A biblical blog by Rob J Hyndman 

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Creation via evolution?

Published on 26 July 2011 in Articles

There is a growing group of believing scientists who think that God used evolution as an important process in creating life. This has partly been brought about by the mounting genetic evidence connecting different species including human beings.

This is leading to an interesting re-thinking about what the Bible really teaches about creation, and how it can be understood in the light of what God has also revealed to us through his creation. See, for example, this article by Br David Brown (Solihull, UK). Some excellent and well-informed discussion exploring the issues takes place on the Berea-Portal Discussion Forum.

In medieval Europe, faithful believers needed to rethink their biblical interpretations about whether the earth was stationary (e.g., 1 Chronicles 16:30; Psalm 93:1) in the light of mounting scientific evidence. It is possible that believers today may have to do the same in their thinking about creation. In doing so, we need to be careful not to fall into the same trap as the Catholic church did in refusing to accept Galileo’s evidence because it didn’t fit their biblical interpretations.

Of course, the Christadelphian community is not the only Christian denomination facing these issues. A recent article in the evangelical newspaper Christianity Today considers the new evidence and its implications for the Christian faith. There is also an extensive set of resources and thought-provoking articles on the BioLogos website.

Whatever we make of the evidence, it seems clear that we should tread carefully, especially in making bold statements on topics beyond our expertise. One thing we can be sure of: however God created the universe, the heavens declare his glory (Psalm 19:1), and he holds all of us accountable to him because of the self-evident witness of his creation (Romans 1:20). Furthermore God expects Christian thinkers to humbly consider what he has made before presuming to define the limits of his character and behaviour (Job 38-40).


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48 Comments  comments 
  • Michael Angelico

    Evolution relies on death to weed out the less viable. The Bible teaches that death arose as a result of Adam’s sin. Therefore the Bible teaches that God didn’t use evolution as part of the process of creation. It’s that simple.

    • Ken Gilmore

      Actually, it isn’t that simple. Speaking as a doctor quite familiar with human molecular genetics, the evidence for common descent is overwhelming. Furthermore, we have a fossil record stretching back hundreds of millions of years, well before humans appeared on the earth. That shows death has been a feature of this planet well before Adam appeared. When the facts contradict an interpretation of Scripture, it’s time to change the interpretation.

    • Adam Jones

      Hi everyone.

      Personally I have the faith to accept w bibles account of creation on face value. I have faith that God has the power to place all of creation on earth in the time frame spelled out in Genesis.

      It is obvious from the Genesis record the earth was in existence. Did it support a previous creation? Not ours to know as yet. But where did the angels come from? So why should a fossil record not then exist.

      Why do many animals show hereditary traits? Correct me if I’m wrong but do we not have the one Creator! So I would be expecting to see these similiarities right down to the genetic level!

      Also are we confusing macro and micro adaption? Micro adaption is a definite but speciation is not. Who can name a new species of animal or a species of vegetable matter becoming a new animal species in all of man’s recorded history? All I think of is extinction of species.

      All for now

      Cheers

      Adam Jones

  • Dave

    I’ll be interested to see how this conversation develops.

    Michael (post #1), you stated that evolution relies on death to weed out the less viable. Actually, it is natural selection that describes the process of less viable creatures being weeded out by fitter creatures. This is not something that happened in the distant past, this is something that continues to happen to this day. You only need to look in your garden to see the fight for survival amongst the flora and fauna.

    In fact, all evolution is is a combination of mutation, reproduction, natural selection and genetic drift. All of these are observable in nature today, so there are no theoretical grounds for objecting to the concept of evolution.

  • Deb

    “One thing we can be sure of: however God created the universe, the heavens declare his glory (Psalm 19:1), and he holds all of us accountable to him because of the self-evident witness of his creation (Romans 1:20).”

    This sentence is rendered meaningless without his active creation. The heavens declare no glory of God if he didn’t make them. What would creation then witness to but blind chance and catastrophe? If we are just the products of self-ordering matter, there is nothing to be sure of and no-one to be accountable to.

    The sentence quoted seeks to have its cake and eat it too.

  • http://www.btdf.org/forums Dave Burke

    The argument being made is not that evolution occurred in the absence of God, but that God incorporated evolution within His creative work. Thus Rob’s sentence remains entirely meaningful.

  • Trevor Brierly

    Thanks for posting this. It seems to me that we really need to grapple with what scientists are discovering, instead of dismissing them as dishonest atheists. The truth to me seems to be that God created and sustains life through something which either is, or looks a lot like, evolution. But at the same time there are many aspects of life which seem to me to be beyond the probability of happening without (divine) guidance. The appearance of life itself, the complexity of the genetic code, etc. I know this is good ol’ “God in the gaps” theology, but neither pure evolution nor special creation seem to me to deal with the facts of the situation.
    Here is are some interesting question: does evolution have any spiritual significance? What does it tell us about God and how he works? Is there more to evolution than just the method that God created and sustains life? Will evolution stop in the Kingdom?

    • Ken Gilmore

      Trevor, as believers we often state that we can see the hand of God in human history, nudging events towards a Divine purpose. In fact, we tout the remarkable survival of the Jews throughout 2500 years of persecution, and the establishment of the state of Israel as the classic example of the Divine hand in human history.

      If one looks at evolutionary history as reflected in the fossil record, then one can make a similar claim. Were it not for the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous 65 million years ago which wiped out all the non-avian dinosaurs, the explosion of mammal life which led to the primate line and human beings likely would not have occurred. In other words, one could argue that God has been intervening in natural history, ensuring that the right branch of the evolutionary tree of life survived the many mass extinction events in order to lead to the evolution of the human species.

      When we refer to evolution, we do need to be specific as to whether we’re talking about the fact of common descent and large-scale evolutionary change (which even Michael Behe, the author of Darwin’s Black Box accepts), or the mechanism by which evolution occurred. The former is beyond dispute, while the latter is an area of active research, in which many unsolved problems exist. Just as we don’t deny the existence of gravity just because we haven’t been able to unify general relativity with quantum mechanics, we shouldn’t run off shouting that evolution is “a theory in crisis” because of the existence of some unsolved problems in the modern synthetic theory.

      Finally, evolution can help us construct a robust theodicy. We are used to invoking free will to explain why suffering exists in this world – God has granted the human race free will, which means they are free to do good, or do evil. Evil therefore is an inevitable side-effect of human free will. That doesn’t cover evil which occurs from the natural world. David Attenborough has argued that the existence of parasitic worms that burrow into human eyes is difficult to reconcile with the idea of a loving God:

      “My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy'”

      When we recognise that the diversity of life has emerged via evolution, this problem becomes less acute. If God has elected to give the natural world “free will” to evolve, then life will exploit every niche available, whether it be the deserts of Africa, or the bodies of human beings. Furthermor, the same mutations that cause disease and suffering also provide the raw material on which evolutionary change depends. (There’s a paper by the evolutionary biologist John Avise which can be read with profit on this subject: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/05/04/0914609107)

      • Jim

        Ken, we could answer the world by showing them that God has the answers in His instruction manual.

        We could just read the Bible and see that God has created good as well as “evil” (Isa 45v7) and subjected the entire creation to vanity so that out of this He can bring hope (Rom 8). Death is from God’s judgement on sin, hence was not part of creation before that.

        The key to understanding what God accomplished in Christ is predicated on how sin entered the world from the beginning through one man. To alter this would be to erode faith and the basis of reconciliation.

        Its great to discuss aspects of science, but I think the key is first to the scriptures.

  • Trevor Brierly

    Michael Angelico: Where does the Bible teach “that death arose as a result of Adam’s sin. “? Does this refer to all death, or just human death? Death is a necessary part of the natural cycle, if you don’t have death and still have reproduction you end up with a natural world quickly full of animals that can’t eat and can’t die, and plants that can’t grow (no dead bodies to decompose and make dirt). If you take away reproduction also, then you have a static “system” that isn’t really a system but rather like a zoo or park.

  • Bruce Philp

    Hey Rob, that’s an important question to ask; and yes, it is possible that we have to re-think – and more than once – and that we should tread carefully.

    A change of world-view can be deeply unsettling and threatening to faith, and I’ve admired your concern for the effect on people’s faith since we first talked about this matter years ago. So I’m sure I don’t need to say this: please don’t be stampeded into controversy now. People seek and find, when they are ready.

    I notice that this post is simply raising the question, and that you are not offering answers. I trust everyone will see that.

    God bless you and yours!

  • Coz

    I just thought this was an obvious given by now. I don’t think we should be threatened by any scientific discovery.
    If we believe God is what He says He is – all powerful, all knowing, supreme Creator – then everything we find in the universe is evidence of His talent – not a contradiction.
    We may just need to expand our understanding.
    No surprises there though right? Plenty more knowledge still to come.

  • Ken Gilmore

    Jim, what *does* erode faith is when special creationists insist – despite having vestigial knowledge of the subject on which they pontificate – that every single human being alive today was descended from Adam and Eve. I’m a medical doctor, trained in the post-genomics era, and I’m telling you that the molecular genetical data makes that impossible. Go to any credible expert in genomics, and you’ll hear the same story. (I can supply you with scores of references to the primary literature if you like. ) Common descent is a fact, and we’ve got to deal with it sooner rather than later, if we’re going to avoid losing a lot of scientifically literate young people.

    We’re in the same position now that the church was in the late 18th and early 19th century when geology showed that the earth was ancient, and they made a readjustment to a mistaken *interpretation* of the Bible. Bro. Thomas was quite happy to accept the scientific consensus on the age of the earth, and in Elpis Israel happily referred people to the geological journals for more information. Bro. Roberts accepted a local flood. He never accepted evolution, but he did accept the evidence for change in the fossil record over time. Science has changed considerably in the 113 years and whatever (justifiable) doubts Roberts had about evolution have long since been answered. What we need to do is follow their example of honestly examining the scientific data, and reconciling evolution and theology. Sadly, we’re going backwards compared to those days, what with the infestation of young earth creationism in our community, and people claiming Thomas was in error for accepting an ancient earth. We’re becoming a fundamentalist community afraid to look at science, lest it shatter our preconceptions.

