Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


A House of Sand and Fog

posted by kgiberson

Creation_Museum.png

Every Monday, “Science and the Sacred” features an essay from
one of The BioLogos Foundation’s co-presidents: Karl Giberson and
Darrel Falk. Today’s entry was written by Karl Giberson.

I recently finished a tour of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Kentucky’s Boone County, just a few minutes from the Cincinnati airport. I had a wonderful time. It was a glorious day and the grounds, with their many water features and delightful winding paths, were welcoming, on par with similar exhibits at Disney parks, minus the characters in entertaining costumes. Perhaps because the weather was so nice, attendance was down and I was able to wander free from jostling crowds or noisy teenagers. I also got to park close to the front entrance, where a friendly guard took my picture against the first of many dinosaurs that visitors encounter in the museum.

An inviting deck reaches out over a small pond at the edge of the museum and I wished that my family were there to enjoy lunch with me on the picnic tables. I probably would have ordered “Noah’s Chili Dog” or some such biblically inspired fare; my daughters and my wife would order salads. On an afternoon like this, I could relax in such a setting for hours.

Inside the museum everything was well-organized. Friendly personnel answered questions, sold me a pass and a book, and directed me where to go. The other visitors were mainly families comprised of well-behaved children and attentive parents.

The exhibits were appealing, some bordering on spectacular. Animatronic dinosaurs waggled their heads at me; well-lit dioramas and small theaters laid out the story; and a modest planetarium supplemented the program with astronomy and cosmology fare. I attended two shows in the planetarium.

The Creation Museum’s story unfolds in a natural order as you walk along a winding corridor. It is organized according to the “Seven C’s of History”: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. The story is remarkably coherent: God creates a world that is shortly corrupted by sin–visible in the “Cave of Sorrows”–which he finds intolerable and responds with the catastrophe of the Flood. After the flood, sinful humans arrogantly begin work on a tower to reach into the heavens, so they can be exalted like God. This building project–the infamous Tower of Babel–upsets God again so he confuses human language. A monolingual human race is now partitioned into languages and cultures and spreads around the globe, in a diaspora some four thousand years ago. Christ then appears, dying on the cross to save the sinful human race, and departs with a promise to return at the end of time to consummate human history by rescuing the faithful and taking them to heaven.

This is the full story of the Creation Museum, where displays of dinosaurs and paleontologists are followed by ones with Moses and Paul, the two formative intellects of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Martin Luther also has space in this museum, calling Christians back to the Bible after they ran off course during the medieval era because, I guess, they were Catholics.

The message of the creation museum is clear–too clear in fact. None of the ambiguities that make science, biblical studies, history or theology so interesting are present. There simply aren’t any real questions in this slick packaging of all-that-matters. The earth is a few thousand years old, the flood of Noah was worldwide, Jesus’ mission was simple, and fundamentalist Protestantism is the way to heaven. The English text of the Bible, read in the most natural way, is the ultimate guide to truth, with secular science and history simply filling in a few gaps around the edges. I didn’t encounter a single display with any ambiguity or even nuance. Even the astronomy shows were clear-cut. Mainstream scientific ideas that didn’t contradict the Bible–like the distances to the planets, or the brightness of the stars–were presented as simple facts. Ideas that challenged the young earth picture, like the formation of stars over billions of years, were presented as shaky ideas championed by “secular astronomers”, irresponsibly arguing for the reality of events they have never seen occur.

Almost every bit of the “science” in the creation museum is completely wrong, thoroughly refuted by mainstream science. Much of it was refuted by Christian naturalists two centuries ago. The Creation Museum is truly a house built on sand and filled with fog. But the happy families strolling through the “seven C’s” have no way to know this. They have no reason to doubt that this is real science. In fact, this is better than real science, since it interweaves so nicely with their religious beliefs. They will leave the Creation Museum energized in their faith that, in ways they probably won’t recall, their Christian worldview is intellectually robust, and aligned with our most advanced understanding of the natural world, the Bible, and history.

Some of those well-behaved young people so enchanted by the dinosaurs may retain their beliefs into adulthood, but many will not. The ideas on display in the Creation Museum are thoroughly at odds with contemporary understandings of both the Bible and science. These ideas will come crashing down around them if they get even a modest amount of education. I enrolled in an evangelical college as a young earth creationist, took a few courses in science, one in the Bible and one in philosophy and–crash!–my creationism came tumbling down around me. The structure on display in the Creation Museum is thin and brittle, carefully and precariously built on a foundation of sand. It can withstand little more than the most superficial challenge; a modest bit of education will demolish it.

Studies continue to reveal that many Christian young people lose their faith in college, even in Christian colleges. But when that faith is in ideas thoroughly refuted two centuries ago, it is no wonder. Evangelicals need to embrace contemporary science and see it as God’s wonderful unfolding of creativity. Only if we can learn to do that can our young people go off to college with a faith that won’t come crashing down as soon as they learn a bit of science and can see through the fog of young earth creationism. Our worldviews need to be built on the rock of a firm foundation, as Jesus advised, not on sand.

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Mere_Christian

posted October 12, 2009 at 9:26 am


Dear BioLogos guys,
Not heralding evolution is a “stumbling block” to evangelism? It is a wall blocking a decision for Christ? What Christ? What kind of “savior” are you preaching?
Not elevating evolution to Church doctrine? That is as close to an absurd a statement as has ever been made in this hypocritical world of liberal permissiveness. And that IS what you are declaring.
What next, discarding the silly antiquated goofiness of the resurrection? I mean come on man; science has shown us people dead for 36-straight hours cannot “scientifically” come back to life on their own power. OR any other way for that matter. Ask the liberals and secularists your cutting deals with. They do say though, that dogs can eat dead bodies of the executed shamed shallow buried. That IS a more” rational” a belief in a guy that is no longer around who was crucified by Romans. IF, he existed at all.
Evolution is nothing in the grand scheme of the grand scheme. No more than watching concrete being made miles away from the skyscraper it soon will be a part of should be taught as to why skyscrapers are.
You have elevated evolution to a doctrine of salvation.
The kind of people you desire to sell that kind of Christianity to, will want the Gospel itself to also fit into a worldview that is not just a bit liberal on the interpretation level but is in opposition to the Apostolic witness, is anti-Christ and is indeed satanic. It’s not just marriage, protecting the unborn and proper sexual behavior that must kow tow to liberalism, it is God Himself who must kneel at the alter of progressive-ism.
“But what about evolution?”
As you can see from the atheists, liberals and secularists chiming in on your blog here, they want Adam and Eve, Noah, and of course Abraham, Lot, all of those goofball Israelite prophets and that rude and genocidal desert deity Yahweh to be sifted through the filter of acceptable humanism and new thought. Jesus as a guru no more quaint than the Dali Lama and nothing more. And they mean nothing more.
Then and ONLY then will they become something resembling an Apostolic Christian?
Uhhh, no, they won’t. The disciple you’re inventing is more like a guest at a fraternity beer bash-fest that may be lucky enough to be offered a pledge to The House of Anything Goes if they never complain about the rash one gets from that milieu. (A vaccine can make it go away anyway.)
Do you see what you are peddling? You’ve learned nothing from hidden realities?
They will become something representing a dorm room party-goer, Someone that gets a degree from college no better a person coming out then they were a rowdy teenager desiring mommy to give them all they want (or they’ll pout and tantrum and call you names) going in.
BioLogos has yet to show that this group of thinkers can be considered a positive force for the apostolic witness. Jesus IS the God of the Israelites, God did “create” heaven and earth. Adam and Eve were the first God-breathed human beings. And salvation IS by no other but the real-life person of Christ Jesus.
And whether or not the Hebrew Bible makes a liberal-progressive (Universalist) uncomfortable or not, Christ and The Church do not need to become “the world” (humanism) to grow the numbers of believers in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is just the opposite “method” that brings the Gospel to the lost. Christian Intellectualism does not correspond to the Wiccan Rede. And without doubt, secularism, liberal and progressive “isms” do.
Oops, I’m sorry, is the phrase “the lost” inappropriate in today’s world?
Do you see what you are peddling?
The enemies of The Church certainly do. They couldn’t be more supportive of you “bring Christians around” to their way of living.
Obviously you didn’t learn anything about dangers unseen. There are absolutes. As even you teach.
Go back and “see” and “hear” what Jesus has to say about your apologia. Start with weeds hiding out among the good plants (illusion). Notice he taught that they would be recognized.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 12, 2009 at 11:37 am


Mere_Christian, what you say proves Karl’s point *exactly*.



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Sandee

posted October 12, 2009 at 11:54 am


This kind of reaction is what I feel to be so hurtful in many of the arguments coming from a more fundamentalist perspective of mainstream Christianity. Vitriolic attacks like these only exacerbate the divisions within the already wounded Body of Christ and drive us further and further apart. In the end, all these arguments won’t matter but the love of Christ will. Only when we learn to love one another as Jesus did will we begin to live into His kingdom. For His sake, let us love one another even in our differences.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 12, 2009 at 11:58 am


Karl,
You wrote, “I didn’t encounter a single display with any ambiguity or even nuance. Even the astronomy shows were clear-cut.”
I don’t see how this is any different from evolutionists who dogmatically state that [macro]evolution is not a theory but a fact, especially in light of the fact that more than 700 scientists for risked their careers to sign a statement stating that there were serious problems with this theory that require further research.
In spite of this, you still are so certain of evolution that you are willing to allow its acid to corrode away at the Christian faith, as you have written in SAVING DARWIN:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (pgs. 9-10)



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Daniel Mann

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm


Sandee,
You wrote, “This kind of reaction is what I feel to be so hurtful in many of the arguments coming from a more fundamentalist perspective of mainstream Christianity. Vitriolic attacks like these only exacerbate the divisions within the already wounded Body of Christ and drive us further and further apart.”
I certainly can resonate with your concerns. I too am pained with what I see happen to the body of Christ, but please understand that the first blow came from the theistic evolutionists, who have denigrated the Word in order to make room for Darwin. Please see above my quote from Karl’s book.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm


Proves what point of Karl’s?
Am I disagreeing with his evolutionary proclamations? Why would I waste time doing that? Evolution is meaningless in the extreme when contemplating eternity. Where is the evangelism in the BioLogos voice?
Your knee-jerkness is misapplied.
What I do disagree with, is the worldliness that attaches itself to B-L’s voice so far. It looks more like Emergent Church repackaged universalism or Progressive politics than it does anything the Apostles brought us. Jesus never wrote one word of the Gospel. But of the words accredited to him, an anything goes universalism is no where preached by the Messiah.
The mission to destroy creationists that seems to drive BioLogos dot org, is a rather odd bent to people that claim to be Christians. Evolution IS creationism.
And where is this fluffy lovey dovey, every raod leads to heaven, Jesus that Sandee seems to rep? Jesus was quoted as saying many, many, many absolutist statements about salvation and eternal equity.
I’m not saying that evolution is an enemy to Christ, but atheists, secularists and progressives (Darwinists) do.
If there is a house of sand being built to house a new Jesus and his party like a rock star buddies, it is coming from people hell-bent to force The Church to become part of the progressive wing of Liberals in the Democrat party, or a new style Republican that is no different than the left-wing of the Democrat party.
Paul and Jude mention these people as wolves in sheep’s clothing: Teachers leading people astray.
If BioLogos guys are so concerned with “the lost,” they should put their efforts on “the lost,” and not good Christian families visiting the Creation Museum.
And why is it that good “Christian families” need to become like the new atheist/humanist/progressive version? The proponents of that belief system are more than demanding that family is refined away from the structure supported by Jesus (marriage as a man and woman) and family as a God respecting group of parents and their children living properly for the Lord, espoused by the disciples?
For all of the learning that BioLogos members proclaim they have, they seem to be quite ignorant of the wolves theyare feeding living among and outside of the Flock.
Sandee,
Where in the New Testament is the body of Christ portrayed as a big college club non-members and even anti-Christians should lead?
Please, some scripture?
The evidence should lead us to truth. Isn’t that what’s going on here?



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Mere_Christian

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm


Mr. Mann,
Here’s my point shown in actuality. And thank you:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (Saving Darwin pgs. 9-10)
If Giberson is infected with *Daniel* Dennett’s venom, then my intution has led me well in regard to what BioLogos actually “is.” I’m glad D’Souza is taking that dude (DD) to task.
The incessant preaching of darwinian evolution as Church doctrine at BioLogos dot org, gives me a feeling that must have been like that felt by shepards in Jesus’s day when a large shadowy doglike figure was circling the sheep’s pen late at night.
I’ll go buy this book of Giberson’s this week. BioLogos could be salt and light, or it could be more like ebony colored lung-choking chalk



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Hobbes

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:54 pm


Very good commentary, Karl. I submit that the attacks you are getting on this page come from otherwise well meaning folks who simply have little or no objective knowledge of evolutionary science.
More to the point, however, is that virtually every fundamentalist/evangelical I’ve debated not only has had no objective education in evolution, but believes contradictory facts about the Bible as well.
For example, many believe Yahweh to be an omniperfect god, e.g., god is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
One can, perhaps, argue for omnipotence, less so for omniscience, but cannot with rationality argue for omnibenevolence. In other words, it is inconsistent to believe John 3:16 and accept as fact the Book of Joshua. These propositions are contradictory, but I would bet the farm most fundi/evangelicals will never see it that way.
That is a major reason I moved away from belief once I had some objective science education. One must suspend informed reason to believe it.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm


Mr. Mann,
Here’s my point shown in actuality. And thank you:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (Saving Darwin pgs. 9-10)
If Giberson is infected with *Daniel* Dennett’s venom, then my intution has led me well in regard to what BioLogos actually “is.” I’m glad D’Souza is taking that dude (DD) to task.
The incessant preaching of darwinian evolution as Church doctrine at BioLogos dot org, gives me a feeling that must have been like that felt by shepards in Jesus’s day when a large shadowy doglike figure was circling the sheep’s pen late at night.
I’ll go buy this book of Giberson’s this week. BioLogos could be salt and light, or it could be more like ebony colored lung-choking chalk



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Mere_Christian

posted October 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Sorry for the double post.
Jesus is certainly is authoritative and ruling with power as He is pre-incarnation in the Tanakh.
Jesus is just Yahweh who saves.



