« Happy Anniversary, STR! | Main | A Son with Down's Syndrome »

May 02, 2012

Comments

" And the evidence just isn't there."

Yes it is. Go to The Natural History Museum with your eyes open.

"Go to The Natural History Museum with your eyes open."

I did, twice... the evidence speaks of exactly how the bible tells. The stories others want you to believe about the evidence are everywhere, there. But that does not make what they say about the evidence true, only conjecture... albeit educated, but conjecture nonetheless.

I fail to understand why we must be compelled to believe the Genesis story as literally true. It is not an eyewitness account. It is a written collection of oral tradition, the likes of which exist in every culture.

The Church lived through heliocentrism. It will live through evolution.

"Go to The Natural History Museum with your eyes open." What is this evidence then? i can see some history as in bones and fossils and and some interpretation of history but no proof of evolution. Has your local museum found the missing link then? that must have passed the rest of the scientific community by.

Perry

"I fail to understand why we must be compelled to believe the Genesis story as literally true."

If the phrase"literally true" means actually true, then it becomes a question of: If this part of the biblical account of human history is not reporting history, since it seems to be treating it as such, why should any part of the bible that also claims to be reporting history be taken as historical? This seems odd to me since archeology seems to line up with biblical accounts in many instances and would speak against the bible not being a reliable source of ancient history.

"It is not an eyewitness account."

That pretty much depends on your take on what kind of document the bible actually is and if you take serious claims within its pages that it is God who is its author. I can think of no better witness to historical events than God himself. He is not prone to get the details of history wrong and while human witnesses can be mistaken about what they have seen, God is no more capable of such mistakes than you are capable of being wrong about what you are thinking at any given moment. In the way that we have direct and immediate access to our own thoughts, God has direct and immediate access to every bit of knowledge about everything and it is impossible for him to be mistaken about that knowledge.

" It is a written collection of oral tradition, the likes of which exist in every culture."

I am sorry, but there are many cultures, ours included that have little to no notion of what such oral traditions were actually like. To get exposure to such, you might want to get together with a Muslim who can recite the whole Quran from one end to the other verbatim as you follow along in the book itself. He is not likely to drop even a comma in the process. Memorex is unlikely to do it better. I think your skepticism about the ability of a human mind to accurately retain an oral tradition would quickly vanish if you had any real exposure to the oral tradition.


"The Church lived through heliocentrism. It will live through evolution."

If evolution in the macro form is true, then God is no longer needed to explain how we came to be and it would falsify the biblical account of creation in Genesis. It would pretty much be a game changer. Heliocentrism has no such impact on major Christian doctrine. The reason is that in the case of heliocentrism the question is how God ordered the universe, not if he ordered it. In the case of evolution it is a question of if he created man, not just how. This is absolutely a huge difference.

+1 Louis.

Louis, I agree with you that the gravity of the subject and its inferels are different than other natural debates the Church and the scientific community have had. But how does the Christian reconcile the literal account of Genesis with carbon dateing, the out of Africa debate, "different" life forms at deeper strata and numerous other evidences that point to something other than an interpretation of Genesis that is/was commonly held?

Why is it not possible to explore the options of understanding without challenging scripture?


Louis, it seems when you state "God is the author" you are taking a similar view that Muslims have of the Koran. Do not Christians historically believe that the books of the Bible were authored by men, inspired by God? That's a big difference from "God if the author."

And, like Steve states, evidence abounds that contradicts the story of Genesis as sequentially written. It is indisputable that meat-eating dinosaurs existed long, long before Man, and that the world was not a vegetarian paradise. If Genesis "seems" to be treating the events as history, it does not follow that it is history. That the ancient culture believed it to be history also does not prove it actually is.

Each book of the Bible must be treated separately, in context of its time and audience. Genesis is a far cry from I Corinthians.

I am not threatened by allegorizing parts of the Bible, nor do I feel the need to backfill all existing evidence into the Biblical narrative. Let the chips fall where they may.

Meant to say "God IS the author" at the end of the first paragraph.

I agree with Perry. God did not dictate the Bible nor do most people believe that. We must take each author, book passage individually when considering genre and other hermaneutical keys.

