Do Young-Earth Creationists Proclaim a False Gospel?

The Gospel as it is proclaimed in the New Testament nowhere mentions the process whereby God created. It is never presented as a part of the Gospel message proclaimed by Christians in any way, shape, or form. It isn’t that it is “just a minor tenet” or something like that – it isn’t mentioned at all.

People held all sorts of views about the process of creation and the nature of the natural world in those times. And yet we have no record of any Christian proclaiming to pagans to believe different things about the makeup of the natural world, or anything else of that sort. Belief in God as Creator seems to have been enough for them.

So does that mean that modern young-earth creationists, who emphasize specific beliefs about the process of creation as part and parcel of the Christian Gospel, and who accuse those who disagree with them of distorting the Gospel, are themselves heretics who preach a false Gospel? Does it not at the very least indicate a profound confusion and misunderstanding on their part about what the Gospel is, and a lack of comprehension of, if not indeed lack of interest in, what the New Testament actually says?

  • llama921

    I’m not a creationist but, to be fair to them, I don’t think the doctrine of creation is a minor thing. They are doing a terrible job reacting to current scientific insight into the origin of the universe and life but remember that current science really doesn’t leave much of (or any) place for God (or at least the very personal and active biblical God). Addressing how God created the universe is, in modern times, a question on everyone’s minds and blowing it off will not help.

  • Gamgokt

    Heb. 11:3, Mt. 19:4  you are still looking for excuses to believe evolution by splitting hairs. You are not mentioned in the Gospels thus your birth did not take place. .. A little to the extreme but that is what you are doing with your demand that the process of creation must be mentioned in the Gospels for it to be true.

    The Gospels are not about creation and origins it is about salvation and how to live the Christian life So you are basically trying to raise a false point to justify your rejection of creation as told in the Bible.

    OH and your accepted process is not mentioned in the Gospels either thus you are preaching a false Gospel as well. Your argument cuts both ways and applies to you.

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

      I am sorry to see that you care so little about the Bible and its meaning. That you play games with my post is bad enough, but that you do so with the Bible is what really disappoints me. Does it mean so little to you, that you cannot discuss it seriously, interacting with both the Biblical text and what others say with honesty and accuracy?

      • Gamgokt

         So you avoid the truth once again.  I didn’t play any games, you accused the YEC group of something then failed to realize that you trapped yourself as well. You got caught and now try to deflect the truth so you can continue to attack a group of people you disagree with

        I also find it ironic that you keep accusing those who disagree with you with crimes they have not committed and with no real evidence to back you up except your own faulty opinion.

        Then upon closer examination, those false accusations simply describe exactly what you do.  If you do not believe Moses then you will not believe Jesus and we see that proven everyday by people like you and some of your posters.

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

          If you were not playing games, then you have poor reading comprehension and/or reasoning skills. I never claimed that I was part of the Gospel, and I never claimed that if something is not part of the Gospel it does not exist. I pointed out that the early Christians did not treat something as part of the Gospel that modern young-earth creationists do.

          If you are not delberately trying to promote a false Gospel, please consider that your poor reading and reasoning might be leading you to do that even while you hope you are doing the opposite.

          • Gamgokt

             Never said you were part of the gospels and your ‘spin’ on my words only distort the subject and shows that you do not have a real answer. Even here in this latest response you try to change the topic to make yourself look good and again you fell into your own trap.

            The early Christians did not treat what YOU say as part of the Gospels. You forget that Christ spoke of creation, not a process and you also forget that the Bible says ‘God does not lie’ thus the early Christians spoke of creation not a process. They also spoke of a 6 24 hour day event not a long drawn out affair.

            Creation doesn’t have to be re-told in the Gospels simply because the early Christians believed the OT. God does not have to be redundant. creation, as it took place was written in Genesis and did not have to described in such detail again.

            If you noticed Hebrews 11, you would see a nice recap and how faith is the key NOT science. But you ignored that verse making some pathetic excuse which tells everyone that you have no interest in what pleases God or what God requires.

            You have to believe Moses to believe Jesus, YEC may get some things different but I do not think you are in a position to criticize as your sins and bias blind your eyes and make you attack God not the YEC. God said He created by speaking in 6 24 hour days—who are you to disagree with God?

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

              Why can you not actually have an honest conversation about this, rather than taking this hostile, ranting approach? This topic is important, and I wish you would treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

              I would love it if you would really read Hebrews 11 carefully. It is an important text. And it doesn’t say that faith allows you to treat the things we do see as though they do not exist. It does not provide a basis for rejecting science or other evidence. It talks about faith as seeing that which is not (yet) seen, with a particular emphasis on trust in God. No one is rewarded for challenging the claims others made about the makeup or history of the cosmos. How you can insist that you are right, while quoting texts that do not support but actually counter your approach to your “faith,” is hard to understand. But I do hope that you will not merely make assumptions about the meaning of texts like this one, but will actually read them!

              • Gamgokt

                I haven’t ranted nor done a humorous approach to your heretical ideas (two can play the adjective game). You completely ignore the points I make and often go off in another direction completely different than Iwhat I was talking about.

                You love to accuse others of what you do.  You are also a very big liar about what others do with the Bible and what the scriptures support. It is clear that you have closed your mind to the truth and discussion with you is pointless. I think it is time to start writing the church you teach sunday school at and get you removed from it until you repent of your sins and get right with God.

