Hume, Giraffes, and the Argument for Incompetent Design

One of the classic philosophical texts that we discuss in my freshman class “Faith, Doubt and Reason” is David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. It is noteworthy how, despite changes and progress in the realm of the natural sciences, the same sorts of arguments – such as the teleological or design argument – continue to be used and debated.

It is noteworthy that, in Hume’s dialogue, the pious character Demea objects to the argument from design on grounds of piety. And with good reason. If one allows that one may argue from evidence of design to a designer, then one opens up the possibility of arguing from shortcomings in design to an incompetent designer.

For those living today, the laryngeal nerve provides one great example of a compelling counterargument to Intelligent Design – particularly the route that nerve takes in the giraffe:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xdm5he

If you are a religious believer, and you refuse to accept evolution, then you have little choice but to blame God for the shortcomings seen in nature. You have little choice but to conclude that God wanted to leave us open to death by choking, when he made the routes for food and air converge on the same passage. And that is but one more of a very long list of examples of things that make good sense when considered the result of the slow adaptive processes of evolution, but which look ridiculous or even malevolent if considered the direct design of a divine Engineer.

So don’t be surprised if other fellow religious believers, better informed about both science and theology, insist that you are demeaning rather than glorifying God through your refusal to accept evolution.

You are making God out to be an incompetent, not an intelligent, Designer.

  • Robert Cargill

    well said.

  • http://targuman.org/ Christian Brady

    Well, the primary argument would (presumably) be that such aberrations developed after the Fall. (Like disease and death itself.) I do know many 6-day creationists who accept incremental evolution for just such reasons; these things developed after God initially created all things to be tov meod. 

    Now to be clear (because someone will make this mistake) this is not my personal position. 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I know that many people with whom I have had conversations about religion and science, when they see where the logic of their position could lead, decide to modify it – such as the idea that the virgin birth was to keep Jesus from inheriting the sinful nature via the Y chromosome, which is obviously just a ploy to claim that all women (not having a Y chromosome) are sinless. :)

    I wonder whether, if forced to choose between saying that God “subjected creation to futility” by deliberately lengthening the giraffe’s laryngeal nerve, or accepting evolution, many Christians might not decide to go with the latter rather than the former, even if their prior inclination had been towards young-earth creationism or intelligent design.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonstaples Jason Staples

    Forgive me for pressing the logic here, but when you say, “If you are a religious believer, and you refuse to accept evolution, then you have little choice but to blame God for the shortcomings seen in nature,” I’m not sure how belief in evolution (the middle term of the syllogism) actually has anything to do with God’s responsibility in the whole matter. Would it not be just as accurate to say, “If you are a religious believer (at least a believer in an omnipotent God), you have little choice but to blame God for the shortcomings seen in nature”?

    Put differently, if one is a theist, wouldn’t one have to blame God EVEN IF the evolution was the process by which such things came to be? After all, in such a case, isn’t God responsible for the process of evolution itself?

    I can see how a believer in atheistic evolution has no God to blame and can simply blame the process. But it strikes me that a theist believer in evolution is in the same fix as the creationist on this point at least. Hume’s argument on this point is essentially a re-framing of the problem of imperfection as a criticism of the argument from design, and all theists who hold to an omnipotent deity are really in the same fix with respect to that problem, whether they believe in evolution or not.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Good question, Jason! I think that if one can make a case for a good reason why God would create through evolution, then the results of evolution are simply side effects of the process. But if one attributes the creation of each individual organism and each individual organ to God as putting that animal together “from scratch” then some less than optimal features are a real problem.

    Does that distinction make sense? Does it address your objection?

  • http://twitter.com/jasonstaples Jason Staples

    I see a very small distinction, but I don’t really think it addresses the objection.

    Either way, God is still responsible for what we see as bad design, and the only real defense for it (whether one is a creationist or evolutionist) boils down to “Well, God (must have) had a better reason for doing it this way”—that is, the argument from divine sovereignty/wisdom/inscrutability.

    The less optimal features of organisms remain a “real problem” for any theist, since a non-theist critic of theistic evolution could simply ask why God couldn’t have snapped his divine fingers and created better organisms without the whole process of evolution, skipping all the problems inherent to it—essentially, “Why couldn’t an omnipotent God have found a better process that wouldn’t have resulted in these problems?” That’s just as big a philosophical problem as the creationist has to deal with, as far as I can tell.

    As I see it, the only real payoff to making this distinction is that the person making it (as an evolutionist) is LESS LIKELY to have to answer this particular criticism of an incompetent God. But that doesn’t mean the position is any less vulnerable to the criticism.

  • JD Walters

    It seems that people who advance this objection don’t take into account the broader context of design. It’s easy to take a specific organism in isolation and imagine how one or another of its systems could have been improved in a certain direction…but when we also take into account the organism’s other systems, we have to ask whether optimizing one of them would have negative implications for the rest. For example, we would be impervious to many slashing wounds if we had a dense, heavy external hide, but we also wouldn’t have the dexterity and sensitivity to use our hands for fine craftsmanship. And things get even murkier when we expand beyond the individual organism to consider its relationships with fellow members of its species, of that species with other species, and ultimately with its broader ecological environment. Is even the most skilled engineer going to come forward and say, not just that he/she could improve on the human body in one respect, but could optimize all human bodily systems, as well as that of all other creatures in all their varied environments? It seems that what we see in nature is a (dare I say) finely-tuned system of checks and balances to keep any one creature from overpowering and overwhelming all the rest. Well, there are human beings, but here we have to bring autonomy and moral decision-making into the picture.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Jason, I suppose that some might ultimately feel that “Why would God have created by means of evolution?” and “Why would God create organisms with laryngeal nerves that travel a long distance to wrap around blood vessels before returning to a spot inches from where they started?” are equally hard to answer. Not everyone does, though, and if one can provide a plausible answer to the first question, it eliminates the force of the second and the countless others like it.

    JD, I don’t think you actually watched the video or looked into the route the laryngeal nerve travels.

  • JD Walters

    I had actually watched the video and my comment was in response to it. The problem is that when the scientist doing the dissection comments that the route of the laryngeal nerve is “not intelligent design,” we need to ask, “intelligent design for what?” If judged by the criterion of “getting from the brain to the innervation region as quickly as possible” then obviously the laryngeal nerve route is inefficient. The real question is, would that have been the only criterion a designer would take into account when deciding the route the laryngeal nerve would take? Again, as I said in my first comment, it’s too easy to take a system in isolation and ask whether it could have been optimized in a certain direction, when we really need to take a bigger picture and think about possible trade-offs.

    To take an example from human artifacts, my HD plasma TV is a huge energy hog. Solely judged according to how much power it consumes, assuming that our (sole) criterion for good design is minimal power consumption, then the TV is not a very good design. But when we take other criteria into account, viz. that it be able to project a brilliant, crystal-clear video reproduction, then we can make a more balanced assessment and conclude that the TV is actually quite an elegant artifact.

    By the way, I’m actually not a YEC or ID advocate. I hold more or less to the evolutionary view, and consider it more elegant to imagine God setting the world up so that it would gradually evolve complexity on its own. But I would not find this view more plausible because of examples of ‘poor design’ in nature. Those who make this objection hardly ever take the bigger picture into account.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    It’s good to hear that we don’t disagree about the big picture but only the details. :-) In the case of the laryngeal nerve, I don’t see what the positive trade-off would be for such a circuitous route. But my objection is mainly to those who would point to alleged evidence of design and say “See, proof of a designer!” but when some less positive possible implications of the argument are pointed out, say “We can’t fathom the designer’s ways!” I don’t think it is fair or consistent to use an argument from design only when it leads to conclusions that one likes, but object when it leads to conclusions that one dislikes.

