Answers in Genesis at Butler University

I received this notification from an organization on campus:

Butler Staff and Faculty Ministry (BSFM) would like to invite faculty, staff and students to join us for our quarterly speaker and Brown Bag Luncheon:

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 12:00pm – 1:00pm in the Johnson Room at Robertson Hall

Dr. Terry Mortenson: “Origin of Species: was Darwin right?”

(Taking a critical look into the evidences, assumptions and conclusions of the science of origins.)

Light desserts and drinks will be provided by BSFM. Please feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.

Terry Mortenson has a PhD in the history of geology from the University of Coventry in England and is an international speaker on the creation—evolution controversy for Answers in Genesis, founding organization for the 70,000 square foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.

Though RSVP’s are not required, it would be helpful if you would contact Rhonda Louks (rlouks@butler.edu) if you are planning to attend to assist with determining dessert and drink quantities, or contact Rhonda if you have questions.

I wrote an e-mail in response, and thought I would share it here:

Dear Rhonda,

I would like to express my dismay that BSFM has chosen to invite a representative of an organization opposed to not only the mission of Butler University, but also the historic Christian faith and respect for the Bible, to our campus. Answers in Genesis promotes views which are at odds with both the scientific evidence and what the Bible says.

I have blogged more than once about Terry Mortenson's previous visit to campus. Here is a link to one example.

I wonder what motivates the invitation of someone who represents an organization that brings the Christian faith into disrepute. Those who make false claims, and who maintain that the making of such claims is what it means to be a Christian, do only harm to the faith. That is what Answers in Genesis does. They persuade many people that they have to choose between what science concludes and Christianity, and in a self-fulfilling prophecy, many people who then discover the weight and extent of the scientific evidence then leave their faith.

Why not invite someone like Francis Collins, an Evangelical Christian who headed up the Human Genome Project and who is now director of the NIH? Someone who actually knows about the relevant scientific information and can talk about it from a Christian perspective? Why not invite a Christian like John Walton who is also a Biblical scholar and can talk honestly and accurately about the creation accounts in Genesis? Why invite self-proclaimed experts without relevant expertise who deceive the gullible and drive people away from the faith?

I am very disappointed with BSFM. I am not sure who is responsible for the invitation, but I hope that you will forward my e-mail to them. I do not know whether there is any hope that the invitation extended to Answers in Genesis could be reconsidered, but it ought to be.

Sincerely,

James McGrath

 

  • Gary

    I certainly hope they are not paying him a fee to speak. If he is doing it for free, then I really would not care. If you get a biology prof to volunteer to debate him, it might be fun, if they change the format. If they are paying a fee, I’d really complain.

    • jt

      of course they are paying him. speakers charge exorbitant fees to come shill their wares. look at how much palin was raking in for speaking fees, and she wouldn’t go if they didn’t meet her rates. people considered academics or religious leaders often call it an honorarium, but those too can be sky high. apparently last year he was charging $2700 just to talk to a church–I imagine a university fee would be quite a bit higher since they aren’t relying on a “church donation” to pay him, but there are special university budget for such things. http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/terry-mortenson-is-coming-to-town-for-a-fee/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682420999 Jim Linville

    James,
    I hope you get them to reconsider. having such nonsense on any campus only legitimizes their claims and self-declared (but imaginary) controversy. Will you attend and ask questions?

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

      If there will be time for questions then I probably will do that. But I also wonder whether inviting people to a competing event, or one happening right afterwards, featuring actual scientists, Biblical scholars, and theologians, would be a better approach.

  • jt

    it doesn’t look like there will be q/a time, since it’s just an hour. so what should be a response to the speaker? show up and listen respectfully, knowing there will be no capacity for inquiry? ignore him and hope for an empty room? given that the largest student group on campus is Campus Crusade for Christ (is it still?), i imagine it will be a packed house. letters to the editor in the pseudo-journalistic student paper?

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

      A letter to the editor is appropriate. But I’m hoping for more. Campus Crusade had extended an invitation to a speaker named Willie Dye, who boasted multiple PhDs on his web site. I looked into it, saw that they were all from the same degree mill, drew it to Campus Crusade’s attention, and they rescinded the invitation. This is a different group, but I’d like to think that the people involved, at least a couple of whom I know, may simply be (as I once was) in the situation of having only heard one side on this matter, and not considered what the speaker they are inviting has said about the work their colleagues in other departments do.

  • http://twitter.com/upsidedwnworld Rebecca Trotter

    I would suggest that in dealing with these people, their dishonesty ought to be the focal point. Most people are really foggy on the science, so AIG says one thing, someone says, “that’s not true!” and the person listening probably doesn’t really know enough to tell one way or another. OTOH, everyone has a pretty well developed sense of fair play. And like all creationists outfits, AIG relies heavily on lies and distortion.

    So what if you were able to find a video of this guy’s standard presentation online and parse through it for dishonesty? In particular any mainstream scientists quoted might be asked to respond not to the substance of what AIG is saying, but to whether their work or quoted words were accurately portrayed. I know that there are anti-AIG people online who have already done this. Also a look at the history of AIG for shady dealings. Like were they involved in the Dover PA case where the text in question was a creationist text which had simply been edited to remove direct references to God? Again, there are sites on the internet which have already documented this sort of thing. Once you have it all compiled, you could create a flyer to be passed out to people entering the room as a “Program Guide” and tell them that they can use it to follow along with the presenter’s talk.

    If possible you could arrange for some sort of presentation on Christianity and Evolution to be held elsewhere and include information about it on the “Program Guide”. That way you could offer another POV, but probably just as important, pre-emptively disarm the claim that your program guide was anti-Christian.

    This is all just off the top of my head, but if you could do something like this, you could avoid the whole “they won’t let us talk” crap as well as dignifying their arguments with answers. Simply letting the world know that these people are dishonest and unethical is probably the best response you could have.

    • Ron

      So Ms Trotter, you would recommend subterfuge (subtle name for lying and trickery) to counter what you perceive as AIG’s views?

      Have you and Mr. McGrath actually INVESTIGATED what AIG teaches, or do you just rely upon others blog posts to tell you what to think … since after all, blog posts are SO authoritative (eye roll).

      Mr. McGrath makes statements [that AIG] “They persuade many people that they have to choose between what science
      concludes and Christianity, and in a self-fulfilling prophecy, many
      people who then discover the weight and extent of the scientific
      evidence then leave their faith.”

      I have visited AIG’s Creation Museum. Its not all that far from Indy, being just south of Cincinnati OH in Petersburg KY. AIG and their staff teach a LITERAL interpretation of the Bible. That the genealogies listed in the Old Testament are an accurate assessment to the length of time Mankind has been on the Earth, and because of this literal interpretation, gives a ball park estimate of how long the Earth has existed.

      Being affiliated with such a renowned institution such as Butler University, one might assume that the university teaches that you go to a source of information rather than following the gossip of those who hold opposing views.

      Concluding; you might not speak of others being unethical or dishonest when you have yourself encouraged someone to subterfuge yourself.

      Food for thought from AIG’s website:
      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/au/creationists-real-scientists

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

        I take the stance I do because I used to be a young-earth creationist, and having allowed myself to be duped and having perhaps even influenced others in turn, I now seek to make up for it, having learned more about the Bible and about science than I knew in my teens.

        Here’s a link to my response to Ken Ham’s post about this blog post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/03/ken-ham-vs-the-aims-of-universities.html

      • http://twitter.com/upsidedwnworld Rebecca Trotter

        What an absurd claim! How is it deceptive to hand out guides meant to be used to follow along so you can recognize the lies being told in real time? Good grief. And yes, of course I’ve looked at their claims. And then I looked up the counter-arguments. And I took the time to look up the scientists whose work and words they use to create the false perception that their claims aren’t utter lies. Like all who have bothered to do so, I found out pretty quickly that just like all creationist outfits, they are lying liars who will go so far as to claim that God himself is a liar (he only made the earth look like it was really old!). I learned that it’s very easy to spot a lying creationist promoter – if their lips are moving or their fingers are typing, they are lying. It’s their oxygen and currency. They are doing the work of Satan using Satan’s tools – lying, telling falsehoods, deceiving, lying, bearing false witness, creating division, condemning the faithful, rejecting the testimony of God’s very creation in order to destroy the faith from within.. They are charlatans, liars, profit mongers who denigrate and defame a faith which I take my very life from. Pointing that out to people about to be exposed to their lies isn’t deceptive!

  • Craig Wright

    I can imagine your sense of frustration with this situation. Those are two good recommendations that you gave as alternative voices. I don’t think that, here out west, even a conservative school like Biola U. would invite someone from AIG.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.ortiz.54 Dan Ortiz

    Nicely written James

  • wayne

    Yes there will be an opportunity to respectfully ask questions for anyone who desires and is able to stay for the presentation and Q&A. The presentation itself will probably be about an hour.

    Why is it so important to completely silence people who do not agree with you. If your views and beliefs cannot stand up against opposing views, then why would you have any reason to hold to them?

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

      I have no interest in silencing anyone. I do find it objectionable that a charlatan is being invited to a university to denigrate the important work done by those who work at it.

      • wayne

        I guess someone will have to explain to me someday how the presentation of alternative views and beliefs is “denigrating.”

        • jt

          Again, the issue is appropriateness for the venue. 95% of all biological scientists and geologists reject the young earth perspective. The university is a place for sharing intelligent and critical discussion. If Mortenson is a reasonable speaker for Butler, then I’m sure we can find somebody with a degree to come to the Pharmacy school and talk about humoural theory of disease, and how the recent comet will corrupt the air, leading to a new wave of plague.

        • jt

          While we’re at it, let’s invite some vaccine deniers and holocaust deniers.

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

            Maybe I should try to get some Jesus mythicists (the folks who claim there was never a historical Jesus of any sort) to present side by side with the folks from Answers in Genesis. Neither would persuade the other, obviously, but perhaps those present would realize that the same denialist tactics are used by both, and given how clear it is to each side that the other is using the wrong approach, perhaps some would be moved to think more deeply about why they deny mainstream scholarly conclusions in the way that they do.

        • http://twitter.com/upsidedwnworld Rebecca Trotter

          Well, perhaps it is the way that AIG and other creationist outfits regularly claim that scientists are liars engaged in a massive conspiracy that could be considered denigrating. There’s also the habit of misusing and misquoting the work of real scientists in order to support their false claims which could be considered denigrating. There’s the way that they promote the false dichotomy that one can either be a faithful Christian or accept evolution but not both; that’s pretty denigrating to faithful Christians such as Dr. McGrath who have no problem integrating the evidence of God’s creation with scripture. Not to mention that the division, falsehoods and enmity AIG spreads in pursuit of its cash cow empire denigrates the the Christian faith as a whole.

    • jt

      “Why is it so important to completely silence people who do not agree with you”–What an absurdist and victimized position. The issue isn’t silencing of opposition. The issue is recognizing that at a university, it is counterproductive to invite any and all voices to the table for critical discussion, when some voices are recognized to lack credibility. He would be a fine speaker for a sunday school class. But for a university there are far more credible voices for the “creation science” movement.” He recently made the following statement on a radio talk show: “the only way we can know the age of the earth is if we have eyewitness testimony of somebody who was there, and that’s what we have in the Bible.” That’s a pleasant belief that he has, but there is no credible scientist who would back such a statement.

      Perhaps a reasonable response to the invitation of such a poor quality speaker is to host a counter presentation the same day with credible scientists addressing Mortenson’s claims.

      • Drew

        Since when do universities only invite speakers that have credibility. Most schedule an endless parade of bolviated, pompous asses that can barely get their oversized heads through the door.

        Perhaps the mature response would be to allow a diversity of oppinion to be expressed without the frantic attempt to squelch them. Then you can just chose to disagree if you like, and at the same time expand the capacity or your fragile minds to deal with someone of an opposing view. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

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

          It is very odd that you would comment in this way on a post about something that happened almost a year ago. But yes, most universities invite people with some genuine expertise or relevant experience to offer, without necessarily endorsing their specific views. But in this case, this was not an invitation from the university but from a campus ministry.

  • Simon Cozens

    Well, at least the guy has a PhD in a *vaguely* relevant field, as opposed to the usual doctors of basket-weaving or whatever that creation scientists usually roll out.

    Of course, to overturn the scientific consensus on Genesis would require a complete rewriting of what we know of (at the least) biology, geology, particle physics, cosmology, and chemistry – all at once.

    But I suppose the man’s got to start somewhere.

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

      I have tries unsuccessfully to figure out how Mortenson can have a PhD from the University of Coventry in a field in which they do not have a department. It remains something of a puzzle.

      • jt

        There is a very interesting discussion here about Mortenson’s PhD thesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia%3AReliable_sources%2FNoticeboard%2FArchive_42#Suspect_PhD_thesis

        The thesis itself is listed on the Coventry resource site. His committee hasn’t signed the online copy of the thesis, but Mortenson credits Colin Russell, and Gordon McConville as his supervisors. McConville shows up as prof of OT at Univ Gloucestershire and Russell seems to have retired, although appears to have a respectable academic career. http://curve.coventry.ac.uk/open/items/c2ca3d9b-4617-006a-3cba-cba9e86062f0/1/

        It seems to be a history of science from the department of “Business, environment and society” according to the thesis department designation.

        Perhaps it is a department that is now defunct? The closest I could find was the dept of environmental sciences. http://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-directory/environmental/

      • arcseconds

        I think history of geology is at least a little relevant, as such a person should be familiar with how arguments in geology have changed over time and what views were accepted by geologists at various stages and why.

        A good historian of science should in some respects have a broader understanding of the discipline than the practitioners do, because the practitioners are (rightly) concerned with the current state of the art, not its earlier states.

        However, from jt’s link I see that the Ph.D. is entitled “British Scriptural Geologists In The First Half Of The Nineteenth Century”.

        Arguably this is really ‘history of creationism’, not ‘history of science’. I suppose at that time creationism and science hadn’t entirely parted ways, but it still seems rather late in history to be looking to scripture for precise facts about the age of the Earth. At any rate, it sounds like he’s looked at people who end up being his intellectual predecessors, not the predecessors of modern geology.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath
    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

      I saw Ham is all worked up over your intolerance. This is not about competing scientific views. It is about science vs. Fundamentalist dogma. You were right to object to Mortenson speaking at Butler.

      I am of the opinion that anyone who says the earth is 6,000 years old is living in denial of the facts about the age of the universe. Such views do not deserve respect, nor should we tolerate them being passed off as science. Ham and his disciples are free to spread their “scientific” views at like-minded churches/colleges but they should not have access to students at public institutions.

  • Herro

    AiG is opposed to “historic Christian faith and respect for the Bible”? That’s news to me. :S

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

      Then you must have been listening only to AiG’s version of history. Young-earth creationism is a relatively recent phenomenon, which emerged from Seventh Day Adventism. Of course, many in the past assumed the Earth was younger than it is, when they did not have evidence to the contrary. But they did not hold the YEC stance that one should reject the evidence from nature when it comes to such matters – indeed, quite the contrary.

      • Herro

        If we define YEC as believing that the bible teaches that the earth is ~6000 years old, then their position is the historic Christian faith. :S

        I didn’t know there was some official or clear position on the relationship between natural sciences and theology, and that you would be considered an opponent of “historic Christian faith” if you didn’t agree with it. And besides, part of the message of AiG is that science actually agrees with YEC.

        And besides, I’m pretty sure it would be easy to find quotes by famous theologians or church councils saying stuff like: “If science/reason contradits religious truths, then science/reason has made a mistake somewhere.”, which is basically what AIG says.

        And if small stuff like this makes one an “opposed to historic Christian faith”, then surely one can find similar “heresies” in the beliefs of guys like Collins. And aren’t your views opposed to “historic Christian faith”?

        By all means, oppose AiG, but I think that the “They aren’t true Christians!” argument isn’t exactly going to work.

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

          But young-earth creationism is the turning of an ancient assumption into an axiom of faith. By the same token, it was the historic stance of the Christian faith (because it was the historic stance of most people in the places and times in which they lived) that the heart was the locus of thought, and that God caused the wind to blow. But if there were anti-brainists or anti-meteorologists in our time, they would not therefore be able to claim to be the representative of the historic Christian stance. The historic Christian stance on all the aforementioned matters was to accept what was thought in that time, and thus there is a natural argument from that to accepting the best knowledge available in our own time. If we found NT authors arguing against the best understanding available in their own time, then we might be able to make a case for young-earth creationists being the heirs to that stance.

          • Herro

            First of all, I don’t think it was merely an assumption. The view that the world was ~6000-10000 years old wasn’t something that was generally accepted. It’s an idea that was derived from a close reading of the text. And I’m pretty certain other views existed among the Greeks.

            But I don’t think that it’s *the* historical Christian stance to accept whatever science tells us *if that seems to contradict what the Bible teaches*. I think that great many Christians of the past would’ve dismissed science of that sorts as wrong science.

            But let’s assume that in this regard they’re not representatives of what has truly been the “historic Christian stance” in this regard. Does that make them unfit to speak there? Do you and Collins represent the “historic Christian stance” in all matters?

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

              I think you will find that the stance of Cardinal Bellarmine in the time of Galileo, that a literal reading of the Bible ought to be maintained unless the evidence for it being not literally true was unambiguous, and thus even himself allowing that nature could trump Scripture, was stricter than the view of most Christians down the ages. I suspect that your view reflects an assumption made by many in our time about what the church has looked like in eras past, an assumption shaped by modern experience rather than a study of history in detail.

              I don’t think that there is a single historic Christian stance on probably most matters. And so the most that I would say is that we reflect a – and arguably the dominant – approach of educated Christians down the ages. That approach accepted the appropriateness that the thinking of Christians take into account the best knowledge available from other sources.

              • Herro

                So the problem arises when science conflicts with what people think their holy books teach. Either they can say “Oopsie, we must have been mistaken in our interpretation.” or “The science must be mistaken.”

                AiG clearly goes for the latter, which you think is clearly the minority response during Christian history.

                But let’s assume that youre correct: AiG represents a minority stance throughout Christian history regarding this issue (although they seem to be in the majority in the USA among Christians). Why would **that** mean that they shouldn’t speak? Crossan, Spong, Borg and you would probably be in a rather small minority when it comes to some issues that are generally considered more important among Christians than the relationship of science and faith. So would you also object to them (or you) speaking? Are there any rules requiring the orthodoxy of the speakers?

                I just fail to see how their supposed “heresy” is a valid point to bring up.

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

                  Whether they are heretics is not relevant to whether they present their views at a secular university. It does seem to me to be relevant information to share with a ministry organization that invited them.

  • Vicki N

    “Answers in Genesis promotes views which are at odds with both the scientific evidence and what the Bible says” Really? That’s a strange statement. I find the scientific evidence and what the Bible says correlate very closely to what Answers in Genesis say.

    “They persuade many people that they have to choose between what science concludes and Christianity.” No, I have NOT found that to be true at all. In fact, Answers in Genesis encourages many people to actually use their minds in looking at the evidence, rather than just blindly accept what they are told.

    “Someone who actually knows about the relevant scientific information and can talk about it from a Christian perspective.” When you refer to ‘relevant scientific information’ are you suggesting that any scientific evidence that does not support your own evolutionary views are wrong? Are you also suggesting that there IS scientific evidence that does not support evolution? If so, shouldn’t this evidence also be discussed? If evolution is correct, why be afraid to discuss evidence that contradicts evolution?

    “…can talk honestly and accurately about the creation accounts in Genesis?” your statement suggests that anyone who dares to disagree with evolution is wrong. Why be afraid to present information that contradicts evolution. Why shouldn’t contradictory theories be discussed frankly and honestly? If evolution is correct, than there is nothing to be afraid of.

    “Why invite self-proclaimed experts without relevant expertise who deceive the gullible and drive people away from the faith?” I have seen the credentials of many of the authors and researchers behind Answers in Genesis. In what way are their credentials fraudulent? As a Christian with an open mind (and an IQ over 130) I have found Answers in Genesis has actually strengthened my faith. Your comment is incorrect and seems rather biased.

    “I do not know whether there is any hope that the invitation extended to Answers in Genesis could be reconsidered, but it ought to be.” Why are you so afraid to have Dr. Terry Mortenson speak? Isn’t science supposed to be about looking at all the evidence and all the theories? Surely hearing ALL information and evidence, even if it contradicts your own – is actually scientific? You seem to be suggesting that no-one is allowed to contradict your own evolutionary views, which would also suggest (contrary to scientific study) that people should be DISCOURAGED from looking at all evidence, theories and points of view.

    May I encourage you to read the following with an open mind (from Tim, at https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/):

    1. Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence (same bones, same rocks, same earth), but come to different conclusions due to different starting assumptions used to explain the evidence.

    2. Evolutionists have a starting assumption of uniformitarianism of geology and biology. This basically means that the rates and processes we measure today have remained constant and unchanged for all of history.

    3. Creationists have a starting assumption of catastrophism. This basically means that if the Bible is true, then there are three very important events (a 6-day literal creation, a cursed world following original sin, and a worldwide flood) that intrude and disrupt the assumption of uniformitarianism.

    4. Therefore, if the Bible is true – uniformitarianism fails, and so do all conclusions (macro-evolution, old-earth) that flow from that assumption.

    Realize this is not a denial of the scientific method. This is a re-interpretation of the same data. A person who truly believes the Bible is true has no reason to accept evolution or an old-earth because the Bible offers a different history than those theories use.

    For evolutionists: yes, this argument hinges on the assumption that the Bible’s catastrophic events actually happened – BUT your conclusions also hinge on an unobserved, unrepeatable assumption: uniformitarianism.

    The takeaway here is that the “overwhelming evidences” for evolution, old-earth, and slow geologic processes are interpretations built on assumptions. Creationists have their own interpretations built on different assumptions. This is not a battle over intellect. It is a battle over whether the Bible is true. The evidence can’t tell us either way. A common misconception is that creationists reject micro-evolution and natural selection. Not at all, those are actual observed occurrences. We only reject the unseen lengths to which these changes can accumulate.

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

      Vicki, thank you for your comment. I used to repeat the same claims that you do here, when I was a young-earth creationist. But when I was eventually led to investigate them, I found they proved to be false.

      I have been blogging about this topic for a number of years. And so why not take a look at what I have already written, rather than having me repeat it here? This is a good place to start, perhaps: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2008/09/blogging-creationism-the-highlights.html

      But better still, why not read what Francis Collins, a wonderful Christian who is also a stellar biologist has to say about this topic? Why take the word of a handful of people who criticize the natural sciences mostly from the sidelines? There are reliable sources of scientific and Biblical information within the Christian community, and I commend them to you.

      And of course, see also my response to Ken Ham’s recent blog post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/03/ken-ham-vs-the-aims-of-universities.html

    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

      As one who has engaged Tim on my blog, to suggest he “begins” with science is disingenuous. He begins with the presuppositions: The Christian God exists, the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and the Bible should be interpreted liberally. He then fits the science to the dogma. (as do all creationists)

    • rmwilliamsjr

      re:

      “Answers in Genesis promotes views which are at odds with both the scientific evidence and what the Bible says” Really? That’s a strange statement. I find the scientific evidence and what the Bible says correlate very closely to what Answers in Genesis say.

      -=-=-=-

      the Bible doesn’t “say” anything. you interpret those words. your interpretation correlates to what AiG teaches. you must always be aware of the interpretive distance between what you think and those words.

      if you think that AiG has any scientific evidence then you are very wrong. period.

      pick anything that appears to be a scientific fact from any AiG publications and post it. it will not be true. period.

      yes, they are that bad.

    • jt

      No, science is not obligated to re-examine theories that have been debunked when no new evidence contradicts long-standing theory. Regardless if the US public (having the lowest scientific and math literacy among all of the industrialized nations) doesn’t believe in evolution, poll after poll of scientists affirm that creationism is garbage.