    For what it’s worth, I reconcile evolution and faith this way:

    * Human life arose – like everything else – via an evolutionary process. Around 6-10 thousand years ago (assuming Cain and Abel are dated to the neolithic revolution) God created Adam and Eve – they were the first people with whom God entered into a covenant relationship.
    * Adam sinned, and was expelled from the garden into a world already populated by people. These supplied Cain with his wife, and were those whom Cain feared would kill him.
    * Sin did not exist as a concept prior to Adam, so the violence inflicted by man on man before Adam had no more moral significance than apes killing each other. Adam is our federal head, and there is no need for us to be literally descended from him in order to be in him – failing to follow the Divine example will do that.
    * Paul likely believed Adam was real (as I do) – when Adam sinned, he brought “death by sin” into the world. Physical death is simply the consequence of being organic. Death by sin is however the punishment for sin, and results in one remaining dead forever as a consequence of sinning.

    As I said, there is more to be done in this line. If we point out that soteriological history (Adam sinned, Christ triumphed) is invariant of how the human race was created, then the tension about evolution can recede. Furthermore, we need to point out that God wrote two books – nature and the Bible and properly interpreted, both can’t be in conflict. The tragedy here is that people are insisting that the best way to read the book of nature is by a forced, literal reading of the other book, and demonising those who have the honesty to point out that the creationist emperor has no clothes,

    • Jim

      Hi Ken
      Thanks for your passion, it is a vital subject. But lets not forget that although God wrote two books, the Bible and Nature, that does not mean that the Bible and Science are in harmony…because nature and science are not necessarily synonymous terms.

      We have the Bible because that is God revelation about His work with us relating to salvation. His work in nature, well we don’t have anywhere near the same level of revelation, and you can have all the degrees you like and really all you have acquired is “the wisdom of this world”, which unfortunately is “foolishness with God” (1 Cor 1). I know, I have 3 degrees..two in science, and one a Masters. Lets face it; that’s why doctors call it a medical “practice” :)

      In reality, man with all his learning is never even going to come close to understanding what God has done (Rom 11v33), so with man’s limited scope there is not much to put faith in.

      We can look to the heavens, and yes they declare the glory of God…but, for example, how do we really know how old they are? Or the earth…could be 10000 years, could be 4.2 billion years old…it could be 7.9 trillion years old (no, I’m not a YEC)…because, unlike us, to God these laws are not limiting, He is outside of all the laws that science today uses to measure and analyse, so really our entire scope of observation MAY (not saying does) have serious deficiencies because God is not bound by the laws we are using to judge how He worked…when in reality God could have a thousand more physical, biological and chemical mechanisms, principles etc that He could have used to create…all of which we are not and will not be aware of! So be careful putting faith in “scientific fact”.

      So…that is why my original point is vital. There are some key issues of doctrine in the Bible that should never be crossed. Clear and direct teachings, like Rom 5v12. We can try and reconcile aspects, but it needs to stand the test of scripture. Adam can’t be our federal head unless we are “in Adam”…which is a physical reality, not a object of choice. Death reigned “over all”, because of their connection with Adam…that is Paul’s point.

      So, if our strength lies in God, then we don’t have to worry what the word says or condemns us for believing…should we expect any different if we are disciples of Christ? John 15v19.

      Science can prove all it likes…I love the amazing discoveries…I just think we need to see that there is a lot we don’t know before we take knife to God’s infallible word (sometimes lately, seemingly, before taking it to fallible man).

      Much argument has arisen online about this topic, and I think this is because we are missing the point of 1 Tim 6v20. Most of this is just the musing of man, with little (if none) scriptural support and so the vain babblings fill more and more pages by the minute. Eg, there is no point making what happened to the dinosaurs a matter for argument if it is not revealed in the Bible. So, lets stop beating each other up about things that don’t relate to our salvation, and get into studying the wonderful things of the scriptures, rather than trying to reconcile something that calls into question some simple truths in the Bible.

      God Bless
      J

      • Ken Gilmore

        Hi Jim

        I appreciate your concern, but passion has nothing to do with this. Put simply, anyone whose theology hinges on Adam being the sole ancestor of the entire human race is basing their theology on a demonstrable fiction, and no amount of quoting Paul is going to change that. The evidence for common descent – including human/ape common ancestry is beyond dispute, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but after reading thousands of words of utter nonsense written by Christadelphians on evolution over the years, it’s painfully apparent that our community simply doesn’t know what it’s taking about on the subject, and when people discover that, it’s hard not to become frustrated with the obscurantism that passes for informed discussion on evolution.

        By the way, in what disciplines are your degrees, what is your publication history and what is your institutional affiliation? If you have published work which shows that common descent is wrong, then I would appreciate seeing it. I’m not trying to be difficult, but pointing out that mentioning your academic history is useless unless it is relevant, and by relevant I mean genomics, evolutionary genetics, palaeontology or other fields directly related to evolutionary biology. Argument from authority and all that.

        I suspect you may not be aware of the evidence, so I’ll summarise it in brief:

        • There are multiple shared genetic errors in common between humans and apes. Wer’re taking about proviral sequences (remnants of ancient retroviral infection), pseudogenes (largely non-functional genetic sequences that once were derived from working genes) and transposons (mobile genetic elements that are basically genetic parasites). Either the same genetic errors purely by chance integrated themselves into the same places in the genomes of related species (humans, chimps) – and the odds of that occurring by chance are vanishingly small, or these errors first occurred in a common ancestor of the Pan / Homo lines, and was subsequently inherited by those descendant species. The fact that we can construct phylogenetic trees from the molecular data that are consonant with those constructed from morphological data further makes sense only in the light of common descent. The only other option apart from the two outlines is that God has deliberately created our DNA with molecular fossils that perfectly simulate common descent, and that makes God out to be a deceiver. Anyone who resorts to that argument is in seriously dangerous theological territory.
        • It is impossible for the amount of allelic diversity we see in the human species to have arisen by the normal rates of mutation in 6-10,000 years from only 2 people. Furthermore, if the human race started off from only 2 people, it would become dangerously inbred, and crash into extinction – founder effects would quickly ensure that genetic disorders arising from deleterious mutations would accumulate and eventually, the nascent human race would die out.
        • Obligate human pathogens. These are disease-causing organisms that cannot exist outside a human body. Put simply, Adam and Eve would have been carrying a crippling load of disease-causing organisms such pinworms, body lice, some malarial protozoans, not to mentions bacteria causing syphilis, diphtheria, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea. Then there are the viruses causing smallpox and polio. Postulating that these were created after the fall doesn’t solve the problem, since there were still only two people, and speaking as a doctor who knows more than just the practice of medicine, that parasite and pathogen load would be lethal. (I’m in physician training, and let’s just say that my knowledge of parasitology, microbiology and human molecular genetics is more than just rudimentary)

        I’m always suspicious when people resort to dismissing hard scientific data as “the wisdom of this world” as this is wrong. Paul wasn’t concerned about dismissing palaeontology, evolutionary genetics, genomics or any other area of science that flatly rule out creationist readings of the natural world. A geocentrist could just as credibly claim that modern astronomy was the “wisdom of this world” if you tried to tell him that the Earth revolved around the sun. The context in which Paul uses this (false religious teachers) makes any attempt to recruit Paul to dismiss hard scientific data that refutes a literal interpretation of Scripture an exercise in eisegesis at best.

        I am not certain why you claim that the Bible and Nature are not in harmony. One doesn’t derive theology from nature – that’s a category error – but likewise one does not derive science from the Bible. The moment someone tries to dismiss science by a particular interpretation of the Bible is the moment that person needs to accept that it’s time to ditch that interpretation of the Bible. Too many creationists conflate their literal reading of the Bible with the word of God. If 99% of modern biologists, both believing (Ken Miller, Francis Collins) and unbelieving (Richard Lewontin, Jerry Coyne) show that the evidence for common descent and large scale evolutionary change is overwhelming, and the evidence is on their side, then it’s going to be hard to dismiss this as a gang of god-hating scientists making things up.

        The appropriate response is to recognise that maybe these people know what they’re talking about – particularly since the number of Christadelphians who are in a position to talk authoritatively about palaeontology, evolutionary biology and genomics is vanishingly small – and have the humility to recognise that the evidence is against a particular *interpretation* of scripture. Otherwise, we’re simply demonstrating that we’re fideists, and that’s a damning thing for any community to have to wear.

        Dismissing common descent isn’t an option, and if we make this the hill we’re going to die on, then we’re going to lose scientifically educated young people at a rate of knots. This isn’t mere assertion – I’m aware of a number who enter science, realise that the Christadelphian anti-evolution arguments are just the usual creationist talking points refuted a thousand times, and leave us because they believe that if we’re wrong on evolution, we’re also wrong on the Bible. The really frustrating fact here is to see that even the evangelical church is coming to terms to evolution in a more honest way than us. Ever since the Ralph Lovelock debacle, we’ve gone backwards to the point where we have people who not only dismiss evolution, but believe in a 6000 year old earth and flood geology.

        If you need more information, then I can recommend the following books which should be able to clear up any misunderstandings you have on evolution. They’re written by conservative Christians who are also professional scientists, so if you’re worried about finding any snide anti-God references, you should be find.

        • Miller K “Finding Darwin’s God”
        • Collins F and Giberson K “The Language of Science and Faith”
        • Fairbanks D “Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA”
        If you need to read something shorter, then this paper (freely available) shows why the evidence for common descent of humans and apes, and the impossibility of human diversity arising in 6000 years from a single pair is impossible to refute without recourse to hand-waving: enema D “Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes” http://www.asa3online.org/PSCF/2010/08/20/genesis-and-the-genome-genomics-evidence-for-human-ape-common-ancestry-and-ancestral-hominid-population-sizes/

        The BioLogos website (http://biologos.org/blog) and the American Scientific Affiliation (http://www.asa3.org/) come highly recommended, as they’re both conservative Christian organisations that respect both mainstream science and the Bible, and contain a wealth of material from qualified scholars and scientists. They’re miles aheads of anything we do, which is something I regard with dismay.

        Finally, as one of the people heavily involved in Berea, I’d suggest you drop by and see what we’re doing. If you need any help on this subject, I’m more than happy to help.

