Ham On Nye Pre-Debate Interview: Dr. Kenneth Miller

(As we approach the debate, Geek Goes Rogue will continue to post interviews and editorials. In this particular interview, a man we’ve long admired, Dr. Kenneth Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown University, author and committed Catholic. Along with Francis Collins, he’s been on the forefront of teaching that you can be Christian and accept evolution. Here, he gives a short interview on all the issues that the upcoming debate brings up and what it will mean to the debate . And, hey, he’s been on the Colbert Report so, he really can’t get much cooler.) 

Why do you think the issue of evolution versus creationism still stirs so much controversy? 

There are several reasons for this.  The first is that evolution concerns where we came from, and therefore who and what we are. It speaks to our self-image and how we should regard ourselves in the world of life. This is actually the principal subject of a book I am working on right now.

Religious opposition to evolution is related to this first reason, but it is particularly intense for many people. For those who fail to understand the allegorical nature of ancient scriptures, the modern understanding of earth’s natural history is a direct challenge to the authority of those scriptures. As a result, many religious communities have been brought up with the belief that to accept the scientific evidence for evolution is to put one’s immortal soul at risk. Given that fear, it has become all too easy for many religious groups to see science itself as their enemy and to reject reason itself.

Finally, the current political climate in America, unfortunately, has become one in which science itself has become politicized. This makes it all too easy for many people to see evolution as a liberal or left-wing political opinion, rather than the result of scientific inquiry.

Why do so many American oppose the teaching of evolution and how can that problem be solved? 

I’ve already addressed that in my first answer, but along those lines it’s worth noting that in the last two presidential election campaigns several candidates in the primary elections openly declared that they rejected evolution. While I have no doubt that they were sincere in their rejection, it’s cleo clear that they felt that for their political constituencies, this was a popular view that might help them win votes. That’s very disappointing.

I’m an eternal optimist, and I think that the solution to this is clear. Better science education, formal and informal, is the solution. The most recent Pew survey showed that acceptance of evolution is strongest among the young, which tells me that the efforts we have made in the past 20 years to improve science education in our schools are beginning to pay off.  We need more of that, and we need to develop a genuine passion for science as a culture.

How does your own Catholicism help your scientific pursuits? Do they help or hinder them?

Well, my faith certainly doesn’t give me a short cut to doing science, if that’s what you mean. Thomas Aquinas noted that faith and reason are both gifts from God, and science requires both. All scientists apply reason to drive their use of the scientific method, and likewise all scientists have a faith that the universe is rational and intelligible. I feel that my own religious faith justifies the pursuit of rational science, and gives me a reason to regard the scientific enterprise as one of our highest callings as a species.

Do you think the upcoming Ham/Nye debate will help or hurt the ongoing conversation about Science and Faith? 

I doubt it will help very much. Ken Ham has devoted millions of dollars at his Creation Museum into misleading his visitors as to the history of life on earth, and he is very practiced at this deception.  As much as I admire Bill Nye, unless he has carefully studied each of the misleading arguments that creationists like Ham put forward to argue against evolution, he’s going to be at a disadvantage. It’s important to remember as well that Ham has already won enormous publicity just from the scheduling of such a debate, and all he has to do is to look like his ideas might be a “reasonable” alternative to evolution to achieve his goals.  Mr. Nye’s professional training is in engineering and the physical sciences, not biology.  Nonetheless, I am sure that Ham will pretend that he is a spokesman for the state of the art in the biological sciences, and if Ham is able to baffle him with a handful of scientific-sounding arguments based in biology, Ham will be able to declare victory.

What can Christians who are convinced of God’s use of evolution do to help encourage positive conversation? 

I think the most basic point we can make is that science itself grew out of the western Christian tradition. The great scholars of our faith, including Augustine and Aquinas, were clear about the need for faith to be rational and to incorporate, not resist, the findings of what we call science today.  Christianity subverts its own heritage by placing itself in opposition to science, and we should regard scientific knowledge not as a threat, but as a gift that plays an important role in bringing us closer to God.

