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Conservative scholars abandon Adam and Eve
Science, Etc.
Written by emperorbma   
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 08:12

From National Public Radio:

Let's go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?

According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam's rib.

Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It's a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church.

But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: "That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all."

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emperorbma   |2011-08-23 09:30:30
'nother link.
PineHall  - Spectrum of Belief   |2011-09-01 23:37:49
I have not had a chance to respond in the good conversation, but I thought I would do so and branch out in a little different way. Most arguments are binary, Young Earth Creationism versus Evolution. Yet there are quite the spectrum of belief concerning the creation event.

A while back I read "The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation". The three views are "the 24-hour view", "the day-age view" and "the (literary) framework view". In this book the two authors (of six) argued their point of view and then there was a response from four authors with the other two points of view, and followed by reply the the original two authors. I got the feeling that they were just talking past each other. Reading the book I had hoped to find some sense of which belief seemed more true. Instead I ended up more confused, finding flaws in each of the views. And I don't have an answer though I have read books that cover the spectrum. Right now I am an old earth creationist (which includes its own spectrum).

The reason I parked this comment under Emperorbma's other link is the founder of that website is Francis Collins who is at one end of the spectrum. Here is how I define the spectrum:
1) Theistic Evolution - God sets up physical laws and the universe evolves (Francis Collins).
2) Theistic Evolution - The universe evolves with God helping out where there is irreducible complexity (Micheal Behe).
3) Old Earth Creationism - The earth is old and God specially creates each species (or groups of species) and evolution plays a smaller role (Hugh Ross).
4) Hybrid Young/Old Earth Creationism - The creation of the stars and the planets took a long time as science says but life was created in 24 hour day periods as per young earth creationism.
5) Young (6day/24 hour) Earth Creationism - The universe and life were created in six 24 hour days (Answers in Genesis).
6) Literary Framework, Truth Stories, or Allegory of Genesis 1/Creation - This is really outside the spectrum but has been an interpretation by some or many since ancient times (Augustine).

I think each of the spots on the spectrum have something going for them and also some issues. I am not certain where plant my flag. Right now I am an old earth creationist because the earth and universe definitely looks old and evolution seems to be statistically unlikely and also I want to take the Bible with Genesis 1 and 2 at face value. I am uneasy with that position. The one thing I know for sure God is creator. What do you think?
emperorbma   |2011-09-02 02:03:09
Ultimately, I'd agree that the only thing certain here (insofar as we are speaking by faith) is that God is creator. The thing is, I think we need to be careful to understand that these categories aren't rigid boundaries, though.

Most of my present thought is described as #3, but I also have elements of #1.

To that end, I would say that God is the Creator of all things, be it species or otherwise. Some of these may involve a special miraculous intervention but it's entirely possible that God also used natural forces to enact the miraculous. The trouble here is that science is designed to work through observation of cause and effect within nature. It is well suited to finding specific cause and effect but it doesn't deal well with the source of all reality.  (It would basically be so overloaded by the possibilities of what God can do that it can't trace what or how it was done... which basically neuters it's effectiveness) I tend to believe that the way science observes the acts of creation would lead it to describe an evolutionary process despite the Divine creation. In fact, I think that this is consistent with Scripture which shows God working through people and through nature to bring about His Will. The natural is no less miraculous than an event that can't be explained with natural forces. Just because God uses bread and wine doesn't make it any less His Body and His Blood.

From what we can observe in nature, it appears that an evolutionary process has occurred.  That doesn't mean special creation is impossible, but I don't believe that special creation had to be the exclusive (or even preferred) means God used to produce the diversity of species. (Yes, even man) It's entirely possible, for example, to preserve the meaning of Adam being created from the clay by accepting that the clay had the other life forms as the transitional states before God finished Adam. Just as we are not in our final state but yet to be perfected through Christ at the Resurrection. However, I don't unreservedly assume that universal common descent is necessary either. I simply hold out the option that it may be correct and that even if it were, God is still the Creator.

Reinforcing this, I think God tends to work in a far more transcendent manner than just manipulating physical things. God establishes and sustains all natural systems according to His Will, sometimes permitting variations (like evil) that don't presently express the final intended goal but ultimately all things serve His intended purpose. Remember that God calls poor sinners to do His Work just like He calls up the lightning, the earthquake and the fire but He was not in them. In the same way, He can also create new creatures, perhaps even through a process of evolutionary descent. In Scripture, God didn't say "Thou shalt exist, llama" and "Thou shalt exist, bear."  Instead, God said "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds." Now, if God calls to the land to produce creatures, it is entirely possible that God continues to produce new creatures through others by dividing new kinds off at His own desire. I have become convinced that it would be unwise for me to limit God's Providence to deny such a possibility.

However, because God is uniquely transcendent, it is also not conducive for science to rely on "God did it" as an explanation. This undermines the ability of science to discover the chains of cause and effect in God's creation and cheapens our pursuit of God to rely on our ability to interpret and anticipate scientific progress. That is because it requires the man of science to know exactly what motivates God to do what it is God has done and this is something that even theologians don't really know except the small part that He has revealed; that God is the Creator, that He is love and that His mercy has bought us from the sin that bound us. So, while we certainly know that God is the cause of everything, it does not create a predictive model that can be used to simulate the observations in nature. It basically says "Everything that exists exists because that is how God made it," which is perfectly sound theology but tells us nothing about what forces interact to have a gamma ray emit from the collision between a particle and anti-particle. Creation declares the wonder of God, and so it does for those who have eyes to see, but it doesn't tell us what or whom God is. The faith in God is something that can be true without being scientific. Just as Kurt Goedel demonstrated that it is entirely possible for there to exist true statements that cannot be proven by common mathematical logic, so it is also true that God can be true without pure science being able to make an affirmation or denial. As far as logic is concerned, science cannot be a complete set of all possible things in nature but it can provide a reasonable and decent approximation of what exists as far as natural forces are concerned. Science itself, provided it is done correctly, would readily admit this fact because one of the cornerstones of science is the ability to challenge a theory with real evidence to the contrary and demonstrating that another model explains the observations better. It certainly can't say anything about what caused this N-dimensional stream of space and time to exist here as it does or what purpose that stream has, only observing and attempting to predict through models what sorts of energy exchanges cause things to happen within it.

Therefore, I could summarize my take on Old Earth Creationism as follows: "I don't know that evolution is impossible, but I do know that God created everything, directs and sustains it. If the process of evolution is the thing that happened, then this is what God used to produce creatures. If it is not, then so be it. In either case, I will not make myself an enemy of science by insisting that it make my religion into a part of its models."
laika  - WoT   |2011-09-03 00:03:49
Yes! the Wall-of-Text (where *is* that trademark symbol) delivers again!

emperorbma wrote:
Therefore, I could summarize my take on Old Earth Creationism as follows: "I don't know that evolution is impossible, but I do know that God created everything, directs and sustains it. If the process of evolution is the thing that happened, then this is what God used to produce creatures. If it is not, then so be it. In either case, I will not make myself an enemy of science by insisting that it make my religion into a part of its models."


So nicely put. (Bolding is mine). And the thing of it is, if it could be shown beyond doubt that evolution and science as we know it is wrong or has nothing useful at all to say about creation, it still wouldn't mean that the YEC reading/construction was anything more than a cultural artifact of the 19th century.

As empy is good to remind us from time to time, things aren't always either/or. There are still other ways of looking at Genesis that aren't friendly to forcing it into a literal blow-by-blow account - ways we haven't raised in this latest return to the subject. It's just not a subject that seems to lend itself to an exhaustively knowable answer, and there's no indication - that I'm aware of - that it claims to be such a thing.

emperorbma wrote:
...but I do know that God created everything, directs and sustains it.


That's what Genesis says...
PineHall  - Agree!   |2011-09-03 11:42:31
Like Laika, I agree with your post. Your statement,"I do know that God created everything, directs and sustains it", is what is important. I too think science and religion need not be adversaries. I think the two extremes is what drives the antagonism.

Too many people take science one step beyond to Naturalism and say there is nothing beyond what we can observe. Who knows, there may be antennas in another dimension coming out of our heads but we can not sense that feature. The same is true of God. Without his revealing himself to us, we would know nothing, except for this feeling that there is something more.

Young Earth Creationism says the literal modern understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 is the only possible understanding without compromising the Bible. In many ways science has influenced this understanding, so that they create creation science to explain things. Unfortunately most (all?) of creation science is bad science. If God created the world in six 24 days, he did not need to use the laws of nature to do so. Miracles are supernatural events. God is not limited by the laws he put in place. You don't need to create bad science to explain the actions of God.
emperorbma   |2011-08-23 10:04:18
IMO, this is entirely a non sequitur and I do not know why anyone would simply jump to denial as the strategy even if they accept evolutionary origins.

First of all, even if we accept the account of evolutionary origin, there is no reason to assume that an Adam and an Eve whose parental line can be found in all humans could not have existed. Genesis doesn't really require that all human genetics originate from Adam and Eve, only that they are a common ancestor of the human race. Biologically, if an ancestor is early enough there will be enough exchange so that any population size will have complete representation of their ancestry. Geneticists even refer to a "Y-Chromosomal Adam" and a "Mitochondrial Eve" as the nearest descendants that have a common genetic parental source for the specific genetic element that prefixes them. [Note: I see no reason to limit ourselves to 6000 years for origins, either... but that's neither here nor there]

Scripture also doesn't really require that Adam and Eve couldn't have merely been the first humans God created and subsequently God created others from another source or even the same source. Perhaps Adam and Eve were the first completely genetic humans to originate in the earliest pre-human genetic tribe.  Even if there were such a "tribe" Adam and Eve would still be the common origin of all humanity. Perhaps they were the first whom God called out and recognized as human and whatever exists prior is "proto-human." Perhaps they were created separately and then integrated into a society of proto-humans when they Fell.  Perhaps the Fall resulted in them taking on a proto-human form from a pre-fall "perfected form" that we only saw reappear with Christ's post-Resurrection glorified body. The point is that there is no reason, even if we accept an evolutionary account, that an Adam and Eve couldn't have existed and been a common ancestor of humanity.

The worst issue is that the introduction of such a denial undermines a critical Apostolic witness to the resurrection.  Even ignoring the key importance of Original Sin in Western theology, there is still an importance derived in that Jesus Himself refers to these ancestors and uses them in His theology.  Certainly, if it was a popular aphorism that is one thing, but it is another thing entirely to call an essential witness to the Father's work a fabrication. Evolutionary origins, in and of itself, does not require this claim, either. The problem here is that people are taking a binary thinking approach and saying "either all or none." Theologically, there is an inherent necessity that an Adam and Eve existed in some form or fashion within the real universe. There may or may not be room for negotiation as to the form that they appeared in, but their existence in some form or other should be taken as granted...
laika   |2011-08-23 14:45:09
emperorbma wrote:
Perhaps they were the first whom God called out and recognized as human and whatever exists prior is "proto-human." ...The point is that there is no reason, even if we accept an evolutionary account, that an Adam and Eve couldn't have existed and been a common ancestor of humanity.


Though my speculations might vary a bit from yours, I agree. There is no reason that A & E couldn't have been unique in their relationship to the Almighty. Evolution is just not a deal breaker where a literal Adam and Eve are concerned.

The bigger problem for some people is the existence of physical death prior to A & E in an evolutionary scheme.
emperorbma   |2011-08-24 02:30:51
laika wrote:
The bigger problem for some people is the existence of physical death prior to A & E in an evolutionary scheme.


Well, it might be a concern but it comes from a notion that isn't necessarily Scriptural.

Scripture never really says that anything, even Adam and Eve, had to be physically immortal before the Fall. The silence of Scripture about death doesn't mean it couldn't have existed somewhere in creation. Just on the merits of the Bible itself, the notion of prelapsarian immortality is just not there. That isn't to say that it might not be true, but the Bible certainly doesn't require it.

To wit, God did say if man eats of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he will certainly die. The Bible also teaches that Adam and Eve were without sin before the Fall.  The closest that Scripture ever comes to implying that Adam and Eve were immortal is Romans 5:12, "as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." In Genesis, however, God also says after the Fall that "[Adam] must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." In light of this, it is entirely possible that Adam and Eve didn't possess immortality on their own but through access to the tree of life. Perhaps God stripped it from Adam and Eve before making this statement or perhaps they simply didn't have that kind of immortality in the first place. The point being that it is entirely possible to make the claim from Scripture (and only Scripture) that Adam and Eve just weren't physically immortal anyway.

Furthermore, the importance of death in Genesis is not physical death. If that were the case, Adam and Eve would have simply had a heart attack and died, end of story. The point is that they were separated from God's presence and it took God's own work of redemption to restore that communion. If Adam had physical immortality on top of the Fall, it would have only hardened mankind's disobedience to God.

Finally, even if we assume that Adam and Eve were physically immortal until the Fall, there is no reason that it couldn't have just been a special protective blessing given to Adam and Eve.  Nowhere did God, even implicitly, confer immortality to any other creature and for humans immortality has always involved some form of reliance upon God's grace; be it through the tree of life or through Christ.

In fact, the only real problem here is that some have taken the approach of a false dichotomy. The absurd fundamentalist believes in a flanderized version of sola Scriptura that doesn't incorporate any room for metaphor, cultural background or analysis. This is not the Reformers' sola Scriptura which takes the "plain reading" of Scripture but a bastardization of the concept that demands that everything fit into its narrow-minded and ill-conceived perspective. It is one thing to defend what Scripture teaches, such as "this is my body," which Luther was concerned with.  It is another thing entirely to say that the Earth has to be 6000 years because that's all we're able to count from the most strict conception of Genesis.

On the other side, there is the anti-religious proponent of sola scientia which believes that the scientific method is the only valid epistemological technique. Therefore, anything that is learned through revelation is immediately discounted as junk data since it cannot be falsified by scientific criteria.  Russell's teapot and all that... In this view, religion is just a historical scrap heap theory, like alchemy or blood-letting, that some people believe in despite the contrary evidence provided by the one true science. They believe that religious people maintain this because of an absurd confirmation bias that they have for some reason or other, probably because religious folks are just scared of death but won't admit it because they suck. (They will, of course, pat themselves on the back, thanking [tongue in cheek] the FSM and the IPU that that are better than the other people who believe in silly fairy stories. *cough*Pharisees*cough*) Therefore, in their eyes, religion is the opposite of reason. Under that line of thinking, they impugn the notion of revelation and its authority. It is contrary, in their mind's interpretation, to the ability of religious people being able to revise their "theories" in favor of new evidence. For them, it is "deduction" based on flawed logic and delusion rather than pure "induction" and "real evidence" like the scientific process. Viewed from their lens, there can't be a legitimate religion because no religion incorporates the scientific method as its central rhetoric. Yes, unless we were atheists first who then derived a perfect Theory of God, they wouldn't be satisfied. For the sola scientia idealist, God must either submit to their models of understanding or be excluded from all reasonable discourse...