Louis,

1. It is not clear to me that Genesis is claiming to report actual history. Where do you get that idea? Why must the OT be lumped all together when evaluating it? It is obvious that Psalms and Judges are two different kinds of works, so why should we evaluate them the same way? This is what makes the Bible unique-- it is written by different authors in different centuries with different perspectives and different reasons for writing, yet all conforms into one narrative of salvation. No author claims that God is dictating anything to him. In fact several authors explicitly state that this is not so in certain parts. Paul, when speaking of marriage explicitly states his own opinion and that it is not God's.

2. As per your last paragraph, this is false and has been pointed out MANY times. Natural processes can account for rocks falling to the earth when dropped. Does this mean God did not create gravity, that He is not sovereign over that rock? NO. So why are you trying to apply a different standard to humans? You believe God created everything, so why is it necessary to have special sort of mechanism with humans? Theistic Evolutionists DO believe that God created man. Nobody disputes that. Why are you straw-manning and trying to put words in our mouth?

Perry

Firstly, thank you for your response your your willingness to engage in this conversation.

"it seems when you state "God is the author" you are taking a similar view that Muslims have of the Koran."

I think you are in some ways on-point when you say this. Of course we both hold a high regard for what each of us (Muslims and Christians) hold as sacred text. There are some differences that I think you will understand once I put then in proper perspective for you. I am sure that you have read in the paper or heard in the news of the burning of Quran in Afghanistan, for example. Such acts point out that Muslims hold the books themselves as having a sacred quality and thus to destroy such a sacred artifact is an egregious moral wrong because of the destruction of that quality. Christians hold to the content of the book as being sacred and not the book itself. Since the content consists of theology, orthodoxy and doctrine, all items that cannot be destroyed by burning a book, they are not offended by the destruction of the bible to the extent that they would take to the streets with protests and maybe killings in order to make it clear they strongly disagree with this kind of thing. The fact that Muslims will and have done this shows they have a kind of different take on their holy writ. A Christian, however, will take action when the ideas and the central message carried by the words in the bible are denied to the world that so desperately needs them. This is not done through violence, but through other avenues to deliver the message that all of the ambassadors of Christ are tasked and commissioned to do. That's why we have missionaries going to countries, sometimes surreptitiously, whose governments are not open to allowing Christ's message to be heard and often creating underground movements to distribute bibles and other Christian literature to that end.

"Do not Christians historically believe that the books of the Bible were authored by men, inspired by God?"

This is an area of difficulty for many as was at one time for me. So, I can understand why there might be some confusion in properly understanding how this all works. The question of inspiration requires some understanding of what the writers of the scriptures actually meant when they claimed inspiration by God. The word used in the bible for inspiration actually means to be breathed by. That is to say that God had literally breathed the words that men penned on papyri. In Matthew 4:4 even Jesus alluded to this when he said that it had been said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Those who penned the bible, apostle Paul among them, were but God's instruments for doing so. I am sure that you have heard that the Jewish nation was God's chosen people. But no one actually states what it was they were chosen for. Well, what they were chosen for is to deliver and preserve the words that God directed them to and we have those today in the old and new testament texts. Of course they were also chosen as a people from whom a savior would arise to fulfill the plan that is described in those texts.
I hope that helps to builds a kind of framework of understanding how it all fits together.

"It is indisputable that meat-eating dinosaurs existed long, long before Man, and that the world was not a vegetarian paradise. If Genesis "seems" to be treating the events as history, it does not follow that it is history. "

I can appreciate why one might think along this line. Let's just keep in mind that Adam and Eve are depicted as living in the garden and that somewhat limits the range to perhaps a smaller geographic area than the whole world. But I think that the points you bring serve more as a kind of backdrop for telling the more important story of the fall and the subsequent consequences of that fall so that the focus is not so much on the details of the environment in which Adam and Eve lived, though there is a sparse mention of this and that during the narrative. The depiction is that as the result of the fall, there were changes that took place in the animal kingdom and the world in which Adam and Even eventually found themselves after being removed from the garden. Keep in mind that we are talking about events in history and to say that something actually did not happen, I think we have to provide some justification for that kind of position. You make mention of dinosaurs having per-existed man and that they were meat eaters. It would seem to me that God is quite capable of creating a protected garden after the extinction of those giant beasts and restricting the animal kingdom to a vegetarian diet. I don't think that it is enough to point out the existence of carnivores prior to the existence of herbivores to make the claim this kind of change especially if a whole collection of carnivore species died off as was the case with the dinosaurs.

"If Genesis "seems" to be treating the events as history, it does not follow that it is history. That the ancient culture believed it to be history also does not prove it actually is."

