At Peace With Science? (RJS)

Scot having tried his hand at science a couple of weeks ago (here), I (RJS) will step up to bat once again and start to tackle what may be the toughest question in the science and faith discussion.

We have been carrying on a conversation dealing with the hard questions in the relationship, sometimes conflict, between scientific knowing, scripture, and the faith.  Much of this conversation has centered around books – and there are many good books available to focus discussion.  The internet age has also made readily available a much broader range of resources. The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmunds College, Cambridge has an excellent collection of lectures on topics of interest available for download in mp3 audio and in video formats. Driving home after the holidays last weekend I listened to several of these lectures. It was a profitable way to pass an 11 hour drive. Today I would like to focus our conversation on two of these lectures, more will find their way into our conversation in future posts.

Two very similar lectures on Human Evolution were delivered by Professor Darrel R. Falk 24/7/2008 and 5/11/2008. The July 24th lecture was part of a summer course for scientists while the Nov. 5th lecture was for an audience comprised primarily of church leaders. Dr. Falk is Professor of Biology and Chair of the Biology Department at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. In 2004 he published a book: Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology, the kind of book that has helped many trying to reconcile science and faith, but also the kind of book that resulted in an effort by some in the constituency of his University to have him fired.

In the opening of his lecture of  24/7/2008 Dr. Falk relates his experience speaking in his defense.  He gave his personal testimony of faith, presented the testimony of former students in his defense, and related the beauty of the evolutionary mechanism of God’s creation. All went well, a standing ovation even, until the President of the University opened the floor for questions and the question of human evolution was raised.  When Dr. Falk defended human evolution and common descent the change in mood was immediate and palpable.  This was neither surprising nor unexpected.  Many in evangelical circles are open to the possibility that evolution was God’s general method of creation – yet will retain the necessity for the special creation of Human Beings through an original pair, Adam and Eve.

The important question today is just this: Is the Christian story, the Christian faith tied to the special creation of mankind separate from all the animals or is it tied to creation in the image of God? What gives mankind a soul, an identity created in the image of God?

This is a critical question because the mounting evidence, most importantly the molecular genetic evidence emerging from the sequencing of human and other genomes, makes the foundation of special creation of the human species increasingly difficult to defend.  Twenty years ago it was possible, with full intellectual integrity, for a Christian scientist to make an exception for the human species based on faith, theology, and scripture; evolution as God’s general method of creation, but mankind as special creation. External resemblance, embryology, and even fossil evidence, are relatively easy to dismiss or rationalize. But the internal evidence encoded in the DNA of each and every one of us has changed the picture. Common descent is now as close to proven as anything in science in general, or biology in particular, ever can be.

So what is the evidence?  There are a multitude of lines – each convincing in its own right, but together irrefutable.  Dr. Falk highlights three strands of evidence, Alu sequences, Human Chromosome 2, and synonymous and nonsynonymous mutations.  Dr. Collins in The Language of God highlights Human Chromosome 2, ancient repetitive elements (AREs),  nonfunctional pseudogenes such as caspase 12, and the functional mutation of the FOXP2 gene…but these six examples are only the tip of the iceberg.

Chromosome 2 is a fascinating story – apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes while humans have 23.  This is of course a significant deviation. But human Chromosome 2 has clear evidence of fusion resulting from the head-to-head connection of two of the chromosomes found in chimpanzees and other apes, at some point in our development two chromosomes became one.  This fusion is marked by the presence of residual telomeres (end caps) within the fused human chromosome and by the presence of an inactive residual centromere in the exact location where it is found in the separate chromosome of the chimpanzee.

Chromosome sketch.JPG

The presence of the unnecessary residual telomere and centromere within chromosome 2 is one strong thread of the evidence for common descent – humans and chimps evolving from a common ancestor with chromosome fusion occurring on the branch leading to humans but not on the branch leading to chimps.  Why would God create man from dust as a unique creature and introduce an unnecessary and unused telomere and centromere into chromosome 2?

The caspase 12 pseudogene provides us a similar example.  This gene is found in the same location in both chimps and humans – it is functional in chimps, but nonfunctional, having suffered a knockout mutation in humans.

Molecular support of this type could fill thousands of pages…and has convinced virtually all working biologists, biochemists, and scientists of all stripes, that the general scheme of evolution including common descent is unquestionably correct.  This is a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces fit beautifully within the framework of evolutionary theory. The only reason to doubt the general framework is a presupposition that it is not true.

This brings us back to the important question of the day – the story of creation. Genesis 1 conveys important theological truth:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything on the earth.  The story is told in a form understandable to everyone everywhere – it is neither science nor academic history – it is our story. Sequence and method are not important, although the analogy with days of work followed by a day of rest may be significant in the telling of the story. But the culmination of the process – the creation of mankind in the image of God is clearly important.  Genesis 1 v. 27 tells us that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.

The scientific evidence for common descent sheds light on the material (the dust so to speak) used by God to create mankind in his image, it tells us nothing about what it means to be created in the image of God. The genetic diversity in the human genome suggests the evolution and differentiation of our species within a breeding population of some 10,000 individuals ca.150,000 years ago.  These are estimates – but certainly accurate within a factor of two or so.  It is possible – scientifically speaking – that God breathed into an individual  within this breeding population a mutation, creating mankind in his image and defining our subsequent species. Rare favorable mutations, unique events, are embedded in the evidence we have and an integral part of the evolutionary process. To the atheist the evolution of man is a chance occurrence; to a Christian it is God’s plan. Two consistent explanations for the same event.  It is also possible – scientifically speaking – that these individuals created in the image of God rebelled immediately – and that this rebellion also taints the entire species.  But this is a subject for another day – today I would like to concentrate on the creation of mankind.

What makes mankind unique, created in the image of God – both “like God” and unlike animals?

  • Jeremiah Daniels

    I have always been rather puzzled about the story in the first place.
    As a child, I was taught the fruit brought about the recognition of good and evil.
    So, just following this idea, that excludes moral judgment as the “image” we are created in … as it wasn’t made into us but injected when the law of the Garden was disobeyed.
    That really doesn’t seem just in my mind. Why condemn someone who has no moral judgment? And to boot set the person up to disobey.
    So, lets assume we have the moral judgment before the fruit. That’s the thing we’re created with. Negates the usefulness of the fruit.
    Of course, I think neither I or RJS believe the story happened precisely as told in Genesis. (I hope I’m not taking too much liberty by stating that.) So, what I state above may just be my misguided and pedantic observations.
    If not moral judgment, then what? Creativity? Both? These are actually two characteristics of God conveyed in the story.
    At some point, we’re also going to have to tackle exactly where humans and other animals exactly differ then go back to the text for any of those differences which appear there.

  • Dave

    The old fundamentalist statement about the scipture went something like this, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Based on this series of posts only one part of this statement has changed. one could simply say, “Science says it, I believe it, that settles it.” The only difference is the source of infallible truth.

  • Kyle

    Dave,
    What about “God creates it, science analyzes it, Scripture interprets it and I believe it?”
    RJS,
    What if being created in the “image of God” has more to do with not something that we physically “are” but instead something that God expects of us? God being a volitional lover, requires our response of volitional love of Godself and others (not to mention the rest of Creation). In this sense, God’s image is one of desire for our response (as opposed to the rest of Creation’s response which isn’t seemingly volitional or aware of divine reality). Humanity also could be in God’s image because it is the receptor of divine revelation, and the species which God chose to reveal Himself most fully in Jesus Christ.
    Polkinghorne also offers some thoughts on the topic at his site: http://www.starcourse.org/jcp/qanda.html

  • Rick

    Dave #2-
    Has the truth of Scripture changed, or have some our fallible understandings of portions of Scripture changed?
    Science (and other fields) can sometimes help us better understand portions of that truth.