  • JD Walters

    Well, from an evolutionary creationist perspective I would be inclined to imagine a trade-off occurring much farther back in the causal chain, that of God choosing to let creation unfold ‘on its own steam’ even if that involved processes of development which mostly recycle previously existing structures. But I think we need to keep the issue of detecting design separate from evaluating that design. It is one thing to ask whether, say, the Universe as a whole is an artifact, the product of intelligent agency, and another thing to ask what the nature of the Universe says about that agency. A forensic detective might conclude that a lethal wound did not result from an accident but was deliberately inflicted, while at the same time concluding that the murderer was clumsy and/or the murder was a crime of passion. Granted, it wouldn’t exactly be comforting for IDers to grant that the Universe’s designer seems to have been lacking in skill or foresight, but on the other hand even a limited cosmic designer would be hard to swallow for atheists.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I don’t think the sort of objection that I was talking about even arises for an evolutionary creationist/theistic evolutionist. If one takes the view that God created through a process of evolution for good reason (e.g. to allow free sentient beings to exist, since direct creation of humans fully formed would have required them to be pre-programmed or raised by angels or some other scenario that reduces humanity’s potential for freedom and independence) then one may say that the universe did exactly what it needed to.

    Obviously there may be objections to or debates about such a scenario, but I think they are different ones in important respects from the objections that arise for those who claim that God created the giraffe directly in its present form for some inscrutible reason.

  • Gary

    Obviously, if God is a good (let alone perfect) designer, why the heck did he give humans the brain that they have? Humans are given stewardship over the earth, to care for the earth and it’s living things. Human brains design rifles. Then God puts them in the hands of Ohio Neanderthals, to create piles of dead, endangered species, because they are trigger happy morons. I do not believe their story of protecting citizens….I’ve lived in Ohio for a short time, and I see trigger happy Barney Fife’s (sp). Or the more stupid Ohio leadership, that allows “petting zoos” of wild animals, bought in auctions, going to people that aren’t smart enough to do anything, other than reproduce, and produce more morons. A little self-constraint could go along way in Ohio. (And my wife’s from Ohio, so don’t think I’m against everyone in Ohio. Just the majority of Buckeye’s, half the state’s rivers are so polluted, you can’t even swim in them). Human evolution is a story of species domination, and I think we will see the same fate as the dinosaurs. Although it is a nice thought, that humans will be elevated to some higher level. Hope and reality are two different things.

  • Chris

    There are many possible reasons for the giraffe’s design here:

    http://www.mensbattleplan.com/2011/03/08/argumentum-ad-ignorantum/
    http://www.weloennig.de/LaryngealNerve.pdf
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-giraffe-a-model-of-intelligent-design/

    of course if we are to point our finger at something and claim it a poor design we assume that there IS a better design avaiblable.  However, we don’t truly know this.

    For humans, there is the risk of choking.  Does this mean poor design?  Perhaps not.  http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/choking-1

    So, design isn’t as much the issue as objects not meant for swallowing being swallowed.

    However, what would be “perfect?”  would perfect be the most efficient, productive, and usefull design to fit specific needs?  If so, how could we say the human design doesn’t fit this?  Do we have other human designs to compare to that are better?

    But for arguments sake, let’s say that we aren’t designed perfectly.  Does this mean God is a poor designer?  Of course not.  For all that is needed is that there possibly is a reason for our design.  Perfect or otherwise.

    Perfection is only needed, IF God’s purpose was to design a PERFECT human BODY.  However, there is no indication this is what was intented.  God seems to be more interested in our “souls” than our bodies – after all, given our current design, can any of us actually point to a “perfect” one?  Of course not, we can’t even agree what a “perfect” body for us is…while a body may look good on the outside, the inside might be messed up.

    but this all comes down to: what’s is a perfect design?  A perfect design, I would say, is that which is perfectly fitted for it’s intended “designed” purpose.  Cars are great for driving, but make a poor boat – however, that’s not due to poor design.

    To say God is a poor designer, one HAS to know what we were designed for, and show how we could be designed better (for this purpose).

    Which no one here has, nor could.  Opinion is all one could argue, but opinions are poor arguments against a design or a designer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    If anything at all can arbitrarily be considered well-designed, or if one cannot deduce anything about design without prior knowledge of a designer’s intentions, then doesn’t the Intelligent Design argument face serious problems either way?

    • Chris

      I don’t see how.  While we might have problems explaining it, that doesn’t mean there are problems to the design, only our understanding of “why” we were designed and “how” our design fits this.

      Because we don’t know doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer, nor does it mean poor design.

      To claim poor design, as you are, would you have to show HOW we could be designed better.  Which you can’t.

      Remember: the eye was a poor design (or so thought) until it was shown for OUR purposes the eye is PERFECTLY designed.

      However, ID would benefit either way as they would either be looking for ways to improve a design, or discover how perfect a design is and how we can benefit from such a design – ie use it in our daily lives.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The pdf in the second link you shared is written by someone who doesn’t understand that evolution via natural selection works with what is already present, and cannot simply re-route a nerve that already follows a particular course to plan ahead for increasingly long necks. That is precisely the point: evolution produces designoid features which close inspection (whether anatomical, paleontological or genetic) reveals to have been cobbled together from what was already present, not planned out from scratch.

    But still, if one is determined to see design, one will always be able to do so – even if it involves a channel for waste removal passing through a recreation area. :-)

    • Chris

      And people are apt to see evolution where they wish to as well.  However, the evolution of the giraffe itself is even in question, let alone the nerve (which may serve a function yet).  However, as evolutionist have done, just adjust to fit.  If the nerve is SHOWN to be useful as well – yay evolution!

      Just like the eye.  First boo designer, it’s evolution.  Then discovered to be a good design, it’s evolution.

      Either way: it’s evolution.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    This is precisely one of the points of Philo’s objection in the Dialogue. To claim that a biological system is analogous enough to human design for us to determine that it is designed, but simultaneously claim that the designer is so different that we cannot detect any shortcomings of the designer, is basically to say that the argument is legitimate when it reaches conclusions you like but not when it doesn’t.

    I would love to hear your view as to why eyes with blind spots are better than those without – and why moles with eyes covered in skin are better designed than ones that simply lacked eyes altogether.

    • Chris

      I couldn’t tell you why blind spots are better – however, they aren’t really a problem either.  If one looks at the design of the eye, blinds spot seem inevidible – unless you know how to make an eye work without one?

      Again, you are presuming that there is a PERFECT design.

      You see blind spots as not perfect, how so?  Our vision is hardly impared by these blind spots – so much so we don’t notice them.

      I couldn’t tell you why as it pertains to moles – though does MY lack of an answer mean they weren’t designed? Of course not.  I don’t know how to build a V-8 engine or how it was designed, yet….  Those arguments are irrelevant if I can answer them or not.

      YOU are the one presuming NON PEFECT design, however, to do so, you would need to show a BETTER design – and WHY.

      Our sight is perfectly suited for us – despite our blind spots.  So they don’t lack any actual vision do they?  Why not say, why are both our eye in front and not one in back and one in front?  we can do this all day, why not FOUR eyes, one on each side?

      speculation, nothing more.  But speculation doesn’t come up with answers, only more questions.

      However, as we seem to be now (and have been) our configuration fits us well.  What do we seem to lack?  And WHY do we lack it?  For what purpose do we lack any particular function?

    • Chris

      Certainly we COULD detect shortcomings – if there were any.  But to say there are shortcomings, one has to show HOW and WHY they are such and what NEEDS to be changed and bettered, and WHY it would be better – that’s what designers do:  look to make BETTER designs.  Not just say: that’s design sucks.

