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).

          • Bob

            My point is that there’s a big difference between being without religion and being against religion. You can be without religion and not have any not have any philosophical reasoning for doing so. Perhaps you’re just lazy. But you cannot be against religion without having some philosophical reasoning for doing so. This requires a set of beliefs very much like those of a religion. Atheists like to act like their beliefs are more valid because they aren’t biased by some philosophy that comes from an organized religion, but in fact they are biased by their own philosophy that comes from who knows where (though it likely comes from whatever happens to be popular in the current era, which is hardly a solid philosophical foundation).

            Edit: Also, to the atheists that say “prove it”, I would say that this reasoning is illogical. Why? Because everyone believes plenty of things that they have no proof of. I believe that certain people love me, but have no proof of this, since the possibility still exists that they’ve been lying to me every time they’ve told me so. If atheists were to say that there is not enough evidence for them to believe, that would be more accurate. But the fact is that some evidence of God does exist (i.e. the bible/miracles), so you would only expect that a certain amount of people would find that evidence sufficient to believe.

          • kenofken

            Of course atheism is in a sense a “religion” but it is inherently so only because it proposes to answer the same ultimate existential questions as religion, even though that answer is a purely materialistic one.

            “Evidence” for belief is more subjective. We don’t have “proof” of miracles. We have accounts or observations of phenomena that some of us believe can only be explained – or are best explained – by God, divinity etc. There’s nothing wrong with that inasmuch as many of the overarching questions of how to live one’s life cannot be reduced to scientific questions. On the other hand, when theists offer the Bible as a literal scientific truth, they don’t have a leg to stand on because creationism is not within the realm of scientific investigation. No theory which resorts to supernatural explanation is science and never will be.

        • 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…

          • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

            hehe i really do like to talk too much sometimes :)

            i’m glad you described my posts as br00tal. i strive to be a living reminder of the brutality of the iron ages, the bloodthirstiness of the vikings, the pagan asceticism of my druid ancestors… m/

  • 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.

          • Will

            I apologize. I assumed we both affirmed the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture… If not, then the discussion would have to be quite different than I presumed..

      • Guest

        The Gospels and Acts are theological narratives, not history.

        • Mark Stuber

          Narratives about the past is history, stupid. At least you were smart enough to remain anonymous.

          • Guest

            Not necessarily. Narratives are inevitably historical, but not necessarily history in the sense of an accurate retelling of events that actually occurred. That much is obvious.

            The Gospels are by no means documentary history. They may contain kernels of actual events, but they are multi-genre constructs, largely dependent on the Hebrew scriptures, designed to propagandize a theological perspective.

    • Grotoff

      As an atheist, I would like point out my total agreement with Will viz a vi the interpretation of the Bible. It takes itself seriously. I simply reject it and it’s flawed understanding of the universe.

      • Will

        Hello Grotoff, I am sorry to have been found in agreement with you! Haha

        I would ask you to kindly reconsider your idea of origins and take the authority of Genesis seriously in light of the grand scheme of a God Who rescues His fallen bride and gives of Himself for Her. Let me put it this way: hold your objection to the Biblical cosmogony until you have seriously considered what the Bible says about sin, death and sufficiency of the cross if Christ to wash away your sins, as the climax of the gracious provision of God at the end of all things. There is no need to become a “fundy” in its sappy cultural trappings, but I would stand with them as a brother in Christ without a doubt because the waters of baptism are thicker than blood, and the body of Christ does not permit barriers in fellowship.

        I hope you the best and blessings!

        • Grotoff

          Aw but that’s just it. I find even the metaphorical understanding of Genesis and the supposed need of a “sacrifice” to make things right with a deity nauseating. Humans reached for the knowledge of good and evil, so now they are cursed? But free will is so good that God was willing to condemn the majority of humanity to eternal torture for it? But evil, and thus in the conception of the Christian “free will”, doesn’t exist in Heaven? But it’s a good place? And God can’t sit down and shoot the shit with every person on Earth to explain everything because he… wants his followers to do it? Or seeing him would destroy them? But… not Adam or Enoch or Noah or Abraham or Jacob or Moses or the High Priests or the disciples on the mountain, etc.? But the solution to all this is a human/deific sacrifice? And this wipes the slate clean… only if we say that we believe it? But that still counts as God forgiving us, even though he already paid himself?

          None of it makes any sense.

          • Natalie

            I agree with you, Grotoff, that this Western Christian way of thinking does not make sense. In the Eastern Christian church, they don’t think this way, because they didn’t have the Age of Reason as they did in the West. The church in the East was focused on love, not logic. There is no scale to weigh the sacrifice. There is much mystery. You aren’t saved by some magical words. The tree of good and evil was a good thing that Adam would have attained when he was ready. Keep searching, and you will find the answers to all these questions.

          • Grotoff

            At least the Westerners make a run at theodicy, if a clumsy one. For the Eastern church, they just say, “It’s a paradox! Look at our pretty dresses! Mysticism!” I found that rather pathetic and sad. Certainly no more coherent.

