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Probably the biggest difficulty with being a YEC (Young Earth Creationist) had to do with how starlight from our vast universe could have traveled the immense distances to reach the earth so that we can actually see it. The difficulty boils down to the following:

distance = speed * time

When looking at stars and distant galaxies, the distance is measured in light years. (One light year is a measure of the distance light travels in one year, 9.5×10^12 kilometers. http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question19.html.) The speed of light is approximately 300,000 km/s.

It is highly unlikely that the observed distances are inaccurate. According to the following website, http://seds.org/HST/97-25.html, the farthest observed galaxy is approximately 13 billion light years away.

There have been different hypotheses that state that the speed of light was much faster in the past, thus allowing it to travel the billions of light years in a much shorter period of time. These hypotheses have many difficulties and are highly unlikely. So speed really doesn’t help here either.

The last element in the equation is time. The layman’s guide to General Relativity (http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Cyberia/NumRel/GenRelativity.html) summarizes Gravitational Time Dilation as follows:

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity predicted that time does not flow at a fixed rate: moving clocks appear to tick more slowly relative to their stationary counterparts. But this effect only becomes really significant at very high velocities that approach the speed of light.
When “generalized” to include gravitation, the equations of relativity predict that gravity, or the curvature of spacetime by matter, not only stretches or shrinks distances (depending on their direction with respect to the gravitational field) but also will appear to slow down or “dilate” the flow of time.
In most circumstances in the universe, such time dilation is miniscule, but it can become very significant when spacetime is curved by a massive object such as a black hole. For example, an observer far from a black hole would observe time passing extremely slowly for an astronaut falling through the hole’s boundary. In fact, the distant observer would never see the hapless victim actually fall in. His or her time, as measured by the observer, would appear to stand still.

Russell Humphreys, in his book Starlight and Time, uses Einstein’s theory of General Relativity to describe a cosmology that explains how God could have created the universe in six days. Check out the following video to get an overview of the theory: http://nwcreation.net/videos/starlight_and_time.html. The following excerpt is from wikipedia:

Dr. Humphreys claims that the “deep” of Genesis 1, verse 2, started within a black hole. This was due to the size of the deep (containing the matter of the universe) and the gravitational force that it would exert. God then, by his divine power and direct intervention, stretched out space causing the ball of matter to expand rapidly thus changing the black hole to a white hole. There are numerous biblical references to God stretching out the heavens (e.g. Jeremiah 10:12, Job 9:8, Zechariah 12:1). As God stretches out the heavens, the ball of matter expands and the matter becomes less dense. The “waters above the expanse” eventually reach and pass beyond the event horizon which now shrinks due to the reduction of matter within it. On day four God creates the stars and all the heavenly bodies and the event horizon finally reaches Earth so that, suddenly, from the perspective of Earth, all the heavens are visible. When Adam and Eve gaze up on day six, they can see the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, and all the wonders of the heavens.

In all, I think that the following illustrates an important point when considering science and the Bible. The wikipedia article continues with:

As with other creationist cosmologies, the scientific community does not accept Humphrey’s ideas. Humphreys wrote New Vistas of Spacetime Rebut the Critics to answer some of his critics, who include Old Earth creationists such as Hugh Ross and Samuel R. Conner, the authors of The Unraveling of Starlight and Time. Answers in Genesis, a leading proponent of Young Earth Creationism, says that neither they, nor Humphreys, claims that this model is infallible.

As Christians, we are to view the Scriptures as infallible and the truth because they are God breathed. While we certainly do not understand everything stated in them, the Scriptures will always hold up to the criticisms against it. Scientific theories, hypotheses, and ideas stand and fall based on new evidence and additional discoveries. They are constantly changing because they have been thought up by fallible humans.

References for further reading:

111 Responses to “Starlight – An issue for Creationists”

  1. on 25 Apr 2007 at 10:10 pmPatty

    I thought this was very interesting I need to study and contemplate it more when I have more time. Many times these concepts are hard to get a hold on. Have you come across the string theory, different demensions of reality etc.? When we consider existence, universe, time concepts we just dont know the possible senarios to blantantly deny the plain biblical explanation is just naive.

  2. on 26 Apr 2007 at 7:44 amMatt

    I have heard of the string theory but have only had a cursory look at it…mostly through conversations with other people (like Sean and a physicist friend of mine.)

    [..]to blantantly deny the plain biblical explanation is just naive.

    Agreed, but this cuts at the underlying reason of WHY the theory of evolution is presented so strongly and pushed so hard in our schools and universities…it allows the elimination of God and does not make man morally culpable for his sins in light of the clear testimony of Scripture. If we are all descendants from goo then what’s the point of our lives…we’re just the next step in the evolutionary cycle…and it provides a world view that is anti-biblical.

  3. on 26 Apr 2007 at 8:24 amSean

    Matt, another great post. I’m looking forward to future info on this. YEC are considered to be a bunch of country folk stuck out in the woods with a KJV of the Bible (the version that Jesus used) and no education. It is important to show the reasonableness of believing the Bible for real (as opposed to taking everything metaphorically). This is not say we can definitley prove that the universe was made this way or that way, but we can certainly show how it is reasonable to believe the biblical account.

    The genius of Humphrey’s theory is that it allows for the earth to be made four days before the stars and yet the stars today are (not just appear to be) up to 15 billiion years older than the earth. So how can something that was made first be so much younger? Time dilation. The greater the speed or the greater the gravitational field, the slower time moves for that reference frame relative to others.

  4. on 26 Apr 2007 at 8:52 amMatt

    Which is leads to another great point as excerpted from the first reference link above (in the section “What the Big Bang Theorists Don’t Tell You”, emphasis mine)

    As I began to study cosmology, I carried into it the usual island universe misconception of the big bang theory which most people have, including most scientists and even many astronomers. Like most people, I pictured the big bang as beginning with tiny “cosmic egg,” or small ball of hot matter exploding outward into an empty three-dimensional space. After billions of years the matter would cluster into galaxies, groups of hundreds of billions of stars like our own Milky Way galaxy. The resulting hundreds of billions of galaxies would themselves be clustered into an “island” of galaxies in a “sea” of otherwise empty space.

    But in 1991, Roy Holt, a fellow creationist physicist, made me realize that my picture of the big bang theory was wrong. Roy, having the same preconception as I did, pointed out an inconsistency. In the alleged big bang’s beginning, he said, the intense gravity from all that concentrated matter would cause it to be deep in a black hole, out of which the matter should not be able to emerge. Back-of-envelope calculations supported his point. If our understanding of the implications of the big bang were right, it could never happen!

    I knew from my studies that the big bang theory did not claim to start out in a black hole, but at first I didn’t understand why not. Then I realized that the actual theory, as understood by experts, does not depict an “island” universe. That is, it has no large volume of empty space unoccupied by galaxies. By making an arbitrary and unjustified assumption, the experts would have space be roughly uniformly populated with galaxies.

    In the big bang’s mathematical model of the beginning, space itself would expand outward with the ball of hot matter, and the matter would completely fill space at all times. There would never be a large empty part. In the most favored version of the big bang, if you traveled very fast in any given direction, you would arrive back at your starting point without ever encountering a large region of empty space. That makes it impossible to define a boundary around the matter, so the matter could have no center of mass. With no unique center for gravity to point to, there would be no black hole at the beginning.

    Knowing their theory is very difficult to visualize, big bang experts don’t try hard to correct the public’s “island universe” misconception. But occasionally they do make brief comments, such as,

    “This [picture of the big bang] is wrong . . . there is no center and edge.”

  5. on 26 Apr 2007 at 8:55 amSean

    reminds me of “mystery” language used to support other religious theories that cannot be understood but MUST be believed

  6. on 26 Apr 2007 at 2:21 pmPatty

    The existence of God is not as much under attack as is the Bible, I marvel at athesist because you cannot get away from a original starter. Only an explanation similar to God could have the ability to manifest energy to poduce matter etc etc.

  7. on 26 Apr 2007 at 5:01 pmKaren

    Patty,

    “The existence of God is not as much under attack as is the Bible”

    Oh yes it is. Have you been following the spate of recent books by those such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins? The latter equates teaching a child about religion (*any* religion) with child abuse. Christopher Hitchens has just published a book entitled “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” You can read excerpts here: http://www.slate.com/id/2165033/entry/2165035/. (The man is totally wrong, but he writes superb screeds; the second entry is about Islam).

  8. on 26 Apr 2007 at 9:26 pmPatty

    I was speaking in reference to cosmology. Just listen to the disney channel for a bit and you know that God is under attack. the absence of God is painfully obvious. Magic and fantasy and other negative behavior traits are made to look good and wonderful. The big push as I see it is in alien gods.

  9. on 26 Apr 2007 at 9:36 pmPatty

    I hope you didnt think I was saying that God isnt being attacked, that was the last thing I was saying. The validity of scripture is where I believe the big opposition is however.

  10. on 27 Apr 2007 at 9:59 amKaren

    Ok, I understand what you’re saying. I do think it’s bigger than just scripture, though. The battle over scripture is certainly an issue, but for atheists it’s secondary to the existence of God in the first place (I should know, I was an atheist for 40 years. :))

  11. on 28 Apr 2007 at 9:24 amKen

    Just a brief comment about star distances:
    Since Genesis 1: 14ff. shows these lights as visible on earth on the 4rth day, it is safe to conclude that God created stars with light fully “reaching” the earth, no matter the distance. Vast distances are really another reason to be in awe of the Creator, not a valid reason to question His integrity in the creation accounts.

  12. on 30 Apr 2007 at 1:00 pmMatt

    Hi Ken,

    I agree with you especially in light of the awe and reverence we are to have towards God due to his creation. However, while there isn’t a doctrinal issue with what you’ve stated:

    God created stars with light fully “reaching” the earth

    there is a philosophical issue. If God created the stars at such vast distances from earth and also created the light that is coming from them already in-transit so that it would reach the earth on the 4th day then God would have had to “fake” 13 billion years worth of “light events”. This may be difficult to communicate over the web but I think the following analogy helps:

    You are standing 350 km away from a grandstand with REALLY powerful speakers. At 10am the speaker takes the stage and starts talking. Since the speed of sound is approximately 350 meters per second you don’t hear what the speaker is saying until about 1000 seconds (~16 minutes) later.

    In this situation, if you were to immediately hear sound from the speaker then the first 16 minutes of communication (before the sound actually reached you) would have had to been “made up”.

    Since our God is absolutely truthful, there is no shadow of darkness in Him, and is Holy Holy Holy, He probably wouldn’t have “made up” billions of years of “events” that never actually occurred…

    Does that make sense? That is why Russell Humphreys theory is so ground breaking…it provides a very solid cosmology in support of the creation as described in Genesis…and we don’t have to say “well, that’s what the Bible says so that’s the way it has to be.”

    God is absolutely to be trusted at His word, and certainly does not require science to validate it, but it is always a great thing to be able to point to good answers when questioned about things like that.

  13. on 30 Apr 2007 at 1:10 pmJohn Paul

    To elaborate quickly on what Matt has just said. The events he is referring to are, rotating stars, stars blowing up (nova/ supernovas), etc.
    With the “God provided the light as well” statement, God would have created light for a star and then created the apparent explosion for the star en route to earth. The star may not have even been there at all. Therefore the explosion never happened. This isn’t an act of a God who is “abundant in truth.”

  14. on 30 Apr 2007 at 1:35 pmPatty

    Who set the speed of light to begin with God The speed of light could have been faster initially.

  15. on 30 Apr 2007 at 2:09 pmJohn Paul

    Patty,
    unfortunately, when having a conversation when your trying explain that the earth is young to a non-believer, the “God did it” answer is not a very good one and is also mocked. Having an answer like this one is very helpful.

  16. on 30 Apr 2007 at 2:20 pmMatt

    Thanks Patty,

    Several different people have theorized that but there are many issues with those theories and the evidence just doesn’t match up with what one would expect. Google “c decay” or check out:

    http://daltonator.net/durandal/creationism/cdecay.shtml

  17. on 30 Apr 2007 at 4:51 pmKaren

    If you want a slightly less cranky site ;), try this: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/c-decay.html

  18. on 30 Apr 2007 at 8:46 pmSean

    to say that the speed of light is not constant, to me, is an unnecessary long shot in light of the R. Humphreys book. His theory postulates time dilation (a well established fact)–time moved very slow on those first 4 earth-days in relation to the rest of the universe due to the gravitational present in the begining. It is interesting to note that the Big Bang model also includes an immensely strong gravitational field in the begining. Thus, the objects further “out” would age much quicker than those closer to the origin.

  19. on 30 Apr 2007 at 8:56 pmMatt

    Thanks Karen,

    I perused the site I posted and it is pretty cranky. I like reading those sites sometimes to get challenged…they force me to think…

  20. on 30 Apr 2007 at 9:21 pmJohn Paul

    The c-decay argument is also listed in the answersingenesis section on “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use.”

    Although it is shown that the speed of light varies, more on that link

  21. on 30 Apr 2007 at 10:06 pmPatty

    While I find the material and concepts interesting and honestly difficult to understand completely I realize that the systems of thought mostly mathmatical are not necessarily with out flaws. Large bodies follow most closly to one set of laws where smaller atomic and sub atomic bodies follow different set of laws. I am reminded of the controversary about the nature of light that I learned in high school, it has always impressed me as an eg. of thinking out of the box or what people think is true can be true but can also have other chracteristics that we have not thought of before. ( Light as a photon and also as a wave). Science always talks about variables and how different variables can alter the out come or results of a study, talk about stupidity, how can they attempt to control for variables they haven”t the foggiest idea of. The possible chance that they may take into consideration ALL that is necessay I think is very very very slim. So then their out come conclusions are nonsense even though they may look impressive.There are theories out there that speak about muli demensions if their is some truth to these theories then how might those different dimensions effect change in their calculations. Besides the string theory I dont think their is another theory that unifies the laws that govern large bodies and small ones so then how do they put faith in the fact that their mathematical calulations are correct seeing that they are not accurate for small bodies( sub atomic). The conclusion must be that they are leaving out necessary info, needed to describe the universe non the less describe events that occurred long ago. I f God said let there be light and there was light I can trust that more than I can trust their calculations. What he said is not going to change but you can bet what they say will change. The answer can I think also be found in our understanding of scripture. Are we sure that all light had to arrive here on the fourth day.?The information God gives us is limited at best maybe for a reason.? There are things God wants us to understand and know and their are secret things in his wisdom he does not want us to understand or know.