  • Albert the Abstainer

    The problem for fundamentalist believers with a literal/historical belief in Genesis, (and some other books and passages in the Bible), is evident from the audience reaction to Dr. Falk in his defense of common descent within evolution. This is a chipping away at the edges of what some see as an essential axiom of their faith. I don’t think this observation is problematic, and both those inside and outside a fundamental Christian belief set will agree with it.
    What fundamental Christian’s should ask themselves is: Can I relinquish a literal belief in Genesis, explore it allegorically, and only lose my anxiety about scientific discovery undermining my faith?
    To make one’s faith contingent upon the absolute and literal truth of the Bible makes the faith and mindset of a fundamentalist believer quite fragile and engenders anxiety, denial and sometimes hostility. Is this useful or does it divert a believer from living his Christian faith, to be a light unto the world, following the example of Jesus? This is a question that is worth giving serious consideration. If your faith walk is impeded by this, perhaps it is best to set aside the requirement for the Bible to be infallibly accurate as an article of faith.

  • Karl

    Disclosure: while I am normally only a lurker on this site (not sure if it is my love of coffee or my interest in historical Jesus studies), this topic grabs my attention a bit. Due to my academic position (prof NT studies), I find myself both attracted into this discussion and weary of it. In the midwest (my location), the experience Professor Falk had by going public is potentially repeatable, and here would be a threat to employment. (A bad thing in a weak economy, I suppose.)
    That said, I keep having questions that feel “hard” but that are difficult to discuss in my context (few who are knowledgable on my campus), even though capable studies are causing me to be *open* to shifting from an old earth/special creation position to a version of evolution. Two questions, if I may.
    (1) While ID is clearly trying to make an impact on the Christian community, despite garnering some amusement and scorn from some field experts, can anyone suggest how successful ID guys are doing at getting peer-reviewed publications? Recent events in states like Iowa cause Christians to keep their mouths shut (public University, tenure rejection because of faith positions), while those who are “open” who teach in more conservative schools have to keep their opinions close to the vest. Is there any growing broad credibility going on for ID people? Or are they mostly singing to the choir – and gaining “bed-fellows” mostly because others are disaffected for other reasons?
    (2) For those of us who are more linked into biblical studies (I have a masters in Hebrew, albeit now 25 years old), I am curious as to what the type of hermeneutics that is used to gain an acceptable interpretation of Gen 1-3 that does not require special pleading.
    This is no moot question. Bob Gundry got himself booted from ETS for suggesting a genre shift in Matthew to explain the history of Jesus’ birth events. While I have always seen Bob as an extraordinary exegete, those who booted him did so on grounds rooted in theological suppositions. (His argument might have been debated more truly at the genre level, but it seems that few NT scholars knew how to do that at the time.) I am not sure what kind of hermeneutics are at work to simply accept RJS’s idea of skipping over the rest of the creation story or Kyle’s willingness to focus more on the intention of the text, while dismissing what most would suggest is a “normal” reading of those chapters.
    Not liking long-windedness from my students, let me start with those two questions. Gracias.

  • Fraulien

    Thank you for this post. I read Dr. Collins’ book, The Language of God, and was impressed with it. As a former Catholic who has worshipped in the Evangelical Tradition for thirty-five years, I do not have a particular problem with the idea of God having created man through an evolutionary process. But, of course, that was an option made available to Catholics. I do think the question of “How does this affect our interpretation of the Bible”… is important. Particularly in light of the fact that Paul quotes Genesis I in the New Testament. Although the science involved in this is not my particular area, I did find that Dr. Collins’ seemed to be a conservative Christian and, as an eminent scientist, he noted that there is not any real debate in the field about whether evolution occurred or not. I think it is something that is believed by many Christians but not always openly discussed because no one wants to be a stumbling block to someone else.

  • Fraulien

    I would like to address the question of whether Intelligent Design is making a dent or not. I do not know about peer reviewed journals (although I doubt it). I attended “Expelled” this year. It was interesting that most of the people with whom I attended the movie (our home group went…13 Christians) were appalled at how some of the ID Design researchers were being treated. However, about half the group….although dismayed at the academic censorship….also tended to believe that evolution was the way in which God created humans.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Let’s try to avoid fundie-bashing. I disagree with them about many things, but I can appreciate their concerns here. For every person who meets evolution and turns out like RJS, there appear to be 3 who turn out like Dawkins. Many who believe in macroevolution see little need for any external guidance on the process.
    As for me, I wonder if correlation and causation are being confused here. We have genes in common with other species? Big deal — why reinvent the wheel… or the eye? Will the “unnecessary” telomere turn out to be as important as “junk” DNA? I don’t know, but nothing would surprise me.
    Also, does the lack of debate in biology circles mean anything when to express doubt about common descent is career suicide?
    Is… the Christian faith tied to the special creation of mankind separate from all the animals or is it tied to creation in the image of God?
    From the scriptures, I’m not sure there’s a difference there. I know I’m in the minority here, but I take Gen 1 & 2 as both historical and complementary accounts of the event, and whether taken together or just ch1, it seems that Man was created differently than the animals.
    If you don’t accept the miraculous in Gen 1, why accept it in Matt 28?
    ChrisB (trying to get in this habit for occasions when I forget to put my name back in the box)

  • ChrisB

    Karl,
    No one will publish anything supporting ID. The one editor who did found himself looking for a job shortly thereafter, though some deny that these two events were related.

  • Kyle

    Karl,
    Thanks for coming out of the rafters and joining the conversation! Let me admit that I interpret with a christotelic method when reading the texts, ultimately seeing Christ as the complete fulfillment of divine revelation. That permeates my hermeneutical method. I’m also an evangelical so highly value the text and see it as divinely inspired and authoritative. With that said, I allow outside literature to affect my interpretation as well. For instance, since the Creation stories are very similar to other ANE literature, what does that then mean that God was trying to do by inspiring these texts? Is God’s purpose to tell history, or is his purpose to portray himself above and against the other pagan gods and creation stories? There’s plenty more that goes into my hermeneutic such as everything I learned in college and grad work about the historical-grammatical hermeneutical method.
    In plenty of previous posts I’ve commented on how I came around to interpret Genesis 1 in a more figurative manner, and the primary reason was when I began reading the text in Hebrew during college and seeing that things didn’t fit with the more literalistic hermeneutic that I had used in the past (I filtered everything through the young earth commentary that sat beside my bed and things didn’t fit). Those thoughts continued to be reinforced in grad school when I found that my professors (at a very conservative seminary) agreed that the text naturally lent itself to a figurative interpretation and that it had frequently been interpreted as figurative by both orthodox Christian and Jewish scholars. Many other scholars would consider my Hebrew professors fundamentalists, yet they agreed that Genesis 1 was not historical, but polemical. After later studying how the church had historically interpreted the first chapter of Genesis, I quickly found that a literalistic interpretation may even have been the minority view for much of church history.
    So all of that goes into my hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis 1. Thus I must admit that I’m not sure what you mean by a “normal” reading of the text, because the orthodox church has had many various interpretations including ones supporting what I suggest above.
    I hope that helps lay out my presuppositions in interpretation. Since it’s 1am here in China I’ve gotta get to sleep!

  • Rick

    Recently heard the Godpod crew (St. Paul’s Theological Centre) discuss this.
    In short, they mentioned that difference by degree (no matter how small) does not mean a lack of significance difference.
    They stressed that the “image of God” means we have value (as opposed to the ANE stories of the time).
    They also stressed our ability to love.
    Finally, we can help/share in representing His kingdom. As opposed to ancient cultures, icons are not built to represent Him and His kingdom. We are to take on that representation.
    The discussion can be heard here (2nd 1/2 of the podcast, around the 15 minute mark).
    http://sptc.htb.org.uk/node/54
    By the way, their podcasts are a great resource. Some guests in some of the discussions include great guests, including the likes of NT Wright and Alister McGrath.