        Ken

        • Jim

          Hi Ken

          I am very sad to hear your words. You don’t mean it, but it comes across as if no matter what the Bible says, you put more faith in man. It is there that we differ…to me, “If they speak not according to this law, it is because there is no light in them”.

          My affiliations in this world or academic credentials are irrelevant, that was my point in my last post. All these institutions will pass away, so as I don’t want to go with them, I don’t seek to be a part of them. Simple! That was the point Paul makes in 1 Cor 1-2. We are in a Corinth environment now, and Paul said that the only thing he wanted to know was “Christ and him crucified”.

          Paul did come up against the theories of the then modern scientists. Look at Acts 17. He went into the middle of ancient Greece, where the work of Anaximander and others were debated. They believed ideas very similar to today’s evolution, and when you read his reply in Acts 17 with that in mind, it certainly is more powerful!

          The world by its wisdom is moving further away from God, not towards Him. If it was true that science expresses nature correctly, and nature is from God, then science would be moving closer to God. I am not saying all scientists are atheists, they are not. But if much of science and God were in harmony would we not see many publications coming out openly and saying how clear the evidence of God is? Nature is in harmony with God (I hope I didn’t say to the contrary) but we can’t say the same about a bulk of the scientific community.

          God will always be credible to every generation, because God is always at work…but we don’t have to sell ourselves (like many of the churches around us) to buy our presence in the future. Like Daniel’s 3 friends, we may not know if God will deliver us today…but we won’t budge from the rock that is our salvation.

          Yes, Christadelphians have said many doubt things, and spoken in ignorance at times. Me too! I am sorry for that, and the frustration that causes you and others. But we are human, and fallible…hence my reason for putting faith in the word of God and not in man.

          I appreciate you discussing this with me, because like you this concerns me greatly.

          God Bless
          J

  • Dave

    “So, lets stop beating each other up about things that don’t relate to our salvation”

    I object to the suggestion that this is not a salvation issue. On one hand it isn’t a matter of salvation, for you for example, because you already believe the Bible and have faith in it, in God, in Jesus and in the second coming. At the day of judgement, God is not going to expel you from an eternity of joy for not understanding our planet’s history correctly.

    However, and this is a big however, for many people this issue *is* an indirect salvation issue. Because whether we like it or not, people are abandoning their faith in droves (and yes, this includes a number of people within our own community) as a result of being unable to reconcile their faith with science, especially when bad science (e.g. YEC) is offered as the means of reconciliation. And anyone who has scoured the internet, blogs, discussion forums and YouTube will know that such bad science has become a laughing stock amongst unbelievers and has often proved to be the primary stumbling block to people in the western world becoming believers. So for them, this issue is a salvation issue, because botching the harmonisation of science with scripture is preventing them from ever coming to accept the gospel, thereby preventing them from having the hope of salvation.

    We ignore this issue at our peril. This is an issue that has to be discussed if we want to remain credible to the next generation of believers.

    • Ken Gilmore

      Exactly. Over the last few years, Christadelphian anti-evolutionary lectures have been targeted by defenders of mainstream science, and the less than flattering dissections of the error-ridden talks are on-line for all to see:

      * http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/05/an-open-letter-1.html
      * http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/2009/12/creation-watch-report-from-redditch.html
      *http://www.youngausskeptics.com/bbpress/topic/evolution-is-not-a-fact

      To say that these are PR disasters is perhaps the understatement of the century. Prominent Christadelphian speakers on evolution have had their credibility publicly shredded, and this shows why public lectures attacking evolution should be retired ASAP. The fact is that these indictments of our position on evolution are making us look like yet another fundamentalist anti-science sect, and that’s not a little embarrassing.

      • Adam Jones

        Hi Ken

        Please don’t be embarrassed by what the world thinks of us. The Lord Jesus Christ was not embarrassed by the mocking he recieved, and he did say the world would despise us because we follow him!

        If we are mocked for these little things wait for what is coming. And let this be an indication to us we are on the right track.

    • Jim

      Sorry Dave…

      I worded that point badly. I was referring to my point on Dinosaurs…there are some aspects like that where the actual origin, fate etc of them has been discussed and argued scientifically, with various theories as to what caused their extinction etc that we can discuss, but I would not argue dogmatically on with other Christadelphians because I think this is not an issue of salvation. I will have to wait for the Kingdom to see the big picture on that!

      However, aspects relating to scientific theories that impact our understanding of Rom 5 etc I find vitally linked to salvation, that is why I am saying that is a line I don’t believe can be crossed…I did not differentiate that very well.

      To say that Bro Thomas and Roberts had open minds to various scientific theories of their day is true, we should all do that. But, we could fill many more volumes of their writings (that would be a greater weight of evidence) on the doctrinal issues of the Atonement, in which they spoke very clearly to show that they would have rejected any theory that changed the fundamental principles of our faith, especially Rom 5v12

      God Bless
      J

  • Ken Gilmore

    Hi Jim

    I can’t help but notice that you haven’t answered the points raised that show the evidence for common descent, and the impossibility of the entire human race descending from two people 6-10 thousand years ago. This is sadly the problem I encountered back in 1999 when I started studying medicine, and ran into the hard evidence for human evolution. I asked for advice, and received nothing other than subtle implications of ecclesiastical peril if I continued asking these questions, or yet another iteration of the ‘science falsely so called’ argument from non-scientists who couldn’t tell a ribosome from a ribozyme. It strongly shouts that as a community we know the evidence for evolution is compelling, but can’t answer it. Needless to say, it’s not a position that engenders confidence in our community’s intellectual honesty.

    Jim, I’m afraid that citing Acts 17 does not take away the existence of shared endogenous retroviral inclusions, the fact that over 60% of the human genome is made up of decayed retroviral inclusions, mobile genetic elements that are essentially parasitic DNA chunks and broken genes, and that many of these genetic mistakes are shared by humans and apes. Furthermore, modern evolutionary theory shares nothing in common with Anaximander or even Lucretius. Acts 17 isn’t a cryptic refutation of population genetics, evolutionary developmental biology, phylogenetic systematics or horizontal gene transfer since they didn’t exist back then, and it’s anachronistic, as well as a category error to claim that it is. One could just as readily argue that Paul was refuting modern atomic theory and the heliocentric model because he would have been exposed to the ideas of Democritus and Aristarchus of Samos, respectively. Once again Jim, if you want to refute evolution, you’re going to have to show that special creation is a better explanation for the evidence, rather than cite Acts 17.

    Jim, you were the one who raised your three degrees, so it is relevant for me to know what they are. You could have easily stated that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” without the unnecessary mention of three degrees. The wisdom which is “foolishness with God” treated my wife’s breast cancer, diagnosed my son’s pelvic kidney and helped repair my daughter’s clef palate. The wisdom of the world allows me to treat people and make a difference to their lives. This wisdom of the world also shows me the evidence for common descent and large scale evolutionary change, and to be blunt, I’m inclined to trust solid, tangible evidence. If you can provide a more compelling explanation for multiple shared genetic errors than common ancestry – one that withstands scientific scrutiny – I would appreciate seeing it.

    I noted at the start of my reply that you have left unaddressed the evidence that shows universal Adamic descent is untenable (founder effects, pathogen load) as well as the evidence for common descent from shared identical genetic errors. It may help if I go into detail:

    Arguably the most powerful demonstration of common descent is the fact that related species have identical endogenous retroviral inclusions (evidence of previous retroviral infection embedded in the germline) in the same position in their genomes. One of the foremost authorities on virology – John Coffin – notes that:

    “Because the site of integration in the genome, which comprises some three billion base pairs in humans, is essentially random, the presence of an ancient provirus at exactly the same position in different, but related, species cannot occur by chance, but must be a consequence of integration into the DNA of a common ancestor of all the species that contain it. It evolution of retroviruses follows, therefore, that we can infer what viruses were present millions of years ago by examining the distribution of endogenous proviruses in modern species. “

    No creationist I have spoken to has ever been able to answer why we have remnants of the same retroviral infection in the same places in the genomes of humans and apes. The odds of humans and apes being infected by the same retrovirus at the same place in their genomes purely by chance is remote, and when you factor in the existence of multiple ERV infections at the same place, chance becomes untenable as an explanation:

    “Therefore, an ERV locus shared by two or more species is descended from a single integration event and is proof that the species share a common ancestor into whose germ line the original integration took place. Furthermore, integrated proviruses are extremely stable: there is no mechanism for removing proviruses precisely from the genome, without leaving behind a solo LTR or deleting chromosomal DNA. The distribution of an ERV among related species also reflects the age of the provirus: older loci are found among widely divergent species, whereas younger proviruses are limited to more closely related species. “

    Believe me, there’s more where that came from. It is impossible to look at the human genome honestly, and not come away accepting the reality of common descent. If you can provide a creationist explanation for the multiple shared genetic errors that withstands scrutiny, I would appreciate hearing it.

    No one is asking you to accept evolution, Jim. What I am asking is for you not to make it a fellowship issue, anymore than you should make any area of science a fellowship issue. We risk driving away scientifically literate young people if we make rejection of the fact of common descent a litmus test for orthodoxy. It would also be nice not to see embarrassing Christadelphian lectures on evolution delivered by people who know nothing about what they’re criticising – this reflects badly on us and serves to tar the cause of Christ by association with something as intellectually bankrupt as special creation. Evolution is not your enemy, Jim. Atheism is. Don’t conflate both.

    Ken

    References

    1. Coffin JM “Evolution of Retroviruses: Fossils in our DNA” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (2004) 148:3, 264-280.
    2. Johnson WE Coffin JM Constructing primate phylogenies from ancient retrovirus sequences PNAS (1999) 96:10254-10260

    • Jim

      Hi Ken
      Thanks for your reply.
      In my answer I did not address all of your thoughts because of two reasons. Firstly, I am not trained to anywhere near your level of expertise or knowledge in your field (or at all :) ), and so will not try to refute something out of my depth. I respect your points, I have studied aspects of genetics, and found it more than challenging, and nowhere near your level here.
      Secondly, I will say unashamedly that I will put my faith in the Bible and will interpret everything in this world through its wisdom…whether that be politics, society or even science. If I can’t harmonise anything with the Bible, I believe it has to be rejected. And as I can’t harmonise it, nor found anyone (even Christadelphian) who can, without doing serious surgery to our first principles, I reject a lot of it. As with Daniel’s 3 friends, I will put my trust in God and no matter what I can or can’t do against a situation, I will stand, no matter the pressure.