It is easy enough to see that neither approach is robust or conducive to a solution that involves anything less than complete philosophical annihilation of the other viewpoint.  Obviously there are issues on both sides. The problem with the case here is that someone jumps from one extreme to the other instead of trying to find a reasonable mediation. Side "benefit" being that it polarizes the sides even more...
laika   |2011-08-24 16:30:35
emperorbma wrote:
Scripture never really says that anything, even Adam and Eve, had to be physically immortal before the Fall. The silence of Scripture about death doesn't mean it couldn't have existed somewhere in creation. Just on the merits of the Bible itself, the notion of prelapsarian immortality is just not there.


Interesting! The issue of "prelapsarian immortality" seems to be a sticking point for many when evolution is discussed; I've assumed it was a thoroughly buttressed argument.

emperorbma wrote:
Furthermore, the importance of death in Genesis is not physical death ...The point is that they were separated from God's presence and it took God's own work of redemption to restore that communion.


That's exactly what yours humbly takes away from it, but I'm no scholar. It's nice to see the issue so thoroughly fleshed out in classic emperorbma wall-o-text fashion :)
emperorbma   |2011-08-25 02:09:05
laika wrote:
the issue of "prelapsarian immortality" seems to be a sticking point for many when evolution is discussed; I've assumed it was a thoroughly buttressed argument.


This case is nice because it really does rely on a specific interpretation that is not really required. A similar case might be made for the flood being regional. Likewise, it might be suggested that Genesis omits various generations of people that just weren't included in the pre-Abrahamic oral tradition that Moses was inspired by God to record. (cf. the genealogies of Jesus provide a strong example of the same situation, since the 42 generations skip quite a few if compared to the ones in the Old Testament)

Alas, not all cases present themselves to a possible misconstrual of terms, however. As far as buttressing is concerned, the origin of Eve is actually pretty much unassailable as an act of special creation. If one doesn't admit the existence of miracles this is a rather hard one to explain without just handwaving it away as a metaphor.

Maybe, one can strain the meanings of the terms like suggesting that "flesh and blood" refers to the original creature of which Adam was formed; probably proto-humanoids; and Eve was the second to arise as a modern "in imago dei" human. Obviously, if there is no good reason to require such alternate interpretations, though, then it's simply better to take the Scriptural witness as we normally understand it to include special creation. In some cases, we just have to leave reconciliation of perspectives for when there is better evidence. [i.e. after we invent time machines, because it's extremely unlikely we'll find Adam and Eve's bones anywhere]

However, if we're constantly finding that our observations are not reflecting the reality of things then it's probably because we have misinterpreted something that Scripture said, or that science found. Thusly, while I might be amenable to considering evolution a possible explanation I don't consider it to preclude the possibility of Divine acts of special creation. I did say I'm an Old Earth Creationist, didn't I...?  I may not be hostile toward the scientific perspective like a YEC, but there are still things that need to be maintained as a matter of course.  Evolution, if it happened as science describes (and it might well have which is why I even have these discussions), was the vehicle God used. In either case the Scripture is still true.
whitemice  - in the cool of the evening   |2011-08-25 06:25:44
Quote:
This case is nice because it really does rely on a specific interpretation that is not really required. A similar case might be made for the flood being regional. Likewise, it might be suggested that Genesis omits various generations of people that just weren't included in the pre-Abrahamic oral tradition that Moses was inspired by God to record


This is a good point. My favorite 'sermon' on these issues pointed out that nowhere in the gospels does Christ eat breakfast or use the lavatory..... therefore he clearly never ate breakfast or used the lavatory... so should Christians partake of breakfast or use a lavatory?  What would Jesus do?

Obviously that statement is extreme and meant to be comical - but the point is - there is so much lacking. This is not even unique to Genesis [although Genesis, even for the most utter and absolute literalist, is clearly the best example of missing-information anywhere in all of literature].

The one brief statement that GOD came and walked with Adam in the cool of the evening.... sooo... what did they talk about?  Wouldn't you cut off your left hand for a transcript of those conversations? [and what language did Adam speak?]

Quote:
I don't consider it to preclude the possibility of Divine acts of special creation. I did say I'm an Old Earth Creationist, didn't I...? I may not be hostile toward the scientific perspective like a YEC


I'm probably an old-earth Creationist; although I've never heard that term before. :)

But I'll go on record as being hostile to YEC. YEC's should never have an MRI, CAT scan, fly in an airplane with auto-pilot, or use GPS. If their computers are using NTP to maintain time they should disable that service as well [the central clocks use unholy Cesium decay] The engineering and mathmatics of those technologies are undergirded by the same principles that argue for an old-earth and big universe.
holmegm  - re: The nut   |2011-08-25 09:54:45
whitemice wrote:
YEC's should never have an MRI, CAT scan, fly in an airplane with auto-pilot, or use GPS. If their computers are using NTP to maintain time they should disable that service as well [the central clocks use unholy Cesium decay] The engineering and mathmatics of those technologies are undergirded by the same principles that argue for an old-earth and big universe.


No, that doesn't really follow. Just because you think that we are "opposing science" doesn't mean that we actually are.

I mean, I see why the jibe makes sense to you, given your framework, but since I don't in fact "dismiss science' it just sounds silly to me.
emperorbma   |2011-08-25 19:07:20
holmegm wrote:
I mean, I see why the jibe makes sense to you, given your framework, but since I don't in fact "dismiss science' it just sounds silly to me.


A good point, actually. Having been on both* sides of the issue at one point in my life, I completely agree that YEC isn't about dismissing science. The goal is to affirm Scripture's teachings.

When I say "hostility," I'm merely intending to say that the YEC perspective turns science from a principle that "creates explanatory models for nature" into a "perspective that justifies theology against natural observations." This comes off as a bit hostile because it interferes with scientists ability to turn observations into models, even if it honestly wasn't intended to be.

Since many people today don't bother putting themselves in other peoples' shoes, we find that people whose only perspective comes from science get extremely upset because people are defending things that they don't think make any sense. If somebody takes some time to listen, the talking heads like Dawkins and Ham start to sound increasingly like agitators who stir the pot just to create trouble.

I don't have a YEC perspective any longer because I don't believe it is necessary to defend Scripture. However, I also I don't have any animosity to those who still do believe that and a lot of folks in my own church do.

*- Actually, I also have had the perspective of having believed only the evolution being taught in school before I became a Christian, too. As I have said, it takes a lot of the steam out of the hostility that one gets from the polarizing elements. Having experienced the opposing sides of an issue can be an enlightening experience...
whitemice  - The nut   |2011-08-25 06:12:56
Quote:
Scripture never really says that anything, even Adam and Eve, had to be physically immortal before the Fall. The silence of Scripture about death doesn't mean it couldn't have existed somewhere in creation. Just on the merits of the Bible itself, the notion of prelapsarian immortality is just not there.


Here is the nut of most debates about A & E. It isn't even just about their mortality. It is about the fact that the accounts are sparse and short. There is so much non-scriptural mythological baggage attached to A & E that when you listen closely it is hard to know for sure if two people are even really debating the same thing.

I'm not even sure what belief in the A & E account really means.

If you are asking me if I believe the A & E account is a literal / scientifically valid account? Well, I'd have no choice but to say "no". I'm not completely certain what that statement even really means.

The A & E clearly indicates (a) a different state of existence by some section of humanity at some section in the past and (b) actors in that sect terminated that state of existence. As long as the equation results in "original sin" then I don't see much of a need beyond a sparse account [except of course that it would be intellectually fascinating to know more, but we don't].
laika  - - re: The nut   |2011-08-25 15:11:26
whitemice wrote:
I'm probably an old-earth Creationist; although I've never heard that term before. :)


Me too! We need a bumper sticker :-)

whitemice wrote:
It isn't even just about their mortality.


I bring it up because it appears to be a line-in-the-sand for so many, as though the integrity of the entire Bible collapses if death and bloody competition existed before the Fall. In the young earth model, it's all of God's perfect Creation that fell when A & E rebelled against Him.

whitemice wrote:
If you are asking me if I believe the A & E account is a literal / scientifically valid account? Well, I'd have no choice but to say "no". I'm not completely certain what that statement even really means.


It means that a cultural expectation that Genesis be read as a literal scientific account exists, despite a lack of Scriptural support. A Tradition exists that demands it. You appear to be unencumbered by that Tradition, so the concept seems alien.
emperorbma   |2011-08-25 18:26:01
laika wrote:
Me too! We need a bumper sticker :-)


Hmm, I'm fairly sure the aptly named Answers in Creation might have a few. :P
emperorbma   |2011-08-25 19:41:22
laika wrote:
I bring it up because it appears to be a line-in-the-sand for so many, as though the integrity of the entire Bible collapses if death and bloody competition existed before the Fall. In the young earth model, it's all of God's perfect Creation that fell when A & E rebelled against Him.


It's really because some modern Christians are viewing the Scripture through a cracked lens that this becomes an issue. When we consider the culture and context, many of these issues just evaporate in a puff of smoke.

Back when I was a new convert, I was also YEC. I attribute this mainly to being unaware that many of the issues result from knee-jerk defenses that aren't really required to keep the plain meaning of Scripture.  This isn't to imply that the people doing them are stupid. Far from it, many are really intelligent people who have simply failed to realize that they aren't seeing the entire picture. The idiots are actually the people who poke the fires just to get people riled up over it.

Having studied a bit of the Hebrew and Greek texts and the cultures behind, these positions have simply stopped making any sense. The short of it is that the Bible is an extremely sophisticated work. The simplicity of the text conceals the true depth of its teachings.

It takes the Holy Spirit's guidance to understand them faithfully and this is not something that can be replaced with an artificial appeal to simple claims that contradict nature.  Yes, God did create man; but how would this fact appear from the perspective of nature? Science is man using the things that the past left behind to put himself into nature's shoes.  Certainly science can't tell the whole story but it isn't a pack of anti-religious assertions designed to undermine faith either...
whitemice  - re: - re: The nut   |2011-08-29 06:40:25
laika wrote:
[quote=whitemice]I'm probably an old-earth Creationist; although I've never heard that term before. :)


Me too! We need a bumper sticker[/quote=laika]

Or a T-Shirt. Just because I don't drive much anymore - living just two miles from my employer is sweeeet!

laika wrote:
I bring it up because it appears to be a line-in-the-sand for so many, as though the integrity of the entire Bible collapses if death and bloody competition existed before the Fall. In the young earth model, it's all of God's perfect Creation that fell when A & E rebelled against Him.[/quote=laika]

I don't know. I do not closely couple YEC (which I'm certainly not, and indeed hostile to) with creation-fall (which I've very sympathetic too) vs. fall-of-man. There are numerous verses that seem to have a creation-fall (Isaiah 24:5 & Romans 8:18 come quickly to mind) friendly interpretation. The Catholic church maintains creation-fall without being strictly YEC; or at least not YEC in the evengelical fashion.

I suppose I don't even put competition / death together ultimately and necessarily with a fall of any kind.

But this goes back to the entire concept of this thread - much debate about A&E has so many pre-assembled constructs where set-A contains X, Y, and Z for person 1 and set-B contains M, N, and Z for person 2... and they argue about set-A vs. set-B both assuming X==M.

If one argues against *a* fall or against the concept of 'original sin' [although I suppose you can use different labels for that] then we have real theological disagreements. But if it is about the existence of carnivores before the fall.... I don't think there is any meat to that debate [pun intended!] given the sparseness of the account(s); it isn't a debate - it is pure unadulterated speculation. I also can't really bring myself to care all that much.

[quote=laika]It means that a cultural expectation that Genesis be read as a literal scientific account exists, despite a lack of Scriptural support. A Tradition exists that demands it. You appear to be unencumbered by that Tradition, so the concept seems alien.


A tradition that I think only quite recently entered the mainstream; I didn't encounter it until I encountered evengelicals in early adulthood. YEC and such didn't start making it into mainstream media until the early nineties.  It is amazing how quickly it gained stream and was able to portray itself as "the Christianity". But I suspect it just blends well with an increasingly micro-blogging bullet-point post-literature culture.
whitemice  - re: - re: The nut   |2011-08-29 06:41:19
Huh, a way to preview the formatting of a post would be really handy.
laika   |2011-08-29 12:21:15
whitemice wrote:
A tradition that I think only quite recently entered the mainstream; I didn't encounter it until I encountered evengelicals in early adulthood. YEC and such didn't start making it into mainstream media until the early nineties.  It is amazing how quickly it gained stream and was able to portray itself as "the Christianity". But I suspect it just blends well with an increasingly micro-blogging bullet-point post-literature culture.


I think of it as 19th century Protestant mindset. Much of this wasn't even an issue until Darwin. The YEC stuff is really a response to Darwin. I guess it ramped up again more recently when argument over what could be taught in public schools became an issue in the Culture Wars. But it isn't really new; think of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925.

I mention Tradition because most evangelicals think the business of church traditions not explicitly supported by Scripure are highly suspect, but YEC is just such a thing when examined more closely. It's nothing but a ~ 150 year-old Tradition!
whitemice   |2011-09-01 08:00:59
This makes sense.

It also seem to jive with my experience. While I entered Christianity via the Evangelical wing [general association baptist church] I've distanced myself from evangelicalism for much this same sentiment: (a) it is, in general, *extremely* reactionary and feels compelled to give an immediate [often poorly considered] response / "answer" to every event / trend that it perceives [many perceived trends turn out to be nothing of note] and (b) its constant [and doomed] attempts to jettison any 'non-scriptural tradition', usually by insisting non-scriptural traditions are scriptural or just replacing them with new recently manufactured tradition stand-ins. In hind-sight (a) & (b) seems linked in theme.

That a reaction to Darwin would run wild and even over-growth other community concerns fits the vibe of the evangelical community that I remember. Especially given the "Culture Wars" mindset resulting from tragically poor education [they seemed always to think pornography, homosexuality, and all the other red-letter sins were something new, that them beating on the doors of the mainstream culture was something new; when all that is very very old].

Aside
-------
(b) is doomed since a community can't exist without traditions - traditions appear naturally. I remember really wishing they would get over this and accept that traditions are OK so long as they aren't confused with a communities core values & principles. That good traditions are the manifestation out-growth of those values & principles. Traditions are the flesh on the bones of a community and what give it it's flavor. The constant need to flush/restart/reboot really makes the community feel thin.
emperorbma   |2011-09-01 17:23:03
whitemice wrote:
is doomed since a community can't exist without traditions - traditions appear naturally


Well, the thing is that this is a bit of a historical problem. It's actually the result of taking the rhetoric of the Protestant Reformation in a direction that the Reformers had never intended for it to go in.