  22. on 01 May 2007 at 9:26 amMatt

    Excellent comments Patty.

    Prov 25:2
    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
    But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

  23. on 09 Jul 2008 at 7:53 amDavid Martin

    Hello,

    I’m a physicist, and like many physicists I am arguing for the universe having been designed. We believe the universe was designed, by what you call God, so that life would be able to grow and develop, because all the right laws and conditions were put there. The laws of physics are perfectly fine-tuned for life, as was first pointed out by philosophers in a paper in 1979. Otherwise the things that made life possible would look like a long list of very unlikely coincidences. Since then there has been an argument going on between scientists about these questions.

    Our opponents are arguing for many universes, but they haven’t got a way of observing these universes, so we’d basically win the argument if it wasn’t for creationism, which has lost us a lot of ground.

    Like millions of well-educated and informed people all over the world, I believe God created all life using evolution as a tool. One of the aims is to stimulate our intelligence by leaving us wondering if there is a designer or not. The question of design has kept philosophers wondering for thousands of years, and it was certainly deliberately intended to do that if the universe was designed, as you and I believe my friends.

    But we are losing the argument because of you people. At the top level everyone believes in evolution, it’s undeniable. Stop clinging to your attempts to make old religious texts literal truth, they were not intended for that, you’re just living in dreamland, wishful thinking.

    If you want to live by an old set of religious documents, find out what they mean, phone a university or something. And read all the other old texts from the other religions, they’re all parallel – far from being identical, but the similarities show that they’re coming from the same place in some way, and that they’re certainly not to be taken too literally. That was just stuff about God seeping through into mankind in an inspirational way – not clinically accurate in every detail, more like poetry. Don’t try to make it scientific truth, it’s spiritual truth, which is different. It’s for the heart, not the head. All religions disagree on the head stuff, but they all agree on the heart stuff, which is the spiritual side – abstract, ultimately without words.

    With all good wishes, DM

  24. on 09 Jul 2008 at 8:12 amSean

    Mr. Martin, would you please provide some evidence for evolution?

  25. on 09 Jul 2008 at 9:18 amDavid Martin

    Hello Sean,

    I can certainly talk about evolution with you, and I will if you insist. But we’d get stuck in the same old ruts that you and others have got into, which have done so much damage to our common cause.

    Yes, I’d provide a long list of things that show evolution happened, beyond the point of reasonable doubt – I’d argue that we know it in the same way that we know ordinary day to day things, and in as far as we know things about the world. I’d also say that God has shown us this, because I believe very strongly that what we observe is put there by God for us to see – if we have the courage to open our eyes.

    And then you’d tell me a whole lot of things that make you strongly believe that evolution didn’t happen. I sympathise, and empathise. You got the “information” from sources that are biased beyond the bias in mainstream science, and opinions are formed on information.

    So if we could leave that old rut, which as I said has damaged our common cause of telling people that there IS a God. We should hang together.

    Let me instead remind you of the obvious point that Jesus fought against many of the ideas in the Old Testament, and broke the rules set in the Old Testament, and was put to death on charges that included that “crime”.

    The Old Testament says people who do certain things on the Sabbath should be put to death. It says that it’s alright to keep slaves. Why do you take the Old Testament as the word of God? Jesus didn’t.

    So it isn’t a problem to you if evolution did happen, because the OT is partly nonsense anyway.

    Read Jesus’ words my friend, and go by them only. They’re all you need. The priests who told everyone to obey the whole Bible did it for centuries because that gave them more control over people. If they’d just said to go by Jesus’ words alone, they’d have had no power. But the OT can be twisted into a far wider range of things, it can be used to take control over the naive. If you’re a Christian, all you need is the words of Jesus.

    DM

  26. on 09 Jul 2008 at 11:15 amTim

    David,

    I am sympathetic to your viewpoint, but I have a couple of questions. I am not interested in debating these points, but wanted to perspective if we can focus on a small number of issues, rather than “evolution” as a whole:

    1 – what do you make about the “irreducible complexity” argument (Michael Behe is the primary component); that certain structures could not have evolved as a series of small changes?
    2 – do you completely reject the OT assertion that man was created uniquely by God, and not as a result of macro-evolution across species?
    3 – if creationists give up their arguments, or all Christians embrace volution, do you think that it would make much of a difference? For many, evolution is a naturalistic worldview that allows them to respectably (in their view) reject any standard of Biblical morality. I doubt that creationism is why Richard Dawkins is an atheist.

    BTW – Frances Collins, one of the mappers of the human genome has recently become a Christian and still believes in evolution. A description of this view can be found in his book “The Language of God.”

    -Thanks-

  27. on 09 Jul 2008 at 11:50 amJohnO

    David,

    Let me instead remind you of the obvious point that Jesus fought against many of the ideas in the Old Testament, and broke the rules set in the Old Testament, and was put to death on charges that included that “crime”.

    Jesus fought against second Temple characterizations of “the rules”. He hardly fought against the Old Testament as if it was a uniform, univocal, perspective – it was not. It was a fluid, dynamic relationship between God and his people. And Jesus was a part of that dynamism.

    The Old Testament says people who do certain things on the Sabbath should be put to death. It says that it’s alright to keep slaves. Why do you take the Old Testament as the word of God? Jesus didn’t.

    Jesus did in fact take the Scriptures as the word of God. John 10 says as much (“and the word of God cannot be broken”). I would encourage you to look into the historical Jesus work thats been done in the last thirty or so years (starting with Schweizter, and Weiss, working on down to EP Sanders, and the Jesus Seminar, and now on NT Wright, James Dunn, Craig Blomberg and others). This is what is required to make historical statements about Jesus, just like a physics degree is required to make meaningful argumentation about physics.

  28. on 09 Jul 2008 at 12:36 pmDavid Martin

    Hi Tim,

    To me the irreducible complexity argument died around 150 years ago. It’s the same basic idea as the watchmaker argument, which in its time was a very powerful way of convincing people about God.

    But God reveals things to us bit by bit, it’s an ongoing process. If you
    look at the history of philosophy and science, you’ll see humankind slowly but surely finding out about the world, and getting to the clues God put there for us to find. Centuries from now God will still be revealing things to us – slowly. If you think it has all been told to us already, you’ll be in denial every time new stuff is revealed.

    There are puzzles in physics that look very designed. This is a better argument. The fact that the two main theories of the 20th century, relativity and quantum theory BOTH brought philosophical problems that went to the very heart of our picture of reality, makes one think they were designed, and put there to stimulate our intelligence. They’re just too interesting to have come about by chance. And so is the universe generally.

    But the complexity – no. You’ll never win any arguments that way. We’ve watched complexity arise out of very little in the laboratory. We’ve watched species change and evolve. It’s true that not all complexity is explained, but so what? Enough of it is explained to leave the watchmaker argument out – it died when Darwin’s ideas appeared.

    Your point 2. Man was created by God as you say, and a bit more specifically, man was created by evolution. Cheese comes from a cow, and a bit more specifically, cheese comes from milk.

    3. “If” creationists give up their arguments? Creationists have given up their arguments! Come into the real world, these ideas died a long time ago. Creationism is gone, in the areas of thinking that count. And the world is fine, as God intended. We’re just learning more, that’s all. The informed view of God has included evolution for most of a hundred years.

    You need different sources of information, you have a very black and white view of things. Your picture tends to divide into two alternatives, science or creationism, and you feel it’s the only way things can be. The atheists have pushed you up against the wall, they’re clever, and have made you feel that it’s either/or. They constantly do that – they try to remove the real arguments that way. Creationism has helped them enormously.

    4. Thanks, will look, DM

  29. on 09 Jul 2008 at 12:49 pmDavid Martin

    Hi John,

    Jesus challenged the existing religious orthodoxy. The Old Testament contains a lot that was synonymous with the religious orthodoxy. The priesthood had a set of rules that Jesus broke.

    He said you don’t need the 10 commandments, two will do. They bolied down to “love God” and “love people”. The implication is that you won’t need rules if love guides you, you can make your own decisions.

    This fits exactly with “”The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”. He demoted the rules to less important, and made people’s decisions more important. Also stopped them stoning a woman – again, he didn’t like the rules.

    The Old testament contains a lot of those rules, and clearly isn’t the word of God. God wants us to sift through this world, and through the Old testament, and make our own decisions about everything. Don’t run away from that, and hope it’ll all be done for you! It just ain’t that easy. DM

  30. on 09 Jul 2008 at 1:26 pmJohnO

    David,

    The Old Testament contains a lot that was synonymous with the religious orthodoxy

    Unfortunately, this is a category mistake. There was no religious orthodoxy in second Temple Judaism. The Old Testament supports a priesthood, as does Jesus. Jesus was not a priest, so I don’t see how Jesus could break the priests rules? He consistently had the people he healed affirm the Temple sacrifices after they were made whole.

    He said you don’t need the 10 commandments, two will do. They bolied down to “love God” and “love people”.

    He did not say you don’t need the 10 commandments. No historical Jesus scholar, Christian, athiest, or Jewish concludes that Jesus had a disrespect for the law of Moses, rather that he upheld it. The two commandments you cite here are actually held in the Torah as the pinnacle of Judaism. Before Jesus, Hillel boiled it down to these two commandments as well. That was all he needed to consider someone a convert. And the Talmud goes on to tell us that based on that, Hillel would further reinforce all of the Mosaic law as an extension of those principles.

    He demoted the rules to less important, and made people’s decisions more important

    He raised motives above rules – but did not demote rules. Jesus’ sermon on the mount has many rules.

    Also stopped them stoning a woman – again, he didn’t like the rules.

    This isn’t originally in the text

    The Old testament contains a lot of those rules, and clearly isn’t the word of God.

    Jesus clearly says it is the word of God and it cannot be broken in John 10. Are you going to listen to Jesus on this, as you tell us to listen to Jesus?

  31. on 09 Jul 2008 at 2:12 pmTim

    JohnO,

    Can you elaborate on this statement:

    “I would encourage you to look into the historical Jesus work thats been done in the last thirty or so years (starting with Schweizter, and Weiss, working on down to EP Sanders, and the Jesus Seminar, and now on NT Wright, James Dunn, Craig Blomberg and others).”

    I don’t have time to look at that. Can you summarize what you are getting at?

    -Thanks-

  32. on 09 Jul 2008 at 2:23 pmTim

    David,

    “We’ve watched complexity arise out of very little in the laboratory. We’ve watched species change and evolve. ”

    Can you provide some examples?

    You missed what I was getting at wrt my third point. You seem to be saying that we would be better off if we were not creationists. I agree that the atheists have latched on to some of the more ridiculous claims about creation and science by some Christians. What I am simply saying is that even if every Christian adopted an evolutionary worldview, I am convinced that Richard Dawkins and his ilk would still be atheists. The denial (historical or otherwise) by some Christians about scientific discoveries has provided fodder for atheists; lacking this, they would still find some other reason to reject God.

    If I may ask a personal question: do you find yourself professionally embarrassed because you are guilty by association with Christians who are “anti-science” (not sure what the right term is, but this is the best I can do)?

    -Blessings-

  33. on 09 Jul 2008 at 3:16 pmDavid Martin

    Hi John,

    I’ll try to keep this quite short. And I must get back to work soon. About the Biblical questions.

    The point I’m making about the Old Testament is that it can’t ALL be the word of God. The reason I feel this needs saying is that all over the world there are lovely, well-meaning people who believe they have to obey the whole Bible.

    I should say as an aside that the spiritual side is the important part of all this, and that tends to work fine whatever one believes with one’s head, so all this thinking is comparatively unimportant.

    But people have been misled. I think we inherited the ridiculous idea of obeying the whole Bible from controlling priests, who found that if they made the whole Bible important, they could do just about anything, while if they just focussed on the words of Jesus they wouldn’t have much leverage over anyone. So although the Bible is full of contradictions, people are still told to obey it all.

    To show that idea to be wrong, I just have to show one or two places where it doesn’t look like the word of God. The Old Testament has some quite nasty stuff in it in places, and looks very like the work of humans to me! Anyway, it seems I’ve shown that it can’t all be the word of God. But for those who believe one part or another is, that’s far more reasonable.

    In a general way, there’s what Jesus said, and then there’s all the awful stuff that got put on top of it in layers since then. The “guilt trip” element of Christianity was partly added in the translation from the Greek – “Lord have mercy” is not the original, which was more like “Lord, soothe my head with olive oil”. The orignal version is more spiritual, the guilt was added later, again by priests who liked controlling people.

    Hope this makes sense, DM

  34. on 09 Jul 2008 at 3:36 pmDavid Martin

    Hi,

    nice to hear from you Tim. Well, biology isn’t my field, so perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it. But complexity grows with cells in a dish in a laboratory, and mutates, and they know some of the mechanisms. They think they know more than they do, but it’s designed to look like it might not have been designed, it’s designed to look like it might have come about by chance, and so to leave the question of design open.

    Your other point – there will always be people who don’t believe in God. (For reasons given above, ie intended ones.) We have to accept this up to a point. As science gets advanced, we find things that make for good drama and debate, and in fact the newest evidence makes design look very likely. They’ve rather covered that evidence up.