          • Will

            Hello again Grotoff,
            I agree with your critique of the Eastern answers to these questions, though I would be a bit more charitable and nuanced about it! Natalie and I are both created beings striving to know God as He has revealed Himself and come from traditions that propose to answer these questions rather differently, and I believe that mine is a more coherent response and that logic is the way God thinks and the way He is. God is not supra-logical, He, as with all other things, defines logic as that which resonates with the way that He is… These are complicated issues, and I would point you (Natalie) to Vern Poythress’ book on Logic for a nuanced and careful take on how Christians are to view logic in relation to an Absolute God.
            Back to Grotoff’s response,
            I am sorry you find these sorts of things unbelievable. I would challenge you to look into the Reformed tradition for a re-introduction to Biblical theology that is accurate. God doesn’t prize free will so much that He damns the vast majority of humanity so they can have it. Free will can be defined like this: “You are free to choose what you want”. When you define it that way, everything hinges on the “what you want” phrase and that differs for everybody. In my tradition, God sovereignly (apart from your “choosing”) changes the hearts of His people to want to turn from their sins and toward Himself, because no man would ever choose to love God without God first intervening in his heart to make him desire communion. After the fall, all men are inclined towards evil and away from God and so they are by nature children of wrath and want nothing to do with God. God then lovingly saves people from that sin and misery and brings them into His kingdom by an act of His sovereign will accomplished (usually) through the preaching of the Gospel.
            Faith is not “believing” to the exclusion of everything else. It is more like “allegiance”. Believing is saying “God is my God and I am His son in Christ.” This sort of faith is an expression of the sinner’s need for a savior and hopelessness apart from Christ. The world and its history is, and I know you are going to think this is egomaniacle or something because you haven’t come to grips with what an “Absolute” God is, for the display of the glory of God in the salvation of sinners and the destruction of the wicked impenitent ones. God is glorified in judgment and in mercy and God is telling the story of this creation (wherein, as far as I can tell from my Bible) the vast majority of humans will be saved by the preaching of the gospel. The world isn’t about to end and the West is not the world. God is victorious in History in the establishment of His Kingdom and it all abounds to His glory and our good (as they are the same thing).

            I know that it will be hard to convince somebody in a comment like this, but I would love to address your concerns privately through email correspondence as, based on your reply I have a feeling you have never encountered a Reformational answer to your objections, but have been berated with answers from the inconsistent systems of the Arminian or Roman Catholic doctrinal formulations. I don’t want to be bound to a comment section on a Roman Catholic blog (where it might not be appropriate to do a full scaled Reformational response to your reply (though I fear I have already crossed that line!).
            If you don’t wish to do so, then I will have to stop the conversation here (at least on my part for the actual content of discussion. I will check in to see your response).

          • Grotoff

            There have been more than 100 billion humans since we diverged from our common ancestor with chimpanzees. The vast majority of those people are damned according to your view of your god’s “mercy”. Evangelical religion does not now, nor has it nor will it ever, comprise a majority of humanity. Even if humanity lasts another 10,000 years, and we pretend that human history began only 6,000 years ago, the vast majority of people will be damned. It’s simple mathematics.

            That aside, you completely failed to answer my objections to the story of Christianity on the merits. It’s simply preposterous and more than a little disgusting to suggest that a human/deific sacrifice resolves anything about the human condition, much less some sort of imagined debt to a supernatural genocidal maniac who can’t even be bothered to show up and explain himself.

            Frankly, that’s all I have to say. Christianity is a perverse dogma that will be extinguished in due time by the growing horizons of humanity.

          • Will

            Haha not that you wax incredibly dramatic when you are granted the last word or anything…

            You assumed everything you thought about human origins to be true (as opposed to what the Bible says) and then sought to take what the Bible says about God’s saving actions in History towards man and impugn it by the non-biblical standard you imposed on top of it. And then you said “even if…” using the Bible’s timeline without even getting close to properly doing the math yourself. If humans lived another 10000 years and the world was only 6000 years old today and, say, Christianity continued to spread (which is my contention) and you got your strangely parochial head out of the secular west and saw the world as it is today, you probably would get the math worked out right..

            Clever, but sadly ill-conceived and poorly (if dramatically) executed.

            As far as “human/deific sacrifice” goes… Your strange and imprecise language (along with the blasphemy) did not go unnoticed. I specifically said I would respond in a manner more conducive to longer posts where actual arguments with value can be explained, not a sound-bite in a comment section of a blog post… But if I must address it, so you don’t feel neglected, but you will see that I will say things that sound ridiculous, and that is because of the offense of he Gospel and because I am not able to say everything possible to make my point argumentatively complete (or, frankly, precise).

            If you know what justice is like, it is reciprocal. Eye for eye is not an unjust system, it is the only just system. It is getting your due. If you sin against God (and God is Who we say He is) then you deserve death. You are not just a body, though, so you deserve spiritual death as well (hell). God is not torturing anybody, He is punishing them for a crime which amounts to the highest treason against The Absolute, an inifinitely good Being. Crimes can be “worse” because of the context within which they occur. If I conspire against my friend to make them fall down and hurt themselves, I am a jerk. If I work with a foreign state to do the same sort of thing to my country, I am a traitor. Justice includes such considerations. God is perfectly just and so He must deal with sins that occur in a context where the aggravation is so high it is infinite (as the worth and position of the Person against Whom the sin occurred is infinitely higher than the criminal). So eternal punishment is the just desert.

            Now God, after decreeing the fall of man into this estate of sin and misery, also decreed, for His own glory, to save His bride out of this sorry state of affairs and transform the world by sending His Son (essentially Himself) to take the eternal punishment (needed to be God to keep from sinking under infinite wrath, needed to be man to die in man’s place) that His bride deserved and thus save her.

            Basically, God seeks His own glory because, as finite creatures, we find our only satisfying joy and glory in His glory, because His is the source and resting place of glory and joy. It has to do with the fact that God is. Please go back and make sure you understand that the God of Christianity is not a god of polytheism, but the Creator and Sustainer of everything that is. All of your arguments assume you can get behind this “god” somehow and make an ethical judgment somehow (as if you could account for ethics in the first place), you are not making any sort of critique of the God of Christianity, but a bogey of your own making that you have substituted for the God Who is there. That same God made you and me and everything that is, and He continues to keep each of us alive as we talk about Him.

            I sincerely hope you can continue to read. I would say that you should check out some Reformed material as you seem like you need what could be called “hard answers” to your “tough questions”…

            My offer still stands if you want to discuss further.

          • Grotoff

            Horseshit. “Sin against god” indeed. As if anything that a merely physical creature confined to an insignificant speck twirling around a standard issue star could do would harm a deity who dominates the universe. A kitten “punching” Mike Tyson could do more damage. It’s insulting and frankly disgusting to suggest that any finite infraction of a finite being could possibly merit eternal torture and horror. Oh, but we insulted God’s honor! Deary me get my hanky! Disgusting.

            Take your lunatic ramblings and shove them.