See, the Protestant Reformation introduced the concept of sola Scriptura to specifically counter the abuses of tradition seen in the Roman Catholic Church with the indulgence hawking likes of Johann Tetzel and the overreaching authority of the Papacy. However, the Protestant Reformers never intended their criticism of specific problems with tradition to be taken as a criticism of all traditions. In fact, the Protestant Reformers not only referenced the Church Fathers but also established their own theological traditions to preserve what they believed to be the core principles of the Christian faith. One of the reasons for this was to attempt to avoid precisely what followed for the sects that did not end up adopting such a "doctrinal corpus" as the early Reformation Churches (like Lutheranism [which yours truly represents], Calvinism, etc.) had.

Again, there's a reason why we Lutherans called the book that houses the basic principles of the movement (featuring primarily the works of Dr. Luther and Melanchthon) the "Book of Concord," to emphasize the ultimate goal of harmony in the universal Christian faith. John Calvin tried something similar with his Institutes of the Christian Religion as did many other early Protestant sects.

In the centuries following the Reformation, this original view was distorted by the subsequent schisms among the various other Protestant sects. The rise of Enlightenment interpretations of religion only fed into this, such as the liberalizing forces of Unitarianism. The original, pragmatic, approach of taking caution with traditions evolved, for many Protestants, into a direct opposition to all traditions.

Thus, it was only in recent times that this false interpretation of sola Scriptura became placed in absolute antithesis to any sort of tradition. The fact that the modern day movement calls itself "evangelical" is actually rather substantial evidence for this scenario because the word Evangelical was originally a moniker for the Protestant Reformation itself before it had become subsumed by these forces...

(One can still see the old sense of the word "Evangelical" in the German Lutheran Churches which call themselves "Evangelische." It was originally meant to emphasize focus on the Gospel...)
PineHall  - God and Science   |2011-09-03 11:59:12
I like Kepler's view of science (http://www.mlahanas.de/Physics/Bios/JohannesKep...):
Quote:
"I was merely thinking God's thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature," wrote Kepler, "it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God."

Since God sustains the Universe, what can we discover about God from observing the Universe?  And how did the belief in a Christian God influence the development of science? Is Christianity and Science joined at the hip? I think so.
emperorbma   |2011-09-04 02:47:46
PineHall wrote:
And how did the belief in a Christian God influence the development of science? Is Christianity and Science joined at the hip? I think so.


I suppose now would be a good time to drop a reference to the works of the late Rev. Stanley Jaki's works about the origin of science which touch on this very thought:
*The Absolute Beneath the Relative
*Science: From the Womb of Religion
Kent  - Force-fitting Old-Earth Views into Scripture   |2011-09-05 17:27:32
It seems to me that the Scriptures consistently present the history of the world as a straight-forward reading of Genesis would indicate. When you tinker with Genesis 1-11, you're tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness. I doubt any Biblical character/writer would have any notion that the Bible taught anything other than a week-long creation event 4000 years or so earlier, of a "very good" world, followed by a corruption of the world and introduction of Death via Adam, who was the father of all humanity, followed by a world-wide deluge that wiped out all air-breathing land-dwellers except those on the ark, from whom all modern-day animals and humans have descended, in all their varieties (yes, "evolution", when defined as "variation on a theme" (e.g., all the various dog types, dingoes, wolves, coyotes, etc, descended from one (or a few) ancestral pair[s], etc), is Biblical).

The model for an old earth/cosmos seems very convincing. But as I've looked closer, I've come to conclude that it's really a house-of-cards, impressive-looking, but having very little actual rock-solid foundation.

The model for a young earth/cosmos is likewise not nearly as strong one might prefer.

Neither model is fully-convincing without first having a good idea of what you want to believe.

So I'm reduced to separating the scripture-claims from the science-claims, and what I find, if I quit trying to make the Scriptures agree with Science, is that the Scriptures consistently present a Young-Earth view.

If you want to say the Bible is wrong and Science is right, that's one thing. But I see attempts to make the Scriptures agree with an old-earth view an attempt to force-fit an interpretation into the text which simply does not fit.
emperorbma   |2011-09-06 01:11:48
See, I actually relied on this kind of reasoning at one point. I was convinced that because this seemed to be the most straightforward reading of Scripture that it must be the correct one.  However, as I learned more about it and studied what the Bible texts actually say I became less convinced that this perspective is something that is necessary or correct.

Kent wrote:
When you tinker with Genesis 1-11, you're tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.


Define "tinkering?"

Kent wrote:
I doubt any Biblical character/writer would have any notion that the Bible taught anything other than a week-long creation event 4000 years or so earlier


On what basis? The Scripture doesn't seem to imply that they ever took the "day=24 hours" perspective. The way I see it, this amounts to an "argument from silence."

Kent wrote:
If you want to say the Bible is wrong and Science is right, that's one thing. But I see attempts to make the Scriptures agree with an old-earth view an attempt to force-fit an interpretation into the text which simply does not fit.


I believe this is a "false dichotomy," honestly. Nothing says that if "Science is right" then "the Bible is wrong."  Just because science seems to suggest that some interpretations of the Bible are wrong does not mean that the Bible itself is wrong.

Furthermore, if the Old Earth perspective is "force-fitting" an interpretation, then so is Young Earth. See, the Old Earth perspective uses natural evidence to shape its understanding of the Biblical terms. The Young Earth perspective uses a dictionary to shape its understanding. The Young Earth assumes that we have to take very specific readings of certain Biblical words that the text itself doesn't necessarily demand but the which YEC folks insist are the correct ones. The OEC perspective says that if the facts of nature suggest a different Biblical reading, insofar as is permissible by the text, then we should prayerfully consider whether the texts should be read this way instead. Which approach seems to make sense in light of the Bible is entirely up to the beholder, but I don't think God is demanding that we read 4000 years out of Genesis. In either case, the key focus of all "Creationism" is accepting the Biblical words as true, unerring, inspired, revelation of God.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-06 12:46:05
emperorbma wrote:
I was convinced that because this seemed to be the most straightforward reading of Scripture that it must be the correct one. However, as I learned more about it and studied what the Bible texts actually say I became less convinced that this perspective is something that is necessary or correct.


Is not the "most straightforward reading" the preferred reading unless compelled otherwise? What textual evidence compels us to read it otherwise?

emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]When you tinker with Genesis 1-11, you're tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.


Define "tinkering?"
[/quote]

In this case, reading it as something other than the most straightforward reading.

Kent wrote:
I doubt any Biblical character/writer would have any notion that the Bible taught anything other than a week-long creation event 4000 years or so earlier


emperorbma wrote:
On what basis? The Scripture doesn't seem to imply that they ever took the "day=24 hours" perspective. The way I see it, this amounts to an "argument from silence."


Ex 20:11 For YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day.

This is in the context of the weekly Sabbath, a 24-hour day. Unless Moses changed meanings of the term "day" mid-command, without any indication of such a change, then the six days in which everything was created were six literal solar-period days.

If YHWH did not rest on a literal 24-hour day, then Moses' report of God's argument for keeping the Sabbath loses its force.

It seems to me that Moses "took the 'day=24 hours' perspective".

Jesus spoke of male and female being created in the beginning (Matt 19:4) (not billions of years after the beginning), and based his teaching on marriage & divorce on the literal history of Genesis 1.

It seems to me that Jesus "took the 'day=24 hours' perspective".

The term "day" is even defined for us in Genesis 1 as consisting of one evening and one morning. This is not "us[ing] a dictionary to shape [our] understanding"; it's using the Biblical text.

Please hear me: I'm not saying an Old Earth view is impossible; I am saying that the consistent presentation by the Biblical text is a Young Earth view.

emperorbma wrote:
Just because science seems to suggest that some interpretations of the Bible are wrong does not mean that the Bible itself is wrong.


Agreed. I have no contest with this. What I contest is the idea that the Bible does not present a Young-Earth perspective. I believe a straight-forward reading of it, from Genesis to Revelation, presents a cosmos that was created in six literal days just a few thousand years ago.

If outside considerations disagree with that perspective, fine. But trying to make the Bible present something other than a young earth view is, I believe, to force-fit a view into it which is foreign to the text.

emperorbma wrote:
The OEC perspective says that if the facts of nature suggest a different Biblical reading, insofar as is permissible by the text, then we should prayerfully consider whether the texts should be read this way instead.


And this is the crux: outside considerations force you to reinterpret what a straightforward reading of the text presents.

That's all I'm saying: the text presents a young-earth view, and a different view is not required until outside considerations ("facts of nature") become a factor.

Along a different line of thought: does any OEC believe the flood of Noah was global, covering all the high mountains of the earth (Gen 8:19), wiping out all air-breathing land-dwellers except those on the ark (Gen 8:22), from whom all the earth's population is descended (Gen 9:19), and has never been repeated (Gen 9:11)?

I know of no such old-earther. And I'm reminded that Peter warned of such thinking, saying that those who denied such a flood were "scoffers" (2 Pet 3:2ff). Peter so believed in the historical reality of this flood that he wrote about it not just once, but three times (1 Peter 3:19ff; 2 Pet 2:5; 2 Pet 3:3ff) within two short books.

Any perspective that denies the historical reality of a global, earth-destroying flood, is at odds with the apostle Peter's perspective.

When you tinker with Genesis 1-11, you're tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.
emperorbma   |2011-09-06 17:34:21
Kent wrote:
Is not the "most straightforward reading" the preferred reading unless compelled otherwise? What textual evidence compels us to read it otherwise?


There are two additional factors that are missing:
The first factor is the guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary for ANY interpretation of Scripture that is true or valid. To wit, the devil can abuse scripture as he wants and even tempted Christ thus. The Holy Spirit is necessary because He, as God, is the one who inspired it.

The other is the the historical, cultural and grammatical context of the inspired work. God didn't inspire the Bible in a vacuum but chose specific people to reveal His Word. These people were inspired by God to wrote down His Word and God used their own culture and understanding to convey His Word.

We need to take these additional criteria into consideration when evaluating the Bible. The modern world uses quite different concepts than the Biblical authors did when they wrote down God's Word.

Let's consider the bat.  To the Biblical author, a bat was a "flying animal" and, therefore, the same thing as a bird. (Leviticus 11:19-20) Now, the Biblical author wasn't wrong in observing that they are both flying creatures made by God which God intended to be considered "unclean," which is the point of this text. However, we now know that a bird has very different internal workings than a bat does. In that vein, a bat is more like a shrew or a raccoon than it is like a bird.  Therefore, as far as science is concerned, a bat and a bird are very different sorts of creatures.  There is no way that God intended us to use this Biblical description as a rule for understanding our modern science.

This scenario is basically like trying to measure inches, miles and feet using the metric system. It's more hassle than it's worth unless you can do the translation fairly efficiently.  Otherwise, you're just using a ruler designed for something entirely different.

Kent wrote:
In this case, reading it as something other than the most straightforward reading.


Oh, but we Christians already do this all the time...

Take, for example, the Biblical Sabbath.  What does the Bible say about the Sabbath? As you, yourself quoted, "For YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day." (Ex 20:11)

When is the "seventh day?" It's on Saturday. When do Christians gather for worship? On Sunday. Why is this? To celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as the fulfillment of the Sabbath. (i.e. being in the Tomb) So, unless you are a 7th Day Adventist, you would be "tweaking."

In fact, Martin Luther himself who specifically advocated the "plain reading" of Scripture specifically noted that we should understand that the Sabbath be understood as a principle rather than a literal rule. Clearly "plain reading" is not the same thing as "literal reading," but we should remember that this is from the man who literally came up with the concept of sola Scriptura. (Which, as a Lutheran, I completely agree with... by the way)

Likewise, the Bible says that "long hair is a disgrace." (1 Corinthians 11:14) However, what is the first image that comes to mind when thinking about Jesus? Probably that of a guy in sandals with long hair.

The Bible also says that mixing fibers is an abomination. (Deuteronomy 22:11) Yet, Christians wear clothes with wool and cotton all the time.

See what I'm getting at? Nobody takes the strictest literal reading, most especially not those who claim to be its greatest advocates.  Ironically enough, the word "allegory" itself literally derives from Scripture.  (Galatians 4:21-26) The Apostle Paul, there, describes Abraham as a "figurative" (translating αλληγορουμενα from Greek) reference to the "Divine promise" to be distinguished with the literal sense of the Law. (i.e. A key witness of the Gospel relies on allegory to defend it)

Kent wrote:
Please hear me: I'm not saying an Old Earth view is impossible; I am saying that the consistent presentation by the Biblical text is a Young Earth view.


Okay, fair enough.

I can agree that the Young Earth view might be a consistent presentation on just these grounds.  If we're only using the text itself as a witness, without factoring in the cultural, historical and natural witness to these facts. Consistency doesn't mean it is the entire story.

I believe that the Old Earth perspective is also consistent, however, and it also includes the aforementioned cultural, historical and natural witness. As a result, I think it is a bit better in practical terms for being able to adapt to the real evidence that God's creation is presenting to us. Even so, admittedly, OEC isn't the complete story either.

Pretty much only God gets to have that honor as far as our discussion is concerned.

Kent wrote:
If outside considerations disagree with that perspective, fine. But trying to make the Bible present something other than a young earth view is, I believe, to force-fit a view into it which is foreign to the text.


I don't agree with this assessment, though, because I don't believe the Bible is an isolated work. It exists in the context of the Holy Spirit and the culture that God chose to reveal His truth within. When we read it with our modern assumptions about meaning, as I believe that the YEC perspective does, it fails to take this concern into consideration. Certainly, YEC is the most basic reading for us moderns but that doesn't mean it's the intended one.

Kent wrote:
I know of no such old-earther. And I'm reminded that Peter warned of such thinking, saying that those who denied such a flood were "scoffers" (2 Pet 3:2ff). Peter so believed in the historical reality of this flood that he wrote about it not just once, but three times (1 Peter 3:19ff; 2 Pet 2:5; 2 Pet 3:3ff) within two short books.


It's entirely possible for a regional flood to still have scoffers and serve as a judgement on the entire world. Remember, the Hebrew term that is used in Genesis can refer to either the "entire country" or to the "entire world" depending on context. The same word used for "world" in Genesis is used to refer to the land of Israel in other places. Of course, in Greek, the word κοσμος might suggest the entire creation but it can also be contextual and non-planetary depending on which reading one uses.
laika   |2011-09-06 20:14:12
emperorbma wrote:
God didn't inspire the Bible in a vacuum but chose specific people to reveal His Word. These people were inspired by God to wrote down His Word and God used their own culture and understanding to convey His Word.


It's enough to make one wonder why God didn't choose English-speakers for the transmission of what is important.

But anyway, of course the emperor is gonna come at things from a more sophisticated and nuanced angle, whereas I might ask why a Creation story meant to be taken as scientifically literal would have so many seeming problems:

Kent wrote:
This is in the context of the weekly Sabbath, a 24-hour day. Unless Moses changed meanings of the term "day" mid-command, without any indication of such a change, then the six days in which everything was created were six literal solar-period days.


