpreted any differently - the scientific evidence from geology (not evolution, mind you) which dictated that the earth was longer than 6000 years old simply was not known. Take geocentrism, for example. Many people believed that it was the case, and interpreted certain biblical passages as being support of that. But when sufficient evidence arose to show that the geocentric model is false, those interpretations would have had to be abandoned. I also think your history is a bit wrong - it didn't take 5000 years for people to take Genesis figuratively. St. Augustine warned against a literal interpretation of Genesis as early as the 4th century BC. The old testament is not even 5000 years old right now.

Ok, which race is more evolved than the other? You may wish to not answer this question... remember I come from post-apartheid South Africa. And surely, in the name of human progress, we should only allow the more evolved of the species to bear children? Would that not be logical?


The problem here is that you are using the word "evolved" in a colloquial sense, not a scientific one. Remember, the definition of evolution has nothing to do with "progress" or any value. Evolution is simply the process by which heritable changes spread though the gene pool. So in a scientific sense, one population is only "more evolved" than another if it has undergone more genetic changes since their last common ancestor. This is not to say that it is better or worse, because evolutionary theory makes no such pronouncement. I think for the human races, the Native American lineages have undergone the most divergence, but I could be wrong about this. In any case, whatever the answer is, it should not imply that one race is "better" than another. Evolution is not a directed process with a superhuman race at its pinnacle, so the question is essentially meaningless. Scientifically speaking, it may even be incorrect to say that humans are more evolved than mice.

I mean, people may have been unevolved back then, but they weren't complete idiots (perhaps some bits were missing?)


I doubt people 3500 years ago were significantly different from us in terms of genetics. And again, the term "unevolved" wrongly assumes that evolution is is about progress.

What separates us from our ancestors ~3500 years ago is that we have accumulated more knowledge about the natural world and more technologically advanced. It has nothing to do with biological evolution.

As fpr Moses knowing that light needed a source, he might have and he might have also understood that the perplexing verses in Genesis 1 make sense despite of this because they are not literal accounts of the history of the universe. Or he really might not have known - people might have believed that light could exist independently of an emitting source as well.

Agreed. It's not macro-evolution. [species vs. kind].

Technically, macroevolution involves any change above the species level, so speciation would be macro-evolution. The distinction between species and kind is meaningless. It is a post hoc rationalization created by some creationists who recognized the problem that the the huge number of species alive today pose for the story of Noah's Ark, as well as the fact that certain evolutionary changes are observable in the same of a human lifetime or human history. But there's nothing that prevents these same processes that operate over shorter timespans from resulting in changes over longer timespans - and indeed, evidence from the fossil record and from genetics suggests that such changes have indeed occured.


Newton is arguing that the laws observed in nature could not exist without a lawmaker. Some theistic evolutionists would agree, and there would be no real disagreement with Newton. After all, evolution is not a force of its own - it relies ultimately on physics and chemistry, as does all biology.

Furthermore, it appears that you are equating evolution with "blind chance". That is incorrect - evolution by natural selection is anything but "blind chance".

Quintin said...

"...somebody reading this passage in its simplest sense..."

Of course. That's why we need hermenutics. Firstly, Matthew 13:31 clearly indicates it's a parable. Secondly, Jesus, when speaking to farmers, is allowed to use hyperbole. Thirdly, the audience (farmers) would not sow a smaller seed in that region. [Link]

Have I ever said it was wrong to seek alternative interpretations? Read [this] and [this]. Please remember Matthew is a Narrative Gospel, not Historical Narrative. The literary constructs are different because of the nature of the text. That means Jesus may use such literary devices such as hyperbole, but there is not place for these in Genesis 1. Psalms also uses the literary devices, as does Job. They fit there.