          • Will

            It is quite stunning how the level of conversation drastically plummets to what amounts to name-calling.

            Well, it isn’t the internet for nothing!

          • Grotoff

            I already explained that Christian dogma disgusts and enrages me. You get what you ask for. I wasted more than a decade of my life in that filth. I’ll waste no more time with you.

          • Will

            As you are reading this blog and commenting, it seems you haven’t quite gotten out of “that filth”… If you are just blowing steam at what you perceive as bad past experiences, then please don’t act like you are geniunely interested in whatever a Christian has to offer by way of intellectual rebuttal or explanation. It is a waste of you time and their perceived efforts. Though I trust it was demonstrative of the respective positions for those watching.

          • Nicholas Benson

            Will – love some of your answers here – I’m actually in the Arminian camps – though more by tradition than conviction (I do not agree with a rejection of reformed theology by use of philosophy as is seen in Arminius’ work) – although I label myself a bit more neutral – you’d probably say otherwise. Anyways – I’d like to converse with – and receive some of the resources you’ve found helpful for both the debate on this thread along with the one between Calvinists and Arminians

  • 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.

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

        Jesus wasn’t a zealot, despite Reza Aslan’s title, his arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in the talmudic tradition, he is explicitly referred to in extra-biblical sources, and he was never leading a coup.

        Pretty much any half-credible historian (including the anti-evangelical, agnostic Bart Ehrmann who specifically discounts biblical inerrancy) agrees that what we know for sure Jesus is that he existed, taught something that wasn’t quite orthodox Second Temple Judaism, and was crucified in around 30-35 AD. In short, that he is a real historical person.

        • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

          most modern interpretations of historical texts i have read take snippets of some two-bit ancient historian that refer to the early christian movements that claim an unorthodox jew was crucified during the passover or refer to the mass roman persecution of the judaic people around that time and read into it as proof that a zealot who was similar to the bible stories in the gospels. more often than not they are very vague about the person himself and even disagree on names or motivation or places of origin. in short, no preliminary ancient historians, especially the more famous greek and roman ones, even mentions the man, and if they do, it is only because of the early christian movement and their claims. so the “fact” that jesus even existed is hazy at best, and to say “most modern historians agree” is a generalization and is only really upheld by authors with a religious bias. for more info on the points i made, read this: http://books.google.com/books?id=IJP4DRCVaUMC&pg=PA168&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

          • Guest

            Most modern historians do agree that Jesus existed.

            and is only really upheld by authors with a religious bias

            I’m sorry, that’s complete bs.

          • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

            MASSIVE GENERALIZATION!

            “quote taken out of context”

            denunciation.

          • Guest

            Weak.

            The thing is, you’re wrong. It’s not a “massive generalization” but the reality, and the consensus is not “only really upheld by authors” (did you mean scholars?) with a confessional bias.

            When it comes to the historical Jesus, my fellow atheists so often become faith-based ideologues. You think Jesus didn’t exist, fine. Suit yourself. But that is not the consensus among the experts who devote their professional careers to studying early Christianity.

          • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

            at this point it’s your word against mine. you’ve read stuff saying jesus was real, i’ve read otherwise. agree to disagree?

          • Guest

            Oh man! It’s not your word against mine. “Stuff we read” doesn’t decide the consensus. I would love to know who says that the majority of Biblical scholars and historians of antiquity are persuaded that Jesus never existed. Do tell.

          • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

            the above website i linked to which you obviously did not even look at. do you want more? i have more

          • Guest

            Actually I had scanned it, and I have to wonder why you think it supports your argument. It points out that the scholarly consensus can shift dramatically, which I would certainly not deny. It also offers that in the academy Jesus-deniers have come to be regarded as crackpots. Since I’m not interested in reading the entire book at your link, perhaps you’ll provide a credible citation to the effect that the proposition that Jesus never existed is in fact the scholarly consensus.

            But I doubt it.

          • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

            sigh… you’re giving me a headache you know that? the whole point in linking to that section of the book is to show you the actual historical method applied to the life of jesus, and how little we actually know if he indeed even existed. also, note the title and language of the piece; this is even a christian historian (several times he refers to “our lord”) who is talking about this.

            point in short: we know next to nothing outside of biblical sources. if you don’t regard the bible as fact, then you can’t prove jesus was even ever an actual person. that is the scholarly consensus.

          • Guest

            At least I gave you a headache.

            Since I have an interest in the historical Jesus I’m already (superficially) acquainted with the methodologies used by NT scholars. I’m also aware of the paucity of the extra-Biblical evidence.

            So now you insist that the scholarly consensus is “if you don’t regard the bible as fact, then you can’t prove jesus was even ever an actual person”! That’s ludicrous. Believing the Bible is inerrant proves nothing. And the argument isn’t over whether Jesus’s existence can be “proven.” Of course, it cannot be. It’s a matter of probabilities given the evidence. That is the basis on which the scholarly consensus that Jesus existed rests. You’re skewing the argument to mean that most modern historians do not agree that Jesus probably existed. That is false.

            You also claimed above that this position “is only really upheld by authors with a religious bias.” Bunk. The latest volley in the historical Jesus/mythicist debate has just been published: Maurice Casey’s Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?. Casey is agnostic. Last year Bart Ehrman published a critique of mythicism called Did Jesus Exist?. Ehrman is also an agnostic. They are but two of the prominent non-Christian NT scholars who support the view that Jesus existed.

        • Guest

          The Talmudic tradition acknowledges no Roman complicity in the execution of Jesus. It asserts that “Yeshu ben Stada” was stoned to death for heresy and then “hung.”

          Although it might be confusing two different men, “Yeshu ben Stada” is thought (by some scholars, anyway) to be the Jesus of the Gospels.

          The extra-biblical citations concerning Jesus do not confirm his existence. (The Josephus passage is highly disputed.) They confirm a Christian movement. I think Jesus existed, but the extra-Biblical evidence is slight.

  • 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”.

