Got Genesis? Homogenized and Pasteurized!

This was my last actual entry on my old blog, and I’ve decided to offer it as the first ‘real’ post on my new blog site as well…

I’ve already said plenty, I imagine, on the problem of homogenizing the creation stories in Genesis 1-3. But what about “Pasteurizing” them? Before this is dismissed as nonsense, let me explain. Young-earth creationists regularly refer to Pasteur’s work disproving spontaneous generation, and suggest that Pasteur’s conclusion that “life does not arise from non-life” disproves a natural explanation for life’s origins (actually, they usually confuse matters and suggest that it disproves evolution, but I’ll let that one slide for now).

Pasteur was not addressing the question of whether, in ancient earth conditions very different from those today, natural processes could lead to the origin of life. Pasteur was addressing the notion that life forms such as maggots appeared fully-formed in raw mean, mice in cheese, mold on bread, and so on. No scientist thinks that either today or in the past, living things arose in one giant leap like that. The author of Genesis, however, presumably accepted (as did all people in that period in history) idea of spontaneous generation and of the earth’s generative power, since he has God command the earth to bring forth living things. So young-earth creationists, in drawing attention to Pasteur’s work, have misunderstood it and its relationship to both the scientific study of origins and to the Bible.

By way of follow up to my last post, let me also provide a link to the TalkOrigins page “Quote Mine Project“.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07725829998119648772 Matt Kelley

    To say that the author of Genesis (perhaps ‘redactor’ would be a better term, since it’s pretty clear that there are multiple sources/authors) accepted any kind of scientific idea seems a bit presumptuous to me, since the concept of history as we understand it today as well as the precepts of science as we understand them today did not exist in the human consciousness at the time of Genesis’ final composition/redaction/compilation. I would argue that these passages are more properly understood as fables in the tradition of Aesop, with no more factuality implied by the writer/s than in “How the Zebra got its Stripes”.(Heavy mechanical breathing) When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the Master… (hwww, phhh, hwww, phhh…)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Only a Master of Divinity, Darth! :-)Well done finding your way to my new blog site so quickly! And thanks for your comment. Just to clarify, I didn’t want to suggest that the author of Genesis accepted any kind of scientific idea – on the contrary, my point was that the author responsible for Genesis 1 seems to assume the PRE-scientific idea of spontaneous generation. And thus the argument that young-earth creationists think is useful in combatting evolution not only isn’t, but actually has implications for their claims about the alleged scientific information in Genesis!More on Genesis 1 at http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/bible/ot/genesis1.htm and on religion and science more generally at http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/science/

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