      So what would YOU make BETTER in the human body and why does it fail, or “suck” at it’s function now?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The reasons for thinking evolution is involved are not an argument about good or bad design, but a combination of paleontological, genetic, and comparative anatomical analysis.

    I really want to hear your case for moles having eyes covered with skin as an examplle of good design…

    • Chris

      If it’s not about good/bad design then why use the nerve and (when it suited) the eye as evidence for evolution and against design?

      The eye was proof of evolution when it was believed to be “poorly” designed, yet is now proof of evolution because of it’s “good” design.

    • Chris

      Then why argue from a good/bad design standpoint? Of course it matters to evolution if it didn’t, you wouldn’t bring it up.

      Like the eye: when it was a poor design it was proof of evolution, now? Still proof because of it’s good design.

      And if you can’t see the brilliance behind the waste/recreation parts…you need to wash more and better.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    OK, so basically what I have gathered is that you don’t understand the scientific case for evolution, and are under the impression that it is itself a sort of design argument. If I recommended some reading that might bring you up to speed, would you be willing to read it? I am not comfortable trying to engage in science education when there are biologists whose field it is who would do a much better job.

    • Chris

      Oh, I understand it quite well.  All I was pointing out by the “design” aspect is that you were alluding that “design” good/bad wasn’t used in defense of evolution – which it is.  Even to the point that the word “design” is being used loosely to answer why things appear to be designed.

      I also am only answering your issues regarding God or a designer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Perhaps I should add that the focus of my post here was on why Intelligent Design is theologically problematic. The scientific case against Intelligent Design is not going to focus on the same topics and issues, for the most part. If there is a point at which they intersect, it is the evidence that the features of complex organisms were cobbled together from what was already there – the same bone structures, the same routes for nerves even when a more direct one could have been used, indicating that the “designer” was constrained to work with what was already there, rather than starting afresh with each new organism. If you wish to believe that about God, that is your prerogative. You are free to believe that God made moles and then decided to cover their eyes as an afterthought. But I hope that, regardless whether you fathom the scientific case for evolution or not, you may at least be able to grasp why some Christians find your stance to be insulting to the Creator, making him seem like an incompetent bungler.

    • Chris

      As someone who actually doesn’t argue ID, but creationism- God. I will say, ID and God CAN BE mutually exclusive.  To rule out ID because you are afraid it might lead to God is not a very good reason to deny it.

      Evolution has no more grounds to stand on than ID.  Much of the “evidence” for evolution can be quite easily attributed (yet not disputed) to ID.  Homology, as you are referencing is no more proof of evolution than that of design.

      Again, you speak of being a bungler of design – however, yet have you actually put up any thing that is even close to a ‘bungle’. and again, using “poor design” as evidence of evolution.  Yet can’t show why.  Because you can’t understand why something might be a certain way, doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed that way.

      You would have to have complete knowledge as to it’s purpose – which you don’t.

      In fact you have no answer for this at all.  However, this doesn’t stop you from deciding that we have “faulty” designs among us humans.

      Like what?

      What faulty “designs” do you ACTUALLY know of, not just speculate because of lack of understanding?

  • Sarah

    Is Prof James a Christian ?  If evolution is true then will we have to wait a billion years for our resurrection bodies to “evolve”.  God says he will do this in the “twinkle of an eye”.

    Also since Biblical miracles are creative does James not accept the
    instant creation of cooked loaves and fishes or the instant resurrection of Lazarus.

    No resurrection or miracles – where would this leave a Christian

    “having a form of Godliness but not believing in its power” Timothy.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, I hope you will understand why I consider your comment not only ridiculous but profoundly unchristian. Is God not creator because we understand the processes by which human bodies develop in the womb, and how they function day to day? Is God not creator because we understand the processes that move planets in their orbits and give birth to stars? If your God would hindered from doing things by the very processes that exist in a universe God made, then there is clearly something strange about your way of thinking about both God and creation. But I fail to see why anyone should think as you do, or why someone’s Christian faith should be doubted simply because they fail to follow something that is your own individual brand of theological nonsense rather than something intrinsic to the Christian faith.

  • Sarah

    Prof James – The question I was asking is – do you believe in the
    instant creative miracles of God and Jesus and the instant resurrection of all who lived ? 

    If one does not believe in these instant creative miracles then
    what hope have we ?

    It is impossible to reconcile evolution with the Bible.

    ” It is easy enough to MAKE UP STORIES of how one form gave rise to another …… but such stories are not part of science .”
    “Fossils may tell us many things but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else”

    Colin Patterson – Senior Palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural History ( what an honest evolutionist)

    “Evolution is baseless and quite incredible” Ambrose Fleming BAAS.

    “The lack of intermediate life forms persists as the trade secret of
    palaeontology ” Stephen Jay Gould – evolutionist.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The use of selective quotations taken out of context is no more appropriate when done to scientists than when done to the Bible.

    Fortunately we no longer depend on paleontology alone to deduce ancestry. The same genetic evidence that determines paternity cases indicates the relationship between all living things.

    If your faith is shipwrecked by the fact that Genesis 1 mentions a dome that is incompatible with space travel and telecommunications satelites, That is truly a pity. But do not pretend that evolution is the only area in which the Biblical authors lacked scientific knowledge beyond their time.

    • Chris

      Actually, DNA evidence more and more goes against paleontology – such as the whale.

      Nor are we 98% percent related to chimps – as that would make me less related to my mother.  And that was regarding SELECT strands, not complete.

      No instance of evolution, beyond speciation (which there is no real working definition for species at present) has yet to be shown to 1) have happened, 2) is happening, 3) is even possible.

      I agree with your quote comment, however, you then do the exact same thing with referencing the Bible.

  • Sarah

    Prof James – The author of the Bible is God through the Holy Spirit.
    As the creator of the universe through Jesus God did not lack scientific knowledge.

    If we see DNA being used by God to create all living things then this is fully consistent with the Divine Being. Why then would there not be a seeming relationship between all living things. This code of DNA  points to creation. The DNA code of every living thing could
    be held on a teaspoon – incredible compression of information – as Bill Gates said – he could not match.
    Where would this code come from – a muddy pool ?

    But I am still not clear how you would envisage the resurrection on the last day ?
    And did Jesus instantly create the cooked fish and loaves ?
    The coming to life of trillions of dead cells of Lazarus ?

    Neither of these miracles needed evolution.

    The dome was a vapour which came down in the flood being backed up by water from the “floodgates of the deep”.

  • Sarah

    Prof James – I thought every Christian knew that the Bible was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit eg to Paul – this is quite
    clear in the Bible. Jesus is the WORD and the word was made flesh.  No Hebrew word was changed ?

    2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is inspired by God….” In 2 Peter 1:20-21, Peter reminds the reader to “know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, … but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The Bible itself tells us that it is God who is the author of His
    Book. This is in so many places.

    Evolution (though impossible)  requires eons of time to try to overcome the statistical impossibilty of random events creating
    billions of DNA code (in a muddy pool of course).
    The resurrection and miracles are instant events. So why would
    God take billions of years to create Adam when he will resurrect
    billions of people from dust in an instant.

    So why can you not believe that Adam was made from dust instantly.
    Evolution has never been proved – thousands of scientists don’t
    believe it .  It is not happening today – there are no transitionals.

    James – I am not in league with anyone just curious about theistic
    evolutionary logic.

    Giving birth to offspring is not evolution.

    “I am afraid as a scientist I simply cannot say strongly enough that
    the spontaneous origin of life is a chemical nonsense and therefore
    I am left with no alternative but to believe that life was created.”Stephen Grocott  FRACI.
    This and those above are stand alone quotations with a clear meaning – not out of context.

    “Science” is not evolution – evolution is a philosophy or theory
    which has never been proven by science. Science needs evidence.

