Creationism Is Materialism’s Creation

I take Frederich Nietzsche quite seriously when he says, “when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you,” and thus I did not, nor ever will watch the recent debate between Bill Nye The Science Guy and Ken Ham The Creation Man. There are things in this world too depressing for people desperate to maintain some sense of hope regarding humanity, its direction, and capacity for truth.

Nevertheless, I want to take this opportunity to point out that, far sooner than any creationist vs. scientist debate amounts to a debate between a Christian and an atheist, it amounts to a debate between atheists. Neither side defends or attacks the Christian tradition. Both argue about a laughably boring god, a strange phenomenon of modernity — not the God of philosophy, theology or Scripture in any meaningful sense.

Fundamentalism, which includes creationism, is a modern phenomenon. The Middle Ages, though rife with scientific illiteracy in comparison with our age, never bred such a beast. It is a 20th century frenzy, not the product of ignorance as much as a by-product of materialism, and I daily blame — in an odd, bitter ritual that usually involves throwing pretzels at a cut-out of Richard Dawkins — the propagators of this selfsame materialism for cursing the world with the idiocies of devil-buried fossils and 6-day literalism. For evolution is only ever a threat to the idea of God if your idea of God has been hopelessly manhandled by materialistic assumptions. That’s right kids. Creationism is materialism’s inescapable, obnoxious spouse.

“What?” protest the protestors. “Creationists believe in angels, demons, and a whole host of immaterial realities, while materialists believe in no such thing!” But the point is not that creationism and materialism are in secret cahoots. The point is that materialism has provided the metaphysical framework for mainstream modern thought, a framework within which the creationist operates, from whence — along with a typically materialistic incapacity to distinguish poetry from a science textbook — comes his creationism.

The materialistic assumption is this: The universe is a closed, material system, and that all there ever is or was can be reduced to matter and material processes. The materialist flatly denies the possibility of the spiritual. The creationist concedes to a closed, purely material universe as the prejudice of the age. Unlike the materialist, however, he holds on to the idea of spiritual things. Now, however — and thanks to the materialist assumption — these spiritual things cannot be in harmony with the material. They — whether God, angels, or demons — must exist apart from it — opposed to it, even.

Consider it this way: If the universe is reducible to matter and material processes, but is nevertheless created by God — for people will always believe in God — then God, who himself is not reducible to matter or material processes, must be “outside” and “apart” from the universe he creates. He is utterly estranged from the universe. In short, the rise of the materialistic worldview meant that — if there was to be a belief in God — this god must be the god of Deism.

This is the god the creationist unwittingly and inconsistently defends, a god who creates the universe at a single point, a god whose creative action must be defended as a particular point in time (6 days of time, to be exact) now long past — a god who already made the closed, material universe and is now done, dwelling outside of it like “an old man peering from the sky.” Such a relationship between God and the universe necessarily makes any forces that determine our physical existence “competitors” of his work. He created the material universe. He served as its origin, a 6-day origin now over. Thus any apparent “creation” within the material order is creation apart from God, and a threat to his sovereignty. The only creation possible must either have already happened, at one point, or it must be magical.

I mean this quite seriously. If by the world we mean a purely physical system, than God — who is not physical — can only be encountered in an inexplicable “break” in the same system. If God is to be active in a purely material universe, it must be as a Cosmic Magician popping into the world over and against all physical processes and laws — utterly at odds with his own creation.

God is evidenced by that which is “utterly apart” from the universe “breaking into” the universe. And so the creationist, having conceded the materialistic assumption, must “prove” the existence of God by way of things “science can’t explain.” The complex cell, the fossil record — God is real because there are inexplicable things, materials that look as if something has broken into the material system and left its immaterial and thereby inexplicable mark.

Evolution, which posits a natural process of change in successive generations of living things, is a threat precisely because it works against the Cosmic Magician, the God of one-time creation who now busts into the universe here and there. It says, quite reasonably, that living things as we know them today were not always so,  and that man in his material consistency did not spontaneously pop into existence as the bipedal we know and sometimes manage to love today. Evolution is an affront to a god who “finished” his work of creation some 6000 years ago. It is an affront to a God who made the material universe in one now-past action, a god who now only associates with his creation through the miraculous breaking of the spiritual into what is purely material. It is, in short, a rival god.

But now we’ve stared into the abyss long enough. God is not simply the Creator of the material order, and the theistic tradition has never made such laughable claims. The concept of God as Creator has always been the source of existence as such. This means that God does not just answer the material question of “Where came this rock, that plant, or the entire conglomerate of material thingmabobs we call the universe?” He answers the ontological question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Evolution cannot answer the question of why there is something rather and nothing, and no scientist outside of the self-titled, 8th-grade r/athesim variety would ever embarrass themselves with such a claim. Evolution presupposes something which evolves. Existence — the fact that something is — is prior to any evolution. Again, God is first and foremost the source of existence, the fact that there is something rather than nothing.