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out early next year along with a powerful new Young Adult Trilogy, Revolution of the Wolf and a moving middle grade series, Ghost Bear.

  • ashleyhr

    From the debate’s title, the onus is on Ham to defend his creationism as being scientifically viable. Nye should try to anticipate the likely arguments (based on Ham interviews and AiG website articles) so he can refute them – eg WHAT exactly is the ‘creation’ model and what if anything does it predict (and why does it start with conclusions not evidence). And if Ham declares that only ‘observational’ science is valid ie for past events we must believe Genesis instead of investigating anything, Nye should point out HOW we know from observations plus mathematics to do with the speed of light and known distances of certain objects in space that the universe (never mind meteorites or Earth rocks) CANNOT be a mere 6,000 years’ old. Nye must ensure Ham addresses the SUBJECT of the debate, not something different.
    In short, Nye has an opportunity to shred YEC-ism (even if many YECs will remain YECs).

    • barrydesborough

      Exactly!

    • Amonite

      The scientific method starts with hypotheses, NOT evidence (though it usually forms its hypotheses from observation). This is one area where evolution shoots itself in the foot (or rather, it acts like philosophy and not science).

      Evolution goes “We discovered new info X, or we found Y. Therefore, it must have evolved in this way” (see http://phys.org/news/2013-12-scientists-genetic-code.html for a recent example of this). That would be fine if they used that assumption to form a hypothesis and then test, but usually it ends up they simply assume the hypothesis true, and when later observations and tests due not support it, they reformulate the hypothesis and assume the new one true, etc (it has to frequently change its explanations because of this).

      Creationism says “Fossils exist across the globe, why? Did a worldwide flood lay them down? If so, we should expect to find them in pattern XYZ and should find fossils forming during local floods today”. (And make predictions such as fossils will form rapidly during floods, and observe modern day floods to see if the prediction is born out (which it is).
      Or “The earth exists. How old is it? If the earth is young, we should expect to find ABC” and continue on to predictions and tests, etc, such as “New instrumentation has allowed scientists to measure carbon-decay in fossils. Studies have found dinosaur bones/diamonds/fossils to be less than 50,000 years old. These studies support the hypothesis that we would find young ages in rocks if the earth was young” (though it disproves the hypothesis that fossils cannot be carbon-dated due to their age, which evolution held to back in the days when equipment was not sensitive enough to do so).

      Neither evolution or creation fall into classic science, rather they are both philosophical theories about the origin of man, of which science and observation can be used to support or contradict claims.

      And no, observations + math do not show an old universe. Quite the opposite. Many scientists -assume- the existence of dark matter/dark energy because without them the universe is capped at a very young age (10000 yars max for some star clusters in the milky way, a few million years max for some galaxies). It’s a logical fallacy, arguing the conclusion in circular reasoning from an assumed premise “We know the universe must be old, so this theoretical substance must exist for the universe to be old, so dark matter must exist, so it does exist, therefore the universe is old”. Furthermore, creationism (not ID) starts with the assumption that God created both light and the heavenly bodies (and that the light from heavenly bodies was made visible to earth at the time they were made, otherwise they would have been useless to mark time), so its hypotheses are a bit different than evolution. Interestingly enough, the universe -also- disproves the needed evolutionary hypothesis of a uniform cosmos. (The universe is showing itself to be far more like a fractal than a cookie). Many scientists ignore the Shapiro effect as well (the gravitational effect on light http://www.ourcivilisation.com/thacker/shapiro.htm). The level of blackbody radiation also disproves the big bang, but that’s a different topic.

      • ashleyhr

        Not really – real science is evidence-based, whereas creationism starts by assuming a conclusion. As your own words indeed show. Hypotheses are formed largely based on the available evidence. The hypotheses are then tested and may be rejected or may be confirmed – at least for the present.

        • Amonite

          Hypothesis are formed by observation, questioning, and research -> not by “evidence”. Evidence is support of a hypothesis, something that shows something else exists or is true. If evidence was the start of the scientific method, hypotheses wouldn’t even be needed.