    • Straw Man

      I am not a physicist, but it’s my understanding that physics has an answer for this. Stuff can indeed “magically” appear, with the caveat that anti-stuff must appear at the same time. If I understand correctly, this has been observed. Normally the stuff and the anti-stuff promptly annihilate each other, winking back out of existence.

      Hawking theorized that black holes can actually emit matter. What’s actually happening is that a particle and anti-particle appear near the event horizon, and instead of annihilating each other, one of them is sucked into the black hole, and the other escapes.

      The current theory of the Big Bang is basically that something like this happened, on a massive scale, and matter came into existence–balanced out by its opposite (which might not be the same thing as antimatter! Remember, I’m not a physicist!). So the net energy of the universe is actually zero. We exist due to the “loophole” that other stuff exists to balance us out–and if it hadn’t been violently driven apart by the Big Bang, everything would have canceled out and the universe would have again been empty.

  • 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

    • Agni Ashwin

      You do know that Genesis says we came from dirt?

  • 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!)

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      Monty Python. for those who think comedy should be more than just sex and fart jokes…. even though they make a lot of those too haha

  • 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.”

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      Nail, meet hammer. Couldn’t have said it better myself :)

      why is it whenever i try to make conversations like this happen with my “theology major” friends they go straight to the old stuff like Aristotle and Aquinas and don’t move past those arguments as though they couldn’t be refuted? HELLO, PHILOSOPHY HAS MOVED PAST THE MIDDLE AGES…

      in the end, i guess it’s to be expected. they can’t have doubts they are wrong because that means denying the “faith” they have in their scripture and doctrine… it’s a double edged sword really, because to have an intelligent debate you have to be open to the possibility you are wrong. why would i as an atheist read anything other than /r/atheism or whatever website preaches to my choir? because i know i’m human and i don’t know everything, to paraphrase Socrates

    • Brendan Wildcard Zaleski

      also, if i may add, why does the universe even need a creator? we know next to nothing of what goes on outside our universe because by definition, our universe is all we can know. why can’t our universe be that eternal thing that has always been and will be, imploding in on itself into a black hole and rebirthing itself as the big bang? at least we can SEE that resurrection.

    • jg

      you are missing the entire point of the prime mover argument which is to resolve the infinite regress, which btw is there without a god, modern science has just tried to replace one transcendent force with gravity (if you buy Hawking’s view that is). Haven’t gotten to Kant yet (start studying him next week!) so I could be totally off base with all of this, but it does seem that every philosopher acts as if he has discredited everyone that came before him, and hey, since we are still talking about Aquinas, he obviously still has some relevancy.

      • Christopher R Weiss

        Sorry… you missed the point of the infinite regression paradox. Assuming the end to this regression is god is a simple “god of the gaps argument,” meaning we have some question we can’t answer so we just point to god.

        When you get to Kant read the antinomes of pure reason. He specifically discusses questions for which assuming either side appears to result in a paradox or contradiction. For example, if there is no prime mover then how did things get started? If there is a prime mover, what moved it? Ironically, Kant then goes on to give what amounts to an ontological proof for the existence of god, which is a very unsatisfying explanation.

        Aquinas is only relevant as a Catholic re-interpretation of Greek philosophy in a more directly religious context. He helped arm many Jesuit scholars. The fact that many people repeat his arguments without understanding why they are not actual “proofs” of anything doesn’t really establish his credibility.

        The problem with using philosophy to constrain or explain the real world is that this approach usually collapses or adds no new information. For example, “logic” would tell us things like relativity or quantum mechanics are impossible, when clearly they are true and demonstrably so. We have many philosophers such as Nagel telling us evolution cannot possibly be true even though lab experiments have demonstrated many of the mechanisms of evolution. Using ancient Greek arguments to try and dismantle atheism and materialism is not going to result in a proof of anything.

        Pointing to questions where the correct answer is “we don’t know” is not proof of a prime mover, a first cause, etc. called “god.”

        • Van Parkman

          Kant didn’t refute anything. All he said was that we can’t prove the prime mover. He said the same thing about the sun rising though. He said that just because the sun rose today doesn’t mean it will rise tomorrow. Kant has an epistemological point.but he would make a horrible weather man. It takes a leap of faith to plan a canoe trip!
          Furthermore, the point of the prime mover argument in this article is to say that this material world doesn’t make sense without a prime mover. In this case the prime mover is God. God by definition doesn’t need something to create him. If he did, the need for another God would arise. He is immaterial. He is infinite. He is the ultimate source. Nothing makes sense unless everything came from something that is complete in itself. Yes, it requires a leap of faith to believe in God but no Christian thinker has ever denied that. Christians have only ever said that they believe the sun will rise tomorrow. They didn’t say they could prove it.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            You obviously didn’t read the antinomes of pure reason. If you won’t do your homework, I can’t help you.

            Your rant in this response shows you don’t see the begging the question fallacies within your own statements. You are simply making a god of the gaps argument – nothing more and nothing less.

          • Van Parkman

            your lack of faith is disturbing. You obviously didn’t read Critique closely enough. Kant would agree with Christians in that we cannot prove that God exists given our “conditioned knowledge” (to quote Kant) but he would still hold that it is in the natural and proper reason-completing function of our “reason” to make leaps of faith. Your failure to acknowledge a need for further explanation to the material universe, even if you don’t believe in God, would have disappointed Kant.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Kant was a Christian and made an ontological argument for the existence of god….So what?

            His antinomes of pure reason were designed to talk about many of the paradoxes which are used to justify the existence of god as well as other problems that troubled the Greeks.

            The prime move argument, etc, suffer the infinite regression paradox and are really under the heading “god of the gaps.”

          • Van Parkman

            so…he rightly argued that this world demands further explanation. label it how you wish.

            he criticized faith based on a specific type of a leap of faith. he did not criticize the NEED for a leap of faith in pure reason. you can restate the label “god of the gaps” all you want. the problem from your side is still there. Christians recognize their problem and answer it with faith. you on the other hand have labels. only labels….

          • Van Parkman

            and faith based on what are believed to be certain revelations from God and a long standing and very well attested tradition i might add…

          • Christopher R Weiss

            A billion fools are still foolish. People used to believe that the earth was the center of the universe. Galileo faced the inquisition for challenging “tradition.”