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

                  You are still projecting your own sins onto others, and then quite ironically accusing them of projecting!

                  If you want to contact my pastor, his contact information is on our church web site. You will not be the first.

                  If my problem is closed-mindedness, then how is it that I started off with an outlook like the one you have, and as a result of careful study of the Bible and seeking after God and the truth, I came to change my mind and now view things very differently? It seems as though you simply assume that you are openminded and that anyone who disagrees with you is not.

                  Perhaps speaking to my pastor would indeed help you. If you cannot find the contact information, let me know. You definitely could do with some spiritual and Biblical guidance, once you are through with whatever complaints you wish to lodge against me. I hope he can help.

            • rmwilliamsjr

              re:
              The early Christians did not treat what YOU say as part of the Gospels. You forget that Christ spoke of creation, not a process and you also forget that the Bible says ‘God does not lie’ thus the early Christians spoke of creation not a process. They also spoke of a 6 24 hour day event not a long drawn out affair.

              what is your evidence that the early Christians believed this? the earliest discussions i’m aware of in church history are those where the dispute is with instantaneous creation(more Greek philosophic) versus the drawn out 6 day creation we see defended  by some of the early Church Fathers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Pierre-Cote/673809609 Jean-Pierre Côté

       Hey James never mentioned his understanding beside the fact tha God created. You are the on that insist on imposing one view of the 6-24 creation as a gospel tenet. As for myself, God could have created the whale thing in a twinkling of an eye 7 minutes ago and give us the the rememberance of everything collectively. God is not to be put in the little box of the 6-24 creationists.

  • http://foi.org/blog Chris Katulka

    First, I would like to say that whatever your view is on the creation account might be doesn’t make you more or less of a Christian.  

    I disagree on this level though, I think you’re reading into the mind of a 1st century gospel writer who probably took the scriptures at face value and believed in a young earth, he probably read the creation account on a literal level.  One of the earliest  written records of the Jewish Anno Mundi (young earth) is 160 AD when Rabbi Jose Ben Halafta did calculations to determine when Adam was created.  The year of the Jewish calendar (5773) is based on an early creation account which has it’s roots in Ben Halafta (160 AD) and Maimonides (c. 1200 AD).  So even these early rabbis understood a literal/early creation. 
    Also, while I know you are probably looking for more creation detail/process in the Gospels, I believe John assumes the reader believes in a literal creation account (probably even young earth), so that when you read that Jesus was the “Word” from Gen. 1 & 2 who spoke all things into existence (Jn 1:3), John is assuming you already understand Gen 1 & 2 and he’s just giving you some more detail about that first week, that it was Jesus (the “Word”) who did it.

    Second, I find it so funny that Christians, of all people, have a hard time believing in the biblical creation account but will defend the resurrection of Jesus because that’s orthodoxy.  So it’s kosher to scientifically or even from a literary angle rationalize away what Genesis says, but you won’t criticize the resurrection through the same lens?  Why?  As a Christian who does believe in the creation account and the physical resurrection of Jesus, I believe the Genesis account of creation and the resurrection are both biblical events that require faith to believe in.  

    CJK

       

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Pierre-Cote/673809609 Jean-Pierre Côté

       I wouldn’t  lean to hard on those rabbis, they killed our Lord.

      The Resurrection account is clearly delineated in the Gospels just as the fact that God is the creator.

      The creation account of Genesis has more to do with the establishment of the first covenant with Israel. It is the use of Hebraic idioms and imagery to speak of how God had created Israel, His people.

      The Bible is not a book of science it is a book of faith. I have defended 24-6 creationism for more than twenty years until I started to reexamine my hermeneutics.

      Speaking of Resurrection, this insistence on 24-6 creation is there to support the view that biological creation has been affected by the rebellion in Eden. No rocks or flies awaited the revelation of the sons of God (Rom8)

    • beau_quilter

      As a nonchristian, I’m not terribly concerned with who is more or less a Christian, but I would guess that James would accept more people under the umbrella of Christianity, than most YE Creationists.

      Now, your second point I can understand. If you don’t believe that God created the earth in seven days because science seems to indicate otherwise; wouldn’t you also conclude that the resurrection of Jesus can’t be literally true, when science would seem to indicate that humans don’t return to life after three days of death underground.

      That’s why I don’t believe either the creation story or the resurrection story (though they are certainly interesting as parts of mythological heritage).

      • http://via-verdad-vida.blogspot.com/ Lobezno Meneses

        This comes back, it seems, to the recognition of genre. Does the Bible act as if Genesis 1 was literal? I don’t think so. But does it act as if the resurrection was literal? Very much so. The difference is in the genres of the gospels versus that of Genesis.

        • beau_quilter

          Interesting. Doesn’t change my mind about the validity of miracles, but interesting in terms of how texts are intended to be read.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Pierre-Cote/673809609 Jean-Pierre Côté

         It is beyond science that we must consider the Text. It is a Life giving text. The Word of God. A religious, faith, spiritual text.
        Genesis is not a science how to create a universe Ikea kit.
        The resurrection of Christ is unique is not there to show what happens literally to each believer but a sign to Israel that Christ was God incarnate that has power over The Death, (separation from God Death.) Pop Christianity proposes that all would be resurrected biologically but there is no such promise in the Bible. The promise and fulfillment is much greater in scope. It is the restoration to God of a lost people.
        To be resurrected means to be born again, restored, healed,standing before Almighty God. It’s Good News.