          Both evolution and creation base their hypotheses not on observation (as they deal with the distant path, neither can) but on a set of guesses and assumptions. This does not mean that science cannot be used to test them. It does mean both have a basis in philosophy as they start with different assumptions about the nature of the universe.

          Once a hypothesis is made (often by noting two things that seem to be related), it can be tested.

          Evolution and creation both seek to do this by seeing if the world around us conforms to their guesses about what should be seen (geology, astronomy, animal life, etc) if the hypothesis is true.

          A hypothesis may be rejected, but it can never be “confirmed”, only supported. (When the hypothesis is well supported, it becomes a theory). An unsupported hypothesis -must- be revised and retested until it no longer is unsupported, NOT assumed true without testing. Furthermore, care must be taken in a hypothesis, as simply making a guess and finding a support (“If the moon is made of swiss cheese it will appear white through a telescope”) does not “prove” the initial guess! Alternate explanations must be ruled out, interfering factors accounted for, etc, before it becomes a viable theory.

          Problems comes in when an unsupported hypothesis is used as a support, or an untested explanation assumed true, or a hypothesis assumed true when the testing was not thorough, or simply being able to make a hypothesis mixed up with having a consistent theory. Evolution has, through the years, discarded hypothesis when unsupported and found new explanations -> yet it has consistently assumed the new explanations true before finding strong support. It compounds the error by demanding that children and future scientists believe in it, on the hopes that it will “someday” be found supported, creating a circular system whereby the majority of scientists -must- assume the theory true to even become scientists (let alone be published), introducing a horrible bias and lack of ethics into the scientific community. Findings that are against what they expect are often ignored, swept under the rug, or explained away (without -testing- the explanation for why the contradictory results to not matter).

          • ashleyhr

            Scientists observe EVIDENCE. Ken Ham does his best to IGNORE evidence.

          • Amonite

            They observe what they see, and make predictions about future happenings based on current theories.

            As evidence is facts/information that show something true or valid, it cannot be used BEFORE a hypothesis is made without circular reasoning. The results of the test is the “evidence”, it shows whether the hypothesis is supported or invalid (assuming it was a relevant and comprehensive test).

            To use a previous example – I can notice the moon appears white, but I cannot use that as “evidence” that it is made of swiss cheese. The only evidence from personal observation is that the moon exists and that the apparent color when viewed from earth is white (something both evolutionists and creationists would agree on). Likewise, the “evidence” when finding a fossil is: the fossil exists, the fossil is of creature X, the fossil is in stone Y, the fossil was found location Z, and other such material facts. Everything else (how old the fossil is, how old the surrounding rock is, assumptions about how the fossil got there, etc) must be tested. [And care must be taken that the prediction is something testable, and that assumptions are not made with the findings!]

            Hypotheses are often based off other supported hypotheses and theories, or known facts, or general principles – that’s the closest one can get to “evidence” at the beginning of a study.

          • ashleyhr

            I don’t have time to study your posts in depth, but young Earth creationists do NOT start with evidence or observations, they start with SCRIPTURE. That is not a scientific approach. But they falsely claim that it is.

          • Amonite

            Creationists run observations through scripture as one of the things they do to form questions and hypothesis, the same way evolutionists run observations through assumptions about a materialistic universe & assumptions about uniformity, etc. This is why a creationist and an evolutionist may see the same fossil and decide on very different hypotheses as to what they think is the “why”. That is why I said that both have philosophies underlying them. The tests still must support the prediction and be replicable by other scientists for the hypothesis to be supported.

          • ashleyhr

            I agree that scientists and creationists do the things you describe.

          • Amonite

            Dr. Russ Humphrey’s computer model he created accurately predicted the magnetic field strength of the outer planets. He started with scripture to formulate his hypotheses. Dr. John Baumgardner is a leading geophysicist and expert on the mantle, he has an interesting simulation that, *depending on the different assumptions of creation and evolution (catastrophic plate tectonics vs. uniformity of mantle convection)* results in a young earth or an old earth model. Many scientists present and past have used used the words and principles of scripture when forming their hypotheses, and advanced science in return.