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Mike Beidler

posted October 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm


more than 700 scientists for risked their careers to sign a statement stating that there were serious problems with this theory that require further research.
Daniel,
Is this the list to which you refer? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1Bo6GmPqM
If so, this list is quite deceptive, which is not atypical of the Discovery Institute’s modus operandi.



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beaglelady

posted October 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm


Mere_Christian,
Why fly into a violent rage, taking offense at things you only imagine, clubbing everyone over the head? I think if they posted a raspberry jam recipe here you would take offense at that also.



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Jeff S

posted October 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm


@Mere_Christian
Seriously, you are writing that much in a comments form for a blog post? Just a tip on blog etiquette, if you have so much to say about something, go ahead and start your own blog (they’re free) and link to your dissertations there. No sense cluttering up a nice simple comment thread :-)
I would respond to your comments, but they were so long I got pretty bored and stopped reading. I trust that since you are a Christian I will have your forgiveness for my pessimistic attitude. I have already asked the Lord to forgive me for it, won’t you? :-P



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Thom Hunter

posted October 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm


The Bible — especially the Old Testament — is filled with mysteries that we are not going to fully understand in this lifetime. Christians accept that and live on faith. Not everything in the Old Testament is perfectly clear. In the New Testament, Revelation is perhaps intentionally vague in a few spots. In this world, we have intelligent design, evolution and the Word of God expressed as creationism. Theories and faith. Since none can be proven, I, as a Christian, embrace faith because of the reality I experience of God’s presence in my life.
Thom
http://thom-signsofastruggle.blogspot.com/



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Dan

posted October 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm


Daniel Mann,
Why are you still quote-mining Dr. Giberson’s book, with his quote about acid? You are ignoring the whole point of his book, by trying to use an out of context quote to imply the opposite of his real beliefs.
You really need to research what quote-mining is and why it is academically dishonest. I believe that you really don’t understand what quote-mining is, based on your repeated justification of Lennox’s numerous dishonest quote-mines.
I can take Ken Ham’s books out of context and give you several quote-mines that would seem to indicate that he wasn’t really a young earth creationists. I can also give you several out of context quotes from CS Lewis that make it seem he was really agnostic. But that would be dishonest. A person who cares about the truth should be careful about trying to use a quote out of context that implies the exact opposite of what person really believes. Please think about it.



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Dan

posted October 12, 2009 at 6:35 pm


Mere_Christian,
You wrote, “You have elevated evolution to a doctrine of salvation.”
Please back up this statemnt. I certainly hope that you aren’t accusing someone of heresy just to try to win an arguement, without any justification. You probably just wildly misunderstood something that was written, or are ignoring the whole point of BioLogos and are making things up in an emotional state. I’m sure you are just mistaken, so please point out where anyone said that you have to believe in evolution to be saved, that way we can clear up your misunderstanding.
I can find nowhere that any theistic evolutionists has said that you have to be an evolutionists to be saved. I have met numerous Chistians that have told me that since I don’t believe in young earth creationism that I can’t really be saved. That is elevating creation to a doctrine of salvation. I am an orthodox, evangelical Christian who has been told I will go to hell solely because I believe God used evolution to create us. So in reality I think you will find that many more young earth creationists (not all, or even most, of course) think salvation is dependant on a certain scientific idea than any evolutionists does.
Again, Please justify your wild accusation that BioLogos has “elevated evolution to a doctrine of salvation.”
By the way D’Souza acceptes the evidence for common ancestry, in fact his scientific beliefs are much closer to BioLogos’ than to creationists.
I find it highly ironic that you use the name “Mere_Christian” which I assume is a reference to CS Lewis’ book (my favorite book). Did you know that CS Lewis was a theistic evolutionists? I am certain that if he was alive today he would be a guest writer on BioLogos’ blog! Have a good day.



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beaglelady

posted October 12, 2009 at 8:57 pm


Daniel Mann said,

“I don’t see how this is any different from evolutionists who dogmatically state that [macro]evolution is not a theory but a fact, especially in light of the fact that more than 700 scientists for risked their careers to sign a statement stating that there were serious problems with this theory that require further research.”

Of course you don’t see, because you don’t know what theory means in the scientific sense of the word. But since you mention “further research,” I’d like to ask you, as I have time and time again, exactly what research are ID theorists seeking funding for?



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Michael Thompson

posted October 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm


Interesting aticle, thanks!
Sadly, as long as there are theists, and antitheists too, that continue to teach that faith and science are not reconcilable, there will be “creation museums” and folk science will continue on…



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chaplain mike

posted October 12, 2009 at 9:34 pm


Mere Christian, I remember a guy named Galileo who had a hard time with folks like you.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 12, 2009 at 9:51 pm


Mere_Christian, the point you prove is the one about creationists making the faith so rigid and inflexible, that they’re practically begging for it to break. Many of us Christian evolutionists commenting on this blog count ourselves lucky that somehow the Spirit continued to work in us despite of the whole creationist theological card house crashing down around us. Some of us maintained the faith, while many, many of our friends didn’t. As Karl says, “It can withstand little more than the most superficial challenge; a modest bit of education will demolish it.” You, for some unfathomable reason, don’t seem to care at all. You’re more concerned with doctrinal hygiene than in people’s souls. Evolution is evil and godless and Christians who believe it are deluded, ignorant about the Gospel. This is exactly the narrow Christianity that Karl is criticising in the blog – and rightly so. Why creationists are willing to sacrifice their brothers and sisters like that is beyond me.



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Karl A

posted October 12, 2009 at 10:36 pm


Poignant and apropos comment, Arni. It gives me tears to see so many lose faith unnecessarily. As a missionary, I deal in contextualization – identifying what is at the core of the gospel and what is more on the level of an application of the gospel for a particular culture. When the gospel changes culture, the core stays the same but the application often must change – sometimes radically. Often this means giving up things that are dear to us – whether that be organs in church, church buildings, a particular Bible translation, but it should go much deeper, to the level of basic questions a particular culture is asking. Just because legal justification is important to Westerners, for example, doesn’t mean that is the itch that particularly needs scratching in a more relational culture. Maybe the focus then is on how God through Jesus restores us to community with him and others.
Why do we go through this uncomfortable process? It’s because, as Paul writes, “The love of Christ compels us.” That’s what drove him to “become all things to all people.”
Most of us live in technological, scientifically-booming societies. If we’re not willing to question and possibly leave behind some of our Christian baggage (including non-core parts of our theology) in order to effectively communicate to and reach those who think differently than we were brought up to think, then we need to ask ourselves whether we have the love of Christ in us.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm


Upon what biblical basis do such form their views that science is of equal importance to the Bible? Is not the Word of God more important than our interpretation of His work? Is it not inconsistent to say that various doctrines (such as original sin, a literal Adam and Eve, a literal Fall, etc.) may be thrust aside in light of scientific evidence while simultaneously claiming to be followers of Christ?
Arni, what exactly is wrong with “narrow Christianity”? Is not Christ the “narrow way” (Matthew 7:13)? We are not willing to sacrifice our brothers and sisters, but correct them for their edification. I do not want to you to fall, I want you to become all you can through Christ. But removing Christ from your scientific hypothesis of the world’s formation is not the answer. Would that it were! This debate would be instantly gone! But Jesus says He is the way the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Doctrines like a literal hell, literal Fall, and literal Adam and Eve are required in the Bible; they are not optional or merely there for our comfort. Anything but a literal interpretation of these facts requires massive hermeneutical gymnastics that borders on the heretical. You claim to be able to back up theistic Darwinism on scientific grounds: fine. But you cannot do so on theological grounds. The God that comes out of your fanatical machine is no God of the Bible.
I dispute that you can even defend theistic Darwinism on scientific grounds, as scientists such as Dembski, Meyer, Wells, and others have adequately shown. But science is not the most important issue here; thus, I will forego the topic for now. First, answer me this: How does a theistic Darwinist wed both a worldview of deism at best, and devoid of God at worst, to the Christian God?



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Albert the Abstainer

posted October 12, 2009 at 11:04 pm


Mere Christian says: “lalalalalalalala”, while sticking his dogmatic fingers in his ears. He makes the point for the foolishness of dogmatic and literal belief more clearly than I ever could. If anyone needs a reminder, re-read his comments a few times. That is the problem with rigid beliefs, they become idols, forms that displace the mystery of God, replacing it with the projections of a fearful ego, tormented by fears of Hell, and attached to hopes of Heaven.
A true seeker of God is like the Sufi mystic Rabia who said:
O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell,
burn me in Hell;
and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise,
exclude me from Paradise;
but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake,
withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty

Let those who seek God place primacy in being drawn to God over the egoic projections. Let them me like lovers, who desiring to see the true countenance of their Beloved, set aside forms, looking deeply into the depths, guided by unquenchable longing to relinquish anything that stands between them and the Beloved. Any who make idols are infidels. A man who prefers the veil upon his bride’s face to her naked countenance is unfaithful. Behold mystery, relinquish idolatrous forms, and be drawn ever deeper into the mystery. A scientist or a person of true faith keeps digging, never stopping his pursuit of that which draws. That discoveries will reveal contingent and approximate forms is not the issue. The issue is to be so drawn as to continuously pierce the veils to discover what lays hidden. And if ultimately no model can full encapsulate what is seen, that is not a weakness, but rather a testament. We must strive into unknown spaces, beyond the safety of our surety, because we are drawn here. Let the infidels stand transfixed by veils: The lovers of God, and knowledge, and wisdom, will continuously pierce these forms in their pursuit of truth.



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Albert the Abstainer

posted October 12, 2009 at 11:11 pm


Errata: Last paragraph as shown below.
“Let those who seek God place primacy in being drawn to God over the egoic projections. Let them be like lovers, who desiring to see the true countenance of their Beloved, set aside forms, looking deeply into the depths, guided by unquenchable longing to relinquish anything that stands between them and the Beloved.



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Knockgoats

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:51 am


Ah, I do enjoy watching godbots squabbling!



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Albert the Abstainer

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:56 am


Studies continue to reveal that many Christian young people lose their faith in college, even in Christian colleges. But when that faith is in ideas thoroughly refuted two centuries ago, it is no wonder. Evangelicals need to embrace contemporary science and see it as God’s wonderful unfolding of creativity. Only if we can learn to do that can our young people go off to college with a faith that won’t come crashing down as soon as they learn a bit of science and can see through the fog of young earth creationism. Our worldviews need to be built on the rock of a firm foundation, as Jesus advised, not on sand.
Denial is not faith. And as people go to university, the inability of indoctrination to stand against knowledge leads to abandonment of traditional beliefs. That is what happened to me, and I am actually grateful for it. At first it was difficult, and I mourned the loss, but as time went on, I came to realize that leaving my beliefs behind was a step forward into a brave new world. I no longer needed to avoid certain thoughts and questions. I was free to consider any and all knowledge, to weigh the validity of a tradition, a philosophy, art and any other form without the dreaded fear that I would burn in Hell.
1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:21 am


Frodo Underhill
You asked, “How does a theistic Darwinist wed both a worldview of deism at best, and devoid of God at worst, to the Christian God?”
Might I suggest to you that your view of God is much too small! Your view of God is one of a frustrated pool-player who can’t seem to make any shots, so he reaches down and moves the billiards by “divine fiat” when nobody is looking. In other words, your God is so limited that the only means by which He can accomplish His will is to cheat the very system that He created in the first place!
The issue here is not: did God create or didn’t He. The issue here is rather: by what means did God create? Did He create via natural processes that leaves behind real data for us to analyze? Or did He create via supernatural acts that leave nothing behind but anamolous or incongruent data at best? It is the position of Biologos and an increasing number of Christians that the data overwhelmingly suggest the former.
Consider the first question of the children’s Catachism:
Q: Who made you?
A: God.
The theological picture of every human being is that God carefully formed us in our mother’s wombs and knew our frame from the foundations of the world. And at some point during this 9-month process of creation, God breathed a spirit into us and we took on His image. But is that the entire story? Does that version of the story help when there are medical complications? Does the theological picture help make a baby when a couple is struggling with infertility? Of course not! That’s why we have scientists who study the phsycial processes behind God’s mightly work.
The scientific picture of human creation is quite different. It claims that an egg cell and many millions of sperm cells were generated by a natural process called meiosis, and the factors that determine the genetic composition of each gamete are highly random and probabilistic. Then, the odds of any single sperm cell reaching the mothers egg are 1 in a million. Over the next 9 months, these rapidly dividing cells take pre-existing organic matter that was once part of “lower organisms” and rearrange it into the cells, tissues and organs that make up our physical bodies.
The highly coreographed events of sexual reproduction are capable of producing a human being without any special providence on God’s part. He set the system up and it works perfectly almost every time.
Where was God in the scientific account? Does the scientific version of the creation story constitute “deism” in your mind? Do we reject the scientific account because it made no room for God? Or do we understand that that the scientific account of our creation serves an entirely different purpose than does the theological account? And we need to both pictures.
The science of embryology says that each human being is ceated by a combination of necessary and contingent forces acting on pre-exising biological matter from plants and animals to peice together a phsyical human body. Yet, we declare that each person is created in the image of God and is a morally responsible agent. There is no contradiction here. Those Christians who accept the scientific account of biological origins simply extend this logic 13.7 billion years into the past. But make no mistake, God is ultimately the creator. As the second question of the Children’s catechism clearly teaches us:
Q: “What else did God make?”
A: “God made all things.”