If literal solar-periods are implied, then why was there no Sol until the fourth day? Why are there two creations, with one having plants before man, and one having man before plants? Just a handful of verses in, and already the author(s) and editor(s) have left strict literality in the wake of what it's actually important to convey. It seems to me that the exact means of Creation isn't the thing.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-07 00:21:05
laika wrote:
If literal solar-periods are implied, then why was there no Sol until the fourth day?


By "solar period", I mean one alteration of light and darkness, not one alteration of sunlight and darkness. The Bible does not refer to the day as a "solar period", so really, your objection on this point is to my inaccurate term, not to the Biblical claims.

laika wrote:
Why are there two creations, with one having plants before man, and one having man before plants?


There are not two creations; there are two accounts of Creation, written from different perspectives, just as there are four Gospel accounts, written from different perspectives.

The first account is a poetic overview of the big picture, perhaps written by God Himself and handed down to Adam. The second account is more from the perspective of the created Man, and does not have man before plants, but merely states that farm plants ("of the field") had not yet been cultivated.
laika   |2011-09-07 13:25:00
Kent wrote:
There are not two creations; there are two accounts of Creation, written from different perspectives, just as there are four Gospel accounts, written from different perspectives.


But the Gospels are clearly labeled as four distinct accounts. The second creation story doesn't announce itself as a different perspective; it's just wedged in after the first, with things happening in a different order. I don't have a problem with that, but it lets me know that taking it all as literal may not be the important thing.

Kent wrote:
The first account is a poetic overview of the big picture, perhaps written by God Himself and handed down to Adam.


Poetic literature appropriate to the audience. Here we agree.
holmegm  - re:   |2011-09-07 10:26:33
laika wrote:
whereas I might ask why a Creation story meant to be taken as scientifically literal would have so many seeming problems:


I'm not quite sure what "scientifically literal" means, but I wouldn't say that cosmologies and creation stories popularly considered to be "scientific" aren't without "problems".

Just within my lifetime, I've been told that the universe is X years old ... no wait, it's 2X years old. It's Y light-years across, no, wait, it's some completely different measurement. It's ever-expanding and boundless, no wait, it's bounded, even curved in on itself in some wild multidimensional way. Maybe it's donut-shaped, yeah. And there are infinite alternate universes, held together by strings. Or something.


None of those are properly "scientific", of course. We can't run repeatable experiments of creating universes and watching them develop. We are just coming up with (plausible?) stories trying to explain the types of electromagnetic and other radiation that falls on our rock.

Whenever I raise that point, though, I never seem to hear it addressed. It's all just "ooga booga, you hate science, you're a fool." So at some point I stop taking it seriously,.
emperorbma   |2011-09-07 11:18:07
holmegm wrote:
Just within my lifetime, I've been told that the universe is X years old ...


This is because science isn't ever conceived of as a final answer*, but merely an explanatory model for the data. It is only about observations and models, not final conclusions.

Earlier models, such as Y light-years across, lacked the benefit of the more powerful telescopes and computers that we now take for granted. As the tools get more sophisticated, so does the data.  As a result, since we are getting better data, some older models are being rejected while other models are being confirmed. The Y light-years model becomes superseded with the 13 billion LY model we have today, which is based on the concept of a "standard candle," namely a certain type of supernova that has the same luminosity regardless of distance.

The thing is that science is not a monolith. Models are confirmed based on whether or not they actually explain the observations in a sensible fashion and without resorting to supernatural interference or trickery. It doesn't mean the supernatural doesn't exist, mind you. It's just that if we relied on it as an explanation then we would need to include fairies, elves and anything else one could imagine in scientific models because nobody could absolutely deny the possibility of them being involved.

Consequently, the confirming and rejecting is why the numbers are drifting. The "donut shaped model," for example, is a hypothetical interpretation (i.e. model) of the available observations that scientists then test to see if it is consistent. [It's a peer-to-peer model, so one scientist can test another scientists' explanations] If it is not consistent, it is rejected as soon as it is apparent that the data are not consistent with the model. What the news media is presenting as "science says" is more like "a new scientific model proposes." If it is confirmed, science will take it as a plausible explanation of the evidence until a better one comes along.

Eventually, if a model ends up being confirmed enough, it is taught as the standard explanation until it is superseded. Newtons' Laws of motion, for example, were the standard model of physics until Einstein's model explained the evidence more accurately. Newton's model is still used (under the term "classical mechanics") but it is now clearly an approximation. The real results rely on Einstein's model rather than the classical one.

holmegm wrote:
Whenever I raise those points, though, I never seem to hear those addressed. it's all just "ooga booga, you hate science, you're a fool."


What they are complaining about is the inflexibility and unwillingness to accept what, in their perception, are the clear consequences of their observations. The scientific criticism of YEC is merely their way of saying that the "model" that the scientists think YEC is presenting is inconsistent with the observed data.  (Remember, "God did it through supernatural means" isn't an answer they can use to create an effective explanatory model of nature, just like you wouldn't assume money disappearing from a vault is God using it for charity to 3rd world nations...) The criticism is less bitter, and more focused on the issue of the meaning of the Gospel, when one is not trying to claim that Scripture is intended as a scientific explanation of how God created the universe. (by and large, the point of OEC is to deny this claim specifically) It's fair enough to believe what one's faith teaches but calling other people liars (e.g. the YEC's major platform is that evolution is an anti-religious farce and the age of the earth is a delusion) or that they "have it out for you" (e.g. the YEC folks claiming science is "discriminating against them") because they don't think the strict-literal model that Genesis presents makes sense according to the data is not a tactic that makes many friends and it looks extremely paranoid.

* - Mathematics has demonstrated it is impossible for something that can explain basic mathematical truths to be both consistent and complete for all cases. There are always things we just cannot answer given a non-trivial, formal mathematical model. Science relies heavily on this fact to function, since confirming and rejecting models is basically its reason for existing...
holmegm   |2011-09-07 11:22:33
My main point is that no origin story is actually scientific.

You can't run experiments on the origins of the universe, or the origins of the diversity of life on Earth. And you can't repeat experiments that you can't run in the first place.

The process of various cosmology theories is more like trying to build a court case, say, than like what is usually considered the scientific method. I'm not saying that process is never useful, obviously, but it's not what we would normally think of as "scientific".

You can't "scientifically prove" that OJ committed the murder, but you can come up with a story that tries to explain bits of evidence laying around. And someone else can come up with an alternate story that attempts the same. You can discuss which is more plausible, but you can't actually scientifically establish either story, not the way you can scientifically establish what standard gravity is, say. (You can scientifically establish bits of evidence, of course - does sample X, within a certain tolerance of probability, contain his DNA? - but not the overall story).

A lot of this comes down to epistemology ... how do we "know" what we "know"? But the prevailing "scientific" view won't usually acknowledge any epistemological problem.


(And BTW, neither I nor any YEC, so far as I know, is talking about "Genesis being a science textbook" - so there's this ongoing refutation of something that nobody is actually asserting.)
emperorbma   |2011-09-07 19:19:13
holmegm wrote:
You can't run experiments on the origins of the universe, or the origins of the diversity of life on Earth. And you can't repeat experiments that you can't run in the first place.


Of course, we can't run the universe again. We actually don't need to that to determine how old the universe is, though.

One only needs 4 things to demonstrate that the age of the universe must be older than just 6000 years:
1. Formula: Distance = Rate * Time.
2. Observation: Light moves at a speed of 300,000 m/s in a vacuum.
3. Concept: Parallax. More distant objects move more slowly than those in the foreground.
4. Trigonometry, it is possible to calculate distances using parallax.

To get to the current figure of approximately 13 Billion Years requires the additional concepts of "standard candle" and the subsequent observation of specific types of stars using this concept, to be able to demonstrate that the universe is expanding, and the observation of the Cosmic Background Radiation left behind from the Big Bang with the expansion factored into the equation.

The only change is a process of refining measurements as new observations are being factored in. The Background Radiation wasn't something we could actually observe until we invented telescopes that could take pictures in the Microwave spectrum, for example.
laika  - re:   |2011-09-07 13:47:05
holmegm wrote:
I'm not quite sure what "scientifically literal" means, but I wouldn't say that cosmologies and creation stories popularly considered to be "scientific" aren't without "problems".


Right. I don't think anyone is claiming to have an exhaustive account, and it doesn't seem to me that Genesis asks us to take it as such.

holmegm wrote:
We can't run repeatable experiments of creating universes and watching them develop. We are just coming up with (plausible?) stories trying to explain the types of electromagnetic and other radiation that falls on our rock.


And I would submit that some are just coming up with stories that force Genesis to tell the tale of a 4,000 year-old universe.
laika  - An observation submitted...   |2011-09-06 20:27:04
emperorbma wrote:
See what I'm getting at? Nobody takes the strictest literal reading, most especially not those who claim to be its greatest advocates.


BTW, that became very clear to me during the "submission simply means mutual respect" conversation. I agree that mutual respect is certainly part of the relationship between a Christian husband and wife, but I think we all know that it's a dodge to define "submission" as "mutual respect" as though the two are interchangeable. The writer of Ephesians likely meant something more specific to his culture by his use of that word; we all know it, but we're uncomfortable with it in our culture.
emperorbma  - Thus, the "man behind the curtain"   |2011-09-07 02:38:40
laika wrote:
I think we all know that it's a dodge to define "submission" as "mutual respect" as though the two are interchangeable. The writer of Ephesians likely meant something more specific to his culture by his use of that word; we all know it, but we're uncomfortable with it in our culture.


I hate to admit, but it looks like you're winning this one.

I couldn't say, but I personally don't like the notion of being a "commanding officer" (Wife being "hupotasso"=lit. subordinate) to a wife whom I love rather than a partner (i.e. helpmate) whom she loves and respects based on her own decisions. I can't buy into the Marine Corps model of marriage that seems to prevade the literal interpretation. I guess it's just my wariness of unjust authority at work here. So, while I acknowledge the inspiration and accept it as true, I honestly don't think I can reconcile it as anything other than mutual respect with a special office that doesn't imply superiority. I know damn well that I'm "simul justus et peccator" so the thought of any "superior" position just gives me queasiness. Howbeit that humility is a virtue if there are "subordinates" to others in anything other than respect? Christ didn't come to be served, but to serve and we glorify Him because of love for Him and gratitude. Of course, this is going to shape how I view the interpretation of Ephesians since it just seems downright wrong the other way. Paul also talks about the importance of not offending conscience (which comes from the Holy Spirit), so I cannot help but think that he (by God's inspiration) had to be taking this extremity only in a conditional and qualified sense.

Naturally, I justified my perceptions with Scriptural evidence and prayerful concern to what the Spirit taught when I presented the interpretation but I also have got my personal reason behind the way I interpreted that. As Paul, apparently did sometimes, also considering his "I, Paul say that" in one place. I suspect if we analyze our position on any theology we'd probably find that we've got personal investment in it somewhere along with the Divine guidance and the Scriptural text...
laika  - re: - Thus, the "man behind the curtain"   |2011-09-07 13:34:40
emperorbma wrote:
I hate to admit, but it looks like you're winning this one.


Well, I wasn't out to "win," it was just an observation that occurred to me in the course of that discussion. The real lesson may be this:

emperorbma wrote:
Nobody takes the strictest literal reading...
emperorbma   |2011-09-08 00:22:34
Nobody takes the strictest literal reading, but admitting it deflates a lot of powerful arguments...
PineHall  - YEC pros and cons   |2011-09-08 10:46:34
Again I am late in responding. As I said earlier I am an OEC but I find all creation models to have their strengths and weaknesses.

Exodus 20:11 is, I believe, the strongest argument in favor of YEC. The Hebrew word for day can mean long periods and Exodus 20:11 connects the creation day with the normal 24 hour day of the week.

A weakness in YEC I wonder about is that Adam and Eve did not immediately suffer a physical death. Genesis 2:17 says "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (ESV). YEC makes a big deal about physical death entering the world at that point in time, and yet it was a spiritual death Adam and Eve suffered that day and it would be several centuries before they suffer a physical death. I find that to be a weakness.
laika   |2011-09-08 20:58:36
PineHall wrote:
A weakness in YEC I wonder about is that Adam and Eve did not immediately suffer a physical death. Genesis 2:17 says "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (ESV). YEC makes a big deal about physical death entering the world at that point in time, and yet it was a spiritual death Adam and Eve suffered that day and it would be several centuries before they suffer a physical death. I find that to be a weakness.


I agree. And it's really not such a big deal, but it's one of those places where the literalists suddenly get real flexible. Suddenly "day" doesn't mean day, and the emphatic "surely die" becomes something else as A & E proceed to live for a few hundred more years.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-06 20:39:05
emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]Is not the "most straightforward reading" the preferred reading unless compelled otherwise? What textual evidence compels us to read it otherwise?


There are two additional factors that are missing:
The first factor is the guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary for ANY interpretation of Scripture that is true or valid. To wit, the devil can abuse scripture as he wants and even tempted Christ thus. The Holy Spirit is necessary because He, as God, is the one who inspired it.[/quote]

I agree that the Holy Spirit is necessary for any correct interpretation. But when you say this factor is missing from the YEC position, you're essentially saying the OEC has the Holy Spirit and the YEC does not. Is this what you intended?

emperorbma wrote:
The other is the the historical, cultural and grammatical context of the inspired work. We need to take these additional criteria into consideration when evaluating the Bible.


Absolutely. And I'm saying that the Bible's historical, cultural, and grammatical context consistently presents its characters/authors as accepting Genesis as a straightforward account.

emperorbma wrote:
Therefore, as far as science is concerned, a bat and a bird are very different sorts of creatures.


Incorrect. Classification of anything -- animals, automobile types, cloud forms -- is an arbitrary process, not defined by "science". I would agree that modern-day scientists have agreed on an arbitrary classification scheme that labels the bat a mammal rather than a bird, but should scientists should agree tomorrow that any flying creature with wings is a "bird", then tomorrow the bat would suddenly "evolve" (little joke, there) into a bird.

I agree with your main point that different cultures classify things differently than do other cultures; I'm only objecting to your equating "science" to our current culture of bird classification scheme. It's not "science" that says bats are not birds; it's our culture that says so.

emperorbma wrote:
This scenario is basically like trying to measure inches, miles and feet using the metric system.


Yikes! The kids'll have to go play in the back meter. They'll learn to sing "2.54 centimeter worm, 2.54 centimeter worm". Their cowboy heroes will wear 40-liter hats.

emperorbma wrote:
When is the "seventh day?" It's on Saturday. When do Christians gather for worship?  On Sunday. Why is this? To celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as the fulfillment of the Sabbath. (i.e. being in the Tomb) So, unless you are a 7th Day Adventist, you would be "tweaking."