            Please don’t use “tradition” as your next argument… it is one of the weakest of all.

            “Revelations from god”… really? Please stop. This is purely a faith based statement that can convince no one except other believers who already agree with you.

          • Van Parkman

            lol. I made my point. btw, people like Galileo only help Christians find out what is non-Christian about their worldview. Galileo’s findings were not rejected on the basis of sound Christian doctrine. I believe that a correct Christian worldview corresponds better to reality than any other worldview including all varieties of atheism. I do believe a miracle worker named Jesus walked the earth and that he was who he was reported to purport to be and that there is a lot more empirical evidence to support such a belief both from history and day to day experiences, all philosophical arguments aside. pardon th run-on. th historicity of Jesus and what he did and who he was is much better attested to than any other person from antiquity and what they may have done and who they may have been. i would also argue that tradition is a necessary part of any worldview including that of an educated atheist. our tradition just happens to have something of substance attached to the far end.

          • Van Parkman

            I did not miss the “we don’t know part” of Kant. I simply insisted over and over again that Kant saw the need for there to be something more.

          • Van Parkman

            to repeat myself: “he (Kant) would still hold that it is in the natural and proper reason-completing function of our ‘reason’ to make leaps of faith.”

          • Christopher R Weiss

            And again, I cited Kant to dispute the classical fallacious arguments for the existence of god, which you have not acknowledged.

          • Van Parkman

            I have been acknowledging the fallacies the whole time. the prime mover argument requires a leap of faith. i HAVE been acknowledging that. I simply qualify that by saying that Kant considers it a valuable and proper function of the human reasoning to make leaps of faith in those contexts just as with the sun rise scenario.

          • Van Parkman

            Kant wanted more than the leap of faith though. He wanted a proof and that is why he offered the moral argument. (I am not saying that any of the proofs are sufficient in themselves. They are sufficient in themselves to get us to a certain point. It is an epistemological problem that we can only go so far obviously. In the end, the leap of faith is necessary but in order to not sell the proofs we do have short I will defend Christianity where it can be defended against weak stereotypical arguments against it.

          • Guest

            Mr. Parkman: Do you have any recommendations of books well-sourced books to read to get more about the historicity of Jesus? Thank you.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            This was not why I cited Kant. I pointed to him to illustrate the fallacies of the prime mover and first cause style of argument for the existence of god.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            You are talking in circles and past the points I have made. Typical denialist strategy of the fanatic.

            Tradition proves nothing. Aztec traditions were brutal. Racism in the US was an immoral tradition which we have removed to a large degree. Do I need to go on?

            The evidence of Jesus’ divinity was constructed as is the new testament, which was written largely and mostly after his death. The are some scholars such as Richard Carrier who have discussed this at length if you wish to read what he has to say.

            Archaeologists have found the historical site of ancient Troy. Does this mean that the homeric epics are true too? History and tradition are not the foundations for establishing the truth of any supernatural belief.

          • Van Parkman

            If that supernatural thing came into this world and revealed himself not as a phantom but as something we could touch, see, feel, and watch bleed then yes history and tradition are such foundations if attested to accurately. I am well aware of when the scriptures were written. We have EXTANT manuscripts from as early as the second century. These are copies of manuscripts written only decades earlier about a man who had lived only decades earlier! The earliest extant writings of Plato date to after a thousand years from his death! In quantity and quality the written witnesses to the life of Jesus Christ are unparalleled. We have over 5,400 mss and none of them deviate from any other in such a way that would incite division of doctrine. The VERY short time between Christ’s death and when the first documents were written was filled with a very widespread but quite agreeable oral tradition which had a few different forms of outlook and at least three of those are expressed in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John quite homogeneously. Homer’s epics on the other hand were written hundreds of years after the fact and many historians still DO in fact say it happened. Few scholars doubt the existence of Jesus. Even fewer doubt the existence of Plato for whom we have way less evidence. What makes the claims of Jesus believable is his explanation of the human condition and his demonstrations toward a higher answer set perfectly in complementation to the Jewish background.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Here is the important difference between Plato (I think you actually mean Socrates), and Jesus – no one is claiming that Plato or Socrates were the son of god and performed miracles. Their teachings are very useful, and no one is forming a religion around platonic forms or recovered memories from Socrates.

            There were many messianic cults from the time of Jesus that sprung from the oppressed Jewish population. The difference with Jesus was that Paul kept the movement going. Arguably without Paul, christianity would have died out. It is unfortunate that many of the more disagreeable portions from the new testament come from Paul.

            When a bronze age book or manuscript makes fantastic claims about miracle and supernatural events, the natural response should be skepticism. However, when there are beliefs from the same time period that have been ingrained and made part of a society’s culture, it is hard to adopt the requisite skeptical perspective. This is what we have with christianity and the stories of Jesus.

            What you have posted is confirmation bias. Why is this set of bronze age stories true while others are false? What if the Jews are correct and Jesus was just a prophet and not the messiah? What if the Muslims are right? The problem is that the Abrahamic religions all have evidence of equal validity, which is to say none at all.