    But God puts things in that seem to cut both ways, the intention is to leave us a bit on the fence. Anyway, let go of the idea that we must convert Richard Dawkins! Instead we must show his ideas to be wrong, which would be much, much easier.

    About your other question – a million times more often than embarassed, I feel sad about how some people feel it’s science or religion. When in fact for many a close look at science leads to or accompanies a religious view. As I said, the atheists have done this. They try to make one field exclude the other, but God gave us all the clues science gives us, and a wonderful world it is too.

    So there’s a lot at stake, our children are being misled about the world by atheists. So religion must move forward, and take the new discoveries on board, otherwise it will be ignored. With all good wishes, DM

  35. on 09 Jul 2008 at 3:40 pmSean

    Mr. Martin,

    I asked for evidence of evolution, you replied with assertions. You have asserted a number of very big claims. It would hardly be intellectually respectable for me to accept your claims on the basis of dogma rather than by rationality and evidence. You say the design argument died 150 years ago. This is patently false. There are many today (including myself) who believe in intelligent design because in creation we see the fingerprints of God. The fine-tuning argument is just a subset of teleological (design) arguments and it is the most powerful one known today.

    I’m also appalled at your assertion that Jesus didn’t believe in the truth of the OT. He said that he would fulfill every letter and stroke of the law. He believed that in the beginning God created male and female, etc. One cannot extract Jesus from his religious context as if he were not a Jew and create a new religion from that. This is just naive and bad historiography.

    Having said this, something needs to be said regarding the distinction between Old Covenant and New Covenant which is not generally understood by outsiders to the Bible. The point of Hebrews and Galatians (and to some degree Romans and Ephesians) is that Christ fulfilled the Law and we are now under the New Covenant. This means that as Christians we are not bound to keep the old law but rather the new law. This in no way implies that there was something wrong with the Old Testament, but that now because of Jesus the next stage of God’s saga with his people has exploded onto the scene. God’s people are now an international community, not one specific nation.

  36. on 09 Jul 2008 at 3:51 pmJohnO

    David,

    Piggybacking off Sean’s ending – with these comments, you do a large disgrace to God and the writings of his holy prophets by saying that had no business writing what God told them to write. Indeed that God actually did not give them the visions and prophecies that, for example, Isaiah records. As Sean said this is very bad history and theology. Odd that you come here telling us we’ve done something very bad in denying evolution, but your historical and theological bases aren’t quite covered.

    I have but one single question for a Christian who holds to an evolutionary viewpoint. And I’d be intrigued to hear your answer. In the creation account, sin and death enters the world through mankind’s sin. How can an evolutionary process requiring death (the non-transmittal of non-preferred DNA/attributes) create Human Beings, without death? It seems to be a chicken and egg problem. I don’t think we can understand the creation account to be saying that the smallest, non-thinking bacteria disobeyed God’s command in the Garden. Yet, we can’t get to Human Beings without death (both the evolutionary science and resulting archeology claim that death occurred before Human Beings). So how can death occur before mankind is on the scene to sin?

    Keep in mind – the ancients who recorded this are explaining how/why physical death occurs. They are not waxing philosophical about “spiritual death”. None of the Ancient Near Eastern documents containing creation stories have any concept of “spiritual death”.

  37. on 09 Jul 2008 at 4:24 pmDavid Martin

    Hi,

    You both seem a bit confused – I’m not saying you did anything bad in denying evolution. Seriously, I don’t hold your beliefs against you in any way.

    It’s all opinion ultimately, we all have to form our own. That’s what I was saying about sifting through the world and sifting through the Bible, I think God want us to do that, and make up our own minds.

    I didn’t say the design argument died 150 years ago. I said the complexity argument did.

    I didn’t say Jesus didn’t believe in the truth of the Old Testament. I said he fought agianst some of the ideas in it, and in the context of the question “should we obey the whole Bible?”.

    I’m not “A Christian who holds an evolutionary viewpoint”. Earlier posts will make this clear.

    And with that my friends I must go, I do hope these ideas were of interest. Love DM

  38. on 10 Jul 2008 at 9:48 pmO.J.

    David,

    In post #28 you said, “To me the irreducible complexity argument died around 150 years ago. It’s the same basic idea as the watchmaker argument, which in its time was a very powerful way of convincing people about God.”

    You tried to clarify in post #31, saying “I didn’t say the design argument died 150 years ago. I said the complexity argument did.”

    Obviously you’ve never even heard of the scientific argument called “irreducible complexity”. This theory didn’t exist until Michael Behe coined the term in 1993, This idea did not die out 150 years ago, it’s not the antiquated ‘watch and watchmaker’ theory you mentioned, and it actually disproves Darwin’s theories, (instead of the other way around), for several reasons;

    1. When Darwin proposed his theories, he, and everyone else thought that a single cell was as small as things got, and there really wasn’t much inside them other than protoplasm. But today we know for a fact that there are DOZENS of MACHINES, each with specific jobs to perform, within a single cell. DNA cannot be reproduced without every single one of these machines performing its job perfectly. These are very complex machines which are composed of many parts (The flagellar motor, for example, has 14 parts.) Although they are within a single cell, that cell cannot reproduce without every one of these machines performing their duties exactly. Therefore, it is scientifically impossible for every single one of these machines, with all their individual components, to have formed at the same time, within the first living cell , and all of them to ‘know’ their specific duties, much less perform them, to reproduce that first living cell into the second living cell.
    2. Dr. Dean Kenyon, became very famous for his theories on how the first DNA formed by accident. His theories are still taught all over the world as fact. There is a big problem with this however. Dr. Kenyon has since done massive research and has personally come to the conclusion that not only was he wrong, but that it is scientifically impossible for the first DNA to have formed by accident. It is simply too complex and absolutely mathematically impossible, because the chemicals involved cannot attract each other naturally, and there is simply no other source for this to happen by accident. Dr. Kenyon doesn’t care what that means to other scientists, it’s just where the evidence took him.
    3. Darwin himself stated, “ If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” But Darwin didn’t even address the ORIGiN of life, (where did the first living cell come from?). Dr. Kenyon did, and can find no way for this to happen on its own.

    For those interested in seeing more about this subject, please see the DVD “Unlocking the Mysteries of Life.”
    Most “scientists” dismiss these findings as “unscientific”, for the “scientific reason” that these theories don’t agree with evolutionary theories.

    David, I didn’t see anything in all your posts which would lead me to believe that you actually are a physicist, or that you know what you are talking about. You seem very uneducated on both the scientific positions, and especially the Bible position. You evaded specifics, and seemed only interested in seeing your ideas, and your name, (your full name), in print before merrily signing off.

    For others reading this blog, may I suggest that you view the DVD series by Kent Hovind on his theories of creation, the flood, dinosaurs, and how the Bible and science do NOT contradict each other. He is very thorough, and covers everything you may be curious about. It is a long series, and he leaves no stone unturned, and he hides from none of the issues brought up by “science”. He has debated all over the country, many many times, and most “scientists”, or even old earth creationists, (including Richard Dawkins), do not want to debate him a second time. You can probably find them on Ebay.

    Matt, thank you for your insights on this subject, and for the info on Mr. Humphrey’s theory. I used to believe, “used to”, that God could step outside of the laws He created and do miracles any time He wanted. I now believe that although He “could”, He probably doesn’t, because He doesn’t have to. I have even seen scientific explanations for all the plagues brought on Egypt, as well as the parting of the Red Sea, with corroborating evidence from all fields of science AND from history to show that it did in fact happen in an explainable way. I used to think it diminished God to say that His miracles could have a scientific explanation. But why would it? He created all the scientific principles, along with everything else. Why would He not be able to figure out how to use them? Remember, He thought of everything, before He made anything.

  39. on 11 Jul 2008 at 12:29 amRon S.

    O.J.,

    You said: “have even seen scientific explanations for all the plagues brought on Egypt, as well as the parting of the Red Sea, with corroborating evidence from all fields of science AND from history to show that it did in fact happen in an explainable way..

    I’d be very interested in checking that out. Can you tell me where you saw that or point me more specifically to what you are referring to.

    Thanks!

    Ron S.

  40. on 11 Jul 2008 at 6:49 amTim

    O.J.,

    Thanks for the explanation for irreducible complexity (which I did not provide).

    I would just add another difficulty that evolutionists cannot deal with, that is: where did the information encoded in the DNA come from? Even if the physical composition of DNA evolved, you still have the statistical impossibility of the information evolving concurrently.

    The analogy is that of a computer. Suppose a PC evolved in your backyard (one day, you saw some sand, the next some circuit boards, and finally, viola! a computer). You still need the software to run it! It is the same with life.

  41. on 11 Jul 2008 at 6:54 amTim

    Ron S. & O.J.,

    This is a complete tangent, but I find it extremely fascinating what is going on in China right now. As the entire world is watching, we see: earthquakes, floods, torrential rains, thick green algae right in the middle of where the boat racing is supposed to happen, and even a possible locust plague.

    As probably the largest persecuter of Christians in the world today, do you think that maybe God is making a statement?

    What are the changes of all these things happening in a three month period of time?

  42. on 11 Jul 2008 at 9:15 amKarl

    JohnO wrote:

    I have but one single question for a Christian who holds to an evolutionary viewpoint. And I’d be intrigued to hear your answer. In the creation account, sin and death enters the world through mankind’s sin. How can an evolutionary process requiring death (the non-transmittal of non-preferred DNA/attributes) create Human Beings, without death? It seems to be a chicken and egg problem. I don’t think we can understand the creation account to be saying that the smallest, non-thinking bacteria disobeyed God’s command in the Garden. Yet, we can’t get to Human Beings without death (both the evolutionary science and resulting archeology claim that death occurred before Human Beings). So how can death occur before mankind is on the scene to sin?

    Keep in mind – the ancients who recorded this are explaining how/why physical death occurs. They are not waxing philosophical about “spiritual death”. None of the Ancient Near Eastern documents containing creation stories have any concept of “spiritual death”.

    This brings up an interesting question to me. Lions are designed to kill and eat flesh. Mosquitos are designed to suck blood. How do creationists explain this? If there was no death before Adam sinned, what did carniviors eat? Or, how could death not be on the scene before Adam, seeing that many creatures are designed to kill and that death is an essential part of the ecological system?

  43. on 11 Jul 2008 at 9:41 amPatty

    Isnt that part of the change ,when the wolf will lay down with the lamb. Wasnt there a time when man did not eat the flesh of animals, so a restoration back to paradise must be in order for us.

  44. on 11 Jul 2008 at 9:26 pmO.J.

    Ron S.

    In answer to your query above, this was from a documentary on the History Channel called “The Exodus Decoded”. It is presented by Simcha Jacobovici, a well known archaeologist who happens to be Jewish. He has a regular program called “The Naked Archaeologist”. In “Exodus Decoded” he looks at how, first of all, when historians look for proof of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, they all look at the wrong time period, because they assume it was supposed to have happened during the reign of the wrong Pharoah. This is a fascinating documentary, in that it examines both history and the Bible. There is much evidence outside the Bible to show what happened to Egypt, and why, (including the parting of the Red Sea), and even modern day occurances of some of the exact same things which show the scientific reasons for them. I’m sure that if you can’t catch this on the History Channel, (they re-run things a lot), you can go online and purchase it on DVD. I think you will agree after seeing it that it is a ‘must have’ video for anyone who believes the Bible to be true.

    Tim,

    We have the same wake-up calls going on in America, but Americans aren’t getting it. Anyone who still thinks this is a Christian nation, and can’t see that we have, (as a people), turned our backs on God, is not very observant. We are an extremely pagan nation, and calling yourself a Christian won’t make you a follower of the true Messiah. We have our work cut out for us to present the one true God to this nation, as well as the real Jesus.

  45. on 12 Jul 2008 at 7:57 amKarl

    Hi Patty,

    You wrote:

    Isnt that part of the change ,when the wolf will lay down with the lamb.

    Even if this verse means that lions won’t eat meat in the future, it doesn’t mean that lions didn’t eat meat in the original creation.

    Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

    Now if in the future there is going to be no sea, do we then conclude that there was no sea in the original creation?

    Wasnt there a time when man did not eat the flesh of animals, so a restoration back to paradise must be in order for us.

    I was talking specifically about mankind. Rather I was just talking about the design of nature. Many animals are designed to kill and eat meat. Nature depends upon death for its continued existence. My question then is, how could there be no death before Adam’s sin? Could the death that Adam brought in only apply to humans?

  46. on 12 Jul 2008 at 9:16 amSean

    Karl you have to use <blockquote> not [blockquote]

  47. on 12 Jul 2008 at 11:03 amJohnO

    Could the death that Adam brought in only apply to humans?

    If that were true, then why do the Scriptures say that all creation has fallen, and all of creation needs restoration, not just humans? If the basic idea is that “God is going to get in the end what he wanted in the beginning” and he wanted carnivorous animals in the beginning, then why wouldn’t he get them in the end?

  48. on 12 Jul 2008 at 12:24 pmPatty

    Karl In genesisl:29-30 God gives intructions to Adam of what he could eat then in Genesis 9 he tells Noah something alittle different. “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.I dont understand the idea of death not being available, but restoraton must be a facinating process. Thanks Patty

  49. on 12 Jul 2008 at 8:31 pmKarl

    JohnO wrote:

    If that were true, then why do the Scriptures say that all creation has fallen, and all of creation needs restoration, not just humans?

    What scriptures are you referring to? But I was just talking about death and that the world seems to have been designed with death in mind. But even if all of creation has to be restored that doesn’t necessarily mean that all life was immortal before the fall.

    If the basic idea is that “God is going to get in the end what he wanted in the beginning” and he wanted carnivorous animals in the beginning, then why wouldn’t he get them in the end?