"...what is the scriptural basis for this method?"
Bold and direct. Well, after studying all the current methods of interpretation, I had to pick one. God left it up to us to interpret His word, but there has to be right way and a wrong way. No two different ways cannot be right.
[Wiki: H/G Method] In the proof-text method, we could get your allegorical genesis to work, but the problem is that other texts may be taken allegorically. I could argue that Jesus didn't physically die on the cross. Do you think that would annoy an old earth Christian?

Second is the reader response method, which is too man-centered. With these different styles of interpretation, I must apply the very rules that the bible dictates I use: to not lean to my own understanding, to understand that only God was there at creation, therefore He dictates, to rightly divide the word of truth, meaning that I must be careful with it. When God tells me to test all things and hold fast to what is good, He is saying that everything must be tested against scripture, not that scripture (or it's correct interpretation) may be questioned on questionable evidence.

"Take geocentrism, for example"
Firstly, you are correct - that 5000 years statement of mine was wrong. It was more like 4000 years, but what is 1000 years between friends? Yes, Augustine started a figurative interpretation of Genesis, and it polluted the water. Please note I am not a Catholic. Augustine was wrong. (I'll make a comment on this later.) What is amazing is when people actually started reading the bible during [the reformation], creationism was re-born [Classical Rabbinical Teachings].

Just on geocentrism: The Catholics hold to a lot of things that have no scriptural basis. Infant baptism, purgatory, Mary as an eternal virgin, Mary's ascension and the Co-redemptrix theology are all examples of this. I'm a protestant because I protest!

You see, my problem with this whole issue is it creates "what-if's" that are umbilical. If I ended up agreeing with you on old-earth or evolution, I would have to evaluate the manner in which I interpret. I can no longer take a text as written. It removes from faith because I would then need evidence for everything. It puts something over the word of God. That means I need evidence for the ascension, the cross, even for divine inspiration. While evidences could be found, God might not be willing to show them to me. He would be right not to, since the righteous live by faith.

"The distinction between species and kind is meaningless."
It seems we are reaching the end of this debate. The above statement is wrong. Is it wrong for scientists (incl. Christian ones) to have theories and change them? But observable science has not shown bacteria forming a something other than bacteria. Check out [Wikipedia]: they still use the peppered moth: moths make moths. If the children are unable to mate with siblings, that's speciation, and develops out of a loss of information.

"laws observed in nature could not exist without a lawmaker"
True, but Newton was also having a go at theistic evolutionists, who are still relying on materialistic / naturalistic methods, denying the very power of Christ.

"evolution by natural selection is anything but 'blind chance'"
I never said natural selection was blind chance. If something is ill-equipped, it gets killed. Sounds logical to me. Adding complexity is what I have a problem with. And that is what 'macro'-evolution would have to do - randomly add information so that it can 'test' if the thing will survive.

Quintin said...

Sorry I forgot to comment about Augustine.

How can I say I am right? Because I echo scripture, I don't tell it what to say. I am not proud in my own standing, I have the word of God to back me up. That is why Augustine was wrong.

NP said...

Quintin, Genesis is certainly NOT a historical narrative. If you can't spot the hyperbole and metaphor, then I have to wonder how you can so easily spot these in other writings. Where did you get the idea that it was a historical narrative? From reading the Bible, or is this something you were taught in Sunday school or church? It's an honest question, because when I read it there's nothing about it that suggests it is historical, especially the first two chapters.

I appreciate your responses about the methods of interpretation, and I realize that you have made the choice to pick one. But I was perhaps a little unclear: so far, you have picked one based on a few verses here and there, yet there is nothing explicit or concrete about the way one should read the Bible. So in effect, how do you know for certain that your interpretations are the correct ones? You don't - but then I see you arguing that you have the word of God on your side. This is a paradox that needs to be reckoned with.


I also hope you don't think that it was only the Catholic church that was opposed to heliocentrism. The Lutherans were opposed to it as well.


FYI, the peppered moth is not used as an example of speciation. It is an example of natural selection, something that operates on populations within a species as well.