        • beau_quilter

          Yes, thanks, Jean-Pierre, I’m familiar with the concept.

      • Gamgokt

         Sure he would because he is a false teacher himself and doesn’t believe in the rules of God governing the Christian faith.

      • Kaz

         ”As a nonchristian, I’m not terribly concerned with who is more or less a
        Christian, but I would guess that James would accept more people under
        the umbrella of Christianity, than most YE Creationists.”

        Really?  Haven’t you noticed that the dominant theme on this blog is about criticizing non-liberal Christians?  Does that mean that James is more accepting in a non-accepting sort of way? ;-)  

        • beau_quilter

          Thank God we have you here, Kaz, to accept all of us from heathens to fundamentalists.

    • Kaz

       ”Second, I find it so funny that Christians, of all people, have a hard
      time believing in the biblical creation account but will defend the
      resurrection of Jesus because that’s orthodoxy.”

      I think that you make a very thoughtful point.  People often appeal to the fact that Genesis is a different genre of writing from the resurrection accounts, as though that somehow opens the door to Darwinism.  It doesn’t.  I suspect that both the original writer(s) and the original readers of Genesis, were they here to offer comment, would insist that it clearly teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and the original life forms that lived on the earth.

  • Claude

    Second, I find it so funny that Christians, of all people, have a hard time believing in the biblical creation account but will defend the resurrection of Jesus because that’s orthodoxy.

    Belief in the Genesis creation story isn’t fundamental to Christianity, but belief in the resurrection, even abstract formulations of “resurrection,” is certainly fundamental.

    • Kaz

       ”Belief in the Genesis creation story isn’t fundamental to Christianity,
      but belief in the resurrection, even abstract formulations of
      “resurrection,” is certainly fundamental.”

      I think the Apostle Paul would be inclined to disagree with you.  Many scholars, including James’s esteemed mentor, James D.G. Dunn,  have noted that Paul conceptualized Jesus in terms of Adam-Christology.  For Paul, death was inherited because one man, Adam, who was originally created in the image of God himself, sinned; but the second Adam, unlike the original, was perfectly obedient, even to the point of death, and so all have the prospect of everlasting life by accepting Christ’s sacrifice.

      An Adam Christology with a relatively advanced primate as the original man — an Adam that emerged on the scene after millions and millions of years of unguided genetic mutation and natural selection — would cause Paul’s apologetic to ultimately succumb to heart failure.

       

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

        Paul’s contrast between Adam and Christ, I would point out, is not about the explanation for natural phenomena, but about contrasting two ways of being human and of relating to God.

        • Kaz

          Paul explicitly states his point of contrast, James, and it supports what I’ve argued.  Paul’s theology holds that we are subject to sin and death through Adam, because Adam sinned and therefore died and passed sin and death to his offspring.  But through Christ’s righteous obedience even to the point of death we can overcome the death-dealing results of Adam’s sin. 

          Paul’s apologetic really does succumb to heart failure under your paradigm.

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

            I have said before that Paul assumed Adam to be an actual historical individual. But his contrast does not depend on it. And so his concept no more literally experiences heart failure if Adam was not a historical individual, than his use of “heart” experiences heart failure just because the heart does not literally do the things that Paul assumed it does.

            • Kaz

               If you believe that then you need to study Paul more closely.  Under your paradigm, his Christology collapses.  Period.

              • Kaz

                 Please replace “Christology” with “apologetic” in my previous post.

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

                    James, my observation has nothing to do with whether Paul was a liberal or a conservative;
                    it has to do with whether Paul’s apologetic vis a vis Adam-Christology
                    could survive your paradigm on origins.  I stand by the contention that it could not.

                    BTW, the second link you provided above took me to an error 404 page.

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

                      Sorry, the final “l” got deleted somehow. Here is the link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2007/12/literal-days-vs-24-hour-days-and-adam-vs-christ.html

                      I stand by the claim that the Bible’s teaching about Adam is about what human nature is like, not how it got this way. And I do not think that the question of how we got this way undermines the reality of the experience of transformation and newness of life in Christ.

                    • Kaz

                      But James, your view obliterates the first half of the equation, which undermines the second half.  If, contrary to Paul, Adam’s death wasn’t the result of his sin, and our death the result of inheriting Adamic sin, then there’s really no reason to believe that life is available in Christ via his faithfulness or God’s grace or whatever. 

                      I would even argue that the biblical notion of “sin” doesn’t make sense if Darwinism is true.  Primates don’t sin, and in Darwinism we are nothing more than relatively evolved primates.  If man was not created in God’s image, but via Darwinian  processes, then behavior that we call “sin” is simply “natural” behavior.  If God had a problem with such behavior so that he would decide to view it as “sin”, then I don’t see how our failure would not ultimately be his own fault, because, on that paradigm, he’s the one who allowed us to emerge via purely natural processes. 

                      You once posted a cartoon about how the cousins (us) of primates became uppity.  Well, there you go!  Why should a primate’s uppity delusions inspire faith?       

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

                      I do not follow your reasoning. I understand at you sincerely believe that humanity emerging through evolutionary processes undermines salvation, but I do not understand why you think that, or how it undermines it.