    But to get to the questions again  :-

    Do you believe in the instant resurrection of the dead – even most
    of whose bodies don’t now exist  ?

    Will the new heavens and earth take billions of years ?

    There are no vestigial organs eg the appendix stores bacteria for
    intestinal flora – and we never had tails.

    “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”     David the Psalmist

    Yours in Christ Sarah

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, not every Christian accepts the authority of those church hierarchies that have been responsible for deciding on the canon of Scripture, but that isn’t what I was talking about. Christians generally agree that the Bible was inspired, but that doesn’t mean to all of us that God wrote these books rather than inspired but fallible human beings.

    But I am relieved to see that, for all your tendencies towards bibliolatry, you accept at least in theory that Jesus is the Word made flesh, rather than the Bible being the Word made book. Or perhaps you believe both?

    At any rate, you have a really bizarre understanding of both science and Scripture. Are you saying that God could not have created the universe in an instant, that he needed six days to be able to do it all? The lengths of time involved are no slight on God one way or the other – but it is great disrespect to the creator when, having created a magnificent universe which provides evidence of its age and its workings, and having provided human beings with magnificent brains capable of pondering the majesty of creation, some people spurn these gifts because they are so stubborn and proud that they are willing to ignore evidence based on their simplistic reading of the Bible in translation, without concern for matters of context, meaning of words, or any other relevant considerrations.

    You are free to claim that you are defending the Bible, but in fact you are twisting it to mean things that it does not. Ending your comments with “in Christ” does not seem fitting, given the arrogance and the rejection of mainstream Christian views that you have expressed. You are an enemy of Christ, sowing division based in your ignorance, and you ought to be repentant rather than proud.

  • Sarah

    JAMES   -Please note I would not want to weaken the faith of a theistic evolutionist since believing in Jesus comes from the power of the Holy Spirit who leads you into all truth  .  Many Christians don’t bother with science or on the method of creation but help “widows and orphans which is true religion” – Paul. 

    I was just wondering how theistic evolutionists reconcile their
    beliefs with scripture which I believe to be inerrant.

    The early church fathers did not seem to have a problem with
    evolution creation debates – it does not seem to be a problem until
    Darwin.

    To inspire someone to write a truth which was then written
    in a way which was not truthful would not be an attribute of God.

    I thought you were saying that the universe took billions of years
    not me – I believe God could create the universe in a second as well because nothing is impossible with God but I accept the 6 days
    as stated.

    Why does believing what God says mean I don’t appreciate the wonders of creation ??

    “Mainstream”  does not always mean truth. Eg most people do not
    believe in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob – does this make them right. 

    I think Darwinism caused great confusion in the Church and it still does – even though the 200 year old theory is still a theory.
    Did Lyell not say he was going to free science from Moses.
    Jesus said if they will not believe the books of Moses they would not believe in Him.

    The age of the earth fits with the Bible . eg Carbon 14 dates for coal diamonds gas etc are around 40,000 years – there was less
    C14 around before the flood giving a longer apparent date than
    the 5800 yrs approx. Other radiometric dating shows vast inconsistency.

    I do agree someone could be a creationist and not behave like a Christian but I can’t see why taking what God says as the truth
    should create division.

    I was just asking a couple of questions and did not think I was disrespectful.

    Creationists should be tolerant of theistic evolutionists but why
    can’t theistic evolutionists be tolerant of creationists.

    I do not think that God sits back and rolls the evolutionary dice
    to see what happens. God is in total control – “our days are numbered before we were born ” so how could a chance process
    of evolution be used.  Everything is perfectly balanced – “God
    does not play dice”   Einstein

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
    JEREMIAH
    Jeremiah’s birth does not sound like a chance process.

    Believing evolution changed Darwin from a minister of the gospel to an unbeliever so this theory can damage the faith of many.

    “their simplistic reading of the Bible in translation, without concern for matters of context, meaning of words, or any other relevant considerations”. In any debate most things must be out of the original context of course-as you have done – meaning of words ? I think anyone could understand the meaning of the words I have used .

    I kinda had to believe in creation before I became a Christian
    but accept your choice which is theistic evolution – I did buy
    your book.                 Sarah.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, I am astonished that you are so willing to defend what you think the Bible should say, that you are willing to change the meaning of the Hebrew words in the Bible, and make God out to be a liar as being the author of the Bible and yet signing Paul’s name to letters. I’ll bet you even believe that you a really defending the Bible and standing up for God, and don’t even realize how you have been deceived by charlatans who prey on gullible Christians.

    I still don’t understand your objection to evolution. The same genetic processes that produced human beings are still at work producing us from genetic material we inherit from our parents. Do you think that genetics prevents God from raising the dead? Or geology prevents God from making a new heavens and a new earth? Why do you pick evolution and try to twist what science concludes so as to make it seem to be at odds with Christian faith? Are you in league with the charlatans and trying to drum up business for their books and “museum” or have you simply been deceived?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, since you left a comment both here and on a more recent post on this same topic, I left a reply over there: http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/22/can-creationism-be-disproven/

  • sarah

    QUOTES BY AGNOSTIC   EVOLUTIONISTS MAINLY
     
    I have little hesitation in saying that a sickly pall now hangs over the big bang theory.”
    (Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer, cosmologist, and mathematician, Cambridge University)

    “The pathetic thing is that we have scientists who are trying to prove evolution, which no scientist can ever prove.”
    (Dr Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize winner and eminent evolutionist)

    “The theory of evolution suffers from grave defects, which are more and more apparent as time advances. It can no longer square with practical scientific knowledge.”
    (Dr A Fleishmann, Zoologist, Erlangen University)

    “It is good to keep in mind … that nobody has ever succeeded in producing even one new species by the accumulation of micromutations. Darwin’s theory of natural selection has never had any proof, yet it has been universally accepted.”
    (Prof. R Goldschmidt PhD, DSc Prof. Zoology, University of Calif. in Material Basis of Evolution Yale Univ. Press)

    “The theory of the transmutation of species is a scientific mistake, untrue in its facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency.”
    (Prof. J Agassiz, of Harvard in Methods of Study in Natural History)

    “Evolution is baseless and quite incredible.”
    (Dr Ambrose Fleming, President, British Assoc. Advancement of Science, in The Unleashing of Evolutionary Thought)

    “Overwhelming strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie around us … The atheistic idea is so nonsensical that I cannot put it into words.”
    (Lord Kelvin, Vict. Inst., 124, p267)

    It is possible (and, given the Flood, probable) that materials which give radiocarbon dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years could have true ages of many fewer calendar years.”
    (Gerald Aardsman, Ph.D., physicist and C-14 dating specialist)

    “We have to admit that there is nothing in the geological records that runs contrary to the views of conservative creationists.”
    (Evolutionist Edmund Ambrose)

    “The best physical evidence that the earth is young is the dwindling resource that evolutionists refuse to admit is dwindling … the magnetic energy in the field of the earth’s dipole magnet … To deny that it is a dwindling resource is phoney science.”
    (Thomas Barnes Ph.D., physicist)

    “No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.”
    (Pierre-Paul Grasse, Evolutionist)

    “The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it … It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution … if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”
    (Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer, cosmologist and mathematician, Cambridge University)

    “It is easy enough to make up stories, of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test.”
    (Luther D Sutherland, Darwin’s Enigma, Master Books 1988, p89)

    “Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which – a functional protein or gene – is complex beyond … anything produced by the intelligence of man?”
    (Molecular biologist Michael Denton, Evolutionist: A Theory in Crisis (London: Burnett Books, 1985) p 342.)