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:25 am


Albert, why do you quote an Islamic mystic? While what he says may be true, it has no bearing on our discussion whatsoever. We are Christians, correct?
What kind of traditional beliefs do you speak of? The incarnation of Jesus Christ? His deity? His humanity? His virgin birth? His crucifixion? His bodily resurrection? His bodily ascension? His imminent return? When you allegorize the first eleven chapters of Genesis, you quickly are left with a far thinner Bible. To be sure, you have a nice collection of myths, but they are just that, myths, no better than any Greek mythology. But the Word of God is living and breathing, active, sharper than any two-edged sword! It is the power unto salvation! But it is true! It is not dead, it is not dying, and it is not allegorical. True, there are allegories in it. But we use a conservative hermeneutic, not one mandated by Dawkins!
You mention 1 Corinthians 13. You really ought to read it in context. This is historically known as the “Love Chapter” since it deals so explicitly with love. In that part, the end, of the chapter, Paul is writing to the Corinthians that prophesy, tongues and knowledge will be done away with, and the imperfect made perfect. Here is an example of an analogy: Paul is saying that just as he was once a child and is now a man, so too we will be perfected in the life to come. When you finally find an analogy in the Bible, you twist it to fit your own hermeneutic! Your own agenda!
Furthermore, let us give for the sake of argument that this verse is indeed not an analogy and means exactly the way you framed it in your post. What then? So? You cannot cherry-pick your evidence! You cannot run with your love of Darwin and then every once in a while, when it is convenient, turn back and snatch a couple phrases out of the Bible. Be for Darwin or be for the Bible! Choose for you this day whom will be your God! Joshua 24; 1 Kings 18



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:28 am


Albert, why do you quote an Islamic mystic? While what he says may be true, it has no bearing on our discussion whatsoever. We are Christians, correct?
What kind of traditional beliefs do you speak of? The incarnation of Jesus Christ? His deity? His humanity? His virgin birth? His crucifixion? His bodily resurrection? His bodily ascension? His imminent return? When you allegorize the first eleven chapters of Genesis, you quickly are left with a far thinner Bible. To be sure, you have a nice collection of myths, but they are just that, myths, no better than any Greek mythology. But the Word of God is living and breathing, active, sharper than any two-edged sword! It is the power unto salvation! But it is true! It is not dead, it is not dying, and it is not allegorical. True, there are allegories in it. But we use a conservative hermeneutic, not one mandated by Dawkins!
You mention 1 Corinthians 13. You really ought to read it in context. This is historically known as the “Love Chapter” since it deals so explicitly with love. In that part, the end, of the chapter, Paul is writing to the Corinthians that prophesy, tongues and knowledge will be done away with, and the imperfect made perfect. Here is an example of an analogy: Paul is saying that just as he was once a child and is now a man, so too we will be perfected in the life to come. When you finally find an analogy in the Bible, you twist it to fit your own hermeneutic! Your own agenda!
Furthermore, let us give for the sake of argument that this verse is indeed not an analogy and means exactly the way you framed it in your post. What then? So? You cannot cherry-pick your evidence! You cannot run with your love of Darwin and then every once in a while, when it is convenient, turn back and snatch a couple phrases out of the Bible. Be for Darwin or be for the Bible! Choose for you this day whom will be your God! Joshua 24; 1 Kings 18



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Albert the Abstainer

posted October 13, 2009 at 9:06 am


Rabia was a woman. I used that quote because it illustrates the point I was making. I could have easily found something similar in the writings of Meister Eckhart. The point of choosing an Islamic mystic is to illustrate to a Christian reader, that the essential religious impulse is universal, that mysticism is not bound to one variant of one tradition, and that her expression is no less valid because the culture and tradition through which it emerged is not yours.
Frodo: We are Christians, correct?
That is presumptuous. You identify with Christianity, and at that probably a particular form of Christianity. Many Christians disagree with each other about whether a group or individual who identifies as Christian is or is not. At best you may make the statement about yourself. I do have a theistic frame for God, so I am not Christian. What I do hold is that people have Primary Religious Experiences, and that the expression of religious narratives arises in many forms through different cultures and histories.
As for my quotation from Corinthians: I used it for literary reasons, not as a proof or evidence that Paul and I are in agreement. It has a poetic quality that I like, and it expresses my thoughts well, taken alone. If my use of it causes you offense, please pardon: A writer writes, a reader interprets and responds in ways outside of a writer’s control or wishes.
Frodo, I can mine knowledge from any vein, be it the Bible, the Vedas, Darwin, or Spinoza. I have a freedom which comes from not framing the universe or God in a fixed theological form. That freedom is something I cherish. My view of God is not so narrow, so fixed and osified that I cannot be informed through any form. If God is omnipresent, then it is a narrowing of vision which occludes, for God is found in all places, in all times. My eyes and mind are open. Just because some choose a particular and rigid frame, does not mean that I must do so. You may wish to re-evaluate your projections about me, but then it is much easier and convenient to make me a two-dimensional stereotype than to deal with the fullness of a person.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 13, 2009 at 10:25 am


Frodo, you confuse Christ’s profound statement of the narrow road with shallow dogmatism. Christ was not referring to a theological system (much less one developed in the late 19th century), but to the difficulty in actually following him – that is, loving God and neighbour to such a degree that it actually costs.
And I’m sorry, but forcing people to choose between “literal hell, literal Fall, and literal Adam and Eve” and throwing away the faith is, whatever else you (want to) tell yourself, setting people up for the fall. It IS sacrificing their souls on an altar of misguided dogmatism.
It’s interesting that you should say, “You claim to be able to back up theistic Darwinism on scientific grounds: fine. But you cannot do so on theological grounds.” Because I do, in fact, study theology and am an evolutionist to a very large degree because of my theological studies. You should look into it. You’d be surprised. Read some Wolfhart Pannenberg, some John Haught, some Ted Peters. You might actually learn something. You clearly haven’t looked into it when you make absurd claim such as “How does a theistic Darwinist wed both a worldview of deism at best, and devoid of God at worst, to the Christian God?”
“I dispute that you can even defend theistic Darwinism on scientific grounds, as scientists such as Dembski, Meyer, Wells, and others have adequately shown.”
Please…
And Albert, thanks for that poem from Rabia. Beautiful! I totally agree with your open and curious attitude to seeking knowledge. I blogged a little bit about the other day. You might find it interesting: http://www.arnizachariassen.com/ithinkibelieve/?p=350



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Daniel Mann

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:03 pm


Dan and Others (who believe that you can remain a faithful Christian and believe in evolution),
I stand by the quotation taken from Karl Giberson’s book. I think that it is very illuminating of what happens to a person who tries to combine the two. Actually, I commend Karl for his transparency in denying that he believes any longer in Adam and Eve, the Fall, the origin of sin, and Jesus as the 2nd Adam. (If I have misrepresented Karl, let him reassure us that he really believes in these things despite what he had written!) Few theistic evolutionists (TEs) are so transparent. Instead, they will say things like, “I just don’t think that the Bible should be used as a science text-book.” However, if I press them further, I learn that they refuse to take seriously ANYTHING the Bible teaches about this physical world.
I think it is so important that we are cognizant of the implications of our beliefs. The TE must understand that when he bits into the fruit of evolution and denies the Bible’s teachings about the physical world, he will also end up denying everything that the Bible teaches. You can’t deny the history of the Bible without also denying its theology. They are as inseparable as my thought is from my brain. You can’t deny the Cross without also denying the theology of the Cross. You also can’t deny the Fall without also denying all the theology built on the understanding and revelation of the Fall. We can no longer understand Jesus’ redemptive work nor the promised restoration (Acts 3:21). Are we to be restored to the great evolutionary prelude of a blood-thirsty world where every organism is fighting for survival by killing others? Is this our promised hope?
To believe in evolution is also to part company from every author of the Bible (Jesus included) who regarded the Genesis accounts as historical. It’s also to embrace a mongrelized religion which departs more profoundly from its parent than the religion of the Samaritans about which Jesus remarked,
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:22)
Jesus had warned that we can’t serve two masters. Eventually, one of them will be compromised, and with TEs, it’s always the Bible that is tossed into the trunk.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm


Please what? We can deal with scientific objects later; for now, we must deal with theology.
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Why would Jesus guide the author of Genesis to write down something that did not really happen? Why would He say that Adam and Eve lived, if they did not really live? Just because some theologians (Pannenberg, Haught, and Peters, in your case) claim that title does not mean they are good theologians or even of Christ. “I am a theologian”. What about it? Stating something does not make it true, especially if your theology renders Christ a distant and impersonal “it”.
“You clearly haven’t looked into it when you make absurd claim such as…..” Prove your claim. If I am wrong, (and oh! what a big if!) it is incumbent upon you to prove me wrong, not discount me as a lunatic. So prove me wrong. Simply telling me I am wrong does no good for either you or me. Show me, on theological grounds, how I am wrong.
Accepting Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, is not binding. Accepting all other religions is not liberating! Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6). The Truth shall set you free (John 8:32). It does not bind! It liberates! Wedding yourself to all other religions forms a syncretism that binds you to conflicting worldviews!



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm


“John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Why would Jesus guide the author of Genesis to write down something that did not really happen? Why would He say that Adam and Eve lived, if they did not really live?”
John 1 has nothing to do with the Bible. It’s a christological statement, explaining who Christ is.
I think the reason that Genesis tells us something that didn’t happen, is because it isn’t bothered with what actually happened. The point isn’t what happened, but who made it happen and what that means. The message is this: God is behind creation and seeks relationship with it. Worrying about why Genesis says Adam and Eve lived when they didn’t, is like worrying about whether Jesus’ parables are historically accounts or not. Who cares? Their point and their truth is not found in the historical veracity (or lack thereof), but in what they say theologically.
“Just because some theologians (Pannenberg, Haught, and Peters, in your case) claim that title does not mean they are good theologians or even of Christ. “I am a theologian”. What about it? Stating something does not make it true, especially if your theology renders Christ a distant and impersonal “it”.”
Ok, tell me, honestly: Have you ever read any of these theologians? All three of them stress the historical existence of Jesus, which I’m sure you’d like. They certainly don’t speak of Christ as “it”, much less a distant and impersonal “it”. Pannenberg and Peters for example speak of the Spirit’s role in the continual creation of the world (you know, evolution). That’s hardly deistic or devoid of God. Which should prove my claim that you are mistaken when you say that, as you asked me to.
I think you should actually engage some pro-evolution theology. It’ll be enlightening and even if you aren’t convinced, you’ll know what you’re talking about. John Haught is a good place to start.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Arni,
You wrote, “The point isn’t what happened, but who made it happen and what that means…Their point and their truth is not found in the historical veracity (or lack thereof), but in what they say theologically.”
This simply isn’t the Gospel; it isn’t the message through which the Spirit works to save lives. What happened historically matters profoundly and is inextricable from the Christian faith and hope, as Paul wrote:
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” (1 Cor. 15:14-15)



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:13 pm


There is a difference between Jesus’ parables and the Genesis account. Jesus gave examples in His teaching with the goal of teaching a particular (or sometimes multiple) doctrines. Why would the author of Genesis waste a fifth of his book writing about things that didn’t happen when he could have spent far less time and simply said “All humans owe their existence ultimately to God.”? And by the way, what doctrines do you affirm and which do you not affirm? Is Christ real? And is He real as presented in Holy Scripture?
Further, when you drop God out of the picture, you lose many necessary Christian doctrines. What if there is no literal Fall? Well what replaces it? And if there is no Fall, can God really punish us for something of which we are not to blame? What kind of God would that be? And if He cannot punish us since it is not our fault, then Jesus is not necessary. If Jesus is not necessary, then neither is God (I and my Father are one.) And if God is not necessary, you have deism at best, atheism more likely.
No, I have not actually read their books. Debating their work is not my point. I am simply saying that theistic Darwinism opens the doors for theologies that are contrary to Christ.
“John 1 has nothing to do with the Bible.” But I thought John 1 was part of the Bible! How can a part have nothing to do with the whole. That is like saying a microchip has nothing to do with a laptop. You have not answered my question.
“The point isn’t what happened, but who made it happen and what that means.” If I tell you that red is not red, but rather green, do you trust me? Of course not. And if I go on to discuss and debate highly intellectual issues, will you not have a tinge of doubt on what I say? If the Bible cannot even keep straight who existed and who did not exist, how in the world can we trust it with our very lives, our eternity? If he who is faithful in smaller things will be given to rule over much, why would the same Bible blunder on historical facts while later claiming authority on the most important aspects of life?
And who are we? Who are we to decide which parts of the Bible live or die? Who made us God, telling Him what is true and what is not? Why is it us who receive the authority to say “No God” and “Yes God”? But this seems highly self-idolatrous.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 13, 2009 at 6:14 pm


That’s true Dan, but Paul did not say that about the creation myths in Genesis. In fact, he didn’t say it about the Bible at all. He said it about Jesus’ resurrection. I totally agree with you that Jesus’ bodily resurrection is extremely important. It is the fundamental claim of Christianity. Creationism isn’t.
Frodo, yes, of course there is a difference. We’re not talking about similar texts at all when comparing Genesis 1-11 and the Gospels. But I think comparing the creation myths and Jesus’ parables brings out a very important fact: As much as you creationists like to say that anything that’s not historically true is a lie, you accept the parables as truthful in a non-historical way. So why not the creation myths? When it comes down to it, you don’t like it when people say that Genesis is myth because of *theology* – as you illustrate in your second paragraph. What I’m saying is that it’s possible to believe the theology without seeing the texts as historical accounts.
You ask what I believe. Well, I’m broadly speaking an evangelical with a liberal bent. I believe in the triune God, revealed most fully in the earthly ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, who works in all of creation in the Holy Spirit, primarily in his church and its ministry. This is probably an important point: I don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I believe it’s the word of God in so far as, 1) its human authors provide a witness to God’s redeeming activity, and 2) the Spirit works in and encounters the readers of the Bible.
“I am simply saying that theistic Darwinism opens the doors for theologies that are contrary to Christ.” Yeah, you say that, but on what basis? You admit that you haven’t read some of the most important thinkers in the field. Again, you really should pick up a book or two to see the best of the interaction of Christianity and evolutionary theory.
“”John 1 has nothing to do with the Bible.” But I thought John 1 was part of the Bible! How can a part have nothing to do with the whole. That is like saying a microchip has nothing to do with a laptop. You have not answered my question.” Come on.. John 1 is not a statement about the Bible, but about Christ. Of course it’s in the Bible, but so what? The Bible very rarely speaks of itself. Actually, I don’t think it ever does. Before you bring it up: 1. Tim. 3:16 speaks of the Old Testament.
“If the Bible cannot even keep straight who existed and who did not exist, how in the world can we trust it with our very lives, our eternity?” I would hate to see you reject the message of the Bible because it doesn’t answer illegitimate questions you ask it. Who existed and not, and similar questions, are unimportant. How we can come into relationship with God and how we live as pilgrims in a fallen world, are not.
I think what you say here illustrates one part of what Karl says in the original post. Creationism and biblical literalism make the faith into a fragile house of cards that’s always in danger of falling down. If even one single card is moved then the whole thing comes crashing down. Can’t you see it? You are seriously claiming that the Bible can’t be trusted AT ALL, in any matter, if it can’t be trusted in the very trivial matter of whether Adam and Eve were historical people or not. I’m sorry, but that’s crazy and God is so, so, so much bigger than that – and praise him for that!