                      Whether God created us by speaking us into existence, or by forming us with his hands from dust, or through an evolutionary process from other living things, that has nothing to do with sin and our relationship to God. God is no more and no less to blame for our capacity for wrongdoing in the one case than in the other. In all the above cases, it would remain an observable fact that we share biological features, including many instincts, with other living things. It would remain an observable fact that we, like other animals, are prone to take what we want and to lash out when we feel threatened, and that such instincts are hardwired into our anatomy as it is in theirs. What distinguishes us from other living things is our capacity to reflect on what we have done, to analyse and even resist our instincts. And what it means to be a Christian is to put others above ourselves, to find God and a transformed life in the process of, and leading us to, not merely ignore but subjugate those instincts to a higher calling, a different values system. And the possibility of such transformed lives is something that we can observe and experience.

                      From my standpoint, it seems as though you are merely asserting that God cannot work except in the way that you believe that God has worked, and I find that disturbing in and of itself, but all the more so because it involves suggesting that God cannot work or have worked in precisely the context of the world as careful study of it shows it to be.

                    • Kaz

                      So God gave us instincts only to expect us to overcome those God-given
                      instincts, even though animal instincts are typically beneficial for a creature’s survival.  The more you
                      argue for it, the more problematic your paradigm becomes, IMO.

                      You might want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the works of advocates of presuppositional apologetics, as this may help you to recognize the signs of a flawed worldview.   

                       

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

                      Are you saying that the same instincts which get us into trouble – the instinct to eat, to reproduce, to survive – are not the same ones that get us into trouble?

                      I think the problems is that you really very badly want evolution to be incompatible with Christianity, or at least you assume it is, and so you are finding problems where none exist. Indeed, it almost sounds as though you are on the verge of denying that we are bodily creations of God. Are you saying that the characteristics we share with other animals are not a result of the activity of God? If not, then you need to be clearer, because I still do not see the problems you see or how a different theological viewpoint makes them go away.

                    • Kaz

                       I don’t believe that Darwinism is true because it’s absurd, and I would have that view regardless of my theology.

                      Got to get some sleep. 

                    • beau_quilter

                      Thank you for sharing your opinion about the absurdity of evolutionary theory. 

                      However, I think I’ll stick with the opinion of the National Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education, and over 97% of the scientific community. Their opinion is a bit more qualified.

                    • Kaz

                      “Thank you for sharing your opinion about the absurdity of evolutionary theory.”

                      When it comes to Darwinism and it’s larger claims, science accepts the law of higgeldy piggeldy over against more reasonable constructs because science by definition rules out the supernatural, and scientists equate intelligent causation with supernatural causation.  As Geneticist Richard Lewontin pointed out, scientists adhere to their methodology (naturalism) despite the absurdity of some of its constructs.  There’s a very good reason so many pro-Darwinian constructs have been referred to as “just-so stories”, namely, because that’s just what they are, fanciful tales.  Science has a pre-commitment to exclude intelligent causation in biology, which makes your preference for 97% (or whatever the real percent is) of the scientific community a circular declaration in this context.

                      My point to James is that, unlike you and him, the Apostle Paul, were he here, would not deliberately rule out intelligent causation from biology.  He would not even be able to comprehend the notion that a Christian would embrace a construct that rules out God as a governing precondition.  James tried to counter this by asserting that Paul accepted the commonly held erroneous view of the heart, so, James tells us, there’s every reason to believe that he’d accept Darwinism.  Well, I’m sorry, but just because Paul may have accepted an erroneous idea from his day doesn’t mean that he’d accept this particular erroneous idea from our day. 

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

                      Kaz, my point was obviously not “Paul accepted an erroneous view in his time, so we should accept erroneous views in ours.” My point was that Paul accepted views that we cannot, and so we cannot regard him as an authoritative source of scientific knowledge, but also, his point often does not depend on accepting his science.

                      One could also say, perhaps, that the Biblical texts provide a basis for accepting the best nowledge available in one’s own time, even if it may turn out later that it was wrong.

                      In other words, there is simply no way to use Paul to justify rejecting the best scientific knowledge in our time. But unfortunately, many Christians not only do that, but arrogantly (assuming their own genius as superior to that of the world’s scientists) consider mainstream science “absurd.” It often seems absurd – that the Earth is spinning frantically while hurtling through space, that physical objects are mostly empty space – and so that is why scientific investigation and not common sense has proven time and time again to be the more reliable guide about the way the natural world is.

                    • Kaz

                      “In other words, there is simply no way to use Paul to justify rejecting
                      the best scientific knowledge in our time. But unfortunately, many
                      Christians not only do that, but arrogantly (assuming their own genius
                      as superior to that of the world’s scientists) consider mainstream
                      science “absurd.”

                      You are really having a difficult time following the argument, and once again I’m at a complete loss on how to help you.  I’ll try, but it seems that you may be deliberately making it difficult simply because you don’t like the argument, in which case my efforts may be wasted.

                      Here we go: We don’t have to try and use Paul to justify rejecting the “best” scientific knowledge of our time, because science has itself shut the door to any meaningful dialogue with Paul on the question of life’s origins.  Scientists have set up an artificial man-made construct that only allows the inference of natural causes as a precondition for doing science.  At the moment they reached a consensus on that point, they made themselves irrelevant to Paul on this issue, because Paul would not accept the exclusion of God’s direct involvement in the origins of life, and he would rebuke anyone who would support such an intellectual enterprise.