For not a single thing in this entire marvelous universe contains the source of its own existence. Each depends on an innumerable multitude of factors for the fact of its being here. The most obvious example of this is in our origins — there is not a single thing in the universe that brought itself into being. The less obvious but even more important example of this is in our current existence — there is not a single thing in the universe that “holds itself in being.” There is nothing that causes itself to continuously exist. To quote David Bentley Hart again:

If one considers the terms of one’s own existence, for instance, one sees that there is no sense in which one is ever self-existent; one is dependent on an incalculable number of ever greater and ever smaller finite conditions, some of which are temporal, and some of which are definitely not, and all of which are dependent on yet further conditions. One is composed of parts, and those of smaller parts, and so on down to the subatomic level, which itself is a realm of contingently subsistent realities that flicker in and out of actuality, that have no ontological ground in themselves, and that are all embraced within a quantum field that contains no more of an essential rationale for its own existence than does any other physical reality. One also belongs to a wider world, upon all of whose physical systems one is also dependent in every moment, while that world  is itself dependent upon an immense range of greater physical realities, and upon abstract mathematical and logical laws, and upon the whole contingent history of our quite unnecessary universe…In short, all finite things are always, in the present, being sustained in existence by conditions which they cannot have supplied for themselves, and that together compose a universe that, as a physical reality, lacks the obviously supernatural power to exist on its own. Nowhere in any of that is a source of existence as such.

If the materialistic assumption is true, and the universe is entirely reducible to matter and material processes, then the universe is an inexplicable oddity. All things exist in their present-moment existence by depending upon other things, which in turn exist in their present-moment existence by depending on other things, and so on unto infinite regress. If this were true, nothing would ever come into or persist in being. The theistic position, properly understood, is that our universe is not an inexplicable infinite regress, but that all things exist in their present-moment existence because all things are upheld by an absolute existence, a being that is the source of its own existence (snipping short the infinite regress), supplying all contingent things with a non-contingent “ground” which renders their existence possible.

How could evolution possibly pose a threat to God, properly understood as the Absolute Giver of Being, who at every moment provides the absolute ground for the existence every contingent thing, every thing which does not contain the source of its own present-moment existence — every particle, every random mutation, every genome strand, every protein, every moment of procreation, every fertilization event, in short, every single material component of the process of evolution?

In fact, I can think of no other view more favorable to the concept of evolution than the view that Creation is now, not an act that happened at one point in time, now long past, but rather the timeless fact of there being something rather than nothing, the present-moment, as-you-sit-reading donation of being which you cannot provide for yourself. God created, creates and is always creating the universe in a singular timeless act by which the entirety of space, time and human history, from beginning to whatever end, is given that existence it cannot provide for itself. God is creating everything now, there is no need for miraculous, inexplicable events to “prove” His existence, no need for him to break in to an already finished work and leave some boggling mark. It is the horrifying and beautiful surprise that anything in this storm of contingencies exists at all that has the theist positing an absolute source of existence, our wonderful God, not a thought that “everything looks so well-designed,” or that “science cannot explain this or that.”

Creationism only exists as a reaction within the framework of materialism. The Christian ought to reject the evolutionist vs. creationist debate on the level at which it is offered, and question instead the metaphysics of the thing, for if the universe is a contingent reality that requires the eternal and ever-present donation of being by an absolute source of being, then the idea that evolution is an affront to creation is ridiculous at best, manufactured for easy points at worst.

  • Kevin

    Well, Ken said that exact thing. This debate was, refreshingly, more than the usual unnecessary juxtaposition of science and religion. Ken made such points constantly. He has a great scientific background and you could tell by his arguments that his knowledge of philosophy is well-developed too. I think you should actually watch it, Marc, as should everyone making blanket assumptions about the positions of each debater.

  • Matthew James Ferrantino

    if THAT is true, then you are the worst sort of Atheist– the atheist who worships the Signature of the Author and completely misses the Author himself. The Bible is the entirety of your God. FIE TO THAT! Just recently, the Harry Potter fandom/half-religion (for every fandom of a book is as much a legitimate religion as yours), found themselves face to face with the fact that there is more to their Universe than the Text. Some of them chose to have mental breakdowns, some of them thought: “My how interesting!”

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      i am an atheist. i have no god, and i have no religion.

      • Bob

        …but you do have a religion, you just don’t call it that. It consists of that motivation you have to come on here and tell us how our views are flawed. The prefix “a-” means “without”. If you were truly “athiest”, you would have nothing to say, since you are without theism – it simply would not be a part of your life. But as it is, you seem to have many opinions regarding theism. For example, I don’t ever play golf – you might even say I’m “agolf”. I do not spend any time on internet forums explaining to people why they are wrong to play golf, because I simply don’t care one iota. But you do care about others’ religious beliefs – this is evidence that you do have a religion of your own that you’re trying to uphold and spread. It seems like most people who would describe themselves as “not religious” are the true athiests, while those who generally describe themselves as athiests are actually anti-theists.