    I’m saying that carnivorous were part of the original creation because they were designed that way. So then we could reason (as you just did above) that there is no reason not to have them at the end either. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

  50. on 12 Jul 2008 at 10:24 pmMark

    Now if in the future there is going to be no sea, do we then conclude that there was no sea in the original creation?

    Many of the theories about the nature of the Flood suggest that the majority of water that is now in the seas was either above the atmosphere or below the surface of the earth, and that the topography of the planet was drastically changed at the time of the Flood. According to these theories, the surface of the earth was more consistent before, without the high mountains or deep ocean trenches. When the “fountains of the deep” broke up, the water below, as well as the water from above, flooded the earth. At the same time, continental plates shifted, forming mountains and trenches, into which the water drained and formed the seas.

    As I said, it is a theory, but it is interesting and fits with the Scriptures. One of the best descriptions is by Walter Brown:
    http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/HydroplateOverview.html

  51. on 13 Jul 2008 at 5:23 amDavidM

    Hello,

    Just some quick answers to one or two points, I’m amazed at some of what gets said here, and am not getting entangled further.

    But as two of you have asked, I’ll explain better why I didn’t want to go into scientific detail with you – I gave one reason already, but there were several. I’ve stuck to the philosophy of science throughout here, but my areas are that and also physics, cosmology, and to a lesser extent biology.

    To me, as I said, arguing over the evidence for evolution is a rut that people shouldn’t get stuck in, particularly not people who are meant to be on the same side. Without wanting to offend, I should also say that I’m used to discussion with people who have far less of a preset agenda – science only works if you look for the truth without knowing what you might find. If you start with a goal, such as to show that something COULD be true, you’re certainly going to convince yourself that it could, you’ll find a way. Somewhere or other you’ll dig something out that might do it, such as the utterly ridiculous idea that gravitational time dilation allows the starlight to arrive on the right day. Most physicists won’t even bother to tell you how insane that is, so you’ll only hear anything about it from your own people, who’ll of course find it very reasonable.

    So your eyes and ears tend to be shuttered from any good information, and arguing over details with people who have that kind of approach is a major waste of time. I know this from debate with physicists who are also like that – some are, some aren’t. (It’s those who are steeped in GR that are often particularly that way.) I usually avoid the ones who are not looking for the truth, unless the exchange is beneficial to me in some other way.

    So instead of giving you details that you’ll try to explain away, I’ve made some philosophical points here, which might be new to some of you, and bring you news from outside the bubble of misinformation. I do this because as you know if you’ve read what I wrote, for me the thinking is unimportant compared to the spiritual side of religion. I think that all over the world there are people finding what you call the holy spirit, and they find it under many different names. It’s abstract, and comes as a feeling in the heart. The other stuff surrounding it is human culture (for example the social rules of the time and place) that has been added in various ways to fill the gaps in our understanding.

    But that feeling in the heart will keep coming back in different guises. And I hope the next generation will be as free to go that way as previous generations have been. So I urge you not to tangle with the atheists, you’ll just give them ammunition against us.

    I’d better briefly give you some specifics, or you’ll just continue to accuse me of having avoided scientific detail. There was a fish population that was observed in captivity over 50 years, from the 1930s to the 1980s, and during that time it split into two completely separate species, that wouldn’t interbreed, and had real differences. A study of mice in Chicago showed similar rapid adaptive change. And microbes of course mutate far quicker. (I won’t answer any points back, as I don’t believe anything would convince you of anything much over these details really.)

    But the last important point I should make is that in philosophy, one of the main objections to your kind of thinking is called “God of the gaps”. In the past, whenever there was a gap in our knowledge, someone would claim that God’s work was the only thing that could fill the gap. The “missing link” used to be cited in that way, but nowadays no-one does, basically because it was found. If you keep pointing to things that we don’t yet understand, and say that they MIGHT be God at work, you’ll throw us open to justified accusations of that kind.

    The irreducible complexity argument, which I have read about, is exactly like that, and therefore boils down to the same thing as the watchmaker argument. Both involve invoking unknown mechanisms, and you simply won’t cut any ice with the atheists that way.

    Good wishes, and may all believers be unified in our common aims, and common ground. DM

  52. on 13 Jul 2008 at 2:14 pmJohnO

    David,

    Thank you for your post. We all here accept micro-evolution, as your evidence shows in fish, mice, and microbes. But, we haven’t yet seen a fish turn into an amphibious lizard. It seems analogous to the “God-of-the-gaps” argument to say that, “to go from fish to lizards we need millions of years”. Time doesn’t create order, rather disorder as entropy increases in closed systems (which nature is). I can easily see how the evidence would suggest a “devolution” from certain major organisms into other strands of those organisms (your fish example is a good one in this case). That can explain the vast diversity of life we find. But I don’t think it explains the cosmology of our world. And just because something is not explained, does it mean that God did it. I positively believe God created, not a negative belief that the world did not come into existence on its own accord – therefore God must have done it. God must’nt do anything from where I stand.

    To another vastly different point: the biblical record shows that the Holy spirit is not at all “a feeling in the heart”. Again, I have no idea where you’re getting your theology from.

    Karl,

    But I was just talking about death and that the world seems to have been designed with death in mind

    This experience of ours is after the fall. We don’t (fully) know what mankind’s experience was before the fall. When I say that the whole creation is waiting for restoration, the first thing that comes to mind is Paul in Romans, “the whole creation groans”. Isaiah gives a similar picture of birth pains.

    The creation record seems to implicitly say that death did not occur until sin. Death is a universal constant – not a man only constant, so I’m not sure how we could assert it involves only man. And that is the linchpin of your argument, death is a part of the design. If death was not a part of the design, then carnivores are not intended for the end. And Isaiah’s picture of peace with the lamb and wolf are left entirely intact, not idyllic. Furthermore, as this all started with a Revelation quote about no more sea, I think a comment can be made. In apocalyptic literature sea/ocean is a symbol for chaos. This is the same symbol is has in creation tales across the near east as well (including Genesis, God moves on the chaos/water, and creates/orders it). Note also in Revelation the beast comes out of the water, this is a statement of the character of the Christian enemy. Therefore, when Revelation says no more sea, since it is apocalyptic literature, it means that there will be no more chaos, no more unrest.

  53. on 13 Jul 2008 at 4:12 pmDavidM

    Hi John,

    you mustn’t forget that I believe in God! I don’t need to prove that life could have come about by chance – in fact my beliefs are like those of a large group of other scientists.

    Since around 1980 we’ve been putting forward the view that God creates a bio-friendly universe, in which the background parameters are created to lead to what we find now on Earth, and which is probably widespread – a universe full of life. The background parameters, including the laws of physics, are fine-tuned to make all this possible, and complexity and self-organisation evolves. We still won’t understand how life works in 1000 years, but saying that we don’t understand it now doesn’t help our cause – everyone knows that.

    Atheists tend to think that we’ll understand life far sooner, but I think biology has a much longer road ahead than physics. Once we understand life a little better, I think we’ll be studying the group mind that links up all life, and in which many of the mechanisms reside.

    We’re now pretty sure there are microbes everywhere. Over the last few decades the chances of life elsewhere have changed radically. Microbes have turned out be far tougher than we thought, and able to be revived after millions of years – in other words, capable of space travel between solar systems. And what in the 1970s was seen as a wild maverick idea is now rapidly becoming the standard view – the Panspermia hypothesis. Life drifts through the galaxy, seeding all planets capable of supporting it. We think life began in gas clouds in space – we’ve found the spectra of organic molecules up there.

    This picture of the universe comes from… er… actually looking at the universe. We think God designed it, and wants us to look at it.

    The feeling in the heart is described by all religions. That includes the Christian mystics, who found a form of meditation almost identical to that found by all the other religions. It’s particularly strong in the Orthodox church, because elsewhere it was suppressed more. The Catholic Church suppressed Christian meditation in order to keep its monopoly – to get to God they said you had to go via them. They didn’t like the idea that the individual could reach God directly, but centuries of literature says otherwise.

    The similarities with the writings of the people who practised meditation from other religions is wonderful to see. They all found the same thing. The Cloud of unknowing, the writings of Julian of Norwich (who was a woman), read the Christian mystics. Also The way of the pilgrim, from 19th century Russia. There’s your link with your friends from other religions, and you’d know all about it if the Church hadn’t hidden it. DM

  54. on 13 Jul 2008 at 5:31 pmMark

    DavidM,

    Have you actually read Russell Humphreys’ book, Starlight and Time? It doesn’t sound like you have, considering your comment about “the utterly ridiculous idea that gravitational time dilation allows the starlight to arrive on the right day.” That does not describe his theory at all. And while you claim that “most physicists won’t even bother to tell you how insane that is,” there have been quite a few who have given it serious consideration. You may not agree with his theory but there is nothing insane about it.

    Secondly, you say, “you mustn’t forget that I believe in God!” No offense, but I’m reminded of James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Not that I’m comparing you to demons, but my point is that lots of people and lots of religions believe in God. But you have believed a lot of the untruths about the Bible being unreliable (especially the Old Testament) and haven’t looked more closely at it. But if there are that many errors in it, how can you believe what the New Testament teaches about Jesus?

    The Bible, and especially the words of Jesus, give us the picture of God’s plan, including Isaiah’s prophecy that the very animal kingdom will be changed when the earth is restored. The whole idea of death being an intended part of God’s design just doesn’t fit. Neither does the Pansperma hypothesis. The Bible says God created man on the earth, and put him there for a specific reason. And nothing in the observable universe contradicts that.

    You say you think God designed the universe and wants us to look at it. I think God inspired the Prophets to write the Scriptures, and He wants us to look at that first in order to understand the universe when we look at it. This is where most of the posters on this blog differ from you viewpoint.

    You say, “The feeling in the heart is described by all religions.” But the “Cloud of unknowing” and the stuff found by Christian mystics is NOT the holy spirit, as defined by the New Testament. It seems that a lot of what you believe about God, religion, and the Bible is based on observations of organized religions, and not on actually reading and/or studying the Bible.

    G. K. Chesterton made the famous statement that when one stops believing in God, it’s not that he believes in nothing, but that he’ll believe in anything. I think that’s also true of those who don’t believe in the Bible. It’s amazing what theories they come up with! But it’s unnecessary because when you get past all the trappings of religion, and past the things people say about the Bible, the Bible itself is really quite simple.

  55. on 13 Jul 2008 at 6:41 pmDavidM

    Hi,

    the Bible is one of a group of old religious books that came out of mankind during a period of a few thousand years, in which we were getting to grips with the idea of a single God. It’s just one of them. The others are far more similar to it than you may think. I’ve read a lot across the religions, and they are all culturally parallel. I don’t mean they’re all the same, I mean they’re culturally parallel in that whatever was going on psychologically with one of them was clearly also going on with the others.

    These faiths have enough similarities to be like a matching set. Some of the wiser ones are unphased by the others, and acknowledge the others. Anyone who claims their religion to be the only one that is “right” – a very foolish idea – must explain why his faith is one of a matching set.

    Incidentally, before I go, and this time I really should (I’ve taken up too much of your space and time already, thank you for having me), I should mention that Hinduism is monotheistic, they’re images for different aspects of one God. And Buddhism does not deny a personal God, it just leaves that question open. I tell you these two things because in the West there are incredibly common mistakes made in those two places.

    So as I said, over a few thousand years mankind was getting to grips with the idea of one God. Jesus was a part of that. So were others – that’s what I think. And yes – not all the details are literally true, in any of those books. It’s old culture, but spiritually inspired old culture.

    We’d better agree to disagree and leave it there, I find Mark’s post utterly ghastly in places, implying I don’t believe in God. Anyway, all good wishes, so long! DM

  56. on 13 Jul 2008 at 6:46 pmSean

    DM,

    Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?

  57. on 13 Jul 2008 at 10:35 pmMark

    DM,

    I didn’t imply you don’t believe in God. What I said was that lots of people believe in God (and so do demons). Belief in God is not sufficient by itself. And what I said about the G.K. Chesterton quote is that the same thing applies to people who don’t believe in the Bible. As I said, “It’s amazing what theories they come up with!”

    You said, “Read Jesus’ words my friend, and go by them only. They’re all you need.” But if you believe “the Bible is one of a group of old religious books that came out of mankind” then how can you trust it to convey the words of Jesus?

    I think Sean’s question is the best place to start. “Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?”

  58. on 14 Jul 2008 at 9:15 amDavidM

    Hi,

    The only reason I’m answering is that one point is important. First I must answer one that to me isn’t important, as you both ask!

    I don’t think death is what it seems, so I don’t think anyone actually dies. So Jesus wasn’t dead anyway, and I think people may have seen him after he died.

    Or they may not have done, and those stories may have been added later, as a lot was. To me it makes absolutely no difference to anything either way. (But if people did see him, that would probably be some kind of vision or psychological phenomenon.)

    About Mark’s post, I meant that it implies my belief is somehow different from his, and carrying less weight. It’s all opinion, you can’t set yourself above anyone else like that – not in a decent, reasonable discussion.

    The important point is the one about only needing the words of Jesus. The context of that was for Christians trying to make sense of it all, and trying to wade through all the awful stuff that has been added later. I said “If you’re a Christian, all you need is the words of Jesus.” That was for people who are already Christians. I think Jesus would have wanted you to look at his words mainly, and at the rest far less.

    Often what has been added later is basically the opposite – not only with the issue about rules. Also with the unconditionality of his love. I believe that tells us that God’s love is the same, unconditional. Jesus created a forgiving, unconditional religion, by his example. And others managed to make it conditional and in many ways unforgiving. This was done partly by where one puts the emphasis – but the end result is that the tone of Jesus teachings was changed from warm to cold, from nice to less nice.

    Anyway, although I said all you need is the words of Jesus, before saying that I also advised people to read the other old religious books, to put these things in perspective. There are other equivalents that are so similar that one has to see the bigger picture.