                      Also, for about the 100th time, I am in favor of science, good science.  Darwinism isn’t good science, and I’m not absolutely sure that it even qualifies as science in any meaningful way.  I have this view not because I think that I’m more brilliant than scientists (though I could certainly be more brilliant than some, as could you), but because I’ve listened to what the many scientists have offered to support Darwinism, and weighed the merits of the various contentions.  I’ve found them wanting for the many reasons I’ve expressed for a couple of years now on your blog.    

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

                      To say that mainstream evolutionary biology is not good science can only reflect utter ignorance of the field and its fruitful research.

                      And your insisting that evolution alone excludes divine causality and creates theological problems cannot but represent deliberate misrepresentation. Our understanding of meteorology leaves no space for divine action, and could be deemed incompatible with Jesus’ statement that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust. Our understanding of stellar formation does not leave room for God fixing the greater light into the firmament. Yet you pick and choose which science you claim is at odds with Christian faith and Scripture with the same skill that a fundamentalist chooses which texts to insist are crucial to take literally and which to quietly ignore.

                    • Kaz

                       Your comparison of Darwinism with meteorology shows your utter ignorance on the origins dialogue.  I’ll leave you in that state as it appears to be your preference.

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

                      The difference is that meteorology is all about what we can observe, and so the exclusion of divine causes ought to be more troubling. Your choice to try to end dialogue when your inconsistency is exposed says a lot.

                    • Kaz

                      I’m not ending because an inconsistency is exposed; I’m ending because a Christian has to know when to shake the dust off his feet and move on.  The Christian’s job is to find sheep, not force them. 

                      There’s a big difference between science’s knowledge of things like lightening or other physical phenomena and the problem of origins and biological life.  To even begin to come close, although just barely close enough for modestly workable analogy, lightening would have to do things like carve the faces on Mount Rushmore or the Ten Commandments on a wall, or animal figurines out of trees, and this every time it struck.  Windstorms in the desert would have to create armies of sand soldiers, or sand castles, or sand cars.  Instead of leaving nothing but debris and destruction behind, tsunamis would have to wash through and leave behind great artistic sculptures of George Washington or Gandhi or MLK out of coral and shells and sticks and trees and mud and so forth.  A tornado would have to sweep up a 100,000 cases of dominoes and create a great sculpture of the Brooklyn Bridge, but also set them up in such a way that when the first domino is dropped against the adjacent one, they’d all fall, but sequentially in a very artistic display.  

                      Everyone who would see such phenomena (except maybe you and Dawkins) would infer that a mind was behind that activity.  If Barack Obama were to see such phenomena taking place he would put the military on full alert, because he would know that intelligent agents with heretofore unknown powers are behind this, and he’d need to be ready to protect the nation just in case the great power-wielding agent was to turn from harmless artistic pranks to evil deeds.  He would also launch a full scale investigation, sparing no cost (and we thought he was spend-crazy now!) in an attempt to unveil the mystery.

                      My own research and contemplation has revealed to me that the cell alone is much more awe-inspiring in its ability to reveal intelligent agency, and that’s just the cell!  All I can say to you and others here, is open your minds, and study biology or chemistry or bird anatomy or human anatomy or an immunity system, or whatever, and when you see things that are actually much more impressive than a tornado building a bridge out of dominoes, embrace what it implies.  I’m sure the Apostle Paul would.

                      Take care.

                      “All I’ve studied and researched over
                      the past 30 years has only strengthened my belief that nothing makes
                      sense in biology apart from belief in an intelligent being who has
                      created us. Those who do not believe in an intelligent being must go
                      to great extents to rationalize that what they see as design is not
                      the product of intelligence. Dr. Donald L. Ewert, Microbiologist,
                      researcher at the Wistar Institute for almost 20 years.”

                       

                       

                          

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

                      Kaz, Jesus did indeed say that his apostles should shake the dust off their feet when people would not welcome them and accept the good news. Are you saying that Intelligent Design is part of the Gospel? I don’t see that, and so I would suggest that you may have added to the Gospel without realizing it.

                      Jesus never taught his followers, in any source I have read, to shake the dust off their feet and leave a discussion because it isn’t going the way they want it to, or as a way of bowing out while still arrogantly claiming the upper hand.

                      Fred Hoyle’s analogy about the cell illustrates well the problems of someone commenting on a field not their own. If you are talking about the origins of life, then there is indeed a great deal of mystery and a great deal that we do not know, but to tell scientists that they ought in advance to assume that the later complex self-replicating molecules that form the basis of life could not have developed from earlier and less complex ones is simply to assert what they are trying to determine. Unless scientists investigate whether natural processes can lead to the molecular basis for life, then any assertion one way or the other is just that, mere assertion. But at least the scientists are investigating the question, whereas you seem to want them to stop for fear of what they might turn up.

                      If you are referring to subsequent evolutionary developments, then we can see the mechanisms that drive them in the lab, we can trace the transmissions of genes, duplications, errors, and other clues allowing us to connect the dots between genomes the way text critics do between manuscripts.