    “When I make an incision with my scalpel, I see organs of such intricacy that there simply hasn’t been enough time for natural evolutionary processes to have developed them.”
    (C Everett Koop, former US Surgeon General)

    “Modern apes … seem to have sprung out of nowhere. They have no yesterday, no fossil record. And the true origin of modern humans … is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, an equally mysterious matter.”
    (Lyall Watson, Ph.D., Evolutionist)

    “Although bacteria are tiny, they display biochemical, structural and behavioural complexities that outstrip scientific description. In keeping with the current microelectronics revolution, it may make more sense to equate their size with sophistication rather than with simplicity … Without bacteria life on earth could not exist in its present form.”
    (James A Shipiro, Bacteria as Multicellular Organisms, “Scientific America, Vol.258, No.6 (June 1988))

    “Eighty to eighty-five percent of earth’s land surface does not have even 3 geological periods appearing in ‘correct’ consecutive order … it becomes an overall exercise of gargantuan special pleading and imagination for the evolutionary-uniformitarian paradigm to maintain that there ever were geologic periods.”
    (John Woodmorappe, geologist)

    “That a mindless, purposeless, chance process such as natural selection, acting on the sequels of recombinant DNA or random mutation, most of which are injurious or fatal, could fabricate such complexity and organisation as the vertebrate eye, where each component part must carry out its own distinctive task in a harmoniously functioning optical unit, is inconceivable. The absence of transitional forms between the invertebrates retina and that of the vertebrates poses another difficulty. Here there is a great gulf fixed which remains inviolate with no seeming likelihood of ever being bridged. The total picture speaks of intelligent creative design of an infinitely high order.”
    (H.S.Hamilton (MD) The Retina of the Eye – An Evolutionary Road Block.)

    “My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed.”
    (N.H.Nilson, famous botanist and evolutionist)

    “None of five museum officials could offer a single example of a transitional series of fossilised organisms that would document the transformation of one basically different type to another.”
    (Luther Sunderland, science researcher)

    “The entire hominid collection known today would barely cover a billiard table, but it has spawned a science because it is distinguished by two factors which inflate its apparent relevance far beyond its merits. First, the fossils hint at the ancestry of a supremely self- important animal – ourselves. Secondly, the collection is so tantalisingly incomplete, and the specimens themselves often so fragmented and inconclusive, that more can be said about what is missing than about what is present. Hence the amazing quantity of literature on the subject ever since Darwin’s work inspired the notion that fossils linking modern man and extinct ancestor would provide the most convincing proof of human evolution, preconceptions have led evidence by the nose in the study of fossil man.”
    (John Reader, Whatever Happened to Zinjanthropus? New Scientist Vol. 89, No.12446 (March 26,1981) pp 802-805))

    “The evolutionist thesis has become more stringently unthinkable than ever before.”
    (Wolfgang Smith Ph.D.)

    “The only competing explanation for the order we all see in the biological world is the notion of Special Creation.”
    (Niles Eldridge, PhD., palaeontologist and evolutionist, American Museum of Natural History).
    Darwin’s Own Confession

    “Not one change of species into another is on record … we cannot prove that a single species has been changed.”
    (Charles Darwin, My Life & Letters)

    “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
    (Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, chapter “Difficulties”)

    “A growing number of respectable scientists are defecting from the evolutionist camp … moreover, for the most part these ‘experts’ have abandoned Darwinism, not on the basis of religious faith or biblical persuasions, but on scientific grounds, and in some instances, regretfully.”
    (Wolfgang Smith, Ph.D., physicist and mathematician)

    “As yet we have not been able to track the phylogenetic history of a single group of modern plants from its beginning to the present.”
    (Chester A Arnold, Professor of Botany and Curator of Fossil Plants, University of Michigan, An Introduction to Palaeobotany (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1947, p.7)

    “The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms that lie between species, the more they have been frustrated.”
    (John Adler with John Carey: Is Man a Subtle Accident, Newsweek, Vol.96, No.18 (November 3, 1980, p.95)

    “…most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument in favour of Darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true.”
    (Dr David Raup, Curator of geology, Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago)

    “Despite the bright promise that palaeontology provides means of ‘seeing’ Evolution, it has provided some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of ‘gaps’ in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and palaeontology does not provide them.”
    (David Kitts, Ph.D. Palaeontology and Evolutionary Theory, Evolution, Vol.28 (Sep.1974) p.467)

    “Hundreds of scientists who once taught their university students that the bottom line on origins had been figured out and settled are today confessing that they were completely wrong. They’ve discovered that their previous conclusions, once held so fervently, were based on very fragile evidences and suppositions which have since been refuted by new discoveries. This has necessitated a change in their basic philosophical position on origins. Others are admitting great weaknesses in evolution theory.”
    (Luther D Sutherland, Darwin’s Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition (Santee, California: Master Books,1988) pp.7-8)

    “The fact that a theory so vague, so insufficiently verifiable, and so far from the criteria otherwise applied in ‘hard’ science has become a dogma can only be explained on sociological grounds.”
    (Ludwig von Bertalanffy, biologist)

    “Micromutations do occur, but the theory that these alone can account for evolutionary change is either falsified, or else it is an unfalsifiable, hence metaphysical theory. I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what has happened in biology: … I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?”
    (S Lovtrup, Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth (London:Croom Helm, p.422))

    “If one allows the unquestionably largest experimenter to speak, namely nature, one gets a clear and incontrovertible answer to the question about the significance of mutations for the formation of species and evolution. They disappear under the competitive conditions of natural selection, as soap bubbles burst in a breeze.”
    (Evolutionist Herbert Nilson, Synthetische Artbildung (Lund, Sweden:Verlag CWK Gleerup Press, 1953, p 174)

    “In all the thousands of fly-breeding experiments carried out all over the world for more than fifty years, a distinct new species has never been seen to emerge … or even a new enzyme.”
    (Gordon Taylor, The Great Evolution Mystery (New York: Harper and Row, 1983, pp 34, 38)

    “The uniform, continuous transformation of Hyracotherium into Equus, so dear to the hearts of generations of textbook writers, never happened in nature.”
    (George Simpson, palaeontologist and Evolutionist)
    Fossils

    “As is well known, most fossil species appear instantaneously in the fossil record.”
    (Tom Kemp, Oxford University)

    “The fossil record pertaining to man is still so sparsely known that those who insist on positive declarations can do nothing more than jump from one hazardous surmise to another and hope that the next dramatic discovery does not make them utter fools … Clearly some refuse to learn from this. As we have seen, there are numerous scientists and popularizers today who have the temerity to tell us that there is ‘no doubt’ how man originated: if only they had the evidence…”
    (William R Fix, The Bone Pedlars, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984, p.150)

    “The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps; the fossils are missing in all the important places.”
    (Francis Hitching, archaeologist).

    “The intelligent layman has long suspected circular reasoning in the use of rocks to date fossils and fossils to date rocks. The geologist has never bothered to think of a good reply.”
    (J.O’Rourke in the American Journal of Science)

    “In most people’s minds, fossils and Evolution go hand in hand. In reality, fossils are a great embarrassment to Evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of Creation. If Evolution were true, we should find literally millions of fossils that show how one kind of life slowly and gradually changed to another kind of life. But missing links are the trade secret, in a sense, of palaeontology. The point is, the links are still missing. What we really find are gaps that sharpen up the boundaries between kinds. It’s those gaps which provide us with the evidence of Creation of separate kinds. As a matter of fact, there are gaps between each of the major kinds of plants and animals. Transition forms are missing by the millions. What we do find are separate and complex kinds, pointing to Creation.”
    (Dr Gary Parker Biologist/palaeontologist and former ardent Evolutionist.)