I believe the seventh day is hallowed - set apart as special, and has been since the seventh day of creation. But not being an Israelite subject to the Mosaic Law, I've never been commanded to observe it. Nor was Adam, nor Noah, nor Abraham. Only Moses and his people were. Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was not.

I don't see how your example of the Sabbath in any way invalidates the concept of taking the Scriptures in a straightforward manner.

I also accept that Paul meant to literally convey the concept that nature teaches that long hair on a man is a disgrace. (Our image of Jesus having long hair is more a result of what our cultural art has led us to believe, not of what actually was.)

Again, this example does not invalidate the concept of taking the Scriptures in a straightforward manner.

I believe that for the Israelites under the Mosaic Law, it was an abomination for them to mix fibers in their clothing. It's not for me, a non-Israelite, having never been under the Mosaic Law.

Again, this example does not invalidate the concept of taking the Scriptures in a straightforward manner.

Paul certainly says that the Abrahamic story is illustrative, but I don't believe he believed the story to be just a mere allegory; I believe he accepted it as literal history, based on a straightforward reading of Genesis. He makes arguments in the previous chapter which depend on the historicity of the Abrahamic story.

emperorbma wrote:
I can agree that the Young Earth view might be a consistent presentation on just these grounds.  If we're only using the text itself as a witness, without factoring in the cultural, historical and natural witness to these facts.


You've now substituted "natural witness" for "grammatical context" from your earlier statement. In doing so, you're now bringing in outside considerations to inform your interpretation of Scripture.

That's all I've said all along: The Bible presents a young-earth view; it's only when you bring in outside considerations that this view becomes challenged.

I'm reminded of what Jesus said in John 5: "46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47 But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

emperorbma wrote:
As a result, I think [the OEC view] is a bit better in practical terms for being able to adapt to the real evidence that God's creation is presenting to us.


I certainly understand your need to harmonize your understanding of Scripture with your understanding of Science. I'm merely saying that a straightforward reading of the text presents a young-earth position, and an old-earth position is needed, not because the text needs it, but because non-Biblical considerations need it.

emperorbma wrote:
Certainly, YEC is the most basic reading for us moderns but that doesn't mean it's the intended one.


I contend that YEC is the most basic reading not just for us moderns, but for the Biblical characters/writers also.

emperorbma wrote:
It's entirely possible for a regional flood to still have scoffers and serve as a judgement on the entire world. Remember, the Hebrew term that is used in Genesis can refer to either the "entire country" or to the "entire world" depending on context. The same word used for "world" in Genesis is used to refer to the land of Israel in other places. Of course, in Greek, the word κοσμος might suggest the entire creation but it can also be contextual and non-planetary depending on which reading one uses.


What kind of regional flood covers all the highest mountains of the region of Ararat for 150 days? And what do regional floods since then mean for God's promise to never send such a flood again? Once again, you have to tinker with the text to make it say something it doesn't say. Why would Noah spend 120 years of labor and expense building an ark, collecting provisions & animals, being mocked by his neighbors, when Noah could have just moved to a different region? The idea of a regional flood makes a mockery of the Biblical witness.

If you don't believe the flood was global, that's your choice. But you don't get that view from the Biblical text; you get it from outside considerations.

Which has been my point all along: the Scriptures consistently present a YEC position, and you can't tinker with the early chapters of Genesis to come up with a different view without tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.
laika   |2011-09-07 00:22:32
Kent wrote:
...you can't tinker with the early chapters of Genesis to come up with a different view without tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.


But literalists do, in fact, tinker with it. Just a couple of verses out of the gate and Genesis doesn't bother to line itself up for a literal reading. What's that about? Genesis doesn't mind opening itself up to examination; why should we insist that it does?

If one wishes to take it literally, then one has to account for the contradictions. This business of tinkering cuts both ways; by insisting that the "entire Biblical witness" hangs on a literal historical and scientific reading of something that doesn't present itself as literal, doesn't one run the risk of tinkering?

And regarding the bat as a mammal, that's clearly not arbitrary. A bat is no more a bird than a gliding squirrel is a snake that has the ability to glide. There are snakes and squirrels that can "fly", but certainly everything that flies is not a bird.
emperorbma   |2011-09-07 01:54:48
Kent wrote:
I agree that the Holy Spirit is necessary for any correct interpretation. But when you say this factor is missing from the YEC position, you're essentially saying the OEC has the Holy Spirit and the YEC does not. Is this what you intended?


Oops. I didn't mean to imply that YEC lacked His work at all. I'm sorry it came off that way.

What I was trying to address there was that your comment didn't mention this inclusion. I apologize for failing to distinguish my point better.

Kent wrote:
It's not "science" that says bats are not birds; it's our culture that says so.


Well, this isn't exactly true. Science is not just observations but models. The Linnean classification is a model that exists to serve a specific purpose. Namely, grouping similar genetic and structural families together. Science judges its models based on their effectiveness in explaining evidence and this model has proved extremely effective to that end. Therefore, while it certainly relies on the prioritization of arbitrary criteria, (i.e. genetics) it is most certainly scientific.

Kent wrote:
You've now substituted "natural witness" for "grammatical context" from your earlier statement. In doing so, you're now bringing in outside considerations to inform your interpretation of Scripture.


It follows from Scripture that natural witness is a valid testimony. "The heavens declare God's glory," et al. Nature itself may not be the Bible, but the Bible specifically refers to it as a non-mute witness to God's acts.

Of course, as far as Scripture is concerned, I defend that the Bible is the "only norm of doctrine and practice," not that we could never profit from including other non-Biblical witnesses to help our understanding of it. Especially when Scripture itself suggests that witness.

Kent wrote:
I contend that YEC is the most basic reading not just for us moderns, but for the Biblical characters/writers also.


Maybe. I know that early Christian leaders like Augustine did not share this YEC perspective.  Augustine emphasized the importance of not making ourselves sound like idiots about matters of science and history so as not to discourage people from the pursuit of the Gospel when people write us off because of such claims.

Certainly, this is not a direct witness to the Apostles by any stretch of the imagination. However, I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Christian Church throughout history and guides our interpretation toward what He intends us to believe. I think that messages like this are worth considering, especially from fellow Christians like the man who formalized the doctrine of Original Sin and whom Luther himself relied upon very strongly.

Kent wrote:
Paul certainly says that the Abrahamic story is illustrative, but I don't believe he believed the story to be just a mere allegory; I believe he accepted it as literal history, based on a straightforward reading of Genesis. He makes arguments in the previous chapter which depend on the historicity of the Abrahamic story.


I'd actually agree that Paul considered Abraham a real person in history. In fact, I would claim all the Biblical persons are real people but I might dispute the timeline being uninterrupted.  (Matthew's and Luke's genealogies prove that genealogies can be abbreviated in the Bible without compromising the truth; and "begat" can go through more than one generation)

Kent wrote:
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe My words?


Certainly. All of the events in Scripture testify to the Messianic advent. I'm merely noting that the words aren't so precise that the timeframe or shape of events is inflexible.

Kent wrote:
What kind of regional flood covers all the highest mountains of the region of Ararat for 150 days?


1. The story is told from Noah's perspective.
2. Noah didn't start at Ararat.
3. The Hebrew word for "mountain" is not describing Everest-sized chunks of rock but anything from a small grotto like "har Meggido" to a mountain range like Ararat.
4. The Earth is round so the tall mountains wouldn't be visible on the large flood until you got close enough.
5. Noah's flood was carried through the Hebrew oral tradition until God inspired Moses to record the history of his people.

All of the above can be true without compromising the text. Of course, it may or may not be satisfying depending on what expectations one is bringing to the Bible about such things.

Kent wrote:
Which has been my point all along: the Scriptures consistently present a YEC position, and you can't tinker with the early chapters of Genesis to come up with a different view without tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.


There are still no unambiguous claims in this arena. Scripture itself doesn't tell us what the Apostles thought about the events. It only has them recounting what the Scriptures taught, as well they should. It's the same reason we translate the Bible references as closely as we can today.

Maybe the Apostles did have a YEC perspective, maybe not. It makes sense that they didn't share our scientific tools so, perhaps.  Even if they actually did, I don't believe that their interpretations were false so much as incomplete and inaccurate. ("false" implies that the content and message are wrong, which I absolutely deny...) It seems to me as though this ambiguity in a work inspired by God Himself suggests that God isn't really concerned with the way we interpret that detail insofar as we aren't denying the things that happened are real.

Other than this, I simply can't say...
emperorbma   |2011-09-07 09:29:21
Erratum: I meant hill when I said grotto. Drat my vocabulary failing me. :/
Kent   |2011-09-07 10:24:20
emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]It's not "science" that says bats are not birds; it's our culture that says so.


Well, this isn't exactly true. Science is not just observations but models. The Linnean classification is a model that exists to serve a specific purpose. Namely, grouping similar genetic and structural families together. Science judges its models based on their effectiveness in explaining evidence and this model has proved extremely effective to that end. Therefore, while it certainly relies on the prioritization of arbitrary criteria, (i.e. genetics) it is most certainly scientific.
[/quote]

But my point is that a different model, which classifies birds as any flying animal with wings, is equally scientific. It may not be as complete a model as the Linnean model, or as practical, but it is just as scientific. It's just ... different, using different criteria.

Classification schemes are arbitrary conventions, not "science".

I'm merely objecting to the equating of "science" to "my particular model".

This is the same sort of thing we see in the Creation/Evolution controversy; the mainstream equates "Science" with their model, thereby sneaking in, under the cognitive radar, the suggestion that any other model is not "Science", thereby stacking the deck, not on evidential grounds, but on philosophical grounds.

emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]You've now substituted "natural witness" for "grammatical context" from your earlier statement. In doing so, you're now bringing in outside considerations to inform your interpretation of Scripture.


It follows from Scripture that natural witness is a valid testimony. "The heavens declare God's glory," et al. Nature itself may not be the Bible, but the Bible specifically refers to it as a non-mute witness to God's acts.[/quote]

But that natural witness must be informed by the Spirit of God: "We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God's Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually." (1 Cor 2:113ff)

Your position would have the natural witness explaining the spiritual witness; Paul argues that it goes the other way.

Kent wrote:
I contend that YEC is the most basic reading not just for us moderns, but for the Biblical characters/writers also.


emperorbma wrote:
Maybe. I know that early Christian leaders like Augustine did not share this YEC perspective.  Augustine emphasized the importance of not making ourselves sound like idiots about matters of science and history so as not to discourage people from the pursuit of the Gospel when people write us off because of such claims.

Certainly, this is not a direct witness to the Apostles by any stretch of the imagination. However, I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Christian Church throughout history and guides our interpretation toward what He intends us to believe. I think that messages like this are worth considering, especially from fellow Christians like the man who formalized the doctrine of Original Sin and whom Luther himself relied upon very strongly.


I have no qualms with considering the thinking of others; but I do not elevate the thinking of Spirit-filled men to the level of Scripture. How Moses, Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude, and Luke saw Genesis matters more to me than how Augustine saw it. So the question is, not how Augustine saw it, but how these other men saw it. It seems to me that they accepted Genesis as straightforward history.

emperorbma wrote:
I'd actually agree that Paul considered Abraham a real person in history. In fact, I would claim all the Biblical persons are real people but I might dispute the timeline being uninterrupted.  (Matthew's and Luke's genealogies prove that genealogies can be abbreviated in the Bible without compromising the truth; and "begat" can go through more than one generation)


Yes, genealogies can be abbreviated without compromising the truth; I agree that Matthew's and Luke's genealogies are abbreviated. But that doesn't mean all genealogies are abbreviated; the listing of fathers' ages when the next generation was born and ages of their lives, etc, in the Genesis genealogies, point to them as not being abbreviated.

emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]What kind of regional flood covers all the highest mountains of the region of Ararat for 150 days?


1. The story is told from Noah's perspective.
2. Noah didn't start at Ararat.
3. The Hebrew word for "mountain" is not describing Everest-sized chunks of rock but anything from a small grotto like "har Meggido" to a mountain range like Ararat.
4. The Earth is round so the tall mountains wouldn't be visible on the large flood until you got close enough.
5. Noah's flood was carried through the Hebrew oral tradition until God inspired Moses to record the history of his people.

All of the above can be true without compromising the text. Of course, it may or may not be satisfying depending on what expectations one is bringing to the Bible about such things.[/quote]

Here's some snippets of the actual text:

Quote:
I will wipe off the face of the earth: man, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky

...

Understand that I am bringing a deluge—floodwaters on the earth to destroy all flesh under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will die. ... You are also to bring into the ark two of every living thing of all flesh, male and female, to keep them alive with you. ... in order to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole earth. ... I will wipe off the face of the earth every living thing I have made. ... Two of all flesh that has the breath of life in it entered the ark with Noah.

...

Then the waters surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered. 20 The mountains were covered as the waters surged [above them] more than 20 feet. 21 All flesh perished—creatures that crawl on the earth, birds, livestock, wildlife, and all creatures that swarm on the earth, as well as all mankind. 22 Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died. 23 He wiped out every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters surged on the earth 150 days.

...

3 The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the waters had decreased significantly. 4 The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were visible. 6 After 40 days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made, 7 and he sent out a raven. It went back and forth until the waters had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see whether the water on the earth's surface had gone down, 9 but the dove found no resting place for her foot. She returned to him in the ark because water covered the surface of the whole earth. He reached out and brought her into the ark to himself. 10 So Noah waited seven more days and sent out the dove from the ark again. 11 When the dove came to him at evening, there was a plucked olive leaf in her beak. So Noah knew that the water on the earth's surface had gone down.

...

I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.

...

there will never again be a deluge to destroy the earth.

...

water will never again become a deluge to destroy all flesh. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh on earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and all flesh on earth."

...

These three were Noah's sons, and from them the whole earth was populated.


How is a regional flood going to wipe out birds of the sky? The text emphasizes again and again things like all flesh being wiped out, the entire earth being destroyed, everything under the whole sky, all the high mountains, water on the earth for 150 days, the ark resting on the top of the Ararat mountains (which are not small hills, but rather more akin to Everest-sized chunks of mountains), for two and a half months before the tops of those mountains became visible (how much closer do you have to be to the mountains than on top of them, before you can see their tops?), that there would never be another flood of that scale (have we ever had regional floods since?), the inability for a bird to find a place to rest.

I see no hint of "regionality" in this account. If you can honestly get a regional flood from this text, then you have a different comprehension capability than do I.

Concerning the oral tradition, Moses used at least one written record (Gen 5:1) as source material for his compilation we call Genesis, and his consistent listing of his sources implies that they too were written, such as the "family records of Noah's sons" (10:1), or "the family records of Shem" (11:10), or "the family records of Terah" (11:27). This idea that the ancients didn't keep written records is a leftover notion from a hundred years ago, before the spade of archeology demonstrated otherwise.
Kent   |2011-09-07 10:25:37
Sorry I can't seem to get the quoting accurate; a Preview capability on this site would help a lot. Maybe I'm just not seeing it?
emperorbma   |2011-09-07 22:49:44
Kent wrote:
But my point is that a different model, which classifies birds as any flying animal with wings, is equally scientific. It may not be as complete a model as the Linnean model, or as practical, but it is just as scientific. It's just ... different, using different criteria.