                      You can shake the dust off your feet. But in claiming to be a better expert on biology than people like Francis Collins, I beg you to stop pretending that you are following Christ when you do so. You are denying the evidence of God’s own creation, insulting other Christians’ expertise based on the arguments of a few who mostly lack that expertise, and doing a variety of other things that have nothing to do with the dust-shaking in the New Testament.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      My own research and contemplation has revealed to me that the cell alone is much more awe-inspiring in its ability to reveal intelligent agency, and that’s just the cell!  All I can say to you and others here, is open your minds, and study biology or chemistry or bird anatomy or human anatomy or an immunity system, or whatever, and when you see things that are actually much more impressive than a tornado building a bridge out of dominoes, embrace what it implies.

                      awe-inspiring, certainly! but revealing an intelligent agent, no, i don’t see that. what i see is a monkey-brain, me, evolved to see the world in terms of personification.  we see agency, we see personality, we attribute personhood to our external world. it is the way we are. we evolved in community, the ability to judge others actions and their intentions is very important. we project this from inside onto the things of this world.

                      we no longer attribute thunder and lightening to gods. we no longer attribute disease to evil spirits or demons. there has been a process of desacralizing the natural world for about 500 years. does this impoverish our horizons? are we less awe struck than the ancients because of this history? not necessarily, i see people far more thoughtful and bright than me, in awe of what they see out there, enamored with biology and what it has discovered. eager to share their excitement.

                      but i see lesser minds, like mine, bored by the world, a ho hum-so what attitude when reading a biology textbook. so i have to conclude that seeing the world and being awe struck is a personal thing, that has to do more with the one struck then the nature of this creation. 

                    • arcseconds

                      Kaz,

                      I once saw half a dozen simple but elegant-looking swimming fish-like things simulated on a computer.  They moved through the simulated fluid with smooth, sinusoidal motion.  they were made out of about ten or so linked blocks and could flex at the joints.  the blocks were shaped such that the overall shape was smooth and streamlined.

                      Now, if someone had just shown me those things cold, i would assume that it was some CGI animator’s project, possibly part of their training, that they’d spent hours and hours designing and getting to work.

                      But they weren’t designed by a human animator.  They were the products of simulated natural selection.   They were descendents of an extremely simple creature consisting of just two blocky rectangular blocks, with no streamlining.  The ‘DNA’ that described these creatures was randomly altered to produce thousands of descendents, and the 10 best swimmers were selected and the process continued.   It took surprisingly few generations to create the fluke-like forms I saw.

                      What I’d like for you to understand from this is:

                      *) the Darwinian picture is not just randomness.  That’s only part of the picture.  The other part of the picture is natural selection, which is constantly filtering the randomness into things that improve the species (i.e. increase the survivability and  fecundity).  Often what benefits a species is to do whatever it’s already doing somewhat well at better, so you can expect to see continual improvement.

                      So please don’t give analogies like the storm any more.  That only represents half the picture.  It’s like arguing cars could never work as a form of transport because they’d all run out of fuel within the week, or banks could never work because they’d run out of money to give people.

                      *) natural selection does yield results that look like they’ve been designed.  This is not a matter of speculation at all: it’s been demonstrated by the computer simulation I saw, and plenty more like it.  There’s an entire field called ‘genetic algorithms’ that uses this to develop computer programs for difficult problems.

                      *) as a result, one’s intuitions about what has been designed and what hasn’t aren’t reliable.

                      Also, I find your encouragement to study biology and chemistry etc. odd, to say the least.  Do you really think no-one here has ever studied any of those fields?  and you must surely be aware that most people who study those fields come away with precisely the opposite conclusion to the one that you’re endorsing.

                       

                    • arcseconds

                       Although if you think Darwinian evolution is just randomness, that does explain a lot of things.  Your analogy would work in that case, and it explains why you think it’s absurd.

                    • beau_quilter

                      So it’s not just me, eh? Apparently most of us on this site, are poor, ignorant, unread novices in the face of Kaz’s multiple doctoral degrees, unprecedented publication record, and all-around erudition.

                      Kaz, you really must step back and see how silly such statements appear. 

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                       Scientists have set up an artificial man-made construct that only allows the inference of natural causes as a precondition for doing science. 

                      re:
                      I am in favor of science, good science.  Darwinism isn’t good science, and I’m not absolutely sure that it even qualifies as science in any meaningful way.

                      there is a parallel in why Christians in the US fought for the separation of church and state and why Christians worked to eliminate supernatural explanations from science. it is because we recognize we don’t want the “other guys faith” to be imposed on ours. in science we can’t measure or recognize supernatural explanations, in politics we can’t judge between competing faith claims to be reasonable politics, so in both cases people agreed to put their particular faith commitments aside in order to work on the common arena between them, whether the natural world or politics.

                      your demand to allow your particular view of God’s activity back into scientific explanations in order for it to be “good science”  is misguided at best because you will let in every supernatural explanation and there is no way to judge between them because the supernatural is not testable.  just be glad that science works as well as it does.

                    • beau_quilter

                      Yes, I don’t have a dog in the race as far as Paul is concerned.
                      I see you’ve picked up on the Discovery Institute’s fond quotation of Lewontin, in a REVIEW of a Carl Sagan book. Lewontin is not an ID supporter, he is, in addition to being a geneticists, an evolutionary biologist whose own work supports and expands evolution theory, and rests completely within the framework of naturalistic explanations.

                      The unmitigated support for the theory of evolution in the scientific community stands firm, despite the DI’s cherry-picking of quotations from individual scientists.

                    • Kaz

                      Didn’t we go over this once before?  I pick Lewontin specifically because he rejects ID, remember?  His rejection of ID is essential to my point. 

                      BTW, I wasn’t introduced to the Lewontin quote by the Discovery Institute, but by William F. Buckley, Jr, who took the side of ID in a Firing Line debate. 