    “Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and palaeontology does not provide them.”
    (David Kitts, palaeontologist and Evolutionist)

    “… I still think that, to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favour of special creation. Can you imagine how an orchid, a duckweed and a palm tree have come from the same ancestry, and have we any evidence for this assumption? The evolutionist must be prepared with an answer, but I think that most would break down before an inquisition.”
    (Dr Eldred Corner, Professor of Botany at Cambridge University, England: Evolution in Contemporary Botanical Thought (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1961, p.97))

    “Fossils are a great embarrassment to Evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of Creation.”
    (Gary Parker, Ph.D., biologist/palaeontologist and former evolutionist)

    “So firmly does the modern geologist believe in evolution up from simple organisms to complex ones over huge time spans, that he is perfectly willing to use the theory of evolution to prove the theory of evolution [p.128] … one is applying the theory of evolution to prove the correctness of evolution. For we are assuming that the oldest formations contain only the most primitive and least complex organisms, which is the base assumption of Darwinism … [p.127] If we now assume that only simple organisms will occur in old formations, we are assuming the basic premise of Darwinism to be correct. To use, therefore, for dating purposes, the assumption that only simple organisms will be present in old formations is to thoroughly beg the whole question. It is arguing in a circle. [p.128]”
    (Arthur E Wilder-Smith, Man’s Origin, Man’s destiny: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1968, pp127-8)

    “It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint, geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by the study of their remains imbedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains of the organisms they contain.”
    (R H Rastall, Lecturer in Economic Geology, Cambridge University: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.10 (Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1956, p.168)

    “I admit that an awful lot of that [fantasy] has gotten into the textbooks as though it were true. For instance, the most famous example still on exhibit downstairs [in the American Museum of Natural History] is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared fifty years ago. That has been presented as literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now, I think that that is lamentable, particularly because the people who propose these kinds of stories themselves may be aware of the speculative nature of some of the stuff. But by the time it filters down to the textbooks, we’ve got science as truth and we have a problem.”
    (Dr Niles Eldredge, Palaeontologist and Evolutionist)
    DNA
    DNA is DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. Chromosomes are thread-like structures made of DNA and protein. There are 46 chromosomes in man.

    “The set of genetic instructions for humans is roughly three billion letters long.”
    (Miroslav Radman & Robert Wagner, The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication, Scientific America, Vol. 259, No.2 August 1988, pp40-46)

    “DNA and the molecules that surround it form a truly superb mechanism – a miniaturised marvel. The information is so compactly stored that the amount of DNA necessary to code all the people living on our planet might fit into a space no larger than an aspirin tablet.”
    (Paul S Taylor in The Illustrated Origins Answer Book page 23)

    “… Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the power of 40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court …”
    (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space)

    “The chance that useful DNA molecules would develop without a Designer are apparently zero. Then let me conclude by asking which came first – the DNA (which is essential for the synthesis of proteins) or the protein enzyme (DNA-polymerase) without which DNA synthesis is nil? … there is virtually no chance that chemical ‘letters’ would spontaneously produce coherent DNA and protein ‘words.’”
    (George Howe, expert in biology sciences)

    “…An intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence.”
    (Charles B Thaxton, Walter L Bradley and Robert L Olsen: The Mystery of Life’s Origin, Reassessing Current Theories (New York Philosophical Library 1984) pp 211-212)

    “Generation after generation, through countless cell divisions, the genetic heritage of living things is scrupulously preserved in DNA … All of life depends on the accurate transmission of information. As genetic messages are passed through generations of dividing cells, even small mistakes can be life-threatening … if mistakes were as rare as one in a million, 3000 mistakes would be made during each duplication of the human genome. Since the genome replicates about a million billion times in the course of building a human being from a single fertilised egg, it is unlikely that the human organism could tolerate such a high rate of error. In fact, the actual rate of mistakes is more like one in 10 billion.”
    (Miroslav Radman and Robert Wagner, The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication… Scientific America. Vol. 299, No 2 (August 1988, pp 40-44. Quote is from page 24))

    “In the meantime, the educated public continues to believe that Darwin has provided all the relevant answers by the magic formula of random mutations plus natural selection – quite unaware of the fact that random mutations turned out to be irrelevant and natural selection a tautology.”
    (Arthur Koestler, author)

    “Evolution lacks a scientifically acceptable explanation of the source of the precisely planned codes within cells without which there can be no specific proteins and hence, no life.”
    (David A Kaufman, Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainsesville)

    “Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate….It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect …higher intelligences…even to the limit of God…such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.”
    (Sir Fred Hoyle, well-known British mathematician, astronomer and cosmologist)

    “Ultimately, the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century.”
    (Michael Denton, ‘Evolution, A Theory in Crisis’ page 358)

    “Any suppression which undermines and destroys that very foundation on which scientific methodology and research was erected, evolutionist or otherwise, cannot and must not be allowed to flourish … It is a confrontation between scientific objectivity and ingrained prejudice – between logic and emotion – between fact and fiction … In the final analysis, objective scientific logic has to prevail – no matter what the final result is – no matter how many time-honoured idols have to be discarded in the process … After all, it is not the duty of science to defend the theory of evolution and stick by it to the bitter end -no matter what illogical and unsupported conclusions it offers … If in the process of impartial scientific logic, they find that creation by outside intelligence is the solution to our quandary, then let’s cut the umbilical chord that tied us down to Darwin for such a long time. It is choking us and holding us back … Every single concept advanced by the theory of evolution (and amended thereafter) is imaginary as it is not supported by the scientifically established probability concepts. Darwin was wrong… The theory of evolution may be the worst mistake made in science.”
    (I L Cohen, Darwin Was Wrong – A Study in Probabilities PO Box 231, Greenvale, New York 11548: New Research Publications, Inc. pp 6-8, 209-210, 214-215. I.L.Cohen, Member of the New York Academy of Sciences and Officer of the Archaeological Institute of America).

    “The notion that … the operating programme of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial soup here on earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.”
    (Evolutionist Sir Fred Hoyle)

    “The theory of Evolution … will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity it has.”
    (Malcolm Muggeridge, well-known philosopher)

    “We have had enough of the Darwinian fallacy. It is time that we cry: ‘The emperor has no clothes.’”
    (K.Hsu, geologist at the Geological Institute at Zurich)

    “Far from being an established fact of science that it is so typically portrayed to be, evolution is, in reality, an unreasonable and unfounded hypothesis that is riddled with countless scientific fallacies.”
    (Scott M Huse, The Collapse of Evolution (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp 127)

    “Unfortunately many scientists and non-scientists have made Evolution into a religion, something to be defended against infidels. In my experience, many students of biology – professors and textbook writers included – have been so carried away with the arguments for Evolution that they neglect to question it. They preach it … College students, having gone through such a closed system of education, themselves become teachers, entering high schools to continue the process, using textbooks written by former classmates or professors. High standards of scholarship and teaching break down

  • Chris

    As to your mole question, I did find this.  Though, you might just write off as it IS a creationist website.

    http://creation.com/the-mole

    Now, again, to claim it’s “poor design” you do have to show why it’s poor, how the mole (in this case) is hindered by it, and what design would be better suited for the mole.

    If I find more, I’ll let you know.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Chris, thanks for that. I only took a quick glance but they didn’t seem to address the question of why having eyes covered with fur is better design than not having eyes at all. 

    • Chris

      I believe you were speaking of skin, not fur, but no they don’t talk about being covered with fur…however, again, because we don’t currently understand why – doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer.
       
      Of course, what has happened when vestigal parts have been shown to have an actual function IE our “tail bone” evolution just grabs it and says – adaptive function!
       
      Again, a case for evolution either way.
       
      Thus, regardless, with the fur over the eyes.  At present you claim it’s poor design.  What, if it comes that way, if it’s shown to be quite useful for it’s purpose?  Will you claim evolution still?
       