    In a way that’s what I’ve tried to show you generally, the wider picture in which the bit you look at belongs. I hope not to have offended, what I’ve said doesn’t make the truly valuable things in Christianity any less valuable. And wonderful things they are too. DM

  59. on 14 Jul 2008 at 10:50 amSean

    I don’t think anyone actually dies

    Wow! This is the strangest statement I’ve ever heard a scientist make.

  60. on 14 Jul 2008 at 11:18 amPatty

    Dm, Hi You cannot pick and choose from here and there and then say that this is the truth. I do see the temptation to do so. If something is similiar to accounts or ideas in the Bible, I dont see how you can then jump from that to say that it is as valid. I f Jesus is the only way to God why would you fall into the trap of embrassing other ways {because they are similiar} this is probably not even good science. The Bible is filled with exhortations to avoid being deceived and I think it would be good if you investigated what it says about that. God is a very jealous God and he does not like it much when we pick and choose and define him accordingly. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom. In order not to get lost in our own reasoning we must stay on the path he outlines otherwise the end result is that its all correct if we can just bring it all together in one unifying system and then we have lost God and have become our own god. sincerely Patty

  61. on 14 Jul 2008 at 11:52 amKarl

    JohnO wrote:

    The creation record seems to implicitly say that death did not occur until sin. Death is a universal constant – not a man only constant, so I’m not sure how we could assert it involves only man. And that is the linchpin of your argument, death is a part of the design. If death was not a part of the design, then carnivores are not intended for the end.

    So you say that the linchpin of my argument is that death is a part of the design. Have you attempted to disprove this idea? Who designed the killing equipment (i.e. teeth, claws, etc…) of lions? Was creation redesigned after the fall?

    Also I’m not so sure that death did not occur in the animal kingdom before the fall for the following reasons:

    1) The apparent design of carnivours and micro-organisms that bring about decay and death.

    2) An undying reproducing herbivour animal world would quickly consume all of the plant life on earth.

    3) The consumption of plants itself is destruction of life, so even an entire herbivour creation presupposes death and destruction.

    4) The tree of life appears to be available to only humans that are located in the garden of Eden, not to the animal kingdom.

    And Isaiah’s picture of peace with the lamb and wolf are left entirely intact, not idyllic. Furthermore, as this all started with a Revelation quote about no more sea, I think a comment can be made. In apocalyptic literature sea/ocean is a symbol for chaos. This is the same symbol is has in creation tales across the near east as well (including Genesis, God moves on the chaos/water, and creates/orders it). Note also in Revelation the beast comes out of the water, this is a statement of the character of the Christian enemy. Therefore, when Revelation says no more sea, since it is apocalyptic literature, it means that there will be no more chaos, no more unrest.

    I agree entirely with your interpretation of the sea in revelation. I was only using it for the sake of argument to those who might be inclined to an over-literal view of the scriptures. Now if we were to view prophetic passages in Isaiah in a similar way, what would lambs and wolves symbolize?

    Granted that there are parallels between the end of revelation and the beginning of Genesis, I assume that symbolic language wouldn’t be one of those parallels in your view?

  62. on 14 Jul 2008 at 12:07 pmDavidM

    Hi Sean,

    No, being a scientist isn’t synonymous with atheism. I think the brain dies, but I think the subconscious mind doesn’t reside in the brain, and survives with the underlying personality, in a simple essential form.

    There’s a lot of evidence that plants have minds – they seem to respond to some things that we respond to with our minds. But when a plant responds in a way exactly like what would be taken as a mental response in a human or animal, it’s said to be some other mechanism. Why? Because plants don’t have a brain, so it’s thought not to have a mind either.

    But I think plants have a mind, or are hooked into a mind. I think all life, from single cell creatures, has a general mind, and that mind was there before life. There was a “blank canvas” for life to write its memory on. The brain developed later, when creatures got more complicated, perhaps initially for more complicated functions like controlling multiple limb movements.

    So with the subconscious mind of all creatures elsewhere, not in the brain (perhaps stored in one of the fields we study in physics), it’s possible for all creatures to live on after death, in essence, if not with all the more superficial details of that particular individual.

    Hi Patty,

    You have to pick and choose, whether you like it or not. God made it that way, and the contradictions in the Bible make it impossible to do anything else. And Christians pick and choose all the time – unless you’re supporting bringing back the death penalty for breaking the sabbath rules? Or making slavery legal?

    It’s entirely up to you what you choose to believe in the Bible, but you will be choosing. But do look at the world as well – reading the Bible was not intended to be a substitute for looking at what God has put in front of us in the world.

    I don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to God. If you did some reading outside the bubble, you might come to agree with me in time.

    To me the fear of God is the exclusive territory of those who don’t know God. We’d better agree to disagree, and I’d better get back to work! DM

  63. on 14 Jul 2008 at 12:12 pmJohnO

    Now if we were to view prophetic passages in Isaiah in a similar way, what would lambs and wolves symbolize?

    Isaiah 11 is not apocalyptic literature, it is not in the same genre, and cannot be handled in the same manner. It is a prophetic vision of peace, and it seems that the peace is characterized by animals that used to be prey and predator will no longer be so. That is how extensive the peace will be. To say, that really isn’t true and isn’t going to happen is lessening the message of the prophet.

  64. on 14 Jul 2008 at 12:45 pmKarl

    JohnO wrote:

    Isaiah 11 is not apocalyptic literature, it is not in the same genre, and cannot be handled in the same manner. It is a prophetic vision of peace, and it seems that the peace is characterized by animals that used to be prey and predator will no longer be so. That is how extensive the peace will be. To say, that really isn’t true and isn’t going to happen is lessening the message of the prophet.

    So as usual you don’t address any points that I make and then bring the discussion to the differences between prophetic literature and apocalyptic literature. That’s ok though, we can discuss that. But hypothetically can’t you consider my question? Now if we were (hypothetically) to view prophetic passages in Isaiah in a similar way, what would lambs and wolves symbolize? Or perhaps if your views don’t don’t allow this type of reasoning, what do wolves and lambs symbolize in other forms of biblical literature?

    But back to Isaiah:

    1) Are you saying that the prophets don’t use symbolic language?

    2) Actually this is how extensive the peace is:

    Isaiah 11:14 They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west;
    Together they will plunder the sons of the east;
    They will possess Edom and Moab,
    And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them.

    So to take that passage about lambs and wolves literally completely ignores the context.

  65. on 14 Jul 2008 at 2:19 pmSean

    DM,

    Do you have any evidence of this notion that ones mind survives the death of the brain? It sounds fantastic to me. What about case studies in which peoples’ brains get damaged and their personality changes? The Bible teaches that death is the end of life until resurrection.

  66. on 14 Jul 2008 at 2:52 pmDavidM

    Hi Sean,

    well sorry if I went off at a tangent, you seemed to be asking what the scientific angle was. There is a lot of evidence for what I believe, but it’s pretty irrelevant to this page, so I’ll be very quick. The case studies you mention do fit with what I think, in which the mind and brain are two closely linked systems in a feedback loop, each affecting the other.

    But the assumption that the brain is where it all comes from is like assuming that a TV is where all the programmes come from. One naturally would if one had never seen a TV before, but that’s wrong, they come from elsewhere. DM

  67. on 14 Jul 2008 at 4:02 pmJohnO

    Was creation redesigned after the fall?
    Who designed the killing equipment (i.e. teeth, claws, etc…) of lions?

    I repositioned your questions. I don’t know the answer to the first one, the Bible does not say. God at some point created the lion in roughly the same form we see it today. But it clearly says that death is a result of the fall. Therefore I stand on the clear part, not the unclear part. So if a lion had claws and teeth before the fall, then they did, and for some other use besides killing. If they didn’t, then there still isn’t a problem. But you still have a huge hurdle to overcome as the Scriptures state that death came into the cosmos, the whole world – not just mankind, through Adam.

    As for Isaiah, the second half of the chapter is God’s judgment. Is God not allowed to judge? If he is, isn’t he allowed to kill in that judgment? The rest of Scripture testifies that God is allowed to do just that. And it results in the peace and rulership of God’s messiah listed in the first half of the chapter.

    Of course prophets can talk with symbols – but “the wolf will lie down with the lamb” is not a trademark symbol of anything! It is not found in numerous hebrew texts (just this one). It is not found in other ancient Near East texts as a concept shared with other cultures. There is no reference point. And, as I said, the literature in this chapter is not apocalyptic. Therefore we don’t have a freewheeling, dynamic genre to work with. And we don’t have a parallel phrase. And we don’t see very many symbols. We see lots of imagery, but only one symbols: the Branch of Jesse

  68. on 14 Jul 2008 at 5:18 pmPatty

    Dm. what in the Bible do you consider truth?

  69. on 14 Jul 2008 at 6:21 pmDavidM

    Hello Patty,

    I think looking for literal truth in the Bible is like looking for poetry in a science book – you might find some there, but that’s not what it’s really about.

    To me the Bible is a wonderful story of the history of Jewish people, and the amazing things they went through. They were beginning to find God in their hearts, and were trying to understand about God. That process is something the conscious mind finds hard to explain, it’s abstract and feelingful, and not rational.

    But the conscious mind wants to understand, so it fills in the gaps with its own stuff – it puts in things that come out of the culture, mentality and social rules of the time and place. All religions can be explained in that way.

    If you think of the Bible as spiritually inspired, you find parts of it that communicate in a different way from the literal way. It’s not poetry, but it comunicates in the same way as some other literature – it evokes feelings by the use of language.

    Jesus did this far more than anyone else – he spoke in a kind of poetry, which communicated in a magical way, expressing the abstract spiritual feeling he had in his heart. He used poetic images, and parallels, which I think is a real clue not to take these things too literally. The parables, after all, are not literal. But they tell something in another way.

    There’s truth that comes out of the Bible, but it’s not direct, it comes more like a whisper in your ear, but it comes shining through all the other stuff. Just like in the world, sometimes people’s love for each other comes shining through a whole load of rubble, or like diamonds in the mud. That’s how God likes to show himself to us, and he puts all the other stuff there as well, so the light can shine through it. DM

  70. on 14 Jul 2008 at 6:52 pmRon S.

    I agree with JohnO that the answer to “Was creation redesigned after the fall?”, is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. However I find it highly probable that it was – though NOT by God.

    Of course this is probably getting things in this thread even more off subject, but since it seems we’re there already, here’s my thoughts on this.

    When Adam listened to and chose Satan’s lie over God’s true instructions, he relinquished control over the earth to Satan. Mankind through Adam (the progenitor of our race) was given the authority by God to subdue and rule over this world. But Adam’s choice of choosing Satan’s suggestion of grasping equality with God effectively relinguished that authority to Satan and made him the “god of this age”. With power already and now authority handed over, Satan gained the legal right to tamper with God’s original “good” creation – thereby bringing about death and suffering not just to man, but throughout all of creation. So were lions and tigers originally designed to kill other animals for survival with their powerful claws and sharp “incisors”? Maybe not. Maybe they were genetically altered to be that way after the fall. And what better way to cast doubt on the Creator for a “good” creation, than by changing it to appear as though death and destruction were there from the start?

    Just a little something for thought and I’m certainly open to additional ideas on all of this.

    Ron S.

  71. on 14 Jul 2008 at 7:02 pmMark

    Also I’m not so sure that death did not occur in the animal kingdom before the fall for the following reasons:

    1) The apparent design of carnivours and micro-organisms that bring about decay and death.

    2) An undying reproducing herbivour animal world would quickly consume all of the plant life on earth.

    3) The consumption of plants itself is destruction of life, so even an entire herbivour creation presupposes death and destruction.

    4) The tree of life appears to be available to only humans that are located in the garden of Eden, not to the animal kingdom.

    1) The key word is apparent. There are even today animals which have teeth and claws resembling carnivores, but in fact are herbivores. The giant panda is one example. Teeth and claws are not necessarily only for eating meat. Some forms of vegetation (such as bamboo) require sharp teeth and claws as well. See http://www.answersingenesis.org/cec/study_guides/answersSG3.pdf

    2) First of all, we don’t know what the rate of reproduction was before the fall or between the fall and the flood. Second, if the plants are reproducing as well, they would not be completely consumed off the earth.

    3) Nowhere does it say that plant life is the same as the breath life in man and animals. It is not the same kind of life, and harvesting and eating plants is never called death or destruction in the Bible.

    4) On what do you base your assumption that the tree of life was only available to humans?

    Further, there has been much speculation, based on some unclear statements, but the overall picture in the Bible is that death was not part of the original creation, but came about as a result of man’s sin (Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:21-22). Prior to that, God gave herbs for food to all animals, not just humans (Gen. 1:30). After man sinned, the ground was cursed (Gen. 3:17) and all creation groans until the restoration (Rom. 8:18ff). Death was not part of God’s plan, but is an enemy, which will be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26).

  72. on 15 Jul 2008 at 5:58 amDavidM

    A point I should have made before – I was reading a book by Russell Stannard, a committed Christain who is also a well-known physicist and science writer. In the 1980s he was one of the writers who helped make a bridge between science and religion, along with Paul Davies who at the time was having a huge effect convincing people that the universe is designed. We were winning the argument in some areas then.

    He’s a respected writer, and would get the historical facts right. He said that taking the Bible as literally as some do today began in the 16th century, with the reformation. There were two different factions fighting it out, the Protestants and the Catholics, and they became competitive over how literally they took the Bible. It escalated, until books like Genesis were taken as exact truth that generally weren’t taken that way before. DM

  73. on 15 Jul 2008 at 9:16 pmTim

    I’d better briefly give you some specifics, or you’ll just continue to accuse me of having avoided scientific detail. There was a fish population that was observed in captivity over 50 years, from the 1930s to the 1980s, and during that time it split into two completely separate species, that wouldn’t interbreed, and had real differences. A study of mice in Chicago showed similar rapid adaptive change. And microbes of course mutate far quicker. (I won’t answer any points back, as I don’t believe anything would convince you of anything much over these details really.)