      Texas, 2008, “1,019 biologists and biological anthropologists on the faculty of all 35 public and the 15 largest private colleges and universities in Texas” (97.7%)
      http://www.tfn.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5621

      Gallup, 1997, “Scientists,” 1997 (95%-evolution)
      http://ncse.com/rncse/18/2/do-scientists-really-reject-god

      Pew, 2009, “Scientists,” (97%) “humans have evolved over time”
      http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/528.pdf

      NSTA, 2007, “HS Biology Teachers” (16%-short earth creationism)
      http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/10.1371_journal.pbio.0060124-L.pdf

      Supreme Court, 1986, “Amicus Curiae Brief Of 72 Nobel Laureates, 17 State Academies Of Science”
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/amicus1.html

      American Scientific Affiliation, 2010, Scientists by speciality
      100% of geologists and astronomers agree to old earth theory
      88% of biologists affirmed evolution (7% did not answer the question, so only 5% affirmed short-earth creationism)
      http://www.asa3online.org/Voices/2010/07/16/asa-origins-survey-with-correction/

      Univ Cincinnati, 2002, “Ohio PhDs in natural or physical science”, 90% “no scientific evidence at all for the idea of “intelligent design”.
      http://www.uc.edu/news/idpoll.htm

  • Tim

    Dr. Mortenson is an excellent speaker and well informed on the subject matter about which he speaks. I urge all to go hear him.

    • rmwilliamsjr
      • jt

        great links. following up on the first one, biologist paul myers, i found an interview where the blogger sat down separately with both myers and mortenson, posing the same question to both. http://www.freeoftheism.org/cmfreethinkers/articles/272-interviews-with-pz-myers-and-terry-mortenson

      • Tim

        Yes, very well-informed IF depending on what you believe. I do not know you, but apparently you believe in the theory of Evolution; and you do so by faith, because the theory cannot be proven either scientifically or historically. Thus you concur with those who believe as you do, as suggested by the listing of those websites. These support what you believe, but do not prove what you believe. I too could offer a list of websites which support what I believe, that is that God created all things in six days.
        I could also suggest that those who believe in Evolution are liars, because they do not tell the truth about how all things came to be and deny the Creator as described in the Bible.

        I suggest that anyone with a more open mind than you appear to have go and hear Dr. Mortenson and then engage him in a civil conversation about what he shares after his presentation. He is a most gracious scholar.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          re:

          but apparently you believe in the theory of Evolution; and you do so by faith, because the theory cannot be proven either scientifically or historically.

          -=-=-=-=-
          science doesn’t prove theories, it provides evidence to something like the legal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. it doesn’t do deductive proofs like maths or logic, mostly because it’s major tool is inductive reasoning which is fundamentally probabilistic so there is always a potential black swan hiding in the antipodes.

          • Tim

            There you have it, as I said before “science” cannot prove how all things came into being. It is really a matter of history with evidence to support it. I believe the evidence supports Creation. You do not. Neither one of us can prove the other wrong by the scientific method.

            • rmwilliamsjr

              re:

              You do not. Neither one of us can prove the other wrong by the scientific method.

              -=-=-=-

              science can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that something is false. and it has done so with young earth creationism. not only is there no evidence for YEC there is literally a world full of evidence against it.

              re:

              I believe the evidence supports Creation.

              -=-=-=-=-
              chimp 2p+2q=human 2
              GLU pseudogene
              co-opted ERV syncytin
              HERV’S recapitulation of existing great ape clades

              there is no evidence like these bits for the unique creation of Adam, the progenitor of all mankind. period. the situation is not one of competing theories for the same evidence, there is no evidence for YEC. from the latest y chromosome data to the toba bottleneck, your genome demonstrates the falsity of YEC.

              • Tim

                rmwilliams,
                All that you have proven is that you BELIEVE that scientific evidence “demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt” that Genesis 1 is false. Your basis for your belief is simply what you believe. I believe that Genesis 1 is a true and reliable historical record within a body of literature considered to be inspired by the Creator himself. So, this is the basis for my interpretation of the evidence.
                There are many good articles written by creation scientists that support what I believe, as well. We could go back and forth on this all day long and neither one of us would convince the other.
                I suggest that students and faculty at Butler be open-minded enough to listen to Dr. Mortenson and make up their own minds rather than remain indoctrinated by what they have heard all their lives.

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

                  You encourage people to demonstrated listen to liars with an open mind. Might I ask how much time you have given to listening to Christians like Francis Collins, who have the evidence, training, experience, and godly character all on their side? Appealing to fairness only makes sense if you actually give the view that experts, including Christians, agree fits the fact, the attention it deserves.

                  • Tim

                    Well, what if I were to consider Francis Collins a liar. Why should I listen to him? By the way, I do not know Francis, but I from what I have read of him and what he believes I do not believe he accepts the truth. I do know Dr. Mortenson and would not consider him to be a liar at all. You see, it all depends on what one believes about truth. If someone does not believe what you and I believe then we consider him to be a “liar” don’t we?

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

                      Which is more likely? That the former director of the Human Genome Project and current director of the NIH who has demonstrated his godly character is a liar about the area of his expertise? Or that someone who came to Butler University pretending to know what Hebrew words mean but could not even tell Greek from Hebrew is a liar? We all may be misled if we know someone, so isn’t the appropriate course of action to check the facts?

                    • Tim

                      Well sir, I do suggest that someone who humbly submits to the clear teaching of Genesis 1 (Exo. 20:8-11) and has the kind of godly character of Dr, Mortenson is more knowledgeable and wiser than someone who denies what the Scriptures say.
                      And it does not take a Hebrew or Greek scholar or genetic scientist to understand these words, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Exo 20:11
                      They are pretty plain to me.

                      Well, sir, I do indeed suggest that anyone who believes and accepts what Genesis 1 does not teach believes and accepts a lie, no matter what his character may be.

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

                      Do you accept the clear teaching of Genesis 1 that there is a dome over the Earth into which God has fixed lights? Or do you deny that clear teaching of Scripture because of input from science?

                      If you had not been influenced by false teachers, you might have recognized the very idea of a divine working week to be anthropomorphism. You might even have read Genesis 1 carefully and understood that parallelism between days 1-3 and 4-6 are the reason for the organization. Alas, you allow other considerations to trump the evidence within Scripture itself.

                    • Tim

                      Here is what I accept:
                      Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Gen 1:6-8

                      And,

                      Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. Gen 1:14-19

                      Do you believe these statements are true? Do you accept them?

                      I suppose you believe then that the Sabbath was an anthropomorphism for Israel, as well.

                      Oh, I have read Genesis 1 VERY carefully but no where in Scripture does it state that the “parallelism between days 1-3 and 4-6 are the reason for the organization.” That, sir, is reading into Scripture what is not plainly there in order to accommodate a notion that is not taught in Scripture, i.e. OEC. I believe it is you who has allowed extra-biblical considerations to trump what the Scriptures actually teach. Where do you actually allow them to speak for themselves?

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

                      The Hebrew word you are rendering “expanse” refers to a solid object. You are aware of that, correct?

                      Is it reading parallelism into Hebrew poetry when we notice it elsewhere? Or are you simply indicating that you had failed to notice that the first three days depict the formation of day and night, sky and sea, and dry land, and the following three days populate those domains in the same order? Or do those details in Scripture not matter to you, because you “know” what the Bible means even before reading it?

                    • Tim

                      No, raqia does not necessarily refer to a solid object as in the birds were created on Day 5 to fly in the open expanse of the heavens.
                      The details you mention do indeed matter as they explain what God did over the span of six days.
                      Does it not matter to you that each event of creation ends with “and there was evening and morning, a x-th day”? Does it matter to you that the vast majority of times that Moses used “day” (yom) that it means an ordinary day?

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

                      Sorry, you are not allowed to just rewrite the Bible to suit your beliefs based on science. The birds are said to fly across the face of the dome, not within the “expanse.”

                      There are literal days in Harry Potter, but that remains a work of fiction. That you think God would engage in a literal working week simply illustrates that your view of God is not that of the historic Christian faith, which treats such language as anthropomorphism.

                    • Tim

                      Mine says “expanse”. But let us say that raqia in Scripture means “dome”, what is your point?
                      Harry Potter is indeed a work of fiction. So, is your point that Genesis is a work of fiction?

                      I would say that historically that Jews and Christians have believed that the days of creation were literal days and that Exo 20:11 is not meant to be taken anthropomorphically.

                      Do you believe that God could not have done so?

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

                      My point is that you do not believe in the dome, even though Genesis 1 mentions one.

                      The apostle Paul assumed that the heart was the locus of thought. He had no way of knowing that his language was not literally factual. We accept it as metaphor and it causes not major problems. But it would for a consistent Biblical literalist. Those who oppose evolution are picking and choosing their battles and when to accept what an author meant and when not to.

                      What God could do is irrelevant, unless you want to insist that six days is demeaning to an omnipotent God who could create instantaneously. The relevant question is what the evidence points to having actually happened.

                    • Tim

                      I believe that God made an expanse in the heavens. That is what I believe.
                      Dr. Charles Taylor in his book “The First 100 Words” writes that the Hebrew word (raqiya) doesn’t imply solidity. It could be translated just as space…”

                      How do you know that Paul had no way of knowing that his language was not factual. That is a huge assumption lying upon a slippery slope.
                      I suggest to you that those who accept Evolution instead of Creation are the ones who are picking and choosing what in the Bible is literally true and what is not.
                      The evidence will point to where you want it to. Evidence does not speak for itself. The relevant question is, what is your basis for interpreting the evidence.

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

                      If an ancient person, living in a time when people understood language a certain way, used that language in the same way as their contemporaries, without specifying that they meant something else, it would be inappropriate to take them to mean something they didn’t say they did and would not have been understood to have.

                      Lots of people, because they insist that the Bible must be inerrant, will change the meaning of words. That is why those who know that words are not infinitely flexible regard folks like those at Answers in Genesis as liars and false teachers.

                    • Tim

                      “Lots of people, because they insist that the Bible must be inerrant, will change the meaning of words.”

                      This is exactly what you do with the word “day” in Genesis 1 and Exo. 20:11.

                    • Tim

                      James, if you are so sure that Dr. Mortenson is spreading lies and that your case is tight, why don’t you challenge him to a debate. You should have nothing to fear. It should be easy for you.

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

                      When I merely asked a question when he came to campus he lied about what he knew, what languages he had mastery of and could speak about the meaning of words in. Why would I give a charlatan like that a soapbox? I gain nothing from debating him. He on the other hand gains credibility in the eyes of anyone in the audience who may not be well informed about him, since they will presume that he must likewise be an expert, if he is worthy of sharing a debate platform with a scholar.

                    • Tim

                      If you debate him then you can expose him for what you think he is. You also gain credibility in the eyes of those who believe as you do.
                      Why are you so hesitant?

                    • Andrew L

                      “Whatever you do,” cried Brer Rabbit, “Don’t throw me into the briar patch”

                    • Tim

                      “let me be a little more specific. I’m persuaded that recent YEC got rolling in the early 1900s from a period of theological acceptance of the likely/possible old earth and old creation. I don’t know that I could put dates around it but certainly decades to a century or two before Origin of Species.”

                      Much older than that, Andrew, say about 6,000 years.

                    • Andrew L

                      You appear to be here responding to a point made far above but I’ll reply here anyways.

                      Tim, my point is that there has been some oscillation as to the degree Christianity (and specifically American Christianity) has embraced YEC. Clearly, the current enthusiasm rose out of a reversal (a resurgence to the idea of a young earth) in the 1920s/1930s. This reversed an accommodating position that sought to encompass the biological and geological science discoveries before and after Origin of Species. No doubt there have always been Christians who have held your literal view — but it has not always been a widely held or a theologically appreciated view.

                      While currently YEC may be widely believed in America, it is a shallow majority based on thin science. I believe that majority will prove unsustainable. McGrath, I think correctly, worries that the unchurched world dismisses discussion of salvation because Christianity is too easily dismissed given its association with uncredible YEC.

                    • Tim

                      Yes, Andrew, I was trying to make some sense out of your statement re: Brer Rabbit, so I looked at some earlier comments that you have made to try and get some idea of where you are in this.

                      I do not agree with you that belief in a recent creation is widely held in America currently, or ever has been, but that would be nearly impossible to determine unless we were to interview Americans of the past and present. Nonetheless, it is beside the point. And my point is that the Scriptures clearly teach us that God created all things in 6 days several thousand years ago. I believe it has been largely the teaching of Evolution past that has led to an exodus of people from the church and for which the unchurched world see the Bible as being irrelevant. Believe me, people know exactly what Genesis says, and there is no amount of dancing around the clear statements of the text by OEC that impresses the skeptic that the rest of the Bible should be considered. I know from personal experience.

                    • Andrew L

                      Tim, there are polls of such questions both past and present. There are also historical studies that look at sermons, school books, letters, diaries, and such that can give us perspective on the historical mind and in turn populations. I can’t direct you to a source but my recall is that currently an American majority believe in a recent creation and/or assert God created species separately, especially man.

                      My comment about Brer Rabbit referred to your attempt to bait McGrath into a debate. There are a good many reasons, some included in what I’ve written since, not to do such a debate. In the story of Brer, his protestations about the patch were really a trick to get Bear and Fox to do what Rabbit actually wanted.

                      I’m more persuaded that McGrath and like are correct that Genesis should be understood more poetically than literally.

                      To be clear, I’m one of those who has exited the Church. I am not one of those who left over not being able to reconcile science to Genesis though I have since felt feelings of betrayal as I came to understand the Theory of Evolution. From where I sit, YECs do far more damage than the accommodationists to the Church’s cause.

                    • Tim

                      Thanks, Andrew.
                      I really find it hard to understand why McGrath would refuse to debate Mortenson in a public forum seeing that he has charged and criticized him publicly. It seems only fair.

                      Genesis is most definitely not poetic in general. It has all the earmarks of a historical narrative. Notice Gen 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10,27; 25:12,19;36:9; and 37:2. Genesis is a collection genealogies or accounts. Oh, it does contain some poetry, but it is by and large historical, as are the other books Moses.
                      You say you have left the church. Did you ever come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?

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

                      I do not need to gain credibility. I do scholarly research for a living. I have a doctorate in my field. I teach for a living.

                      Only Mortenson would gain from such an event. I have seen his tactics once already. He works to manipulate the audience and it is difficult on the spot to demonstrate that someone is lying, unless they expose themselves the way he did last time. And I am not even sure whether, at this lunchtime event, there will be significant time for questions.

                    • Tim

                      James,
                      That is a weak reason not to challenge Dr. Terry Mortenson to a debate. I would guess he would make additional time for this. You, I suppose, are an insider at Butler and would be in a position to schedule such an event.
                      If indeed he is lying, then well, is it not your civic and academic duty to expose him for the benefit of students and faculty there?

                    • Andrew L

                      Tim, I’m doubtful of your basic point – that Mortenson and AIG would welcome a debate is true – AIG in general prefers to focus on the choir where their cartoons of cannons fired at castles play well; rather than debating. Other than their recent call for Bill Nye to debate them, I’m hard pressed to think of a recent science debate they’ve entered. And their call for Nye to debate is about whether teaching creation is comparable to child abuse which only tangentially enters into the science.

                      To be clear McGrath is exposing him. Mortenson is clearly on record with his beliefs and McGrath has asserted reasonably that this places Mortenson’s lecture/discussion outside of academic credibilty. Further, you haven’t made a good case that YEC deserves any stronger
                      academic consideration than astrology by astronomists or Jesus as myth
                      by departments by NT studies.

                      Also, you seem to be rather insistent that evolution defenders are being unfair in limiting the access of AIG and like parties but I don’t see you speaking up for evolution defenders being given an audience within Christian colleges or even within Christian churches.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      as has been pointed out, AiG itself allows no discussion on it’s facebook page or comments anywhere on their website. they preach freedom of thought but quickly delete anyone speaking differently on fb and ban them. hypocrites.

                    • Andrew L

                      I don’t have a problem with AIG seeking to limit their resources to their message – but it is hypocrisy when they expect others not to be able to do the same to them.

                    • Tim

                      Andrew, you will forever remain doubtful as long as you and McGrath do not inquire of Mortenson to debate. I know he has conducted debates before.

                      I doubt that Mortenson will speak to the choir at Butler, unless students are prevented or discouraged from hearing him.

                      McGrath has not exposed him at all. I believe his attacks are ungrounded. Why doesn’t McGrath address these things to Mortenson personally?

                      Perhaps McGrath is only speaking to the choir.

                      My case for recent creation in six days is Genesis 1.

                      Andrew, feel free to scan my posts, but I do not recall insisting that evolution defenders are being unfair in limiting access to Mortenson. I began this whole exchange by posting a comment that Mortenson is an excellent speaker and well-informed in that about which he speaks. I only did this because it appeared that McGrath was trying to block Mortenson from speaking at Butler. I say, let him speak. What can you lose if your case is open and shut?

                      And, I do not believe I have ever tried to prevent an evolution defender from speaking at a Christians college or church. Correct me if I am forgetting a time I did so but just cannot remember.

                    • Mary

                      The creation story says that the earth was created flat and square with a solid dome over it which contained the sun, moon, and stars that revolved around the earth. The earth sat on four pillars and was completely surrounded by water on all sides. Does it seem strange to you that the stars would be created at the same time as the earth, even though it takes millions of years for that light to reach us?
                      In order to believe the creation story you either have to:
                      A. Deny ALL SCIENCE AND COMMON SENSE
                      or
                      B. Pretend that the bible does not say what it patently does say.
                      I was trained as a Christian to simply ignore the parts that didn’t make sense. In fact I got so good at it that I didn’t even notice them anymore. Most Christians will laugh and say that of course the bible doesn’t say the earth is flat!
                      People who have been pointing out to you that we all use an interpretive method when we read the bible are correct. Interpretation is based on what we have been taught to believe. I was already TOLD HOW TO INTERPRET IT before I even read it for myself. How many times have I heard Christians say that you can’t interpret it on your own, you have to listen to someone who knows how to properly interpret it through Spirit?
                      The fact is that it is rather egotistical of us to assume that what the ancients wrote thousands of years ago could possibly be interpreted through our modern theological framework. You say that you should let the Bible speak for itself, then let it! Don’t assume that you know exactly what the writers were talking about, and what their understanding was of their faith and their place in the cosmos.
                      By the way, if anyone claims that they “know” the mind of God, they are selling something.

                    • Tim

                      Mary,
                      Which version of Genesis 1 have you been reading?
                      A. I do not deny science or common sense
                      B. I accept all that Genesis 1 and 2 say.

                      Genesis 1:1-2:4 and Exo 20:11 clearly state that God created the heavens and the earth in six days.

                      Do you believe we can understand anything at all in the Bible? If so, what do you believe?

                      I think I know some of the mind of God on a number of things, thanks to Jesus, His Spirit and the Scriptures. I do have the mind of Christ.

                      I was not taught how to interpret the Bible before I began to read it.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      I was not taught how to interpret the Bible before I began to read it.

                      -=-=-=-=-
                      this is a curious statement.
                      the very form, a single book with a table of contents, chapter and verse numbering, and the incredible fact of the language-English, is the result of 3K years of interpretation. when you were handed a Bible, you were handed the work of thousands of interpreters, they “pre digested” an enormous amount of history, of linguistics, of battles fought over the canon, over the text. The very existence of a library in the form of a single book misleads, for example on the issue of inspiration, thinking it must mean the book in your hand.

                      yes, your Bible, has huge lessons in interpretation built in that you are hardly aware of.

                    • Tim

                      I will repeat what I wrote, since I am not sure you understood, “I was not taught how to interpret the Bible when I began to read it.”

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      I will repeat what I wrote, since I am not sure you understood, “I was not taught how to interpret the Bible when I began to read it.”

                      -=-=-=-
                      i will repeat what i wrote because it is obvious that you do not understand.

                      the very fact that you picked up an English Bible, which has 3k years of lessons in interpretation built into the very form of the Book, has instructed you in many things before you even opened it, to wit: the canon, the unity of divergent manuscripts, the order and organization.

                      imagine the difference if instead of an English Bible you were handed the dead sea scrolls. absent is the unity of a single book, absent is the 400 years of debate about the canon, etc.

                      your lessons in interpretation began with the very form you chose to read, before you ever read a word of it. this form constrains and guides your thinking every time you open it. it is the first lesson of interpretation you received-this is a single book., from which many people conclude a single author-God.

                    • Tim

                      rmwilliamsjr,
                      I will repeat the questions I have asked James, but add one.
                      What does “day” mean in Gen 1:5?
                      What does day mean in Gen 1:8?
                      What does “days” in Exo 20:11

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      i already answered, with the quotation of gen 1:5 using it in 3 distinct ways in a single verse. it has at least the meaning given to the english:daylight, 24 hr day, and the days of the week naming.

                    • Tim

                      Gen 1:8?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      i don’t see your point.

                      day first, day second are names of the days of the week in hebrew

                      http://www.akhlah.com/aleph_bet/hebrew_worksheets/hebrew_days_of_the_week.php

                      just as ours are names for gods, their’s reflects gen 1′s organization.

                    • Tim

                      So, the second “day” was a normal day, just as it is in Hebrew and in English. Very good. So, in two days God created light, saw that the light was good, and then separated the light from the darkness. He called the light “day”, and the darkness He called “night”. God did this in lit. “day one”, Heb. iom achd. (“one” same as in Gen 1:9 and 2:24). Shall we call this Saturday in English? Then God made an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters from the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse. And God called the expanse “heaven”. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Shall we call this day Sunday? So

                      So, are you saying that what we read in Gen 1:3-8 occurred on Saturday and Sunday, as we understand first and second days?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      why would i call “day first” Saturday? in modern Hebrew, “day first” corresponds to dusk saturday to dusk Sunday. our days being defined as did the romans at midnight, versus Hebrews dusk to dusk or the babylonian’s dawn to dawn.

                      but again i have no idea of what point you are trying to make.

                    • Tim

                      The point YOU have made is that Genesis 1 is talking about normal days of the first week.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      yes, so what? Gen 1 presents God as the great temple builder, working in creation week to build His suitable habitation-the creation, he first builds the kingdoms of light, of water, of land, then He fills them shows not only creativity but foresight and providence, then he creates the vicegerent Man to rule over all three kingdoms as His image bearer.

                      makes sense to structure the Creation narrative in this way.
                      He is the great workman, separating chaos from order, defining light and darkness, separating land and water. then filling these kingdoms with inhabitants suitable for each. it is an extraordinary vision of God as the Master Builder, designing a suitable temple for Himself.

                      i can see the final compiler of Genesis, looking at the first temple and seeing it as the image of the world as he knows it.

                      it is truly a unique vision in all of religious literature and btw it has absolutely nothing to do with our modern notions of history or scientific ideas of what actually happened. these ideas are several thousand years in human history and are not part of these writer’s intellectual toolbox.

                    • Tim

                      Temple builder in Genesis 1?? Where is that stated?
                      “Kingdoms” of light, water and land?? Where?
                      “Separating chaos from order”?? Where
                      “Defining”, “separating”, “filling” not creating? And where did all these things come from?
                      How do you know what the “final compiler of Genesis” saw?
                      Genesis 1 and succeeding chapters are most certainly historical records. And I think the intellectual toolboxes of those who recorded the events were most likely were filled with more parts than yours or mine.

                      Tell me rmwilliamsjr, do you take anything at all literally in the Bible? I mean including the New Testament?

                    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                      How are you certain they are historical records? Especially since the oldest extant manuscript of Genesis is dated thousands of years after the events recorded in Genesis? (using your YEC date starting point)

                      I assume you think Moses wrote the book of Genesis? What actual historical evidence do you have for that, especially since Moses was dead when Genesis was written?

                      You assume Moses wrote Genesis and that it is an actual historical record. I know of no evidence that proves this contention. You object to rmwilliamsjr’s reading of the text but aren’t you doing the same thing?

                      BTW, I agree with you on the day issue. There is nothing in the text that suggests anything other than 24 hour days. Of course, this means little to me because I reject the Bible as a whole, I am a little amused by Christians battling back and forth over the meaning of a word in a mythical text. (though I certainly side with McGrath on the bigger issues that are being debated)

                    • Tim

                      Hey Bruce. Welcome.
                      When I saw your comment I couldn’t help bu ask a myself a question that I would like to ask McGrath. You may not understand it unless you have followed my interaction with him. Maybe he will read this, though.
                      Where’s the choir?

                      Bruce, since you and I have a different pair of eyes, and I’m not just talking about the two on the front of our faces. Since you and I see things drastically different I know that what I will say in response to your questions will fall very lightly upon you. But here goes.
                      1. I believe the Genesis record is historical because Jesus Christ, Paul and Peter did.
                      2. The Genesis 1-11 record makes a whole lot more sense to me as to why the world is as it is today than the Evolutionary model.