            Evolution frequently makes the assumption that all its current untested explanations are all true when formulating new hypotheses, as well as assuming it’s basic theory to be true, in the same way creationism assumes the explanation of scripture is true when formulating hypotheses.

            A test only supports the underlying hypothesis in so far as its assumptions are supported. {For example, mankind -has- directly observed catastrophic resurfacing of the planet Venus and found many signs of runaway subduction on our own, which lends support then to the young earth findings of Baumgardner’s TERRA code}

          • ashleyhr

            What has all that got to do with my comments? Occasionally a creationist might make a lucky guess about something and occasionally ‘evolutionists’ get something wrong (and correct themselves as necessary). Creationists have not shown evolutionary theory to be wrong even if certain hypotheses associated with it get changed sometimes due to new evidence or new analyses.

          • Amonite

            If a hypothesis is shown unsupported, it cannot be claimed true even if rewritten or changed. A scientist has to reformulate the hypothesis, make a new prediction based off it, retest (And those tests be replicable, etc). A collection of *well supported* hypotheses can work together to form a theory (not a collection of rewritten, assumed hypothesis).

            One can’t just assume an untested theory “the moon formed from cheese balls colliding” due to “evidence” of a swiss-cheesy looking moon. I’d have to start with questioning what the moon was made of, etc. If I hypothesized “If the moon is made of swiss cheese it will measure mass X” and later found a far greater mass, I could not retroactively change my hypothesis to “If the moon is made of swiss cheese it will measure mass Y” or ‘explain’ it away and assume my explanation “The core of the moon must be a dense rock of Mass Q which is offsetting the mass of the swiss cheese”.

            For a real life example, the Big bang ‘theory’ has been rewritten 14+ times, every time tests disproved the latest hypothesis. (For example, the level of blackbody radiation disproved all current hypotheses of the big bang). Yet the theory is consistently assumed true, hypotheses rerwitten assuming the existent of non-existent substances or new ideas about how spatial geometry might work (all unsupported), only for the new set of guesses to fail the next test as science advances in its ability to observe the universe. Being able to assume all sorts of magical things to cobble together an explanation does not “prove” anything, let alone support the theory.

          • ashleyhr

            What are you objecting to? Certainly not anything I wrote. You seem to be enjoying that favourite YEC pastime of playing with words. When I referred to a hypothesis being ‘changed’ I meant either rewritten or replaced.

          • Amonite

            For example of the scientific method, people used to think flies came from meat (because they saw flies around meat) and that a mysterious life-force in all molecules caused the soup to spoil (they did not see this mysterious life-force, they assumed it to explain the spoiling of soup). These were observations and assumptions. Redi had the question ‘does rotting meat turn into or produce flies?’ and formed the hypothesis that rotting meat could not produce flies, and went on to making predictions and testing. Pasteur had the question “is there indeed a lifeforce in the air that can produce bacteria?” and formed the hypothesis that there was no bacteria causing lifeforce in air, and so a container of sealed broth would remain sterile even with air inside it, and made predictions/tested it accordingly.

            When evolutionists or creationists see a hill they form questions “How did the hill form? Did God make it? Did it pile up over time from soil? Did a catostrophic event cause it? Did it erode down from a mountain? How long has this hill been here?” – etc. Each one’s starting assumptions will feed into why they pick the hypothesis they do, and hence the tests and evidences needed to support the hypothesis. (For example testing wind or rain rates, charting elevation changes through the years, looking at surrounding terrain, looking for fossils, testing the composition of the rock, evaluating the native vs. invasive plant life, etc).

  • Tracy

    I am looking forward to the debate. I am sure if Mr Nye has agreed to the debate, he is well able to hold his ground. What disturbs me is that the person who has written this article from the onset slags off against Mr Ham and immediately puts readers against him. Can we not just make up our own minds without people trying to convince us their way is right? Just lay the evidence on the table without pulling down the people in the debate please. I have always been a Creationist, and still see huge flaws in evolution, but I am open to a rational discussion and am always willing to change my views given enough credible evidence. I have yet to see that from the scientific community in regards to evolution, which is why I am excited about this debate. Discussion is always a good thing, provided it is to see Truth, not the need for one to be ‘right’.