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Daniel Mann

posted October 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm


Arni,
You wrote, “Paul did not say that about the creation myths in Genesis. In fact, he didn’t say it about the Bible at all. He said it about Jesus’ resurrection. I totally agree with you that Jesus’ bodily resurrection is extremely important. It is the fundamental claim of Christianity. Creationism isn’t.”
I’m glad that you too agree that history and theology can’t be separated when it comes to the resurrection and also that you’re willing to follow Paul’s lead in this matter. However, Paul doesn’t just maintain the historicity of the resurrection, he also affirms the historical accounts of Genesis. Not only that, he attributes the origin of death and sin to Adam and what happened historically (Romans 5; 8:20-23). Furthermore, he explains Christ as the one who would undo the damage that had been done in the garden (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Paul also affirms the historicity of the creation account, that the man was made first, and then the woman (1 Cor. 11). He also reaffirms the fact that it was the woman who was deceived (1 Tim. 2). If you are unwilling to take Paul’s word regarding earthly things, what confidence can we then have that he is correct when teaching about heavenly things?
Paul wasn’t an anomaly. Peter also taught that the flood was literally and historically true. From this, he argued that if God brought judgment upon the world then, we have to take Him seriously about His promised future judgment (2 Peter 3). If the flood was just a myth, then this myth would have proved the very opposite thing—that God is all bluff.
Jesus also affirmed the historicity of the Genesis accounts. For one thing, He stated that divorce was wrong because it violated the creation-order that He had established with Adam and Eve where the two had become one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6). If Adam and Eve and their marriage weren’t historical, then the lesson Jesus derived rested on a faulty foundation.
Consequently, His teachings derived from historical fact are different from His parables which don’t require an historical foundation.
I hope that I’m not making you feel that you are imprisoned by a brittle strait-jacket. However, if you do feel this way, please consider this—perhaps believing in the present scientific consensus on evolution presents its own brittle strait-jacket, although perhaps less apparent.
We all have our philosophical commitments. The question then becomes, “Which paradigm enables me to see reality clearly?” For me, it has been the Bible which has liberated me and has revolutionized my life.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm


Daniel, I definitely like the way you think! Are you in a denomination of any sort?



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Daniel Mann

posted October 13, 2009 at 7:59 pm


Thanks Froto,
You can find my info on my blog.



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Scott Jorgenson

posted October 14, 2009 at 1:28 am


Daniel, your objections in your last comment in this thread have all been gone over before, in previous comment threads on this blog. To recap, your mistaken assumption is that any reference from a teaching to a prior narrative is necessarily an affirmation of its historicity; and that the validity of the teaching depends on the historicity of the prior narrative. This is patently and trivially false; it may be so in some contexts, but isn’t necessarily so in a moral or religious teaching context, particularly one situated in the storytelling, tradition-bearing, predominantly oral culture of the place and time.
If I make a point about the importance of truth-telling by referring to the boy who cried wolf, I am doing so because of how that story (by being part of our common cultural framework) resonates with my listeners and connects with my point, thus buttressing my argument. I am not affirming that the story actually happened, nor does whether the story actually happened or not affect the validity of my point. That’s right: if the boy-who-cried-wolf had actually happened, that would not lend much extra credence to my argument; nor does it’s not having happened detract from it — because the reference is literary, not literal.
The resurrection is only an exception to this because there (and there alone) Paul insists again and again in abstract discourse that the event happened in real history. For example, he explicitly appeals to eyewitnesses in one case; in another, he insists faith is in vain if it did not happen. This all supports the claim that he is insisting on the real historicity of the event and arguing that the validity of all else he claims rests on that event. In contrast, where does Paul do likewise regarding Adam, saying explicitly that Adam actually existed as the first human (as he says explicitly that the resurrection actually happened)? Where does Peter say explicitly that a planetary flood actually happened and that if it hadn’t his argument would fail? These are literary references to common tradition.
You may not agree, but let it not be said that theistic evolutionists have no answer to your objections or have an inherent inconsistency in their hermeneutic.



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Scott Jorgenson

posted October 14, 2009 at 1:34 am


Note: above I meant to write: “…where does Paul do likewise regarding Adam, saying explicitly that Adam actually existed as the first human and giving evidence for that (as he says explicitly that the resurrection actually happened and gives evidence for it)?”
It would be nice if this blog had an “edit comment” feature. Or am I just overlooking that?



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Dan

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:11 am


Daniel Mann,
You wrote “I stand by the quotation taken from Karl Giberson’s book. I think that it is very illuminating of what happens to a person who tries to combine the two.”
Sad to see that you are continuing to stand by your quote-mine. I am almost tempted to get your book, search through it until I can find a quote I can take out of context to try to make you look bad, just to show you what you are doing. I assure you it would be easy to do with any author.
I wont do that because it is considered academic dishonesty (and actually plagiarism at the college I went to), but I think it would illustrate the point to you. I really think that you don’t understand what quote-mining is. You seem to think that as long as the words are right is doesn’t matter if the out of context quote makes the person appear to say the opposite of their true beliefs.
Quote-mining is a hallmark of creationist’s literature. It is one of the reasons I really started to have second thoughts about young earth creationism, because I saw the sloppy scholarship and disregard for the truth. They seemed to be willing to do anything to make a point, even misrepresent other peoples beliefs, which I find unacceptable for a Christian to do. It really causes the quote-miner to loose all academic credibility when they try to twist other people’s words to make a point.
That is why the only honest thing to do is to use quotes in such a way that they show what the author really believes, not to try to twist it to imply they believe the OPPOSITE of what they really do. I really wish I could get you to see why quote-mining is bad. Doesn’t the example of someone taking a quote out of one of your books, to try to make you look bad and imply you believe something different than the who thesis of the book, open your eyes to what quote-mining is and why it is bad?
It would almost be like if Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens opening up CS Lewis’ “A Grief Observed” and trying to use a few out of context quotes to imply that Lewis was an atheist. I think you would very rightly condemn that kind of quote-mining, but when Lennox or you quote in a similar manner you can’t see why it is wrong.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 14, 2009 at 6:24 am


Thank you Scott! You said exactly what I was going to say! You are a wise man! :)



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:20 am


Dan,
You accuse me of “dishonesty” for misrepresenting Karl Giberson. Here’s the quote from his book once again:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s [Darwin’s] universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (9-10)
I think that this is a significant admission on Giberson’s part because it clearly reflects where theistic evolution leads. If I have misrepresented Giberson, then let HIM correct me, and I will be glad to make a retraction. It is not as if I am speaking about him behind his back.
If he doesn’t do this, then you’ve failed to make your case, and it is YOU who owe me an apology for your unfair accusations.



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 14, 2009 at 8:11 am


Daniel Mann, here’s where you’re being dishonest. Try quoting the paragraph from “Saving Darwin” in its entirety. This is how it concludes:
“I discovered, however, that this was about where Dennett’s acid ran out of steam (or whatever acid runs our of when it stops dissolving everything). The acid of evolution is not universal, and claims that evolution “revolutionizes” our worldview and dissolves every traditional concept are exaggerated.” (Giberson, “Saving Darwin”, p. 10)
What exactly is the reason you didn’t think the remaining lines of the paragraph you quote were relevant? Was it possibly because they question your very assertion?



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 14, 2009 at 8:32 am


The rest of that particular section is important too for understanding what Giberson is saying, so here it is:
“For starters, what exactly does evolution have to do with belief in God as creator? It rules out certain mechanisms that God might have used to create the world, but others remain. God apparently did not create the entire universe and everything in it over the course of a few busy days ten thousand yours ago. Neither Rome nor the universe was built in a day. But saying that Rome was not built in a day does not imply that Rome was not built or that Rome did not have builders. The acid of evolution dissolves the claim that God created the world a few thousand years ago, but does nothing to the claim that God may have taken billions of years to create or that God even continues to work as creator.
Creation, I hasten to point our, is a secondary doctrine for Christians. The central idea in Christianity concerns Jesus Christ and the claim that he was the Son of God, truly divine and truly human. This extraordinary idea implies the strange notion that the creator of the entire universe chose to enter the human race in the person of an itinerant preacher from Galilee. From its beginnings Christianity had to defend itself against charges that this was a ridiculous idea. Some of the most influential early church fathers were quite clear that the claims of Christianity were, indeed, absurd, but this did not mean they were not true. A second-century theologian named Tertullian said he believed in the divinity of Jesus partly because it was absurd.
Most thoughtful Christians, myself included, wonder about exactly how it could be that God entered the human race in the person of Jesus – the historical event called the Incarnation. Over the centuries many have been simply unable to believe that this claim was even sensible. Today thinking Christians everywhere struggle with this belief and what it means. Many have asked God for more faith, to keep doubt at bay or reestablish a foundation for belief. Darwin’s theory of evolution adds nothing to the complexities and challenges of believing in the Incarnation. It didn’t take Darwin to make Christianity offensive, complex, and intellectually challenging. The arguments against the incarnation have been around for two thousand years, which is why Christianity is described as a faith, not as the conclusion of a logical argument.
Christianity merges the Incarnation with the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Christ’s Resurrection offers hope that we too can have eternal life and one day be united with God. Human skepticism regarding these claims is hardly new. The contemporaries of Jesus found this hard to believe, and many of them, including the infamous “doubting Thomas,” had to be convinced by more than hearsay. Human beings, including Jesus, may have evolved over billions of years, or they may have been created a few thousands of years ago. The Resurrection is equally implausible in either case. Dennett’s universal acid of evolution does nothing to eat away at this central Christian belief. The “acid” of logic and reason was hard at work on this before the New Testament was even penned.
Christianity, as its name suggests, is primarily about Christ. To be sure, different ideas about Christ exist across the spectrum of Christian belief. But these beliefs, rather than creationist assertions, are the heart and soul of Christianity. And these beliefs are not threatened by Darwin’s dangerous idea.” (“Saving Darwin”, pp. 10-11)
(I’ve removed the very last sentence, because it anticipates the next several pages – and I really don’t feel like typing them out right now. For clarity’s sake, here is that sentence: “Evolution does, however, post two challenges to secondary Christian beliefs: the fall of humankind, and the uniqueness of humankind.”)



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 8:45 am


Frodo,
Since you completely ignored my last comment directed to you (either intentionally or by accident), let me try again using a different arguement…
According to your logic, if a botanist could demonstrate that the mustard seed was not the smallest of the seeds as Jesus declared, would that mean we could not trust anything Jesus said?
If an astronomer could demonstrate that there was no literal 3rd heaven, the place where Paul declares the risen Lord ascended to, would that mean we could not trust anything the Apostle said about Christ’s resurrection and ascension?
If a Bible scholar could show that the various conflicting eye-witness accounts of the empty tomb were too disparate to all be literally true, would that mean we could not trust the central unanimous claim that the Lord was raised on the 3rd day?
If a planetary scientists could demonstrate that the moon did not produce its own light, that the heavenly bodies were not sandwiched between the upper and lower waters, and that the moon was not greater than the stars and planets as Moses clearly describes and as theologians clearly understood Moses’ teaching for thousands of years, would that mean we could not trust anything Moses said? Or that we could not trust the multitude of Bible commentators up through the 17th century who’s faithfull exegesis confirmed the words of Moses?
The main problem with your arguements is that not even you can follow them. I’m willing to wager that in all of these instances, you side with 21st century Western science over Ancient Near-Eastern science; and you reject the exegesis of those Chrisitans who faithfully interpreted the Bible without the perspective of a modern scientific worldview.
The selective application of your rigid hermeneutic only exposes its complete uselesness. It is indeed a house of sand and fog. And it’s no wonder Christians are leaveing the fold over these issues — just as deism and Bible-bashing flourished in the shadow of the Galileo affair.
You and I should both agree that the Bible is indeed true and relavent for our time, and that it message of saving faith through the person and work of Christ is just a important now as it has ever been. But you undermine the authorit of Scripture by pushing it to answer questions that were of no concern to the original authors and their ancient audience. When you replace the authors’ concerns with the concern of a 21st century western Christian, you make yourself the conduit of biblical authority by imposing a foreign worldview onto the text — rather than allowing the text to speak to us through the worldview of the original authors.
But sadly, those who pretend that the Bible contains reliable answers to modern scientific questions continue to make demonstrably false claims based on the Bible, and therefore contribute to the rapid erosion of the Bible’s truth and relavence in modern soceity. Ironically, you come here and lecture us on the damage we are doing?