                      I assume Moses had access to previous accounts of history that he used to write Genesis.

                      There you have it.

                    • Tim

                      By the way, Bruce. I do appreciate your agreement with me on the “day issue”, even if you do not believe it. At least there is someone here that understands what appears to be obvious. Whew!

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

                      I am not aware that anyone here takes the day-age approach. I certainly do not. Genesis 1 mentions six days, a dome, waters all in one place called “seas” (the world as known to people living along the Mediterranean), and various other things. The relevant questions are (1) did the author(s) think that such details were the point, or are they merely means to making their point, and (2) are such details factual descriptions?

                    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                      I am just viewing it from a textual basis. It is clear the text means a literal day. I think the day-age theory, the gap theory were attempts to accommodate science when it conflicted with Biblical text. Well intentioned to be sure but not well supported from the text itself.

                      The greater issue for Christians is whether or not Genesis is meant to be taken literally or read as poetry or some other literary form. I don’t have a dog in the fight since, as an atheist, I view all of it as myth.

                      I think the Genesis authorship issues are insurmountable for literalists. To suggest Moses wrote the book of Genesis or that it is literal, chronological history simply can not be supported from the available evidence.

                    • Tim

                      You are correct, Genesis 1 says that God created all things in six days. He also made an expanse, which you like to think of as a “dome”. I suppose you might also say that the Lord stretched out the “dome” with his hands. Isa 45:12. Whatever. Yes, the waters were all in one place until until they were gathered together and land appeared. This is all not too fantastic for me to believe from the Almighty, although rather wonderful.
                      Now, I do not recall that Moses, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah or Adam lived along the Mediterranean. Is that mentioned in Genesis or Exodus?
                      You know, unless the author says, “This is the point”, no one can really say for sure the point he was trying to make. It is only speculation as to what the point really is. So, I do not propose that creation in six days is THE point, but it may be. I guess we will just have to wait.

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

                      The author of Genesis knew about Canaanites having once been in the land and not being there any longer, and so I think the author clearly reflects someone living along the Mediterranean. Where he thought his ancestors and/or characters in the story he told may have lived is irrelevant. I was referring to the world as the author knew it. And contrary to your deliberate or inadvertent rewriting of Genesis, it does not say the water was in one place until dry land appeared. It says that the water was gathered together into one place in order to make dry land appear. It doesn’t describe the world at any point in real history. But it describes the world known to the Israelites: multiples seas interconnected or close to one another in the middle of the world, with land stretching out in all directions as far as anyone had explored.

                    • Tim

                      Oh yes, I do think the author knew about the Canaanites who lived throughout the land, AND the Philistines who lived closer to the Great Sea.

                      I suppose we should not quibble about such an irrelevant piece of literature, James, but my text says, “Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.” Did I misquote that? If so, I did not mean to.

                      I think Genesis 1 describes the world as God created it and then made known to Adam what had occurred in the previous five days before he came on the scene. After all, they did have pretty close fellowship one with the other until the serpent stole the show.

                      Then, yes, the Israelites did indeed gain an excellent knowledge of the first 2,000 years of history from the accounts that were recorded and kept and then compiled into one. I am speculating, mind you. But it makes good sense to me.

                      In terms of there being multiple seas, as you say, did you know that even those who do not believe the Genesis record believe that there was like one great land mass and one great sea?

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

                      But how do you know that that is what these texts are and how the came to be written? Were you there?

                      The text does not talk about one land mass with water everywhere else. It talks about the waters gathering into one place. But as someone who thinks scientists cannot be trusted to draw reliable conclusions, pointing to that seems incongruent with your overall stance. Or do you just pick and choose from science as well?

                    • Tim

                      I have no problem with there being one great sea and one great landmass and do not think it contradicts at all with the Genesis record prior to the global Flood.

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

                      You are happy to posit that things happened which are not explicitly said in the Bible and for which there is no evidence elsewhere (landmasses moved within a short span by a global flood, from being all in one place to their current distribution), in order to avoid the plain meaning the text would have had in its original context.

                    • Tim

                      Nope, you have misunderstood me. I do believe the things explicitly said in the Bible and do some “holy” speculation on other things as long as they do not violate what is explicit.

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

                      So you take it literally when Jesus said that his generation would not pass away until they saw the kingdom of God come with power/the Son of Man coming in his kingdom? When Jesus said that no one can be his disciple unless he gives up all his possessions? When Paul treats the heart as the place where human thought occurs? Or is your literalism much more selective than you admit, and your willingness to allow evidence from later considerations greater than you admit?

                    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                      In other words, no one takes every word of the Bible literally? Shock!! :)

                      I was a Bible literalist like Tim for many years. You pick and choose what to read literally, even when you know your literal hermeneutic would interpret a particular verse literally. (i.e. go sell all that you have)

                      Literalists tend to take the book of Revelation literally, Yet, I have not found one literalist who believes that God binds Satan with a literal chain for a thousand years. Why not? There is nothing in the text that suggests it is to be taken figuratively.

                    • Tim

                      Yes.
                      Yes, to the person with whom he spoke.
                      Yes, as you might tell someone that your heart aches for them.
                      I believe that God literally created all things in six days, just as He said and even wrote on stone tablets (Exo 20:11). Yes, and I do believe he wrote those commandments on stone.

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

                      Tim, Luke records Jesus as saying “No one can be my follower unless he gives up all he possesses.” It is not just a statement to one person. And treating heart as a metaphor when it was not that to ancient people is unacceptable, given on your insistence that what was assumed to be literal to these ancient authors has to be accepted in the same way today.

                    • Tim

                      “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luk 14:33

                      There you have it. You are absolutely correct. Sorry about that.

                      So tell me, with what do you fall in love, reason, get angry, feel closeness, etc.?

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

                      It is not literally with my heart. We have kept the ancient language of the “heart” just as we have kept the phrase “sunrise” even after we have come to realize that what is actually happening is the Earth rotating. But in Paul’s time, the functions of the brain and heart were not yet understood, and such language was assumed to be literally true. Indeed, Paul, in siding with Aristotle on this, missed an opportunity to be right ahead of his time, since there were some who suggested that the brain might be the location where thinking occurs.

                      So once again, since Paul would have meant such language literally – i.e. he would have assumed it to be literal – do you do the same? Or do you allow your later scientific knowledge about the brain and heart to make you reinterpret Paul’s language as metaphor? And if the latter, how can you possibly justify doing so while objecting to doing the same in another area?

                    • Tim

                      So, are you saying that you love with your brain?

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

                      The brain is more involved than the heart is – and if the heart beats faster, it is at the brain’s behest.

                      But I am not just talking about emotion. Paul situates thought and not just feelings in the heart, just as do other authors of his era who think that that is literally where such things occur.

                    • Tim

                      How do you know where the seat of emotions is?

                      Besides, perhaps you might graciously remind me of the point you are driving at with this discussion about the heart. I have kind of lost the path. Comes with age, you know.

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

                      Your literal heart can be replaced with an artificial one, and your mental life will continue as it was before. The heart is not the seat of thinking and feeling. And yet Paul did not know that, used the same language as his contemporaries about the heart, and you do not accept the literal meaning of what he wrote. Why?

                    • Tim

                      So, is the brain the seat of love and appreciation and admiration and anger, etc.?

                      Again, would you please remind me of the point you are driving towards?

                    • Tim

                      I am still waiting for your gracious compliance to get me back on track with where we are supposed to be going with Paul and the heart.
                      1. What verses are you referring to?
                      2. What is the main point in the larger context of our discussion?

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

                      I am waiting for your answer to my question about whether you accept the literal meaning of Paul’s words, as they were understood until changes in scientific knowledge led them to be reinterpreted metaphorically, and if not, why not.

                    • Tim

                      Which particular words?

                    • Tim

                      Are you speaking if these words?
                      “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

                    • Tim

                      Or these?

                      “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

                      “So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

                      “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”

                      “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

                      Or these,

                      “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”

                      Yes, I wholeheartedly believe these,

                    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                      The Bible says, as a man THINKETH in his heart so is he. What do we think with?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      do you take anything at all literally in the Bible?

                      -=-=-=-=-
                      you appear to think that literal is a synonym for historically and scientifically accurate by 21stC standards. it is not.

                    • Tim

                      I mean, do you think that there is anything at all recorded in the Bible that actually happened as it is written?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      you are using “as it is written” as shorthand for, “i interpret this as historical by my cultural standards so should you.”

                      you do not seem to realize how culturally conditioned your ideas of history are. the sorts of questions you ask, the concerns you have about the past are modern, they were not shared by even the medieval folks in europe, let alone hebrews nearly 3,000 years ago.

                      we care about order, about the what questions, what happened, in what time line. our culture is interested in how-technic, in what-material/substance. these are not the major concerns of the ancients. they saw who, they saw function, as being more important than material and how. when we read our concerns back into Scripture we distort it, we want to see history in Gen 1-11, just like a modern history textbook. x,y,z happened in this order, because of these forces etc.

                      the ancients saw the world with a different set of questions than we approach it with. we need to read Scripture as much a possibly using their categories, their concerns not ours.

                    • Tim

                      You seem to be very sure about how people with whom you have never talked thought.

                      Genesis 1-11 has a whole lot of history in it.

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

                      To quote Ken Ham, how do you know? Were you there?

                      One cannot deduce what view Jesus had about anything, or what is historical in an account, without historical reasoning, the same sort of evaluating of evidence and deduction that is used in making the case for evolution. You cannot have it both ways. Either Ham’s answer is inane and childish, or you simply cannot have a basis for claiming what you do.

                    • Tim

                      Excellent questions Ham asks, especially for the assertions of the Evolutionist.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      try this thought experiment.

                      think of the most factual writing you can, maybe a police report of an accident, or a newspaper account of it, maybe the driest textbook on the kings of england you never finished. put that all the way on the right.

                      now think of fantasy literature, tolkien, harry potter. put that on the left.

                      now think of historical fiction, something like michener’s hawaii, put that left of center.

                      think of a well written biography, put that off center right.

                      where does upton sinclair’s novel of sacco and vancetti go on this line? where does a very partisan political bio of a president go?

                      we have access to an extraordinary range of factualness/fictional mixture. where does history lose its historicity as you move from right to left? we’ve all read political hatchet jobs that we know aren’t really truth, that are mostly half truths. are they to the left of center or to the right?

                      at the same time we can read hawaii, or watch law and order and know that despite changing the names these are real stories about real people.

                      now, where does gen 1, the 1st creation account go?
                      how about gen 2-3, the 2nd account with the talking snake?

                    • Tim

                      On the right, but not dry at all. Like the Gospels. Historical literature with accounts of what Jesus did, in Genesis and in the Gospels.

                    • Tim

                      Forgot to answer your question about the creation of the earth and stars at the same time. They were not created at the same time. The greater and lesser lights and the stars were created on the 4th day.

                    • Mary

                      Tim. You are deliberately missing my point. Yes I know Genesis says the stars were created on the fourth day. That does not matter. Time-wise it is essentially the same unless you want to stretch out the “days” into non-literal periods of time.
                      My point is that it takes up to millions of years for starlight to reach the earth. The closest star is 100,000 light years away! How does that fit what the bible says?

                    • Tim

                      Mary,
                      Would you really like to know, or are you trying to make the Bible appear as if it is untrustworthy? I think there are answers for one who really wants to know and is willing to listen to what to these answers from those who have studied this aspect of Creation and find it consistent with what the Bible clearly says. I would be happy to find some of those resources for you if you are really interested and willing.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens

                      -=-=-=-

                      why aren’t the names for the sun and moon used?

                      why the awkward circumlocution?

                    • Tim

                      Don’t know, the author does not say.

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  All that you have proven is that you BELIEVE that scientific evidence “demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt” that Genesis 1 is false. Your basis for your belief is simply what you believe.

                  -=-=-=-
                  no, i believe that God wrote Gen 1 and that it is true.
                  what i believe is that the YEC misinterpret the word of God forcing it to be in conflict with the other book of God, the Creation, and therefore making God to be a liar.

                  i believe the scientific evidence demonstrates the falsity of the YEC interpretation. i don’t see that changing the words of the book of Beginnings at all, but rather challenges the body of lies that is YEC.

                  • Tim

                    What god do you believe wrote Genesis 1?
                    What do you believe is true about what is written? Everything?

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

          That evolution cannot be proven appears to be something that you accept on faith. I would encourage you to consult Christians with expertise in the relevant areas. As I have already pointed out, Terry Mortenson does not fit that description. He came to our campus once before, as I already shared, and made assertions but clearly did not have expertise in the matters about which he was making claims. When pressed, his ignorance was exposed for all to see. This is one reason why I do not feel the need to try to stop him coming to campus. When liars come to a place of learning, they do not fare well. My objection was to the fact that a campus ministry organization extended the invitation in the first place, bringing someone to campus who will insult and denigrate their colleagues falsely.

          • Tim

            James,
            The faith that you have in Evolution seems to be something that you accept as fact, when it most certainly is nothing more than a theory, which in my opinion and understanding, and that of many well trained and experienced scientists to be an unreasonable theory.
            As one who believes in Evolution, as you do, I would not expect you to accept what Dr. Mortenson presents. But I know of scientists who have heard him and do believe that he is right on target. You see, it all depends on your starting point.
            I would also expect that one who does not believe and accept what Genesis 1 records would consider someone who does to be “ignorant”. That does not surprise me. Though I doubt that Dr. Mortenson would consider one who believes in Evolution, on the other hand, to be ignorant.
            Frankly, I applaud the campus ministry organization who has the courage to take a small stand against the flow of prevailing stream of academia and make it possible for students and faculty to hear a well-informed and compelling presentation of an alternate and viable theory of origins.
            If Dr. Mortenson is lying and false in his assertions and your students and faculty on the other hand are so astute then you really have nothing to worry about.

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

              I do not have faith in evolution. I am persuaded by the scientific evidence, just as I am persuaded by the scientific evidence that the dome mentioned in Genesis 1 does not exist. The knowledge of the natural world reflected in Genesis 1 is no different than what is found in the Enuma Elish. What is different is the theology.

              • Tim

                And I am persuaded by Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:8-11, that God created all things in heaven and earth in six days and believe that the evidence in the natural world supports this fact, as well as the fact of the Fall, the Flood and the Confusion of tongues at Babel. You and I just interpret the evidence differently based on our assumptions.

                Genesis 1-11 predates and is quite different than the “enuma elish”. Yes, very different in theology, which is very important.

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

                  No, the evidence itself is quite clear. On your view, why would God have created, killed, and compressed all the microorganisms necessary to make the famous White Cliffs of Dover, enormous chalk beds, only to mislead people about the age of the Earth and condemn them for trusting the Creator to be honest? That is a horrific way of thinking about God, but there is no other young-earth way to deal with that evidence.

                  As for Genesis 1-11 being older than the Enuma Elish, how do you know this? Were you there?

                  • Tim

                    Gen 6:11f gives us a pretty good explanation of why God destroyed all life on earth about 1600 years after He created it, and how He did so.

                    I just know that Babylon (Babel) did not even come into existence until after the Flood (Gen 10f) and that what we read in Genesis 1-9 must have been written prior to then.

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

                      Just because a story is about earlier details does not mean it was written earlier or that it existed earlier. Common sense would say that Genesis cannot be older than the latest events mentioned in it – which is not the time of Joseph, but a time when the author would have to explain that “in that time the Canaanites were in the land.” If you want to posit the use of earlier sources, there are scholarly methods for doing that. If not, then how do you know which is earlier? Were you there?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      I just know that Babylon (Babel) did not even come into existence until after the Flood (Gen 10f) and that what we read in Genesis 1-9 must have been written prior to then.

                      -=-=-=-

                      you do not know that Babylon came into existence after the flood. you believe that in spite of the EVIDENCE from archeology that the mesopotamian river valley has given rise to a succession of city states since at least 2500bce. you ignore not only the evidence from the ground but the evidence from comparative linguistics showing akkadian as the first written semitic language that loaned words to the hebrews. not the least of which is sabbath. the facts matter.

                      everyone has a right to their opinion, but no one has a right to demand i take their opinion seriously unless they have done their homework. –my seminary grad advisor.

                    • Tim

                      I believe exactly what the Bible states is true. You say you do too. Well it very plainly states in Gen 10:10 and 11:19 when where and by whom Babel (Babylon) came into existence. And we know that this took place sometime after the Flood which was in 1656/1657 AM. If your opinion or your “seminary grad advisor’s” opinion differs with truth, well no of course I do not take it seriously. It is mere speculation without any factual basis. I take Genesis seriously, despite the biased opinions of certain archaeologists, linguists and so-called biblical scholars. Genesis may be very plainly read and understood by anyone.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      nonsense. even after 2 difficult years studying greek and hebrew i can’t read the Scriptures well enough to put down my English Bible.

                      how do you know babel is babylon, how do you know where babylon is? how do you know the modern location of babylon correspondences to the ancient city with the same name? the Bible doesn’t have maps. you must rely on historians and archaeology just to find where they are.

                      -=-=–=-
                      re:
                      Genesis may be very plainly read and understood by anyone.

                      -=-=-=-

                      the more someone claims to be reading a translation of the Bible plainly, the more likely they are to be reading it as a modern document with their common sense created by questions in their culture and their interpretive community and not those of the original writers and readers. your modern literal plain reading hermeneutic is like a pair of spectacles you deny using because of your vanity. the real trick is to recognize how those glasses distort your interpretation not hide their presence altogether.

                    • Tim

                      What exactly do you not understand about Genesis 10:10 and 11:1-9? Perhaps I can help you.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      let’s see:

                      if you are a Akkadian scholar who reads several ancient languages and has immersed himself in the writings of those ancient people’s i would dearly love an explanation. who can show the parallels in hebraic and sumerian thought, who can shed light on the origins of Genesis thinking, i am eager to hear.

                      if you are a monolingual American,who hasn’t studied hebrew and greek, who reads the English Bible with a plain literal hermeneutic as if it was written to his modern cultural concerns. i think i’ll pass on your offer. i can go to my local Carlsjr and hear that interpretation live from the street preacher who holds his court there.

                    • Tim

                      Well, I think the Bible was written for and has been better understood my many a man you would find at a Carls Jr. rather many academiciansa. The latter seem to have a more difficult time understanding what is written in the Bible (and excellently translated by linguists and scholars) than many of the intellectual elite who for all of their reading seem to get lost in the morass of their scholarship and end up not being able to understand plain English. I mean, how many ways can you translate “For in six days the LORD God created the heavens and the earth”? Yes indeed, I throw my lot in with the man at Carls Jr. and the street preacher. For, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Pro 9:10

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  Genesis 1-11 predates and is quite different than the “enuma elish”.

                  -=-=-=-=-

                  from your reading and study you honestly believe this to be a fact?

                  what evidence do you have? it’s all about the evidence. the reasons, the justification. to believe something without evidence, like the existence of a loving God is one thing, but to insist in believing something which has been shown to be false is a very different thing.

                  so what exactly is your evidence that gen 1-11 predate the

                  Enûma Eliš? perhaps you can explain to us the linguistic evidence that old babylonian is younger that the hebrew used in gen 1-11?

                  you see, it is all about the evidence, what you know factually to support what you believe.

                  • Tim

                    Primarily from my reading and study of the Bible, yes, I do believe that Genesis 1-11 is a collection of the primary and most accurate accounts of the history of the earth from creation to the death of Terah in 2083 AM. These texts are my evidence for I believe, as said the apostle Paul, that they are God-breathed. These records have not been shown to be false, for it is impossible to do so.
                    I believe that there was one individual, along with his three sons and wives, who carried with him during the destruction of the earth the only record of the history of the earth prior to the Deluge. And this is what was preserved by the Hebrews from then on.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      These records have not been shown to be false, for it is impossible to do so.

                      -=-=-=-=-

                      if you interpret Gen 1-6 as there exists a recent adam and eve who are the progenitors of all human beings, then that interpretation has been falsified by biology. clearly no such founders effects exist in the human genome which dates back to at least 150kya.

                      if you interpret Gen 6-9 as a universal flood which covered the world and left a single group of survivors, then both genetics and geology have falsified that interpretation as well.

                      if you interpret Gen 11:1-9 as an explanation for the multiplicity of languages than linguistics has falsified that interpretation as well.

                      yes, science can, has and will continue to falsify erroneous Biblical interpretations. which is a good thing for how else do you propose understanding the Bible better each generation thus ridding ours of false ideas?

                    • Tim

                      Well, I do believe what the texts say and prefer them over the ever changing understanding of men.
                      I disagree with you on all three points. The difference between me and you in these things is that you believe the fallible and changing theories of finite man, while I believe the infallible and inspired Scriptures. Genesis 1-11 is very clear on these things in my mind. You disagre with me and believe you have “scientific” proof, and that is fine. I disagree with you and believe the Scriptures and know of scientists who believe them as well. So, we are at an impasse, would you not say.

                      I suggest that you and Mr. McGrath propose to Dr. Mortenson a debate on these things. I think he would be gald to entertain that.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      The difference between me and you in these things is that you believe the fallible and changing theories of finite man, while I believe the infallible and inspired Scriptures.

                      -=-=-=-
                      nonsense.
                      human beings interpret the Scriptures period.
                      you believe in the fallible human commenters who have taught you how you interpret Scripture.

                      the Scriptures are unchanging but how people read them and what they think they mean is ever changing as just a simple grasp of church history would teach you.

                      you are part of an interpretive community which is made up of people reading Scripture in a very similar manner, believing it teaches certain things. you are no more infallible or inspired than is any other reader of Scripture, you just believe your community is right and others are wrong in their interpretations.

                      no one has privileged access to the mind of God to declare that they alone are the true interpreters speaking for God himself. when groups like LDS claim such a prophet that is a clear sign they are wrong.

                      the choice is between fallible human historically conditioned communities of interpretation not some privileged access to the Scriptures that no human being has.

                    • Tim

                      You really do not know me well enough to know or understand the community of people I live among and read the Scriptures among and how most do not read them the way I believe they speak. But I will disregard that presumption

                      How people read the Scriptures does change from time to time, but that is based more upon the culture than the changing meaning of Scripture. The writers of Scripture meant one thing when they wrote. We ned to be careful not to add something to that, particularly if what we add is not based upon Scripture.

                      There have always been those who understood Genesis 1 to mean what I believe it says, that God created all things in six days. This is not something new at all.

                      May I suggest we just let the Scriptures speak for themselves. So, when God said “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” we will just leave it alone and let it mean what it says. Are you ready for that without adding your own interpretation to it?

                      By the way, true believers in Christ do have His mind. All believers have His Spirit and His Word and are able to understand His mind if they pay close attention to both and not ad their own notions which are not either taught by His Spirit or His written word.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      May I suggest we just let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

                      -=-=-=-

                      they are just marks on paper. they do not speak. set a scroll on the table and it is silent. human beings read them, that act of reading is by necessity a human act of interpretation and deriving meaning from a text as an active mental process. human beings learn to read and learn to interpret important texts from their community. absorbing hermeneutics and specific ideas about what the texts mean from that community.

                      the demand to allow the Scriptures to speak is itself a modern hermeneutical idea, this literal, plain, commonsense, man in the pew is a historical idea which has its roots in the american frontier and the idea that the Scriptures are perspicuous and easy to read. as a reaction to the professionalization and education of the clergy in the early 1800′s.

                      -=-=-=-=-
                      re:
                      By the way, true believers in Christ do have His mind.

                      -=-=-=-=-
                      if this was true in any significant way we would not have 30,000 Christian denominations.

                    • Tim

                      If indeed the words written are little more than marks on paper and left open to the interpretation of the hearer than this written conversation is in itself meaningless. How can you possible know what I mean or I what you mean?
                      Unless you and I can agree on the meaning of the words we write then there is little hope that we can communicate with one another.
                      This is why the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1 is so critical. Is there any good reason, based upon its use throughout Scripture and context of Genesis 1 that “day” in that chapter means anything other than a day? I suggest there is none. In Gen 2:4 “day” obviously does not mean a 24 hour period of time, but rather the whole six days of creation.
                      Letting the Scriptures speak for themselves is not at all a new idea. The idea of not doing so is quite old, however, dating back to the Garden when the serpent suggested that God did not mean what He said. So, I would suggest to you that if one were to say that God did not create all things in heaven and earth in six days, as He said he did, then that person is in good company with the serpent which spoke to Eve.
                      I believe it was a non-American who said that in providing the Scriptures in the English language that he would avail the ploughboy to a better understanding of them than the Pope, the highest professional clergy man of his day – 16th century.