As you have said, "It may not be as complete a model as the Linnean model." My point is that there is a reason why science shifted to using a heliocentric model. It became impractical to create new "loop-dee-loops" in order to preserve a geocentric reference. "Bird=any flying animal" requires far more scientific "loop-dee-loops" which keeps science from being able to do it's job.

Kent wrote:
Your position would have the natural witness explaining the spiritual witness; Paul argues that it goes the other way.


Nope, only the Holy Spirit actually explains the spiritual witness and Scripture clearly does not rely upon the natural witness.

But, nature informs our understanding about the historical events and the Scripture presents them from a spiritual and cultural perspective. Does this mean that we must not take nature at its face value?

Both Scripture and nature and are key witnesses. It's just the same as how Matthew's Gospel doesn't discredit John's Gospel. They both tell the same story, but from a different perspective.

Kent wrote:
I have no qualms with considering the thinking of others; but I do not elevate the thinking of Spirit-filled men to the level of Scripture.


Nor do I. Augustine is merely discussed to demonstrate that there is precedent, not that it was binding...

Kent wrote:
So the question is, not how Augustine saw it, but how these other men saw it. It seems to me that they accepted Genesis as straightforward history.


As I said, this might or might not be the case.  I don't know either way. Let us suppose it is true, however, for the sake of argument.

Where does it say that every perspective of a Scriptural author is validated as a scientific model? Where does it say that it is a precise or accurate presentation of the data that we can base a scientific theory on? It doesn't because the concept of science is an innovation that happened after God inspired the authors of Scripture.

God wasn't lying about the fact that He created these things. The authors of Scripture weren't lying in understanding God's message in the way his culture would. The Scripture is still entirely true.  Science, however, also isn't lying by perceiving the effects of nature differently than the originally inspired culture.

As you have said about the Linnaean model above, it is simply a different model. My "Old Earth" is coming from the scientific model. My "Creationism" comes from the Scriptural model. I do not believe we need to browbeat one with the other.

Kent wrote:
How is a regional flood going to...?


Some of the more obvious ones that stand out are:
1. most birds can't really fly far from home.  Those that could would leave since there's no food.
2. "All flesh" is from God talking to Noah. It doesn't have to refer to all flesh that exists on the planet, just all flesh that Noah knows.
2. Also, th same words translated as "whole earth" here are used by Scripture to describe Abraham and Lot apportioning out the soon-to-be land of Israel. "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left." (Genesis 13:9)
3. "Everything under the whole sky" is another well worn Hebrew metaphor that can be taken as regional.
4. It doesn't say the ark was "on top," only that it was on the mountain. It could easily have been on a slope.
5. Distance from mountains obviates the concern of visibility. Noah was drifting toward them.
6. Yes, there have been regional floods. "Never be another flood of that scale" is not Scripture's page, however. It said "water will never again become a deluge to destroy all flesh." No flood has wiped out (nearly) the human race and the creatures of the region since.
7. Water on the earth for 150 days. (actually over a year) This figure would actually argue for a regional flood. It would take several years to drain off all the water from a world-wide deluge, even if the earth wasn't consumed in magma due to the intense pressure. However, it would only take months to drain off a flood that only fills an entire region like Mesopotamia and it's actually possible to fill a region with the amount of water that actually exists on earth and in the atmosphere.

At any rate, I digress. It's not, strictly speaking, impossible to come up with an interpretation that allows for a regional flood.  In either case, we're relying on an all-powerful being to have been in charge of it whether it is regional, which (as I think I have demonstrated) the text allows, or global.

Kent wrote:
Concerning the oral tradition.


My point really didn't turn on whether or not it was oral, but you're right. Of course, archeology has yet to find such texts...
laika  - Geocentrism, flying snakes   |2011-09-09 00:32:05
emperorbma wrote:
My point is that there is a reason why science shifted to using a heliocentric model. It became impractical to create new "loop-dee-loops" in order to preserve a geocentric reference. "Bird=any flying animal" requires far more scientific "loop-dee-loops" which keeps science from being able to do it's job.


You know, in all seriousness, it seems odd that geocentrism isn't much more popular. There seems to be an agreement that it has been refuted by science in a way that isn't open to question, despite what the Bible has to say on the subject. Sure, there are still Bible-based geocentrists with alternative theories of movement in the solar system (and beyond), but the great majority of Christians seem to accept heliocentrism without a crisis of faith. Very strange, all things considered.

Evidence of a universe older than a few thousand years, OTOH, doesn't seem to satisfy in quite the same way for lots of Christians. 

Anyway, back to the flying things, I forgot to add a link flying snakes when I mentioned them earlier. They're worth a look.
laika  - re: Preview Option   |2011-09-07 13:08:05
Kent wrote:
...a Preview capability on this site would help a lot. Maybe I'm just not seeing it?


No, sorry, you're not missing it. We do need a preview. You're the second person to mention it in a few days. We'll ask grizzly if he can implement that feature.
laika  - re:   |2011-09-07 21:43:19
emperorbma wrote:
One only needs 4 things to demonstrate that the age of the universe must be older than just 6000 years...


I don't think it's a lack of understanding, or a need to have it explained in detail. If one is starting from the fixed position of a 6,000 year-old universe, then you simply must be wrong, empy. If the 6,000 years (or 4,000, or 10,000) is non-negotiable, then your explainations are pointless, and you are deceived by proud men who lean on there own understanding instead of trusting in the Bible, which clearly states that the universe is 4, or 6, or 10, or how ever many thousands of years old.

Explaining your inability to find where Genesis so unequivocally claims to give us the age of the universe might be more conducive to further conversation. I'm all ears regardless, but still, I'm just sayin'...
emperorbma   |2011-09-08 00:29:16
I actually thought I had been. My hang-up is the genealogy and the fact that the words for "begat," "father" and "son" are completely ambiguous as to how many generations were between. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has no ambiguity. Seth through Noah does. Noah through Terah does.
holmegm  - re:   |2011-09-08 10:53:15
emperorbma wrote:
I actually thought I had been. My hang-up is the genealogy and the fact that the words for "begat," "father" and "son" are completely ambiguous as to how many generations were between. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has no ambiguity. Seth through Noah does.  Noah through Terah does.


That's kind of a red herring though. You're still going to get laughed out of the cool kids' room if you only try to say that well, the biblical account is accurate, but just happens to be missing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in the genealogies.

If you've still got ole Adam there, billions of years ago, created from the dust of the ground, then you are still grist for the Colbert mill.

Taking just that one accommodationist step gains you nothing.
emperorbma   |2011-09-08 11:05:04
holmegm wrote:
Taking just that one accommodationist step gains you nothing.


Fair enough, although Adam wouldn't have been billions of years ago, only somewhere between tens of thousands and millions. The billions only comes into play with the 7 days thing which I was purposefully glossing for the purpose of addressing laika's suggestion.
laika   |2011-09-08 20:41:56
emperorbma wrote:
I actually thought I had been.


Sorry, empy, I didn't make myself clear. I was making some kind of half-baked observation on the pointlessness of your trying to carefully explain your reasons for believing that the universe is old.

Just another case of me typing before thinking Carry on.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-08 18:30:46
emperorbma wrote:

Where does it say that every perspective of a Scriptural author is validated as a scientific model? Where does it say that it is a precise or accurate presentation of the data that we can base a scientific theory on? It doesn't because the concept of science is an innovation that happened after God inspired the authors of Scripture.

God wasn't lying about the fact that He created these things. The authors of Scripture weren't lying in understanding God's message in the way his culture would. The Scripture is still entirely true.  Science, however, also isn't lying by perceiving the effects of nature differently than the originally inspired culture.


But I've never said that the perspective of Scriptural authors is validated as a scientific model; what I've said is that "Science" "[perceives] the effects of nature differently than does the originally inspired culture".

I've not argued that the Scriptural view is correct; I've only argued that the Scriptural view is YEC. In my original post I wrote:

Quote:

the Scriptures consistently present the history of the world as a straight-forward reading of Genesis would indicate.


and

Quote:

So I'm reduced to separating the scripture-claims from the science-claims, and what I find, if I quit trying to make the Scriptures agree with Science, is that the Scriptures consistently present a Young-Earth view.

If you want to say the Bible is wrong and Science is right, that's one thing. But I see attempts to make the Scriptures agree with an old-earth view an attempt to force-fit an interpretation into the text which simply does not fit.


So it seems, if I'm understanding you above, that we agree, that the Bible presents a YEC perspective, even if that's not scientifically accurate.

emperorbma wrote:
As you have said about the Linnaean model above, it is simply a different model. My "Old Earth" is coming from the scientific model.  My "Creationism" comes from the Scriptural model. I do not believe we need to browbeat one with the other.


Again, I have to dispute with you. It is not that one classification scheme is scientific and another is not. It is that "Science" has adopted one as more useful/accurate. But one classification scheme itself is no more or less scientific than any other scheme; it is simply different. And to claim that one is scientific and the other is not is to stack the deck.

Forget birds and bats; use people.

If we classify people by height, then we can define (and that's the key word - "define", an arbitrary, man-made process) a category of people to be "basketball players" if they are over 6 feet tall, and another category to be "knee inspectors" (apologies to any short people reading this) if they are under 4 feet tall.

But using a different classification scheme, that of function, we can define a category of people to be "basketball players" if they actually play basketball, and another category as "knee inspectors" if they actually inspect knees.

The latter scheme is more useful and accurate than the first, but neither scheme is more scientific than the other. "Science" does not declare players of basketball to have the label "basketball players"; arbitrary human definitions do.

emperorbma wrote:
It's not, strictly speaking, impossible to come up with an interpretation that allows for a regional flood. In either case, we're relying on an all-powerful being to have been in charge of it whether it is regional, which (as I think I have demonstrated) the text allows, or global.


It seems that indeed, "you have a different comprehension capability than do I." But as Paul pointed out, the eye is to function as an eye, and the ear as an ear, and if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?
emperorbma   |2011-09-08 19:54:45
Kent wrote:
I've not argued that the Scriptural view is correct...

So it seems, if I'm understanding you above, that we agree, that the Bible presents a YEC perspective, even if that's not scientifically accurate.


If and only if I retained my hypothetical supposition from the prior reply. As it stands, I am not convinced the Apostles considered Scripture to carry anything comparable to a scientific perspective. (or, as in the case of YEC, an attempt to shoehorn into science views that are fundamentally different...) The Apostles didn't have science to deal with at all because science hadn't been established. YEC didn't come about until Christians started to try and explain how the religion ties with science and ended up finding that natural evidence rebuts the more literalistic interpretations of Scripture. On the other hand, many Christians in the past had to deal with a similar problem from philosophy, which is why Augustine's witness was so elucidating.

Just so we're clear, I'm trying to walk very careful line here. On the one hand, I maintain that Scripture is inspired and inerrant.  On the other, I also emphasize that I believe that the Apostles' perspectives of science were limited and incomplete and that God didn't really intend Scripture to communicate science to a modern audience...

Kent wrote:
Again, I have to dispute with you. It is not that one classification scheme is scientific and another is not. It is that "Science" has adopted one as more useful/accurate. But one classification scheme itself is no more or less scientific than any other scheme; it is simply different. And to claim that one is scientific and the other is not is to stack the deck.

If we classify people by height, then we can define (and that's the key word - "define", an arbitrary, man-made process) a category of people to be "basketball players" if they are over 6 feet tall, and another category to be "knee inspectors" (apologies to any short people reading this) if they are under 4 feet tall.


You are merely considering numerical attributes.  The categorization carries more than just numbers, it also carries descriptive properties.  "Basketball player," as a label for people who are merely tall, is not as effective as being able to break tall people into categories that can factor in their skill and other dispositions toward basketball.

Remember, I said that science is focusing on the genetic and phenotypic aspects of creatures since this is how it is able to break down the basic elements of what makes a creature distinct from another. The Bible only seems to take "flying" into concern. It doesn't take vivipariousness, mammaries and genetic relationships into consideration.

It is not "stacking the deck" against something to say that the proposed measurement scale is simply not sophisticated enough to analyze the data you are trying to work with. Sure, we could all use raw, untyped lambda calculus for computation but we have programming languages because they do the job in a way that programmers can actually do the job without having to do extra, unnecessary, work each time. (Three guesses as to what I do for a living...)

Kent wrote:
It seems that indeed, "you have a different comprehension capability than do I." But as Paul pointed out, the eye is to function as an eye, and the ear as an ear, and if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?


Right, "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  (Ecclesiastes 3:1) So, my contention would be that the Scriptural witness has its place for measuring doctrine and faith and science has its place for measuring and analyzing how natural forces work within creation. I can offer suggestions how these two might interact, but I can't tell you that this is how it happened. As I said, just before making my suggestions, "my "Old Earth" is coming from the scientific model. My "Creationism" comes from the Scriptural model. I do not believe we need to browbeat one with the other..."
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 00:15:21
laika wrote:
But the Gospels are clearly labeled as four distinct accounts. The second creation story doesn't announce itself as a different perspective....


I believe the second story does announce itself as a different account; the accounts in Genesis are marked by what's called toledoth ( a "this is the record/account of such&such at such&such time/place"). The divider between the first and second accounts is Genesis 2:4. We just didn't recognize these toledoth as account markers until recent archeology, such as the finding of the Amarna tablets, etc.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 00:26:13
emperorbma wrote:
One only needs 4 things to demonstrate that the age of the universe must be older than just 6000 years:

2. Observation: Light moves at a speed of 300,000 m/s in a vacuum.


Currently, in this location of the universe; round-trip.

We don't know that light-speed has always been constant (and there seems to be some evidence it's not been); we don't know it's the same elsewhere in the cosmos (we know time is gravity-dependent, at least in our local earth zone); and we have no way to measure the one-way speed of light, so as far as we know it's instantaneous in one direction and 600K m/s in the other, averaging out to 300K m/s one-way.

emperorbma wrote:
3. Concept: Parallax. More distant objects move more slowly than those in the foreground.


Astronomical parallax is only good for measurements out to about 1600 light-years, only about a fourth of the 6000 year age commonly put forth by YECs.

The standard cosmological model makes sense using certain assumptions; but replace those assumptions, and you get different results.
holmegm   |2011-09-09 09:54:26
We also don't know that the universe wasn't created "already mature", as it would seem Adam was (not explicit in the text, but a helpless dust-baby Adam would have simply died?)

Nobody seems to think of a created-already-mature Adam as "God lying and planting evidence of age", even though the exact same argument could be made.
laika   |2011-09-09 10:21:18
holmegm wrote:
We also don't know that the universe wasn't created "already mature"...