  • http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog dopderbeck

    ChrisB (#9) — I don’t think anyone takes Gen. 1-4 as a “complete” account, though many of course take it “literally”. Even Answers in Genesis says there are many things left out of the account (e.g., the source of the “light” before the Sun was created.
    RJS — I agree with you that the evidence for common descent with respect to the human species is irrefutable. BUT — I don’t know that this is necessarily inconsistent with taking the Biblical story semi-literally. After all, a major component of household “dust” is human skin cells. If you had the ability to take that “dust,” and clone the sloughed-off skin cells, you’d have both “intervention” and “common descent.” There is no “appearance” problem here — it is real common descent, as is true of any genetic engineering. The “why would God bother doing it that way” question doesn’t concern me — I have a million such questions about many things other than evolution.
    I read Falk’s book and found it scientifically compelling but theologically lame. If “coming to peace” means merely interpreting Gen. 1-4 as “allegory,” as Falk suggests, that just won’t do. Gen. 1-4 (really 1-11) obviously isn’t “simple history” (IMHO), but it also obviously isn’t just “allegory” or “metaphor.”
    I don’t think the “image of God” is the big issue. IMHO, a dualist or non-reductive physicalist view of “mind / spirit” is still quite viable, which means the “image of God” doesn’t have to be tied entirely to biological evolution.
    The bigger question, IMHO, is physical anthropology, population genetics, the “fall,” and original sin. Whether “Adam” was cloned directly by God or evolved through natural processes, he doesn’t come into a pristine world without any other people / hominids / homo sapiens. This IMHO is what we need evangelical theologians to address. And I think we’re starting to see that with the “federal representative” view that’s becoming popular in some circles — but we need to do better, IMHO. Help, Scot and all you credentialed and credible voices!!

  • Rebecca Trotter

    Like Fraulein, I was raised in the Catholic church before moving into Evangelical Christianity as a young adult. I am so, so, so grateful that the Catholic church taught me in my formative years that the bible and science can co-exist without having to invalidate each other. It has saved me from the sort of crisis of faith which as ChrisB says, seems to create more Dawkins than RJS’s. To have lost my faith because a path for accepting both science and scriptures wasn’t allowed or available would have been a tragedy beyond all comprehension. The fact that the peaceful co-existence between science and faith was part of my religious indoctrination hasn’t had ANY negative effect on my faith walk. It has been all positive and seeing other people’s struggles and the fights that divide people, I am just so grateful for this little inheritance from my early faith life.
    To me, the science is what the science is. The bible is to be read generously in ways that allow its authority and ultimate truth stand without demanding that it be a history book. I think we may gain some insight by superimposing the Genesis creation stories on what science has shown us and seeing how they play off each other. But it’s a process which brings insight and understanding, not conflict or doubts. My only regret is that my utter lack of struggle in this area often leaves me separated from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Many are going through a struggle which I would like to be able to speak to, but in truth, it is a struggle which I find completely incomprehensible. But God brings peace in His own time and way, I suppose.

  • Michael W. Kruse

    Gen 2:7
    7 then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. NRSV
    Gen 2:19
    19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them;… NRSV
    Is it just me or does this not sound like a poetic description of evolution given to a pre-scientific culture? We all seem to agree we were formed from the ground. We are hung up on time frames and methods.
    Notice that if we take the Genesis account literally that there is a body (not yet human) into which life is breathed (made human). Is it possible that God evolved humanity and then at a chosen time breathed life into (i.e. in some way altered or transformed) humans he evolved?
    I’m unclear why this is any less a miracle if it happened over many years rather than in an instant.

  • http://nojrotsap.blogspot.com Jon

    Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Rather than trying to understand whether it is science or faith that should inform the other, we should be asking to what extent they inform each other. For too many people, faith trumping science or science trumping faith extends throughout the entire thought process. Maybe God used evolution, maybe not. I have difficulty seeing how this knowledge, which would not have been known to the original or intended audience, should greatly influence our interpretation.

  • Karl

    Kyle – thanks for your kind welcome. I lurk more often due to time constraints than lack of interest. (BTW: I am quickly learning of the hassles of making posts on beliefnet – and do find it a bit disconcerting. Third time – and learning to copy things or write off-line quickly.)
    I wish you good sleep. And I am grateful for your sacrifice of sleep while in China! Do not normally get to keep people awake on the other side of the world due to my inquiries.
    I probably need to go back and review some of your posts – and appreciate the reference.
    As to the “normal” reading: you may have me on that one. Don’t have the review of history of interpretation here. I no longer read Genesis with Henry Morris (etc. – well, not since high school, anyway) by my side, but do try to follow Waltke, Hamilton, Walton (and others, just to connect names with exegesis). Guys like Waltke are why I moved toward old-earth and special creation (besides, with a Pre-med background before seminary, I had questions back into the 1070′s). I am aware of Origin and others who wrestled with non-literal readings (not simply for the sake of his hermeneutic either, as best I can tell). But one might argue (I think), that since the Reformation, “normal” would look similar to what has become a young-earth approach today. (Since wise individuals are willing to admit ignorance, I would probably look into this area.) Obviously the scientific substrate was not as sophisticated from the early church as it is today. And with that in mind, “normal” is perhaps now shot all to pieces. BUT, a case can certainly be made that a plain reading of the narrative mythology (in the literary sense) of the creation story suggests a special creation (at least – while others might suggest a young earth, though I am with Waltke here).
    My sense of the Hebrew was that it was not very good poetry; further, I agree with the focus upon polemic as a driving force for what the writer is trying to accomplish. But I suspect that polemic is not, on its own, an adequate reason to suggest the text is understood as anything other than literal (7 days, etc. ). I probably need some contextual clues to suggest that allegory (or whatever brand of figurative interpretation is best) is at work – and it is those clues that I think I am looking for. The either/or approach of history versus polemic seems a bit suspicious on its face (as an unwarranted dichotomy), but I certainly concur with the ANE context that suggests polemic is at work: YHWH trumps any other myth and all creation models and myths are false and (also) deceptive.
    As to a christo-centric focus – in general, I support that, though I confess a vague angst against too much anachronism in this approach. But I don’t think that really hurts the case here.
    That said, I also fear using the word “literal” since it suggests too many nasty thing (questions was all fear: do you still beat your wife? Are you still a literalist?). But “plain” or “normal” might better represent what probably passes for conservative credentials today.
    Coming myself also from schools that would claim to have fairly conservative credentials, as well as an extended stint in a school that would *not* accept such a badge (or even close), I suspect the conservative moniker centers more on the outcome than on the means to get to it (at least for many, though hardly all). Many evangelical schools are defending a conservative approach to creation and origins, but my concern is the follow-up (and often necessary) distrust of the scientific community to provide data that is “unbiased” (as if *we* have a corner on that one!) – since it does not conclude with the conservative outcome of a young earth (etc.). This seems to me to be circular in reasoning, but it is very powerful within the community of those who are evangelical. (I agree with dopderbeck here.)
    Thank you for your suggestions. I will take some time to review some of your older posts. Happy sleep!

  • Karl

    Okay. i will back off posting. This one took about 10 minutes to post; the first one did not show, so I re-posted and then both showed. Sorry to take up such space. tends to discourage reading – by me and others, and I now understand other comments on beliefnet that crop up on this issue.