        • kenofken

          Not a great analogy, because golf, unlike atheism or theism, does not propose to offer models of reality or answer existential questions (though serious golfers might disagree!). Atheists may display religious-like zeal around their non-belief, or even develop doctrines around what a “real” atheists should be like, but the non-belief itself is not necessarily a religion. In its purest form, atheism simply demands a shift in the burden of proof for the existence of god(s).

        • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

          maybe. i’m an open-minded person, i come here to read the articles. usually they are really good and i don’t have a bone to pick. but these last two have tickled my argumentative nerve– i comment because i want to be a part of the conversation. yes you are right i do care about this, and if you must know, it’s because i think the church is wrong. i think it’s wrong to spread false hope when true hope is staring you right in the face; the truth that you are the master of your own reality. in a way maybe you are right. maybe i am misguided and come here out of jealousy and spite to spread anguish and despair. however, i just want to say this: i don’t wish any harm or evil upon anyone here. i’m just looking for a discussion because staring at the void by myself sometimes is just too intimidating.

          one last thing. do not tell me who i am and what i believe. you know nothing of me.

          • Bob

            “one last thing. do not tell me who i am and what i believe. you know nothing of me.”

            I didn’t say or imply anything that isn’t brutally obvious from reading your posts on here…

  • Colin Gormley

    >what if the universe itself contains it’s own existence?

    It can’t. It is a contingent entity.

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      unless if it’s not. if an invisible sky wizard can always have been and will be, why not the universe i live in? it’s not like i’ll ever explore the far reaches of it, what if there is just a movie projector flashing against a black screen and we are the actors? how are you sure that the universe HAD to be created in the first place? the big bang implies the infinite regression theory.

      • Chicagoish

        The traditional argument for the existence of god as the “first cause” is not one of accidentally ordered contingency going back in time to the beginning of the universe like you’re suggesting. In fact, Aquinas thought it impossible to prove, through reason alone, that the universe *wasn’t* infinite in temporal regression. What he and others suggested before and after him was that existence of the universe RIGHT NOW is contingent on the unmoved mover. I’m not attempting to flesh out the argument here, but to clarify what is meant when Colin says that the Universe is a contingent reality. It is contingent IN THIS VERY MOMENT.

        • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

          no i understand that point, and my counterpoint is that while it is contingent at this very point in time, it is not god that creates the universe, actually it is our minds. everything we see, sense, and think sprouts from it. existence is dependent on reason. we don’t need a god to bring the universe into being. we as creatures of reason create it ourselves and through our collective consciousness allow the universe to form itself. we are the universe. we are god. i am not claiming to be a deity myself, but i do know that my life, my own existence is not an external thing. i am the creator of myself. i am the creator of my world and worldview. i can see the changes through the choices i have made over the years. god didn’t instill in me all my hopes fears and desires, i produced them through much thought and trial, and to tell me otherwise is ignorance.

  • Will

    As a conservative, Reformed Protestant (who nonetheless enjoys this blog thoroughly) I have to say that this was a disappointing post. I could have agreed with every point Marc made and still have been a 6-Day Creationist. It is like when people say they take any different portion of Scripture non-literally because it is a poem, or has symbolic significance. If you are at all acquainted with the Bible, the entire thing in exhaustive detail has symbolic significance and is poetically constructed. It is not a history textbook, as a result, because it is interesting, compelling and edifying. But it is not less than a history textbook. Because we believe in a God who governs all of Creation exhaustively (He has decreed “whatsoever comes to pass”) we know that He can tell the most beautiful story in History and have it all happen. As a Christian, I believe History is apropos. Writing a comment from my phone at lunch is not the best idea, so I will stop, but the overall argument falls flat, because a YEC can grant that “some YEC guys might be like that, but I am not at all and believe, instead, that the most natural reading of the text is to understand the timeline given as literal because of the seamless calendar given up through Abraham and the constant references to geneologies that give no hint of doubt as to their historical veracity.”

    And… God is transcendent and immanent and theism conceives of two views of God: as He is (analogically relative to Creation and transcendent as the Creator), and as He revealed Himself in history in various theophanies and then in His Son.

    • HRGuru

      Yes, this is basically one large straw man argument.

      • Bob

        How so? I don’t see how this is a straw man argument.

      • Mark Stuber

        I’m with Bob. How is this a straw man argument? I didn’t see the author words in anyone’s mouth or cherry pick easy arguments to debunk at the exclusion of good arguments.