                      Who is to say that there need be any denominations?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      This is why the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1 is so critical. Is there any good reason, based upon its use throughout Scripture and context of Genesis 1 that “day” in that chapter means anything other than a day?

                      -=-=-=-=-

                      gen 1:5

                      And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

                      yom is being used in 3 distinctly different was in just this one verse.
                      1st-the daylight part is defined as yom, exactly the same way “called” is used throughout the chapter. God called daylight yom, as distinct from night/darkness.

                      2nd-yom is used as a marker for the day of the week, “day the first”, exactly how modern Hebrew refers to our Sunday.

                      3rd-evening and morning together are unified in the term day, the normal way YECists use the term yom, to mark a cycle of the earth’s complete rotating about it’s axis.

                      so yes, from the text itself, just a single verse, the word yom has multiple meanings. why should i shoehorn it into just one(24 hr day) when the author himself has far broader meanings explicitly.

                    • Tim

                      Yes, indeed you are correct about that. Just like we use the word in English and we used it in Germany and Russian when we lived there. But does the author indicate its use in Genesis 1 as meaning indefinite amount of time, such as millions of years, more or less? NO.
                      Does the author, we will say Moses in this regard, ever use “yom” to mean anything other than the three uses you have rightly noted here and the use in 2:4 as meaning the whole six-day period of creation? If so, how many times in comparison to these four uses.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      Letting the Scriptures speak for themselves is not at all a new idea.

                      -=-=-=-

                      yes it is, luther throws out the 4 fold hermeneutic that was the generally accepted way to read Scripture inherited from the early church and elaborated in the medieval church. in his desire to prefer the literal. we are primarily luther’s hermeneutical descendants in this principle.

                      google four fold sense

                      Literal: What the passage says about past events

                      Allegorical: What the passage can tell us about Christ

                      Moral: What the passage can teach us about how to live

                      Anagogical: What the passage tells us about our ultimate fate

                    • Tim

                      Not a new idea at all. I have already said that it has been the story of man since the Garden. I have already referred to Eve’s dealings with the serpent. God had spoken. The serpent suggested that God did not mean what He said. She took the bait, as do many today. However, I assume you do not believe that ever happened. If you don’t then there is no literal sense upon which to understand the other three fold meanings.

                      I assume you do not believe there was a literal first man and woman, that is Adam and Eve. Correct me if my assumptions are mistaken on this.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      we will just leave it alone and let it mean what it says. Are you ready for that without adding your own interpretation to it?

                      -=-=-=-
                      it is not possible, not for me, not for you. the very act of reading is by necessity an act of interpretation. meaning is not inherent in the words but in the minds of the readers(meaning was in the minds of the writers as well, the real issue is bringing these 2 horizons as close as possible)

                      all my reading is my own interpretation, as is all reading you have ever done is your deriving meaning from those marks on paper. what it says is what it means in your mind when when you read or reflect on it. meaning is not in the marks on the paper, they are merely the transmission media between two minds.

                      you stand at an interpretive distance from the text, any text, the ideas that arise in your mind when you read are the act of interpretation, not some quasi magical implantation of meaning directly from the mind of the writer to yours.

                      evidence:
                      put a Bible in a foreign to you language, maybe Hebrew and it is silent to you. the text does not speak. it has no voice, if you leave it alone it will just lie there.

                    • Tim

                      I see your point. So, we need to find out from the author what he meant when he wrote what he wrote. Let’s say that we want to find out what “day(s)” in Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 mean. We cannot ask him. So, we need to see if he used these words elsewhere in his books. We also need to consider context. Can you think of a place in the books of Moses where he uses “day” to mean an indefinite amount of time or millions of year, or the like? Is it possible to determine where he uses “day” to mean the light portion of an evening and morning cycle or the whole cycle itself? I realize we can’t be sure about anything as we approach the Scriptures (tongue in cheek intended), but let us try and be as honest as possible here.

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

                      I will be honest that this seems like at best a distraction. The days are evening and morning, but they are arranged in literary parallelism, and the whole idea of a divine working week is anthropomorphism.

                    • Tim

                      James, I believe that what you say is just dancing around the clear meaning of the text. Any child can understand the meaning of Genesis 1 and Exo 20:11. Why strive so hard to make the texts say what they do not say?

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

                      Either you are engaging in projection or you have misunderstood my position. I am not denying that the ancient authors of the Bible may have assumed that their chronology was right, just as they assumed there was a dome over the Earth. I am pointing out that they did not make such details articles of faith the way young-earth creationists do – those who put the Bible together thought readers would be able to appreciate different accounts with different language and order. It is young-earth creationists who struggle to deny the meaning of some words, so that they can claim that they are taking the language literally. Once you redefine a word to suit your assumptions, you are not taking the meaning literally any longer.

                    • Tim

                      James,
                      What does “day” mean in Gen 1:5?
                      What does day mean in Gen 1:8?

                    • Mary

                      The question begs to be asked: how do you know that the bible is infallible and the Word of God? Creationists always fall back on this assumption and expect others to agree as if it were patently obvious! Now if you say that you CHOOSE to believe that, then fine go ahead. But don’t expect logical and reasonable people to agree with you without any proof. This is why creationism is NOT SCIENCE because the fall-back position is always “Well God said…”

                    • Tim

                      “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus

                      “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” Paul

                      You are right, belief that God created all things like He said He did is not science. Neither is Evolution science. It’s a belief.

                    • Mary

                      First of all, no matter what you say, you do deny science because it is in science where we find the evolutionary record. Unless you actually look at it then you have no right to say it is “just a belief.”

                      One of the ways that I know that you have developed an interpretive method of the bible is that you use the New Testament to interpret the OT and do not notice the contradictions. You don’t even notice the contradictions WITHIN the NT!

                      If Jesus didn’t want the Law changed then why did Paul change them all? Why did Paul clearly state that the Law no longer applied?

                      An even more relevant question is how does a quote about the Jewish Law prove that Genesis was right? There is nothing about the Law in Genesis.

                      It is very evident that you have let others influence your thinking because you have reached into the same grab-bag of biblical quotes that others do, and have ripped them completely out of context.

                    • Tim

                      “…it is in science where we find the evolutionary record.”

                      Mary,

                      I think you need to explain what you mean by the “evolutionary record”. Do you mean that there is a visible record that explains to us without any doubt, for example, that all life evolved from a simple life form? I mean, really? If not, then Evolution is too a belief.

                      Now before we discuss whether or not I have noticed what you call “contradictions” in the NT I have to ask if you have ever come to into a personal relationship with the Creator, Jesus Christ. Have you?

                      Paul changed the Law?? You are aware of this statement from him, are you not?

                      “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”
                      But, yes, the Law is for the lawless. And one who is in Christ no longer needs the Law, for it serves only as a tutor to lead someone to Christ. In Christ one is free from Law, free from sin. Praise God!
                      BUT, the Law is still holy, righteous and good. Only one who has been freed from it in Christ can really understand what appears to be a dichotomy to another.

                      Back to the Law. Now, by “Law” you do mean Torah, do you not, Mary. I mean that is the Jewish term used for Law. Perhaps you did not know that Genesis is considered part of the Torah. Oh yes, there is plenty of Torah in Genesis.

                      Oh yes, I have let others influence my thinking, some for good and some for bad. As I study the Scriptures I am trying to weed out the good from the bad. And it was about 12 years ago where someone helped me to sort out the good from the bad regarding Genesis. For him I will always be grateful, for before then I was confused and so heavily influenced by the Evolutionary model over the first 50 years of my life.

                      I suppose your thinking too has been influenced by others. We just can’t help, can we. So, we determine what will be our standard of measure between what is true an what is error and then we do the best we can to maintain that, growing all the time, hopefully.
                      I have determined that my standard of truth are the Scriptures from the beginning, and Jesus about whom they speak.
                      How do you measure truth, Mary?

                    • Mary

                      Tim, the Law refers to the OT contract between the Hebrews and God. I have never heard of it refering to the entire OT. In your own quote Jesus makes a differentation between the Law and the Prophets. How can it refer to genesis when the Hebrews didn’t exist a that time. The Law refers to thing like circumcism, dietary laws, keeping the Sabbath and all th other hundreds of laws set down when they formed a nation.
                      Your interpretive framework apparently includes lumping everything together There are three parts of the Torah, the historical narratives (which includes Genesis) ,The Law, and Prophets (which talks about predictions for the future). This is basic bible knowledge you should know this.
                      At any rate Jesus could not have been refering to Genesis because he only mentioned the Law and the Prophets.
                      Paul specifically got rid of the Law by eliminating the Jewish requirements set down in the OT, circumcism, not eating meat sacrificed to idols, not eating pork, sacrificing animals ect.
                      You keep trying to get me into a theological debate rather than stick to the issue, which is is the bible scientifically accurate? The answer is no and I have explained why.
                      In answer to your question I used to be a fundamentlist Christian, so you can’t use the argument that I don’t know anything about your position.
                      We all use an interpetive method for understanding the Bible but the difference is that I have educated myself more than you about what the bible actually says from the context of the time it was written instead insisting that texts written thousands of years apart say the same thing. I also do not presume to look at it in an ethnocentric way and decide that it and modern science is compatable.
                      You have not answered the question that I put plainly to you. How does the fact that the light from the nearest star has taken 100,000 years to reach us square with your assertion that the earth and the rest of the Universe were created only days apart from 6,000 to 10,000 years ago? They wouldn’t have seen any stars and we wouldn’t see them today either.
                      This is a simple argument and yet you refuse to answer.
                      Instead you accuse me of trying to discredit the bible. In case you didn’t notice WE ARE DISCUSSING SCIENCE HERE, NOT THEOLOGY. The YEC’S CLAIM TO WANT TO DISCUSS SCIENCE YET WHEN YOU TRY TO PIN THEM DOWN ON IT THEY ACCUSE YOU OF ATTACKING THEIR RELIGION!
                      I certainly have found none of the people here arguing the YEC position even remotely convincing.

                    • Tim

                      Mary,
                      I do not think I said that the Law (Torah) refers to the whole OT. I believe I said that the Law (Torah) refers to the books of Moses, or Pentateuch.

                      Yes, the Hebrews (Eberii) did exist in Genesis. Abram was referred to as one in Gen 14:13.

                      Yes, and the Torah does include the commandments such as circumcision, what to eat and what not to eat, keeping the Sabbath and several others. Not “hundreds” however. Circumcision, as you know, was given to Abraham even before Israel became a great nation.

                      So, Jesus did indeed include Genesis as he spoke of Torah. He also referred to stories from Genesis in his teaching and interaction with the Jews of his day, such as Abel, Lot’s wife, Noah’s flood. He spoke of them as real people and the events as though they had really happened. Peter wrote of the Flood as a real event. Paul wrote of Adam and Eve as real people and of the serpent who tempted Eve. Luke included the men in the Gen 5 and 11 genealogies in the lineage of Jesus, as if they were real people. The writer of Hebrews mentioned Abel, Enoch and Noah as if they were real people. It seems obvious to me that our Lord Jesus and his apostles understood that the people and events of the early chapters of Genesis were real people in real time and in real places. This is real history.

                      Paul did NOTHING in regards to the Law. I believe you need to study this further. It was Christ himself who dealt with it on our behalf. Paul was powerless to do anything in regards to the Law until he was crucified with Christ and thus died to the Law with Christ. Until then he was under the Law, as are all who are without Christ. By the way, you too can be free from the Law and sin through Christ!

                      When you say that you “used to be a fundamental Christian”, does that mean that at one time you were one with Jesus Christ, as a bride to her Bridegroom, but now you no longer are married to and one with Him? For that is what a real Christian is. I am not trying to use this against you at all, but would urge you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior if you never have.

                      I do not doubt that you are more educated than I am. I only have a BS degree and have taken a few grad level seminary courses. You have the upper hand on me with these, I suppose.

                      The question re: starlight. I do not know how Adam was able to see the stars on the sixth day of history, about 6,000 years ago, but I believe he did. But then again, there are a lot of things I do not understand. I mean, how in the world can a man be born of a virgin and rise from the dead? Science teaches us that these things are impossible. Nonetheless, I believe Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and that he did rise from the dead, and have staked my life upon these facts. For God to bring starlight to earth on the sixth day is really small potatoes to the miracles of Christ. Perhaps you can tell ME how these things happened. Or, if you do not believe they did, tell me how man came to be.

                      Actually Mary, I came to this blog and made a simple statement about Dr. Mortenson, not to discuss SCIENCE or THEOLOGY. I am not a SCIENTist nor a THEOLOGian. I have not accused anyone here of ATTACKING my RELIGION.

                      And yes, I would agree with you, I have not found anyone here arguing the YEC position even remotely convincing either. Am I surprised??

                    • Mary

                      “Do you mean that there is a visible record that explains to us without any doubt, for example, that all life evolved from a simple life form? I mean, really? If not, then Evolution is too a belief.”
                      Yes we do have evidence, plenty in fact.

                    • Tim

                      Mary,
                      Here are some words from Paul about the law I recently read.

                      “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:21-26

        • rmwilliamsjr

          re:

          a more open mind than you appear to have go and hear

          -=-=-

          it is not an open mind that you are asking for but an empty one.

          emptied of any knowledge of geology, of biology, of astronomy, of logic, of cosmology, of Biblical languages, of Church history, of modern history, or of ….

        • jt

          When I went through seminary, one of the most fundamental transformations for me to go through, having previously been a literalist, was taking graduate-level greek and hebrew. in undergrad we translated texts, but we were too busy memorizing words and grammar to focus on where the texts came from. In seminary we had to buy the critical greek NT and critical hebrew OT, which means that at the bottom of every page was listed the fragment of papyrus (or whatever material) the particular words in the verses came from.

          Before this point, it was easy for me to, unconsciously, envision a “pure” greek and hebrew text that had been passed down through the millenia. But having these footnotes staring at me, indicating that often several different sources comprised single verses, it became impossible to live with that prior illusion, and subsequently, a simplistic literalist interpretation of the Bible. Take a look at the following book–I wouldn’t expect you to read it, but glance at pg. 25-26. It’s a critical discussion of the “land and waters” discussion you’ve been having, with the purpose of trying to determine which letters of which source material was the original intention, describing which source materials may have greater credibility.

          If you believe that you can simply “believe by faith that what the bible says is true”, then you are ignoring the fact that the english translations we have are the work of scientists who specialize in translation of dead languages, that the book itself is the work of scientists who specialize in archeology and history who collect these fragments of ancient text and piece them together, and debate about which fragments are most credible, debate about lettering that is long degraded. There is no “pure text” in which you put your faith, but a series of fragments that scientists of faith have painstakingly pieced together into the text what we today call our Bible. http://books.google.com/books?id=j8Imn3U11m8C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

          • Tim

            What is your main point, jt? Do you not believe that God created all things and that he did so in six days? I think this is the main focus of the discussion.

            • jt

              The point is that the tedious defense of that Gen 1 refers to a “literal” 6 days is a spiritually defunct position.

              Take an analogy. Let’s say that you believe antibiotics cure infection, while I believe a rebalancing of the four humors cures infection. I do a study using a series of lab tests and I interpret the levels of heavy metals in your blood prove that your humors are out of balance, pre-and post-infection. The pre-infection levels are 0.04567mol while the post infection levels are 0.04565mol. My argument is that the post infection reduction in heavy metals proves my case, and my theory of diseases rests on such findings.

              Now let’s say that chemists tell us that the instrument I am using to measure heavy metals in blood only has a level of precision of 0.001. I can argue consistently that the reduction in heavy metals is meaningful, but the people who invented the blood test tell me I am misinterpreting it, because I don’t understand its limitations. Not only does my “evidence” not have any scientific meaning, but let’s also propose that 95% of physicians reject my disease theory of humoural imbalance, and have so for 100 years.

              If physicians try to argue that I am wrong by discussing the meaning of the same blood test that I am using, then they will always lose their case, because I can always say that, in the end, “it comes down to a matter of faith, and you don’t have it, while I and my followers do” The physicians lose by accepting the terms of the argument I have laid out, and they give me and my theory credibility by giving my methods credibility, when, in fact, chemists who created the test know that I have a fundamental ignorance of the limitations of the blood test I am using to support my theory. They chuckle to themselves at how ridiculous I sound, not dissimilar to the ancient theological debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, it’s meaningless given the frame of reference I’m using.

              None of this nullifies the usefulness or importance of the blood test, or in this case, the Bible. But it does reorient us to recognize the limitations of how we use the Bible in theological discussions and its purpose. Chemists created the blood test for good reasons, and we can’t interpret the blood test without understanding that context. The Church, historians, archeologists, linguists, scientists, have all been involved in the process of giving us the text that we call the Bible. The literalist pretends that the textus receptus fell from heaven in its current form, and entire theological worldviews can thus be constructed based on the meaning of individual words, like “a 24 hour day” vs. “eon”, and if that one word is shown to be one or the other, the worldview is in jeopardy. But the Bible is not that fragile, on the one hand–the Yahwistic worldview is far more resilient–unless one fails to recognize the limitations of the text, in which case, defending every tiny scrap of ground becomes a defense of an entire worldview, even though the chemists are sitting in their labs chuckling at the nonsense.

              • Tim

                jt,
                Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? I mean, do you believe you have been saved by Him, united with Him as a bride to her Bridegroom and love Him?

                • jt

                  My spirituality is none of your business and is not relevant to this discussion. Be honest with your own argumentation approach–the only reason you ask the question is that if I answer “no” then you can dismiss my argument as worthless since I’m a “non-believer” therefore my worldview and arguments must come from the devil, rather than dealing with the merit of my case. It’s a highly offensive and inappropriate question to ask in the context of this discussion.

                  • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                    From Tim’s perspective, if you are not a blood bought child of the living God you are dead in trespasses and sin and you can not understand the “truths” of the Bible. The “truths” of the Bible, even those found in Genesis, are spiritually discerned.

                    I have been told countless times that my conclusions are wrong about the Bible because I do not have the spiritual discernment to come to the right conclusions.

                    That’s why this discussion is not about science. It is about faith and authority. In Tim’s mind, God has spoken. Everything must conform to what God has spoken. Of course, God has spoken=Tim’s interpretation of the text.

                    I think Tim is right about the word day in Gen 1-3. I think the text bears that out. But, that is not the question we should be asking. The real question is, what did the original writer of the text mean when he wrote what he did? Of course, Tim will likely say, GOD is the original writer and he said exactly what he meant to say. (as interpreted by Tim)

                    I spent many years in Evangelicalism. I know the “logic” well. I suspect Tim enjoys talking about science but he sees non-Christians as spiritually bankrupt, in need of salvation, and only then will they see things rightly..

                    You want to have a pure academic discussion. Tim can’t do this because it forces him to set God aside for a moment as he engages you in discussion.

                    I am not faulting Tim. I am just suggesting that we need to know where he is coming from and how he views non-Christians. (and I am not suggesting you are a non-Christian)

                  • Tim

                    That tells me a great deal and it is very relevant. I am sorry you are offended by such a question. Thank you, jt.

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

                      I hope what it tells you is that antievolutionists are selective in when they think it matters whether someone is a Christian. They don’t oppose chemistry because of its roots in the godless atomism of Epicurus, but start talking about biology and the question is brought out. I didn’t take JT’s response to be about taking offense, but about a principled objection to the notion that the question is relevant. Christians and non-Christians who are biologists consistently agree about evolution, just as Christians and non-Christians who are chemists consistently agree about the periodic table. That a small, ideologically-driven group has chosen to make an issue of the first but not the second is what tells us a great deal.

                    • Tim

                      No, he said he was “offended” and that tells me a lot about him, though not everything. Our worldviews apparently are diametrically opposed to one another, so how we view the evidence will always differ. When I look at the world I cannot help but see Creation, the Fall, the Flood and confusion of Tongues because it is based on the Genesis 1-11 record as a truthful historical record. If he or you were to do the same then you would have to abandon your worldview and that is just to precious for you to do. It would be like “selling all your possessions”, if you know what I mean.

                      And you are absolutely wrong about Christians and non-Christians who are biologists agreeing about Evolution. I know scientists, far from the majority I admit, who do not agree with Evolution at all. They do excellent scientific work and yet believe as I do. That tells me that Evolution is NOT science, but rather a worldview, belief,a.k.a religion.

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

                      Ironically, JT’s point was precisely the nonsense you wrote in your comment. I too was offended that you think a scientific question can be settled by dismissing those who do not share your faith. The value of pi is the same whether you are a Christian or not. The distance of the Earth from the sun is the same whether you are a Christian or not. DNA indicates all the many things it can tell us whether you are a Christian or not. Your attempt to short-cut discussion in the name of faith is deeply offensive.

                      Please provide a list of the scientists you know whose expertise is in a relevant field (biology, paleontology, genetics, etc.) who dispute evolution, and who do not do so because they were taught to do so even before becoming scientists. Or even just tell me how many fit that description. I am quite certain that it is a small number. But it is not the number that matters. What matters is understanding why the consensus is what it is. Many atheists objected to the notion of a “Big Bang” because it sounded too much like theistic creation. But the evidence supported it, and so it became the consensus. That’s how science works. Your caricatures, misrepresentations, and tactics bring shame on the Christian faith, and it is deeply saddening.

                    • Tim

                      No doubt there are things that we can observe about the world that are true whether one is a Christian or not. But, there are things that are NOT observable that are matters of faith, such as an Evolutionary interpretation of those things that ARE observable. So, I have no problem in discussing that which is observable. I just reject erroneous interpretations of those things by someone who is sold-out to the faith of Evolution.

                      I have dear friends, one where I grew up and one here where I live who are scientists and dispute evolution and were not to do so before they became scientists. There is quite list on the AiG website as well. I have no idea how many fit this category and that is really irrelevant, as you admit.
                      I reject the Big Bang theory and am happy to go on record as saying so. It too will pass.
                      Why are you saddened by my “caricatures, misrepresentations, and tactics”?

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

                      The list of “dissenters from Darwin” is yet one more scam pulled on the gullible. The wording is such that mainstream scientists could agree with it. Most of the signers were not biologists or other specialists in relevant areas. And yet it is touted out as though it were proof of something.

                      Evolution makes sense of all the relevant evidence. It explains the evidence for relatedness in our genes, physiology, and everything else. It is just like any other science – the evidence is clear, unless you disallow for reasoned inference and deduction. And if you do that, then you cannot say anything about the Biblical texts, since where they came from, who wrote them, and whether they relate history or fiction all requires reasoning to conclusions deductively from evidence.

                    • Tim

                      Am I surprised that you would not be impressed by such a list. I did already mention, did I not, that I personally know scientists who reject Evolution, and there are indeed some very capable scientists I have read who do as well. But again, you and I agree that that is not the point. Majority does not decide what is true.
                      Let us say that your INTERPRETATION of evidence falls right in line with what you have already determined to be true. And your reasoning, as well as mine, is influenced by what you believe.
                      Mr. McGrath, there is no way under the “dome” you can prove the Big Bang or that all life has descended from one simple life form, “Evolution” knows where even that came from. Shout all you want, but the simple truth is that you have just as little “proof” for what you believe as I do.
                      I am just as firm on my stand on the Genesis record as you are upon your “evidence”.

                      By the way, I think you could give Dr. Mortenson a run for his money. Go for it!

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

                      I could not persuade you that the Earth rotates if you approached the matter the same way you approach evolution. And if you approach evolution the same way you approach the question of the relative movement of Earth and sun, then it most certainly can be demonstrated with a comparable degree of certainty.

                    • Tim

                      These issues have nothing to do with the notion that all life evolved from a single and simple life form from no-life at all.

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

                      Please keep to the subject, which is evolution and not abiogenesis.

                      One can deny anything one wishes to using the tactics that young-earth creationists use. They are the same ones used by Holocaust-deniers and Jesus-mythicists. That has everything to do with the topic.