  • Rick

    correction on #12-
    that podcast is actually found here:
    http://sptc.htb.org.uk/node/56

  • RJS

    Kyle (#3),
    I like your expression: God creates it, science analyzes it, Scripture interprets it and I believe it. A quote or your own? Either way I will borrow it for future use.

  • ron

    On the possibilities of ID (Karl, others): Kenneth Miller (biologist at Brown, practicing Catholic) in “Only a Theory” covers the genetic evidence for human evolution as well. He also offers a substantial critique of the ID movement and why it is not, and is not likely to be, accepted as legitimate science.

  • Fraulien

    I am not a theologian anymore than I am a biologist, but in one of my seminary classes, the professor talked about how the word for Adam in the Hebrew actually meant, “mankind”. He then asked the question, “If you read a story today where the main character was named “mankind” would you think it was meant to be taken literally?” I am not necessarily supporting or criticizing that view but is it true that Adam means “mankind?” and if so….how does that impact the thought on the creation story?

  • RJS

    Karl (#6, #17)
    Welcome.
    I am somewhat tired of this discussion myself – but will not back off anytime soon – to the delight of some and consternation of others. I’ve seen too many blown out of the water by the science and realize that we must wrestle with the issues openly and honestly.
    Intelligent Design is a topic worth discussion – although I have serious reservations about the validity of the proposals. There is no doubt that the Scientific Establishment has a knee-jerk reaction to the very term. I am working on other posts to shape a discussion of the issues.
    Certainly the “normal” interpretation of Genesis since the reformation (and before) has been a young earth literal reading. Until the sixteenth or seventeenth century there was little reason to doubt the Genesis account of origins, little evidence to raise concern. Thus a literal historical interpretation was the traditional consensus opinion, although allegorical interpretation was often added to the mix on top of not instead of the historical meaning. There were variants. Augustine, for example, thought that creation was instantaneous with all matter and life created simultaneously, thus the days of creation were analogical, an accommodation by God to human perspective.
    But the picture is entirely different today – a simple literal, historical reading is not consistent with the world we know.
    In this regard I find it particularly interesting to read the commentaries of some of the reformers. There is no doubt that John Calvin considered both a young earth and a unique Adam and Eve as literal. But on the issues of his day, most notably Saturn and water above the heavens, he took an accommodationist view, that God accommodated the story to the viewpoint of mankind. I think we stand on the shoulders of our forefathers in interpretation – but we use our God given reason and the accumulation of wisdom to see farther and to revise some of our understanding in light of that wisdom.
    From Calvin’s commentary:
    Genesis 1:6

    Moses describes the special use of this expanse, to divide the waters from the waters from which word arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned. The things, therefore, which he relates, serve as the garniture of that theater which he places before our eyes. Whence I conclude, that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive.

    Genesis 1:16

    Moses makes two great luminaries; but astronomers prove, by conclusive reasons that the star of Saturn, which on account of its great distance, appears the least of all, is greater than the moon. Here lies the difference; Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. Wherefore, as ingenious men are to be honored who have expended useful labor on this subject, so they who have leisure and capacity ought not to neglect this kind of exercise. Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfill his office than by descending to this grosser method of instruction. Had he spoken of things generally unknown, the uneducated might have pleaded in excuse that such subjects were beyond their capacity.

  • dopderbeck

    Karl (#6) — where do you teach?
    Most people advocating a theistic evolution sort of position use the category of “accommodation.” Most if not all of them are not really inerrantists. See, e.g., Kent Sparks, “God’s Word in Human Words.”
    As to ID — it really doesn’t help in any event with the difficult questions for a “plain” interpretation of Gen. 1-4. ID has to do with detecting divine action — can we see “evidence” of God “intervening” in nature. It doesn’t refute, nor do many of its key advocates deny, the reality of common descent.

  • dopderbeck

    BTW, Karl, you also mentioned John Walton. You might be interested to know that he teaches in this seminar on origins at Wheaton: http://www.asa3.org/asa/PSCF/2007/PSCF12-07Moshier.pdf I think you also mentioned Waltke — in his most recent OT Theology book, he endorsed theistic evolution explicitly (though honestly I don’t think he fully understood what he was endorsing). Another Wheaton prof who endorsed Denis Alexander’s most recent theistic evolution book, and yet another endorsed a similar book by some profs at Calvin. So, I’m not so sure that the situation even at conservative evangelical schools in the Midwest is quite so clear cut.

  • RJS

    dopderbeck,
    Of course the “real” conservative midwestern schools consider Wheaton liberal (or borderline liberal).
    By the way – you pointed me back to Bloesch the other day. He makes the point in his chapter on The Primacy of Scripture that Luther could declare:

    But everyone, indeed, knows that at times they [the fathers] have erred as men will; therefore, I am ready to trust them only when they give me evidence for their opinions from Scripture, which has never erred.

    And also state:

    When one often reads [in the Bible] that great numbers of people were slain – for example eighty thousand – I believe that hardly one thousand were actually killed. What is meant is the whole people.

    Inerrancy and infallibility did not generally mean wooden literality, it was always connected to discernment by the Spirit and in light of wisdom and reason. Calvin also had no problem with errors of fact in the text. The reformers after all were intelligent and well educated men.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUxLR9hdorI bobxxxx

    “To the atheist the evolution of man is a chance occurrence; to a Christian it is God’s plan.”
    “God’s plan” is just wishful thinking. There’s not one shred of evidence for any supernatural intervention in the history of life. The human ape species developed just like every other species. There was nothing inevitable about our existence. We are just one twig on a vast tree of life. To think we are a special species that was planned by a magic god fairy is an extremely childish idea.
    If you want to earn the right to be called an adult, accepting the facts of evolutionary biology is not enough. You have to throw out your magic god fairy, just like you threw out the tooth fairy.

  • RJS

    Bob (#27),
    If you wish to join in conversation you are welcome.
    If you are going to use ridicule and personal attack – you are not welcome. Such comments are not tolerated here.

  • My 2 Cents

    RJS, I always love seeing how you are thinking and stretching us… I can’t always keep up! Off the record, I think your title is very compelling in our culture. Once again, there will be a movie coming out that will ask that very question if not overtly, in its subtext: Angels & Demons. Its premise is to feel out how at peace our faith is with our science. Yes, there’s a mystery and “who done it” involved, but it will stir the discussion of faith and science.

  • Albert the Abstainer

    What is it to be created in the “image” of God?
    I will throw up a fanciful idea for your consideration. It comes from the idea of what would constitute an image of God, or to use another term in its place, an instantiation of the eternal.
    A few years ago I thought long and hard about the dilemma posed by omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God and the universe as an expanding bounded space-time bubble in which manifest amongst other things intelligent beings that reflect upon this form of inquiry. I was looking for one example of a relationship of similar type to say that it was not infeasible that eternal God exists and the universe expresses or unfolds as a mirror reflects, the image of God.
    I found my example. A fractal equation is virtual, it exists and is unchanging in itself, whether or not it instantiates. If it does instantiate, the unfolding fractal form is bounded by the equation. The form can only express the is-ness of the equation. And so starting from instantiation (at interation = 0), the form unfolds and from iteration to iteration it makes visible what was hidden and implicit in the equation. The unfolding fractal form can be iterated without limit, and will continuously unfold, never exhausting the equation. This is how I see the relationship between God and the universe. I see the universe as an unfolding space-time image of the eternal, bound by the is-ness of God to unfold and express but never exhaust what God the eternal is.