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:55 am


Arni,
What Giberson wrote at the end in NO way disavows what he had written previously!!! (It doesn’t make me “dishonest” if I stop short from quoting an entire paragraph!! I suspect that if I had quoted the entire chapter, you would have faulted me for not having quoted the next chapter also!) All he is saying is that he is still stubbornly holding on to some basics despite the fact that the acid has eaten away at so much of his faith already—something we already know very well about Giberson’s posture! How does failing to quote this very obvious material make me “dishonest”?
While Giberson claims he has stopped the advance of Darwin’s acid in the erosion of his faith, he will find, as many evolutionists have already attested to, that the flow of this acid isn’t so easy to impede. Daniel Dennett understandably scoffs at Giberson’s artificial solution and for good reason. If you allow Darwin his say-so regarding the physical world, there is no way that you can tell him, “No, this is my private spiritual world. You can’t intrude here!” Is it any surprise that the Darwinist doesn’t respect such a flimsy (spiritual-physical) distinction? These concepts clearly overlap. It’s our physical brains that play such a significant role in our spiritual lives: our morality, feelings, religious sentiments and even our belief in a deity—and Darwin has a lot to say about the origin of our physical brain. Perhaps then our belief in Christ is a form of evolutionary will-to-power? Perhaps also faith has survival value?
I had quoted Giberson accurately and didn’t misrepresent his beliefs by taking them out of context. If Giberson feels I have misrepresented him, then let him show me how, and I will gladly recant. If he doesn’t do this, then you owe me an apology for maligning me as “dishonest.”
You are not unusual in this matter. I have found that theistic evolutionists (TEs) are quick to make character assassinations. This betrays a reluctance to deal with the issues, but might also reflect the erosion of their own faith and morals.
Arni, please also examine yourself and your willingness to denigrate me even though I didn’t engage in any misrepresentation. Instead, ask yourself why you are so troubled by this quotation—a compromise that many knowledgable TEs have already come to accept—that Darwin is highly corrosive of the Christian faith, as Karl has poignantly demonstrated.
Are you unwilling to admit the seriousness of TE and the deep (and perhaps complete) compromises that it requires? Are you shocked by the extent of the spiritual adultery that Darwin demands? Do you not see the Faustian contract you have signed? Are you appalled to see that this compromise has required you to accept a modified “Christ,” one who speaks not with historical facts but in myths, but one that will allow you friendship with the world and professional respectability?
You and the rest of the TEs will continue to malign me, but I just want you to embark upon your new life with open eyes, understanding the implications of the vacation package you have purchased.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm


Scott (and Arni),
I’m glad that you still believe in the historicity of the resurrection, and so you are willing to take at least one Biblical event as historical. However, since you seem to deny the historicity of just about everything else that the Bible cites as historical, it might be beneficial to use some examples. (In fact, you even challenged me to use examples!)
Perhaps the example of Jesus’ affirmation of the historicity of Adam and Eve might be the most telling. The Pharisees challenged Him regarding His beliefs on divorce. He responded:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Clearly, Jesus wasn’t indulging the Pharisees in their alleged belief in myths. It was Jesus who pointed back to Genesis and the normative, historical account of Adam and Eve. He then reasoned that because God had made them “one flesh” before sin entered, then this was His ideal and normative arrangement. Therefore, divorce represented the undoing of the very thing that God had historically demonstrated that He desired.
If Jesus had known this Genesis account to be mythological and that God hadn’t actually joined Adam and Eve into oneness, then Jesus’ argumentation would have been erroneous and He would have been using deception. This moral lesson was based upon an historical event. Had the event not occurred, Jesus couldn’t honestly have argued this way.
Besides, no one challenged Jesus’ reasoning. The Pharisees didn‘t say, “Jesus, that’s just foolish. Everyone knows that Adam and Eve are just mythological, and God bringing them together is just a story. He doesn’t care if we divorce!”
To this, Jesus made another historical claim—that Moses had allowed divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. Clearly, the Pharisees attempted to invalidate His claims in any way that they could (even claiming He was of the devil), why did they never accuse Him of substituting myth true for what he claimed to be history? If He had been talking myths, this would have been an excellent opportunity for them to invalidate His claims. If they couldn’t, on the basis of what do YOU make this charge?
If you truly believe that the Apostles were writing in myths rather than facts, what hope do you have that Christ will return for you. Perhaps this too is just a comforting myth which merely represents the Christ-awareness that will rest upon us as we believe in His return??
What then is your evidence that the NT writers were merely relating myths? I know that you are coerced by evolution to deny certain teachings, but do you have any other evidence apart from this worldview that you are so ready to impose upon Scripture?



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:05 pm


Daniel,
Not so fast…
Are you willing to worship a God who demands that His people believe a specific creation scenario on the one hand, while He creates an entire universe that conspires against this creation scenario on the other hand? What kind of God intentionally creates such confusion?
Are you willing to keep pretending that you accept only what the bible says about science, when you yourself pick and chose what “bible science” you deem truthful?
Are you willing to ignore — as those medieval Church officials who refused to look at Jupiter’s moons through Galileo’s telescope — what so many faithful Chrisitans can plainly see with thier own eyes and understand with their God-given faculties of reason, just to avoid having to deal with challenging theological questions?
Are you willing to drive your brothers and sisters in Christ who understand and appreciate the scientific case of old-earth/evolution out of the chruch unless they too dumb themselves down and reject the very data God built into the cosmos?
You seem to think you can avoid all controvery and maintain doctrinal purity simply by rejecting evolution and the theological challenges that it brings. Well, I’ve got news for: ignorance is not bliss! There are way too many data that should not exist unless God either (1) used a natural process to create, or (2) mischiveiously erased all evidence of a recent creation by divine fiat and replaced it with a coherent picture of gradual change over time. And these data can not be ignored.
You apparently reject the former, so you — my friend — are stuck with latter. You must worship a divine charlaton who cannot even maintain the pretence of consisentcy between what he writes and what he makes. And you are willing to lead other Christians over this cliff just to avoid going through a theological exercise that is no different that that which occurred in response to the new astronomy of the 17th century.
That, my friend, is the corner you have back yourself into.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:16 pm


“If Jesus had known this Genesis account to be mythological and that God hadn’t actually joined Adam and Eve into oneness, then Jesus’ argumentation would have been erroneous and He would have been using deception.”
There you go again Daniel — imposing your 21st century western view of what consitutes historicity and truth onto the ancient scriptures, that were authored from within a completely different cognitive environment. When will you learn to stop imposing foreign worldivews onto the biblical text?



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Anvardian

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:31 pm


Karl Giberson is, of course, not the only person holding the position of theistic evolution. It might be good to evaluate the statements of someone else to balance Karl’s. So, here are quotes from a theologian who accepted an evolutionary process as God’s means of providentially creating the world of life. The theologian was B. B. Warfield, chair of systematic theology at ‘old’ Princeton Seminary at the end of the 19th century, the man who coined the phrase “the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture, without error in the original manuscripts”. His legacy lives on at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. The quote is from his 1915 article, “from:”Calvin’s Doctrine of the Creation” (1915). “…Calvin’s doctrine of creation is…for all except the souls of men, an evolutionary one. The ‘indigested mass’… was called into being by the simple fiat of God. But all that has come into being since except the souls of men alone has arisen as a modification of this original world-stuff by means of the interactions of its intrinsic forces … all modification of the world stuff have taken place under the directly upholding and governing hand of God, and find their account ultimately in His will. But they find their account proximately in “second causes”; and this is not only evolutionism but pure evolutionism…. Calvin doubtless had no theory whatever of evolution; but he teaches a doctrine of evolution.” I think it is very difficult to argue that G. Gresham Machen’s master professor , “the aging lion of strict Presbyterian orthodoxy” , had allowed the corrosive acid of Darwin’s views to destroy his faith – or his orthodoxy. Remember that a doctrine of God’s occasional presence is a doctrine of His usual absence. Semi-deism is still deism – even if it is a deism punctuated with miracles.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Gordon,
It doesn’t befit humility for you to don the robes of the learned and free-thinking and relegate us creationists to the robes of the Grand Inquisitor. Here’s the difference between us. You have opted to understand the Bible through the lens of the present scientific consensus while we have opted to see science through the lens of the Bible (2 Cor. 10:4-5). As you don’t reject the Bible, we too don’t reject science, but we are more willing to be skeptical about the findings when they conflict with the clear teachings of Scripture.
We understand that the Bible gives us the surest and most important and faithful knowledge, and so we are willing to see everything else through a Biblical lens. I grieve because it is apparent that so many TEs do not realize what they have in Christ. They fail to fathom the depth of the riches they can have through an assured understanding of Christ and His Gospel (Col. 2:1-4). As many of you have testified, you’ve come from fundamentalist homes where you’ve taken the faith for granted and failed to value it as you might have. I just pray you’d be more patient about it!!
In contrast, I come from a Jewish background and deeply hated anything to do with Christ. I was a Zionist and went to live in Israel for two years. However, I had a serious problem: I was profoundly depressed and also suffered from crippling panic attacks. In the process, I saw five highly-recommended psychologists, each leaving me worse off than the last.
Consequently, Christ is everything to me. I could never dream of compromising His Word because it might make my life a little more comfortable. He is everything to me.
Please understand that if I make life a bit more difficult for the TE, I am doing it out of concern for you and the One who loves you. He doesn’t want luke-warm Christians. He’d rather you be hot or cold, but not in between (Rev. 3:16).



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm


“You have opted to understand the Bible through the lens of the present scientific consensus while we have opted to see science through the lens of the Bible (2 Cor. 10:4-5).”
Sigh… You must have this phrase set to music or something. For the last time: we see the Bible through the same lens that both the original authors and their immeidate audients saw it through. It is you who place nonsensical demands on the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible by seeing it through a modern western lens.
“We understand that the Bible gives us the surest and most important and faithful knowledge, and so we are willing to see everything else through a Biblical lens.” — I have already demonstrated that you say one thing and do another. You pick and choose based on what modern science you are comfortable with. At least we have a consistent hermeneutic that allows “Bible science” to remain in its native cosmological context, where it is afforded the protection that belongs to that literary genre and does not cross paths with modern science.
You, on the other hand, remove the biblical narratives from the protection that their ancient cosmological context affords — where modern science has no authority over them and where ultimate truth can be expressed via myth and legend — and place them under the jurisdiction of a modern materialistic worldivew — where truth can only be expressed via brute fact and literal historiography. (that’s a rough quote from my book by the way…)
The irony here is that you act indignant when the scriptures come under attack by secular forces, when all along, it is people like you that have EXPOSED them to secular criticism! Your hermeneutic is no different than that of Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens. The only difference being that their grasp of modern science leads them to reject the scriptures entirely, wheras you remain voluntarily ignorant for the sake of Christ.
Well, I guess it is better to be an ignorant Christian than a lost soul. But Biologos is not convinced that these are the only two options available. I wish you could at least agree that there is a better way.
“I grieve because it is apparent that so many TEs do not realize what they have in Christ. They fail to fathom the depth of the riches they can have through an assured understanding of Christ and His Gospel (Col. 2:1-4). As many of you have testified, you’ve come from fundamentalist homes where you’ve taken the faith for granted and failed to value it as you might have. I just pray you’d be more patient about it!!” — I appreciate your concern. These are the weighty matters that unite us despite our other differneces. But I still think your are wrong, brother! :)
“Please understand that if I make life a bit more difficult for the TE.” — being forced to articulate your position should always be a welcomed opportunity.
Gordon



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Arni Zachariassen

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm


“How does failing to quote this very obvious material make me “dishonest”?” Sorry, but it’s not very obvious from the part of the quote you chose to use. The way you chose to present the quote, as incomplete, made it look like Karl was saying that accepting evolution means throwing out basically every foundational doctrine there is – or, as you say, “deep (and perhaps complete) compromises”. It turns out that he’s not saying that at all. He is saying that accepting evolution means some doctrinal rethinking, but not in regards to anything truly foundational. Your dishonesty lies in misrepresenting what Karl is saying by only quoting a part of that paragraph. You did so to support you assertion that accepting evolution means, again, “deep (and perhaps complete) compromise”. What Dennett thinks is not important. Your failure to accurately portray Karl’s view is.
Oh, and please tell me honestly: Do you own “Saving Darwin” or did you find that quote somewhere?
It’s interesting that you should accuse me of character assassination and then proceed to speculate as to why I might be “troubled by this quotation”, as if I’m somehow trying to compensate for the acid eating away at my faith by attacking you. Sorry, but that’s hypocritical. I called you out, demonstrating that you misrepresented Karl’s views. It might be hard to swallow being wrong, but you’re not helped by accusing me with psycho babble.
I’m interested in this compromise that you keep talking about. As far as I can tell the most active commentators here are traditional evangelical Christians theologically – or at least pretty close to that. Biologos falls within that category too. So do a lot of other pro-evolution Christian scholars. As far as I can tell, this great compromise is simply not accepting that some of the stories in the Bible are historical – yet the theological implications of those stories remain the same for both those who see them as historical and those who see them as myth. What’s the problem then? Really. What’s the problem? We agree that God created and creates the universe. We agree that humans are meant to be in relationship with him. We agree that sin hinders that relationship. We agree that Christ came into the world as a human to reconstitute that relationship. The stuff we disagree on is, as Karl points out in his book, of secondary, non-foundational importance. Let’s get on with our lives.