        • Will

          My point was not that it was a “straw man” argument, but that the argument could have all of its efficacy and not dissuade me one bit from being a full fledged young earth creationist. In other words, I found the argument disappointing because it didn’t challenge any thinking young earth creationists who affirm an orthodox doctrine of God at all…

          • Mark Stuber

            I see. Re: ” it didn’t challenge any thinking young earth creationists who affirm an orthodox doctrine of God at all…” What makes you think “young earth creationism” is orthodox? What evidence do you have that it is more than 200 years old?

            http://biologos.org/questions/early-interpretations-of-genesis

            “Whenever … [non-Christians] catch out some members of the Christian community making mistakes on a subject which they know inside out, and defending their hollow opinions on the authority of our books, on what grounds are they going to trust those books on the resurrection of the dead and the hope of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven, when they suppose they include any number of mistakes and fallacies on matters which they themselves have been able to master either by experiment or by the surest of calculations?” St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis (I.19.39)

          • Will

            Well I find that this is relatively dubious as “proof” of your position. I don’t think that I need to defend the young earth view as being Orthodox traditionally. There were acceptable deviance from the position but the Jewish Calendar and Christian calendars both assumed a young earth… My point in my dispute is that a young earth position is a normal position. You can prove it to be older by saying that Bishop Ussher obviously held to it when he dated the creation 4004 BC or something.. Also, the Jewish calendars that the Sanhedrin folks made which have a similar Creation date…

            The problem is that you seem to want to exclude the traditional position from the discussion by an appeal to an exception to the traditional interpretation…

          • Mark Stuber

            Are you talking about the quote I put from St. Augstine. I did not mean that as proof regarding what is or is not orthodoxy. Did I present it is such? No, it was just a warning from St. Augustine, I wanted to pass on. I don’t think the quote even weighs in on the young earth debate.

    • Wiz

      Have you ever ready The Lost World of Genesis 1?

      • Will

        No I haven’t read it, though it does come highly recommended and I agree with its thesis about Creation as a dwelling place for God and the structural literary devices used to highlight that fact.

        My point is that I can believe that interpretation and that it actually happened that way (for genealogical reasons and other textual reasons) as well. I am not being highly reactionary or freaking out about evolution, just saying that the Bible seems to, exegetically speaking, expect us to take the Creation and primordial couple story with the same faith we take the Noah, Abraham stories. Also, to make my argument perhaps more clear, nothing I just said disagrees in any way with a proper understanding of creation’s ontological relation to its creator as the ground and cause of its being in time. Those are two completely unrelated points, philosophically.

    • Mark Stuber

      Re:” It is not a history textbook, ” It’s not a single book either. It is a collection of books. Some of those books in deed are history books: The Gospels, the Book of Acts, and if you don’t want to split hairs, Chronicles. If you take a historiography class they professor will probably distinguish
      between chronicling and writing history.

      • Will

        If the Gospels and Acts are “history books” then the vast majority of narratives in the Bible are as well. You can’t decide we are to believe in the historical veracity of the Gospel of John and not in the book of Genesis. They are mildly different genres, but they are both theologically suffused true renderings of a narrative that took place in real human history which is what makes them so awesome! If you decide we can trust the veracity of Abraham, then why not Noah? If you grant a flood that goes “over the mountain peaks”, then why not grant a Garden? If you grant those things, why not grant the veracity of the Sabbath-proof and apply backwards to the Genesis 1 account (6 days God made heaven ergo 6 days you labor)?

        I guess I just can’t see a good textual reason for ignoring the historical point the text is making, because the fact that the text is making a theological point is no reason that it can’t also be making an historical point.

        • Mark Stuber

          re: ” If you decide we can trust the veracity of Abraham, then why not Noah?”

          What? Not even the most Fundamentallist traditions claims Noah or Abraham wrote any of the Torah. What are you talking about?

          • Will

            History is not written by its subjects as far as I know… It isn’t that they wrote the story, but that the text (which both Roman Catholics and “fundamentalists” believe to be inspired and without error, as far as I know) speaks truthfully about these people accurately.

          • Mark Stuber

            I don’t think books where the author’s of said books didn’t even claim to be inspired are inspired.

  • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

    sorry, i was having a laugh that someone didnt understand my post… i was trolling haha

  • http://indefinitecrisis.wordpress.com/ Michael H

    The Bible said God created the Heavens and the earth, the plants, and the animals according to their kind (Hebrew: miyn), literally according to their portions, or selections out.

    The mechanisms and time by which God did this are not mentioned. Creation and Young Earth Creation are not the same thing.

    This is akin to saying “you believe someone built your computer, but that means a factory didn’t built your computer.” Process versus agency, friend.

  • http://indefinitecrisis.wordpress.com/ Michael H

    Martin Luther most definitely did not say the eucharist is a symbol. That was Zwingli (whose student Bullinger got John Calvin to come on board), and Luther hated sacramentarians.