  • Derek Leman

    RJS:
    Way out of my depth here, but I’d like to ask a question. You have provided some positive evidence for common descent and I recognize this as compelling evidence. But the truth is any topic like this is incredibly complex. So that leads me to a question.
    Isn’t it true that the plausibility of random mutations as the means for advancing evolution is massively questionable? I mean, didn’t Michael Behe make some sense in Darwin’s Black Box about the mathematical improbability of advancement by mutation (many seemingly simple systems require dozens or hundreds of simultaneous changes to appear)?
    Maybe you are saying that the mutations were not random, but supervised by God through direct intervention (wouldn’t that be ID?).
    derek4messiah.wordpress.com

  • Michael W. Kruse

    #23 RJS
    RJS quotes Calvin??? On Jesus Creed??? My heart is strangely warmed … oh wait … that was that 18th Century English guy! :-)

  • Philip Henry

    Michael Behe also argues that the presence of what he calls “irreducible complexity” at the molecular level argues against evolution and for intelligent design. By irreducible complexity he refers to certain molecular structures
    that could not have evolved into their present function. This is because if a component in the structure is removed it would not function at all.
    In his book he uses the example of the mouse trap as an illustration of irreducible complexity. Take away one piece and it is nonfunctional.

  • Kyle

    Karl,
    I don’t have much time today to comment, but let me mention that Waltke and Walton are also influential in my interpretation, not to forget Kaiser, Ross and Goldingay. By Hamilton, do you mean Jim at Southern? If so, then I’m also there with ya, he’s a great guy and a wonderful scholar. And it was Henry Morris’ commentary that sat beside my bed in college, haha, so we’re both coming from similar camps here. Now, simply read back through the ideas of the commentaries by these evangelicals with theistic evolution in mind. There’s not the conflicts that you might think. I think someone else you might want to look at it C. John Collins. I’ve read parts of his commentary on Genesis 1-4, but it’s fascinating and deals very much with the issues outlined here from an evangelical perspective.

  • Jeremiah Daniels

    #30 A man who must have been cut from the same cloth as me! I like the analogy. It sparked to my mind the blue ring from the science fiction novel “Manifold” by Stephen Baxter.
    The problem is that the “otherness” of God is that it makes him escape physical description.
    I’d recommend reading Karen Armstrong’s comments about the nature of God in her series “Battle for God” and “A History of God.” While she’s definitely not Christian nor Orthodox, she does offer some interesting ways for non-believers/non-Orthodox to look at God.

  • Mark Z.

    Derek #31: It doesn’t make sense to talk about the mathematical likelihood of something that has already happened. When you shuffle a deck of cards, the probability that they’ll be in any specific order is 1/52! = about 10^-68. Nonetheless, there they are.
    Now if we find a slab of platinum buried under the surface of the Moon, engraved with a picture of a human, we can talk about whether some outside Intelligence influenced the process to guide it toward the result that we see. But short of some such “signature”, what we observe is: Mutations that are beneficial to survival and reproduction get propagated. Those that aren’t, don’t.
    The catch in a simplistic, naturalistic view of evolution is that God could be tweaking those mutations and we’d never know it. We generally assume mutations are just random.
    The catch in ID is that if God inserts a mutation that doesn’t support survival and reproduction, that mutant is not going to survive. (To paraphrase Neal Stephenson, everything living on the Earth today is a stupendous badass.) So if God’s design goal for life is anything other than “survive and reproduce”, the project is doomed. On the other hand, a goal of “survive and reproduce” can’t be distinguished from unguided evolution. It’s very close to saying that God is evolution.

  • Doug Allen

    Derek #31,
    “Isn’t it true that the plausibility of random mutations as the means for advancing evolution is massively questionable?” That would only be true with a fairly young earth. Given a 4 1/2 billion year old earth, no problem.
    Philip #33,
    Michael Behe also argues that the presence of what he calls “irreducible complexity” at the molecular level argues against evolution and for intelligent design.
    Phillip. Behe’s examples have the subject of articals in academic journals. His examples have all been refuted by his peers, and he acknowledges that, but is still trying to find and publish an example of irreducible complexity.
    Doug

  • RJS

    Doug,
    It isn’t fair to say that all of Behe’s examples have been disproven – although I think it highly likely that they will be. The premise of irreducible complexity is flawed – we’d need to find the biological equivalent of Mark Z’s slab of platinum buried under the surface of the Moon, engraved with a picture of a human and none of the constructs Behe proposes are anything that strange.
    Derek,
    We could talk about the odds for life to develop – which many do think indicates a design by God (myself included). But this is a contemplation along the lines of Psalm 19. All of creation declares the glory of God. Those convinced that God does not exist will see nothing but random chance (and sometimes accuse us of believing in the magic God fairy ala #27 above).

  • http://www.whiterose4jon.net Mike Mangold

    RJS: thanks for stepping up to the plate again (and in the face of wild pitchers and corrupt umpires!). God, Son of God, gods, angels, demons, Satan, etc. are all “spiritual beings.” They do not require, much less need, a material explanation for their existence. Let’s think of Humankind as God’s “Great Experiment”: how can He (God) create spirit from material? (Push real hard here). At that point in evolution when brain became mind (material became spiritual), a consciousness was born. That mind is the integration center of our spirit, so that even though we are children of the dust (material beings) we have become spiritual beings, like unto the image of God. When we die, our brains die and therefore our spirit vanishes. We are literally in hell (in the hole). At our resurrection, we will have glorified bodies and therefore glorified spirits, a quantum leap from the present world. I suggest we integrate Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” with NT Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” for a more logical explanation of God’s plan for us.
    And then, of course, there is Jesus’ incarnation: spirit-into-material in order to rescue that plan gone awry due to our tendency to believe brain knows better than spirit. There is no dichotomy between material and spiritual, between brain and mind. And that is God’s great experiment.

  • RJS

    Karl,
    Back in #6 you commented on the incident in Iowa where a professor who wrote on ID was denied tenure. Here is my perspective for what it is worth.
    I am certain that he faced a significant backlash for his ideas – but there was much more to it than this alone. He didn’t publish peer-reviewed research related to ID, he prepared public information type material. For an assistant professor in the sciences at a major research university to invest considerable amounts of time in a project like this shows a real lack of judgment.
    Assistant Professors in the sciences at major research universities have five years (at most places) to establish a national and international reputation as an independent creative researcher, contributing to the scholarly discipline. Tenure is based on funding level, research productivity (number of quality peer reviewed papers arising from independent work; that is work as an assistant professor, not work prior to starting the position), and letters from a number of experts who outline the major creative contributions made by the candidate. With teaching and a small amount of University service thrown into the pot as well Assistant Professors in our department work 60+ hour weeks or so to put it together (I certainly did). I know many places (not ours) where assistant professors, male and female, are discouraged from starting a family prior to tenure as it severely impacts available time and energy.
    Michael Behe is a tenured professor and is still employed and teaching – tenure is a protection for academic freedom, although unpopular ideas will always cost in some way. But the pre-tenure probationary period is a time to establish credibility, not a time to test the limits.
    And as you point out – the scientific community cannot hold a candle in comparison to the evangelical world when it comes to suppression of ideas. The boundaries are more rigid and more vehemently defended in evangelicalism. While there are a handful of stories of true discrimination in secular academia, there are many more stories from a much smaller pool of people within academic evangelicalism, in Biblical Studies and in Science.
    I sometimes think the attitude toward scientific ideas and view of the scientific community in evangelicalism reflects the evangelical mindset. Because evangelicalism defends boundaries with such vehement vigor it is assumed that secular science has similar boundaries also defended with vehement vigor – but it just isn’t so. The limits and boundaries are much fuzzier, not walls to be defended.

  • http://www.livingspirituality.org Greg Laughery

    Thanks RJS for spurring on this crucial discussion. As I’ve mentioned previously, I think we need to seriously engage with hermeneutics when it comes to the science/faith debate. Careful studies in hermeneutics will raise many issues that will help us better perceive the text and the world.
    As to the question posed in the post. Why don’t we start to think of image in the sense that humans are the corporeal representatives on earth of the incorporeal God? Perhaps, image resonates with a calling out and that humans, not animals, have the capacity to begin to understand the meaning of this in terms of imaging God.