      I believe in aspects of evolution but many of the major conclusions I feel go against the simple facts of the Bible and make us try to twist and contort scripture to the point that we strain at a bug to swallow a camel!

      God made out of the dust of the ground, animals and mankind. But what does this mean scientifically? As we have no way of measuring or detecting what this really means from a biological, chemical or physical perspective, there is a large gap in our knowledge that means we have to be careful how we look at our observations, because we can’t see everything. If both animals and man are made out of the same substance, and the same creator used the same basic principles in their replication systems (“who’se seed is in itself”), then of course there are going to be similarities – comparative anatomy, homology and genetic information. That’s what we should expect to see. So why do we go off saying that the only conclusion is common descent when a simple fact like Genesis gives us reason to expect such a link is actually a common creator from common material? To me (yes, as frustrating as that would be to you) I am happy to say that this point explains much of what science has found without the conclusion of common descent.

      This is why I piped into your post and quoted Isa 45v7. This evil of pestilence etc that God has used in the past in sending it on man, again how can we measure and quantify scientifically. We can’t, so much of what we see, could be explained elsewhere…God may have so many more realms and laws that He has/can use…do we know them?

      I believe that Common descent does not explain morality, death, marriage or that God created in “Kinds” (to my level of satisfaction and harmony). It may be different for you, but these are road blocks that I have not seen explained without throwing the Bible out the door…which is wrong to do!

      I am sorry I mentioned my degrees, but I only did so in response to you mentioning your qualifications as support for why I should reinterpret my scriptural position. My point was to show that qualifications are irrelevant to scripture as God sees the wisest of men as foolish compared to His knowledge. If we were really concerned with credentials, then the only brethren who would be giving our exhorts, lectures and Bible Classes would be teachers.

      I appreciate science deeply. Please don’t think that anyone who questions it must prefer to live in the dark ages. Like you my family is blessed because of what man has found. My wife has had two brain tumours removed and radiation to try and stop it’s regrowth, so I am a great advocate. Her daily medication keeps her strong. But even those great doctors told me that they don’t have all the answers, and they can only go on what they know.

      However, our faith and belief in God is first and foremost. Everything must be seen through God’s eyes. I have been challenged many times as being a fraud (scientifically) because I believe in miracles, and “science has proved miracles don’t exist”. I am happy to say that science can disprove the resurrection from the dead all it likes, but if the Bible says it happened, it did! And to do surgery to that verse in the Bible so that I can be more credible to the world is denying God!

      People say how wrong it is that God would deceive us by making the world look old etc.I agree. But, this point is also true for common descent. Why would God be so deceiving to write the record in Genesis the way he did (eg “kinds”) and why would Moses and Jesus and Paul all referred to them so factually if the reality is so different? Deceitful in the same way!

      I hate making anything an issue of fellowship…but as the Israel of old make idols based from the works of their hands, so I fear that if we continue to worship the god of man’s intellect and make God’s creation to sound more like random processes over time (with God checking up on the production line only occasionally), we slowly could become more like those who carved out their own version of God to worship, and it is here that it troubles me if we were to go in that direction.

      I wish we could chat in person, as I don’t like this online stuff…but (I am really sorry) but I don’t know where you are referring to as to where you are?

      Anyway, sorry for taking your time.
      God Bless
      J

      • Ken Gilmore

        Hi Jim

        Thanks both for your reply, and the tone in which it is written. Believe me, I am not making a public stand on evolution because I like controversy or publicity. I do so because the evidence that large-scale evolutionary change has occurred is overwhelming, and it is futile to pretend otherwise. Furthermore, any theological argument that is based on the universal, literal descent of every single human being alive today from two people who lived 6000 years ago is based on an impossibility. People do leave the brotherhood because they are incapable of reconciling the evidence for evolution which their scientific training shows them to be true, with the dogmatic assertions of those unfamiliar with the sheer weight of evidence in favour of evolution. By forcing people to make this choice, not only are we reinforcing the stereotype of Christianity and the life of the mind being mutually exclusive, we’re also causing these little ones to offend.

        Jim, I do know my human molecular genetics, comparative anatomy and embryology, so I’d like to think you’d give me the benefit of the doubt when I tell you that common design doesn’t explain:

        * Shared sub-optimal design flaws such as the vertebrate retina, and the paths of several nerves, most famously the recurrent laryngeal nerve.
        * Shared genetic errors in humans and apes. We’re talking about broken genes, parasitic DNA elements that are linked with disease and remnants of ancient viral infections that are in exactly the same place in the genomes of humans and apes.
        * The amazing consonance between evolutionary family trees constructed with molecular and morphological data
        * Human chromosome 2, which is a fusion of two chromosomes homologous with ape chromosomes.

        Put simply, we’re talking about truck-loads of shared genetic errors, which in themselves contain further shared errors – none of which can be ascribed to design. There are only three options:

        * These shared genetic errors occurred in a common ancestor of humans and apes, which were inherited by the descendant species
        * These multiple genetic errors purely by chance inserted in exactly the same place – the odds of this happening are astronomically remote.
        * God has deliberately created multiple genomes with shared genetic errors in such a way as to simulate common descent.

        The last option is theologically repugnant – it makes God out to be deliberately deceptive, and as one Christadelphian once, said, God is not the author of a lie, not even a white one.

        I appreciate that unbelievers often deride us for believing in miracles, and creationists in our midst have argued that if we believe in miracles, then we should also believe in special creation. The difference here is that I don’t have a sample of the wine from Cana, or the bread and fish that were multiplied to feed the 5000. However, we do have:

        * The biogeographical distribution of species both now, and through the fossil record.
        * Comparative anatomical data
        * Truckloads of transitional fossils detailing large-scale evolutionary change.
        * Embryological evidence that readily supports common descent and evolutionary change (such as baleen whales that develop teeth buds, only to lose them, not to mention broken genes for teeth they never have)
        * Atavisms such as flightless beetles with fused outer wings, and inner wings that are never used, or blind moles with degenerate eyes, or manatees with no toes but toenails.
        * Molecular biological data which makes common descent, as opposed to common design the only credible explanation.

        and these disparate lines of evidence independently converge on the reality of common descent. I’m not saying this to convince you. I’m pointing this out because I’ve gone from YEC to evolutionary creationist – a path I never thought I would take, because when I examined the evidence, I was doing so in order to disprove evolution. I prize intellectual honesty highly, and I cannot dismiss the evidence for common descent just from my own discipline of medicine, let alone elsewhere, because that evidence is clear, unambiguous and impossible to refute honestly.

        I’ll leave it here. If you want to contact me further, then you can get me via the Berea forum, the address of which is in the original post. (I’m in Queensland, if you need to know where I am in the world.)

        YIC
        Ken G.

  • Jim

    Hi Ken

    Thanks for your points, and I trust the sincerity of your knowledge and journey. Personally, I can’t change in my mind that there is a line that I should never cross…that line is the simplicity of God’s word. If I am wrong, I will pray that God will see my desire to defend His word. But I don’t believe I am, so I will continue to stand regardless of what man proves or disproves about God’s creation. In the end, its Christ crucified, or nothing.

    I honestly believe that there is so much that we can’t see, that if we did, would help us explain the difficulties we face, but maybe that is the test God is giving us in the last days, to see who we put out trust in.

    The Berea forum…sorry, didn’t know about that until I looked. Interesting name, they were more noble because they didn’t take anyone’s words as Gospel (even the Apostle’s) unless they first proved it in the Bible :)

    Would love to catch up one day, fellowship is such a blessing, and one we should value. Thanks for the chat.

    God Bless
    J

    • Warren

      Hi Jim,

      I just want to comment briefly on “the simplicity of God’s Word” statement above. I must disagree with this. I believe God’s Word is very complex. It says in 2 Peter 3:16, says that Paul writes things that are hard to understand.

      Doctrines we hold dear in Scripture are researched via Greek and Hebrew Words (sometimes we say.. oh the translators translated this wrong etc).. and we change the meaning to suit. Others we use external evidence for understanding of the day (eg. devil, demons, hell etc) to help us translate and understand.

      Many doctrines like the atonement have a huge amount of verses that if we want to go into that detail, there is much research over many years to understand.

      Some verses are symbolic, others literal and others metaphors,some parables, and more, we can’t just read it on face value, we need to research it, there is much complexity and lost information.

      Proverbs 25:2 says.. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings”.

      So overall, to say the Bible is simple, is not really true from my observation.

  • Ken Gilmore

    Hi Adam,

    I’m not embarrassed because the world regards the cause of Christ with disdain. That’s not the point. I’m embarrassed and angry when demonstrably false claims on evolution are made in public such as:

    * Evolution is still a bone of contention in the scientific community
    * There are no transitional fossils

    Both of these are flat-out wrong, and if any scientifically literate person attends lectures where claims such as these are made, this person will justifiably conclude that we are somewhat parsimonious with the truth, and be somewhat reluctant to listen to what we have to say about Christ.

    To say that claims such as those mentioned above this reflect poorly on our integrity and honesty as a Christian sect is an understatement. As Peter noted:

    “If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval” (1 Peter 2:20)

    I fully expect to endure opposition from the world for what I believe, and know that if I remain true to my faith, I will receive God’s approval. However, there’s no virtue in being persecuted for repeatedly making long-refuted claims about evolution that could be corrected simply by picking up an undergraduate text on evolutionary biology. In this case, the opposition that comes from the world is quite justified.

    Put simply, it would be far better for us to refrain from preaching against evolution than to keep on making the same old creationist arguments that were dated decades ago.