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Scott Jorgenson

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm


Daniel, Jesus’ allusion to Genesis works perfectly well as a literary allusion, not a literal one. In the same way that my example about the boy-who-cried-wolf demonstrated, Jesus’ citation works to buttress his argument regardless of how historical Adam and Eve are. If you can’t see that from my own example, then see it from Jesus himself: consider how Jesus told parables and then subsequently referred to the parable “as if” it were fact (as in the story of the good Samaritan in which Jesus went on to ask which of the men was a neighbor to the man waylaid by bandits — by doing so he treated the narrative as if it had really happened, by your logic).
Moreover, in that particular citation by Jesus there is nothing that clashes with an evolutionary scenario anyway, even if the reference is literal rather than literary. Where in that passage did Jesus say that Adam and Eve actually existed as the first humans specially created by God a few thousand years ago? Nowhere; Jesus’ allusion is to the generic creation of humans male and female and to the attachment God intended they have for one another, quite apart from the mechanism of their creation (or evolution). Contrast this with Paul’s elaborate insistence upon and repeated citation of evidence for the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8); the difference is obvious.
Daniel, nothing in your response to my comment addressed the substance of my remarks. There’s nothing more to say, I guess.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm


Daniel Mann, “You have opted to understand the Bible through the lens of the present scientific consensus while we have opted to see science through the lens of the Bible (2 Cor. 10:4-5).” Excellent. Our first loyalty is to the Bible. We interpret science through our biblical hermeneutic because the Bible alone is the one thing we know will not change. We do not think the Bible is a science textbook, but when it speaks to science it is certainly reliable. Of course, we must also allow for expressions such as “The sun rises in the east”. Even Dr. Giberson, a credentialed physicisist, has no doubt used this same phrase, though none of us are ready to claim that he is wrong. Further, approximate numbers are also acceptable, such as when we say “There were 93,000 fans at the Cincinnati Bengals football game this week.” It is very unlikely there were exactly 93,000 fans attending, but the number is still legitimate. If, however, the news commentators digressed into a lengthy description of how they all came to the football game and was proven wrong (easily enough), then we would have reason to doubt the commentators.
Gordon, I apologize for not responding. I assure you it was an accidental oversight on my part. Still my fault, but not on purpose.
I am not sure if you meant these various scenarios to be addressed individually or not. The problem with all of them is that they are each hypothetical. If the mustard seed was no longer the smallest seed would I have problems? I would have to dig into the Greek. Some of these are not scientific claims really: the 3rd heaven is the residence of God, the transcendent heaven, to which no man can enter but through Jesus Christ. This is not a scientific claim. Thus, it cannot be scientifically proven or falsified.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm


Arni,
(Once again, you have failed to show how I misrepresented Karl, but I don’t want to debate this any longer. There are far more important things!)
You ask, “As far as I can tell, this great compromise is simply not accepting that some of the stories in the Bible are historical – yet the theological implications of those stories remain the same for both those who see them as historical and those who see them as myth. What’s the problem then? Really. What’s the problem?”
The problems are multiple:
1. As you can see from the many threads of this dialogue, making room for Darwin means concluding that Jesus, His Apostles, and even the OT authors were teaching myths as history—a great indictment of their reliability! How then can we know when they are talking myth and when they are talking truth? Consequently, with such an integrity problem, the foundations of our faith become very questionable.
2. In general, embracing Darwin also means questioning what the Bible teaches about this world. Many of the Biologos posts deny that the Bible has much authoritatively to say about this physical world. For instance, I have often read statements like this: “The bible is not about the physical reality, but about salvation and having a relationship with Jesus. However, as I have often tried to argue, to denigrate the history of the Bible is also to denigrate the theology.
3. Disparaging what the Bible teaches about this physical world is also to disparage the various theistic proofs and apologetics in general. This leaves the Christian faith entirely vulnerable to all manner of attacks, whether they consist of attacks on the canon, the inspiration of the Bible, or the negative impact of Christ on the world…
4. Without the grounding in historical fact, interpretation loses its necessary context. If Genesis 3 is historical, how then do we understand it? Were Adam and Eve truly so unfaithful to their good and trustworthy God? Not if blood, gore, and the survival-of-the fittest was the reality of their lives! In such a case, they were really wise by trying to be like God. That would have given them the advantage they needed in their struggle for survival. Instead, God was needlessly punitive! Likewise, Cain was wise for killing his naïve brother Abel, and who could blame him for conforming his life to the pattern of natural selection that God had established!
5. Darwin introduces an entirely alien worldview and consequently, theology. Whereas the Biblical message is that God did everything right (even the animals were herbivores!), we screwed it up, and this mess would require the “second Adam” Jesus to redeem this fallen world. Darwin has no room for this. Accordingly, the world was a mess of survival-of-the-fittest from the beginning, and so there couldn’t be a Fall. But without a Fall, our understanding of the Cross must be also adjusted. Nor can heaven be the promised “restoration” (Acts 3:21) because that would once again place us back into the grips of the survival-of-the-fittest—not my idea of heaven.
Arni, when you attempt to bring Darwin and Jesus together, you are essentially serving two masters (Mat. 6:23-24), and one will finally predominate over the other. Please understand this.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:52 pm


Gordon,
While I gladly admit that the Bible is my pre-eminent authority, you resist admitting that the present science consensus is your pre-eminent authority. However, it is so clear that TEs re-configure the Bible to make room for Darwin. You have clearly stated that the Bible isn’t about science and history, thereby relegating the Bible’s history to myth. You claim that when the Apostles refer to history, they are merely referring to myths. By taking this position, you conveniently remove anything that might be objectionable to evolution.
Nevertheless, you claim, “For the last time: we see the Bible through the same lens that both the original authors and their immediate audients saw it through. It is you who place nonsensical demands on the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible by seeing it through a modern western lens.”
If this is the case, please demonstrate how the Bible authors and audiences understood history as myth! Instead, they claimed that everything they had taught was TRUTH! Please provide evidence for your dogmatic assertions.
You also charge, “I have already demonstrated that you say one thing and do another. You pick and choose based on what modern science you are comfortable with.” Once again, you malign me with the unjustified charge that I’m exercising a double-standard.
You then recklessly charge me with having a “modern materialistic worldview!” Where do you come up with this stuff? Does it represent a ruse to cover your own very flagrant compromises? At least Karl has the integrity to admit that evolution has burnt away many of his earlier Biblical beliefs. Are you so uncomfortable with such an admission that you must defensively cover it up with wild accusations?
Nevertheless, you call me “brother” – something I respect about you — and I pray that this is the case. I also pray that somehow, in the Lord’s hands, these acrimonious exchanges may produce some eternal fruit.



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Daniel Mann

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Scott,
You didn’t even interact with my response to your contention that the Apostles (and Jesus) didn’t care about history, apart from the resurrection! Was it not apropos?
Frodo,
Thanks for your encouraging words. As you can see, I need plenty of that commodity!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm


Hi Frodo,
“Of course, we must also allow for expressions such as ‘The sun rises in the east’.” — But how do we know it’s just an expression? Where in the Bible does it say that the earth actually does orbit the earth? Answer: It doesn’t!
There is no way to know apart from modern science, that this is an expression. Why do you think Calvin, Luther, Augustine, and every other theologian prior to Galileo interpreted these passages as literal descriptions of the heavens? What makes you think you know the scriptures better than Augustine, Luther and Calvin? I submit that your only advantage over them is the perspective offered by modern science — not new exegetical insights. Remember: the scriptures do not change! So why do our interpretations of it? Were it not for the new astronomy, you could not say today that these 67 statements by the biblical authors are merely expressions. You would have no basis for this apart from extra-biblical knowledge. So you, my friend, are guilty of allowing science to interpret the Bible. How does it feel?
“Some of these are not scientific claims really: the 3rd heaven is the residence of God, the transcendent heaven, to which no man can enter but through Jesus Christ.” — Woah! Not so fast! You just dismissed almost 1500 years of exegetical precedent! Based on what? The speculations of some godless scientist at NASA who says there is no literal heaven in outer space? Have they proven this? Perhaps they are not looking in the right place? Where is your committment to the scriptures! Haven’t you read Luther’s lectures on Genesis 1:16-17? Or Calvin’s commentary on Genesis 1:6? If we follow the Godless astronomers and deny the immutability of the physical heavens above us, then what does it mean for Christ to be physically ascended and seated at the right hand of God in heaven? Was Luke mistaken when he saw the Lord taken up into the clouds? And if we dismiss heaven as some spiritual realm, just to satisfy the astronomers, what’s to stop us from turning the resurrection into a purely spiritual event with no physical significance? And are you suggesting that we rewrite the ancient creeds, which plainly state that Christ ascended into heaven, just to accommodate the godless astronomers?
——————end of sarcasm——————
I suggest you familarize yourself with history before convincing yourself you are right on this issue. Those who do not learn from previous mistakes are doomed to repeat them. And we see this excact same scenario playing itself out once again today with respect to geology and biology.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:38 pm


Daniel,
“…please demonstrate how the Bible authors and audiences understood history as myth!” — This need not be demonstrated. We assume that the Hebrews were part of the same cognitive environment shared by the surrounding cultures unless we have evidence to believe otherwise. And all ANE peoples created myths to answer the “big questions” in life: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why is the world the way it is? Who are the gods, what is our standing with them, and what do they require of us? etc…
Myth was the medium used to communicate answers to these ultimate questions. The difference between the pagan and the Hebrew myths is that when it came time for God to answer these ultimate questions, He gave them myths that answered the questions TRUTHFULLY! For example: there is only one God, not many. God governs the cosmos with order and harmony, not out of anger, malice or capriciousness. God requires sacrifices of plants and animals, not of children or servants. Man was created by God to exercise dominion over creation and subdue it for his glory, not as slaves growing food to feed the lazy gods who needed sustenance.
The differences between the Hebrew myths and the pagan myths are profound! But they are not scientific — they are theological. You will find little, if any, scientific differences. So the onus on you, my dear modern friend, to prove otherwise. You must demonstrate that “…[the Hebrews] claimed that everything they had taught was TRUTH!” because this would have been a clear departure from Ancient Near-Eastern modes of thinking.
Clearly, Hebrew modes of thought were more similar to the other ANE culture than they are to 21st century Americans. If you want to suggest otherwise, then you show me the proof.
“Once again, you malign me with the unjustified charge that I’m exercising a double-standard.” — And I stand by this charge, although it’s not half as bad as some of the zingers you have leveled at us. The fact is, you choose modern astronomy over biblical astronomy. There is a group called, “The Association of Biblical Astronomy”. If you really were consistent, you would take up their cause against a moving earth. After all, there are lot more heliocentrists than there are evolutionists. And the true “creationists” blame this whole evolution mess on the fact that medieval Christians departed from the Biblical doctrine of a fixed earth. So perhaps you should begin your crusade there?
htt://www.geocentricity.com — enjoy!
“You then recklessly charge me with having a “modern materialistic worldview!” Where do you come up with this stuff?” — It’s really quite simple. Just the Hebrews were part of thir ANE culture, we modern Christians are part of ours. And as moderns, we tend to make artifical divisions between myth and truth, between science and theology, between history and historiography, etc. We have standards of what constitutes “literal history” or what constitutes “accurate scientific reporting” while myths are equated with bedtime stories, etc… However, these material-based categories of thinking did not exist in Biblical times. And myth was the most important literary genre when it came to adressing ultimate questions (questions that we moderns attempt to answer with science). So it is unfair for you, or any other modern Christian, to impose these modern categories of thought onto the Bible and expect it to hold up under that kind of scrutiny. I believe I was clear on this before. Perhaps you should read more slowly.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:48 pm


Gordon, who are these “true creationists” than blame “this whole thing” on the medieval scientists and theologians? Could you name some? Further, identifying the extremists of any group contrary to one’s own viewpoint and lumping all opponents into that one camp is wrong and misguided. I have not called your viewpoint anything more than it deserves; please respect the same of mine. Further, do not engage in ad hominem attacks. No need for shouting, no ned for capitalization to emphasize a point. I understand your reasoning perfectly fine. No need to jab at my viewpoint, or, worse, me personally. Personal attacks get everyone nowhere.
Gordon, there is a massive difference between “The sun rose in the east…” and “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth [...and 11 chapters of narrative.]” In light of scientific evidence, we know it’s an expression, but it’s also just one line. Now before you jump me, yes, I know, even one line can be of vital importance. But, “The sun rose in the east….”–no one is going to argue the point either way. When 11 full chapters are involved, however, things are a little different. Where the Bible uses expressions, it does so when the expressions do not matter, and it is clear (by reading within context) that it does not matter. But the first 11 chapters of Genesis give us no such indication.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm


Gordon, I am not arguing that heaven is purely immaterial in that no material things can reach it or exist within it. That is absurd, even heretical (for how shall we have resurrected bodies and be where Jesus is, which is heaven, if material bodies cannot exist in heaven?). What I am saying (and you would see this if you re-read my post) is that we as humans cannot on our own power reach heaven’s bright glory. Paul was carried in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, not his spirit and his power. Jesus was in His resurrected body and could ascend to heaven (just as we shall); furthermore, He is God, and therefore is unlimited. Surely you do not draw the conclusion that because I say scientists cannot disprove the existence of the 3rd heaven that therefore I believe material bodies cannot exist therein! That is incredible.
You must understand that while God authorized every word of Scripture, He used man to write those words, and thus, while still perfect, Scripture is written through a human lens. Exactly what this means we may never know, for it means that a human work is without flaw because God superintended it. Now, to Moses (or David, or whomever), in the morning it would certainly seem that the sun was rising. Thus, God was not going to illumine the mind of Moses such that he had scientific insights that he predated by millennia. No, God was going to allow Moses to describe it as it appeared, just as John did in the Apocalypse. Now, we have a very straight forward account in the first several chapters of Genesis. Since the traditional author of the Pentateuch is Moses (and I see no reason why it should be otherwise), we will go with that. If Moses saw millions of years, why would he not say so? Why would he say “evening and morning” if he saw billions of evenings and mornings? Why would he ascribe the same words to the formation of light as he did to the creation of life? The Bible says “….and it was.” It does not say “…..and it became.” Who is going to argue that light took millions or billions of years to develop? Certainly no one! Similarly, why are we willing to ascribe to the formation of the heavenly bodies and to life such varying times of “evolution”? It makes no sense. The hermeneutical gymnastics are beyond the skill of any Olympian, or Hercules, for that matter. Rather, the formation of what is belongs to God, and God alone. I believe that He, and He alone, is adequate for the description of the universe’s being. That He withholds certain details should not trouble us. He is God, and He knows what is best.
Sure thing, Daniel. Folks like us are hard to come by in a time where others are blown about by every wind of false doctrine (Eph 4:14).