      Guess we will see. LOL
       
      But my “speculation” would be, that since a mole lives underground, it’s current depth would be needed to be known – this can be detected by “light” and nothing more.  Thus to be completely blind a mole wouldn’t know how deep they were in the ground based on light.  With an eye, even with fur over it to “possibly” protect it, it would as the darkness levels would be detected then.  (again, it’s pure speculation on my part)

      As for our blind spots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_spot_(vision)
       
      If you can make a better eye, by all means, however as it appears (ha) our eyes are still perfect FOR US.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, some of the people you quote are well-known skeptics regarding evolution. Some adopt that stance because of faith commitments, some because it isn’t their field (you quoted astronomers, philosophers, physicians, and others whose expertise is in something other than evolutionary biology and related domains). 

    Some of the quotes are taken out of context, and in context did not indicate any sort of skepticism about mainstream evolutionary theory.

    http://zyxek.blogspot.com/2011/08/ernst-mayr-was-darwin-skeptic-pitfalls.html

    In some instances, you don’t provide sources for the quotes, presumably either hoping that no one will try to find out who actually said it, where, and why, or because you yourself don’t know.

    But at the end of the day, I could provide at least a hundred times as many quotations from mainstream biologists, including Christians, who would speak in favor of evolution. What would that prove? If you are skeptical of scientists, then why quote them in favor of your claims? And if you accept that scientists may know more about this field than you do, then why do you ignore the fact that the vast majority of them agree about evolution? You seem to not be interested in any of the evidence, which gives a very bad impression of the Christian faith, for which you have set yourself up as the spokesperson and defender. What will it take for you to realize that you are doing harm and not good? What would it take for God to get through to you and lead you to repentance and humility? 

    • Chris

      I do have to agree with James here about quotes.  While fun at cocktail parties, they truly do nothing for dialogue.  I do my best NOT to include them, unless they truly do highlight a point – and I do my best to keep them in context.

      I am more interested in evidence, not quotes.  Though I do understand what Sarah is driving at – however, evidence to the contrary works better, in my experience.

      • sarah

        Chris – when an evolutionist quotes that he has found nothing – Then that IS evidence since the expert has already looked at the evidence.  It is the summation of his opinion and Prof James will use them all the trime in his work.

        • Chris

          I understand, but quotes are better used when they back up a statement you have made or a point you are trying to prove – not as a grocery list as you have placed them – also, linking to the actual quote helps to ensure that you can’t be blamed for using them out of context.

    • sarah

      Prof James
      Evolution covers many fields   eg it needs billion year timescale which astronomy tries to provide – I mean Richard
      Dawkins is not a biologist – or am I wrong – but I dont think
      it is his speciality.  David Attenborough does not specialise
      in every discipline.  Darwin was self taught but had little available knowledge in his day. Lyell was a lawyer.
      You are a theologian who relies mainly on athiestic scientists
      Like professor Dawkins. 

      Do you not think you are underminig faith by promoting
      professor Dawkins who even wants all reference to creation
      out of the schools.

      Sources for the quotes are provided for nearly every quote
      I did not make them up  – why grasp at straws -google and you will find them.   The names of all the quotees are given
      why try to pretend they are made up.  I have MANY more.

      They are not out of context – the ones from evolutionists
      remain mainly as evolutionists but they admit there is no evidence as yet.

      But you are a “well known skeptic regarding creation”

      Why would a scientist adopt his stance if he thought it was wrong – he could choose your path of God using evolution.

      Again you are trying to go by numbers not the truth. Christians are in the minority in the world but we know the truth – it is in the Bible.

      • sarah

        Prof James – Every one of these quotes had named authors and nearly all had sources – did you look at them  ???? They are easy to understand and stand
        alone

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I accept what the vast majority of Christians who are scientists say. You reject their testimony and accept instead teachings that tickle your ears, even though they are not grounded in the truth.

    I accept what the vast majority of Christian scholars and interpreters of the Book of Genesis have to say, while the charlatans you follow twist the meaning of words and lie about them in order to dupe the gullible. You reject sound teaching and prefer to follow your pride into error, wishing to think yourself smarter than other Christians who actually work in the fields of biology or Biblical study.

    And you claim to be defending the Bible and yet refuse to accept the clear indication that it provides that the world is flat.

    What will it take to get you to repent and stop following your pride deeper and deeper into error? It is leading you away from both sound teaching and Christian behavior!

    • sarah

      Prof James
      The Bible does not say that the earth is flat – Jesus could have been given visions of the kingdoms of the earth at present and eg in the future – in no way is a flat earth implied.

      Could you imagine how many potential Christians , if they listened to you , would believe that the Bible says the earth is flat – they would run a mile. 

      You are undermining God’s word when you insert a meaning that the scripture does not imply – nor reality implies.

      You are doing exactly what you accuse me of.

  • Chris
  • Chris
  • sarah

    I can see that these debates can move us far away from the
    Love that is in Christ.  This is why Paul the Apostle said dont argue,dont debate or get involved in endless controversies.

    So I agree with Prof James that pride and anger can come about
    through these debates.  It becomes a game to win at all costs and the “golden rule” goes out the window.

    A well known creationist scientist said he had a vision of hell during
    one of his lectures and he felt that this was a message that he should be preaching the cross of Christ as well – it certainly gave him a shock.

    So I will say no more as I am guilty of the above.  However I will
    visit the site and look at others comments.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Sarah,

    Pride. arrogance. insisting that one’s beliefs are right. believing that one will live forever. wanting to live forever. believing others will burn. believing that their God can do anything. Believing that anything God does is moral by definition.  believing in false dichotomies. book worship. blindly accepting the word of others or what has been written down in scripture. accepting only one interpretation of scripture. believing that scripture is more than the opinion and beliefs of the authors of said scripture. thinking you know God. Thinking God can be knowable. Thinking God is walking besides you and has forsaken others. Willingness to accept any interpretation of scripture that accommodates your preconceived beliefs. Did I mention pride and arrogance already?

    Sound familiar? Might want to look in a mirror.

    • Chris

      Just sticking my nose in here…

      And what exactly is your point with your post Jeff?

  • sarah

    Jeff – one last post – I was talking about debate and arguments
    which lead to strife which are forbidden to the Christian - not my beliefs.

    I believe in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and that God
    gave us his Bible as a way of finding out about him and through his son Jesus gain the promise of eternal life.  I believe the Bible is inerrant and the gospel message can be understood by a little child
    as Jesus said.

    I also believe in Hell and don’t want anyone to go there.

    Christians that try to persuade others of their beliefs are doing it
    to ensure that they don’t end up in Hell.  If they wanted to do that
    they would say nothing to the person.  We are commanded to share our faith.

    “we persuade men by the terror of the Lord” Paul the Apostle.

    God is merciful, tender hearted  and kind and always ready to forgive sins but if someone will not accept his Lordship then they
    cannot spend eternity with Him.
    Think about it -would you spend eternity with someone who hates
    you and is in continous rebellion.
    Once we die our eternity is fixed.

    “God has placed eternity on men’s hearts” so they know it exists -
    especially as you get older.

    Jesus does not forsake anyone  ” Anyone who comes to me I will
    in nowise cast out”  

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20-21).

    Intimacy with Christ the Good Shepherd requires a listening heart. A listening heart will be a vulnerable heart. To listen with the ear of the heart is to open oneself to the other; it is to risk relationship.

    When the heart stops listening to the other, relationship — communion with the other — begins to disintegrate. This is true of friendship. It is true of marriage. It is true of our relationship with Christ our God.

    If you doubt Hell why not google up some NDE’s or 23 minutes in Hell. 
    Dr Rawlings a heart surgeon who brings people back to life has a website – He was an athiest – when a patient screamed he was in Hell he pleaded with the Dr to pray ………..

    There are lots of doctors websites on the existence of Hell – it sure
    terrifies me.