                    • Tim

                      The subject IS did God create in six days and I say He did BECAUSE that is exactly what the Scriptures say.

                      Without knowing how life began Evolution has not a leg to stand upon. It is merely a myth.

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

                      Then apparently I cannot speak to you. I do not know about the beginning of your life, so the rest of it, including your present existence must be a myth, right? Or do you realize that one can know a lot about the later process without knowing for certain about how it started?

                    • Tim

                      I can send you a copy of my birth certificate. But, would you believe it?

                      Yes, one can learn and know a lot about later processes. That is what science is all about.

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

                      And science has done so. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear. But you refuse to accept it because you selectively choose to insist that some Biblical language that reflects ancient assumptions is an essential axiom of the faith. Why must you persist in this heretical stance? Paul clearly embraced the best thinking in his time, the idea that there were multiple heavens, multiple spheres around the Earth rather than just a dome. Why do you refuse to follow his example?

                    • Tim

                      Science has done what?
                      What exactly is overwhelmingly clear to you?
                      The facts of Genesis 1 are overwhelmingly clear to me. I have as hard a time trying to understand why you cannot believe what I believe as you do in trying to understand why I don’t believe what you believe.
                      I will tell you. It’s because we have on a different pair of “belief” glasses. For the life of me I just cannot understand how Evolution is a rational explanation for the world I see.
                      If I am a “heretic” for being honest about what I see and believe, well then, so be it. Burn me at the stake, if you will.

                      Re: Paul and what he believed, you have yet to tell me what words of his you are referring to not to mention the words I have already sent you. Do you believe those words of his? I am most happy to follow those words.

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

                      Genesis 1 is no more and no less clear about the days than it is about the dome, no more or less clear than the references to the sun moving and the Earth being unmoveable, no more and more less clear than the implication of the temptation narrative that all the kingdoms of the world could be seen from a high-enough mountain, no more and no less clear than countless other things that you are happy to reinterpret figuratively. The only difference between all those cases and evolution is that for some reason you do not want to accept evolution, and therefore you engage in a hypocritical dance and false claims about science, bringing shame on Christianity by associating it with the nonsense you spout and the behavior you choose to engage in publicly.

                    • Tim

                      Evolution is about as unclear to me as Genesis 1 is to you.
                      For some reason you do not want to accept what Genesis 1 says, and I have a pretty good guess why, but are hypocritical about the things which science can say for sure as opposed to what it cannot say. Why can’t you just admit the limitations of your “scientific” faith and cease your criticisms of the Bible? I think your ideas bring shame upon all sound reason. Evolution makes absolutely no sense to the common person. And I am happy to to show that the Emperor really has no clothes.
                      Mr. McGrath, with all that you have written in this blog you have provided absolutely no evidence for your “faith” in the religion of Evolution.

                      Have a restful weekend!

                      Tim

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

                      Genesis 1 is not clear to you. I understand it, in Hebrew, against the backdrop of its original linguistic, historical, and cultural context, something you refuse to do because you prefer the invented doctrines of modern men to what Genesis 1 actually says.

                      I am a Biblical scholar. If you want the scientific evidence for evolution, read something by a biologist – there are excellent Christian ones like Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and Francisco Ayala.

                      If you are interested in the many things that I have written about that topic nonetheless, here is a link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2010/02/blogging-creationism-and-intelligent-design-the-highlights-revisited.html

                    • Tim

                      I know of biblical scholars who see Genesis quite differently than you, Mr. McGrath. In fact I have read the workd of one who was quite competent in Hebrew, Greek and Latin who has a dramatically different take on Genesis than you do. Obviously, it is not as matter of scholarship at all. Even “scholars” will find what they are looking for. It is really a matter of something else altogether.

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

                      That is exactly why consensus is so important and so powerful. Scholars are eager to criticize and challenge the ideas of others. We HAVE TO do that in order to publish and keep our jobs. And so when scholars agree about something, it doesn’t guarantee that they are right, but it does mean the evidence in favor of the consensus must be strong. It also means that those who have no grasp of the relevant data and expertise, who make up the majority of critics of scholarly consensuses, are never the ones who come up with effective challenges to a scholarly consensus. If there is better science or better history to be achieved, it will be achieved by those who actually take the time to learn and research in those areas, and not by armchair critics.

                    • Tim

                      Mr. McGrath. You should have no problem arguing your case against Dr. Mortenson.

                    • Tim

                      Mr. McGrath,
                      I know you may be as offended by this questions, as was your colleague, or merely commenter here, but let me go ahead. Have you ever come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Do you know Him and love Him today? Do you believe what He says?

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

                      I am not offended by the question. I am offended by the implication that you can dismiss the periodic table if it is argued for by someone who answers “no” to your question.

                      In one of the posts I shared a link to recently, you can read my testimony about how I became a born-again Christian. All throughout this blog you will find details of my personal faith. I suspect that, if you are really interested, those will satisfy your curiosity more than a simple “yes” here will.

                    • Tim

                      Simple answers are fine with me, James, but I will likely ask more.

                      Have you ever come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?
                      Do you know Him and love Him today?
                      Do you believe what He says?

                      BTW, the periodic table has nothing to do with Evolution.

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

                      Why do you accept the Periodic Table? It is based on atomism which has roots in the godless philosophy of Epicurus, and it is not found in Scripture. Why do you accept one secular science but not another?

                    • Tim

                      I will respond when you respond to mine about your relationship with Jesus Christ.

                    • jt

                      James–while you’re at it, please also share your cholesterol level, your star sign and the name of your first pet, each of which are equally relevant to this conversation as your “relationship with Jesus Christ”.

                    • jt

                      btw–you must also phrase your answer in the form of a question, and include the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow

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

                      I answered the questions even so with a short answer, indicating that more detail is available in my blog. But since Tim does not want to answer my question, he has decided to offer his odd response. I must confess that I was a bit relieved at the prospect that he might cease from babbling, since he is making little sense and his behavior and claims to understanding where he clearly lacks it are embarrassing.

                    • Tim

                      One’s relationship with Jesus Christ has EVERYTHING to do with our discussion.

                      One may be highly educated, yet not wise. For it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of wisdom.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      One may be highly educated, yet not wise. For it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of wisdom.

                      -=-=-=-=-
                      does this mean that given your relation with jesus that you know all the wisdom about evolutionary theory?

                      actually what wisdom has Jesus given you if not this about evolutionary theory being wrong?

                    • Tim

                      He has given me the wisdom to believe what has been written in the Scriptures about what He did as Creator,

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      so it really is true that discussing science with YECists is a waste of time because the science simply is irrelevant only your relationship with Jesus and its privileged epistemological position of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit matters.

                      http://brucegerencser.net/2013/03/it-is-never-about-the-science/

                      given this Holy Spirit infused wisdom, how come all of you spirit filled YECists don’t agree on the details of creation?

                      http://www.christianpress.com/us/482-noted-apologist-calls-out-evangelical-leaders-who-undermine-the-word-of-god.html

                      quote:

                      Ham mentioned, in particular, John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. Dr. R.C. Sproul and Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, as Christian leaders who have drifted away from teaching a young earth perspective.

                      so these folks lose their HS when they deny Ken Ham’s specifics?

                    • Tim

                      Not Ham’s specifics at all. I think it was God Himself who wrote on tablets that He created all things in six days.

                      Discussing real science with scientists who believe the truth of Genesis 1 is not a waste of time. Obviously, you have not done so. Have you yet visited the Creation Museum. You really should. Take some time to discuss science with the scientists there, if they are not traveling or speaking. You really should, rm. They also have a beautiful gardens there.
                      Yes, it is sad to me when Christian leaders, or any any Christian for that matter, fail to humble themselves before the truth of God’s word. This has happened in the history of the church from the very beginning. Why even Paul rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy. BTW, I am no respecter of persons wheter he is John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Francis Collins, or who have you. God is He who we are to heed and obey.

                      BTW, are you a believer and lover of Jesus Christ, rm? Are you looking for His return?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      BTW, are you a believer and lover of Jesus Christ, rm? Are you looking for His return?

                      -=-=-=-=-=-

                      it makes no difference what you do or not believe about these religious things when you are doing science.

                      this is the false gambit YECist use.

                      the interesting thing is that science speaks with a single voice, all around the world, in very specific detail. all universities around the world teach basically the same science.

                      because reality is the final arbitrator of science there is a court of final appeal.

                      yet religious people claiming this special relationship via the HS with God can not even agree and huge general principles. not even two churches side by side can agree on almost anything.

                      since the spiritual dimension appears to be entered into as individuals and appears to everyone there as something very different, there is no way to adjudicate between competing claims of truth, each person becomes his own judge as to what he saw there.

                      this unity of science and extraordinary diversity of Christianity gives lie to your claims of a privileged epistemological position.

                    • Tim

                      rm,
                      It makes a huge difference and not all universities teach the Evolutionary interpretation of science.

                      Besides, we may have a lot in common. Why would you be reluctant to tell me if you are a brother in Christ?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:

                      Evolutionary interpretation of science.

                      -=-=-=-

                      i know what evolutionary biology is.

                      but i’ve never heard of a department of “Evolutionary interpretation of science” at any university.

                    • Tim

                      It’s the real but hidden name. :-)

                    • arcseconds

                      Why should evolution make any sense to the common person?

                      There’s all sorts of stuff in science that makes no sense whatsoever to the common person. Sometimes you need several years of training even to understand what is being said.

                    • Tim

                      I think Evolution is a re-programming of what Man inherently can see in the real world.

                    • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                      And THAT is the point. I don’t know your religious background, but mine was quite similar to Tim’s. When you adopt a strict literalism you are forced to defend all kind of indefensible claims. (like the ones you mention here.) Within the bubble is all makes sense.

                      Of course, as I mentioned in a previous comment, no one takes everything in the Bible literally. (i.e. go sell all that you have)

                      This is why this discussion has nothing to do with science. It is all about how the Bible is meant to be read and interpreted. The science claims flow from these two points.

                    • Tim

                      Now, the subject was, I thought, the words of Paul and whether I believed them. Did you not ask me that?

                    • arcseconds

                      Let’s bracket the question about evolution for the moment to try to get some shared ground.

                      Genetics allows us to trace genetic similarity by looking for similar sequences of DNA. I’m not going to go into the details, but you’re going to have the same DNA as your identical twin, very similar DNA (half your genes!) with your parents and your children, pretty similar DNA to your siblings, and so on throughout your family.

                      You’re also going to have reasonably similar DNA to me and McGrath, because although we are related, being human beings (I think we agree on this, yes? You think we’re all descended from Adam and Eve, and my story is a bit more complicated but I agree that we have ancestors in common).

                      But we can go further than this and look at genetic similarities between species. Human beings are quite similar in their DNA to chimps. That’s a fact, you can look it up anywhere you like, and it’s not normally disputed by creationists. You will, I imagine, insist this is God doing software re-use. That’s OK, I can work with that: the point is that the genetic similarity is there, for anyone to see (or anyone who’s a competent gene sequencer, anyway).

                      What an evolutionary biologist says about this, though, is that the genetic similarity is due to family relationships, just as it is within a species.

                      Now, even though you may not understand evolution and think it’s rubbish, this should be straightfoward enough, right?

                      If you copy a text with changes, and copy it again with more changes, and copy it again with yet more changes, and do this again 10 times, copy 10 will be more similar to copy 9 than it is to the original. It’s kind of like this.

                      (Note that the evolutionary story is actually a bit neater here. Genetic similarity has just one explanation in the evolutionary framewrok: common descent (although I’m simplifying here somewhat). Genetic similarity has two very different explanations on the creationist framework: common descent within a species, but God’s design choices between species. That doesn’t prove anything in and of itself, but note that they actually agree on something here, and it’s creationism that’s adding the extra element)

                      When we look for genetic similarities between organisms, we find that all organisms share genetic similarities, and these similarities are usually for very fundamental proteins, like DNA and RNA polymerases (which assemble DNA and RNA), parts of the ribosome (which translates genes to proteins) and cyctochrome c (part of the respiration process).

                      Perhaps more impressively, it’s the same genetic code (translation from DNA to amino acids) everywhere, and everything uses DNA (except for some RNA viruses), and everything uses the same one of the two mirror-image pairs that are possible with DNA and amino acids.

                      This didn’t have to be the case, as far as we can tell. Certainly the genetic code could be anything — it just depends on the construction of what’s reading it.

                      If you believe God created everything from scratch, then this just shows the extent of God’s code-reuse.

                      But for an evolutionary biologist, they just apply the same explanation they apply to any other example of genetic similarity: common descent.

                      Hopefully that helps to show that a single origin of life is not some outlandish suggestion by evolutionary biology that it’s somehow inherently tied to, and just results from what we observe and the explantory framework of evolutionary biology in an almost unremarkable way.

                      If, one day, we found lifeforms using ‘left-handed’ DNA and a completely different genetic code, then while this would be an absolutely fascinating discovery, there’s absolutely no reason to rethink evolutionary theory because of this. We’d just go “Oh! well, the evidence up until this point suggested a single origin of life. Now it looks like there were two origins of life! Or, at least, some super-early branch-off from protolife before genetic codes got settled on.”.

                    • Tim

                      However…the God-breathed Scriptures say, God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind.”
                      This is wonderful to me. I believe God could and did do this. AND it makes in the world that I see. There are incredible differences, even between Man and Ape.

                    • arcseconds

                      Why are you telling me there are differences between human beings and apes? I said so myself. My entire account was about the differences between species.

                      I was replying to your query about the origin of life in the hope of increasing your understanding about why biologists think life has a single origin, and how it is not an especially fundamental tenet of evolutionary biology, but rather just something the evidence appears to point towards.

                      But I get the impression you didn’t even bother to read or think about what I wrote very carefully. You appear to be playing some kind of game whereby you:

                      1) level an accusation about evolutionary biology
                      2) half-read the reply
                      3) play a word association game
                      4) quote some scripture.

                      if that’s all you’re going to do, I’m wasting my effort on you.

                      Oh, well. Hopefully someone else will read it more carefully and get something out of it.

                    • jt

                      Don’t forget the 5th strategy: 5) Dismiss everything a person says if they haven’t signed your pledge of faith.

                      Unwilling to affirm a discussion where there is a faith pledge is required to have a voice at the table at a conversation unrelated to salvation issues, I recognized the waste of time as well. As I mentioned earlier, the Fundamentalist worldview feels so fragile to such a believer that the 6-day earth position becomes one in a thousand issues that must remain forever theologically untouched,otherwise the entire system falls apart. In reality, “creationism” has nothing to do with salvation and one’s relationship with Yahweh, although it appears so to the Fundamentalist. There is no grace for diversity of theological interpretation, since if one verse appears no longer to be a “literal” interpretation, their logical conclusion is that none of scripture is credible,therefore the entire faith is destroyed.

                      My God and my faith, is far more dependable than that.

                    • Tim

                      But the differences you discuss only deal with DNA and such, not the obvious ones which the theory of Evolution cannot touch or explain.

                      My mother in law once said, and by the way she is not nearly as educated as you appear to be, she said in so many words or less that “if someone ever wondered about Evolution and if it is true he would only have to see the difference between a man and an ape and then he can see it is not true.”

                      Mr./Ms. arcseconds, you write quite a lengthy explanation of what you believe about evolutionary biology, which you want me to read and beleive. But it is obvious where you are going from the very start, and my common sense and faith will not allow my mind to accept the conclusions you have arrived at because. Yes indeed, I half-read your reply, but it was quite enough and nothing new to me. Frankly, I do not have enough time to read all that everyone here would like me to read. So, I skim. It doesn’t take long for me to understand where you are coming from and where you are going.

                      You want me to go down your road as much as i would like for you to go down mine. My road is Jesus Christ and Scripture, and that is why I have sent you quotes. Did I think you would read and take those seriously? No. Should I take yours seriously?

                      So, if you are not willing to come down my road with an open mind and be willing to abandon all you believe, then I am not willing to go down yours.

                      Are we wasting our time? Likely.

                    • arcseconds

                      I don’t care all that much about whether you believe in evolution or not.

                      You raised some things that you think are issues for evolutionary biology. You appear to think that the origin of life is some kind of huge flaw in evolutionary biology, and it was this i was attempting to answer in my ‘lengthy explanation’, much as I’d attempt to correct anything I saw as a misunderstanding.

                      We just don’t see the origin of life as being some huge issue that has the capacity to bring the whole edifice down.

                      You answered a question about that, and I answered it, because I presumed that you were at least a little bit open to the explanation. But it’s looking now like you were just uttering creationist talking points, with no interest in the response. If it leads to evolution, you don’t want to know.

                      What I’d like you to do is not to believe what we believe, but rather understand our account, or at least understand it a little more than you do now.

                      Because at the moment, you’re saying things like “origin of life, eh?, eh? gotcha there!” and we’re just staring blankly at you and saying “no, you haven’t. it’s not the issue you think it is”.

                      You should be interested in understanding more about evolutionary biology, because when you do this, you just end up looking foolish. That’s not going to draw us to Christ. When you show yourself unwilling to listen to what we say, that shows you to be both foolish and pig-headed, which again, isn’t going to draw us to Christ or make us think highly of you.

                      As for me, I’ve already got a pretty good understanding of Christianity and the Bible, thanks. This is another curious conceit of certain Christians, that somehow the fact that people aren’t Christian (or aren’t Christian in the right way) means that they’re somehow ignorant of the material — to such an extent it can be addresed by quoting famous passages of the Bible at them.

                      Having said that, I don’t understand all the details of your viewpoint and some do interest me. For example, why do you think the origin of life should be a problem for evolutionists? I don’t really understand that, but you’re not answering my questions about it. Perhaps you don’t know? Or are you just not interested, after all, in explaining yourself?

                    • Tim

                      When you show yourself unwilling to listen and regard seriously my point of view, so as to make me look like the unintelligent fool for believing that 1. God is the source of all life and, 2. That he made all the various kinds of life in two days, then that makes you look pig-headed and will not draw me to consider seriously your point of view. Don’t you see the problem yet, arc?
                      You see, when you say, “As for me, I’ve already got a pretty good understanding of Christianity and the Bible, thanks” you are doing the very thing you charge against me. My response is, no you don’t. How can you understand what I understand and reject it? That, sir/mam is being just as pig-headed as I am.

                      I believe the origin of life as explained in Genesis 1 and 2 is vitally because it tells us about God and His nature, that He is Almighty and is able to bring something into being by speaking it forth, therefore doing it all in six days is no problem at all. And that all He made was very good, i.e. perfect, demonstrates His nature. So, why isn’t everything “very good” today? Genesis 3 explains. All of Creation has since been subjected to futility, as Paul wrote in Romans 8. Genesis 3 also introduces one to Him who would come and bring about redemption for all of Creation, which is what Jesus began on the cross and will complete one day. Then there will be a new heavens and a new earth.
                      You see, the theory of evolution tells me nothing about the power and goodness and grace of God. And it renders the gospel of Jesus Christ as unnecessary.
                      You see, I did not believe in Jesus Christ because of what the Scriptures teach about Creation. I believe what they teach because of Jesus Christ. If Evolution is true, then I do not need Jesus Christ and that is inconceivable to me, for I have come to know Him personally. He has saved me from my sin and radically changed my life about 42 years ago. He is worthy of by trust and worship. My relationship with Him is confirmed by what I read in the Scriptures from the very first chapter. Evolution in my mind is anti-Christ and anti-Scripture testimony about him.

                      If you have read this far, good for you. But if not, I can understand. I would not have either until Jesus Christ saved me. But even then it took me several years to believe what is written about Him in Genesis 1-11. There was a lot of “evolutionary” indoctrination to work through.
                      So, there you have it arc.

                    • arcseconds

                      There is an alternative, and that’s give up any pretence about understanding evolutionary biology. Just say “well, I accept Genesis 1 as being the literal true account. I don’t have any need for, know, or care about any evolutionary biology”.

                      And cease mouthing these accusations and objections for a view that you don’t understand and don’t care about, and aren’t going to take notice of the replies to.

                      That would have the merit of being honest, and be employing a much more genuine way of interacting with people. It would also help us to avoid a pointless conversation.

                      And some people will be impressed at your honesty and simple faith. that’s more likely to draw people to Christ than sophistry will.

                    • Tim

                      IF you mean by “evolutionary biology” the notion that all living creatures are descended from one single and simple life form, then No, I do not need to spend time with something that is illogical, ridiculous and false.
                      Now, if I do not understand what you mean by “evolutionary biology” and that perhaps it does confirm the fact the historical truth that God did indeed create living creatures on days 5 and 6 of Creation Week then I am all ears. Please enlighten me.

                    • arcseconds

                      I have some sympathy for the skim-reading, though. It is difficult when there’s such a lot happening, and most of it directed at your.

                      And I can be a bit wordy.

                      However, it is an involved topic, and you’re going to have to do a lot more work to understand even than the basics of evolutionary biology than just read a 10-pagraph blog comment.

                      I hope that you’ll either take the opportunity to make this effort at some stage, or stop pretending that you do understand it or care about it.

                    • Tim

                      arc,
                      I believe I know enough about the Evolutionary interpretation of biology to know that it’s premise and conclusions are false. Now I believe that it is you who need to stop pretending that all living creatures have descended from a single and simple life form when God has made it clear that it just ain’t so. (Not enough ejekation on my part. :-))

                    • arcseconds

                      I’m wondering whether your worries about the origin of life shows one reason you find the creationist view attractive?

                      You’ve got explanatory closure here. God created life, end of story, no more wondering, no more confusion. You seem to think it’s a failure of evolutionary biology to find a dangling question here. Am I right in thinking this?

                      But from a scientific perspective, this isn’t a failure. It’s an opportunity! Scientists love this kind of stuff, because it gives them a chance to do some science.

                      And not having a firm answer is exactly what you should do if you don’t have any firm evidence (or a good theory to tie such evidence together).

                      These are two very different perspectives: wanting a sure explanation and a closed book and certainty on the one hand, and being comfortable with or even excited about having uncertain, speculative theories when that’s all we’re in a position to do at the current time.

                    • Tim

                      I really am not worried at all about the origin of life, for I do know the Origin. He is Jesus Christ. I am not sure how familiar you are with the Bible. One commenter here seemed quite offended when I asked him about his own faith in Christ, so I will not venture to do that with you. But here are a few verses about Jesus I was thinking about last night.

                      “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being… He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…” John, the apostle.

                      Frankly, it does not surprise me that Mr McGrath does not understand Jesus Christ as the Creator and Savior of the world from the words of Scripture or through what I or anyone else has said to him. Why, even when the Son of God stood right before his own people they did not recognize him, or like Him. In fact the many of the scholars of his day wanted to do away with him altogether. And they managed to do that, for about 3 days. So, I am not surprised that Mr. McGrath or you or anyone else does not know Jesus for who He as I and many others do.

                      Now, to your issues. Yes, I believe that God created life…but not end of story. Scientists are making wonderful discoveries all the time about the life He created. I marvel in these things. There have been many scientists with a Creationist framework over the years who have done some marvelous work from this starting point. It has not hindered them in the least, only helped them. Their firm evidence is the fact that God created all living creatures on earth today on the 5th and 6th days of Creation “according to their kind”. And that makes a whole lot of sense to most people, unless of course they have been indoctrinated against common sense by Evolution, as I was and most Americans have been.

                    • arcseconds

                      OK, yet again none of what you wrote appears to have anything but a tangential relationship to what I wrote.

                      What I wanted to know was why you think it’s a problem for evolutionary biology to not have a firm account of the origin of life. Nothing you’ve said here addresses that.

                    • Tim

                      BTW, arcseconds, welcome to the “choir”. (Little private joke between me and Mr. McGrath).

                      I do not believe my reply was tangential at all. I think it just shows how we differ in our understanding of how all life (living creatures) came into being. The main reason why I do not believe that Evolutionary (cap intended) biology does not have a firm account of the origin of life is because of the account of the origin of living creatures I copied for you from Genesis 1. That, sir (or mam) address the issue quite directly from my point of view.

                    • arcseconds

                      It is tangential to the question as to why you think origin of life is such a big issue for evolutionary biology.

                      Sure, you feel you have an answer for it. But so what?