    • Claws

      I assume it is because essentially the entire scientific community – and pretty much everyone outside the United States in the more educated parts in the world – has already accepted evolution because of the overwhelming evidence. It has become scientific theory – meaning that it is a set of applying rules that explain a topic over and over again, successfully, and has been peer reviewed and accepted. The topic seems redundant to many, it’s just not something that’s challenged, the same way that the basic idea that electrons exist isn’t challenged, or the fact that the earth is round isn’t challenged.

      What are some of the flaws you see? I’d be quite interested to know. If it is one of the “Evolution can’t explain X yet” – that’s not a reason to go for a designer instead. Rather we should stay with “X isn’t explained – let’s find out!”.

      • Tracy

        Once again, you are coming from the premise that you are right and I am wrong. There are plenty of credible scientists that still believe in creation. And to add to your premise, you then imply that if I am intelligent, I would accept evolution. I am intelligent, and like I said, I am willing to go there and see the evidence and am keeping an open mind on it. I have no wish to attack people on this issue, in fact its vitally important to honor others opinions and even if we disagree, still see them as valuable and worthy of our honor. Mud slinging generally happens when people get mad that others don’t agree with them, or try to get people on ‘their side’ …. which always suggests self esteem issues more than anything else. Anyway, I am looking forward to the debate and hope they have good evidence to back what they believe is the answer to this subject.

        • Claws

          Eh, I think we all come from the premise that our own point holds more credibility than that of another, otherwise we wouldn’t hold on to that point to begin with. No, I did not at all attempt to insult your intelligence. I merely wanted to exclude parts of Africa and Asia that have a low standard of education (by “educated parts of the world” I did not wish to exclude the United States, I apologize if it came over that way). While I do not fully go in with the “see every opinion with honor”, because some may be considered rather dangerous, I think we can both agree that every debate and discussion leaves both parties more educated than before, and as such, every debate/discussion is worth having :) Could you name a few of the credible scientists? I’d be interested to see their publications, how much they are quoted in their field etc.

      • Tracy

        lol Claws… you have Google for that! I knew as soon as I wrote that comment it would get me into trouble. Look to be honest…. my faith has matured in the last several years and I am rebuilding on so many of my long held Christian beliefs that I feel like I am on shifting sand in some areas. I have been looking at a site called BioLogos, which is a Christian community that believes that science and evolution and Christian faith are not at odds with each other. Interesting site, but cannot agree with evolution still…. I am waiting to see evidence that shows otherwise. I have not seen evidence that one species has evolved into another. Creatures have evolved yes, but AFTER THEIR OWN KIND. Not into another species. I still don’t think that evolution can show this… perhaps you can point me to a site that can? I do not believe in a young earth, which most creationists do… but the main thing is that I am always open to changing where I see evidence for it. My faith is in Christ and always will be… so I don’t really feel too threatened if the ground shifts around other stuff… like end times or creation. Its just when you have always been taught things that the majority of Christendom believe, its hard renewing your mind after years of belief. And the ‘honour’ thing…. we shd always honour people, but we don’t have to hold to their ideas, as yes, some of them can be dangerous even.

        • Andrew G.

          All of the evidence you require can be found here or explained in any number of excellent books.

      • Amonite

        The primary flaws:

        Evolution extrapolates from expected findings that also support other theories to the automatic assumption that they make evolution true.

        Evolution -ignores- it when various hypothesis are proven wrong, and just rewrite the hypothesis and assume it true. When observations again do not support the hypothesis, they just rewrite and assume true again. [The big bang theory does this as well, its been reformulated 14+ times every time evidence does not support the hypothesis]. The excuse given for this unscientific behavior is that the theory “must” be true.

        The theory does not police itself or accept oversight in its methods and conclusions. Instead, it uses the circular reasoning that because its true students must be taught evolution, and only students accepting evolution are credible scientists, and because all those scientists (indoctrinated into the theory since youth) accept evolution, evolution must be true, therefore students must be taught evolution…. etc.