  • http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog dopderbeck

    RJS (#40) — I need to differ with you a bit here. From what I know of the Gonzalez case, it was a clear case of anti-Christian bias, spurred by Hector Avalos, a well-known and vocal Dawkins-style atheist. Gonzalez had a very good record — not perfect, but very good. The bias was significant enough that the ASA leadership sent a letter to ISU’s President about it. True, Gonzalez unwisely spent time proselytizing for his version of ID before tenure. Nevertheless, he also had a significant peer-reviewed publication record.
    I also think your view of boundary-policing in the natural sciences is not accurate. The natural sciences police boundaries vigorously through the faculty hiring, grant writing, and peer review processes, among other ways. The Science and Technology Studies (“STS”) literature is filled with examples. One of my law faculty colleagues, who writes on scientific evidence in the legal system, scoffs at the notion that peer review is objective (and this guy is no creationist, believe me!). Lee Smolin’s book “The Trouble With Physics” is one excellent case study. IMHO, many theistic evolution supporters have become so disgusted with the political aspects of ID — rightly, IMHO — that they overstate the objectivity of the scientific enterprise in order to avoid giving aid and comfort to the IDists or creationists.
    Finally, I’m not sure about the boundary-policing of evangelicalism. The problem is that this requires a definition of evangelicalism. Obviously, at least some subsets of evangelicalism police boundaries vigorously and even angrily (though I’m surprised now and then to learn what some rank-and-file members of the Evangelical Theological Society really think). My friend who is a Roman Catholic priest thinks “evangelical” is just a meaninglessly broad blanket term for hundreds of “protestant sects.” He might have a point, if people as diverse as Scot McKnight and Al Mohler fall under the same umbrella.

  • Doug Allen

    Chris B #9 For every person who meets evolution and turns out like RJS, there appear to be 3 who turn out like Dawkins.
    Chris,
    I think you? and many Christians are scared away from science by evolution, but I don’t think the converse is as true. In my religiously liberal faith community I know of very few who would see evolution as a barrier to being Christian. There are more important barriers. Barrier 1 can be summarized by- “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Many religious, including Christianity, seem to inspire behaviors intended to defend their beliefs, evangelize, or fulfill what they believe is God’s plan, behaviors that result in war and other atrocities. Barrier 2: a passionately defended Christian orthodoxy that logically would accept eternal hell for wee infants and people who never heard of Christianity and Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, etc. Ironically, orthodoxies of earlier centuries might even send many of those passionate defenders to hell.
    Barrier 3: and this is close to #2, but an especially important barrier for followers of Jesus like myself. You take yourselves and your arguments way too seriously as though God’s love and justice isn’t enough. That is, you assume God’s role as judges.
    Doug

  • Bob Brague

    I see the discussion goes on. “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

  • http://andrew-s-murray.blogspot.com/ Andrew Murray

    I sometimes wonder if we make the issue of “the image of God” more complicated to start with than it really should be. If you look at the text of Gen 1, v. 27 says we were created in God’s image and created male/female. Then v. 28 says we were given rulership over the earth. I think this is what it means to be in God’s image. Humanity being created male/female (and these ultimately united in the covenant relationship of marriage) images the sameness/otherness of the perfect union of the triune God. Our rulership over the earth images God’s rule & reign over all of creation.
    Of course, in our rulership over the earth (and the covenant relationship of marriage, too) many factors come into play: intelligence, emotions, volition, moral judgment, and all of the other things that usually get talked about when the subject of “the image of God” is raised.
    Animals cannot image the Trinity. Animals cannot rule over the earth in the way that God rules & reigns over all of creation. The big idea, I think, is that humans are sacred and unique and valuable. We are “like God” in ways that animals are not. We bear similarity to God.
    (My ideas are based on my observation of the English text. Perhaps someone with knowledge of the original language could shed some more light as to their validity?)

  • RJS

    dopderbeck,
    No one knows better than an academic scientist working within the system that scientists are people and the peer-review process is no more perfect, pure, and unsullied than any other human enterprise. We live in a messy world. Intrinsic logic and empiricism keep the general direction true in the long run.
    The myth of pure objectivity is an outsider view, not an insider view.
    On evangelicalism – you are right and I was specifically thinking of the controversies in the ETS and specific incidents at conservative evangelical colleges – especially in line with Karl’s comments in #6.

  • Your Name

    “What about ‘God creates it, science analyzes it, Scripture interprets it and I believe it?’”
    Sorry to take so long (I’m going all the way back to #3) but allow me to just push back a little here. Why science before scripture? God chooses to reveal Himself to us and yet we’re going to start with what we observe in creation and then compare it to scripture. Sorry, it just seems like building on shifting sand to me. I’ll start with scripture any day of the week and then consider what the scientific mind thinks. Science changes. Scripture remains the same.

  • Mark Z.

    Bob, if you have “knowledge of the truth”, why don’t you do something useful with it? Like cure stomach cancer, or fix global warming, or get Israel and Hamas to stop shooting at each other?
    What you’re doing instead–coming here and scoffing at us for talking about science–shows the utter futility of “truth” as imagined by fundamentalists. The only “truth” you seem to know is that you’re better than the rest of us.
    Anonymous comment #47: You actually made an argument instead of just sniping at everyone. Thank you.
    What we observe in nature is also God’s revelation, and the growth of our knowledge over time keeps a space open for wonder and for the fresh activity of the Spirit.
    I think the point of the earlier statement, “God creates it, science analyzes it, Scripture interprets it, and I believe it,” was not to put either science or Scripture “first”, but to show that they both have a role. Scripture comments on science–for example, it tells us that when we apply the science of economics, we ought to pay attention to what’s happening to people of very limited options, such as slaves and refugees.
    Conversely, science comments on Scripture–for example, it tells us the creation of the world in seven days is probably metaphorical, whereas the death of Jesus on the cross was very, very literal.
    Andrew Murray: The big idea, I think, is that humans are sacred and unique and valuable. We are “like God” in ways that animals are not.
    And, in an amazing coincidence, humans are the ones saying this. Xenophanes commented that if horses could hold a chisel, we’d find statues of gods that look like horses.

  • Your Name

    I think, “What about ‘God creates it, science analyzes it, Scripture interprets it and I believe it?’” is OK. The Bible says “not the spiritual first, but the physical, then the spiritual.” Jesus always used parables about the physical world to explain the spiritual.
    Do you guys do this all the time? As a guy whose knowledge of biology begins and ends with disecting a fetal pig in highschool this is fascinating. It’s a refreshing change from spending way too much time at youtube.(see #27 it’s full of that kind of stuff.)

  • Alan P.

    I forgot to sign #49.
    Alan P.

  • Bob Brague

    Mark Z. (#48), I was quoting Paul. He’s the one you have the argument with, not me.

  • RJS

    Bob,
    And the context of your quote in 2 Tim. 3 makes it particularly insulting.

  • dopderbeck

    Bob (#49, 52) — no, I think I have an argument with you.
    Are you suggesting that RJS and everyone else here who is trying to synthesize the truth we learn from nature with the truth we learn from scripture are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”? Are you suggesting that we “are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires”? Because that’s what the rest of 2 Tim. 3 says.
    Isn’t it easy to just brush off the facts by blithely tossing off a proof text? If you want to throw this kind of atom bomb, you’d better understand the context.

  • dopderbeck

    Oh, and by the way, Bob, I’m pretty sure I can name a dozen fundamentalist preachers in the last twenty years or so who fit the description of 2 Tim. 3 exactly. None of the Christian natural scientists and scholars I personally know have built vast TV empires by bilking old ladies out of their savings selling blessed hankies and other such nonsense.