    The problem I have is that atheists don’t actually know shit about the great orthodox tradition, its teaching, belief or confession, and somehow think they have the ability to comment on it. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      your arrogance shows in your comment. i was raised irish catholic. i’ve read the catechism multiple times, as well as the bible, the koran, confucius, dawkins, hitchens, darwin, chesterton, aquinas, aristotle, augustine, locke, belloc, and benny 16. don’t tell me what i do and do not know thank you very much. but you are right about zwingli, that was my b. don’t think just because we disagree with you means we are uninformed. actually i find it’s the other way round mostly, but i assume everyone reading this site is on my level of education in philosophy and theology. please show me a little respect as i do you. i could just spend my whole time trolling you guys like a retarded redditor.

      • Bob

        Sentences start with capital letters. It’s surprising that you didn’t notice this basic pattern at some point during your extensive reading and education.

        • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

          ehhh in this age of technology grammar matters little. at least i use proper punctuation. i capitalize where i see fit and don’t answer to you about that. as a literature nut, one of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings. do learn a thing or two from his poems why don’t you? :)

          P.S. it is insulting to capitalize e.e. cummings’ name. don’t even think about it lol

  • http://leelusplace.blogspot.com/ leelu

    You’re on schedule! ;-)

  • Kristen inDallas

    It is ridiculous that Catholics interpret the bible in the light of revealed truth? That we believe that God gave us the bible AND science, AND a brain to piece it all together with?
    Would it be ridiculous for historians to interpret ancient texts written in dead languages based on the artifacts found from the same timeframe, and occasionally revise some interpretations based on evidence? Would it mean the whole manuscript was worthless, or might it just mean that the translation of a particular passage was less than perfect?

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      i should have clarified that it sounds ridiculous to people who disagree with with the christian premise, not that you’re faith is ridiculous. sorry about that.

      also, the bible is far from historically accurate. roman records show no such event as the Crucifixion of a religious zealot in 33 ad even happened. you would think someone that had the whole Sanhedrin up in arms about a possible coup to caesar would deserve even a footnote.

  • Kristen inDallas

    inexplicable according to several well established laws of physics at any rate…. Conservation of energy and mass, the law of entropy, or, for the more musically inclined “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could”

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      which is why the notion of creation outside the cycle of supernova to black hole to big bang is a little ludicrous.

    • http://itschancy.wordpress.com/ Corey Yanofsky

      Not really seeing how that counts as “inexplicable” — like, ever — rather than “currently unexplained”.

  • College Geek

    I believe in Evolution to some extent, but there’s no way we came from bacteria. There has to have been someone who caused life to develop the way it has, and that was and is Him.

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      you do realize your whole body is made up of cells, bacteria, and dna, right? in fact why stop there. recent findings made with super colliders have shown links between the theory of relativity and string theory, so in essence, we are all vibrating strings. we are a projection, a dream, a shadow.

    • kenofken

      Evolution doesn’t argue that we “came from” bacteria, but that we, and all other life on Earth, shares a common ancestor with them. The evidence for that is overwhelming. Many genes, and indeed the whole way all life uses DNA and proteins, can be traced back to that common ancestor, which was not so very different than many existent bacteria. Indeed, our mitochondria, the power plants of our cells and of all eukaryotes, almost certainly were once bacteria which became co-opted by ancestors of eukaryotes – maybe something more akin to yeasts. We, and all other complex multicellular life, could not exist had this not happened. Our power demands are simply too great.

      There is no reason apart from common ancestry and evolution that this 3.8 billion year consistency should exist. There are many other nucleotides and proteins schemes that are possible, and the odds of these similarities arising independently the same way among all species are absurd. You have to use the sort of exponents that astrophysicists use to even express such numbers. The fact of evolution does not in itself preclude a personal creator, but it shows that none was needed to produce the astounding variety of life now on the planet. He/She/It could have intervened at a much more fundamental level – the mass or spin of subatomic particles, the unstable quantum fluctuations that make truly empty space almost impossible to maintain as empty etc.

      • College Geek

        Or perhaps all organisms have these same characteristics because they were designed and created by one being ;). It could go either way. I don’t begrudge you for that theory though, you have sound reasoning.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      Here is the way.
      evogeneao.com