The appearance-of-age. I'm surprised one doesn't hear more about an appearance-of-heliocentricism theory, which would be every bit as credible.
holmegm  - re:   |2011-09-09 11:40:19
laika wrote:

The appearance-of-age. I'm surprised one doesn't hear more about an appearance-of-heliocentricism theory, which would be every bit as credible.


I'm familiar with the criticisms, but appreciate the link.

wikipedia wrote:
The concept is both unverifiable and unfalsifiable through any conceivable scientific method


As is any origin theory, of either the universe or the diversity of life on Earth. A point that I feel is consistently glossed over.

BTW, I've never wanted the Bible to be a science textbook, and I don't need to prove anything.

It's the culture that comes to me and tells me "you can't believe that, because it is so obviously not true." So consider my posts in the line of saying "um, obviously? Really?"
laika   |2011-09-09 12:57:03
holmegm wrote:
It's the culture that comes to me and tells me "you can't believe that, because it is so obviously not true." So consider my posts in the line of saying "um, obviously? Really?"


Well, I can certainly appreciate your counter-cultural stance, seeing as how we're coming from the exact same place: the dominant culture that I was raised in insisted that I take Genesis as literally true in a way that I don't feel Genesis asks to be taken. So we are brothers-in-arms, you and I, in flouting the conventions of our culture.

holmegm wrote:
As is any origin theory, of either the universe or the diversity of life on Earth. A point that I feel is consistently glossed over.


I certainly don't mean to gloss over anything. And you're right, of course, that nothing is really verifiable. I may behave like I somewhat understand ballistics and related issues when a gun is pointed at my head, but who is to say that my understanding isn't flawed to the point of uselessness? Last Thursdayism (I didn't know it had a name, thank you, emperorbma) is totally legit, as far as I'm concerned. Many and many's the time I've considered that approach to this thing we call reality. I may not often act in accordance with LT, but I'd be the very last to deny its possibility.

And ultimately, it probably doesn't matter at all what we believe about the age of the universe, but I always enjoy the discussion. I can't imagine anything that might affect us less. We can all enjoy the many benefits of science regardless of what we think of it.
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 14:19:58
laika wrote:
(I didn't know it had a name, thank you, emperorbma)


You're quite welcome.

laika wrote:
And ultimately, it probably doesn't matter at all what we believe about the age of the universe, but I always enjoy the discussion. I can't imagine anything that might affect us less. We can all enjoy the many benefits of science regardless of what we think of it.


Yup, I agree here. It might be a little stressful but as long as we're charitable it is a good thing to discuss our differences on the details while remaining faithful to our common "Way, Life and Truth..."
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 10:22:08
holmegm wrote:
We also don't know that the universe wasn't created "already mature"


Shall I mention Last Thursdayism? What is to say that God didn't create the universe last Thursday and then implant the memories of our past lives so we think we lived longer?
holmegm  - re:   |2011-09-20 12:39:49
emperorbma wrote:
Shall I mention Last Thursdayism? What is to say that God didn't create the universe last Thursday and then implant the memories of our past lives so we think we lived longer?


There's a lot more to this topic than we can probably get into on this forum ...

For just one thing, the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus didn't say that the universe was created last Thursday. Or refer to as authoritative accounts that the universe was created last Thursday.

For another, it isn't creationists who even brought this up ...

Anti-creationist: But the universe "looks old!"

Creationist: Uh, can't God create it to look any way He wants?

Anti-creationist: But that's "Last Thursday ism!"

Creationist: Uh, I wasn't the one who had a problem with how it looks (not that I necessarily agree that it "looks old" to begin with).
emperorbma   |2011-09-20 21:47:37
holmegm wrote:
For just one thing, the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus didn't say that the universe was created last Thursday. Or refer to as authoritative accounts that the universe was created last Thursday.


That's right. I wasn't arguing about what the Bible teaches on this, though. My point is that Last Thursdayism was specifically created as a parody of the YEC-style literalistic arguments with regards to the Bible.

It is a case of Poe's Law.  It's presenting the same attitude that YEC comes off with from the context of making a claim that is obviously absurd to [nearly] anyone who reads it. It is meant to drive a point home rather than being a sincere expression of faith.

holmegm wrote:
Creationist: Uh, I wasn't the one who had a problem with how it looks (not that I necessarily agree that it "looks old" to begin with).


Disclaimer: FWIW, I'm not anti-creationist. I'm just a more moderate variant of creationist...

As I demonstrated above, this is NOT how it is coming off for most people. It comes across as Christians putting our fingers in our ears and throwing bottles at science because we can't figure out how to make sense of our religion with regards to it. Instead of trying to participate honestly and reasonably in the process, hard-liner Creationists come off as trying to force people to agree with our interpretations of the Bible even if the Bible itself really doesn't require us to read it this way. This might be viable as a matter of doctrine, insofar as we divorce it from nature and the real world we live in, but science is a model of nature not a theology. (... and I don't think theology should be that obstinate to ignore the world, either, but some people may reasonably disagree with me on this perspective)

My personal opinion of interpretation [which is "Old Earth Creationism"] is that we should be presenting our faith in a manner that doesn't require animosity toward the past 500 years of scientific advancement. People have put their sweat, tears and blood into defending theories from the rational and evidential criticisms of their fellow scientists. Now, some people come across throwing their religion at them. (something that one cannot ever really disprove, since it is by nature an argument of faith). Of course you would be upset.  You worked hard to develop a model and it fits all the evidence and people still call you evil and wrong. At this point it's not a reasonable fight anymore. It's just name calling and mud throwing.

To wit, as far as science is concerned, every part of the physical evidence reinforces the age of the earth and the adaptability of species.  The only arguments of YEC have been to try and "explain away" the evidence in favor of the age of the earth rather than introducing any new observations or predictions. Now taking that viewpoint of "sweat, blood and tears," what would you think of these kind of freeloaders?

This is NOT how we Christians should be coming off. We should be coming off as loving and charitable. We should not be demanding everyone see things our way. That is the basis of my concern in this. I'm content that people will believe 6000 years if that's what they come to from reading Scripture. I did, once, myself and it's a rather obvious way of reading Scripture even if I no longer agree with it being read in that literal of a manner. What I'm not content with is the people who are calling scientists liars and devil worshippers. There needs to be a line in the sand between "I believe this and I defend it as such" and "I am going to try to force everyone to agree with me because I'm right." This is a line that, by and large, I find sorely lacking in nearly all YEC interpretations of Scripture. [It's actually a bit of a struggle to keep that distinction in OEC, sometimes, too... despite it being a bit less political than YEC]
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 10:23:40
Kent wrote:
We don't know that light-speed has always been constant


Fair enough. There is no reason to believe that it would significantly change the order of magnitude of the proposed results or it should affect nearby observations rather significantly.

Kent wrote:
we have no way to measure the one-way speed of light


Incorrect. There is a way to measure the one-way speed of light if the clocks are synchronized correctly.

Oddly enough, this seems to get back to my point that a categorization scheme (which you have linked to measurements) is, in fact, a scientific criteria. [Which you have discussed in a different reply, so I'll digress here...]

Kent wrote:
Astronomical parallax is only good for measurements out to about 1600 light-years


Okay, this is accurate. Apparently I have misspoken about needing only 4 points. This distance can be extended through the use of standard candles, which I have mentioned before.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 00:39:58
emperorbma wrote:
You are merely considering numerical attributes.  The categorization carries more than just numbers, it also carries descriptive properties.


I seem to not be communicating my point.

Classification schemes are human-derived definitions.

GroupA consists of qualities X & Y & Z, because we all agree on this definition.

GroupB consists of qualities Q & R & P, because we all agree on this definition.

But "science" does not make the definition. There is no physical law that declares GroupA to consist of X & Y & Z; there is only human-agreed convention.
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 10:27:28
Kent wrote:
I seem to not be communicating my point.

There is no physical law that declares GroupA to consist of X & Y & Z; there is only human-agreed convention.


I'm merely disputing that this is unscientific, not that it is something that is independent of observation. Not all of science is about observation. Models are necessary to make sense of the data and operational definitions such as classification schemes are a part of the modeling process.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 11:07:44
emperorbma wrote:
As it stands, I am not convinced the Apostles considered Scripture to carry anything comparable to a scientific perspective.


When I say that Scripture presents a YEC perspective, I don't mean that Scripture presents a "Scientific Model of Origins"; I mean that Scripture, as a whole, not just Genesis, presents a worldview consistent with YEC thinking, in which "YHWH created the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them" over a period of 6 literal days, only 4000 years or so before the New Testament was written, and that a great flood wiped out the world that then existed, resulting in our current world.

Now whether that worldview is true or not is another question entirely.

However, I realize you don't accept the claim that the Scripture presents a YEC worldview. As mentioned elsewhere, you and I seem to simply have different comprehension capabilities.
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 13:35:46
Kent wrote:
I mean that Scripture, as a whole, not just Genesis, presents a worldview consistent with YEC thinking, in which "YHWH created the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them" over a period of 6 literal days, only 4000 years or so before the New Testament was written, and that a great flood wiped out the world that then existed, resulting in our current world.


Fair enough. I can concede that the Scriptural witness in its most basic reading seems be presenting a similar worldview to YEC.

The question here is whether this worldview is actually a part of the Divine inspiration or merely an accidental feature inherited from the culture that God inspired to write His Message. Clearly, I favored the latter case whereas you appear to favor the former.
Kent   |2011-09-13 16:03:19
I believe we're now in agreement on this issue. :-)
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 11:39:59
emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]we have no way to measure the one-way speed of light


Incorrect. There is a way to measure the one-way speed of light if the clocks are synchronized correctly.[/quote]

Yes, but the problem is that there's no way to synchronize clocks at a distance without relativistic effects interfering.

Here are some snippets from another Wikipedia article (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/On e-way_speed_of_light):

Quote:
Experiments that attempted to probe the one-way speed of light have been proposed, but none has succeeded in doing so.[3] It was later shown that these experiments are in fact measuring the two-way speed.


Quote:
Although the average speed over a two-way path can be measured, the one-way speed in one direction or the other is undefined (and not simply unknown), unless one can define what is "the same time" in two different locations. To measure the time that the light has taken to travel from one place to another it is necessary to know the start and finish times as measured on the same time scale. This requires either two synchronized clocks, one at the start and one at the finish or some means of sending a signal instantaneously from the start to the finish. No instantaneous means of transmitting information is known. Thus the measured value of the average one-way speed is dependent on the method used to synchronize the start and finish clocks. This is a matter of convention.


Quote:
It is easily demonstrated that if two clocks are brought together and synchronized, then one clock is moved rapidly away and back again, the two clocks will no longer be synchronized.


Quote:
There are still occasional experiments that appear to measure the one-way speed of light independently of clock synchronization but they have so far all been shown to actually measure the two-way speed.


Notice that it's a "convention" that the two clocks really are synchronized; there's no way to actually know if they are synchronized or not. You can't synch the clocks when they're together and then move them apart; that gets them out of synch. You can't send a signal from one to the other, because that signal is itself subject to the speed of light.

The best we can do, so far, is to measure the round-trip speed.
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 13:52:27
Kent wrote:
Yes, but the problem is that there's no way to synchronize clocks at a distance without relativistic effects interfering.


However, it isn't logical that it would be a difference of 0c-2c as you presented. If such a difference exists, it would have to be quite miniscule. The more parsimonious explanation is that it is just c in both cases.

Kent wrote:
Notice that it's a "convention" that the two clocks really are synchronized; there's no way to actually know if they are synchronized or not. You can't synch the clocks when they're together and then move them apart; that gets them out of synch. You can't send a signal from one to the other, because that signal is itself subject to the speed of light.


Well, science can't exactly take the response of ejecting standards of observation entirely because this hypothetical case. It would result in a bit of a brain in a vat situation. "You can't know for sure that the things you are observing are the actual reality." That much is true for anything.

At a certain point, we need to just set up some common criteria and try to work with them so we can get as consistent of a picture of reality as possible. Part of this is why there is a concept of "margin of error" and "confidence intervals". Science does acknowledge the inherent limits of its basic epistemology and uses mathematical principles to counteract the uncertainty.  Everything in science is about analyzing the "most probable scenario."
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-13 15:54:44
emperorbma wrote:
[quote=Kent]Yes, but the problem is that there's no way to synchronize clocks at a distance without relativistic effects interfering.


However, it isn't logical that it would be a difference of 0c-2c as you presented. If such a difference exists, it would have to be quite miniscule.[/quote]

Why is it not logical? I think what you mean is that it's not preferable to your way of thinking.

Why would the difference have to be quite miniscule? Is there some logic/evidence that indicates this, or is it just an assumption on your part?

I'm not saying that the speed of light differs by a small amount, or a large amount, or even at all. I'm just saying that it's not demonstrable, which is where this started.

emperorbma wrote:
Science does acknowledge the inherent limits of its basic epistemology and uses mathematical principles to counteract the uncertainty.  Everything in science is about analyzing the "most probable scenario."


All I'm saying is that since we don't know the one-way speed of light, one can't demonstrate what was claimed to be demonstrable using the criteria provided. At best, it's a reasonable model, not a demonstration.
Kent   |2011-09-13 16:04:12
Arg. Quoting mess-up again. Sorry.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-13 16:35:55
emperorbma wrote:
Actually, I think you have to be a bit more selective to make this argument work.

First, not all Biblical source documents even give the same numbers for them. Which source do we prefer? Masoretic? LXX?  Samaritan? On what Biblical teaching do we base this decision?


Differences between textual variants do not invalidate the concept of an original version. Granted, that means we won't know the exact calculation of the original witness, but the minor differences are just that: minor; we can get within the ballpark. I believe the differences only add up to about 1000 years (most of which comes from the addition of Cainan, as discussed below).

emperorbma wrote:
Secondly, the Genealogy of Luke includes a generation (Cainan, son of Arphaxad) that isn't in the Genesis one.


As I understand it, our earliest copy of Luke (from about 175AD - 225AD ("a papyrus codex of the Bodmer collection - http://tinyurl.com/5ubnkb7") does not contain the reference to Cainan, nor do copies of the Septuagint prior to about the 5th century A.D. The nature of the passage would make it easy for a scribal error to creep in. To me, it seems that it probably was a later accidental insertion, which then became incorporated into later copies of the Septuagint, and then into our modern copies of the text.
emperorbma   |2011-09-13 23:35:03
Kent wrote:
Granted, that means we won't know the exact calculation of the original witness, but the minor differences are just that: minor; we can get within the ballpark.


The fact that such differences are early suggests that the authors did not share your concern about a "ballpark." It was a historical anthology that was condensed to tell the story of how God led His people throughout history rather than a modern historian's meticulous day-by-day scale of events.

Kent wrote:
To me, it seems that it probably was a later accidental insertion, which then became incorporated into later copies of the Septuagint, and then into our modern copies of the text.