                    • jt

                      If you believe that my religious beliefs are relevant to this discussion, it confirms a fundamental difference between our worldviews that, at the time, is irreconcilable. The discussion about the meaning of a word can only be relevant if the parties involved agree on process methodology and types of evidence that are pertinent. If the only people that are allowed to have a voice at the table are those that wear an “I love Jesus” button on their lapel or a “WWJD” bracelet, then it isn’t a discussion appropriate for a public university, and it isn’t a discussion about science.

                      You are welcome to have such discussions in your Sunday school class at church. If an Egyptian public university only allowed science teachers on faculty who signed a pledge of faith to Wahhabism, it is a clear sign that the university has little interest in teaching science, but whose only interest is in preserving the Wahhabi faith, and subsequently is a clear sign that students and faculty who want to study science need to go elsewhere for such discussions. Requiring that I recite my Roman Road conversion before you grant me credibility to discuss the science of evolution, or the source history of the Judeo-Christian text is little different from requiring belief in Wahhabism before one’s scientific credentials can be affirmed.

                      They are separate issues for any context outside of your church building. One need not be a Fundamentalist Christian to reliably discuss source criticism, and given how few Evangelicals publish in the field, it would seem to be an impediment rather than a benefit.

                    • Tim

                      I think good science and faith go hand in hand and are not separate issues at all. In fact you have faith, as well, jt, and your faith governs your science.

  • Ian Ross (Scotland)

    I note James F McGrath stands foursquare with the British Secular Society. In their endeavours to prevent Britain from maintaining its formerly strong Christian traditions, one of its main aims is to destroy the credibility of creation – a quote from their website:

    “We think the teaching of creationist views as a potentially valid alternative theory to
    evolution is unacceptable in state schools. We campaign to highlight and expose
    the threat that creationism poses to education, and to promote the teaching of
    evolution in schools”.

    The teaching of creation does not pose a threat to education but to the religion of secularism. Similarly, Dr Terry Mortensen’s talk to students at Butler is not a threat to eduction but is a threat to McGrath’s own personal anti-young earth compromised agenda.

    Anyone who puts in writing that Answers in Genesis is opposed to the historic Christian faith and has no respect the Bible has just lost all credibility.

    • Mary

      “The teaching of creation does not pose a threat to education but to the religion of secularism”
      Oh please not that tired old argument. Secularism is not a religion. The scientific method is not a religion. In fact science says nothing about God because that is not within its scope. What science can do though is deal with physical evidence. If that conflicts with someone’s religion then that is too bad. Most people do not believe in a flat earth either, although this is what the bible says. The stars, sun and the moon are depicted as being suspended in a solid “firmament” above the earth. Heaven is also there as a physical place, not in another dimension.The earth is flat, square and sits on four pillars. There are some religions that believe that the earth sits on top of a giant turtle. Are we to teach that to students as well?
      “Bible science” has been disproved hundreds of years ago, long before Darwin. What creationists want to do is pretend that it is still an issue and place doubt in the minds of believers. It is a false dicotomy because there is nothing that prohibits one from believing in both God and the evidence of the natural world.

      • Mary

        Of course if you are one of those “flat-earthers” then you would probably deny all the TONS of evidence from space, and the technology that has come from that such as satellite TV and GPS tracking, computers etc. In which case I would feel extremely sorry for you. You are disparaging the very science that our children rely on for the future! Maybe you should take your childen somewhere where they won’t be exposed to the “lies”, such as an Amish community (or whatever the equivilent is in Scotland). The rest of us want our children to LEARN.

    • arcseconds

      Do you think that all minority views should be taught in state schools?

      Perhaps we should teach Jesus mythicism and holocaust denialism in history class, maybe? How about a bit of alchemy and natural magick in chemistry?

      There are still people who like the Cottingley Fairies, too.

      I’m sure modern-day pagans would love to give their side of the story — how Christianity systematically oppressed and wiped out the pan-European goddess religion which empowered women and nature and local community in favour of an alienating, misogynistic patriarchal hierarchy.

      Then there’s my own personal favourite: time cube in mathematics!

      If we think that children benefit from getting to make up their own minds and not having ideologies imposed on them, perhaps the more options they’re given in the more subjects the better?

      Or, if we expect the curriculum to be more selective, who gets to do the selecting, and why?

      I imagine there would have to be at least a modicum of selectivity, as there’s an awful lot of minority views out there, and only a certain number of hours in a schoolday.

      • Ian Ross (Scotland)

        It doesn’t matter to the religion of secularism what is taught in schools provided God and his creation by Jesus Christ is excluded. I am sure they wouldn’t mind you putting forward your suggestions. Christ and his creation have come to be a ‘minority view’ because of apathetic Christians and those who compromise God’s word with the preference to accept the words of secular scientists and “Christian thinkers down through the ages” (to quote James McGrath). Thanks to ministries like Answers in Genesis huge numbers of people throughout the world are learning to defend their faith in God and his word against all-comers. These include compromisers like James McGrath who are unashamedly working hand-in-hand with the secular religion.

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

          Do you object to the speaking of English just because secular people do so, which ancient Biblical authors spoke other languages? The issue is surely not what secular people do – Christians and non-Christians agree on what air is composed of, because the evidence is clear. Surely the issue is what is actually the case?

          • Ian Ross (Scotland)

            James. I thank you most sincerely for the privilege you afforded me today to express my tuppence worth on your blog. I appreciate it very much. I am not a blogging person – I am far too busy in my work as a Quantity Surveyor. So this is the last you’ll hear from me, you’ll be glad to learn. May God bless you and bless Butler University and may you be far more tolerant of Ken & Co in future! Ian.

        • arcseconds

          You haven’t answered my question. It wasn’t ‘do you think anyone would mind?’, but rather ‘would you mind, and if so, how do you think we should decide what is taught?’

          Instead you’ve decided to indulge in a rant against your co-religionists.

          I know you want creationism taught in schools because you think it’s the truth, but it is a minority view (it really is, even amongst the general public in Britain).

          If one minority group can get their fringe view taught, then every minority group should be able to. That’s only fair, isn’t it?

          I’m afraid you are a little off about what motivates ‘secularists’. It’s a pretty broad bunch of people, especially if you’re going to lump non-creationist Christians in with them, and only a few are against Christianity per se.

          People who are against creationism are against it because they’re pro-science, not anti-christianity, so I can guarantee you that there would be an outcry amongst these people if anyone looked like they had the remotest chance of introducing any of the above into the curriculum at a state funded school.

          • Ian Ross (Scotland)

            Strangely enough, I am against creation being taught in schools because it would not be taught properly. It would be presented as pseudo science and it’s far from that. The churches should do the business. Some do but many can’t or won’t. Ministries like Answers in Genesis I think are the answer. I do not accept the corollary of your assertion that people who believe in creation are anti-science (knowledge). In fact creation has the best science. Not only have we access to the same evidence as everyone else, but also because behind the science is a clear understanding of why we are here. Our universe is not purposeless.

            • arcseconds

              Wait… you’re against the teaching of creationism in schools? So you stand ‘foursquare with the British Secular Society’ too?

              As far as I know, no-one is trying to deny churches the right to teach whatever they like on Sunday morning. We might not agree with what they teach, but that’s fine. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything, and trying to gag people is totalitarianism.

              So I’m not sure what you’re complaining about.

        • Nick Gotts

          You are simply lying, as all propagandists for creationism routinely do. Secularists (secularism is of course not a religion, simply the belief that the state should not support any viewpoint on religion, including atheism) object to the myths of any religion being taught as fact.

  • Ian Ross (Scotland)

    Mary is totally deluded. Of course secularism / atheism / humanism is a religion. Some groups even hold Sunday services in opposition to churches! It is a religion which conducts funeral and wedding services in opposition to the churches! It is a religion which is avidly and ruthlessly pursued by its proponents in an effort to blot out God, and our Christian heritage. The tragedy is that James McGrath stands side by side with them in his vehement, unjustified stance against Bible-believing Christians such as those in Answers in Genesis (who, I believe, are not in error because they understand the Sciptures and they understand the power of God.

    On the contrary, Mary, the best science (knowledge) is the science (knowledge) of God, and there is nothing that secular assumption-based origins science has done to prove the Bible wrong. In point of fact, the creation model makes far more scientific sense than any other model devised on origins.
    The other comments regarding flat-earth are hurtful and false. Everyday science which takes technology forward is totally independent of what the scientist believes about origins. By your reasoning, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, who not only believed in 6 x 24 hours creation by almighty God,but also owned a planetarium, would be classed as a flat-earther!.

    Finally, it all depends what you want your children to learn. If they are taught the misinformation you have written, I pity them. However if you want them to learn to have a wholesome perspective on our existence in the universe, they need to know about our Creator’s involvement in the matter. That’s why I believe the students at
    Butler.need to hear what Dr (note Dr) Mortensen has to say, and why I am of the opinion that it is Mr McGrath who is the charlatan, not those at Answers in Genesis.

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

      It is very easy to bandy about terms like “charlatan” and throw them back at those who apply them to false teachers of whom you are a fan. But the approach I take to relating the Bible to the natural world is one which, if you read the writings of Christian thinkers down the ages, you can verify is the one that predominated in Christianity before the creation of young-earth creationism by Seventh Day Adventists and its transfer into other conservative Protestant circles from there. You can look at the evidence and understand why godly Christian people who work in the sciences accept the understanding I do. Just because secularists say the Earth is round does not mean it is flat. Christians and non-Christians regularly agree about points concerning which the evidence is overwhelming.

      The claim that young-earth creationists are “Bible-believing” baffles me. The Biblical authors reflected the best knowledge of the natural world available in their time. Young-earth creationists reject the best available knowledge in their time. How is that in keeping with the stance of the Biblical authors?

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2011/12/an-example-of-how-answers-in-genesis-does-violence-to-the-bible-and-not-just-science.html

      • Ian Ross (Scotland)

        I am not a ‘fan’ of Answers in Genesis. I am dedicated to a knowledge of God from his word. The careful thoughts and intentions which emanate from Answers in Genesis, and their burning desire to win souls, align with what I have learned from the holy scriptures, contrary to what I was taught in primary and secondary schools and university’education’. It seems to me that there are degrees of “Bible-believing”. The debate centres around the inspiration of Scripture. Opinion ranges from biblical authors writing down the ‘breath of God’ through to their being people who wrote their own words. If the bible is true to the former opinion then God provided the history and descriptions of the physical universe, and the best knowledge of the writers was God-given. In such a case, Answers in Genesis are ‘spot-on’ in their beliefs and aspirations. However, if people believe it is not then they can say, as you do, that reliance is best placed upon the writing of Christian thinkers down through the ages. In either case, name-calling. hostility and downright intolerance should not be in evidence. If “Bible-believing” baffles you, “false teaching” and “rejection of evidence” baffle me. The Bible defines false teachers and AiG certainly do not fall into that category. Monitoring and questioning evidence based on assumptions and sheer speculation – together with presenting a better alternative consistent with God’s word – is hardly the same thing as rejection of evidence. Finally, I believe the answer to your question is that the words of the biblical authors were given by inspiration of God, whereas the words of the Christian “thinkers” down through the ages were not.

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

          There are several errors in your reasoning. First, there are many individuals and groups which share the view that the very words of the Bible are God’s words, but who disagree on the interpretation of those words. And so even if Answers in Genesis has the right doctrine of Scripture, that does not mean that they are offering the correct interpretation of Genesis. That has to be settled by looking at the details of what the relevant texts say, informed by relevant lexical and contextual information.

          But any view of Scripture which has to be imposed on Scripture in a manner that is at odds with what Scripture actually says is unacceptable to me. It makes the doctrine about the Bible the supreme authority, above the Bible itself. And if a doctrine cannot do justice to the fact that Paul signed his own name to his letters, and in 2 Corinthians said that at one point he was speaking “as a fool, and not according to the Lord,” then that doctrine should be replaced with one compatible with what the Bible actually shows itself to be.

          • ian Ross (Scotland)

            You say my reasoning is flawed, but neither of your two paragraphs state succinctly where the flaws in my reasoning are. I was not aware that I was reasoning, I merely stated my opinion on how things are, or seem to be. The conclusion I draw from your first paragraph is that it’s all down to interpretation. So what if Answers in Genesis have the correct interpretation? Your calling Ken Ham a charlatan and Terry Motensen a liar is simply based on your interpretation being opposed to theirs. It seems to me that your second paragraph merely wrests a scripture from its context and you use this as a basis to reject the trustworthiness of what the infinite God has revealed. Finally, If Dr Terry Mortensen has such inferior scientific credentials and doesn’t know Greek from Hebrew as you claim, are you saying that the quality of the university’s teaching is so poor that your students will be taken in by his short talk. Or are these your ostensible reasons for attempting to deny him a platform? I suspect the real reason is that, in accordance with Tim’s testimony in these postings, you see Ham and Mortensen as a clear threat to your own secular agenda. Whatever is the case I think it is totally inappropriate to call Ken Ham a charlatan and Dr Terry Mortensen a liar.
            I regret duty calls, James, and I have to leave the debate for the present.

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

              If everyone studied the Bible and the natural sciences in a manner that sought reliable information, I wouldn’t need to bother commenting on the false teachings of Answers in Genesis. Unfortunately that is not the case. But even so, I did not try to deny a platform to anyone, except in the indirect sense that I questioned the appropriateness of a Christian campus ministry inviting a speaker who is at odds with what should be their Christian, campus, and ministry aims.

              • Ian Ross (Scotland)

                Tut Tut, James. You can’t be serious in inferring that the people working at AiG and other creation research establishments fail to actively seek out reliable information. The sterling work carried out by Drs Lisle, Menton, the two Drs Mitchell, Mortensen and Purdom all scream at you from their writing and laboratory work that you are badly mistaken. I recall one example where Dr Menton reviewed work on dating methods, purporting to be ‘reliable’ information, and. by his own detailed calculations, proved that the information was anything but reliable. Finally I thought the aims of every Christian campus, in all facets of university life, are to promote Christ and his cause in this world, including open debate on every subject that impinges on the Christian life, including the authority of Scripture and creation science.
                Our Lord declared that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and, as a prominent muslim stated recently in England – we at a loss to understand Christians who do not believe the Book.

                • jt

                  Your claims belie a fundamental distinction in what evidence is considered credible in different discussions. In this case, you refer to “his own detailed calculations, proved…” If a researcher wants to prove anything, s/he needs to do the appropriate work to meet scholarly standards, and then publish those results in a peer-reviewed journal. Mortenson has had *one* peer-review publication, in a theological journal about philosophy. There were no “calculations” in said article. He has never been published in any scientific journal, nor has had he had any formal scientific training. As an intelligent citizen he has every right to write, speak, and publish. But fundamental to the “scientific” process is peer-review publication. The work he claims to critique is published scientific work, recognized by the discipline as credible by decades of experimental work, by multiple labs. He is welcome to critique such work, but such critiques fail to meet the most basic of scientific standards, so has no relevance at a university.

                  • Ian Ross (Scotland)

                    Menton not Mortensen.

                    • jt

                      “Mortenson” not “Mortensen”. If you are referring to David Menton, then you still run into the same issue of evidence that passes basic scientific scrutiny. He has never had a peer-review publication that pertains to the evolution-creation discussion. If I am mistaken, I would be happy to acknowledge Menton’s peer-review publications (and therefore credibility) that address issues of geology, astrophysics, bioarcheology or molecular biology as they relate to his hypothesis that evolution or long-earth theory are wrong.

      • Andrew L

        is this – age of the earth down through theology to SDAers – true? I’m under the impression that both Luther and Calvin believed and defended a recent and fairly literal creation.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          google ronald numbers, his book _the creationists_. or search for George McCready Price and his relationship with the thinking of whitcomb and morris. the evidence is pretty overwhelming that the conservative churches reacted against liberalism by adopting YECism as seen in Price’s writings. another interesting book is _darwin’s forgotten defenders_

          • Andrew L

            let me be a little more specific. I’m persuaded that recent YEC got rolling in the early 1900s from a period of theological acceptance of the likely/possible old earth and old creation. I don’t know that I could put dates around it but certainly decades to a century or two before Origin of Species. I’m also persuaded some of the early thinker/big names in Catholicism were amenable to an old earth. It does seem the early reformation was a reembrace of that ‘old time religion’ and its young earth.

            (ps I have that Numbers book and his ‘myths’ edited book on reserve at my library right now. Looking forward to both.)

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

              I think there is an enormous difference between ancient people who had no reason to think the earth was as old as it is, and so treated it as young, but were not opposed in principle to accepting new information about the natural world, and those today who have the information necessary to know and yet insist that the earth is young despite the clear evidence to the contrary. The latter is “young-earth creationism” and it is its treatment of ancient assumptions as axioms of faith that sets that movement apart from historic Christianity.

    • Mary

      “The other comments regarding flat-earth are hurtful and false. Everyday science which takes technology forward is totally independent of what the scientist believes about origins. By your reasoning, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, who not only believed in 6 x 24 hours creation by almighty God,but also owned a planetarium, would be classed as a flat-earther”

      You completely missed my point or maybe you just want to pretend you didn’t understand it. Creationists believe that the bible is inerrant not just in theology but scientifically. They try to make the bible into a science book and then use that as “proof” that the bible is inerrant. The example I gave is proof positve that the bible is not correct in its science. If it is incorrect with that then why should we think that anything else it has to say about science is correct?

      Yes Newton was brilliant, but he didn’t know everything. His ideas were based on the scientific knowledge that they had AT THAT TIME. I certainly do not expect that he would have been different from any other scientist on many things that they didn’t know at the time, such as germ theory, for example. He was also an avid alchemist, which shows that he intertwined both the physical sciences with mysticism which was very common at the time. Why would I expect him to know everything about everything? He operated from a different world-view than ours, a mostly pre-scientific one. I would like to think that if he were alive today that he would at least look at the evidence from our modern day science.before considering denouncing it.

      “Everyday science which takes technology forward is totally independent of what the scientist believes about origins”.That is a very clumsy statement and I can only guess what you mean by that. If you say we can advance technologically without understanding basic science, then you are wrong. The same science that deals with origins also drives our understanding of medicine and leads to new drugs and treatments. The science of evolution helps us understand how new diseases both organic and also external to our body (such as viruses and bacteria) develop and how to prevent epidemics in the future. We have literally no medical science that is separate from evolutionary science.
      In fact, all of the sciences deal with a non-creationist point of view and we can say that there is really isn’t any science at all that contradicts that model. From geology to physics to astronomy to genetics, to paleotolgy etc. THEY ALL DEMONSTRATE THE SAME TRUTH, ONLY FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES.
      Without the modern science of origins WE WOULD HAVE NO SCIENCE PERIOD. So go right ahead and stick your head in the sand, but schools are supposed to teach FACTS not fiction.

      • Mary

        By the way Ian, I find this statement to be very elitist and bigoted:

        “Mary is totally deluded. Of course secularism / atheism / humanism is a religion… It is a religion which conducts funeral and wedding services in opposition to the churches.”

        So it is your assertion that non-believers should not be allowed to marry or mourn their dead? That is just plain sick. I realize that Scotland has a different history than the US as far as religious freedom is concerned, but I have a hard time believing that that attitude would fly even there. People have rights even if you don’t agree with them.

        You also need a dictionary before you spout off any more nonsense. Secularism, atheism and humanism do not mean the same thing. I believe in secular science but that does not make me an atheist!

        What you and others like you like to do is come up with false catagories, lump them all together and then characterise anyone that doesn’t agree with your narrow interpretation of what is “right” as somehow being part of a sinister organization (or in your mind “religion”) called Secularism/Atheism/ and Humanism. Oh yeah, and we worship the devil too! Yikes! You better be afraid!

        I really get weary of all the histrionics that come from the creationist camp.

        One last question for you: What does Harry Potter and Isaac Newton have in common? They both believed in the Sorcerers Stone, a mythical substance created through alchemy which could be used to make an elixer of eternal life. Isaac Newton may have been brilliant in many ways but he was caught in the transition between real science and mythology. He was a complete failure in his experiments in alchemy and possibly poisoned himself accidentally with heavy metals in the process.

        His ideas about the bible also did not resemble the orthodox view at all. He was considered a heretic and skated on that fine line of having to appease the church or be executed.. He had many occult beliefs that he mixed with Christianity. He in NO WAY could be said to represent the church theologically in his time. And he can’t be used to represent the point of view of fundamentalism in our time either.

        Be careful who you use as an example. He might not stand for what you believe at all ;-)

        • Ian Ross (Scotland)

          The last thing anyone who knows me would call me is bigoted or elitist. The conclusion you draw from what I said about funerals and weddings regarding the burial of the dead is totally out of order. You stated that secularism isn’t a religion and I merely proved to you that it is. Nothing of what you say is accepted regarding false categories etc, devil worship or histrionics. Your characterisation of who and what I am were neither written nor implied by me. You say you are not an atheist but the God in whom you believe did not have the power to create the universe in 6 x 24 hour days, so you resort to believing something God has not revealed in his word.. You still evade the point about Newton. You called him a flat-earther. Whatever he believed, a flat earth wasn’t one of them. I note you are as intolerant of views opposed to your own as James F McGrath himself.

          • Mary

            Ian, do you not have basic comprehension skills? I NEVER SAID THAT NEWTON WAS A FLAT-EARTHER. I was talking about the BIBLE which clearly states that the earth is flat! You were the one who brought up Newton!
            If you can’t even understand basic english then why are you here to debate?
            You have evaded my points about what bible actually says and then lied about the fact that creationists want to make it into a science book! You say you believe that it is factually true so that means that you are saying that it is scientifically true.
            What is it that YOU BELIEVE, not Newton or anyone else? DO YOU BELIEVE IN A FLAT EARTH? You have to if you say that the bible gives factual information in Genesis!
            What it comes down to is misdirection on the part of creationists. What you have done is proved everything that Mcgrath has said. Creationists lie about facts and they lie about their motives just as you have. I have no interest in continuing a conversation with someone who is incapable of any honesty.
            Strange that the bible tells us to be honest and yet creationists break that commandment over and over again.

            • Ian Ross (Scotland)

              Now I know why McGrath has labeled Terry Mortensen a liar – simply because he disagrees with him. You have accused me of lying which is one of the most serious charges a person can face, simply because I disagree with you. I find your accusations totally unacceptable. This conversation is now closed.

              • Mary

                Well. let’s see: You said that I said that Newton believed in a flat earth. LIE.

                You call secular science a religion. LIE Secular science says nothing about God so it can’t be a religion

                You deny that the YEC’S want to make the bible into a science book. I don’t know about Scotland but in America the YEC movement is more about politics than faith. They are upset that the bible is not taught in the schools and so they want to sneak it in under the guise of “creation science.”
                You imply that there is a giant conspiracy to indoctrinate children with atheism. This is a common lie of the creationist camp. Teaching science is not the same as teaching atheism by any stretch of the imagination.
                You have made some serious accusations yourself as I have just demonstrated. You misrepresent the opposing point of view You want others to be tolerant of your piont of view but you feel no need to extend the same. You have made very derogaratory comments towards me and others on here as well.
                But of course you are the ‘tolerant ” one.

                • Ian Ross (Scotland)

                  Mary. I have lived on this earth for 74 years and you are the first person in my long experience to say that I lied. I know I am not a liar. And neither is Terry Mortensen. I know I did not lie in my conversation with you and I know you did not lie in your conversation with me.I said if your reasoning about a flat earth was correct and I could be deemed a flat-earther that would make a famous great scientist a flat earther as well. I believe what he believed – creation by an infinite God in 6 x 24 hour days. I did call secularism a religion, not secular science. Secular science is something altogether different which we learn from every day, but it is not a religion. As I said elsewhere on this blog, I don’t want creation taught in schools because it would be left largely to people who don’t believe it. Mortensen (the man this blog is all about), and everyone else at AiG, as far as I can make out, do not want it taught in schools either for similar reasons. According to the British Secular Society website, their aim in life is to promote their religion to children in schools, to the exclusion of all faith-based curricula. I agree that teaching science is not synonomous with teaching atheism. The Bible should never be taken as a science book. It is basically a history book about God’s dealings with men. It also contains beautiful wholesome poetry. Above all it traces out God’s dealings with mankind, including the provision of eternal salvation through simple faith in the work of his son, Jesus Christ – by whom also He made the worlds. He will be our ultimate Judge.
                  If anything I have said has been taken as derogatory, or as an accusation, or a misrepresentation I do apologise with all my heart. This was my first attempt at blogging and following this experience, I am certain it will be my last. I trust we part as friends.
                  Sincerely yours
                  Ian

          • Mary

            I don’t know if this wil post but I will try again. I NEVER SAID THAT I THOUGHT THAT NEWTON WAS A FLAT-EARTHER. I said that the BIBLE says the earth is flat! I have no idea why you brought Newton into the conversation at all, but you seem to assume somehow that since the bible says the earth is flat that I meant that Newton believed that also!