    Can you provide a reference (wikipedia does not count)? You could have saved a lot of space by just pointing us to something we could look at.

    A reference would go a long way towards convincing me. That is how science works, after all. People just don’t make claims, they publish their results so that others can check / reproduce their work.

    The irreducible complexity argument, which I have read about, is exactly like that, and therefore boils down to the same thing as the watchmaker argument. Both involve invoking unknown mechanisms, and you simply won’t cut any ice with the atheists that way.

    I think you need to read some more on IR. Can you share some of the resources that you have read?

  74. on 16 Jul 2008 at 4:25 amDavidM

    Hello Tim,

    Well one of the studies of change in the genetics of mice was published in the May 22nd 2003 issue of Nature, which you can’t get online. They analyzed DNA samples taken from 56 museum specimens dating back to 1855, along with 52 present day specimens. “The changes in gene sequence frequencies were dramatic, across the three 50-year intervals studied.” There’s an article about it at

    http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20030421210938data_trunc_sys.shtml

    Obviously with the changes more rapid than previously thought, there’s even more room for macro change across long periods of time.
    But there was plenty of room for it anyway – and they dig up layers of fossils that get more complex as you go upwards, suggesting macro-evolution. And there’s a vast mass of other evidence.

    But as you know, I don’t believe arguing over the details helps. Instead I’ve tried to show you that there’s no need to swim against the tide in the way you do, because if you take the Bible less literally it doesn’t undermine your faith. The truly valuable things remain, and are stronger than ever, because you’re not trying to convince yourself of something that just ain’t true. And a very long list of things that weren’t explained are then explained. That includes the other religions.

    With other religions, in the past people could be excused for being ignorant of them, but in the modern world communication of information means there’s far less excuse now. So the people who built the views of the Bible that were handed down and became your views had no access to that kind of information.

    The point about Russell Stannard is he was highly respected by both sides of the argument. You have no-one that is truly respected by scientists as well. You may say you do, but you don’t. His views made a real difference, they were listened to, not ignored. I found a page with a long list of the honours and awards he recieved from the mainstream – it’s at

    http://www.counterbalance.net/bio/stann-body.html

    With someone like that saying there was new evidence for design coming out of physics, we were doing alright – the truth was getting through. Then Creationism became more active, and it let the atheists get ahead of us. Dawkins knocks Creationism down easily, because it’s wrong, so he can.

    The point I was making about the irreducible complexity argument is that telling scienctists we don’t know something doesn’t do any good. You have to tell a scientist something we do know. If we don’t know something, then as far as science is concerned, the explanation could be anything. You can’t try to say that we’ll never explain it, it has to be God. That’s just “God of the gaps”, and those kind of ideas have turned out to be wrong for centuries. DM

  75. on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:10 amMark

    That article does not prove MACRO evolution. It’s another example of the same old misdirection that they have been doing for years. The observations they made only prove that the mice adapted to their environment. But they were STILL MICE. It is quite a leap to suggest that this proves that one kind of animal evolves into another.

    The fossil layers only “suggest” macro evolution if you start with that assumption. The layers are identified by the fossils in them, and the fossils are “dated” by the layers they come from. It’s circular logic. The fossil layers can also be shown to suggest a global flood. Both interpretations of the data are equally valid, though nobody can “prove” it either way since nobody was there when it happened.

    You say, “if you take the Bible less literally it doesn’t undermine your faith.” On the contrary, our faith is based on believing that God made known Himself, His creation, and His plan for the world, in the Bible. I know you don’t believe that, but I don’t believe that the only way to reconcile science and God is to deny the integrity of the Scriptures. And there are many creation scientists who think likewise.

    You claim, “You have no-one that is truly respected by scientists as well. You may say you do, but you don’t.” And your last paragraph, especially, demonstrates that you don’t know what creation scientists actually say and believe. I suggest you read more from web sites other than those which agree with your position.

  76. on 16 Jul 2008 at 9:24 amDavidM

    Hi,

    First, you certainly don’t have anyone who is respected by the science world. To the science world (which is not always right, but is generally pretty good with the areas that have been well established), there’s good science, there’s medium science, there’s bad science. And then about eleven levels below that, there’s the stuff talked by creationists.

    I tell you that not to be insulting (and I’m sorry if it comes across that way), but to let you know how you’re doing in the argument. The rest of the team is suffering, and it’s an argument that will affect the next generation’s view of things.

    Now you’re right that micro evolution doesn’t prove macro evolution, but we know it from a huge range of evidence compiling together. We have ways of dating things, they add good corroboration to the picture. And we also know the order in which layers in the Earth are laid down – the lower ones are older. Your statement seems to deny that. Do you guys really deny that the lower layers are older?

    There’s a very important distinction to make between two things. When I said “the areas that are well established”, let me tell you what I mean. We know that life evolved, but we don’t know exactly how. You must understand that distinction. We don’t even know how instincts are passed on, they’re not in the DNA (I think they come via the mind). So yes, we know as sure as you can know just about anything that life evolved, but many of the mechanisms are still a mystery. So pointing out that the mechanisms are a mystery won’t alter the first point.

    You say “I don’t believe that the only way to reconcile science and God is to deny the integrity of the Scriptures.” That’s just from your point of view, not the world’s point of view. From the world’s point of view there are many scriptures, from many cultures. And people generally stopped taking them literally when they found out that they were not literal truth. That was a while ago…

    The animals in Australia are really different from the rest of the world. That continent was in isolation from the other continents far longer, so they evolved separately.

    That’s more evidence for evolution, but it also works as an analogy. Communities developing in isolation, cut off from the rest of the world, will hold on to archaic ideas handed down from previous generations who lacked key bits of information. Your view of the Bible was formed before we knew what the world was like. DM

  77. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:15 amKarl

    JohnO wrote:

    But you still have a huge hurdle to overcome as the Scriptures state that death came into the cosmos, the whole world – not just mankind, through Adam.

    1) The scriptures say that Christ came to take away the sin of the world also. Does that mean he came to take away the sin of animals?

    2) Are we permitted to read the statements/views of Paul into the early chapters of Genesis?

    As for Isaiah, the second half of the chapter is God’s judgment. Is God not allowed to judge? If he is, isn’t he allowed to kill in that judgment? The rest of Scripture testifies that God is allowed to do just that. And it results in the peace and rulership of God’s messiah listed in the first half of the chapter.

    Of course God is allowed to judge and to kill, and I don’t have any problem with that. But the text isn’t talking about some future judgment of all men. The text says that Ephraim and Judah will invade the philistines and plunder and subject Edom. Moab and Ammon. So if you are going to interpret this passage as describing a future utopia where no death occurs then you are taking the passage out of context. Because “in that day” when the lamb lies down with the wolf you still have war and plundering and that is done by God’s people.

    Of course prophets can talk with symbols – but “the wolf will lie down with the lamb” is not a trademark symbol of anything! It is not found in numerous hebrew texts (just this one). It is not found in other ancient Near East texts as a concept shared with other cultures. There is no reference point.

    Yet even with no “reference point” you were able to figure out that the passage is about peace. Also I didn’t realize that we were bound to what ancient near eastern texts say in order to interpret the bible. But even so, perhaps you can tell us what a wolf and a lamb would represent to the ancient hebrew mind. From there we could interpret imagery of a lamb lying with a wolf.

    And, as I said, the literature in this chapter is not apocalyptic. Therefore we don’t have a freewheeling, dynamic genre to work with. And we don’t have a parallel phrase. And we don’t see very many symbols. We see lots of imagery, but only one symbols: the Branch of Jesse

    Ok you don’t like the term symbol for this passage. So I’ll call it imagery. Then I’ll say, the imagery of a wolf lying with a lamb symbolizes peace. So in Isaiah 11 we have peace in the “holy mountain” and military victory of God’s people over their enemies. Not any sort of reording of the creation of God.

  78. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:31 amKarl

    Mark wrote:

    1) The key word is apparent. There are even today animals which have teeth and claws resembling carnivores, but in fact are herbivores. The giant panda is one example. Teeth and claws are not necessarily only for eating meat. Some forms of vegetation (such as bamboo) require sharp teeth and claws as well.

    good point.

    2) First of all, we don’t know what the rate of reproduction was before the fall or between the fall and the flood. Second, if the plants are reproducing as well, they would not be completely consumed off the earth.

    It doesn’t matter what the rate of reproduction was. If both animals and plants reproduce and animals consume plants but nothing consumes animals, then the animals will eventually consume all of the plants.

    3) Nowhere does it say that plant life is the same as the breath life in man and animals. It is not the same kind of life, and harvesting and eating plants is never called death or destruction in the Bible.

    I agree that plant life isn’t the same kind of life as animal life, but you still seem to agree that it is life though. So when an animal consumes a plant it ceases to live.

    And about plants and destruction, are familiar with how the term “uproot” is used in the bible.

    4) On what do you base your assumption that the tree of life was only available to humans?

    Because the tree of life was in the garden of Eden. So even if animals could partake of it, it would only be the animals that were located in or near the garden of Eden not the animals outside located on the rest of the earth.

  79. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:33 amKarl

    Hi Mark,

    In my response to #3 above I meant to say: “are you familiar with how the term uproot is used in the bible?”

  80. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:37 amTim

    David,

    The point I was making about the irreducible complexity argument is that telling scienctists we don’t know something doesn’t do any good.

    This is not the argument. The argument is that the sub-structures that make up these microscopic machines could not have evolved gradually to get the end product; they would have had to evolve at the same time (if they evolved at all). They cannot have evolved by small changes. We believe that the burden is on the evolutionists to explain how this would have happened. There is no DNA / genetic mutation that could have formed these structures all at once.

    At some point, the burden should be on the evolutionists to provide some kind of theory as to how this happens.

  81. on 16 Jul 2008 at 11:37 amDavidM

    Hi Tim,

    Well we know life evolved. I agree that we don’t have a full picture of HOW it evolved, but that doesn’t alter the first point. Why should the burden be on evolutionists to “provide some kind of theory” as to how this happens? That’s not how it works!

    Science makes a series of logical steps, and where there’s overwhelming evidence for something, it goes into the area of existing knowledge. In this question we know one thing absolutely for sure, and you keep pointing out that we don’t know another thing.

    As I said, telling scientists what we don’t know doesn’t help. It’s true that some would say we do have most of the mechanisms, but that’s also irrelevant. The whole question of the mechanisms is irrelevant. You have to look at the main question, and the evidence relating to that.

    The mechanisms are irrelevant because there are a million ways that this could have happened, many of which we can’t even imagine. You CAN’T say it couldn’t have happened, you have nothing like the knowledge required to say that, and we may not have that knowledge in 1000 years. Life is a very complex thing – how can you possibly say it couldn’t have evolved in some way we don’t know about? That’s utter nonsense, and even if it were true it would cut no ice with scientists, because science doesn’t work that way.

    Personally, I think the mind does it. We know the subconscious mind can affect the body. There’s evidence that a lot of the instinctual cues are in the mind. I think even some of the ones that build the body. There’s a mental blueprint as well as a genetic one. And I think the mental blueprint gets adapted within a species sometimes, affecting the physical blueprint. Selection affects things, but there’s also direct adaptation.

    But forget the possible mechanisms. Only if you find a viable way of showing the huge mass of evidence for evolution to have a different interpretation can you say anything that would make a difference. And you’re vastly further from that than the people who have led you up the garden path will tell you. Perhaps they somehow think they’re serving God by twisting things and misleading you – I’ll never understand what makes them think that. DM

  82. on 16 Jul 2008 at 1:43 pmMark

    Only if you find a viable way of showing the huge mass of evidence for evolution to have a different interpretation can you say anything that would make a difference. And you’re vastly further from that than the people who have led you up the garden path will tell you.

    Not only have you not provided any evidence that disproves the theories of creation scientists, you have demonstrated that you don’t even know what they are. You also claim “we know that evolution happened” but the truth is we don’t “know” that at all. There ARE viable ways of showing the evidence to have a different interpretation, but you’re starting off from the viewpoint of not believing it, so you don’t even consider it, and categorically dismiss such views as being “eleven levels below bad science.” This is biased and not scientifically honest. If you really want to discuss creation science I strongly urge you to find out what they really believe and stop quoting what its opponents say.

    You say “I don’t believe that the only way to reconcile science and God is to deny the integrity of the Scriptures.” That’s just from your point of view, not the world’s point of view.

    First of all, it’s not just “my” point of view. There are many people who believe this, including the majority of Americans polled about it. But that doesn’t prove it one way or the other. I’m not as interested in “the world’s point of view” as I am in God’s point of view. But I already know we disagree on what God’s point of view is, so there’s no point in going there.

  83. on 16 Jul 2008 at 2:14 pmMark

    Karl,

    The prophetic language, especially of the Old Testament, can sometimes be tricky to understand. Often there are prophecies about different events that occur at different times, but written one after the other as if they were to happen at the same time. The prime examples of this are the places where the first and second comings of Christ are described together. (This holds true regardless of when you think the second coming was/will be).

    Whether or not the lion and wolf passages are to be taken literally is a subject that has been debated for many years. Our literal interpretation would fit with the idea that there will be no carnivores in the restored earth, but it cannot be used BY ITSELF to prove that there were no carnivores before the fall. For that proof, we need only look at Gen. 1:30, along with the other Scriptures I referred to in post #71, which paint the “big picture” I referred to – that death was not part of God’s original plan. This was the point being made in the first place.

  84. on 16 Jul 2008 at 2:19 pmDavidM

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for agreeing to disagree, which is what it sounds like. I appreciate it, and feel the same – we can each acknowledge the other’s beliefs.