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Scott Jorgenson

posted October 15, 2009 at 12:16 am


Frodo, you’re still assuming that a purpose of early Genesis is to in fact give a factual history of the formation of the universe and the earth in particular. Incredible as it may seem, it turns out that this assumption is simply not warranted given the culture of the place and time, as most biblical scholars (even many evangelical ones) now realize. I’ll stop arguing that now, as it is clear we are going nowhere. But let me just say that it took me years to educate myself and come to that realization and re-orientation, so it is entirely understandable that it should seem foreign to you. But as someone who has taken that journey, I can tell you it makes better sense now than your hermeneutic ever did. Thank God for the biblical scholars – secular, Jewish, and especially Christian – who laid that path, as it has kept me in the faith.
By the way, to those reading, if it isn’t clear by now why Protestants have splintered into thousands of denominations, it should be. We see that basic dynamic at work here in this very thread, by those who consider this a major issue of False Doctrine which (God willing) is to be stamped out or divided over (with them playing a part). But have no fear, Frodo, folks like you are not hard to come by — at least not if you are an American — as about 40% of Americans and 80% of American evangelical Christians reject evolution and mainstream science on biblical grounds. It is we theistic evolutionists who, at least in the non-liberal churches, are in the distinct minority.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 15, 2009 at 6:42 am


Frodo,
“…who are these “true creationists” than blame “this whole thing” on the medieval scientists and theologians? Could you name some?”
http://www.geocentricity.com (PhD’s in astronomy)
http://www.fixedearth.com
http://www.staticearth.net
“Further, identifying the extremists of any group contrary to one’s own viewpoint and lumping all opponents into that one camp is wrong and misguided.” — I’m not lumping you all together. I’m saying that while you claim one thing and do another, they are not ashamed to actually stick to their guns. They are consistent; you are inconsistent. ie: you are different. How is that lumping you together?
“In light of scientific evidence, we know it’s an expression, but it’s also just one line.” — So I guess in light of the scientific evidence for evolution, the statement by Moses that God created plants and animals after their kind is just an expression as well?
“But the first 11 chapters of Genesis give us no such indication.” — That sounds a lot like special pleading to me? Moreoever, the fact that every culture surrounding the Isrealites had similar myths qualifies as a pretty good “indication” in my mind.
“Surely you do not draw the conclusion that because I say scientists cannot disprove the existence of the 3rd heaven that therefore I believe material bodies cannot exist therein!” — no, I’m not saying that. You missed the point entirely. What I’m saying is: that was the theological argument made by Christians who feared what would would happen if the Church accepted the new astronomy. But the fact that we all still believe that upon being resurrected in Glory, we will still somehow spend eternity with the Lord proves that their worst fears never came true. It’s no different with evolution. You guys keep arguing that if the Church accommodates this “new biology” that it will destroy the Gospel. Nonsense! The only Christians who lose their faith because of evolution are those who have bought the creationist lie that if Genesis is myth, then the Gosepel is myth.
“You must understand that while God authorized every word of Scripture, He used man to write those words, and thus, while still perfect, Scripture is written through a human lens.” — Wow. Now we’re getting somewhere! Thank you for recognizing this.
“Exactly what this means we may never know, for it means that a human work is without flaw because God superintended it.” — or it means that the human flaws do not distract from its TRUTH.
“…God was not going to illumine the mind of Moses such that he had scientific insights that he predated by millennia. No, God was going to allow Moses to describe it as it appeared, just as John did in the Apocalypse.” — Exactly! All science in the ANE was based on appearences.
“If Moses saw millions of years, why would he not say so?” — because he didn’t see millions of years, just like he didn’t see galaxies or bacteria. But since we can see all of these things with modern technology, we should be free to include them in that which God created, including the time He took to create them. That’s what science does, it adds to our understanding of God’s creation.
“Why would he say “evening and morning” if he saw billions of evenings and mornings?” — Again, he didn’t see modern science. You need sophisticated insturments to measure the age of the earth. You just admitted that Moses had no special scientific insights.
“Why would he ascribe the same words to the formation of light as he did to the creation of life? The Bible says “….and it was.” It does not say “…..and it became.” — Read any of the Eyptian creation myths and you’ll see why He used this vocabulary. This was the standard vocabulary of creation! A watery abyss was the primordial substance by which it was understood the Gods created. The Egyptian creation myths were probably regarded as “scientific truth” by the Hebrews after spending hundreds of years there. And where did Moses recieve his education? Clearly since Moses didn’t describe our cosmos as know it today, it makes the most sense that he would describe it as they knew it. This is called “contextuallization” and missionaries have to do it all the time. Why now God?
“Who is going to argue that light took millions or billions of years to develop?” — It actually only took 380,000 years. During that time it was trapped by the ionized plasma of a young, hot cosmos. And yes, this can accurrately measured via the cosmic background radiation.
“Similarly, why are we willing to ascribe to the formation of the heavenly bodies and to life such varying times of “evolution”?” — because… that’s what the data clearly tell us? Am I missing something?
“The hermeneutical gymnastics are beyond the skill of any Olympian, or Hercules, for that matter.” — So tell me, then, how you reconcile Genesis 1:6 with Genesis 1:16-17 as scientific truth without hermeneutical gymnastics? Or tell me where Cain got his wife without herm gym? In my experience, it is your interpretation of scripture that forces herm gym, not mine. I believe that Moses wrote it down exactly as he saw it. Once you realize that all ANE people thought that the sun moon and stars were sandwiched between the upper and lower waters, and that the upper waters were held back by a sold dome, then it becomes clear what Moses is talking about. Ergo: no hermeneutical gymnastics are needed! I can take Moses at face value, you cannot.
“Rather, the formation of what is belongs to God, and God alone.” — Evolution doesn’t deny this. My first comment to you was all about this. Did you read it?
“I believe that He, and He alone, is adequate for the description of the universe’s being.” — No argument there brother, but if you go to the doctor with a sore neck and he tells you, “I don’t need study your material frame because God knit it together in your mother’s womb”, would that be a sufficient answer? I think you are forgeting that science and theology serve different purposes.
GJG



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 9:57 am


You missed the point entirely. What I’m saying is: that was the theological argument made by Christians who feared what would would happen if the Church accepted the new astronomy. But the fact that we all still believe that upon being resurrected in Glory, we will still somehow spend eternity with the Lord proves that their worst fears never came true. – Gordon J. Glover
Pretty near their worst: Christians are no longer allowed to slaughter non-Christians (or each other) over differences in belief. Those who argued against accepting the new astronomy would have loathed that. Now, literally millions of open atheists walk the streets untortured and unburned!



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Daniel Mann

posted October 15, 2009 at 11:26 am


Gordon (and Others),
Here is your defense of your claim that the Hebrews didn’t distinguish myth from fact and history: “We assume that the Hebrews were part of the same cognitive environment shared by the surrounding cultures unless we have evidence to believe otherwise. And all ANE peoples created myths to answer the “big questions” in life…”
Your argument goes something like this:
1. The ancients didn’t distinguish myth from historical fact.
2. Therefore, the Hebrews also didn’t distinguish myth from fact.
3. Therefore, the authors of Scripture “ .
4. Therefore, Scripture doesn’t distinguish myth from historical fact.
5. Consequently, when we take the Bible’s historical accounts as historical fact, we are imposing our modernistic interpretations on Scripture.
Although this reasoning is so highly imaginative and problematic (and consequently, I was considering to not even respond), I think it reflects something terribly important—What happens to the Christian mind and faith when it embraces Darwin, and the way that the Bible must be denigrated in order to make this illegitimate marriage “work.”
1. While you might be able to demonstrate that the ancients had a pre-scientific understanding of the world (as compared with our modern science), asserting that they didn’t (or couldn’t) distinguish myth from factual history is an entirely different thing! Furthermore, just because they often resorted to myths and parables, it doesn’t mean that they lacked an appreciation for historical truth and fact. (It is like arguing that since the Samoans eat bananas, they therefore don’t eat bread.) Besides, there are many ancient histories that are highly regarded. (This doesn’t mean that they didn’t lie and distort, but I don’t think that you are insinuating that Scripture lies and distorts, are you?) Therefore, it is you who must provide evidence that the ancients didn’t distinguish fabrication from actual history.
2. (and 3) Once again, you must provide proof that the Hebrews didn’t distinguish myth from history.
4. To conclude that Scripture doesn’t distinguish myth from historical fact, you are forced to deny that all Scripture is also authored by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:9-10; 2 Peter 1
19-20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Mat. 5:16-18) and that it’s exclusively the product of confused human beings who can’t (or won’t) distinguish fact from fancy. This position flies in the face of everything that Scripture says about itself, as Jesus stated: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Peter explicitly claimed that what they were writing weren’t myths: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
The list is endless. It is needless that I continue with it. In fact, there is no writer of Scripture who ever insinuated that anything that had been written prior as history was actually myth! To maintain that many of these accounts are mythological, is to contradict Scripture at every turn. I too have considered the possibility that the early chapters of Genesis might be myth until it became poignantly obvious that all the writers of Scripture regarded them as historical fact and that these facts played an integral role in the super-structure of Christian theology.
In fact, many academicians have a very high regard for the history as presented in the Bible. Biblical scholar Craig Blomberg states:
“Major studies of almost every theme…of the Synoptic tradition have advanced plausible arguments for accepting the historical reliability of substantial portions of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.”
Archeologist John McRay writes:
“Archeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradictionj to the Bible. On the contrary, as we have seen, there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars [and TEs] that have become codified into ‘fact’ over the years, but that archeology has shown to be wrong.”
Even the militant agnostic Bart Ehrman acknowledges:
“The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the NT…This is not simply the view of Christian historians who have a high opinion of the NT and in its historical worth; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity.”
These statements couldn’t stand if Scripture didn’t clearly distinguish myth from historical fact.
5. Are we imposing our own modernistic assumptions about historical truth upon the Bible? As Ehrman affirmed, this is the same conclusion that “ALL serious historians of antiquity” have embraced! Instead, we conclude that it is the TEs who have imposed their Darwin-driven assumptions on Scripture and refuse to see anything outside of this destructive worldview. Consequently, whenever I present Biblical refutations for the TE position, TEs inevitably fail to engage the text of Scripture or my argumentation, preferring instead to delight in lofty abstractions far removed from the reality of Scripture.
If the Bible fails to distinguish between myth and historical fact, how can we? How can we depend upon such a Bible to illuminate our steps? Meanwhile, the TE must sit in judgment over the Bible to determine what is essential and what isn’t, instead of allowing the Bible to sit in judgment over them. Historically, no branch of Christianity which has ever divorced itself from the Text in this manner has been able to thrive. The Gnostics also believed that they possessed a superior understanding that enabled them to derive the real spiritual meat from Scripture. Where are they today? I trust that TE will also find itself on the dump-heap of history, that is, non-mythological history.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm


Gordon, in the words of the great preacher WA Criswell, “They [those who do not hold to inerrancy and infallibility] believe in the Bible is inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots!” Gordon, if we throw out the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the Gospels are void, Jesus is void, and life has no meaning. I’m not here arguing for a Young Earth. I am arguing for no human macroevolution period whatsoever, and no macroevolution of other kinds of life. We are made in the imago Dei, the image of God (Gen 1:27) and upon that there can be no improvement for humans!
How did Moses not see millions of years of evolution? And why did he work within an Egyption mythological framework? Do you mean to tell me that the Bible contains stories of the godless Egyptians and upon that bases the authority of God over all creation? For if God did not create the world, then why should He have power over it?
Where did Cain get his wife? Easy. His sister. But, but, the Bible doesn’t mention his sister! Yes, but I’ve got to imagine that if you live 900 years, you’re going to have more than 3 kids. Don’t you think? Or did Adam and Eve not live 900 years? Then what is the purpose of the Bible saying they did?
Further, how do you reconcile the monstrosities associated with upwards evolution for billions of years without human sin? Is that natural? Is it natural for an animal to slaughter another? Is it natural? If humans are really glorified animals, and God let animals duke it out for billions of years, I don’t think I can trust this God. And if we are just animals, and evolution is the course that God has chosen for the world the last 4 billion years, then why in the world should I not become a homicidal freak? After all, that was God’s foreordained purpose of the world for the last 4 billion years, right?