        Evolution ignores evidence to the contrary and despises people testing its assumptions. [For example, in the 1970's mass spectrometers became available which allowed more fine-tuned testing of carbon decay and could account for contamination. The old assumption that rocks could not be carbon-dated if they were older than a certain age no longer applied. Yet, no evolutionists actually bothered to then test with the mass spectrometers and check the hypothesis that fossils could not be carbon dated. The scientists that did test (and found that fossils, via carbon dating, dated quite young - something replicated in later studies on fossils, diamonds, dinosaur bones, etc) were all ignored. Rather than accept that theories about radiometric dating in general need to be revised as this presents a huge contradiction, or revisit assumptions about fossils, evolution just says "oh those scientists are crackpots even to test" {I had a geology teacher tell me that, actually, even though she admitted she could find nothing wrong with the study I had been analyzing} or "Well we know fossils are old so obviously young dates are wrong, there must be some factor we haven't found yet", etc.

        The fossil record does not show the geologic column anywhere in the world. Most fossils are found in fossil beds where fossils (Supposedly from many eras) are all jumbled together. In fact, observations actually conducted do not support the expected findings if these fossils had (somehow miraculously) fossilized over vast periods of time. Current observations find that fossils can (and usually do) form very rapidly during catastrophes like floods, which supports creationist expectations/hypotheses.

        Evolution always assumes itself true, and assumes creation false - even when new discoveries or observations support creationist hypotheses and contradict evolutionary expectations.

        Evolution has a severe lack of understanding of biology. To get the changes required by evolution, even a small change in a species needs about 40 concurrent genetic changes!
        (For example, Bill Nye likes talking about how the giraffe slowly evolved a longer neck to better reach leaves on trees. Firstly, an animal cannot "pick" its mutation - but even assuming that 1 in 99 tries (a lot of dead giraffes later) there is a mutation that gives a longer neck - the giraffe would still need concurrent changes to its heart, brain, skeletal structure, etc. Giraffes have a special valve that keeps their brain from exploding when they drink water due to the length of their neck, so the idea a giraffe just magically got dozens of mutations that worked all together at once (when mutations are random) has no support whatsoever.

        While microevolution occurs, it is a vastly different process than macro-evolution. Species will vary slightly depending on habitat, but this is not due to any mutations; the changes are already contained in their genetic code. Furthermore, the changes are cyclic (there is no -net- beak changes in the finches, for example, their beaks shorten and grow and shorten over the generations) or do to predators (the white/pepper moths, for example). These changes do absolutely nothing to support, let alone prove, the idea that one species can mutate into another over time. [Many studies with fruit flies and bacteria actually speak -against- the hypothesis that one species could someday mutate into another].

        Evolution is big on explanations and short on the scientific method. It also assumes if it can come up with a theoretical explanation that that explanation must be true. If further information casts doubt on the new explanation, it must seek another, while still assuming the theory true.

    • Nancy Wollman Heilman

      Couldn’t have stated it more eloquently than you have. Why such the mudslinging, belittling, viciousness? Those things generally come out of defensiveness or insecurity.

      The overwhelming evidences of a young earth and a global flood are everywhere (aquatic fossils on the tops of all mountain ranges, red blood cells found in some dinosaur bones, undigested materials still found in wooly mammoths, fossils found of creatures in the middle of giving birth… sort of like something came along quickly, suddenly, and unexpectedly). But, unfortunately, creationists have been censored right out of the ‘discussion.’

  • Sophia Sadek

    I recall an argument that Jesus was supposed to have had with his detractors where they were unable to fathom what he said because of a lack of understanding metaphors. This seems to be the heart of the problem with people who take sacred literature literally. It is an ignoramus who contends that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a literal fruit rather than a metaphorical one.

    • Amonite

      The fruit was physical -and- had an underlying spiritual representation. They were not to eat the fruit of the tree, and Eve did so anyway because she thought it was pleasing. It’s not so much a metaphor as Eve not having the comprehension of what “in the day you eat of it you shall surely die” meant. God was not speaking to immediate physical death, but of spiritual death and slavery to sin: that Eve would be placing herself under bondage to the law, and hence, judgement.