    Ken

  • Roger Evans

    Hi Ken, and others on this website- which I came across by chance on google
    I personally trained as a geologist (ended up with a MSc for what its worth) and was brought up on the creationist dogma that is virtually an unwritten codicil to the Statement of Faith, and have never been able to reconcile the two. You cannot have two truths that are mutually exclusive, if God is true, and His scripture is true, and the record of His creation revealed by science is true, then Science and scripture must agree. But the proofs of Science and a litereal reading of genesis, do not agree. So do I reject science- which is a system of checked and cross checked proofs- and call God a liar or a deceiver, or do I reject the Faith and call God a liar for telling a false story in Genesis?
    This is perhaps the dilemma that many face.
    I was long sceptical of evolution, but I agree Ken, that the proofs are growingly compelling for Common Descent, only wish I had a better grounding in basic biogenetics. Likewise looking at astronomy the evidence is compelling for a very old age for the universe. As for Geology, well the collective evidence from the various subdisciplines gives a coherent and conclusive picture of a globe that has been in continual development by natural processes over millions of years. With no evidence of a global Flood or of a mass extinction and recreation six thousand years ago.
    I appreciate the discussion I have come across here, and also on Ecclesia Discuss. We simply cannot as a body continue to hold out against change. We are advanced enough to accept GAlilean astronimy (of “worldly” origin),recognise that the Earth is not flat with a solid dome, and to read OT references to a flat earth allegorically. We are advanced enough to accept that disease and mental illness are just that(again “worldly” discoveries not Divine revelation) and are not proofs of demon possession, and to read NT references to exorcism allegorically. Why have we shot ourselves in the foot by failing to take the next step, accept Scientific proof,and accept that older parts of Scripture are allegorical, written in terms of the understandings of the time, but that what does not change tbrough all of it is the immutability of Divine purpose with mankind?
    Sorry for the long post but just trying to offload a couple of frustrations. Thanks for listening
    Roger Evans, Auckland, NZ

  • Jim

    Hi Roger,
    The issue that many in our community are facing is in the “chain of custody” you mentioned. God is true. Yes! Scripture is true. Yes! Nature is true. Yes! But the record of creation that MAN is suggesting is as fallible as his own nature, because science is man’s interpretation of the evidence.

    Just look at the most recent scientific breakthrough. The discovery that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light…let me quote from what people are saying about this…
    “Last night it emerged that the man (Einstein) who laid the foundations for the laws of nature may have been wrong. The science world was left in shock when workers at the world’s largest physics lab announced they had recorded subatomic particles travelling faster than the speed of light. If the findings are proven to be accurate, they would overturn one of the pillars of the Standard Model of physics, which explains the way the universe and everything within it works…”
    (27/9/11)

    Now this proves very clearly that the hard evidence in front of us may have another explanation, because man (science) does not know everything! And if such a finding is able to overturn LAWS of science, and make an entire field rethink, then how much more proof do we need to be convinced of what Paul said in 1 Cor 1v23-31!

    If God said He created like He records in Genesis 1 then to say any different is to deprive Him of His glory (Isa 42v8). People say it is deceitful of God to put into creation “white lies”. Totally agree. But in the same way it is deceitful of God to express his creative work in Genesis if in reality it did not really happen that way!

    God proves that He is a real and living God to the world through the reality of His great acts. Primarily these are Creation (Isa 40v, Jer 10v12-12, Rev 10v6), bringing Israel out of Egypt and raising Jesus from the grave (Gal 1v1). These testimonials must all be literal facts, understood as scripture records them. However impossible or untenable to the world these facts are, they must stand as true because they attest to the very existence of God Himself. If they are not real, then God is not. They are the pillars of His authenticity.

    As Warren said there are many things that are hard to be understood…but the pillars of God’s authenticity are clear facts of scripture that all can take strong faith from.

    I believe and see God in much that science has discovered. I believe in many aspects of evolution and the evidence cited. However, I sift out my conclusions to the evidence in science by the word of God. This is first and foremost. Anything that does not speak according to it must be rejected! Eg. Science will tell you it has proven that miracles don’t happen…that virgins can’t conceive, that people can’t rise from the dead. But if the Bible says God can do anything that I believe! No matter how credible I may seem to others or their intellectual honesty.

    In the end Roger it is a matter of which God do we want to serve? The God of heaven and earth who created all things, or the god of man’s intellect? My answer? Josh 24v15!

    • Ken Gilmore

      Hi Jim,

      One thing Christadelphian laypeople need to remember when commenting on subjects such as the faster than light neutrino results from the LHC is that they are commenting as non-experts on complex findings reported in the popular media. There’s plenty of scope to make errors here if you’re not an expert. One respected expert in neutrino physics is Victor Stenger, who puts the results into context. Stenger notes that the experiment was well-conducted:

      “As someone who worked in neutrino physics for thirty years before retiring from research in 2000, I should be more excited than most by the report from CERN that neutrinos have been observed moving faster than light. And I am. The experiment looks very well done and the scientists involved are saying all the right things — that their result is very preliminary and must be independently replicated before accepting it as scientific fact. If the observation is confirmed, it may be the most important discovery in science in the last 100 years”

      However, one is entitled to ask how this discovery can be reconciled with other neutrino data obtained from the 1987 Magellanic Cloud supernova:

      “However, a big fly in the ointment is the supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which sits just outside our galaxy 168,000 light-years from Earth. It was first seen by the naked eye on February 24, 1987. Three hours before the visible light reached Earth, a handful of neutrinos were detected in three independent underground detectors. If the CERN result is correct, they should have arrived in 1982. So, if I were a wagering man, I would bet the effect will go away because of some systematic error no one has yet been able to think of.”

      The upshot of this?

      “So, if confirmed, the reported result from CERN or any future observation of superluminal motion will not lead to the overthrow of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Its significance will be to overthrow the distinction between cause and effect. At the worst, Einstein might be faulted for taking causality a little too seriously.”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/no-cause-to-dispute-einst_b_982429.html

      For the neutrino experiment, we can substitute any report in the media which is commonly used to disparage the “shifting sands of science” and then privilege a particular reading of scripture as immune from any scientific data we fear.

      It’s therefore perilously easy for Christadelphians who have already concluded that common descent must be wrong based on their *interpretation* of the Bible (which is *not* necessarily the same thing as what the author meant when he wrote it) to latch onto these popular media reports of scientific discoveries that claim a “revolution in science” and implicitly claim that science is unreliable. In so doing, they’re confusing the epistemological bases of science and religion. If we approached science in the same way as religion (ie: promulgating revealed truth from a text) then we’d be stuck in the past venerating Galen and Aristotle. The fact that scientific theories are tentative, always subject to revision when the evidence change is science’s greatest strength.

      Furthermore, one needs to remember that the data from the neutrino experiment does not alter the fact that we have (for example) fossil evidence of large-scale evolutionary change – transitional fossils in other words – which has never been convincingly explained in any way other than evolution. That includes us – the fossil evidence for human evidence is pretty compelling.

      Likewise the evidence from molecular biology which not only shows beyond reasonable doubt that it is impossible for Adam to be the literal ancestor of every man alive, as well as showing that humans and apes share a common evolutionary ancestor. This data is solid, and simply has no credible creationist interpretation. Quoting Bible verses does not take away the fact that apes and humans have multiple identical shared retroviral inclusions in their genomes which are consistent with a viral infection in a common ancestor that was inherited by the lines leading to man and ape. If you have a creationist explanation for the evidence that passes scientific peer review, I would appreciate hearing it, otherwise (and I speak as a medical doctor who is very familiar with human molecular genetics) it is not unreasonable to assume that when the overwhelming majority of molecular biologists and genomics experts both religious and atheist agree that the data support common descent, we should be listening seriously, and altering our *interpretation* of the Bible accordingly.

      Jim, jut as science is man’s reading of the book of nature, so is theology man’s reading of the Bible. It is entirely possible that fallible man (including Christadelphians) can make a mistake in reading the Bible. As one early Christadelphian noted:

      NATURE makes no false impressions, and just so the Bible.”

      The inconsistency spoken of between nature and scripture, arises not from antagonism, but from the misinterpretations of both.

      It is man’s interpretation of the one set against man’s interpretations of the other. It is not nature versus scripture, but false science against true theology, or false theology against scientific fact.

      Some scientific men, we believe, view the Scriptures through the distorted medium of “confessions of faith” and doubt them, and theologians view science and call it false, because it does not take to their turnpike road. – WDJ, ‘The Bible as a Law of Life and Immortality’, The Ambassador of the Coming Age, (1.1.93), 1864

      What the evidence from areas as disparate as comparative anatomy, palaeontology, molecular biology and biogeography show is that evolution has occurred, and we are the product of a long evolutionary process. Claiming it never happened isn’t feasible any longer, and we risk alienating not only potential converts but a scientifically literate generation of believers if we continue to do this.

      Ken

  • Jim

    Hi Ken,

    We chat again :)

    Still does not change the facts that in a moment science could do a U turn!

    That’s the message of the Bible…Psa 146;

    “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and ALL THAT THEREIN IS: which keepeth truth for ever”.

    If I am an ignorant “layman”, then so be it. My faith is in God and what He says. I find 1 Cor 1 very comforting when you say that.

    Yes, we can interpret wrong…but not when we let the Bible speak…when we don’t try to interpret it through man’s transient findings…when we don’t rip out the seedbed of the Bible on evidence that is only one very small piece of what God knows and has done.

    Like in John’s epistle, there were some in the Ecclesia then who claimed a special and higher knowledge, they began to question the reality of Christ coming in the flesh, and of his resurrection…maybe because Gnostics proved that people can’t rise from the dead…sorry, that was facetious of me :)

    But John exhorted them to be confident in the message they had heard from the beginning, and the reality of the truths they held.

    God Bless
    J

    • Ken Gilmore

      Hi Jim

      Work pressures have kept me from replying earlier, so apologies for the late reply.