Nobody expects a process that evidently took several eons to replicate itself in a laboratory within a human lifetime, so careful with those strawmen. This is not to say that "observable science" does not have evidence of prokaryotic organisms giving rise to more complex ones. For example, observations have shown that eukaryotes evolved after a symbiotic event with cyanobacteria.


Adding complexity is nothing unfeasible. We have observed this in a very controlled laboratory setting whereby bacteria have evolved the ability to absorb citrate - something most probably generated from a random event, yet one which is strongly selected for in a certain environment. We have very good evidence of the evolution of antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish. We recently sequenced the genome of a primitive eukaryote, and using phylogenetic analyses (i.e, comparing several sequences taken from several different vertebrates) we were able to infer that the vertebrate lineage has undergone two genome-wide duplications that can undoubtedly produce raw material for evolutionary change.


Lastly, I'd just like to ask you why it's perfectly acceptable NOT to expect evidence for the ascension, the cross, or divine inspiration. With regards to having your faith eroded if you came to accept modern science, I think you've unwittingly created a bit of a quagmire for yourself. Is faith your goal, or is truth? Are you going to be in denial about something simply because you are scared it will affect your faith?

Quintin said...

I am going to start off with some quotes:

"People say, 'Well, the book of Genesis is myth and legend and fantasy and allegory and tradition, doesn't really speak about real facts to the real world.' Yes it does. The Word of God is to be taken seriously when it speaks to the real world on any and every subject. If we avoid dealing with what the Bible says about the creation of the material universe, then there is a tendency for our religion to be disconnected from the real world. There's a tendency to put Scripture in to some mystical category, to put Christianity in to some stained-glass closet, as Douglas Kelley puts it, that doesn't impact the space/time world.

You start out with the book of Genesis, tampering with the literal nature of that text and you have created a mystical approach to Scripture at the very launch point. The Scottish theologian James Denney(?) made this point in the late 1890's, I quote, "The separation of the religious and the scientific means in the end, the separation of the religious and the true, and this means religion dies among true men." You can't pick up the book of Genesis, take chapter 1 and say this is a fairy story, this is
not real history, this is not reality, this does not reflect a real understanding of the real world in real space and real time without severe implications to the rest of the message of Scripture. The doctrine of creation as identified in the book of Genesis is foundational, it is where God starts His story. And you can't change the beginning without impacting the rest of the story and the ending. In the Bible God speaks and He speaks in Genesis 1:1 and says He created the heavens and the earth. He is the one who spoke in Genesis 1:1 and who speaks right through Scripture till its very end.

When you tamper with Genesis 1 you are tampering with the Word of the living God and you are taking the divine account of real creation in real space and real time and you're saying...It is not accurate, it is not legitimate, it is not the truth. That is a serious assault and it loosens up the Scripture from reality and divorces religion, the true religion, from reality. That is severe."
[John MacArthur], emphasis mine.
"The [Genesis] account of the creation, its commencement, progress, and completion, bears the marks, both in form and substance, of a historical document in which it is intended that we should accept as actual truth, not only the assertion that God created the heavens, and the earth, and all that lives and moves in the world, but also the description of the creation itself in all its several stages." [Keil and Delitzsch]

"Genesis is certainly NOT a historical narrative."
Why would I trust an agnostic's interpretation of God's holy word? To be honest and frank sir, you have no authority in this area. Neither do you have the authority to point me in any direction. We can argue all we like, but when it comes to scripture, you "don't know," that's what makes you agnostic.

"Where did you get the idea that it was a historical narrative? From reading the Bible, or is this something you were taught in Sunday school or church?"
Believe it or not, I rejected it when I was taught it in Sunday school (Not outrightly, I took it as allegory). It was taught like a fairy tale so I believed it was a fairy tale. Even in high school I debated pro-creationists and found them to be unable to answer my questions. It was only around 2 years ago (a few months before I came across reformed theology) that I started coming around to creation. Kent Hovind, to spite his many flaws, managed to inspire me to at least search through the scriptures myself. Since then I have learned a lot more than creationism, from stronger teachers, and it remains a passion.