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm


Daniel,
“…asserting that [the Hebrews] didn’t (or couldn’t) distinguish myth from factual history is an entirely different thing…” — you still don’t get it. It’s not that they could or couldn’t distinguish. That had no reason to! Their accounts of the past served an entirely different purpose than ours do today. You are expecting them to think in catagories that didnt’ even exist for thousands of years! In the ANE, stories of origins (whether human, cultural, or cosmological) existed to answer the “ultimate questions” — not to provide detailed chronologies and material histories of actual cration events. Do you really think the Egyptians believed that Re sailed his solar boat across the waters of the firmament each day, and sailed it through the underworld back to the East each night? Please.
“To conclude that Scripture doesn’t distinguish myth from historical fact, you are forced to deny that all Scripture is also authored by the Holy Spirit.” — Nope. But it almost sounds as though you wish I did, just to prove your point. I hope I’m wrong, but would that say about your true motivations? On the contrary, I believe that God authors myths when the situation calls for them. Especially when that is the most effective way to communicate timeless truth to a pre-scientific audience.
The rest of your rant can easily be dismissed by demonstrating that there is absolutely no evidence that any of the events described in Genesis 1-11 actually took place. A recent creation in 6 days should leave some clues behind. Nothing. A world-wide flood should leave an indisputable mark in the earth’s crust. But we find nothing. What we do find instead are loads of data suggesting an entirely different sequence of events, and we also find many pagan stories, which predate even the Hebrew language, that are almost identical to the Hebrews ones. The Egyptians and the Chinese have chronologies of kings and wars that pre-date the Flood and Eden.
But none of this evidence matters to you — you ahve made that abundantly clear. You have constructed the neat little system and you dare not venture too far out from under it — no different than the Church officials who refused to aknowledge Jupiter’s moons, and even accused Galileo of constructing and “insturment of devil” (telescope) to deceive the eyes of man. I honstly don’t know why you torture yourself over here.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm


Frodo,
“They [those who do not hold to inerrancy and infallibility] believe in the Bible is inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots!” — Not if you believe that God might inspire errors for a reason.
“…if we throw out the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the Gospels are void, Jesus is void, and life has no meaning.” — Who here wants to throw them out? They contain exactly what the Holy Spirit intened — no more and no less. As I have said before, origins myths were very important for ANE societies. So it makes perfect sense that God would begin the Hebrew bible with origins myths. What else would we give them? A power-point point presetntation with color charts and fancy animations?
“How did Moses not see millions of years of evolution?” — because, as you have already said, God did not reveal modern science to Moses. It’s the same reason he could not see microbes and galaxies, or that the stars were greater lights than the moon.
“And why did he work within an Egyption mythological framework?” — I guess because he and his audience knew of no other framework. They were 15th generation Egyptians without access to the internet and lousy mail service.
“Do you mean to tell me that the Bible contains stories of the godless Egyptians and upon that bases the authority of God over all creation?” — I thought it was a pretty good idea – take their own pagan stories, but replace the paganism with truth about God, man, and creation. But apparently you don’t approve. You can put that in God’s suggestion box for next time.
“For if God did not create the world, then why should He have power over it?” — God did the create the world. Did somebody here say that He didn’t?
“Where did Cain get his wife? Easy. His sister. But, but, the Bible doesn’t mention his sister! Yes, but I’ve got to imagine that if you live 900 years, you’re going to have more than 3 kids.” — You have obviously not thought this through. So apparently in those 900 years, there were no other males borne of Eve. The Bible clearly says that when Seth was born Eve said God gave her a son to take the place of Abel (4:25). But back when Abel was killed, Cain feared that other people roaming the countryside would agenge him (4:13). So you’re basically saying that Cain was afraid of bunch of girls? A bunch of Girls that were his little sisters? Does the phrase hermeneutical gymnastics ring a bell?
“Or did Adam and Eve not live 900 years?” — trying to figure out how Adam and Eve relate to natural history is like trying to figure out where in the firmament NASA sends it’s spacecraft. It’s nonsensical.
“Then what is the purpose of the Bible saying they did?” — Once again. Origins myths (cultural, anthropological and cosmological) are key to the identiy of every ANE culture. When the Hebrews became liberated from the Egyptians, God inspired Moses to give them dinstinctly Hebrew (monotheistic) origins myths. But He chose to keep the cosmological and historical elements. There was no reason to change these technical details because they are incidental to the theology of the stories. When I want to explain fundamental truths about God, man, woman, and creation to my children, I use the Garden of Eden. Even today it speaks volumes aout who we are in Christ. It serves no scientific function, but the Hebrews had no reason to answer scientific questions back then.
“Further, how do you reconcile the monstrosities associated with upwards evolution for billions of years without human sin? Is that natural? Is it natural for an animal to slaughter another? Is it natural?” — It must be, becasue it happened with God at the helm of creation. We can observe this in the fossil record. Millions of years of struggle, death, and change — then finally modern man at the top-most layers. There are geological features which separate the first appearence of man from the violent deaths of other animals. Even if macroevolution is FALSE, we are still left with a God who created and destoryed a violoent primitive world before starting over with modern species. There is no way around this. Theology will just have to keep up for become irrelavent.
“If humans are really glorified animals, and God let animals duke it out for billions of years, I don’t think I can trust this God.” — C.S. Lewis did, and he believed exactly that (see The Problem of Pain).
“And if we are just animals, and evolution is the course that God has chosen for the world the last 4 billion years, then why in the world should I not become a homicidal freak?” — Do I really have to answer that? That’s pretty sad. So unless your great, great, great, great, great….grandparents walked with God in the garden, you’re going to become a mass-murder? Explain to me how that works.



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Scott Jorgenson

posted October 15, 2009 at 7:22 pm


Gordon — you have the patience of Job. Keep teaching it; eventually they might understand. It took me years though. Best regards.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm


Why in the world would God inspire error? God is a God of truth! He is the way the truth and the life, not the way, the myth and the life! Who cares what ANE (I take that to mean “Ancient Near East”?) societies thought? ANE were perversions of original monotheism. God isn’t interested in what we think, He’s interested in Truth.
Gordon, here’s the thing: Moses didn’t take Egyptian mythology and replace the important parts with God. God doesn’t adapt the lies and perversions of Satan and fallen man to tell His creation story; rather, God tells His creation story and the lies and perversions of Satan and fallen man kick in later. I imagine that Adam and Eve had lots of kids, boys and girls. The Bible doesn’t give records of every human life. There’s no reason to assume that Adam and Eve had only 3 boys.
Here is the deal: God speaks Truth, whether or not the audience likes it. Jesus certainly did. God doesn’t inspire lies because it resonates most with the lost. He inspires Truth and begs and implores the lost to open their eyes to what is True. Encouraging early civilizations in their mythology is no way to secure Truth.
I suppose this: “Even if macroevolution is FALSE, we are still left with a God who created and destoryed a violoent primitive world before starting over with modern species.” refers to the Flood as traditionally understood? If that’s NOT what you mean, let me know. Otherwise, I don’t think God started with a “modern species”–I think Noah and his family were humans and the animals on the ark were animals.
How is sin evil if sin (i.e., selfishness, or survival of the fittest) is just part of our genes, part of our make-up? How can God accuse us of wickedness if He superintended our evolution and that mechanism was one in which evil was inherent? In traditional orthodoxy, that would be like God viewing cognizance as evil and sending us to Hell for that. We can’t help it, it’s part of us. It would mean God created an evil creation then accused the creation of being evil. How stupid!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted October 16, 2009 at 8:46 am


“Who cares what [Ancient Near-Eastern] societies thought?”
So much for reading the Bible in its native context…
“There’s no reason to assume that Adam and Eve had only 3 boys.”
No reason except for the Word of God. Eve said that Seth replaced Abel (Gen 4:25). So if you want base everything on a literal reading of Scripture, then you can’t just make up sons between Abel’s death and Seth’s birth so the story works out, or Eve’s statement would make no sense.
Here is the problem with your position: there is no evidence whatsoever that any of this ever happened! In fact, it is impossible to reconcile the Hebrew myths even with the evidence that we have!
There at least 25 locations on earth where the geologic column can be sampled in its entirety. Each sedimentary layer contains the remains the different plants and animals, but they all maintain a consistent progression from bottom to top. Humans and flowering plants are only ever found at the top. Dinosoaurs are never found above the K-T boundary, seeded plants are never found below the first appearence of vascular plants, tetrapods are never found below the first appearence of fish, etc, etc, etc…
The problem with your flood myth is that violent floods don’t sort dead plants and animals according to their taxonomic relationships. This could only happen if they lived in that order, and were preserved according to when they died. Moreover, the layers we find could not have been deposited by a single global flood. For instance, you have places with hundreds of feet of standstone, containting descrete layers of black shale. Each of these layers require extremely long periods of tranquil conditions. If they are agitated in any way, the fine particles that form the shale will mix with the fine particles that form the sandstone according to their densities. But that’s not what we see. Moreover, this same sandstone often contains multiple layers of perfectly preserved animal burrows throught – also an indication that tranquil conditions were present for many seasons. And since animals only burrow from top to bottom, each burrow must have at some point represented the bottom of a shallow sea or pond, indicating that each layer built up slowly over time during long periods of tranquility. There are also distinct layers separated by structures that could not have formed during a flood, like layers of dry mud with cracks from being backed by the sun, or enormous coral reefs that couldn’t grow in a single year, then become suspended in the middle of the Noah’s ocean while mud settled down around them. The examples are endless…
This is only the tip of the iceberg. The bottom line is that there was no recent global flood. That fact alone is enough to declare that the flood story serves a purpose that is more important than geologic history or science. It probably served the same purpose as did the flood myths in other cultures — to answer non-scientific questions about the identity of a culture and their relationship to the gods.
And given the vast amounts of time that separate the geologic layers, and given the different groups of plants and animals that belong to these distinct layers, even if macroevolution is IMPOSSIBLE, we are still left with a different creation scenario than the one God gave us. So whether evolution is true or not, the Hebrew creation myth is neither science nor history. It is factually incorrect when judged against these standards. And no amount of wishful thinking on your part can make it otherwise.
And C.S. Lewis already answered your silly rant about natural evil in “The Problem of Pain”. Do you really think you’re the first person to have these objections? Or that thoughful Christians have not already answered them? Please.



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Knockgoats

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:15 am


And C.S. Lewis already answered your silly rant about natural evil in “The Problem of Pain”. Do you really think you’re the first person to have these objections? Or that thoughful Christians have not already answered them? – Gordon J. Glover
However, none of the answers are remotely satisfactory. you can tell this from the sort of guff that appears on the BioLogos site itself (http://biologos.org/questions/problem-of-evil/)
Nonbelievers struggle with the atheist conclusion that morality is an illusory and ungrounded evolutionary artifact,
No, they don’t, at least those who have thought the matter through. The justification for acting ethically is that it helps others. Need more? You’re a psychopath. The demand for an “ultimate” justification is logically incoherent, and the existence of a God would do nothing to change this. One can simply ask: why should we obey God?
in which case there may be no basis to complain about the unfairness of suffering, and believers battle with the apparent contradiction between God’s goodness and the suffering in the world.
The problem of evil has no simple answer, but many philosophers, theologians and others have developed helpful insights…
One response to the problem of evil that is necessary but ambivalent is to acknowledge that God’s ways are not our ways. God is greater than we are, with purposes that may differ greatly from ours. Even though we may not be able to see any reasons for our suffering, it is always possible that a God of such wisdom and creative power might have reasons for the existence of evil that are simply beyond human understanding.
Translation: we theists can’t explain it.



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Beaglelady

posted October 17, 2009 at 6:17 am


Translation: we theists can’t explain it.

By golly, you’ve found a gap!



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Jason

posted October 23, 2009 at 9:41 am


Just keep believing.
Most of what you teach today will be revised with the discoveries of tomorrow.
What’s the most amazing is your absolute refusal to look and think about any discoveries that do not fully support your pre-concieved notions.
Oops, that’s what you say about “creationists”. Sorry, it get confusing. Hippocrites.



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Martin Rizley

posted October 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm


I have never been to the creation museum, but I am familiar with the ministry of Ken Ham and I believe it is nothing less than slanderous to suggest that he or his associates teach that “fundamentalist Protestantism is the way to heaven.” That is not the message I have heard from Mr. Ham and the Answers in Genesis ministry. On the contrary, I have heard from them the same salvation message that one finds in the Scriptures– namely, that salvation comes by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His saving work. Mere adherence to a particular theological viewpoint will save no one; one must trust personally in Christ, since He alone is the “way to heaven.” Of course, the only reliable source of information we have about Jesus Christ is the Bible, and there we find that Jesus held a view of the Bible that Mr. Giberson dismisses as “fundamentalist Protestantism.” According to the renowned liberal New Testament scholar, Adolph von Harnack, Jesus was indeed a “fundamentalist” in His view of the Bible. By that, Harnack meant that Jesus believed that the Old Testament Scriptures were literally true, infallibly accurate, and essentially clear in their teachings. That Jesus held such a view of the Scriptures is clear from the way He responded to His critics. When the religious leaders of his day cast doubt on straightforward biblical teachings, He would say something like “Have you not read?” When the Sadducees cast doubt on the reality of a future resurrection, for example, His response to them was “Is this not why you err, because you know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God?” And when His own disciples doubted the Scripture’s teaching concerning the Messiah’s atoning death and resurrection, He chided them by saying, “Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” It is clear that for Jesus, the Scriptures were the final authority in all matters of faith, and they were abundantly clear in their teachings. Can there be any doubt, therefore, as to how Jesus would respond to religious leaders in our own day who deny the special creation of Adam and Eve as the first parents of the human race, the historicity of the fall, and other equally clear biblical teachings? No doubt, He would say to them what He said to the religious leaders of His own day: “Have you not read? Have you not read? Have you not read?” Whether or not one agrees with every position taken by YEC’s, therefore, one cannot deny that their basic approach to the Scriptures is essentially right. When they affirm that the Scriptures are literally true, infallibly accurate, and essentially clear in their teachings, they are viewing them precisely as Jesus viewed them. Criticize their “fundamentalism“ if you wish, but in so doing, you are criticizing Jesus’ own way of reading the Scriptures.



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