      I am worried that you don’t appreciate the weight of evidence (not opinion mind you) in favour of common descent or against universal human descent from Adam and Eve. The Bible is not authoritative on matters of science (as evidenced by its references to geocentrism and a solid firmament) so you gain nothing by quoting it in order to dismiss solid evidence such as:

      * Fossil evidence of anatomically modern human beings dating back as far as 195,000 years ago
      * Fossil evidence of hominids that are clearly transitional
      * Multiple shared identical endogenous retroviral inclusions and multiple shared identical pseudogenes at identical places in the genomes of humans and great apes
      * The fact that human chromosome 2 is a fusion of two chromosomes homologous to ape chromosomes, complete with decayed telomeric and centromeric remnants in the chromosome
      * The presence of a decayed, non-functional gene remnant for vitellogenin, one of the proteins found in egg yolk at the same place in the genome as found in egg laying vertebrates.
      * The fact that there is too much genomic diversity in our genome to have arisen from two people living 6-10 thousand years ago. Such a sharp genetic bottleneck is not supported by the genomic data.

      Again, this is not supposition, but hard fossil and genomic data that isn’t going to go away just because it threatens a literal reading of Genesis. Therefore, when you said:

      “Still does not change the facts that in a moment science could do a U turn!”

      you were unfortunately incorrect. At the risk of some simplification, there is a difference between facts and theories in science.

      Although we have yet to obtain a quantum theory of gravity (general relativity has yet to be harmonised with quantum physics), it does not mean that objects don’t fall to the ground or planets do not orbit the sun. Likewise, although we don’t have a complete theory of evolution (the modern synthetic theory most likely needs revision), this does not mean that common descent and large-scale evolutionary change did not occur. It did – we have the fossil and genomic data that prove this beyond doubt.

      Our community’s refusal to admit the weight of this evidence and retreat into fideism is disturbing. Not only does it make us look like obscurantists, but it places those of us like myself who are quite familiar with the weight of this evidence by virtue of their professional background in a difficult position. For example. any ecclesia that makes a scientific fact a doctrine to be rejected is in effect telling such believers that what they know as a fact by dint of their study and daily work not only is incorrect (despite the fact that those making such assertions are often scientifically naive) but is in fact prohibited! In essence, we’re telling such believers to check their brains in at the ecclesial door each Sunday. That’s unacceptable.

      Another way to point out the problems I have with this science denialism that is endemic in our community is to ask you how you would react to a believer who came to you claiming that the earth was flat, and to believe in a spherical earth was to place inspiration of the Bible at risk. This isn’t an artificial example – a believer in the early 20th century argued along these lines, and CC Walker, the editor of the CMag at the time used science, reason and logic to correct this brother.

      Apologies for the length of the reply, but this issue is too important to simply brush away with a simple privileging of a literal reading of the Bible. Scientifically literate believers like myself who are confronted with the evidence for common descent in our professional life are simply not getting any credible answers from our community. This can’t be allowed to continue if we want to avoid a crisis of faith among those who are forced to choose between hard evidence and a literal interpretation of a few Bible verses.

      YIC

      Ken.

      References

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      2. Suwa, G et al; Asfaw, B.; Kono, R. T.; Kubo, D.; Lovejoy, C. O.; White, T. D. (2 October 2009). “The Ardipithecus ramidus skull and its implications for hominid origins”. Science 326 (5949): 68, 68e1–68e7.
      3. William H. Kimbel, Yoel Rak and Donald C. Johanson “The Skull of Australopithecus afarensis” (OUP 2004)
      4. Berger, L. R et al “Australopithecus sediba: a new species of Homo-like australopith from South Africa”. Science (2010) 328 (5975): 195–204.
      5. Johnson WE Coffin JM Constructing primate phylogenies from ancient retrovirus sequences PNAS (1999) 96:10254-10260
      6. Lebedev, YB et al (2000) “Differences in HERV-K LTR insertions in orthologous loci of humans and great apes.” Gene 247: 265-277
      7. Fairbanks DJ, Maughan PJ “Evolution of the NANOG pseudogene family in the human and chimpanzee genomes” BMC Evolutionary Biology 2006, 6:12
      8. Yunis JJ and Prakash O (1982). “The origin of man: a chromosomal pictorial legacy”. Science 215 (4539): 1525–1530
      9. Avarello et al. (1992). “Evidence for an ancestral alphoid domain on the long arm of human chromosome 2″. Human Genetics 89 (2): 247–9
      10. Ijdo et al. (1991). “Origin of human chromosome 2: an ancestral telomere-telomere fusion”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 88 (20): 9051–5.
      11. D. Brawand,W. Wali, and H. Kaessmann, “Loss of Egg Yolk Genes in Mammals and the Origin of Lactation and Placentation,” PLoS Biology 6 (2006): 0507–17.
      12. W. Li and L. A. Sadler, “Low Nucleotide
      Diversity in Man,” Genetics 129 (1991): 513–23
      13. F. C. Chen and W. H. Li, “Genomic Divergences between Humans and Other Hominoids and the Effective Population Size of the Common Ancestor of Humans and Chimpanzees,” American Journal of Human Genetics 68 (2001):444–56
      14. Li, H. and R. Durbin. 2011. Inference of human population history from individual whole-genome sequences. Nature 475:493-497.
      15. Gregory TR “Evolution as fact, theory and path” Evo Edu Outreach (2008) 1:46–52. I would strongly recommend the interested layperson read this if only to disabuse themselves of any misconceptions they have on evolution and the scientific method.
      16. Fideism asserts that faith is independent of reason, or that faith is in opposition to reason.
      17. See http://berea-portal.com/forums/index.php?s=f208e8adc86079e04d320f032aff28cf&showtopic=983

  • Roger Evans

    Hi Ken and Jim
    Yes I am familiar with scientific process. It is not a collusion to deceive, but a system of discovery constrained by checks and rechecks. Any deceivers are soon weeded out. Over the years a huge body of evidence has been built up from different fields of research, indicating a great age for the earth and universe, and prolonged and progressive development of geology and of life on earth; and all of these fields of study are in collective consensus. For a long time I have tried to reconcile this with the Biblical account of special creation, but recent discoveries in genomics (as you have pointed out Ken) are very convincing proof of evolution.
    So how do we read Scripture and reconcile it with these facts?
    If we take Scripture literally we have to believe in a firmament that separates the waters above from the waters beneath. NO modern comprehension of atmospherics shows any such dividing barrier. Yet if we go to ancient cosmology, we understand that the ancients believed that the earth was flat, over which heaven was a solid dome (Hebrew, raqia)that separated the waters beneath (sea and clouds) from waters beyond; and that the sun moon and stars moved along the inner surface of this dome. Genesis speaks in these terms. When we read Genesis today though, we actually read it in the light of modern heliocentric astronomy, and fail to read it literally as the writer of Genesis wrote it. Strictly speaking, we are failing to read Scripture as it is written. We perform the same acrobatics when we come to Joshuas account of the sun standing still- to them, a simple matter of stopping the sun in its traverse across the celestial dome; to us, with our knowledge of earths sphericity and rate of rotation, an impossibility that if taken literally would see the earth stopping dead in its tracks and flinging everything off tangentially into space. So we read it figuratively, and are happy to do so. When we come to the NT, we see Christ casting out demons, in those days believed to be real. But in terms of modern medical understanding we read them as figurative, and say that Christ was speaking figuratively. Who said he was? Certainly not Scripture, which has Jesus literally ordering demons around. WE put thoughts into his mind when we infer that he understood otherwise. Why is it then, when we are willing to read parts of Scripture figuratively in the light of modern scientific and medical discovery, we are unwilling to extend the same premise when faced with other modern proofs of science?
    Yes I want to serve God. I want to serve the God who made earth and heaven and everything in it, and made them to run and operate by set physical laws. So when science investigates and discovers proof of those lawa and of their past operation, science is discovering the working of God. Who am I to call God a liar by rejecting His word written in His physical creation?
    I believe that in Genesis God was explaining Creation in terms of what people understood,confirming thus that God is all powerful. Likewise Christ showed that God is all powerful in terms of what people then understood i.e. demonology. For God to have told Israel that the earth was a sphere revolving in immense space with stars light years away would have been millennia beyond their comprehension. For Christ to have lectured people on mental disease when they believed in demons and still thought that the soul was in the heart not the mind, would have alienated rather than convinced. In much the same way, for us to preach superseded concepts of science as Divine truth when research has conclusively and repeatedly proven otherwise, discredits God and makes Him risible in the eyes of unbelievers.
    The purpose of Scripture, I believe, was and is to teach that God is creator of everything, powerful above everything, requires our worship and obedience, and is the source of our salvation. These lessons are taught through Biblical history in the changing framework of the understanding of the time. Throughout the centuries our understanding of the physical creation advances, but the divine principles of salvation remain unchanged. God is constant, Mankinds comprehension is evolving. If we dont evolve in our comprehension as truth is progressively revealed, then we must go the way of the dinosaurs.

  • Roger Evans

    -oops, “not in the heart but the mind” should have been “not in the heart but the head”

  • Roger Evans

    A further thought… The Jews of Jesus’time had a pretty fixed view on what Scripture said. So when Jesus came along, with a Gospel that would go beyond a strict adherence to the Law, they could not adapt. Instead they resisted the newly revealed truths, and clung to old established values, and in doing so completely missed the point, that God’s revelation to man is progressive, evolutionary if you like. There is a huge contrast between the polygamous tribalism of the patriarchs, the monogamous and warlike period of nationalism under the Law (when God commanded slaughter and genocide) and the subsequent pacifist and civilised gospel under Christ. A completely contrasting succession of behaviours for God’s people as human development progresssed from tribalism to warring nations to civilisation, yet the same theological truths hold throughout: such as “thou shalt not kill” which runs from Abel to Moses to Christ.
    The Jews refused to change, rejecting Christ, and were left behind in the wake of the Gospel.
    Do we also willingly risk obsolescence simply because, like the Jews, we refuse to question our comprehension of Scripture in the light of increasing proof of God’s handiwork that overturns our former understandings?

  • Jim

    Hi Roger,
    Science’s discoveries were a major reason I was baptised! In high school biology, I was just so astounded at the complexity and function of even just the eye. It made me realise there must be a creator! I could not understand how people could claim the origin of this was a slow trial and error like process…then I read Prov 20v12. It can only be made by God!

    I went onto do B App Sci in Orthoptics…then later my Masters in Science as it is something that I really love. But my first faith is and must be in God, and His word.