    Hope to see you in Heaven.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sarah, where does Paul say “we persuade men by the terror of the Lord”?

  • sarah

    KJV   2 Corinthians  5 -11
    Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
    International Standard Version (©2008)Therefore, since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade people. We ourselves are perfectly known to God. I hope we are also really known to your consciences.

    Darby Bible TranslationKnowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men, but have been manifested to God, and I hope also that we have been manifested in your consciences

    Webster’s Bible TranslationKnowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest to God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Well, it is instructive to see that you treat “quotes” from the Bible much as you do “quotes” from scientists…

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Sarah,

    The specific details of God (and worship) popularized by the modern evangelical has (to me) certain aspects that are contradictory.  I feel that the very notion of having a personal savior with some kind of deal where you love Him and He will love/save you kind of flies in the face of what I understand as the central message that I like to attribute to Jesus.   I’ll leave it to the scholars to determine what message Jesus was actually preaching 2000 years ago.  We may never know for sure.  I like to think the central message is that people should not be so vain as to think they know all the answers to how to live and what to believe.  I like to think of Jesus as a bit of an agnostic challenging the authority of the Philistines (who thought they had everything figured out about what God wanted).  I view the modern evangelicals (who talk like they have God all figured out through scripture) as the modern day Philistines.  Some of your comments reminded me of some evangelicals from my former Christian small group who thought they had God all figured out (and they thought that all other Protestant denominations were in error as well as Catholics, people of other faiths, and non-believers… and all these other people would be eternally separated from God in an afterlife).   My apologies if my former rant was more in response to those evangelicals in my former small group than you.  I hope you have a good life in the here and now.  If there happens to be an afterlife, perhaps we can chat there as well.

    I merely doubt that a creator God would create a world with an afterlife of either heaven or hell with the admission criteria that modern evangelicals popularize.  I think that if there is a creator God, He did things quite differently.  To be honest, I just have to say “I don’t know”.  If the modern evangelical believes that I will be in a position of permanent separation from God in an afterlife for saying “I don’t know” in this life then that is their problem.  I can’t fathom a creator God who would punish someone for saying “I don’t know”.

  • sarah

    Jeff – There are schisms in churches but they would be caused by
    the laity not accepting the word of God.

    for salvation :-

    We must believe in God and Jesus and accept Jesus into your heart
    to become Lord over our Lives.
    Then we should confess our sins
    Then we must be baptised by water and by the Holy Spirit
    The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, of righteousness and the judgement to come.
    Study the WORD of God fervently and the Holy Spirit will lead
    us into ALL truth.
    Accepting the word of God as truth will change you and mold
    you to be Christlike if you follow the commandments of God and
    Jesus.  It is a process requiring giving up those things which do
    not lead to God.
    Prayer – constant prayer.
    Develop a fear of the Lord – then when we are mature in the faith
    fear gives way to perfect love.

    We are commanded not to Judge or Condemn a fellow believer
    but encourage and guide him in the truth – using scripture.

    I think the church fathers had good teachings – especially the early
    ones who actually knew the Apostles. The Didache was written down from the Apostles (70-100AD).
    They early fathers are especially good on the sins of the flesh (not just adultery or fornication) which we don’t really hear much about. Eg impurity , uncleanness and lasciviousness.   The sins of the flesh are the reason most people end up in Hell.
    Apart from the evangelicals the church fathers thought that most
    of their brethren were lost in their own denomination -the Catholic Church.

    Did I do this – No  – I kinda stopped at belief and was a loose cannon.  But now I know what I should have done – I would have avoided so much error and sin.

    Once you believe in the WORD you will know the truth – but the first truth is heartfelt belief.  You could pray to God ” if your there
    God please show me”

    But there is a lot more after belief – “even the demons believe in God – and tremble”.  Letter of James.
    Clement who knew the Apostles has many teachings but I find these early church fathers a great help in crucifying the fleshly instincts.

    And Jesus said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

    Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning” (John 8:23-25).
    Jesus in his ministry often took the time to explain to the people who he was and why they needed to believe it. He told them that he came down from heaven, that he was the only one to see God. That being the Only Begotten Son of God made him equal with God (John 10).

    Without belief in Jesus there is no salvation ie afterlife in Heaven

  • Chris

    Maybe Prof. James could do a threat (if he hasn’t already) on “what IS the Gospel?”  Or something to that fact.  I would enjoy a discussion about that, however, this thread is supposed to be about “incompetent design” – strange for me to be a stickler on such a thing.

    • Chris

      THREAD!

      LOL, i just saw my mistake….

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        Chris,

        What about incompetent (or ineffective) scripture? :)

        Perhaps God should rearrange the stars in the night sky to spell out what He wants for us. Then have the stars re-arrange themselves each night to re-express the message in all of man’s languages. That would be a much more effective way to communicate than having some nameless people write down what some self-proclaimed savior was supposed to have said some 50-70 years after He was supposed to have said it. And then have people in-fight for 2000 years about what it was supposed to mean with people saying that those that don’t believe in their version are going to hell.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I’m glad that there is no threat involved!  :)

    I’ve posted some things in the past about the essence of Christianity and about my own personal experience of coming to a personal faith. Here are a few that might or might talk about what you are wondering about. If not, let me know and I’ll gladly post something new!

    http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2007/12/christianitys-core-curriculum.html

    http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-understanding-of-christianity.html

    http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/12/agnostic-christianity-faith-for-new.html

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      James, I read your three (no threat involved) posts and wanted to thank you for reminding me that Christianity is larger than the smaller world depicted by conservative evangelicals. I sometimes forget that. Whether I am an agnostic Christian, a benevolent atheist, or some third thing is something I can ponder down the road. I also view labels as less important than actions.

  • sarah

    Jeff
    God has given in his Bible what he wants for us.
     
    Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.  Isaiah 40:26
     
    When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Job 38 :7
     
    The stars speak – as the radio astronomers will tell you.
     
    Some Bible students say the stars tell the Bible stories if they
    are joined up correctly . You can google up
     

  • Chris

    James P,

    Sure!  I’m willing to discuss anything about Christianity or the Bible.

  • Chris

    Prof. James,

    Great links!  I just skimmed them, honestly to see if they did cover what I was alluding too.

    In a way they do.

    I guess I was narrowing my focus on The Gospel itself, solely, and what is the understanding (from all povs) of such.

    More of a discussion topic, rather then your well written scholarly posts!

    I will enjoy reading those, thanks for linking them!  (see? who needs seminary school – it’s all out there now! lol)

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Sarah,

    “Some Bible students say the stars tell the Bible stories if theyare joined up correctly.”

    That statement pretty much desribes religion to a tee. 
    You see what you want.  Others see what they want.

  • sarah

    Jeff I agree that actions are more important than hypocrisy.
    But why label “conservative” evangelicals.

    There are a lot of strange doctines in the modern church eg the prosperity gospel.

    The sermons on the “New York Times Square Church” are good – by
    pastor david wilkerson and pastor conlon and a few others. You can download them free.

    If Jesus said the road is narrow then you “cant neglect so great a salvation”  Paul.  We don’t know how long we have on this earth
    so I would get yourself grounded in sound doctrine.

    By the way I made every sin and mistake in the book by floundering around untutored by the Bible and Prayer – the Christian’s two great weapons.

    Since the devil is cleverer than we are – without the “sword of the spirit” which is the WORD (the bible) of God and prayer we are defenceless.

  • sarah

    Prof James – have read your first post and agree that faith without
    works is dead. We have to put our faith into practice.

    However I do believe that Jesus existed eternally.

    The early church fathers would have had to use oral teaching in most cases although the Jewish  converts would have had the Old Testament knowledge.   Once they believed and were baptised the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth.


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