          • Van Parkman

            I don’t mean Socrates. I mean Plato. Plato was the one who wrote down what Socrates supposedly said and taught and anyone who studies the writings of Plato knows that many of the later dialogues of Socrates were more Platonic than Socratic so that there are two distinct yet similar philosophies within Plato yet only one pen. I say all that to illustrate that you do not know your philosophy which is part of the reason you won’t acknowledge Kant’s full marriage of epistemology and reason and the ramifications of it. If you wish to debate the validity of who Christians say Jesus was then you must rationally accept the witnesses as having some degree of validity and then you must narrow the microscope to what even skeptics acknowledge about the life of Christ and then determine which conclusion is most rational based on the evidence rather than throwing away all of the evidence because you yourself are biased against it. So the Jews say that he was a prophet huh? On what evidence do you say this? Which Jews? The ones that followed him for his miracles? or the ones that wanted him dead? Paul was obviously a very devout and learned Jew before he converted. He hunted down Christians. How do you explain his conversion? How do you explain his willingness to be imprisoned and die for what he believed in? How do you explain the other martyrs? Not the martyrs of today who have been “brainwashed.” Not the martyrs of modern day Islam who blow themselves up because they have been brainwashed. no, the martyrs who were not martyrs because they were brainwashed but rather because they were eyewitnesses to the man of Jesus. Of Jesus’ disciples, only John the apostle died a natural death and yet he still was tortured for Christ. Muhammad was the oppressor. The existential and empirical evidence for the validity of Muhammad’s religion and explanation of the condition of human beings and the theological and rational continuity to Judaism is not comparable to that of Christianity’s. Unlike Muhammad, Jesus was the oppressed. These two cannot be compared. Zoroastrianism was the main rival of early Christianity and it was bogus. The rise and message of Christianity is not so easily compared with that of other religions. Try again sir. Bronze age stories? you must be referring to Genesis. You are dismissing the well attested to historicity of the New Testament and want to jump into a debate over the first half of Genesis??

          • Christopher R Weiss

            I thought you meant Socrates because some scholars question his existence.

            The basis of the myths for the new testament came from the bronze age. Technically Jesus was in the iron age. However, again, both periods are from a time when information was sketchy. Ever play the telephone game? If the same sentence can’t make it through a group of people unchanged in the same room, how can we believe anything that was transcribed from an “oral tradition?”

            You could reasonably argue that much of Islam is medieval in its perspective. However, there are many christian atrocities such as the crusades, the inquisition, the justification for the slaughter of native peoples in the Americas, etc.

            Conversion and cult membership happen. We see it alive and kicking today with groups like the Jehovah witnesses, the Davidians, and arguably some more mainstream groups like the Mormons. Paul’s conversion is not that unusual. His position is what allowed him to influence things.

            None of the holy books are known for accuracy. Please don’t review the old testament. It has no veracity whatsoever.

          • Van Parkman

            My bad about Socrates. Jesus lived 450 years after the iron age ended.
            I’d suggest looking into the textual evidence for the traces of the oral tradition variations which reinforce their supposed consistency and the possibility of older written accounts which no longer survive. Many oral traditions are highly inaccurate. Others are highly accurate over the course of hundreds of years. In the case of Jesus, not only are we talking just a few decades but we are talking about multiple oral traditions that match up with one another. There were thousands of eyewitnesses to his works and sayings. No one who studies the subject can easily discredit the claims of the New Testament. In fact, the more you study it, the more circumstantial and textual evidence is to be found so that the gap between believing and not believing gets smaller and smaller. One of the hypocritical things about living in such an evidentialistic society is that it takes so many historical “facts” for granted without challenge yet its secular bias blinds it to the truth of the incarnation which has evidence beyond compare. To medieval standards or hellenistic or iron age standards, the life of Jesus is as apparent as the sweetness of honey to Winnie the Pooh. Joseph Smith of the Mormons couldn’t reproduce his golden tablets to the public. the Jehovah Witnesses are still waiting in the justification of their “watch towers.” Under the circumstances, Paul’s conversion was quite unusual and so were the martyrdoms of all the other martyrs. Your last sentence is a highly uneducated one unless you are using the nouns, “old testament” in place of “the first few chapters of Genesis and other sporadic selections.”

          • Christopher R Weiss

            The iron age ended around 300 AD.

            Oral traditions are not accurate. This has been shown over and over. You can see this in modern studies where people under stress see things completely incorrectly. While eye witness testimony is given great weight in court, things like project innocence have shown how unreliable eye witness testimony can be.

            The problem is that things that were “miracles” in the past have been consistently shown not to be in the future. Why is it today there are so many fewer miracles? Has god abandoned us or is it that modern man is more sophisticated and less gullible? Look at all the people burned, tortured, and killed in the inquisition for mental health afflictions that were previously considered to be “possession by demons.” Why was it people used to be possessed by demons, but today they have mental illnesses?

            Look at the recent case of the canonization of Mnther Theresa. While Christopher Hitchens engaged in very insulting polemics, and the title of his book was unfortunate, his text “Missionary Position” exposed the fraud and other mythology that was used to justify putting Mother Theresa on the path to sainthood.

            When you look at the frequency of fantastic events in the bronze age, iron age, and into the medieval times up to the beginning of the enlightenment, it is no coincidence that magic and miracles have stopped happening. For example, name a news story where a verifiable miracle occurred. I am not going to call things like amazing survival stories “miracles” I mean things where a man healed the sick or blind or raised the dead.

            I am reminded of a quotation by Arthur C. Clarke on the laws of technology. To paraphrase, to anyone not initiated, complex technology or science will appear to be magical.

            You are taking the word of ancient people with no technology and no real science and trusting that they have told the truth and that they properly understood things they called miracles. Hmmmm……

          • Van Parkman

            Only in certain parts of Asia did it last that long. In the Levant where Jesus was it ended about the middle of the first century B.C.
            The reason there are fewer miracles is because Jesus has come and gone. Whether they were mental illnesses or demons, they were taken care of.
            There are two major differences between what you are saying about modern accounts of bad eyewitnesses and the instance I am speaking of. One, there were many who saw the same thing and agreed. We are not talking about a single mad man but many ‘mad men.’ Nor did any of Jesus’ enemies deny that he was and that he was something very special. They just disagreed on what. Two, the story of a person like Jesus is not so easily forgotten! In fact, we are told in the New Testament that the deeds of Jesus which were written were but a small amount of the things he did.
            The enemies of Jesus claimed he did his miracles through demonic means. Nowadays, if he were to do miracles on the scale that he did, he would draw a crowd like the Beatles in ’64 or even greater. There would be no need for faith by anyone. When Jesus was crucified the great crowds died down and only came back in fractional number when the news was published abroad that he had risen from the grave because there is a need for faith. That epistemological leap that you yourself will not make yet is part of the beauty of Christianity. Only those who search for him on an existential level can come to see the truth. The truth will become evident if you give it enough time and sincerity.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            My point about missing technology and the lack of the sophistication of the people in the time of Jesus still stands. It is not something you can overcome by tweaking the date for the end of the iron age.