    God proves that He is REAL/LITERAL by Creation, taking Israel from Egypt and Jesus’ resurrection. Notice that each of these involves a “miracle”, what science would say is impossible? Eg parting of Red Sea…crossing on dry land…resurrection. All proven scientifically to be impossible!

    But, God can do anything! So that’s why I have no problem with the miracle of Joshua’s time. To say that it can’t be literal because the earth would spin off etc (which is true under normal physics) is to make a fundamental mistake and confine/bind God by the very laws He created! Reading Isa 40v22 & 57v15 shows us God is outside even eternity!
    If He created the laws of physics, can’t He hold them back for a time? If He made us mortal by His judgement on sin, can He not change that and make us immortal? I hope so!!

    When we read John1, Prov 8 and Col 1 we see that God’s creation was the result of His wisdom, blueprint and design. Something that is even a part of God Himself. It has been with Him “before His works of old”, and was the very motive force behind creation…”All things were made through it, and without it was not any thing made that was made”!

    In Genesis we see this precise, structured and purpose-full creation. What God did had been carefully planned for eternity! So He said it, and it was done!

    He could have created everything in a second, or over billions of years. But His plan and wisdom underpinned everything that He did…because God does everything for a reason. It was vital He create in 7 days…not 6, not 8! Why? On this creation He would pin His authenticity, His fundamental principles and template for His works. Eg. The sun had to come on the 4th day, because in the 4th millennium of His purpose Christ, the “sun of Righteousness” would come! But light had to come of the 1st day because of 1 Pet 1v20, 2 Tim 1v9-10 and John 17v5.

    Adam had to be the first man, a special creation of God (so “son of God” Luke 3) because so too the 2nd Adam, the paralleled federal head, Christ (Rom 5, 1 Cor 15) was going to be a special creation, “the son of God”, “made strong for Himself”. Everything done because of its purpose!

    Adam had to be created first, then Eve later, because Christ was the “firstborn” out of the grave and the Ecclesia would come out of his side later. All of these vital, powerful principles all hang on Genesis and the literal foundation to the world God created. God created the entire world, framed around this focus (Heb 1). This was the wisdom and plan that drove creation, and why God did what He did…and why it is so important for it to happen the way He says!

    Paul demonstrates in Hebrews that the proof Christ’s priesthood is greater than Aaron’s is because Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham (his federal head). Now if Abraham’s life is just “figurative”, then the reality of this fact is destroyed, and so the point he is making. So too with Christ and Adam! God designed the events of Abraham to build His principles on. So too creation.

    So when you read Genesis 1-3, if that is just figurative, the entire seedbed of the Bible is “pulled out”. If the beginning and how sin entered the world is figurative, then so too we could question the “end” and how Christ took us back to the tree of life.

    So does this help us answer the wealth of evidence science has found? Depends. In truth, I can’t explain it away scientifically. But I can only say that, for me, I will hold to God’s word first, and anything that calls into question fundamental truths, I will trust that God is always right. In my heart I believe that even what science has found is only a very small picture of the laws and knowledge of God and we don’t have the entire picture, also that God is outside those laws and not bound by them…and at any moment, science could do a U turn! So I am not willing to rip out Gen 1-3 on the sake of their word.

    The firm foundation is Christ’s words and any house built on that foundation will last. As Christ believed Adam was the beginning, and the principles of God established in their literal reality were true, that is good enough for me.

    I hope that Christ will come soon and answer our concerns. Thanks for chatting with me in the right spirit. Sorry this is the longest response!

    God Bless
    J

  • Roger Evans

    Hi Jim
    I completely agree, God can do anything, and miracles are not impossible. We believe the ascension of Christ because of Scriptural testimony. It is entirely beyond science to confirm or deny, because those events have left no physical impact on the natural world- at least none that has yet been discerned.

    More major events might have impact though. Scripture records the miraculous parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of a whole army complete with chariots at its resumption. We might therefore expect to find the remnants of the chariots in the sea floor, or traces of passing left by a large body of people wandering for forty plus years in a desert. So far I am not aware that any have been found. Lack of evidence does not of course either prove or disprove the case, but if any remnant evidences are found they will support the testimony of Scripture.

    Creaion is a different matter entirely. If the world was indeed created in seven literal days, from nothing, we would expect to see this in the physical record of the earth, which witnesses to how God did things as He is the one that made it. However instead, we find a physical record, confirmed by radiomentric dating, of millons of years of natural earth processes and of biological progression, recorded in the rocks of the planet. Thus a literal reading of God’s Scripture is contradicted by a careful reading of the physical record of God’s work. The collective consensus from numerous overlapping fields of science is compelling.

    The miracle of Joshua? It would constitute a totally major intervention to stop the earth dead for several hours then set it going again, with no physical consequences, and no remaining physical evidences. Not impossible with God, but a huge intervention to facilitate one small battle. Do we have to read the verse literally? Is it possible that God somehow deflected the rays of the sun to make it appear to stand still? Or did he change their perception of time so the day appeared long? The purpose of the miracle was to ensure the defeat of the army. That purpose was achieved. How God did it we do not know, but a literal reading is not necessary to validate the outcome. In the end of course any scientific reasoning about that miracle is, in the lack of evidences, pure speculation.

    I believe that God has indeed planned Creation from the start. The only difference is, that the record of the earth tells us he did it in a different manner to what is told us in Scripture.
    Genesis was written at or after the time of Moses, long after most of the events it records had passed. It was given to a people who perceived the earth as a flat body with seas, covered by a solid dome across which the sun moon and stars moved. It tells in simple terms that God made it all, and provides a reasoned foundation for faith. Had God given them a scientific account of a progressive creation over half a billion years, and revealed a heliocentric astronomy long before science could confirm this, Israel would have been confused, would have been the laughing stock of the nations who believed the flat earth model, and the spiritual message would have been lost in the science. This is exactly what happens in ordinary Science. A Greek astronomer posited a heliocentric universe well before Copernicus and Galileo, but unable to give proof, his ideas were laughed into obscurity- until Copernicus and Galileo resurrected the concept with compelling proofs. Alfred Wegener posited continental drift in the early 19th century, but was derided because he could give no proof for how the continents allegedly moved through the rigid ocean crust. Later discoveries have since confirmed continental drift by the proofs of the plate tectonic model. Wisdom given ahead of its time only brings confusion.

    I believe that God in his wisdom has therefore revealed His unchanging spiritual message in terms of the scientific concepts of the time. The lessons of Genesis are that God has made man, God requires obedience of us, and that there is a consequence to disobedience (death) and a consequence to obedience (life) and a method of forgiveness (sacrifice, culminating in Christ). Those things do not change. The background is passing. The law of Moses served its purpose, the principles continue as the foundation of the Gospel. God commanded Israel to kill and destroy other nations, now he commands us not to kill at all but to live at peace with all men insofar as is possible. God’s plan is not static, but it is purposeful and definite.

    Even if genesis is historical myth I dont think that that invalidates the lessons it teaches. The Prodigal Son never existed, but the message of Divine forgiveness is powerful and real. Lazarus never reclined in Abrahams bosom, but to the Jews Abrahams bosom was a very real concept of a purgatory for souls, as Josephus confirms. Not real to us who know better, but the message it teaches about our earthly life and subsequent life is powerful indeed.

    For me the bottom line is that God’s message to us conveys salvation truth, Science shows us the truth of God written in Creation, and the principle holds that truth cannot contradict truth. I too would love a Divine revelation of the answer, but until them I must stumble along as best I can. If Truth is not served by forcing science to fit a literal reading of Scripture, then maybe truth is served by doing as Christ asked the pharisees to do- taking another look at how we interpret and apply the word of God.

    Thanks for the discussion- in the end of course the only thing that matters is our hold on faith, Science cannot give us eternal life or a righteous Kingdom.But Christ can, May he come soon.
    Love in Christ
    roger

  • Jim

    Hi Roger,

    If we can’t tell the difference between Christ’s parables and the reality of Adam and Eve then we are not going to get much right in the Bible! Paul’s allegory in Gal 4 shows the clear difference between a parable’s moral lesson, and God’s principles built on the reality of literal facts.

    As social Darwinism has shown, when we start to think that life evolves, we start to think that morality evolves too! Soon people will be asking us to “evolve” our Christadelphian belief’s, asking us to accept marriage between same sex couples etc. After all, if Gen 1-3 is just figurative, then really the only principle is that they love each other? Remove the reality of Gen 1-3 and we take away God’s authenticity.

    Christ believed in the reality of Gen 1-3, that Adam and Eve were the first and beginning. So too Paul. I’m thinking they are the best references and proof for this issue.

    I too thought the evidence was very convincing…then I decided to do a study of Genesis 1-3. After a year, I am so convinced that when we understand the amazing power of how God created, and why, we will never change from that conviction no matter what man finds to the contrary…after all so much is missing.

    Eg. His creation of the world is the pattern of His creation of us! Day 1, 4 – Light; that enlightens us from darkness and calls us through His SUN so that we might reflect (MOON) Christ’s glory. Day 2,5 – Separation; Waters on earth divided from atmospheric waters, evaporating water from the sea of nations, causing those “called out” to rise up “into the heavenlies”. Day 3,6 – Fruit; the product and focus of God’s work, amazing abundance of grace and spirit in the saints life. All for Day 7, God’s rest. All of this was God’s plan, and why God created the way He did…the reality of which is sealed in the reality of God’s work (1 Pet 4v19)!

    May Christ come today!

    God Bless
    J

    • Roger Evans

      Hi Jim
      I can assure you that social darwinism has NOTHING to do with science. It is a social movement. Saying “we evolved therefore we can do what we like” is no different to saying that “grace forgives sins therefore let us sin, and magnify the grace of God” (an argument that Paul put to rest).

      Morality does not evolve, certainly not in Scripture, which clearly teaches what God expects of us. Whether we take the background of genesis as literal or figurative, the moral concepts it teaches are enduring.

      I fully agree that we can find some very uplifting spiritual insights in Genesis. That is exactly the purpose for which God gave this book- not as a scientific treatise but as a moral and theological handbook. It is for teaching us spiritual relationships.

      If we try to reconcile Science and Genesis it soon becomes obvious that there is a disjunct between the two. In the end though there is one thing that science can never give us, righteousness and eternal life and a hope for the future.