            You should try reading more carefully next time.

      • Ian Ross (Scotland)

        The debate on this blog is about a professor attempting to deny a creation scientist the opportunity to talk for an hour about creation. No person who believes in creation, whether a scientist or not, takes the Bible to be a science book as you claim. If your erroneous statements are anything to go by, the reason why students need to hear what the man has to say is that they will have a clearer picture on what belief in creation is all about. The Bible is a history book not a scientific text book. In it we read that in the Creator (Christ) are all the treasures of knowledge (science) and wisdom hidden. When we get to know him we discover what real knowledge (science) is. Creation scientists confirm daily that what the Bible says in its history is reliable and accurate. The inerrancy of Scripture does not depend on scholars or scientists to defend it. It defends itself in the vibrant spiritual life of millions who are trusting Christ – the Lord of Life and the King of Glory – for time and eternity.

        The scientist who invented the modern MRI scanner believes to this day, and the late Dr AT Doodson of England, the proponent of modern-day tide tables believed during his lifetime, that the universe was created by almighty God in 6 x 24 hour days and that man was created by God in the image of God. Under different circumstances a machine similar to the MRI scanner and similar tide tables could have been invented by scientists who believe(d) in molecules to man evolution and that we are merely descended from lower animals and consist of flesh and bone and electrical impulses. That’s what I meant by my earlier statement. Basic science is common to both but each has different world-view perspectives but the end product could have been the same or similar.
        You evade the point about Newton. You called him a flat-earther despite his study of spherical planets by use of his own planetarium!
        If by ‘evolutionary science’ you mean mutations occurring within animal kinds, then creation scientists would agree that this gives rise to the benefits you mention. At creation, God built in to every living creature information capable of giving rise to the wide variety we see today. Generation to generation observes a loss or transfer of information, but never a gain. However if you mean man to molecules evolution and putative evolution across animal kinds that is different. You cannot use something which defies the laws of biology to drive modern technological advances. There is no known biological process whereby life can come from non-life. That is why creation is a better alternative belief system by far. Finally you do not know very much about creation if your last paragraph is the extent of your knowledge of the subject. The study of creation science contradicts the evolutionary model at every turn in all of the disciplines you mention. If someone told you that the snowman in your garden wasn’t build by anyone but got there by evolutionary random chance by a collection of snow flakes. It seems that you would believe them. Accordingly who is peddling the fiction? Not those who believe in creation.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          re:

          Generation to generation observes a loss or transfer of information, but never a gain.

          -=-=-=-=-

          nonsense.

          syncytin is a co-opted viral protein.

          see gene duplication in the blood clotting proteins

          or a secretory system as the basis for flagellum.

          both examples from Behe’s _darwin’s black box_ which have gotten lots of scientific interest as a result.

          you repeat AiG’s false nonsense about “no new information” long after this has been completely rebutted by the scientific community..

          an excellent book on the hox gene duplication and body plans is _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_
          by Sean B. Carroll

          perhaps some actual knowledge about evolutionary biology would help your understanding of what you oppose. you seem to know little more than YECist talking/bullet points.

          • Ian Ross (Scotland)

            That many eh? I supose the exception establishes the rule. Are these enough though to make dinosaurs into birds, fish into land animals, apes into humans and pond scum into persons? I thnk not. You seem to be the evolutionary biologist. So how many such transactions would it take of increased genetic information to bring about the transformation from inert material to all we see living today? A few hundred – a few thousand – a few million – a few or a magnitude of trillions? I believe the capability just isn’t there.
            No problem to the eternal God, though. He brought all things into being by the word of his power and he upholds all things by the word of his power and will keep our earth safe until all of his revealed purposes are fulfilled – even till the final hour when he will wrap up our planet like a garment by his spoken word, and it will be sent back to where it came from – nothing.
            As I explained to Mary, rmwilliamsjr, this is my first attempt at blogging, and having experienced something akin to what she experienced when she wandered on to a Creation site, I am certain this will be my last. Should I have caused offence to you in any way, I do apologise most sincerely. I wish you every blessing in the future. Ian Ross

            • rmwilliamsjr

              aig’s mantra is “no new information”

              it is false. there are lots of good examples from the nylon bug, to today’s announcement of the HeLa cells sequencing and lot of duplication going on there. my favorite is syncytin, there are several herv-w that are interesting as medical conditions. everyone has their favored examples. but it all boils down to “no new information” is a downright lie.

            • rmwilliamsjr

              re:

              That many eh? I supose the exception establishes the rule.

              -=-=-=-=-
              it only takes one good piece of appropriate data to disprove a hypothesis. there are lots of example of genetic duplication, polyploidy is rather common in plant speciation. syncytin itself makes “no new information” false.

              i do genealogy, ftdna tests for STR’s in y and mitochondrial dna. it’s akin to genetic copying stuttering. they count the number of duplications, from a suite of these markers you can build a family tree, radically disproving “no new information” with something in the human genome, in recent time (less than 10 generations) and useful information added to boot! maybe i’ll use this with syncytin in the future….

  • Ian Ross (Scotland)

    rm williams jr is biased and cynical and his world-view exposed. These are personal attacks which should have no place in reasoned debate.

    • rmwilliamsjr

      your evidence that i am biased or cynical?

      what did i say for you to write this?

      where did i even address a posting to you?

      what do you know about my world view, where do you learn that from what i have written?

      it’s all about evidence, how do you know what you claim? what reasons do you have to believe the things you do?

      • Ian Ross (Scotland)

        I do apologise to you rm williams jr for having commented uninvited on what you had to say. I think the web pages you commended and your massive adverse reaction confirm I was correct in my comment.

  • bonesiii

    I would really like to know why you say AiG opposes what the Bible says. At least give a few examples? AiG is all about standing up for what the Bible says — that’s why compromisers don’t like them.

    As for choosing between the conclusions of science and Christ, science does not have only one conclusion on any given issue.

    Scientists reach conclusions, sometimes sound, sometimes tentative, sometimes even invalid and mistake, and different scientists often disagree. This is a major part of how science moves forward towards learning more truth about God’s creation. Biblical scientists have conclusions too, which we can accept, especially since in my experience they are usually much more sound than others.

    And AiG has said countless times that if someone disagrees on origins, but legitimately has faith in Jesus, they are saved. Why must so many compromisers insist on using that straw-man attack? It only convinces me all the more that you have no sound argument so must resort to such “cheats”.

    • rmwilliamsjr

      re:

      AiG is all about standing up for what the Bible says — that’s why compromisers don’t like them.

      As for choosing between the conclusions of science and Christ, science does not have only one conclusion on any given issue.

      -=-=-=-=-
      AiG stands for a specific interpretation, and a specific set of hermeneutic principles concerning the Scriptures. the basic problem is that they deny the value of using God’s creation to understand the Bible and to modify their error filled interpretation of it.

      biological science has one conclusion concerning an historical adam who was a recent (<10kya) progenitor of all humanity. it is false.

      likewise geology has 1 conclusion regarding a recent worldwide flood, it did not happen.

      likewise linguistics speaks with one voice that a recent single language diverging into many at the tower of babel did not happen. you can look at some of the new data about click languages aligning with genetics over the last 100k years to see these things.

      science on issues like this really does speak with one voice. Christianity has 30,000 denominations that each seem to believe they are right, according to my latest reading.

      • bonesiii

        “AiG stands for a specific interpretation, and a specific set of
        hermeneutic principles concerning the Scriptures. the basic problem is
        that they deny the value of using God’s creation to understand the Bible
        and to modify their error filled interpretation of it.”
        They agree with using God’s creation (properly) to help understand the Bible. This is a false accusation. What you probably really mean is using certain -people’s claims- or interpretations of the evidence. Problem with that is that it’s been clearly shown these interpretations are false, and were chosen for emotional, biased reasons, not from objective truthseeking.

        In other words, how could you know that their interpretation is erroneous? You must appeal to the claims of fallible humans. But we think that those evolutionists are the ones who are in error, and AiG and other mainstream creationist organizations have shown soundly why, time and time again.

        The interpretation they stand for is not just any random interpretation but the one best supported by the science of language. They support what the words actually mean, in other words. Those principles are the same rules of hermeneutics that all responsible scholars of any text in any language use to honestly hear what the author was saying, rather than trying to impose their own bias onto the text.

        The conclusions you’re talking about have not been reached by sound science. Rather, they are “tentative opinions” formed PRIOR to doing complete and honest research. Often they are taken to a dogmatic extreme. It’s fine to be aware of those possibilities and to be open-minded to them as we do our homework on the issues, but they are not sound scientific conclusions. They’re merely opinions, and biblical creationists can in most cases show why they are wrong.

        And by the way, people have been forming anti-biblical opinions in science throughout the ages and after the full facts come in, the biblical position always eventually becomes so undeniable even its staunchest enemies are forced to give ground to it. I see this trend itself as “scientific” because it has been repeated so often and so reliably. At this point, faith that eventually science will vindicate the Bible entirely is very justified. (Some examples — expanding universe, universe with a beginning, temporal relativity, tectonic activity, spheroid earth, countless archeological finds, advanced design of life, etc.)

        In geology especially scientists are already moving rapidly towards the global Flood position. It used to be taught that fossils formed by slow and gradual deposition and large features like canyons were formed by slow eroding rivers only, but recently scientists have been forced to admit that catastrophism is necessary for fossilization (or else the remains rot), and that there is much evidence of huge-scale water erosion.

        Similar finds are happening in all the sciences, but the mainstream media tends to stifle news of these things. I always recommend spending at least a year reading all the daily articles on answersingenesis.org and creation.com, and following any links in those articles that interest you. This is the best way IMO to get better informed on biblical creation, and avoid errors like those you made. Perhaps someone who does this might possibly still not believe as we believe, but at least you’d be better informed. ^_^ (And I’ve never heard from anyone who did hear them out in-depth like that who was -not- convinced.)

        • rmwilliamsjr

          NOT EVEN WRONG.

          • arcseconds

            lol. I didn’t know you were a Pauli fan, rmwilliamsjr :]

        • Andrew L

          bonesiii, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          re:

          But we think that those evolutionists are the ones who are in error, and AiG and other mainstream creationist organizations have shown soundly why, time and time again.

          -=-=–=

          just 1 specific example here please.
          where evolutionary science was found in error by AiG.

        • Mary

          Spheriod earth? Are you kidding me? The bible says that the earth is flat. The creationists rewrite the bible and history to make themselves sound like it was THEIR idea. Don’t you know that people were EXECUTED by the church in the past for holding such views?

          • Andrew L

            I’m confused. are there 2 people using the name bonesiii?

            • Mary

              Sorry. I am having trouble with this website displaying my posts to me. I keep repeating myself because I think it hasn’t been posted. Something in my computer seems to be allergic to Discuss! Anyone else have this problem?

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

          What you wrote here is simply not true. I was a young earth creationist. It was studying the Bible, as well as learning more about the false scientific claims of young earth creationism, that changed my mind. With a few exceptions, the only people who can be persuaded that young earth creationists respect the Bible are people who have never studied it in a serious manner, learning the original languages and the original context of the writings.

        • arcseconds

          I would like more specifics on these two:

          -expanding universe
          and
          - tectonic activity

          Could you please give the Bible verses. As you’re so into the ‘plain meaning’ of the text, I’m going to be a bit disappointed if it’s anything much different from:

          - ‘the universe was created in such a way that space itself expands throughout its life, but also with forces that hold matter locally together so this expansion isn’t obvious unless you look at galaxies’.

          and

          - ‘the Earth has a solid crust floating on a sea of plastic magma, divided into several large plates, which slowly move about on the magma, so the continents which appear unchanging are actually slowly moving’

          Because, you know, we’re not to interpret ‘day’ as anything other than a literal 24-hour period, so this had better also not require any metaphorical understanding.

          Also, I’d like some evidence that people believed in plate tectonics and an expanding universe before science showed there was. Otherwise, I’m afraid what your example shows isn’t science confirming the Bible, but science determining the appropriate interpretation of the Bible, which is just what you say you’re against.

        • bonesiii

          Re: expanding universe — Some creationists disagree on this point, but there are many verses which say that God “stretched out” the heavens like a tent. For a long time secular scientists tried to argue that it was not expanding, seemingly to avoid “seeming like the Bible” (although to be fair, their motives are debatable, and I’m sure it varied). But fairly recently we learned that it is indeed expanding. This shows that the popular opinions of scientists can be wrong. Not that they necessarily will be, but what we need to realize is that the public wants answers from science, and so scientists have felt a pressure to give “most likely as far as I understand so far” types of opinions on all sorts of questions. This is good, but we should keep these opinions in context and not confuse them with the results of sound analysis and thorough research.

          Re: tectonics — In the account of the Flood, there’s a reference to the ‘fountains of the great deep breaking open’. This seems to indicate tectonic activity. But for a long time, scientists thought that earthquakes were caused not by tectonic action but by “subterranean fermentation” of explosive chemicals. When tectonics was proposed it got some support based on the Genesis verses, but it was harshly ridiculed at the time much as biblical creation now is. Yet, in the end it was vindicated.

          Now the Bible doesn’t always give us the answers clearly, and there’s plenty of room for debate on these things, just to be clear. Dogmatism on these points would be just as bad. But it’s striking to me that we’ve seen this pattern over and over in the history of science. The things that are -proven- right, when the Bible more clearly speaks on it, turn out to back it up.

          “a bit disappointed”
          I can relate to that. Many times I’ve felt disappointment that the Bible doesn’t just clearly say (as far as I find lol) the direct answer to what I personally was wondering. On the other hand, I realized that if it answered every single question so directly like that, it would be even way longer than it already is, which wouldn’t be very efficient.

          “we’re not to interpret ‘day’ as anything other than a literal 24-hour period, so this had better also not require any metaphorical understanding”
          Actually, the word “yom” translated “day” can have about the same range of meanings as its English equivalent. It can mean an era, for example, or just the daylight hours. AiG has said this many times. It’s the rules of grammar for this word and the context that determine its meaning in Genesis 1. When it is used with a number and/or with the phrase evening and morning, it means a twenty-four hour period (or more technically one Earth rotation with respect to a source of light). Genesis 1 also defined the meaning of the day on the first day as exactly that, and the context continues to refer to the second day, the third day, and so forth.

          “Also, I’d like some evidence that people believed in plate tectonics and an expanding universe before science showed there was.”
          That’s an interesting idea. I doubt they did, though. More likely that was a wording that God directly revealed to the writer of Genesis through inspiration by the Spirit.

          Notice, by the way, that you didn’t mention the other points which are even stronger than these two (well, most of them). And that is just a few examples.

          “the false scientific claims of young earth creationism”
          How do you know they are false? Many people make that claim, but I’ve never seen anyone soundly defend it. So far I’ve only seen the blanket statement, or various appeals to fallacies.

          Now, I understand why some want to compromise. The idea is that if someone is so steeped in evolution, rather than challenging all their beliefs, just try to get them to accept the most important part, salvation, etc. Maybe some people have the right personality to come to Christ that way. So I’m not opposed to those who disagree with creationists on that point also having the right to the proverbial podium. But for most of us, we see that without understanding creation and the Fall, Christ’s sacrifice makes no sense. We need to have that firm grounding before we can be convinced that Jesus really was the Son of God and really did pay for our sins. Otherwise it’s just pretending to believe, at least for people like me, and that just isn’t good enough for me. To be saved, we have to actually believe, and that requires strong knowledge (at least for me).

          So ultimately, people should be free to hear out multiple sides. Rather than censoring AiG or opposing people going to hear them out, those who disagree should present their own reasoning and people will decide for themselves which makes more sense. Most creationists are comfortable with such openness precisely because we -can- show why we are right soundly, and why opposing views are illogical and often innaccurate. Now, it takes a long time, though, so it’s not necessarily easy either. But that’s understandable; origins and the larger question that it leads to of whether God exists and whether Jesus is trustworthy encompass everything. And given the stakes, our eternal, perfectly satisfying life through Jesus, or anything else, it’s worth spending the time on it.

          Ultimately it’s about learning more about the truth of this world, so openness is always for the better. It also prevents people becoming antagonistic, which the Bible also commands us to try to avoid. ^_^

          At least, that’s how I see it. :)

          “The bible says that the earth is flat.”
          Really? Where? And was this in a poetic section or a historical narrative section, etc.? There’s much more to this, of course, but after looking through all the arguments that seems to be the most reasonable. It was a desire to compromise with popular myths that led some early believers to try to read flat earthism into the Bible. Also, it’s been shown that even the idea that the people of the time thought it was flat is largely erroneous, at least by the time of the NT.

          “example… where evolutionary science was found in error”
          Radiocarbon dating is a good one. It’s often claimed that it supports millions of years, but actually, it cannot last that long, yet has been consistently found, even after checking against contamination, in layers thought to be many millions of years too old for it. Usually it wasn’t tested for because evolutionists just assumed it couldn’t be there. The examples really could go on and on; just read the daily articles for a year or more and you’ll learn many.

          • arcseconds

            (EDIT: deleted first paragraph as it belonged to a different post)

            I think you need to be a lot more specific with your examples. I asked for verse references, and you say “many verses”. Which verses? where?

            As for ‘stretched out the heavens like a tent’ assuming you’re right and it does say that and that’s an appropriate translation and so forth, all of which are pretty questionable given what you’ve said so far, you really have to work really hard to interpret that as an expanding universe.

            For a start, it’s in past tense. If was really telling us about an expanding universe, it should say “and God is stretching the heavens out like a tent to this day”. At most, this tells us that the universe expanded at some point, and then stopped. But even that’s a bit of a stretch, if you’ll pardon the pun.

            Secondly, I’ve never seen an elastic tent. And I’ve seen some pretty high-tech tents. Have you ever seen one?

            Moreover, did the Hebrews have elastic tents? I imagine not.

            A much more plausible interpretation is that the picture here is of God getting the heavens and unfolding them over a frame, like you would do with a tent, possibly to the extent of being taut, which is often what we mean when we say ‘stretched’. And this was done once, again like you would with a tent.

            But, y’know, maybe this is waiting until a future time when we have tents made out of some elastic substance before we can know its true meaning.

            As for ‘fountains of the great deep breaking open’ — how on earth do you get plate techtonics out of that? That’s completely opaque to me.

            Fortunately, I know where the flood account is, so i’ll do your job for you:

            11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

            (Genesis 7:11-12)

            The clear meaning of this text is that the ‘great deep’ is where some of the water of the flood comes from. This is like nothing modern geology speaks of, though Thomas Burnet following Descartes, did take this to be giving information about the structure of the Earth, and took it to mean there was a huge ocean of water just under the crust.

            It’s a bit ironic that you should mention a text that actually was used to inform a geological theory which has long since been rejected.

            Now, after you tell me how something referring to fountains that provide water for a world-wide flood can be read as being about plate techtonics, you’d better explain to me how your interpretations here are ‘best informed by the science of the language’ and aren’t just you imposing your own modern biases on the text.

            Namely, that the Bible had better be compatible with modern science (except when you don’t want it to be).

            Because that’s sure what it looks like to me.

          • arcseconds

            Oh, you want my opinion on your other examples. Well, i wasn’t avoiding them because they’re stronger cases, let me assure you.

            The only one that actually sounds right to me is that the Bible proposes a creation, rather than a cosmos that has always existed.

            OK. But the Bible is scarcely unique in this regard. So does virtually every other creation mythology. There are a precious handful that do not (although it so happens that the philosophy around in the time of early christinity (neoplatonism) did in fact hold that the cosmos is eternal).

            So what are we to conclude from this? Do all mythologies tell us about scientific truth? Or is it just coincidence that most mythologies give a creation account? If so, what makes you think the Bible is well-informed on this matter but other mythologies just happen to get it right?

            I think it’s actually pretty difficult to articulate an eternal cosmos. It doesn’t seem as narratively satisfying, for a start, and it kind of needs a concept of infinity to be workable. I would have been more impressed had the Bible articulated that the cosmos was eternal, because that would set it apart from other accounts, and it would seem more sophisticated.

            The other issue here is that it’s not entirely clear that science has completely settled on a cosmos that has a beginning. Stephen Hawking discusses an eternal universe existing between Big Bangs and Gnab Gibs in A Brief History of Time, and there’s been some discussion of universes emerging out of ‘quantum foam’, which implies the whole cosmos is actually eternal in some sense.

            As for the rest of them, you’ll have to show me more evidence. As far as I know, most of the statements in the Bible indicate an understanding of a flat, motionless earth — which has foundations, ‘ends’, and sometimes corners. I think some versus mention ‘the circle of the Earth’, which you might like to interpret as ‘sphere’, but if it meant sphere, why doesn’t it say sphere?

            I’m completely befuddled by the relativity claim. I have no idea to what you’re referring by that.

            As far as the archaeology goes, again, that’s pretty vague. What examples are you thinking of, exactly?

            As far as I know, no-one thinks the Bible is a complete lie from beginning to end. Even Jesus mythicists think Herod existed. So it wouldn’t surprise me if some of what it says did pan out in archaelogy. But my understanding that some of the more dramatic claims don’t really pan out. There’s little evidence that Egypt underwent anything like what’s described in Exodus, for example.

            And the ‘advance design of life’ — well, we discuss this with Kaz an awful lot. In the last 200 years, the scientific direction has been completely the reverse of what you suggest. In 1800, most scientists probably did think God designed species, but there were already evolutionists like Lamarck, and Kant, and even Linneaus took some tentative steps in that direction. Since then, it’s got to the point where only a tiny handful of scientists think design is a good theory for what we see, and most of them aren’t biologists. This is a 200-year gradual rejection of design, not a move towards it!

            At any rate, creatures certainly haven’t been completely designed by a competent designer. There are way too many design flaws. Our eyes have the nerve layer on the inside of the receptive layer, resulting in the optic nerve having to pass through the receptive layer to get out of the eye, resulting in a blind spot. No camera designer would ever do this!

            (Octopuses have it the right way around, though. Maybe we’re just mistaken in being the pinnacle of creation. Could God be a cephalopod?)

            Another example: giving birth through the pelvic girdle. What’s with that? When you’ve got a whole abdomen free of bones along the entire ventral surface, why push babies out through this narrow channel in the pelvis? It’s like a human architect somehow forgetting to put hanger doors on an aircraft hanger, forcing the pilots to drive Boeing 767s out through the lobby.

            These are just two examples. There are plenty of others.

            If you insist on believing in design at all, Plato’s got a far better account: the Creator delegated the job of designing mortal bodies to lesser gods, who clearly weren’t all that good at it, which explains why everything’s a bit screwed up down here.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            re:

            Radiocarbon dating is a good one. It’s often claimed that it supports millions of years, but actually, it cannot last that long, yet has been consistently found, even after checking against contamination, in layers thought to be many millions of years too old for it.

            -=-=-=-
            no knowledgeable scientist has ever claimed millions of years for c14 dating. it is useful up to 40-60Kya.

        • Mary

          “At this point, faith that eventually science will vindicate the Bible entirely is very justified. (Some examples — expanding universe, universe with a beginning, temporal relativity, tectonic activity, spheroid earth, countless archeological finds, advanced design of life, etc.)”
          Almost all of your examples come from secular science, not creationism. Expanding universe, universe with a beginning? Religion has fought long and hard AGAINST the idea of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. They won’t even acknowledge the PROOF of it as shown in W-MAP by NASA!
          Where does the Bible talk about temporal relativity? I am sure that Einstein would have been surprised to find it there!
          Spheriod earth? The bible says it is flat.
          Where in the bible does it posit tectonic plates?
          Archeological finds? The evidence for that is mixed. Most finds contradict the bible.
          Advanced design for life? Not if you look at the evidence!
          Why are you co-opting secular science discoveries and then saying that they support the Bible? In fact you make it sound like the creationists came up with these discoveries themselves!
          All I can do is shake my head in disbelief at the illogic of your statements.