  • guest

    “why is there something rather than nothing” is, to me, a meaningless question because you are assuming that at some point a choice was possible, but all we can actually say is that there is something. Nothingness might actually not be possible.
    Additionally, if there was nothing we wouldn’t be able to ask the question in the first place. The whole ‘why’ thing presupposes a mind behind it all, anyway. It assumes there is a plan. I think that there is no reason that things exist- they just do. You might as well ask ‘why does gravity attract objects?’. ‘Why’ is a way of asking for a certain type of explanation, one that can only be given of beings that have the ability to plan, and it’s probable that the universe is not the product of such a being and the way things are are not that way for any reason but just because they are.
    I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand this ‘ground of being’ arguement. As far as I’m concerned, my existence is one of my properties, like heat or motion. I can’t see why it would need an external source.
    And God somehow giving things their existence out of his own (and why would such a being even have a gender?) sounds a lot like magic to me and not much different from creationism.
    It’s kind of unfair to blame Dawkins and his ilk for creationism when he only became an outspoken atheist as a result of having his real passion, science education, constantly thwarted by creationists angry about him teaching evolution.
    And I’m fairly sure the Catholic Church was big on the doctrine of original sin, which relys on Genesis being accurate. The doctrine of original sin and the idea that a baby, an innocent baby (how can a baby not be innocent, having commited no crimes except to be born ) is somehow ‘tainted’ with sin nature, is just as weird as anything Ken Ham has dreamed up.

    • http://imperfectfornow.blogspot.com/ Mackman

      “All we can actually say is that there is something. Nothingness might actually not be possible.”

      This doesn’t work as an argument, because it argues too much. I mean that you could apply this argument even if there were words,written in the stars, visible from earth, spelling out the 1st verse of Genesis in all the major languages of the world, You could still apply this argument and say, “Well, we can’t ask ourselves WHY these words are written in the sky. That assumes there was a choice. All we can say is that there are words in the sky, and that to NOT have words in the sky might not be possible.”

      See what I mean?

      • guest

        I think there’s a difference in the level of unlikeliness between something existing and words being written in the sky, in all the languages of the world. Words are generally only made by humans in our universe. Somethingness is everywhere. It’s about the balance of probabilities.

        Having said that, people sometimes find tomatoes that have Allah’s name written in the middle. This might seem miraculous to some, but when you consider all the other tomatoes that don’t have ‘Allah’ written through the middle, I feel comfortable enough to attribute it to chance and not convert to Islam.

        • http://imperfectfornow.blogspot.com/ Mackman

          But your argument boils down to merely “It exists, so it’s no good speculating about whether it could NOT exist.” That argument would apply equally well to my example.

          It makes sense on the surface, but as I said before, it argues too much. Your argument can be applied to literally anything and everything in existence, even if, as I said, a Bible verse was written in the stars.

    • Bobby

      “The doctrine of original sin and the idea that a baby, an innocent baby (how can a baby not be innocent, having commited no crimes except to be born ) is somehow ‘tainted’ with sin nature, is just as weird as anything Ken Ham has dreamed up.”
      Why does that innocent baby have, in its innocent state, properties within it that cause mutations and disease? It is due to his/her nature that was inherited by the parents. Sinful nature is no different. Human depravity is not dependent upon action – it is a state of being. Children aren’t born with certain genes because of anything that they do to earn them – they possess them because they were inherited from their ancestors. Depravity (sinful nature) is part of the fabric of humanity, not because of choices or actions, but because of inheritance. Just as some have been born into slavery due to historical actions beyond their control, they were born slaves – not by choice or action, but by inheritance.

      • guest

        People were born into slavery because other people with more power than them were forcing them to be slaves, like their parents. If God has infinite power and controls the fabric of the universe then it is him that is responsible for deciding how sin works and so he would be directly responsible for human ‘depravity’ and the equivilent of the slave owner forcing slavery on his slave’s children. A God like that is neither just nor good.

        Disease is caused by microorganisms. The reason there are diseases is because bacteria and viruses have found a niche they can exploit effectively. It’s because of evolution. The same reason we have predators- because it’s easier for some organisms to steal energy and resourses from other organisms than it is for them to find their own.

        As for mutations, that’s because the system of replication is not perfect. It’s never been perfect- there are fossil organisms with cancers which are from before humans were around to bring the curse of sin. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2003/oct/23/dinosaurs.science

        • guest

          There are also retroviruses in many animals’ DNA which predate the evolution of man and can actually be used to determine when human ancestors started to seperate from the other great apes. These retroviruses would have been infecting creatures who had fairly small brains compared to ours and so it would be hard to argue that they had ‘souls’ unless you think chimpanzees also have ‘souls’.

  • Tom

    The first part doesn’t work if you’re using the metaphysics that Aquinas (and a lot of other classical theists) use, although of course Aristotelian metaphysics can be debated, and the second objection doesn’t work for reasons Ed Feser helpfully explains here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html (he touches on the first part of your statement in that and other posts).

  • John

    I enjoyed what you had to say, although I would like to point out that although the middle ages pre printing press were relatively free of fundamentalism as we have it today. After the bible was translated into the vernacular and literacy spread along with print capitalism, fundamentalism and radicalism ran rampant throughout Europe. Arguably it was the spread of literacy that instigated fundamentalism. Uneducated serfs don’t usually come up with such radical ideas.