  • Derek Leman

    RJS:
    You said the premise of irreducible complexity is flawed. Again, I’m an exegete and not a molecular biologist. But as with most basically intelligent human beings, I can grasp logic. The logic of irreducible complexity seems to be:
    1. Some biological systems require the simultaneous existence of dozens or hundreds of pieces in proper relation to one another.
    2. Random mutation is unlikely to produce dozens or hundreds of simultaneous mutations in the proper relationship to one another.
    3. Whatever the explanation for the development of the species, random mutation is not likely to be the correct one.
    Please let me know where I am wrong. I don’t have an agenda. I’m seeking understanding from someone I trust as an intellectual and a person of faith (namely you).
    Derek Leman
    derek4messiah.wordpress.com

  • RJS

    Derek,
    That is a pretty good summary of the premise. The problem lies in proving #2 – that no “natural” mechanism exists to produce the complex constructs observed.
    Behe has proposed examples of irreducible complexity – and this has spurred some research to demonstrate plausible natural mechanisms. Suppose natural mechanisms are proposed with strong supporting evidence. Does the existence of plausible “natural” mechanism mean no God? No designer? I certainly don’t think so. It just means we have discovered more of the method of creation.
    And there is so much that we don’t know yet, that I certainly do not want to hang anything on the absence knowledge of a potential mechanism. Research into complexity – the fact that the whole can be greater the sum of the parts is a major effort these days at many places.

  • Mark Z.

    Bob, I don’t know how you learned all these quotations from Paul without learning to read. Nor do I care.
    Derek, the short answer is that complex systems that work always evolve from simpler systems that worked. Something like the blood clotting cascade, which Behe likes to point to as irreducibly complex, consists of several stages of amplification through various enzymes and signaling factors. One way this can evolve from a simple system is that you have, for example, one enzyme (A) that’s autocatalytic (once activated, finds other molecules of the same enzyme and activates them) and also activates a target (let’s assume we’re talking about the clotting cascade and it’s fibrin). At some point, A develops a mutant form, B, which is better at activating fibrin but isn’t autocatalytic.
    Everyone has two copies of the genome. If you have AA, your blood clots “normally”. If you’re BB, you have a bleeding disorder and probably die young. If you’re AB, it clots better than normally and you have a survival advantage, especially in childbirth. This genotype becomes prevalent and (through recombination) both enzymes end up in the genome, coded by separate genes. Both of them are now free to evolve to be optimal at their distinct jobs. A really only needs to activate itself and B, so its ability to activate fibrin isn’t conserved and eventually goes away.
    You now have an irreducibly complex system. Now you may argue that this is “unlikely”, but it’s more likely than A and B randomly evolving at the same time.

  • Kyle

    #47 (who I assume is Dave)
    “Why science before scripture?”
    I’m not sure that I’m saying science before Scripture in any valued order. We naturally analyze things before we seek interpretation though. I think of Romans 1:19-20 in this regard, where Paul says that God’s attributes have been clearly seen since Creation. I’m someone who believes that God’s natural revelation (Creation) is every bit as real and valuable as his special revelation (Scripture). They are the “two books” by which God reveals himself and teaches us.
    “Science changes. Scripture remains the same.”
    I wish it were this simple. I really do. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is shaped by values, traditions, politics, etc. and all of this influences how we interpret Scripture. The general meaning of the words of Scripture remain the same (although there is plenty of interpretation in the transmission and translation of Scripture as well…even in the minds of those who read Koine Greek fluently). When we read the text though, we read in all types of cultural biases and understandings. Our understanding of reality will never be like that of the 1st century church, or the 15th century church, or our parent’s church.
    So yeah, the text of Scripture never changes, but our interpretations do. I think this is something similar to the argument you are making against science.

  • RJS

    Well, a few have commented on the question I asked – about the image of God. My nascent thoughts are that the image of God is best seen in the qualities of Love and Creativity. And these have been mentioned by others above.
    As like God, in the image of God, we have been created to Love in relationship – with God and with others. And in the image of God we have been created with the capacity and drive for abstract thought, speculation, and imagination, and with the drive to produce, to create, to build. Despite the statements of some researchers that we differ only in quantity from primates – apes and chimpanzees, I think that we differ in quantity, quality, and capacity for both Love and Creativity. I don’t really think that one mutation, one unique event made the difference, although it could have – but I do think that God guided the process.
    Certainly the call to love permeates the NT, Jesus, Paul, James, John, and Peter.
    And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Lk 10:26-28
    For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal. 5:14
    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Eph. 5:1-2
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 Jn 4:7-8
    If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. James 2:8
    Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23

  • Scott M

    I’m the son and nephew of two geneticists. So I’ve absorbed much just from talking with them my whole life. While there is enormous work remaining, there really isn’t much more question these days about the overall shape and nature of evolution up to and including human beings than there is over, say, the nature and composition of the sun, the solar system, and the galaxy. When RJS says the data and evidence are overwhelming, she’s speaking simple truth.
    It’s my observation that so many of these discussions (from any ‘side’) come to revolve around a view of a god who is somehow separate and distinct or outside his physical creation. I think I would like to suggest that this view of God carries with it a very different flavor from the Christian perspective of a God who is “everywhere present and filling all things”; of a God who, as Paul says, “gives to all life, breath, and all things” and “in Him we live and move and have our being”; or as Paul writes of Christ, “in Him all things consist.” Nor is this view of God consistent with the Old Testament perspective we see in places like Isaiah 6 & 11 and Habbakuk 2. Yes, our God existed before all and transcends creation. We are not pantheists. But neither can we say that creation somehow has an independent existence or is any way separate from God.
    Whether under the umbrella of ID or any other label, when someone is looking for evidence of an entity who somehow intervened in the “natural” process, it seems to me they are looking for some other god, perhaps one more like the Deist god. Now, it is also Christian to hold that God does not begrudge existence to any of his creation. That is, even though everything exists moment to moment solely because God wills it, God will never cease to will it. (That is, btw, the flaw in the perspective of the annihilationists.) It strikes me that anything we can discover through scientific means about the nature and means of creation would, by definition, appear ‘natural’ from our perspective. How could it not?
    Yes, that means human beings are able to believe that our existence is wholly physical with no spiritual component and that natural processes and ‘randomness’ account for everything. So what? Human beings have believed and continue to believe a whole raft of stories about creation. I’ve believe a small handful myself over the years. (The wholly materialistic perspective never appealed to me. Even if it’s true, what’s the point in believing it? But I never really believed it anyway.) The fact that people don’t ‘have’ to believe in our God is nothing new. We can’t change it and we certainly cannot even influence it if the way we speak is ‘unchristian’ in nature.
    The image question is interesting. While I know that many over the ages have attempted to understand the nature of the ‘image’ by looking at ways that we are different from the rest of creation, I’m not really convinced that’s ultimately helpful. In some ways, it strikes me as trying to understand what you look like by examining everything which you don’t look like. I think we understand the nature of the ‘image’ as we grow to understand God. And we grow to understand God through the lens of Jesus of Nazareth. As we are like him, we act in accordance with the image in which we were created.

  • Scott M

    Oh, and RJS, that does mean that I see in our eikonic nature love, which overflows into creativity. I would add to that the freedom to actually create, which carries with it the freedom to destroy.

  • Scott M

    The best summary of the image I’ve seen in a while:
    “We were not created to live as an object but as a person – the very image of God.”
    http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/the-absent-god-introibo-ad-altare-dei/

  • RJS

    Scott M,
    Thanks – that is a nice summary.