So where does the allegory end? Original sin? If it is allegory, there is no distinction in Genesis between the real and the metaphor. Could we therefore take all Genesis figuratively?

Would you say it is fair that no matter what the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, that Genesis 3 must be interpreted in the same manner? Meaning that if Genesis 1 and 2 are figurative, that so is Genesis 3? I would deem that appropriate and necessary. That said, if we take Genesis 3 allegorically, the original sin is simply saying that all man has 'taken the fruit of his desires' and therefore sinned against God? Please note that is entirely wrong in accordance with the rest of scripture. While it is true that all have sinned, God says that "by one man sin entered into the world". It does not say "by man sin entered..."

"...Five verses [here] in a row all state in different ways that Adam's sin corrupted the entire race. Adam, as the representative head of the human race, plunged us all into sin. Yet we cannot stand aside and point the finger of blame at him in an attempt to excuse ourselves. We inherit his guilt as well as his sinfulness. We are as blameworthy as Adam. The question of how his guilt was passed on to us is not as important as the reality that it happened. No fact in all of philosophy or religion is attested to with so much empirical evidence. All Adam's offspring—with one significant, divine Exception—all Adam's offspring have been sinners. We are born morally corrupt.

I do want to call your attention to a couple of corollaries to this doctrine. First, it suggests Adam was a historical person. Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin. If Adam was not a historical individual, none of this makes sense. There's no reasonable explanation for how our race became sinful, unless the account of the fall in Genesis 3 is literally true. So the sinfulness of all humanity bears witness to the truth of Scripture's account of the fall."
[Phil Johnson]

"how do you know for certain that your interpretations are the correct ones?"
Firstly, I only have one set of rules for interpreting scripture. Secondly, I take the plainest reading of the bible, only taking figures of speech where speech are given and allegory where identified. That is how I know I am right - I don't stand over the text as a critic, rather, I echo the text.

"It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed" [Exodus 31:17]
This very literal passage is saying that the 6 day creation is a sign (an indicator) of His eternal covenant with Israel. It had to be literal, otherwise the covanent is meaningless.

I wasn't using the peppered moth to prove speciation, I was using it to show that moths produce moths. I then moved into speciation, which can be seen more clearly in larger animal families, like cats.

[About citrates] And just by the way, since the citrate 'evolution' is so far unrepeatable, it falls into the region of speculation, not science. In your own words: "It is both an untestable and unfalsifiable theory, which means it is not scientific." So this is a bad example, at least, for now. Still, E. Coli produced E. Coli, which, again, is all I say.

"Is faith your goal, or is truth?"
An excellent question. My answer is both. I certainly will not deny the necessity for truth in faith, but man's ideas are certainly no measure for truth, nor is truth limited to one person's perceptions. Trusting only in what one sees is fine as long as he sees the whole story, which is rarely the case. I trust God and His word.


"I think you've unwittingly created a bit of a quagmire for yourself."
It actually takes me a long time to get this point through to some of my strongest Christian friends. We are told not to trust what we see, because we may not have the whole story, that is why bible study is so important. But while historical 'evidences' are nice to have, they do not replace or negate the need for scripture. That is the final authority. And where scripture contradicts what I see, I would rather call my eyes liars and trust in God. Evidence is not a requirement for faith in Christ: "Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." [John 20:29]

This argument is going around in the same circles now. If I bring it to a question of the authority of scripture, you question my interpretation, which I take as a replay of the serpent in Genesis 3 ("Did God really say that?"). If I bring it to a question of evidence, you give me examples, none of which actually answer the question (in my opinion). We are now caught in this deadlock dance where I won't budge and neither will you. If it is a win you are seeking, I consider you to be the victor, since I have failed to convince you, not of creation, but of your desperate need of a saviour. I have said it before, but creation is for Christians, I would NEVER expect you to accept a biblical model of creation without a love for Christ.