        • Mary

          “At this point, faith that eventually science will vindicate the Bible entirely is very justified. (Some examples — expanding universe, universe with a beginning, temporal relativity, tectonic activity, spheroid earth, countless archeological finds, advanced design of life, etc.)”

          I am puzzled as to why you seem to think these secular scientific discoveries support the biblical view at all

          Expanding universe, universe with a beginning? Religion has fought hard and long AGAINST the evidence of the Big Bang. They won’t even believe the evidence from NASA as displayed in the WMAP photos!

          Where is temporal relativity mentioned in the bible? I think Einstein would have been surprised to find it there!

          Where does the bible posit the existance of techtonic plates?

          Spheriod earth? The bible says it is flat!

          Archeological sites? The evidence is mixed. Most sites contradict the bible.

          Advanced designs for life? Not if you look at the evidence. That has been a corner-stone argument of creationists for a hundred years or so and it has been thoroughly refuted.

          Why do you co-opt secular discoveries, twist them around to support your own views, and then imply that these were creationist discoveries and take all the credit for them!

          This is exactly WHY no one takes creationists seriously. If they complain about being discriminated against it is their own fault.

          In light of all this I am very skeptical of your flood claim but I am curious as to what other stuff the creationists have misrepresented so I’ll do some research.

          • Mary

            One more thing: Yes it can be infered that the Big Bang and the expanding universe could be the result of God’s intervention, but it is not a biblical view. Here is why:

            The evidence from NASA of the cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang shows a VERY ANCIENT universe. When we look in space we are also looking back in time as well. This does not fit with YEC views that the universe and the earth were created AT THE SAME TIME and recently as well.

            A more basic problem is that the biblical description of the universe bears no resemblance at all to what we know about the universe even from our own eyes.. The biblical universe was the flat earth with a solid dome over it. In it the stars, the moon and the sun were suspended and rotated around the earth. Heaven was also a physical place in the sky, not in another dimension as we believe today. There you go: THAT WAS THE UNIVERSE.

            The idea of an expanding universe would have been very puzzling to the biblical writers. Why would their dome expand? Seriously the story of the Tower of Babel shows that the universe and heaven were accessable by building a tall tower. If they could only get high enough they would literally be able to touch the sky.

            There is no evidence that they understood the immense size of the universe, or the immense distances involved. They did not know that the starlight they saw took thousands if not millions of years to reach them.

            It was only in the twentieth century that we discovered that there was more than one galaxy and that the universe was expanding.

            I’m sorry, the YEC’s have you totally brainwashed. Astronomy can in no way, shape, or form be used to support the biblical account.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          i hear things like “the Bible teaches a spherical earth” and the “writers knew about plate tectonics” when i overhear conversations after church. it amazes me that people believe such nonsense. it would be easier to show that dr seuss taught plate tectonics because yertle burped than to push it into the babylonian cosmology of the Hebrew Scriptures.

          there are no scientific easter eggs in Scripture, waiting for just the right historical moment to pop out and vindicate the truth of the Bible, no batteries in the ark, no space travel in chariots. in fact, very simple things like telling people to wash their hands, that it is morally wrong to own people, that germs cause disease, these things that would have saved untold suffering, yet God chose not to share them. there is nothing in the Bible’s physical description of the world that was not the common currency of the day. looking for modern science there is a fool’s errand, akin to a left handed monkey wrench, a joke to be played on the ignorant.

          the fact that it is done shows just how scientific, just how historically minded our culture is. we simply can not believe that the ancients thought slavery was the God ordinated necessary way to organize society. we can not believe that they thought the world was flat and the dome overhead was a solid with the stars hanging in it. it is a testimony to the power of our culture that we imagine the ancient’s conceived of a world pretty much like ours. so we find things like plate tectonics in Scripture to show that they were not ignorant of our common ideas.

          it’s wrong headed, the ancient Hebrews were people of their time. they shared the flat earth, nearby stars, sun and moon as travelers in the sky that all eyeball observers intuitively felt was an adequate and literal description of their cosmos. the key thought is if these things are being taught as binding on us or are being used to communicate something more than the nature of the physical world.

          must i believe in a hierarchical society, God on top, man then women then slaves in order to love God? must i believe in a historical adam, a universal flood, a language origin in babel, in order to respect the authority of Scripture? this is AiG’s big failure, to confuse the media with the message, it confuses an ancient description of the physical world with the cosmos itself. it confuses the Scriptures usage of an ancient now-known-to-be-wrong common explanatory structure like a universal flood with a command from God to believe X, like “love one another”.

          AiG substitutes a belief in an ancient set of stories about the nature of this physical world as a proxy for belief in a transcendent spiritual dimension. they make faith tested by a commitment to an ancient cosmology because they can not see how God can use something we know is not just inadequate but a wrong description of the world to teach something that is true.

          to AiG, if the flood did not occur, universal, covering a whole spherical planet, then the Bible can not be trusted. that is what they mean by an issue of authority. we know a recent universal flood never occurred, there is no evidence in the geological record period. the writer of genesis believed it, just like he believed the world was flat and had no idea that the americas existed, he was wrong. God did not correct him, God did not give him any sort of idea that the earth was a very small planet rotating around a star in a galaxy with 100B other stars. nor did God tell him to wash his hands to avoid bacterial contamination.

          get over it AiG, the writers of the Scriptures used a description of the cosmos, used a history of the world that we now know is wrong. the issue for us is to understand the message without getting hung up on the media, forcing people to choose between modern geology or modern molecular biology and faith that God did it.

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

      They insist that the structure of parallelism in the first chapter of Genesis, which anthropomorphically depicts God as creating in a working week as humans do, must be making a point about chronology and duration. Yet they refuse to accept the dome mentioned in Genesis 1 as literal. And they pretend they are defending what the Bible says, when they are defending the assumptions the Biblical authors had in a manner that distracts from the actual points the Biblical authors made. They are working to undermine the Bible, and in making Christianity seem like a den of lying vipers they do harm to the Gospel.

      • bonesiii

        “Yet they refuse to accept the dome mentioned in Genesis 1 as literal.”
        Citation? I certainly don’t recall mention of a dome in Genesis 1.

        Exodus also confirms that the work week is based on the seven literal days of creation, by the way.

        If they are doing so much harm to the Gospel, then why is it that compromise views tend to drive people away from Christ, while many like myself say we came to Jesus with the help of AiG, showing us why those who claimed the Bible was scientifically wrong were mistaken? There may be a few who went the other way, but overall the pattern is the opposite of what you say. See Already Gone.

        And what do you mean about lying? How so?

        Ultimately, the currently popular compromise is the same as countless other times throughout history that some believers have tried to marry God’s Word with the popular worldly mythology of their day. Is it not? The Bible itself commands us many times to avoid falling into that trap — assuming that because a view is popular among outsiders it must be true, and trying to mix the two.

        We are to humbly learn from what God reveals to us, from his omniscient perspective. Otherwise, how could we know to trust the Bible on those “actual points” you’re talking about (I hope), like salvation? If it’s wrong, or some mystical riddle that we need some elite to translate for us, on any point, then I can’t trust it on anything. AiG shows why the Bible can be trusted entirely. :)

        Who are we to tell God which points he was actually making and which he wasn’t? Who are you to say that something God’s Word plainly says isn’t really important and therefore we can ignore or twist it? I say that if something is in what he told us, it must be important.

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

          Just read the Bible in the original languages. Or if you cannot, then stop limiting your reading to a translation that is customized for those who believe the Bible should be inerrant and interpreted literally and so smooths over or translates away the Biblical evidence that would challenge those assumptions.

          AiG doesn’t show why the Bible should be trusted entirely. It assumes that, in order to be able to claim that it is possible to avoid having to make difficult decisions and take responsibility for them. I understand why that spiritually immature and unbiblical path is appealing to many. But it is ultimately detrimental to the spiritual well-being of those who remain on it.

          • bonesiii

            That’s a fair point about the original languages. We do have a weakness being speakers of English or any other languages besides those the Bible was written in. However, I’ve read Genesis in many different modern English translations, so if “dome” was mentioned in Genesis 1, it’s a little odd that all those experts on the original languages missed it. Possible, but seems highly unlikely.

            I don’t know that I would say I believe the Bible “should be” inerrant, it’s more that I’ve been convinced it IS. Referring to the original autographs, specifically (as AiG teaches). There are some known errors in later copies and of course much is lost in translation.

            And AiG -has- shown many of us why the Bible is trustworthy. :) Maybe you have not gotten that same benefit out of their information, but it’s information you often can’t find in many other places and that some want to censor seemingly. So it’s definitely a valuable resource. Of course, they can be wrong on some points, and often have talked about “arguments that shouldn’t be used” and the like.

            I think I know what you mean about “assume”, and I’ve caught them using that word a few times (of course, I often catch myself using it when that’s not literally what I meant; it’s a common figure of speech), but AiG has taught that we should never assume, in the literal sense. They often point out that evolutionists are making faith-based “a priori” assumptions that they then use to dogmatically reinterpret the evidence. Yet, they admit that of course there is faith involved in Christianity too (hence it being called a faith). So in a sense, both sides do something the same, in going beyond the evidence to choose what to believe.

            The big reason they point this out, as I understand it, is that many people have a false idea that evolutionists aren’t using faith but have simply been forced by the evidence and logic to make those conclusions. But they demonstrably haven’t (and many admit this).

            Also, I have seen much evidence of compromise views apparently being spiritually detrimental, actually. Often those who ignore the “trivial” parts of the Bible like Genesis also seem to ignore its teachings about how to behave with others, and now we see this compromising even on Jesus himself being inerrant, etc. Compromise has seemed to be a “slippery slope” into unbelief, much like the compromise depicted in biblical times and condemned (often quite harshly!) by God.

            • Mary

              Actually it is my impression (and I am not talking about you specifically) that many of those people who claim that the bible is inerrant are the ones who are likely to be hateful and not follow Jesus message of love. I am talking mainly about the conservative religious right, who want to bash everyone over the head with the bible and force us into a virtual theocracy. To claim that the bible is inerrant is their way of legitimizing their obnoxious behavior.

              However, that is not the main reason that I reject an inerrant bible. i HAVE STUDIED IT. It does not agree with science, and it doesn’t even AGREE WITH ITSELF on theological matters! This is why there are so many different denonimations because the bible is a mishmash of different points of view written by different authors over thousands of years. There is no harmony between the OT and the NT and not even between the gospels! The gospels don’t even agree on what day Jesus died which is rather important because in one version you have the passover meal which turned into the last supper, but in another version Jesus was crucified BEFORE THE PASSOVER MEAL.
              Your last statement is perhaps the most honest that any YEC can come up with : You are afraid of going to hell. Why not just say that and dispense with all the rationalizations? Just say: I choose to believe that the bible is inerrant not because there is evidence for that but because I afraid of pissing off God.
              There now. Wasn’t that easy?

              • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

                Mary,

                You are very right. The most vicious, nasty people who comment on my blog are those who hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. The worst are those who hold to the inerrancy of the King James Bible.

                Evidently their inerrant Bible doesn’t have the verses dealing with love, kindness, decency, etc. Since I was one one of them and I am now an atheist, they must figure I no longer deserve respect.

                Bruce Gerencser

                • Mary

                  I wandered on to one of those conservative Christian blogs and I made the mistake of commenting. All I did was argue for the passages of the NT extolling love and mercy. Oh yeah, and I critisized the Republican party. The next thing I knew I was being attacked for being a secret muslim out to overthrow America! I was literally harassed every time I said anything. I complained to the webmaster and I was told that I had to be more “tolerant” of other points of view.
                  So yeah, I get what you are saying. ;-)

        • Mary

          I believe you were the one who brought up the verse about God stretching the heavens over the earth like a tent? Doesn’t that sound like a type of dome? Which does this more closely resemble, a vast expanding universe of galaxies moving away from each other or a small enclosure where the stars, moon and the sun are suspended? The bible says that these are lights specifically created for the earth and were hung in the sky for our benefit at virtually THE SAME TIME. Please do not quibble about “days” because that is not my point. In fact insisting on literal days only makes the argument even worse! If the stars were created after the earth around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago then that means that we would have to wait another 90,000 years to even SEE our closest star! They wouldn’t have seen ANY STARS AT ALL.

          Even if you don’t study the ancient language as Dr. McGrath suggests, we can still get a good idea about how the ancients conceived of the universe.

          But the biggest problem I see with people claiming that the bible agrees with modern science is that the people who read the scriptures and have interpreted them for thousands of years PRIOR to modern scientific discoveries did not glean from the scriptures ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE to what you and other YEC’s say. Why do we not hear from the ancient Jewish scholars about the vast expanding universe that contains billions of galaxies and stars or even planets in our own solar system? Are you saying that they, who understood the original languages better than we do, could not interprete their own scriptures? In fact these interpretations stood firm until the invention of the telescope, so that means that the church scholars were wrong too!

          The problem is that we are a pretty ethnocentric bunch of people if we have to insist that our understanding of the universe fits with the what the ancients describe in the bilble.

      • Herro

        “They are working to undermine the Bible, and in making Christianity seem like a den of lying vipers they do harm to the Gospel.”

        This comment puzzles me. If they are unintentually “undermining the Bible” and “harming the Gospel”, isn’t that a good thing? Surely the bible is one of the most over-rated books in our times, so it’s good to undermine the false high view people have of it.

        And when it comes to “the Gospel”, do you even believe in “the Gospel”? So who cares if they harm it?

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

          I am sorry to hear that you feel that way about the Bible. For me, as a Christian, and as someone who teaches about the Bible both professionally at university and in Sunday school at church, these things matter to me. When my faith is associated with people who claim that all mainstream scientists are incompetent or part of conspiracy to cover up the truth, and that the Bible can be expected to match up with the findings of modern science or otherwise the science is wrong, it has a doubly harmful effect. Those who are not Christians but know something about science are unlikely to take Christianity seriously. And those who have been raised in this particular sort of Christianity, if they discover they were lied to, are likely to lose their faith entirely and not only the young-earth creationist and other inerrantist nonsense that they were taught was part of the definition of Christianity.

          • Herro

            James, as a specialist in the bible, doesn’t it bother you that people overrate it hugely? It’s widely believed that it’s inerrant, that the creater of the universe is its editor (or even author!) and so on. While the same public seems oblivious (or ignores) the negative aspects of these books: positive outlook on genocidal warfares, failed predictions of the end of the world, and so on. Why do you feel sorry for my view instead of agreeing with me? I’m basically saying that people should have a realistic view of the bible!

            “Those who are not Christians but know something about science are unlikely to take Christianity seriously”

            Is that a bad thing? If I understand correctly you reject most of “the historic Christian faith”.

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

              I do indeed agree on having a realistic view of the Bible! I am perhaps used to those who call the Bible overrated being those who would not find the same sorts of details in Greek myths to mean that they cannot still be great literature. I think with these blog comment discussions I often forget whom I am talking to! :-)

              • Nick Gotts

                You’re not comparing like with like here. The Bible is a specific (although multiply authored, edited and translated) text, so should be compared to specific texts, such as Homer’s Iliad or Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. I admit that small parts of it, such as Ecclesiastes or the Song of Solomon can bear comparison with such texts, but you could junk most of it without losing anything of literary value.

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

                  No, the Bible is an anthology. It isn’t comparable to an individual literary work. Perhaps the Deuteronomistic History could be compared with one of the Greek epics.

                  • Nick Gotts

                    Reasonable point – but doesn’t change the fact that most of it is bilge, even from a literary POV. The “Deuteronomistic History” is a “theoretical construct” according to this source., and I certainly didn’t find the books concerned a thrilling read. Give me a well-crafted modern novel any day.

          • Nick Gotts

            While I sympathise with the tribulations you are undergoing at the hands of the invincibly ignorant creationists here, I have to say that creationism is not the reason I can’t take Christianity seriously: it’s that there is not the slightest evidence that any version of it is true, or that there is any kind of god; while the problem of evil is immensely strong evidence against a god that is both omnipotent and benevolent. I also agree with Herro that the bible is considerably over-rated even as a work of literature: most of it is tedious and repetitive, with paper-thin characters and multiple plot-holes.

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

              LOST, Fringe, and Doctor Who all feature plot holes. I still enjoyed them.

              • Nick Gotts

                I thought LOST was crap – gave up after two episodes – and the same of all the post-revival Dr Who I’ve seen (not much). I don’t know Fringe. Maybe I just have more exacting literary standards than you?

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

                  I was mostly being facetious, but few ancient works will stand up to the standards and tastes of modern audiences, and many modern works of TV and film can disappoint, particularly under the close analysis they can be given in an era of pausing and rewatching.

                  The works in the New Testament are not all of the same level of sophistication or artistry, but those that do have a fairly high level have it according to ancient standards, not modern ones.

                  What sorts of things do you like, whether TV or writing?

                  • arcseconds

                    Perhaps the Bible could most profitably be compared with The Prisoner.

                    A whole bunch of episodes which share the same setting and seem vaguely related to one another, but with continuity that’s dubious at best, considerable debate about even what order they’re best accessed, writing that’s uneven, and even though some thematic unity can be discerned each episode seems to have its own concerns and sometimes don’t even seem to belong in the same genre as each other.

                    Undeniably colourful, but often creepy and downright violent. It’s not at all clear what’s going on. Someone’s in charge, who generally prevails, but he’s not the protagonist. He always has the same name, but seems to be a different person following a different agenda in every episode.

                    The final episode is particularly hallucinogenic and violent, with unclear symbolism, and involves the destruction of the world we’ve come to know, and the liberation of the protagonist to another world (or is it?), and felt even by many of the work’s aficionados as being a grave disappointment.

                    The obscurity of the material gives arise to many conflicting interpretations, including a view that it’s really all just going on inside your head. Many people feel that the whole thing is complete nonsense from beginning to end.

                    But for all that strangely compelling, and worth some attention even just so you can get the cultural references :]

                    • Nick Gotts

                      I agree it’s central to the cultural history of large parts of the world, and for that matter to social and political history, although decreasingly so.

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

                      One of the chapters in the book I edited, Religion and Science Fiction, interacts between the Bible, Star Trek, and the Prisoner on the nature of good and evil.

                  • Nick Gotts

                    I watch very little TV these days, partly because (in the UK) the standard has declined considerably as the range of “choice” has expanded, partly because I spend too much time in front of a screen anyway. The last two serious dramas my wife and I watched were the second series of the Danish political drama Borgen (think West Wing without the sickly sentimentality), and an adaptation of Wiliam Boyd’s Restless. I admit I do watch some rubbish – we followed Desperate Housewives. Much of my reading is in history and science, but also a range of novels. I’ve recently read the first four of Trollope’s “Barchester Chronicles”, but mostly modern works: among my favourite authors are Gunter Grass (although not recently), Margaret Forster, Pat Barker, Jonathan Coe, David Mitchell, Ursula Le Guin, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood – I realise as I write these are mostly British, but I do read more widely, although I am, regrettably, only able to read in English – I tried L’Etranger in the original after reading a translation but found it beyond me. I prefer strong plot and character development to post-modern tricksiness (Laurence Sterne did that much better in Tristram Shandy). I also read some science fiction (I mentioned Le Guin already, but she bears comparison with any writer of “literary fiction”), and historical novels. When I finally got round to reading the Bible (KJV) systematically, I was genuinely surprised by its poor quality, as it’s customary even for atheists to praise it. I think that’s largely the result of hearing edited highlights being read out in childhood.

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

                      I suppose all this goes to show is that no literature, within the Bible or outside, is everyone’s cup of tea. All human literature is like that, isn’t it?

              • arcseconds

                You’re not helping your case here, McGrath! I’m not sure I have much sympathy with Gotts’s lit. crit. here, but by raising these shows in defence I’m wondering whether I should rethink that!

  • abombt1

    Please inform Butler that I would like to come do a conference on whether Galieo was right. Nuts will be provided.

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

      To be clear, this is not an official university event. It is an event organized by a campus ministry.

  • Andrew L

    JM, I see the presentation was today. Did you attend?

    • Andrew L

      My bad, I just realized it’s next month.

  • Tim

    Tweeted by Doug Wilson, “Spurgeon said that if evolutionists prayed properly, it would be: ‘Our Father, who art up a tree . . .’”

    Just a little levity, choir. :-)

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

      I don’t get your choir references. But the variation on the Lord’s Prayer is silly. Do young-earth creationists pray to dust? Seriously, do you not understand that you are making yourself look like an idiot and dragging my faith through the mud with your arrogant sense that you understand topics you do not? Thinking yourself wise, you have become foolish.

      • Tim

        Sorry about the choir reference, James. See Andrew’s recent comment.
        No, I don’t pray to dust.
        As far as dragging your faith through the mud, I am not even sure what your faith is other than in Evolution, for you have not even given simple responses to a few simple questions regarding your relationship with Jesus Christ. And frankly, as far as I can tell, everyone who reads these comments and replies agrees with you. No doubt, too, that I am considered an idiot by the “choir”. But, I would rather be a fool for Christ and His word, than lose my “job”.
        What is the beginning of wisdom, James?

        • Andrew L

          Just for clarity, Tim is reversing the meaning of choir from how I used it. I’m not protesting, merely clarifying.

          • Tim

            Not reversing, Andrew. I applied to me as one who would agree with AiG on many things obviously does not speak only to his own choir about the things that AiG and I agree upon. I think there has been only one gentleman who has commented here that he felt like I made a good case for the “days” of Genesis 1 being ordinary days. Of course, he thinks it is all hogwash, and that’s OK, but at least he was honest enough to see the strength of my position on the “days” of Genesis 1.

    • Nick Gotts

      But why is God such a crappy author? Ego I reckon – wouldn’t let the editor change a word.

      • Tim

        Welcome to the “choir”, Nick. Don’t get your point. Admittedly, I am not nearly so educated as the rest of the choir. Help me out here.

        • Nick Gotts

          That most of the Bible is tedious rubbish, full of absurdities and inconsistencies. If it’s God’s word, God is a crappy author. Often, these kinds of faults arise because an author’s ego gets too big, and xe won’t listen to their editor.

          • Tim

            Oh, OK Nick. That helps.

    • Andrew L

      Whether actual history or, more likely, post event rewrite, Huxley’s response to Wilberforce would seem right on point for Wilson and Spurgeon, ‘ I’m not be ashamed to have a monkey for an ancestor, but I would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure
      the truth’.

      In a post a couple of days ago, I wrote AIG preferred to speak to the choir rather than to debate. Possibly this is the origin of the ‘choir’ reference.

      • Tim

        Thanks for reminding me about the “choir”, Andrew.

        I knew the Spurgeon quote would not draw much of a chuckle here. :-/

        • Andrew L

          I thought it was funny.

        • arcseconds

          I thought it was funny, too, though I took me a while to get it.

          Initially I thought it meant that evolutionists were so simple and prosaic that the best they can do with attributing glory and transcendence to God is that He lives not in the Highest Heaven, but up a tree (or rather, they/we can’t conceive of a difference between Highest Heaven and up a tree: being up a tree is as awesome as it gets). I guess that also explains God’s omniscience — he can see everything we do, because he’s up in a tree!

          And I quite like that idea, too :]

  • Ben Masters

    The issue of origins is outside the realm of science. The only relevant sourcebook on the topic is the Bible.

    “… Christians who put their trust in science as the key to understanding the material universe should be embarrassed by the fact that science never discovers truth. One of the insuperable problems of science is the fallacy of induction; indeed, induction is an insuperable problem for all forms of empiricism. The problem is simply this: Induction, arguing from the particular to the general, is always a fallacy. No matter how many white swans one observes, one never has sufficient reason to say that all swans are white.”

    John Robbins; (1948-2008); An Introduction to Gordon Clark; Trinity Review; Jul-Aug 1993; p7

    • arcseconds

      If you think
      1) that science depends on simple induction, and
      2) that that form of reasoning is always fallacious,

      then it’s not just a problem for origins, it’s a problem for all science.

      Do you think science is always fallacious? If so, how is it that you’re putting trust in it enough to use a computer? They’re pretty science-heavy devices, you know.


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