                    • beau_quilter

                      That makes sense, Buckley could always turn a philosophical or scientific issue into a political one. 

                      Perhaps it was essential to a point you made somewhere else. Here, it only has the appearance of a meagre appeal to authority.

                    • Kaz

                      “To anyone new to the conversation, you seem to be attributing your opinions about the “absurdity of naturalism” to Lewontin.”

                      Good point, Beau.  I consider my posts here as a continued dialogue, but you’re right, people who haven’t been here long or followed all the posts could get the wrong impression. 

                      Thanks for pointing that out; I’ll try and be more careful.

                    • Kaz

                      Actually, on second thought, I think that Lewontin would have conceded the absurdities inherent in naturalism vis a vis Darwinism, and many of the “just-so” stories that have been offered to support it.  It seems as though that’s exactly what he was doing.

                      I can respect a scientist who chooses to support Darwinism but is at least honest enough to admit how absurd some of the constructs and stories are that are offered to support it.   I find it more difficult to respect a person who responds to so many posts he doesn’t like by offering the intellectual equivalent of a spitball.  

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

                      I think it is important to note that a great many things have seemed absurd. Quantum mechanics still does. So too does the movement of the Earth from time to time. What distinguishes science is that it embraces that reality is in fact the way the evidence suggests it is even when that seems to run counter to common sense. In other words, I have no problem with you saying that certain things seem absurd. I don’t think that many scientists would try to deny that! The question is whether, as with the Earth’s rotation, the evidence indicates that it is our assumptions about what is absurd are keeping us from embracing an evidence-supported picture of how the world works.

                    • beau_quilter

                      By the way, why stop at “Darwinism”?

                      From what I can see, all of science “rules out the supernatural” – not just evolutionary biology. If that’s your measure of absurdity, then relativity, quantum mechanics, cell theory, virtually all research in medicine, electronics, geology – in short, all of the sciences – work within a naturalistic framework.

                      Gosh. I guess that’s why science has been so unsuccessful. Is that why we are all still living in caves.

                    • Kaz

                       That you could make such a comment tells me that you really aren’t familiar with the issues that are at the center of the origins debate.  I really don’t have time to attempt to correct that shortcoming.

                    • beau_quilter

                      Really, Kaz? You don’t have time to “school” me on the origins debate? Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      against more reasonable constructs because science by definition rules out the supernatural, and scientists equate intelligent causation with supernatural causation. 

                      one of the interesting things to come out of molecular biology in the last 50 years, is that the closer you look at living things, the less they look designed or built by any recognizable intelligence. the best word i know to describe life at the molecular level is bricolage. life is constantly reworking things only with what it has at hand, in that creature’s genome. human designers long ago learned to swap out debugged modules, to reuse good design, to extend things that work into nearby arenas. but life does nothing like human design, but almost the exact opposite, it doesn’t debug but breaks working systems to invent something else. even though a perfectly good eye might be inches away, it reinvents a new eye, badly, by modifying something else. 

                      the only criteria is a dependence on the vertical transmission of genetic material. just what evolution predicts.  yes there is some horizontal transmission, that is why something like syncytin is so significant.

                      this cry for allowing an intelligent designer in biology falls on deaf ears in that community, because in their daily work there is nothing like an intelligent designer at work, rather a rube goldberg whose only thought is to use what currently exists at hand to built something that might work a little bit. there is simply no need to propose an ID, because life does not appear to be designed.

                    • arcseconds

                       Science doesn’t have a ‘pre-commitment’ to exclude intelligent causation in biology.   Otherwise we’d be completely stumped when faced with, say, wheat or chickens!

                      On the contrary, we know that there are intelligent agents (humans) who use biological processes for their own ends, and we appeal to them when appropriate. Also, science is quite open to the idea that there may be intelligent extraterrestrials with technology like ours (the SETI project wasn’t some huge, expensive art project), which would include selective breeding and genetic engineering.    That possibility could certainly be appealed to if we came across a creature with properties that strongly suggested such a thing. 

                       For example, if the genetic information was encoded in one of the DNA analogues that are not known in the natural world, that would immediately and strongly suggest a life-form that is not related to the life on Earth.  If the ‘junk XNA’ encoded something like the Arecibo message, then that the life is at least in part artificial would be a difficult conclusion to avoid.

                      Also, I don’t agree with Lewontin about science’s commitment to ‘material causes’.  I already replied last time you bought this up – did you read my response?

                      No, the problem with intelligent design as an explanation for terrestrial biology isn’t that science has just decided to ignore the obvious explanation in favour of one that meets certain metaphysical presuppositions.  Science has proven itself quite capable in the past of abandoning metaphysical presuppositions in favour of new ones if it can buy itself better explanatory frameworks by doing so.

                    • arcseconds

                       You might also be interested in my reply to Kevin, where I briefly sketch why ID currently offers little to scientists, and how it could become a productive research programme.

                      Actually, I don’t know that it’s not already following the path I suggested.  I don’t follow the cutting-edge of ID, because so far the bits that have crossed my path have just seemed like blocking science, rather than taking an alternative but possibly productive route.  So if you know of ID work that’s actually theorizing about what the designer’s design principles are, and using that to ‘predict’ what will be found in nature , and using failed predictions to adjust their understanding of the design principles, and so forth, then I’d be quite interested in having a look.