            When you claim it takes a special “knowledge” or “perception” to accept the truth, this is a common ploy by believers. Your beliefs are based in faith which is belief without evidence that can be verified. You cannot make some claim about me “missing the truth.” You are playing with ambiguity when you make statements like this. The only way we could have the same beliefs would be for me to accept your faith. Please don’t try to assign more objectivity to this decision on your part. There is no objective truth behind these beliefs or we wouldn’t be having this debate.

          • Van Parkman

            To add to my evidence I would like to point out that two of the gospel writers themselves were close eyewitnesses and at least two of the epistle writers. The extent to which they relied on the oral tradition to fill in the gaps of their memory is speculative to a degree but much has been gathered from comparing and contrasting the synoptic gospels. Matthew, the most used gospel, was written by an eyewitness (and one of the twelve) as was John. When we speak of oral tradition we are speaking of people who knew each other and were very close to the events of Jesus’ life. When admittance into the New Testament was being considered, only those deemed close in proximity to the life of Jesus were allowed in. The date of the iron age matters because it is further evidence that you are not up to speed with your history. When determining the historicity of Jesus you are unqualified. No academic would dismiss the evidence of the life of Jesus to the extent you have. The ONLY time period you could have better literary evidence for the existence of any man than what you do with Jesus is the current one where home videos and newsreels count as sources for literature.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Your claim of superior literary evidence is purely bogus. We have better support for many historical figures.

            This being said, you still have not addressed the fact that the people back then were almost infinitely more willing to accept a story of a miracle than the people of today. This is not because miracles have stopped happening, it is because they never happened.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            No… I have the courage to say “we don’t know” rather than to engage in question begging sophistry. This is the problem you won’t acknowledge.

            Faith is not logical and it is not the basis for an argument. You can list out your articles of faith, but they have no standing in argument based in facts and reason.

            When I was a philosophy student, I thought Kant was truly onto something. He laid out the foundations of what would later become cognitive psychology. However, he felt he had to prove “god existed,” so he presented one of the weakest forms in his writings.

            The prime mover argument is completely unsupportable. It is based on nothing but a question where the only supportable answer is “we don’t know.” This was Kant’s point, which you keep missing. The fact that he chose to argue god exists another way does nothing to detract from his dismantling of vacuous arguments such as the “prime mover” or the “first cause” etc.

  • 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”.

    • Benjamin

      You know he followed up and expanded on those points, right? He made cases for both of those claims. The entire article was a discussion of just how the creationist’s claims are a twentieth century break with the continuous Christian tradition and the materialist’s is simply mute to it.

      • Sven2547

        I know he tried to expand on these points, he just did a lousy job. He’s reaching into the bag of really bad theological arguments, bad philosophical arguments, and a smattering of other fallacies. It begins with his ill-conceived affirmation of the consequent* and it’s all downhill from there. A rehash of the long-refuted Cosmological Argument**. An outright straw-man of Nye’s philosophical leanings***. The aforementioned No True Christian Scotsman. A petty willingness to opine and criticize on a debate Marc admits he never saw nor plans to see. Yes, Ham’s YEC is at odds with most Christian philosophies (and Marc is happy to expand on those differences), but it does not follow that Ham is a non-Christian.

        * Affirming the consequent is a formal fallacy that takes the following form:
        If P then Q.
        Q is true.
        Therefore P is true.

        In this case, Marc is saying:
        Atheism is materialistic
        Ken Ham’s YEC is materialistic
        Therefore Ken Ham’s YEC is atheistic

        ** It’s seriously disgraceful that people still cling to the Cosmological Argument. It’s like they think philosophy hasn’t progressed in the last few hundred years. The Cosmological Argument *always* comes down to infinite regress, self-contradiction, or fallacious Special Pleading, depending on how they try to weasel out of it. Marc seems to have opted for Special Pleading. If your hypothetical agent is exempt from the laws of science and the rules of logic then that’s fine; but you may no longer pretend your position is logical or scientific.

        *** Marc unfairly characterizes Nye’s “materialism” as “flatly denies the possibility of the spiritual”. If he had bothered to actually watch the “debate”, he would know that Nye does not automatically reject the supernatural, he follows the evidence, and if evidence of the supernatural were presented he would turn on a dime.

  • 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.

      • kenofken

        Evolution doesn’t even strain the laws of physics, let alone break them.

    • 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

  • judge

    Just to point out, Ken Ham didn’t deny that animals and creatures and beings have changed to account for the great diversity even among single species. He delivered a very well thought out presentation during his debate with Bill Nye. Any decently intelligent person would have found it extremely hard to deny his points and his evidence supporting them. He truly was the clear winner of the debate. He made no attempt to suggest a world without science. On the contrary, he whole-heartledly supports the concept and foundation of science, and used certain scientific knowns to help his view.

    On the other hand, Bill Nye came off as a dumb-ass. Straight-up stupid. Bill Nye spent most of his presentation trying to insult Ken Hams intelligence and world view with no scientific reasoning of his own. Bill Nye only argued the explicit claims Ken Ham proposed instead of making counter-claims of his own for Ken to address.

    In the end, Ken had repeated much of his original statement for he really had not much to work with when addressing Bill.

    Tl;Dr
    The funny image at the end of the article is inaccurate. Ken Ham was the one saying “The Bible & Science” while Bill Nye only stated “Science alone,” going as far as doing the ungodly thing of attempting to attack Ken Ham’s character directly.

    Atheists are always pricks. Funny that.

  • Grotoff

    Were the gnostics materialists then? Get real.

  • CynthiaGreens98

    …Yeah, If you make less than $5000 dollars a month you need to
    read this B­­ℯ­­s­t­­9­­6­­­.­­­c­­­ℴ­­­m…there is not a single thing in the universe that “holds itself in being.”