That is true, but you have to have some kind of evidence for it not being history that is compelling. Simply assuming that it isn't because God intervenes in nature to make changes does not automatically make it "not a historical account". To hold such a view would have to impose a kind of deist concept of God that the bible simply does not portray.

"I am not threatened by allegorizing parts of the Bible, nor do I feel the need to backfill all existing evidence into the Biblical narrative. Let the chips fall where they may."

I am with you on the allegory point only if the text demands it, not otherwise. I think we have to find solid justification for calling something allegory within the text itself and I think that is an example of letting the chips fall where they may. Greg calls that reading the text in its plain meaning. I don't see any reason to take the narrative of creation, fall and the flood as allegorical. Until I can have such clear justification pointed out to me, I will hold to it as historical.

The evidence is there for those who chose to look, much of it on the very site you linked to:

Signature in the Synteny

Signature in the Pseudogenes, Part 1

Signature in the Pseudogenes, Part 2

The Human Fossil Record

Cambrian Series

Can an Evangelical Christian Accept Evolution?

Human Genomics: Vestiges of Eden or Skeletons in the Closet?

Dembski and theistic evolution.
http://biologos.org/blog/southern-baptist-voices-is-darwinism-theologically-neutral-part-ii

Austin

"agree with Perry. God did not dictate the Bible nor do most people believe that. We must take each author, book passage individually when considering genre and other hermaneutical keys. "

I actually hold to your notion to some degree. He did not in fact dictate it in the sense that one human being dictates what is to be written to another who then does so. But then, God has tools at his disposal that we lack in such an enterprise. What is meant by "dictation"(or in our case, inspiration) when God does it is quite different. He is quite able to use the genre, author's temperament and individual writing style and even his free will to direct the project of writing. That means that the infusion of cultural aspects and all these other things do not stand in the way of the transmission of the message, but facilitate it. I agree with you that folks from different times and walks of life all harmonize in the central messages of the bible and I think this points to singular divine authorship when you consider the fact that we could not get that kind of slice of world population to agree in such a harmonic way on such controversial topics as are tackled in the pages under discussion. If anything, it is stark evidence of supernatural direction.

"No author claims that God is dictating anything to him."

I would have to respond to your above statement that Paul claimed that the source of what he wrote was God.

1 Corinthians 14:37 “If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.”

Galatians 1:11-12, he also wrote, “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but through revelation of Jesus Christ.”

It is quite clear that Paul acknowledges his source of writing as that from God. So, I have to stand on what scriptures teach regarding this topic.


"As per your last paragraph, this is false and has been pointed out MANY times. Natural processes can account for rocks falling to the earth when dropped. Does this mean God did not create gravity, that He is not sovereign over that rock? "

That god allows natural laws he set into place to play themselves out, laws that have no impact on christian central doctrines, is not problematic. I have no problem with agreeing with you up to the point so far.

"NO. So why are you trying to apply a different standard to humans?"

Because we were created in God's image and thus have a special place in his creation as free moral agents. We are not just rocks upon which other things can have an effect, like some kind of domino in a universe of dominoes that cannot initiate the fall of other dominoes through independent decision. We can each independently initiate events within the universe as a result of a free will decision making process and those decisions can have moral ramifications. A rock cannot do this.

"You believe God created everything, so why is it necessary to have special sort of mechanism with humans?"

Because we are special. Yes, God's special creation and I am not saying it out of any kind of personal pride, but because it is God himself that has not only said we are, but through actions reinforced those words. He did not deem the animal kingdom to be so special that he would come down and die on the cross for zoo animals, but he did it for human beings whose greater value is grounded in the image of God they were created in. As God's image bearers, we are special and valuable. This is the rationale that I hold to because of my claims to being a follower of Jesus.

"Theistic Evolutionists DO believe that God created man. Nobody disputes that. Why are you straw-manning and trying to put words in our mouth? "

I am not aware of doing anything of the sort. The problem is that if there is a mechanism in place that does the whole job of branching man from lower forms of life a long time ago through evolution, then what does it mean in Theistic Evolution for God to have created man? It also brings into question just how special is man if he follows the same path of Theistic Evolutionary Creation(whatever that means) as every other species on this planet? There are all sorts of ramifications that suddenly pop into existence if we take Theistic Evolution seriously and I hope that by now, you get the idea that I actually do take it seriously.


The comments to this entry are closed.