    I think you’re right in that there’s no point in going much further – we’ve said most of what we think on these sometimes troubling questions. I hope, as I said, not to have offended, but to have made people think.

    Hopefully those who read this kind of page are think-skinned to these kind of arguments, there’s certainly an element of having stuck your neck out by challenging science on these questions. For some it’s no doubt wiser to keep their beliefs to themselves.

    I know a bit more about what creationists are saying than you think, I just don’t tend to go there as some of the ideas seem so misled to me. But also because I don’t think it helps to go through all the details with you, as I said.

    I know you think the archeological evidence can be interpreted as evidence for a flood. (I’m sure there was a flood, I believe a lot of the accounts in the Bible were loosely based on fact.) But that doesn’t just remove the archeological evidence for evolution, and you implied it does.

    We have a series of layers undeground with a sequence of fossils getting more complex as you go upwards, and the layers get older as you go downwards. This has been found all over the world. You can’t just dismiss that, not if you’re interested in the truth. Please try to get to the real information, and with an open mind.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the discussion, didn’t intend to go as far into it as I have. I found you guys by accident while searching for something in physics. (It was g[00], which is one of the terms in one of the metrics for general relativity. The word “goo” appeared, because one of you had written that if we were born from some goo our lives have no point, or something. I was intrigued, and had a look.) Anyway, I don’t regret the fact that I’ve done very little work recently! Love DM

  85. on 16 Jul 2008 at 2:48 pmMark

    We have a series of layers undeground with a sequence of fossils getting more complex as you go upwards, and the layers get older as you go downwards. This has been found all over the world. You can’t just dismiss that, not if you’re interested in the truth. Please try to get to the real information, and with an open mind.

    The increasing complexity of fossils as you go up can be just as easily explained by the hydrology and sedimentation that occurred during the flood and in the years after the flood as the earth settled down.
    Yes the layers get older as you go down. I don’t dismiss that. But how much older? There is no proof that the layers represent millions of years of slow gradual build up. In fact it is much more likely that the layers were formed relatively quickly, considering how fossils form. Also, there are instances of fossilized trees which cross through several different layers.
    As I stated before, you have yet to provide any evidence that the opposing side’s theories are false. (Neither has any evolutionist.) All you have done is categorically denounced them as misleading, misled, or outright lying, and dismissed them as unscientific. And if you do have a good understanding of what creation scientists actually believe, why do you continue to quote the well-worn opponents’ inaccurate descriptions, rather than what they really say? I would offer you the same exhortation that you offered me: “Please try to get to the real information, and with an open mind.”

  86. on 16 Jul 2008 at 3:18 pmDavidM

    Huh? does “hydrology and sedimentation” sort the species out into the correct order? Now there’s a miracle – if so God is trying to fool us into believing life evolved! And what about the methods for dating the layers, like carbon dating? Don’t tell me, you dismiss those. I need a holiday! DM

  87. on 16 Jul 2008 at 3:54 pmTim

    Why should the burden be on evolutionists to “provide some kind of theory” as to how this happens? That’s not how it works!

    Really? I thought that the purpose of science was to propose theories and then demonstrate those theories are true or false.

    Life is a very complex thing – how can you possibly say it couldn’t have evolved in some way we don’t know about?

    How can you say that it evolved? Did you observe it? Has anyone observed it? You have not shown any support for macro evolution other than that “everyone accepts it” (I am paraphrasing what you have said).

    One explanation that I am familiar with, to address the apparently fine-tuned parameters in the universe that make life possible is that there are an infinite number of parallel universes; ours happens to be the one in which life is possible. This is science?

    Personally, I think the mind does it.

    OK. How did the mind evolve?

  88. on 16 Jul 2008 at 4:18 pmDavidM

    I’m sorry that my tone was a bit exasperated just now – it just felt like nothing would persuade you, and you can’t do science if nothing would persuade you.

    But I could be persuaded of your point of view – really. If the evidence showed it I’d believe it. After all, I believe in God, and I sincerely want to know what’s really going on in this world. Have been trying to find out as best I can for years.

    Very briefly Tim, the context of “That’s not how it works” was about the burden of proof. You didn’t say “of proof”, but you seemed to imply it. So I was pointing out that scientists don’t have to prove that a possible mechanism exists, for reasons I gave.

    “Life is a very complex thing”, I was saying that the irreducible complexity argument can’t rule out all possible mechanisms for evolution. That was the context.

    How does the mind evolve? I think the mind is like a neural net (a computer that can learn things). It’s a lot higher tech though. It can affect the body, and that includes the brain. It controls both, but both affect it as well. And the consciousness underneath it is just God’s consciousness, which is unchanging. But it hasn’t got a clue about that. Now I’m going, please don’t ask things, as it makes me sad to say nothing back. DM

  89. on 16 Jul 2008 at 7:37 pmTim

    How does the mind evolve? I think the mind is like a neural net (a computer that can learn things). It’s a lot higher tech though.

    Neural nets don’t evolve (also they are typically not computers but software that runs on a computer), they are designed and then trained / tuned using positive and negative examples of the concepts that they are supposed to identify.

    So, you agree then that if the mind is like a neural net then it cannot have evolved?

  90. on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:47 pmMark

    I hate the fact that we can’t edit posts once they’re submitted. The previous post was supposed to be as follows:

    Huh? does “hydrology and sedimentation” sort the species out into the correct order? Now there’s a miracle – if so God is trying to fool us into believing life evolved! And what about the methods for dating the layers, like carbon dating? Don’t tell me, you dismiss those. I need a holiday! DM

    If you really knew what creation scientists say, as you claim, you would know the answers to those questions, even if you didn’t believe them. If you are genuinely interested in finding out, please read their websites (ICR, Answers in Genesis, TrueOrigins, to name three) before dismissing the subject out of hand. Enjoy your holiday.

  91. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:09 pmKarl

    Hello DavidM,

    I’m don’t take a really strong position on young earth creationism, old earth creationism or evolution. Perhaps if I was a scientist like a biologist or a chemist I might take a strong position or feel more qualified to discern the evidence better. With that being said I would be very interested to here your opinions on the following:

    Have you ever heard of old earth creationism?

    Does your belief in evolution preclude a belief in the validity of the old testament?

    Does God have certain moral standards?

    Did God reveal himself especially to the Israelites, or does (and did) God reveal himself to all peoples/religions equally?

  92. on 17 Jul 2008 at 5:21 amDavidM

    Well I brought my laptop on holiday. Tim, I answered your question wrong about the mind – you meant how did it evolve from the early stages of evolution to the human mind. I thought you meant within an individual.

    A good question, and one which I’d be a fool if I thought I could answer really, but I have a rough picture. I mentioned before there was a “blank canvas” for life to write its memory on, already there when the first single cell creatures appeared. I think this is the group mind, and all life is linked into it. That’s why we have telepathy, and other psychic phenomena. An oak tree has no brain, but I think it feels and lives because it has some kind of a mind.

    That mind in humans is like a neural net in that it can recognise things holistically, rather than by their components. A neural net can respond to a picture, and it sees it as a whole. It can learn, and recognise things. Other parts of our mind can only break things down into components. But I think this neural net is linked into a wider mind, and the whole thing developed slowly for around 4 billion years on Earth, learning (developing and becoming more complex) as it went.

    Mark – I believe you that the explanation Creationists have is more than hydrology and sedimentation. The situation that has arisen involves Creationists having found explanations for these things that satisfy them, and I’m coming round to the view that this is good in a way.

    I think the head stuff isn’t important in religion as I’ve said, and the differences between the thinking of the religions doesn’t matter. The heart gets close to God, and only the heart can do that. So as you’ve found explanations you’re happy with, you might do well to keep them and keep your faith.

    But please please don’t broadcast them to the world. You’re not in a position to do science. Unshakeable faith is sometimes great in religion, but it kills science. Only an open mind works in science.

    This fits with what I wanted to say when I read what Karl wrote. Hi Karl, I like your attitude that means your faith doesn’t seem to turn on small issues too much. It’s great if one can have faith without it depending on some little detail. After all, we none of us have anything near a full understanding of God. So what about the kind of faith that doesn’t mind too much about the details, and leaves those to God. That removes a lot of the insecurity. Then we don’t have to worry exactly what all the facts are.

    I’ve heard of old Earth Creationism, don’t know that much about it to be honest, but they take the Biblical age of the Earth less literally, and the carbon dating more literally.

    I believe in the validity of the Old Testament, but not in the function that some assign to it. Millions of Christians all over the world agree with me on that.

    Morality is a human issue, and all the “morality” in religion has been put there by humans. Often religion is hijacked, and used to enforced the social rules, which are not the same thing as deep morality.

    I think God doesn’t urge us to be moral, he sits back and lets us learn that we’ll be happier if we are. The world has built into it some lessons, and we learn them automatically. God isn’t preoccupied with morals, but he knows the world will show us what it will show us, because doing right and not wrong is one of the many lessons he built into the world.

    I think the social rules part of morality developed when we were small tribes trying to survive. This goes back to monkeys. Some very strongly enforced rules were needed to keep the tribe safe (and to avoid internal conflict), and our mentality developed very strong systems to enforce them, such as guilt. There were rules about sexuality, because we changed over from polygamy to monogamy, in order to protect the young with a family unit, at a crucial stage in our development. That changeover had to happen very rapidly, and the new system had to be upheld against the old system. So hence the remains of the obsessive “morality” we have left over today.

    But real morality is about right and wrong between individuals, it’s not about obeying the social rules (which vary from culture to culture).

    About the Israelites being special. I think they were special within the local tribes of Israel in a way, because they started to reach God. But across the world they were one group out of many. God revealed himself to other cultures, and often a slightly different side of himself to each. But he leaves it a mystery, he doesn’t want us to have the truth on a plate. DM

  93. on 17 Jul 2008 at 8:54 amMark

    Mark – I believe you that the explanation Creationists have is more than hydrology and sedimentation. The situation that has arisen involves Creationists having found explanations for these things that satisfy them, and I’m coming round to the view that this is good in a way.

    I think the head stuff isn’t important in religion as I’ve said, and the differences between the thinking of the religions doesn’t matter. The heart gets close to God, and only the heart can do that. So as you’ve found explanations you’re happy with, you might do well to keep them and keep your faith.

    But please please don’t broadcast them to the world. You’re not in a position to do science. Unshakeable faith is sometimes great in religion, but it kills science. Only an open mind works in science.

    This is typical of the so-called “scientific” propaganda which tells the world that it’s all about religion versus science. It is not. Both Evolutionism and Creationism are based on faith and have not, nor ever will be, proven by scientific testing. Yet there are just as valid theories in creationism as in evolutionism. But few people hear about them because they keep hearing propaganda like this, which says that “real” science proves evolution, and creation science isn’t really science. Such condescending attitudes are always communicated with broad sweeping statements, and never backed up with facts, however.

    No, I personally am not in a position to “do science,” but I can read. There are many qualified scientists who have come up with other explanations for the data which we observe, which do not require abandoning faith in the Bible. Why do you not want it broadcast to the world? If your view is superior it should be able to stand up to the challenge. But I rarely hear any real exchange of ideas in this debate. It’s nearly always arguments along the lines of “that’s not really science, it’s just religion.”

  94. on 17 Jul 2008 at 10:12 amDavidM

    Well as you know, I don’t mind science and religion accompanying each other. They go very well together. But I think where faith depends on hard facts, then (and only then) you get a real mismatch.

    With me faith doesn’t depend on hard facts. My belief comes out of other things – spiritual feeling, love, and I find purpose in the world. So there’s no conflict between the science and the religion – if the facts were different, it wouldn’t change my basic belief, though it might change my picture of the world a bit. So I can be unbiased in science, because my faith doesn’t depend on it.

    I detected in Karl’s post a hint of the same thing – a healthy separation between faith and facts. But if one depends on the other then you get a problem, because unshakeable faith can mean bias in science.

    Another point to show how the rules can be descended from something completely different. In the Jewish religion it’s an important rule not to eat pork. But the origin of that rule was that in those days pork could get infected, it wan’t safe to eat it. Nowadays it’s different, but all over the world some people still don’t eat pork. It was elevated to a religious rule, but was originally there to protect a wandering tribe from what at the time was a real danger.

    I’m sure you see why I suggest you don’t to take these old texts too literally, but instead pick up on the inspiration and tone of them. DM

  95. on 17 Jul 2008 at 10:38 amDavidM

    PS, about what you said on this:

    ‘there are just as valid theories in creationism as in evolutionism. But few people hear about them because they keep hearing propaganda like this, which says that “real” science proves evolution, and creation science isn’t really science.’

    That’s not just because they say it’s religion rather than science. Bad science very often looks exactly like good science to the lay person.

    Yes, you can read, but how will you tell the difference? It takes a real scientist, and it’s a widely held view among scientists that it’s very bad science. And only a small to medium proportion of those who hold that view are biased. Many scientists are pretty honest. If I were you I’d listen to what they tell you. DM

  96. on 17 Jul 2008 at 10:45 amMark

    To quote the famous Monty Python sketch, “This isn’t an argument, it’s merely contradiction.” Enjoy your holiday.

  97. on 17 Jul 2008 at 10:57 amKarl

    To quote the famous Monty Python sketch, “This isn’t an argument, it’s merely contradiction.”

    No its not!

  98. on 17 Jul 2008 at 11:01 amDavidM

    Yes it is! see you guys

  99. on 17 Jul 2008 at 11:44 amKarl

    DavidM wrote:

    I think the social rules part of morality developed when we were small tribes trying to survive. This goes back to monkeys. Some very strongly enforced rules were needed to keep the tribe safe (and to avoid internal conflict), and our mentality developed very strong systems to enforce them, such as guilt. There were rules about sexuality, because we changed over from polygamy to monogamy, in order to protect the young with a family unit, at a crucial stage in our development. That changeover had to happen very rapidly, and the new system had to be upheld against the old system. So hence the remains of the obsessive “morality” we have left over today.