  • http://deshackra.com/ shackra sislock

    Is not hate, I just stated that fundamentalism and therefore Creationism is more likely to be present on Protestants than in Catholic, specially if they know their faith. And therefore what you stated isn’t representative of the real Catholic teaching on these matters.

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      actually, i was raised by some extremely devout catholics. oh, and they were creationists. so maybe my perspective is skewed by my upbringing.

  • Alexander S Anderson

    He was a drunken fart. (I drink therefore I am!)

  • Guest

    Dear Marc,

    My name is Grace, and I host a radio show at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Would you be willing to give an interview for my show? You can let me know at gewagler@email.msmary.edu. Thanks.

  • Hershey Scholar

    Dear Marc,

    My name is Grace, and I host a radio show at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Would you be willing to give an interview for my show? You can let me know at gewagler@email.msmary.edu. Thanks.

  • Bobby

    For the sake of transparency, I am neither an evolutionist nor a Catholic. With that being said, I am a Christian and a believer in a literal 6-day creation. This post and the comments are thought-provoking, especially regarding the metaphysical studies of philosophy, but what about the holes this thought process leaves in theology?
    Why did God create anything in the first place? Did He need fellowship? Did He have something to prove? No. God is self-existent. He needs nothing and He is complete within His own triune existence. God created the universe for one purpose – to bring glory to Himself. That is regarded in all of scripture, whether you believe that it should be taken at face value or interpreted in some other way.
    The problem with evolution is that is removes man’s sinful nature and responsibility. If we all happened to fight our way into existence over billions of years of mere survival, then where do the moral components of our existence originate? Moreover, if death existed before man’s original sin, then death is not a curse for sin, but a natural occurrence that a holy and righteous God would have had to create. Could God have created death and called it good? Very good? No. If man evolved from a lower form by the process of chance and sheer survival instinct, then there is no moral code – it’s survive or die. How could laws of morality and justice emerge in such a world? Better yet, how is sin defined? If original sin is not the cause of death, then why did Christ have to come and die? The whole purpose of Christ’s death was to satisfy the wrath of a holy God against the sin of depraved mankind. If mankind evolved from lesser forms, what is his depravity and how was it defined? If man is a mere animal, then why is the church concerned with abortion? Isn’t survival of the fittest a natural occurrence? All of theology collapses with evolution. All of it.
    It is interesting that no living person, scientist or otherwise has ever witnessed 1) anything improving over time – all things move toward decay or 2) anything transforming into another kind of being. Never has that been observed. Never has a fossil record been found to prove such transformation (except for the singular bones of supposed creatures that scientists construct based on a presupposition of such a creature). On the contrary, we observe intelligent creation all the time – without unimaginable lengths of time for them to occur. Yet, when it comes to believing that an infinite Being, who isn’t constrained by time or any laws of nature, could create the universe that we see in 6 literal days, all logic is disregarded.

    • Sven2547

      Ah yes, the standard lineup of creationist misunderstandings, distortions, and falsehoods.

  • Gary

    As a Christian, this issue of biblical inerrancy “bedeviled” me for many years while I was a young adult. I have attended evangelical, Southern Baptist churches for my adult life and have heard Darwin’s theory denied or criticized many times from a church pulpit. I’m not a scientist but I’m deeply intrigued by science and I believe that scientific investigation is not only necessary for humanity but anticipated by God and support by His will. How many of those who champion inerrancy or Creationism want to turn back the clock on the medical innovations that we enjoy today? After personally investigating the issue earnestly with an open heart and mind and addressing it in prayer, I have come to some conclusions that have put the matter to rest in my mind and I present a few of them here. I humbly submit that those in the intellectual community who are drawn to debate and dueling theories are sometimes over-thinking what lies at the heart of the conflict. There are reasons why Creationists and those who view the science that conflicts with Biblical literalism with disdain are so adamant in their views and not swayed by facts. Those reasons are not historical, philosophical, or rhetorical so much as they are emotional. Those who hold these views have to a great degree built their spiritual lives around those beliefs and have a deep emotional investment in them. I believe the impulses that motivate their words and actions on this subject can be defined in two ways. Some find evolution and sciences like geology to be profoundly threatening to the very foundation of their Christian belief. They have heard many a sermon that delves into meaning extracted from the analysis of a single word or sentence fragment from the Bible. Such excruciating investigations of syntax and sentence structure are premised on the idea that every word is Holy revelation from the mind of God and should be received accordingly. Also, these believers find that building their faith on belief in an inerrant Bible is profoundly comforting. They hold forth the tenant that the Word is meant for everyone no matter how intellectually simple or sophisticated they may be. Therefore, the whole of the Bible should inform, inspire, and comfort every believer. They argue that if the Bible or parts of it require interpretation, investigation, and understanding of context, then it fails in this respect. Any flaw or failure of the Bible to deliver on its perceived promise to illuminate and comfort the mind of the believer is therefore a catastrophic failure of the whole. In other words, if one holds to the idea of a literally inerrant Bible in its contemporary English translation, then one must live in fear that if even one verse cannot be taken literally, it destroys the veracity of the whole. The other impulse motivating the tenacious resistance to facts is pride. I have actually heard many refer to Holy writ as “my Bible.” This is both a term of endearment and a challenge to anyone who might dare to try and affect their understanding of its contents. They often correlate their foundational assumptions and expectations about God’s word with their perceived place in society and within their fellowship of believers. A manifestation of this attitude is sometimes called “Bible thumping” here in the South. They see their particular beliefs as both a shield and an antidote against the aspects of the world around them which they find most upsetting and enjoy using bible verses as verbal arrows, a sort of weapon.