Maybe. So why couldn't Genesis have an accidental insertion or deletion? If you want to argue that Luke's copyists can make mistake, why couldn't Moses's?
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-13 16:36:59
emperorbma wrote:
Actually, I think you have to be a bit more selective to make this argument work.

First, not all Biblical source documents even give the same numbers for them. Which source do we prefer? Masoretic? LXX?  Samaritan? On what Biblical teaching do we base this decision?


Differences between textual variants do not invalidate the concept of an original version. Granted, that means we won't know the exact calculation of the original witness, but the minor differences are just that: minor; we can get within the ballpark. I believe the differences only add up to about 1000 years (most of which comes from the addition of Cainan, as discussed below).

emperorbma wrote:
Secondly, the Genealogy of Luke includes a generation (Cainan, son of Arphaxad) that isn't in the Genesis one.


As I understand it, our earliest copy of Luke (from about 175AD - 225AD ("a papyrus codex of the Bodmer collection - http://tinyurl.com/5ubnkb7") does not contain the reference to Cainan, nor do copies of the Septuagint prior to about the 5th century A.D. The nature of the passage would make it easy for a scribal error to creep in. To me, it seems that it probably was a later accidental insertion, which then became incorporated into later copies of the Septuagint, and then into our modern copies of the text.
emperorbma   |2011-09-13 23:22:16
Kent wrote:
Why would the difference have to be quite miniscule?


Because there are only two ways that this can be done.

1. Shift the entire velocity scale by c in some arbitrary direction.
2. Violate the principles of Relativity.

If #1 is the case, then it is simply a mathematical con game that has no benefit to scientific measurements. All of the actual measurements for the speed of light would still be c, to which we then add a vector of c in some arbitrary direction for no adequately explainable reason. Such a notion can be trivially excluded on the basis of scientific parsimony.

If #2 is the case, then it would have some extremely serious and observable consequences. You see, 0c implies that light can't move in one direction at all! To put it in simple terms, it would be saying that there is a black hole on one side of the universe sucking in all light.  No amount of observation bears this out. The mere fact that we can even get a "round trip velocity" implies this is simply not the case.  Otherwise, light would need to move over a distance without having any speed whatsoever. The basic claim itself is absurd.

Now, suppose we didn't say 0c-2c. Suppose it was something smaller like 1.5c-0.5c. Even if this were true, it means that time is moving half as fast in one direction versus another. 1.25-0.75 yields 1/4 as fast. 1.125-0.875 yields 1/8 as fast. etc. No matter which way you'd slice it, you're still going to have some serious consequences.  You'd basically have to go really small before the ratios approach anything that could come close to fitting the actual observations. By that point, we're talking differences of .0000000000000000000000001 or less. Therefore, if there was a difference in c it would necessarily be tiny simply to produce the kind of universe that we are observing.

Kent wrote:
All I'm saying is that since we don't know the one-way speed of light, one can't demonstrate what was claimed to be demonstrable using the criteria provided. At best, it's a reasonable model, not a demonstration.


We don't need to measure it to infinite precision to know that the values need to be really close to what we've measured. I've already shown that either the universe literally doesn't work if you try the alternate hypothesis or you need to install some arbitrary math to shift the results to fit your supposition.
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-09 11:54:34
emperorbma wrote:
My hang-up is the genealogy and the fact that the words for "begat," "father" and "son" are completely ambiguous as to how many generations were between. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has no ambiguity. Seth through Noah does. Noah through Terah does.


This is another case in which you and I comprehend differently what we read. As I read the genealogies in Genesis 11:10ff, I see that it clearly lists the ages at which the next generation begins. Accordingly, there is no ambiguity of the number of years between Noah and Terah. Granted, there may be a generation or three not mentioned between, say, Shelah and Peleg, but there's no ambiguity as to how many years are involved: Shelah fathered Eber at age 30, and then lived another 403 years, having other kids; Eber fathered Peleg at age 34, and then lived another 430 years, having other kids. So the years between Shelah's birth and Peleg's birth is 30 + 34 = 64 years.

Add in the other years for the other generations in this genealogy, and you have 822 years from Noah's birth to Terah's (if I did my math correctly).

No ambiguity whatsoever.
emperorbma   |2011-09-09 14:13:46
Actually, I think you have to be a bit more selective to make this argument work.

First, not all Biblical source documents even give the same numbers for them. Which source do we prefer? Masoretic? LXX?  Samaritan? On what Biblical teaching do we base this decision?

Secondly, the Genealogy of Luke includes a generation (Cainan, son of Arphaxad) that isn't in the Genesis one. Was Luke actually filling in a gap in the inspired genealogy from Genesis? Did the Jews decide to inexplicably remove the reference to this patriarch from their Masoretic text?

For reference, most Biblical translators favor the Masoretic since it is in the original source language, Hebrew. The early Christian Church favored the LXX translation since it was in the Greek language and was useful for the Gentile converts. Which one is "more inspired?"

Point being, it's not really as clean of a case as YEC makes it out to be.
whitemice  - re: Force-fitting Old-Earth Views into Scripture   |2011-09-11 18:03:51
Kent wrote:
When you tinker with Genesis 1-11, you're tinkering with pretty much the entire Biblical witness.


I just don't see it this way. If I do a quick survey of Adam in the new testament I have one mention of Adam in one of the Gospels (in a traditional lineage listing) and in the epistles just a handful of mentions:

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come

1st Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive

1st Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

1st Tim 2:12-14 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. [in context of role within the community]

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,

None of the validity of anything surrounding these statements seems [to me anyway] to hinge on a "literal" reading of Genesis 1-3.

Only lineages seem to "need" such a reading. But lineages (as used in these any many many other texts) provide a way to conclusively name someone [in an age before surnames and then social security numbers]. Use of such clauses as son-of-so-and-so were very common until very recently when we created more effective means of identification. There purpose is to identify the person to the reader [or more accurately the (most likely illiterate) header], if they actually name *every* generate just doesn't matter related to there literary purpose; which is to reference a specific character the 'reader' is aware of in a related text and time-line.

The important clause of all the Adam text's is Adam's fall-from-grace and the resulting damnation of [mankind|creation] and the resulting need for salvation.
laika   |2011-09-11 21:13:49
whitemice wrote:
I just don't see it this way. If I do a quick survey of Adam in the new testament I have one mention of Adam in one of the Gospels (in a traditional lineage listing) and in the epistles just a handful of mentions


But those mentions are considered as proof that the main figures in the NT had a belief in a literal Adam who had existed 4,000 years before.

And it may be reasonable to assume that people of that time and place believed exactly that, just as it would be reasonable to assume that they believed in, say, geocentrism.
SteveGus   |2011-09-12 15:20:50
I've been on something of a CS Lewis kick recently, and re-read The Discarded Image, which remains one of my favorite Lewis books.

Upon re-reading it, it strikes me that Genesis was never taken particularly literally as a source of data on natural history until the early modern era at the very earliest, and the current fundamentalist interpretation are a reaction to geology and evolution rather than a truth that was generally held before the scientific consensus formed.

The model of the universe in Genesis was never accepted by any literate medieval person. That holds to a flat earth surmounted by a lid (traditionally translated "firmament") that kept water out. The medievals knew that the earth was a sphere.

Beyond that, they were hopeless. All that existed above the moon was literally Heaven, perfect and unchanging. They were not made of matter, or at least, not of the same kind of matter that was found on earth. All moved in circles and spheres, because these shapes were more "perfect" than other geometries.  Dante, touring Heaven, toured the Ptolemaic solar system. It ends in the Primum Mobile, the last of the concentric spheres, which is cranked by God directly; the motion it transmits moves the whole solar system.

This is an entirely pagan model, born of deifying the planets and celestial bodies.  Its Platonic roots are seen in its blithe and un-Biblical assumption that the matter we're made of is something inferior and polluting that we must shed to ascend into the heavens. It includes all sorts of odd bits, including the perfection of the moon and the superior spiritual virtue of round things, that are in no wise taught by Scripture.

The lost utopia of universal faith in literal Genesis, like all other lost utopias, never existed.
laika   |2011-09-12 19:07:19
SteveGus wrote:
All moved in circles and spheres, because these shapes were more "perfect" than other geometries.


And wasn't that part of Christianty's problem with Copernicus and Galileo? That they dared speculate that gasp! elliptical orbits were the norm?

Earth orbiting the sun on an elliptical path = blasphemy.
SteveGus   |2011-09-12 19:27:51
The revelations that there were spots --- spots! --- on the sun, and that the moon appeared to just be made of rock, were even greater scandals.  They were at least willing to entertain the possibility of a different celestial mechanic.  But the notion that the moon was a rocky desert and not the gateway to Heaven seemed to suggest that Heaven was out of reach.
emperorbma   |2011-09-12 22:31:11
I wonder if some of this sentiment underlies some of the modern day deniers of the lunar landings...
SteveGus   |2011-09-13 11:26:36
Part of the problem with a Sun-centered solar system was with the doctrines of Christ's incarnation and ascension into the heavens. Since the Incarnation was thought of as a descent from the heavens, it was imagined that the Earth had to represent "the bottom". If you could fall into the Sun from the Earth, that would make the Sun the bottom, and Christ should have become incarnate on the Sun.

Aquinas also incorporated Aristotle's physics into his account of the Ascension. Christ's heavenly nature, being lighter than the elements of Earth, drew him into the sky by attraction.

Quote:
Now there are some who endeavor to assign the cause of this power to the nature of the fifth essence. This, as they say, is light, which they make out to be of the composition of the human body, and by which they contend that contrary elements are reconciled; so that in the state of this mortality, elemental nature is predominant in human bodies: so that, according to the nature of this predominating element the human body is borne downwards by its own power: but in the condition of glory the heavenly nature will predominate, by whose tendency and power Christ's body and the bodies of the saints are lifted up to heaven.


But if the heavenly bodies are made of the same kind of matter that's found on earth, this explanation of the mechanic no longer holds water, and Christ gets marooned here.
emperorbma   |2011-09-13 12:48:09
SteveGus wrote:
Since the Incarnation was thought of as a descent from the heavens, it was imagined that the Earth had to represent "the bottom"


I suppose they could hardly be blamed for not thinking outside of a 3-dimensional paradigm, since thinking in more dimensions is a fairly recent innovation.

SteveGus wrote:
Now there are some who endeavor to assign the cause of this power to the nature of the fifth essence.


Ah, our good old friend Aether/Quintessence. I suppose it makes sense in an Alchemical mode of thinking but not so much in a post-Phlogiston system of Chemistry.

SteveGus wrote:
But if the heavenly bodies are made of the same kind of matter that's found on earth, this explanation of the mechanic no longer holds water, and Christ gets marooned here.


I wonder why Newton didn't see an issue with this. Despite being a Unitarian, he was still pretty big on Biblical prophecy and the like and alchemy was pretty much what his business was.  Perhaps the debate had softened by that point.
whitemice  - re:   |2011-09-13 13:08:51
SteveGus wrote:
I've been on something of a CS Lewis kick recently, and re-read The Discarded Image, which remains one of my favorite Lewis books.  Upon re-reading it, it strikes me that Genesis was never taken particularly literally as a source of data on natural history until the early modern era


+1 The dominant assumption that previous generations where desperately ignorant - although they managed the growing season, navigation, etc... with apparent east. The whole "they all believed the world was flat" thing is false. There is lots of evidence that many cultures had sophisticated cosmologies; all perhaps wildly inaccurate in some ways (and we are currently in the business of revising ours almost monthly).

And there is the question if they even thought about it - premodern like was hard, and brutal, with little margin for error (trip and fall, cut your hand, and possibly die of infection/sepsis). I'm confident the joe-six-pack had lots of other things on his mind.

Even now we speak literature-speak when talking about the sun "rising", etc... it doesn't at all imply that we don't have some concept that such phrases are scientifically inaccurate; we just don't care if they are or not - they describe what *appears* to be, which is enough 99.44% of the time.
laika  - - re: firmament   |2011-09-13 19:49:24
SteveGus wrote:
The model of the universe in Genesis was never accepted by any literate medieval person. That holds to a flat earth surmounted by a lid (traditionally translated "firmament") that kept water out. The medievals knew that the earth was a sphere.


That's interesting about the firmament, and according to Wikipedia, both the Hebrews and early Christians believed the sky to be a solid dome of some kind.

According to that same entry, "It is probably a universal human trait to perceive the sky as a solid dome." So a question there might be, did the Hebrews and early Christians get their ideas about what was above them from Genesis, or from their local culture? And did the writer(s) of Genesis get ideas about the "firmament" from his/their own observation, or was it an inspired understanding? If they literally believed in a lid/dome, what has happened that allowed the accommodation of other beliefs about sky/space/heavens? Surely mere "science" would not suffice?
whitemice  - re:   |2011-09-14 07:23:31
laika wrote:
[quote=SteveGus]All moved in circles and spheres, because these shapes were more "perfect" than other geometries.

And wasn't that part of Christianty's problem with Copernicus and Galileo? That they dared speculate that gasp! elliptical orbits were the norm?
Earth orbiting the sun on an elliptical path = blasphemy.[/quote]

No, it wasn't "christianity's problem". It was a problem for a dominant faction of theRoman Catholic church [which wasn't then even so much a church but a government].
Kent  - re: in the cool of the evening   |2011-09-14 16:20:32
whitemice wrote:
My favorite 'sermon' on these issues pointed out that nowhere in the gospels does Christ eat breakfast ....


This doesn't have anything to do with the point you're making, but it's interesting to observe that the Gospels do speak of an attempt by Jesus to eat breakfast:
Quote:
18 Early in the morning, as He was returning to the city, He was hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And He said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" At once the fig tree withered. - Matt 21:18-19


as well as implying that he did eat breakfast on another occasion:
Quote:
When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" - John 21:15

"[We] ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead." - Acts 10:41


Just interesting....
Kent  - re:   |2011-09-14 16:43:34
emperorbma wrote:
Now, suppose we didn't say 0c-2c.


0c? No one ever suggested that. What was suggested was that the maximum speed of light could be anywhere between Instantaneous (not 0) and 300K m/s.
emperorbma   |2011-09-14 19:08:31
Kent wrote:
0c? No one ever suggested that. What was suggested was that the maximum speed of light could be anywhere between Instantaneous (not 0) and 300K m/s.


Well, I had interpreted "instantaneous" to mean 0 m/s and had received no objection to its use until now. In any case, did not even hinge upon 0c-2c being your case.

My basic point is that any significant variation in the speed of light would be inconsistent with General relativity, which has been demonstrated through many scientific experiments to be an accurate representation of reality. In fact, it resolved some of the discrepancies in Newton's laws of gravitation such as explaining preturbations in the orbit of Mercury and the deflection of light by gravity.  (e.g. Gravitational lensing around a star)
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