    But real morality is about right and wrong between individuals, it’s not about obeying the social rules (which vary from culture to culture).

    I’m going to use the term social morality because you seem to be making a distinction between personal morality and social or cultural morality. You seem to be saying this:

    1) Social Morality is a natural out growth of evolutionary development that was necessary for survival from outside danger and internal conflicts.

    2) Different cultures have different systems of morality,

    3) Therefore, social morality should be rejected.

    But question to you is: If what you say about the evolutionary development of social morality is true, that doesnt’ mean that social morality should be rejected. I mean don’t we still rules to keep the culture/tribe/family safe?

    You seem to make a jump from describing how social morality developed and observing that different cultures have different standards to saying that it is obsolete. Does it logically follow that because you can understand the origins of social morality that it should be rejected?

  100. on 17 Jul 2008 at 1:47 pmDavidM

    Very good question, you’re right. I left that bit out. We need rules – I didn’t say they should be rejected. But they shouldn’t be assumed to be right either, or mixed up with real morality. DM

  101. on 17 Jul 2008 at 4:30 pmKen

    Many of the comments (from varying points of view) that I have been reading here take me back vividly to my days of studying physical and cultural anthropology at the university: (SMU in Dallas.) I had been a convinced, agnostic evolutionist throughout my adolescent years. Nevertheless, in my university studies, I became increasingly flabbergasted that my Darwinian world view (embraced with zeal) was founded on such a shaky set of assumptions. I remember that one of my professors admitted quite honestly that belief in Darwinism required assuming that things MUST have occurred that no one has observed in recorded history. (Of course, he believed that recorded history was not nearly long enough to see how mutations, for example, had pushed macro-evolution, etc.) Can an UNOBSERVED foundation for a vast school of thought be termed “science?” As a junior high school and high school student I had “known” Darwinism as undisputed truth. I had been well indoctrinated to have no doubts about it. I was dedicating my life, in a sense, to a pursuit of such assumptions. But my detailed college courses (presented by convinced evolutionists) brought up a plethora of questions.
    With no disrespectful thinking toward true science, I’m thankful to the God of the Bible that I do not have to feel obligated to jump back on the bandwagon of pseudo-scientific mythology (which had previously devastated my life.) Such thinking, so popular among my peers at that time, remains as unconvincing today as it was 150 years ago. Vague thinking, whether expressed as neo-Darwinism, punctuated equilibrium, or ancient Greek ideas about the random interaction of particles (as imaginative and entertaining as it might seem) is no basis for making real life choices. I am amazed though to see that “fantasy as fact” seems to be as much in vogue today as it was during my college years.
    Whereas one might be able to make microevolutionary arguments about changing moth color adaptations (a much hailed “proof” during my college days), to ASSUME (without a shred of evidence- as any honest scientist realizes) that it logically follows that zebras and turnips have a common ancestor is extremely far-fetched (to put it mildly.) To make up a story about that common ancestor being a coincidental mix of inorganic elements being “zapped together” in a “biotic soup” is beyond … (Adjectives fail me!) To pass all this off as science … (?) The demands made on my old, stubbornly held, “scientific” mindset (about 36 years ago) became unbearable! I had certainly swallowed such ideas for quite a while, so I am not pointing fingers at others who might believe such things.
    People who can read, think, observe nature, reason from what is observed, etc., need never feel bullied into swallowing psedo-intellectual fairy tales propagated in the name of “science.” “No lie is of the truth” -I John 2:21. “Science” is supposed to mean knowledge, by the way (from Latin.)
    (My purpose here for bold statements is merely to critique my old, insidious, arrogant world view which I came to reject; I respectfully do not intend to criticize anyone or argue with anyone molded to my previous views. I humbly pray for those who might share my former confusion; maybe the dangers of my youth can be avoided by some. (I know my “debating” efforts would convince no one about such matters.)
    To take the Bible’s creation accounts seriously, it is required that one have faith, but not a faith founded on impossible leaps in logic. Even if one is not able to explain every detail perfectly (i.e. claws and teeth), no impossible demands are made on one learning to hold a Biblical point of view. As an ex-Darwinist, the same cannot reasonably be said about the faith required to embrace any life originating from nothing model. The scientific impossibilities are too overwhelming.

  102. on 17 Jul 2008 at 7:39 pmMark

    Thanks, Ken. I agree with what you said about faith. Too many people think faith is believing in something in spite of evidence to the contrary. That is not what it is. The word comes from the root of “trust” and “trustworthiness.” We have faith in something if there is a solid foundation in which to place our trust. Then we might find certain aspects of our faith for which there is no proof, and our faith remains intact.

    Notice I said “for which there is no proof” not “for which there is evidence to the contrary.” There are instances where people will have “blind faith” in something in spite of evidence to the contrary. They base their faith on feelings and abstracts, and ignore hard facts, as DM was saying. But I don’t believe this is what true faith is. True faith is based on reason and the trustworthiness of the object of your faith.

    Theories of both creation and evolution are neither good science nor bad science – they are not science at all. No one has ever observed what happened then, and there are no laboratory tests or methods that can reproduce it. So it remains primarily a question of faith.

    I do not believe that belief in Biblical creation requires us to ignore proven science. The science comes in when theories are proposed to explain the observed phenomena. Both sides have valid theories, but most people are unaware of the valid theories on the creationist side, because of the propaganda that is constantly put forth.

    DM asked how I would tell the difference between bad science and good science. The best proof for me has been the simple fact that almost none of the challenges to creationism really deal with the issues. They just keep denigrating the whole subject and in many cases refuse to interact. I have read opposing arguments on both TalkOrigins and TrueOrigin, with articles that rebut each other. I can see how weak the logic is on the TalkOrigins side, and nothing they say disproves what creationism says, while there are a number of tenets of evolutionism that can be disproved, or at least seriously called into question.

    I’m all for healthy debate, but it is extremely rare in this subject. The evolutionist camp most often just gets angry that their theories are questioned, and that anyone is even considering another viewpoint. So rather than debate it, they resort to sweeping statements denigrating the opposition and appealing to the supposed “majority” who believe their way. This doesn’t make for a very convincing debate, as witnessed by the exchange on this thread.

  103. on 17 Jul 2008 at 10:12 pmO.J.

    No one has commented on my previous suggestion to view Kent Hovind’s video series on creation, so I’ll mention it again, because I really doubt that many on this thread have ever seen it.
    Mr. Hovind was a science teacher, and uses science, ( I repeat, science), to prove creation as stated in the Bible, and a young earth. He has debated creation, with scientific evidence, at Berkely, (twice), and many other places. If you are a creationist, you need to see his series. If you think you are a scientist, (DM), you need to see his series.
    Mr Hovind may be a Christian, but he uses science to prove his belief in the Bible, and ALL of the theories presented in this thread by both sides are covered by Mr Hivind. Since he covers it so well, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to argue it here. Anyone wanting even a little scientific evidence of creation needs to see this series on video. It is very, very thorough.

  104. on 18 Jul 2008 at 4:12 amMark

    O.J.,

    I’ve seen Kent Hovind’s video series. It is very good, except when he gets too much into theology (he is, after all, a Trinitarian). He also uses humor a lot, with varying success. Sometimes he comes off as a little too smug for my taste, but that’s just me. For the most part, though, he covers the subject thoroughly and logically, and in a way that is not too simplistic, but not so technical that a non-scientist can’t understand it.

  105. on 18 Jul 2008 at 11:57 amDavidM

    Hi,

    I should remove a genuine misunderstanding, having come this far. You think the fact that your science is ignored tells you something, but you don’t understand why it’s ignored.

    I’ll tell you the real reason. Many of us read anything – wild theories, papers on weird stuff. In physics there are many. Some are fascinating to read, even though one often doesn’t agree with them. They don’t even have to make utterly good science to get read.

    But they MUST know what has bearing on the relevant questions. If they claim an established theory is wrong, especially one with a wide consensus of support, they must go straight to the key experiments, or the key points.

    For example, on the internet there are thousands of papers arguing that special relativity is wrong. Most are unpublished, and some of the authors think their ideas are being suppressed. But in fact papers get published saying SR is wrong from time to time.

    Straight to the key points. If they go first to the Michelson Morely experiment, most of us immediately stop reading. If they go first to the muons experiment at CERN in 1977, many of us go on reading.

    If you claim a well established theory like evolution is wrong (not Darwinism, that’s far less well established), and one with a consensus behind it, then you MUST explain the fossils going upwards in order of complexity before you say anything else. You should NOT mention theology, or any belief system. (Yes, I know, some say science contains belief systems, but that’s not relevant to this point.)

    If you ask me or anyone to engage in your science, then START by telling us how those fossils got in that order. How those layers were laid down, and when. Then talk about radio carbon dating. Then the other bits of evidence, one by one. Don’t even mention the possible mechanisms for evolution, they’re totally irrelevant.

    The ultimate mark of a bad scientist is this: his audience (for his actual science work I hasten to add) is lay people. As I said, lay people can’t tell good science from bad science. It means real scientists probably won’t listen to him, and that says more than you realise. Real scientists engage with dissidents, we like arguments! But they have to know the basics.

    I won’t go any further, but perhaps you should post what is thought to have put those fossils in order of complexity. After all the talk I never heard what it was, and would be interested to read it. DM

  106. on 18 Jul 2008 at 12:29 pmKen

    I’ve also seen and enjoyed Kent Hovind’s video series; it is well worth watching: (I do concur with O.J.’s recommendation and with Mark’s observations.) Some other sources already mentioned are worth reading: Starlight & Time by D. Russell Humphreys (-the best on cosmology and time that I’ve read-)/ Darwin’s Black Box by Michael J. Behe. Someone mentioned work by Walt Brown (I forget the title of an excellent, comprehensive study he wrote- presented like a school textbook.)
    Here are some others that cover the subject generally: The Revised & Expanded Answers Book- edited by Don Batten/ Tornado in a Junkyard by James Perloff/ In Six Days (Why 50 Scientists Chose to Believe in Creation)- edited byJohn F. Ashton/ a book by Baugh (I believe the title is: Why Do People Believe in Evolution Despite All Odds?)
    Some books that target certain topics more specifically are:Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells/ The Long War Against God by Henry Morris/ Bones of Contention by Marvin L. Lubenow/ Buried Alive by Jack Cuozzo/ Dinosaurs by Design by Duane Gish (good to share with kids)/ Genesis and the Dinosaur (and) Noah to Abraham- both by Erich A. von Fange/ Creation’s Tiny Mystery by Robert V. Gentry/ After the Flood by Bill Cooper/ The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris.
    From geolgical studies- to historical records- to background about hypotheses- to dating methods- to fossil evidence -to biology, astronomy, etc., I have found all of this (collectively) to be a good introduction to the issues at hand. Of course there are details among these books and videos where one person’s view may seem more plausible than another’s or some questions might seem to have more than one possible explanation (without resorting to fantasy.)
    As far as I know, none of these materials would be difficult to obtain. This list is not meant to be exclusive (as there are other good sources out there.) These are books that been highly interesting to me that I can recommend to others.

  107. on 18 Jul 2008 at 4:48 pmMark

    DM,

    What amazes me is that you are so quick to dismiss creationists’ views as bad science, yet everything you have said about it clearly shows you don’t know what their theories entail. If you are really interested in finding out about the subject, I recommend the sources that have been mentioned in this thread.

  108. on 18 Jul 2008 at 5:28 pmDavidM

    Hi,

    well I certainly haven’t read enough to dismiss it all as bad science. I’m sure some sources are better than others. I’m interested to know a bit more, but I’ve tried to identify a real obstacle to communication between your scientific world and the mainstream one. I’m saying the problem isn’t what you think.

    There’s a huge amount of scientific literature published these days, and the mainstream science world has ways of flagging the key points to save wading through volumes of work like the list of books above.
    (The ‘abstract’ paragraph at the start of any scientific paper is an example.)

    With any scientific view there are key points, which if they don’t stand up all the rest falls. This is muliplied by 1000 if the view is challenging a well established theory with a consensus behind it. So we want to see an outline of those points first.

    I use the word consensus because the phrase scientific community does actually mean something – it is a community. A lot of us think there are things wrong with the way it operates, and that it’s affected by bias. I think so, and I’m a dissident in some ways – I sort of have one foot in both camps. But I do think many of the basic methods are right.

    Anyway, where there’s a huge consensus you have to be prepared to summarise the nitty gritty of what you’re saying. I’ve been searching for the anwer to my question about the fossils, haven’t found it yet. I did find this:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/lubenow_cg.html

    (you don’t need to read the article, but there’s a table at the bottom of the page that’s interesting if accurate.) But anyway, I’ll keep looking – let me know if there’s a summary of that particular point anywhere.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you how to approach the mainstream, a while ago I was begging you not to! ah well, good wishes, DM

  109. on 18 Jul 2008 at 7:24 pmSean

    I’m not sure what that chart is supposed to prove other than that Christians scientists disagree over time as more evidence comes to light. Non-christian scientists also disagree on things.

  110. on 19 Jul 2008 at 2:45 amDavidM

    well, it’s a different lot of fossils from the ones I was looking for. But he says below the chart that they can’t agree on whether they’re man or ape because they’re intermediate.

    Anyway, felt I should engage with the science a bit because you accused me of not, though I gave reasons for not going doing that. But I’ll keep my reactions to myself. DM

  111. on 20 Jul 2008 at 6:04 pmDavidM

    I should have pointed out what I hope you guessed – I have a low opinion of him and the way he writes. But he’s an academic, and I’ve looked at the point he makes separately from that. DM

  

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