      Rejecting that it was an actual, physical command they disobeyed means rejecting the basis for mankind to be under the law of sin and death, and hence rejecting the reason Christ needed to come to fulfill the law.

      • Sophia Sadek

        I am glad you are so sure of your perspective on this topic. It means that you will probably refrain from seeking the truth.

        • Amonite

          It’s a logical fallacy to assume that because someone disagrees with your own conclusion that they haven’t or won’t study or evaluate or seek truth.

          On the contrary, I am so sure of my perspective because I have been researching it extensively (both sides) since I was in elementary school and continued to research it since – not just the basics but related fields as well (geology, biology, etc).

          It was actually the first lecture I’d ever heard on evolution that clued me in that there was something fishy about the science behind it. My third grade teacher held me after class for asking “where the matter in the sea/sky came from” and then in the meeting broke down in tears and begged me never to ask questions questioning evolution, or she could be fired and the school would think she was promoting God.

          My general policy when researching any topic is to research the pros/cons and understand all points of view thoroughly enough that I could play devil’s advocate and argue the other side, if needed, as thoroughly understanding the other side (vs. assuming I know what they believe and making strawmen arguments against them) tests and refines the basis for my own belief. Because of this I can speak to creationist lecturers about how certain arguments they gave are NOT a smoking gun against evolution as well as I used to show my evolutionist teachers how some claim they made was outdated (or a hoax, even), or did not merit the support they assumed it did. Since the vast majority of my schooling promoted evolution, I had ample opportunity to test claims. (And my private school in sixth grade presented both views and encouraged self-research).

          • Sophia Sadek

            It is not your mistaken perspective of evolutionary theory that I was referring to, but your conception of the story of the Fall.

          • Amonite

            In the area of the fall of man and God’s eternal plan I have invested far more time in seeking truth than in evolution (which is in comparison, a minor topic). {As in, truth is something I invest in seeking throughout the week and my life, wheras subtopics like evolution I only need to invest the time it takes to with any other topic (geology, math, art, etc – the difference between studying a topic until you know it thoroughly which may take a large amount of time and need revisited frequently (evolution), contrasted with searching out something that requires your entire life (truth, meaning, God, etc)}.

            Also, once there is reasonable evidence for something, I am not going to start doubting it without an equal or greater preponderance of evidence. Likewise, if there is ample evidence that contradicts something, I am not going to keep speculating that it might someday be found true. If solid evidence is presented that explains the former contradictions, it is worth examining again and testing against known factors.

            As for the fall, which seems to be your area of concern, there are ample resources (jewish hermeneutics, jewish writings, christian scholars, ancient manuscripts/textual criticism, and most importantly the harmony of scripture itself) for determining the layers of a passage (literal, metaphorical, parable, etc). It’s easier for the Hebrew as the language lends itself to making poetic allusion from literal things, or using poetry to illuminate some literal aspect of life. In Greek, the parables and metaphors rely a lot on the main text, so they are written in a much more strait forward. It is not a mystery, however, which parts are literal vs. figurative or which have layers. The context, language, and structure of the Bible make it abundantly clear. [For one of many examples, the word yom is used over a couple thousand times in the old testament, it can be literal or figurative (much like the english word day is). It's used several hundred times in the OT in combination with a numerical modifier (first, third, four, etc) - every single one of those uses outside Gen 1 is literal. So, it stands to reason that the uses in Gen 1 in combination with numerical modifiers must then be literal also].

            The ancient jews actually had the opposite problem of not understanding metaphors – rather, they looked for them in almost every passage. Their hermeneutic, PRDS, is actually quite good. The problem was that they couldn’t understand types/antetypes and so thought the law was the final and best covenant, and that they were the true and only chosen people. They were so sure of their interpretation that they missed the Messiah [In their view, there would be two messiahs (a healer and a conqueror), and they thought that death was the proof of a false messiah. This blindness to true meaning was due to the hardness and pride in their hearts.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Thank you for demonstrating my point.


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