                      (whether or not it actually predicts a novel phenomenon isn’t really too important.  If it can derive in a non ad-hoc, non question-begging fashion things we already know about nature, that would be mildly impressive. )

                      If it’s doing that, then it’s acting at least somewhat as a science.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we ought to prefer it to contemporary mainstream evolutionary biology — for that, it’d would have to start to outperform what we have already.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=661277987 Brad Spencer

                      Straw man. If God is the Creator then he created the world we are in now. Scientists can examine that world and see that everything that happens does so naturally. There is abundant reason for wonder in that. It is far more absurd to claim that God, who created a natural world with natural processes, had to resort to the supernatural at any time. Biological mutations occur. If a string of millions of mutations brought about man from a starting one-cell organism you can, if you insist God created man, accept that God guided every one of those mutation steps. If God can create an elephant out of dust then he can surely guide a cosmic ray to cause a change in DNA that results in a mutation. If God is omnipotent then God is in charge of nature and everything in nature is subject to his guidance. Creationism denies the omnipotence, insists on free-standing nature and supernatural interference. As has been pointed out if the Bible says nothing about how but only speaks of what it is pure human arrogance to insist you know the how – and have divine indication of that. If God created and controls everything then of course scientists will not see evidence of Him: there is no supernatural, only the divine natural. Denying that God created what is actually seen by scientists would seem to be wanton heresy. If God didn’t plaster his logo on all he created like some sportswear companies do could it not be because he had no reason to overtly label his work?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                       If, contrary to Paul, Adam’s death wasn’t the result of his sin, and our death the result of inheriting Adamic sin,

                      this idea is embedded in the ancient biology that the male semen contained the humanity(homunculus) of the child and the mother was an incubator. we know this is not an accurate model of sexual reproduction. how does our current knowledge feedback into our theological models? this ties into the notion of the virgin birth, the explanation of why Jesus was sinless was that his father was God, not a man. 

                      we know death is not the result of sin, death-in multicellular organisms- is the result of  terminal specialization via epigenetic changes in our cell lines. we no longer believe sin is passed by the male member in sex. the underlying physical science that justified our theological speculations has been changing for generations. the question is not if theology changes in response to cultural understanding evolving but how.

                      simply repeating theological formulas doesn’t help us understand what happens when the structure our theology is built on changes as our physical science builds better models of the world.

    • Gamgokt

       John 5:44-47  actually belief in Genesis is fundamental to Christianity. You can’t say you love God then turn around and call Him a liar.  You can’t say you believe God then say His word isn’t true.

      Jesus believed God and said His word was true, Jesus loved God and did not call Him a liar, so are you saying you are greater than Jesus? Jesus believed Genesis and taught others to believe it.

  • Claude

    I’m familiar with those passages in Paul, and it’s a good point, but the belief in resurrection did not begin with Paul. The story goes that some of Jesus’s earthly followers insisted they had “seen” Jesus after his death. If not, would we be having this debate? (Indeed, that is one fascination of the thing; how a tiny Jewish death cult two thousand years ago developed into a global phenomenon that shows no signs of abating.) Paul may have made the belief in Jesus’s resurrection theologically coherent, but the belief initially arose from the experiences of presumably unsophisticated people. Also, science didn’t offer Paul evidence of an alternative to the Genesis story. If he had had access to such information he may well have have assimilated it into his theology. He was a highly creative thinker, after all.

    Like Jesus, Paul also believed that the end of history and the Kingdom of God were imminent. That Christians are still waiting would also prove problematic for Paul’s apologetic that Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection to come within his generation.

  • Kaz

    “Also, science didn’t offer Paul evidence of an alternative to the
    Genesis story. If he had had access to such information he may well have
    have assimilated it into his theology. He was a highly creative
    thinker, after all.”

    I tend to doubt it.  The modern Darwinian consensus is founded and sustained by the notion that in order for a theory to be “scientific” it must only infer natural causes.  That’s the primary glue that holds the absurd Darwinian paradigm together.  Paul would not have accepted a construct that deliberately excludes God’s own hand in his creation.  Indeed, had a fellow Christian resorted to such theorizing Paul would have rebuked him before all! 

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

      I have to disagree. Paul sided with Aristotle on thinking taking place in the heart rather than the head. I do not find it at all implausible that Paul might have been open to his concept of immediate and ultimate causes, and thus found natural explanations of gravity and embryology and meteorology and so on acceptable, and perfectly compatible with an ultimate explanation in terms of the divine will.

      • Kaz

        Come, come, James, have the courage of your convictions and embrace the probability that Paul would reject your preference for man-made traditions over against good theology.  

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

          Paul was a liberal. We can only speculate what he might have said if he had lived today, but I stand with the courage of my convictions in the same tradition as Paul.

    • beau_quilter

      er … Kaz, all science today – not just evolutionary science – all science looks for natural causes. And science progresses quite well on that paradigm – otherwise, you wouldn’t be sharing the internet with us.

  • Claude

    Wow. The idea that scientists should entertain theological premises to explain natural phenomena is alarming. For starters, divine origins is not a testable hypothesis and is unsupported by evidence. Needless to say, many Christians who believe that God is the Creator accept evolution. Even the Vatican has made an accommodation! It’s not a matter of cognitive dissonance but a recognition that the evidence for evolution is compelling and that Bible stories are neither scientific accounts nor God’s authorized biography.
    What do you find credible in the Genesis account of creation? What do you find “absurd” about Darwinism?

  • Claude
  • Phil

    In answer to the question in the title: Yes.


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