    I hope no one misconstrues my intention in writing these thoughts. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, including those in the Creationist camp. Their beliefs aren’t a threat to me and if I engage one of them in this issue I do so gently and humbly. I don’t have all the answers; I don’t know anyone who does.

  • Mark Stuber

    Dude what if you didn’t type in all caps? Actually, I already know the answer. It wouldn’t hurt my eyes to read your post therefore, I would be more inclined to read it.

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      DUUUUUDE…. LIKE, NOT COOL MAN…. NOT COOL

  • Rebecca Erwin

    Why didn’t someone say this in the first place? This makes so much sense. My rational, logical seeped in Divine Love of my Creator can now rest. Thank you so much.

  • Matt

    Many statements in the bible directly contradict science as we know it. This is the simple, undeniable truth and no amount of “rationalization” can change that. Science and God can co-exist, but Science and the literal interpretation of the bible cannot.

    Remove yourself from the equation. Do the pieces fit or do you force them to fit? When presented with evidence do you consider all possibilities? Many will ask the question, with no intention to consider, and consider the question asked.

  • Leesha

    Can I second and/or bump this topic?? I was thinking particularly of C.S. Lewis’ book about Miracles…and he says a great deal about the natural world interacting with the supernatural world…almost as if there is some kind of division, even though God is continually sustaining all of it. I’d love to hear a follow-up article about miracles. Maybe the ontological question of why God gives them to creatures who spend so much of their time questioning His interaction with them or using His works (however often we see them as a “one-time show”) to prove His existence as the Creator.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I feel like I am back in my freshman philosophy class. The first cause, prime mover, etc., arguments go back to Aristotle; they were repeated by St. Thomas Aquinas; and they were pretty much destroyed by Kant. Now at least one or maybe two appear rehashed in this article.

    This argument about god being the source of all existence suffers from the infinite regression paradox. Who created god? There must be something “eternal,” claiming this proves the existence of god is a classic begging the question argument.

    The fact is for many questions the correct answer is: “We don’t know.”

  • Sven2547

    Neither side defends or attacks the Christian tradition.

    The entire premise is a great big No True Scotsman. Ham certainly doesn’t speak for all (or even most) of Christianity, but there’s no denying he’s a Christian. If you think he’s an atheist, I suggest citing a definition of “atheist” that involves actively believing in God as described in a literal interpretation of Genesis.

    Both argue about a laughably boring god, a strange phenomenon of modernity — not the God of philosophy, theology or Scripture in any meaningful sense.

    Given that Ken’s (terrible) arguments are completely derived from (his personal literal interpretation of) scripture, I’m going to go ahead and say this statement is flat-out wrong. Just because Ham’s philosophy, theology, and interpretation of scripture are noticeably different from yours, it does not follow that Ham’s God is not a God of philosophy, theology, or scripture “in any sense”.

  • Amanda

    Evolution defies science, not God. It breaks the rules of physics and the laws of nature which God has established. (macro evolution that is, micro evolution is a very real and present force within nature…) God is continually creating, and He is the source of all being. There is nothing at all in creationism that says he is only the source of physical being or that He is no longer involved in creation. To think so is to misunderstand the entire argument. Evolution is a device used by materialists to dismiss God entirely, but it is based on a complete misunderstanding of His creation. His creation speaks to His existence, His creative power and His continued work. The signs of such are to be found in nature, as a scientist may find, without the need of any “miraculous” “breaking into” arguments. The argument of creationism is not “your god is insufficient compared to mine”, but “even your very own science points to God as ever present creator and sustainer of life, if you would but stop trying to dismiss him by any means possible–even impossible means.” When properly understood and used (admittedly, not everyone understands or properly uses the argument) it is an area of apologetics that uses science to point to God (since science is such a trusted authority in modern culture).

    • guest

      Evolution does not break the laws of physics. If you’re talking about the second law of thermodynamics, that only applies in a closed system, with no external source of energy. Earth is not a closed system; we have an external source of energy- the sun.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      Amanda, your creationist talking points are all addressed here:

      Index to Creationist Claims
      talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html


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