      God bless
      Roger

      • Jim

        Hi Roger,

        Sorry, I was not trying to imply Social Darwinism was science, merely point out the connection between what a person believes and what a person does!

        Doctrines have moral imperatives. Believing God created the world means He created the rules by which we follow. So we live by His word!

        Believing life evolved by its own natural means will give precedent for man to think that what is right/wrong also has the same need to be “evolved”.

        You only need to hear the “logic” used to support women priests, gay marriage etc and you start to hear that we need to “move on, with the times” and “grow (up) tolerant”. Evolving morals!

        Why does the world think like this? Because more and more people are making God’s word less important, less relevant or pointless. After all, people have explained life and its existence without God’s input…so why do we need it when telling us how to live our life?

        God Bless
        J

  • Matt Waite

    BTW, the following website is also quite useful.
    http://www.creation.com

    • Ken Gilmore

      Matt, that site is anything but useful – it’s not science, but young earth creationist propaganda. Over 99% of working life and earth scientists (believing and unbelieving) accept the evidence for common descent and the great antiquity of the universe. There has been no serious debate among geologists that the earth is ancient for over 150 years – well before Darwin’s theory of evolution was proposed. Likewise, the fact of common descent hasn’t been an issue among biologists for over a century. The only people who reject common descent and an ancient earth are a tiny minority of religiously motivated people who start out with a preconceived view, and shoehorn the evidence to fit this idea.

      That’s not an exaggeration – if you look at the “Statement of Faith” of the related organisation Answers in Genesis (no scientific organisation has a Statement of Faith – that alone rings huge alarm bells as to their credibility as a ‘science’ organisation) they maintain:

      “The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth and the universe.”

      This is one of many mistakes the YECs make – they assume without ever justifying it – that the creation accounts are scientifically accurate documents that can be used for science research. Genesis was not written originally to a 21st century audience, but to a 2nd millennium BCE audience who lived in a pre-scientific world, and most likely did not share our concerns about the nuts and bolts of creation. Of more importance was *who* created the universe and *why* it was formed. C.C. Walker hit the nail on the head when he said:

      ‘Moses’ testimony is not so “plain” that it cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood.’ [1]

      Bro Walker, who was not writing to support evolution at all, nonetheless recognised that the Genesis narrative was not a ‘simple but factual representation of actual events’ which could be used as a ‘reliable framework for scientific research.’ On this, he continued:

      ‘Moses’ testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars. And, as we believe, it was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22). And this against the claims of the gods of the nations, as was abundantly proved in Israel’s history.’ [2]

      There are two valuable points in bro. Walker’s comment. The first is that Genesis was written to combat the claims of other gods to be the creators of the universe. In other words, it was a polemic against ANE creation myths. The second is that the creation account takes into account the limitations of the target audience which was not aware of the findings of modern astronomy. God’s message therefore would take into account that limitation. In other words, God accommodated the limitations of the ancient Israelite worldview. Take those two points into consideration, and it becomes clear that we’re making a mistake if we interpret it as a science document.

      References

      1. Walker C.C. “‘Is it wrong to believe that the earth is a sphere?’, The Christadelphian (1913) 50;590:346-348
      2. ibid, p 348

      • tokerj

        “If we simply assume Adam and Eve had other children which Gen 4 never mentions, simply to provide Cain with a wife, then we’re guilty of eisegesis, that is, reading our own preconceptions into the text”

        Is this unreasonable though? I have no expectations that the Bible does or would give every little detail about everything and leave nothing out (except for certain fundamentally important principles, facts, etc).

        “As to how and why they appeared, the Bible is silent. It simply acknowledges the existence of people other than the covenant community, and leaves it at that.”

        I read a very interesting (and well-worded, I felt) essay on “theistic evolution” a while ago (don’t have the link right now, unfortunately), which suggests the idea that perhaps Adam and Eve were “created” in the spiritual sense; Homo sapiens filled with God’s spirit (created “in His image”, in that sense) and knowledge of Him. It was an interesting perspective I hadn’t encountered before.

        As for “why”, I think as good and reasonable a theory as any is that we were the first terrestrial (or any, as far as we know) species to evolve to the point of being able to comprehend (using the term loosely, mind you) God.

    • Ken Gilmore

      The YEC organisations claim to be scientific, but they’re not. Possessing science degrees does not make you a scientist. Rather, you need to use the scientific method, and the YECs simply don’t do this. Back to the AIG statement of faith again:

      “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.” [1]

      That’s not science, not by a long shot. In short, they’ve already decided the conclusion, and are simply looking for facts to distort into a YEC mould. More importantly, the YECs forget that interpretation of the Bible text is also ‘always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.’ In this case, the YECs ignore the ancient near eastern cultural context of Genesis [2], the impossibility of harmonising Gen 1 and Gen 2 if the days of creation in Gen 1 are interpreted as literal consecutive days [3], the clear references to a solid firmament [4], [5]

      If we’d heeded C.C. Walker’s advice and remembered that Moses is not always plain to understand, and that Genesis was given first not to the modern world, but to a pre-scientific community which did not necessary share our concerns about modern historiography, we would not have adopted a YEC theology which was utterly alien to the early Christadelphian world, and instead extended on their work in harmonising the Bible and science.

      References

      1. http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith
      2. Walton J “The Lost World of Genesis One” (2009, IVP) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6qZLAz3TckgC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
      3. Kline M “Because it had not rained” The Westminster Theological Journal 20 (1958):146-157 http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html
      4. Enns P “The Firmament of Genesis 1 is Solid but That’s Not the Point” BioLogos Blog Jan 14 2010 http://biologos.org/blog/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-thats-not-the-point
      5. Seely P “The Firmament and the Waters Above. Part 1: The meaning of raqia’ in Gen 1:6-8″ The Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991) 227-40 http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Seely-Firmament-WTJ.pdf

    • Ken Gilmore

      Matt, that site is anything but useful – it’s not science, but young earth creationist propaganda. Over 99% of working life and earth scientists (believing and unbelieving) accept the evidence for common descent and the great antiquity of the universe. There has been no serious debate among geologists that the earth is ancient for over 150 years – well before Darwin’s theory of evolution was proposed. Likewise, the fact of common descent hasn’t been an issue among biologists for over a century. The only people who reject common descent and an ancient earth are a tiny minority of religiously motivated people who start out with a preconceived view, and shoehorn the evidence to fit this idea.

      That’s not an exaggeration – if you look at the “Statement of Faith” of the related organisation Answers in Genesis (no scientific organisation has a Statement of Faith – that alone rings huge alarm bells as to their credibility as a ‘science’ organisation) they maintain:

      “The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth and the universe.”

      This is one of many mistakes the YECs make – they assume without ever justifying it – that the creation accounts are scientifically accurate documents that can be used for science research. Genesis was not written originally to a 21st century audience, but to a 2nd millennium BCE audience who lived in a pre-scientific world, and most likely did not share our concerns about the nuts and bolts of creation. Of more importance was *who* created the universe and *why* it was formed. C.C. Walker hit the nail on the head when he said:

      ‘Moses’ testimony is not so “plain” that it cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood.’ [1]

      Bro Walker, who was not writing to support evolution at all, nonetheless recognised that the Genesis narrative was not a ‘simple but factual representation of actual events’ which could be used as a ‘reliable framework for scientific research.’ On this, he continued:

      ‘Moses’ testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars. And, as we believe, it was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22). And this against the claims of the gods of the nations, as was abundantly proved in Israel’s history.’ [2]

      There are two valuable points in bro. Walker’s comment. The first is that Genesis was written to combat the claims of other gods to be the creators of the universe. In other words, it was a polemic against ANE creation myths. The second is that the creation account takes into account the limitations of the target audience which was not aware of the findings of modern astronomy. God’s message therefore would take into account that limitation. In other words, God accommodated the limitations of the ancient Israelite worldview. Take those two points into consideration, and it becomes clear that we’re making a mistake if we interpret it as a science document.

      References

      1. Walker C.C. “‘Is it wrong to believe that the earth is a sphere?’, The Christadelphian (1913) 50;590:346-348
      2. ibid, p 348

  • ConcernedMark

    Can I ask that the discussion of this subject be closed as was the discussion on “Why I now vote”? As “concerned” expressed it: “I appeal to you to consider the ‘weak’ brother for whom christ died 1 cor 8:11″.

    • Ken Gilmore

      Mark, the last thing our community needs is for honest discussion of this or any other controversial subject to be censored under the guise of ‘considering the weaker brother.’ The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, and if we continue this futile attempt to pretend it isn’t, and actively persecute those who are trying to honestly reconcile their faith and the fact of evolution, we’re going to lose people. http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/10/why-creationism-is-bad-for-christianity.html

    • http://robjhyndman.com Rob J Hyndman

      I’m far more concerned with the people who are losing faith when they realise that what they have been taught about creation cannot possibly be true. Censorship and vilification won’t help anyone.

      • Adam Jones

        Hello All

        I have been reading the arguments and I have say these are circular arguments. We (as in mankind) cannot PROVE creation and we don’t need to… If you believe it, GOOD, if you don’t or you want to insert what is not there in the record then guess what, that is your choice.

        I gotta ask, do we need to know how many other children Adam and Eve had other than Cain, Abel and Seth, or if they had daughters, if Cain and Seth married their sisters, or there were other beings outside the creation account or evolved beings that were roaming around? NO.

        What has any of that got to do with what God wants of us? ‘NOWT’!

        All the evidence used for our so called evolutionary origins & speciation just convinces me more of the reality of God and the creation account! As a layperson (& we make up the bulk of the world’s populace) I remain totally unconvinced! This is despite a (yes it is mickey mouse I know) degree in applied science Nursing…and boy did we have evolution drummed into us by that evolutionary biologist!!! LOL

        God has given us enough info in the bible to inspire the necessary belief in Him to gladly do what He wants of us, but to think we can know (and maybe even comprehend) the minutiae of creation is like imaging we can figure out the whole panorama of the Himalayas through a tiny keyhole.

        Good bye (oops did I mean God bless LOL)

        Adam