  • James

    How cute. Yet another “progressive Christian” making a false equivalence between atheism and a particularly nutty form of your own religion, pretending to be the reasonable person in between these two positions, and presenting not the slightest bit of evidence or reason for anyone to suppose your particular faith claims at true, faith claims that are quite different from those of historical Christianity

  • aldewacs

    So there is a God who is exists outside of our realm. He created the universe for the purpose of … whatever. He is so different from us, his creation, that we stand no chance of understanding how, why, when … we humans were created.

    Yet there are millions of people arguing extremely fine points, as this article does, on the basis that THEY claim to understand these reasons and methods well enough that they feel obliged to enlighten the rest of us.

    This God has no beginning and no end, he has always been and will always be, but of course the same cannot / may not be said of the universe. It had to be created at some point, something that God had no need of. If God has no need for a beginning, why does the universe? Or any number of possible universes?

    Instead of claiming to ‘know’ and offering numerous and evolving (!) unlikely (and opposing) views on the answer, let’s just admit it: We don’t know. We may never know. And there is absolutely no need to dream up fantastic explanations and theories that can never be proven, but that the dreamers insist should be the basis of the rules by which we all live our extremely short lives on this earth – an extremely small speck of dust in our known universe.

    And they ask me why I’m an atheists? Hah…

  • aldewacs

    ” Creationism Is Materialism’s Creation”…
    - –
    This article just illustrates that there are now enough Christians who see and fear he silliness of “creationism” that they have to start laying the groundwork to distance themselves from it.

    “Creationism” is “Not a true Scotsman”… creationists are the work of the devil … (right, Suzy and Timmy?).

  • Joe

    Yeah Ken Ham is an atheist and Christians were never creationists before the 20th century when materialism was invented. :P

  • Joe

    Creationism is materialism’s inescapable, obnoxious spouse.

    Presumably the Vatican escapes materialism because they don’t have any spouses.

  • Pythagoras

    Nothing has ever caused itself to exist? Uh what about quantum vacuum states? This article seemed to be one long philosophical argument that has ignored or is unaware of the philosophy of time and everything we’ve learned about quantum mechanics and causality in the past 30 years. If you would have bothered to read into the Hawking-Harte state you could have saved yourself the time it took to write this.

  • Pippen Snifferdoo

    I love this.

  • http://wonderingzygoteemeritus.blogspot.com/ Gerry M

    I wrote a limerick about the debate (on my blog too: http://wonderingzygoteemeritus.blogspot.com/2014/02/nye-ham-debate-wacky-wednesday.html )

    Ham and Nye are so very suspicious.
    Ham on rye: it is oh so delicious.
    Is it God who they seek?
    Both their posits are weak.
    Without God nothing could be nutritious.

    Copyright 2013 Wondering Zygote Emeritus
    http://wonderingzygoteemeritus.blogspot.com/

  • eldar89

    “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.”

    Are you seriously serious? Throwing pretzels at Richard Dawkins cutouts pales in comparison to torture and murder that the medieval Catholic Church used to keep heretics in line. Or have you conveniently blocked out from your memory what the church did to Galileo? I understand the church took 350 years to formally apologize for that, but that kind of fundamentalism in science is not “a modern phenomenon.” It is, in fact, a pathology that runs through any doctrinal orthodoxy governed by a central authority.

  • Jean

    Why is the choice science or God? God created the stuff of science and just like everything else man made a hash of it- or at least understanding it. It reminds me of the God vs. Satan argument-since they are not equals there is no contest.

  • Infertile Minnesota

    Very interesting! “For evolution is only ever a threat to the idea of God if your idea of God has been hopelessly manhandled by materialistic assumptions.” Love it!

  • http://neoboha.blogspot.com/ Tyne Swedish

    I love what my A103 Anthropology professor said on this topic the first day of class. He stated that inside this room we believe in evolution and science and will try to discover our culture and history from that standpoint. We will not answer why we exist or other big picture questions because science, history, and all of academia cannot answer those questions. He instructed students to go to their respective churches for those answers.

    Tyne
    http://neoboh.blogspot.com

  • Laurie Vines

    Creation and evolution are at absolute odds. First lets define evolution as the gradual change over billions of years from the most basic simple life form to all the complexity of life we see now. (no one disuputes that frequency of genotypes that already exist can be changed, such as selective breedng for color or size, which some call microevolution and some call adaption by selecting for characteristics that already exist in a population).

    So why are creation and evolution at odds? The human soul. If humans evolved then at what point did humans become a living soul with eternal existence after death, which is very clear in the scriptures. Did the amoeba have a soul, did the first tetrapod, did the first mammal, did the first ape? Man was created as man with a soul. The second point I would make is the infinite regress problem. All material things have a history. A rock one billion years ago still had a day before. But how far back can this go – infinite? No! If an infinite sequence of events have already occured to bring us to this present time/event then that would mean that rock has already existed for eternity an infinite amount of time which is impossible. You can not traverse an infinite distance or transpire and infinite amount of time. So how did we get here? There was a beginning of matter and time. Afterall time does not exist if there is nothing material. Time is a measure of one material thing in relation to another – a clock ticking, a rotation of the the earth, a planet revolutions around the sun, the decay of elements. whatever.

    If there is nothing material there is no time. The Bible describes God as a Spirit that would exist with out physical attributes and thereby could exist before and outside of time. A companion question asks, well can there be an infinite or eternal future? Absolutely. An infinite future does not necessitate that we or any material thing has already traversed an infinite distance or time scale.

    There can be an infinite number of days after but not an infinite number of days before. Think of a dot on a timeline with an arrow going forward and backward to infinity. If that dot is our present moment on that timeline, how did that dot get there? Did it move along the time scale from an infinite past. If so how did that dot exist for eternity before reaching the present? God is the first cause in a very long sequence of caust and effect.

  • Paradox

    Well, my first comment was going to be an explanation for my disagreement with Laurie Vines. But then I read farther down and saw some people being dumb. This isn’t R/Atheism, so why are such out-of-place comments assaulting my eyes?
    Is the wall always like this?


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