  • dopderbeck

    Scott M (#60-62) — This is the “other Scott M”, right? Anyway, I think your comments about the image of God are helpful. However, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with your discussion of the nature of God.
    We are not pantheists — but we are also not panentheists, right? I understand why many theistic evolution folks are attracted to panentheism. If creation is not ontologically “separate from” God — if creation is “part of” God — this perhaps helps with some of our issues concerning “randomness” and theodicy. But, it seems to me, this comes at a great cost to the definition of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    I have to confess that I find Pannenberg and Moltmann’s theology attractive, and I’m not sure whether they veer too far into the dangerous (IMHO) forms of panentheism or not. Nevertheless, I think we need to speak of divine action, theodicy, and biological evolution without messing with the classical ontology of creation.

  • Scott M

    I have some familiarity and history following the path of one form of panentheism, Hinduism. Christianity is not like that. Personally, I prefer the way N.T. Wright puts it. We may not be panentheists, but we are certainly The-en-panists – God in all. Everything I quoted and referenced is the scriptural picture of God and also permeates all I can find of most of Christianity we would call ‘orthodox’.
    As soon as you talk about a creation that is separate from God, that is not a part of God, that somehow has self-existence, ya ain’t talkin’ Christianity. Perhaps some form of Deism, like I said. But it isn’t classical, orthodox Christianity.

  • dopderbeck

    Scott (#65) — no, classical, orthodox Christianity clearly maintains an ontological distinction — an infinite ontological distinction — between God and creation. Here is a good summary from an essay at the end of the book The Patristic Understanding of Creation: an Anthology of Writings from the Church Fathers on Creation and Design:

    “There is an infinite distance between God and creation, and this is a distance of natures. All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature — (ou topoi alla phusei) — as St. John Damascene explains. And this distnace is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. As St. Augustine said, in creation “there is nothing related to the Trinity, except the fact that the Trinity has created it. . . . Any trnasubstantiation of creaturely nature into the Divine is as impossible as the changing of God into creation, and any “coalescence” and “fusion” of natures is excluded.”

    The passages you cite about God being in all were not understood by the Fathers to mean that God is in any way consubstantial with the creation. Again, from the same essay:

    “These [Divine] energies do not mix with created things, and are not themselves these things, but are only their basic and life-giving principles; they are the prototypes, the predeterminations, the reasons (logoi) and Divine decisions respecting them, of which they are participants and ought to be ‘communicants’.

    The essay goes on, and the book contains some fascinating primary source material. In any event, IMHO there is no basis in the tradition for any view that God is in any way consubstantial with the creation.

  • Scott M

    And the main point of disagreement in these discussions seems to be either one of two things. Either it’s the idea that God created the world a short time ago and for some indiscernible reason created it so that all the physical evidence indicates a much older earth. To me that’s a Trickster god, so I’ve never been interested in that discussion and try not to engage it.
    The more nuanced discussion flows around whether or not God (or at least a ‘god’) directs, designs, and intervenes in the ‘natural’ development of creation. It’s that discussion which leads to ideas like the general creation in which God intervenes with the special creation of man that was mentioned. From a Christian perspective, though, it strikes me that many Christians tend to unconsciously cede a key assumption, that whether or not a ‘god’ created it, the earth somehow has its own ‘self-existence’ that proceeds along ‘natural’ courses most of the time.
    My point is that I think if we accept that presupposition, the entire Christian perspective ultimately deconstructs. Within Christianity, ‘self-existence’ is an attribute solely of God. So when has God intervened? Every moment, every instant that any bit of the physical creation has ever existed. It’s all God.
    Can you ‘prove’ that? I suppose it depends on what you mean by proof. But that’s what our Holy Scriptures say about the relationship between God and creation. And it is what Christians seem to have universally believed at least well into what we call the middle ages. The earlier issues on this matter look different than some of the ancient discussions because one of the competing ancient ideas was the platonic idea that matter was eternal. There were heresies that developed around the idea that matter was eternal and God fashioned creation from it. However, even if it looks somewhat different in its modern form, it strikes me that it’s still fundamentally the same argument and as Christians we cannot cede the idea that creation has an independent self-existence following a ‘natural’ course.
    That’s what I’m trying to say.

  • Scott M

    I didn’t say God was consubstantial with creation. I said creation is infused with and sustained by the energies of God. That it has no existence apart from God. That the whole world is filled with his glory. God is all in all, though part of that is currently veiled (as far as I can tell so that we are not immediately infused with the purifying fire of his unveiled love — which we cannot yet endure).
    And I know it took me a long time even to begin to wrap my head around (and I’ve truly just begun) what the ideas of ‘nature’ and ‘energies’ and ‘essence’ meant in those particular ancient discussions. They weren’t operating from the same philosophical perspectives from which we operate and it can be very difficult to penetrate some of the ancient treatises. To get there, I’ve studied those along the centuries who commented on those treatises to begin to get a sense for what certain people mean.
    I also tend to find Augustine a little too influenced in his theology by Plato. The foundation of his idea of original sin as inherited guilt owes itself almost entirely to the philosophical concept of ‘seminal reasons’. Similarly here, if you posit a creation with the attribute of self-existence, you’re talking Plato (or any of a number of other philosophical/theological frameworks), not Christianity.

  • Scott M

    Interestingly to me, it seems to be as those in the modern era pursued the idea of independent self-existence that the common evangelical idea that human beings who don’t ‘accept Christ’ face ‘eternal separation’ from God seems to have come into play. That is, of course, at best faulty language. A place that God is not does not and cannot exist. (Thus the psalm to that effect.) There is a sense that as we sin we at some level seek separation from God. Absolutely. But if we were actually able to achieve it, we would cease to exist.

  • Philip Henry

    I was looking through one of my theology textbooks (Shirley Guthrie’s Christian Doctrine) and Guthrie says that Moltmann’s version of Christian panentheism represents the best attempt to bring God’s transcendent and immanent qualities together in one theology. According to Guthrie, in Moltmann’s theology, God is seen as the only realty that is. God has made and continues to make room within Himself for life different from God. Moltmann suggests that the best analogy to express the relation between God and His creation is a mother who makes room for and nourishes new life in her. The child is dependent upon the mother but yet has an independent life.

  • Eric

    Scott M (# 60) — I find your way of looking at this issue very helpful. Thanks.

  • Your Name

    RJS, Scott M, I’m a theology student looking for science books to learn the science end of the science-theology discussion. Aside from Polkinghorne, Collins, Peacocke, Shults and the like, could you instead suggest some basic primers on evolution and biology that would give someone who trusts that science has basically ‘proved’ evolution, but wants to be able to talk about it with some knowledge (and to speak intellignetly to Christians who do NOT trust science).

  • RJS

    Your Name (#72),
    Off the top of my head I don’t have a good recommendation – but I have had a couple of other request for such a recommendation and I am looking into it. Perhaps someone else will have a suggestion here as well.

  • Scott M

    I’m sorry. I don’t really have any good recommendations. My knowledge and insight is simply the accumulation of living it, discussing different discoveries, helping as a lab tech, feeding statistical programs, listening to my Dad describe papers that were crap (he had “give back” to the peer review system) as well as the ones which really seemed to be onto something interesting, and generally just talking about his work. You can’t live that for three decades without absorbing a ton of information. Or at least, I couldn’t.
    But I don’t read much genetics or biology. My love has always been mathematics, particularly theoretical. And computers. My Dad did try to get me interested in biology, wildlife, and the rest growing up. But he also fed my love of mathematics. I’ve realized as an adult that some of the reading material I loved which he got me as gifts were not typical preteen/early teen reading material.
    Now I do read a lot of Christian stuff. That’s what I’m still trying to figure out. So it sounds like we are at different ends of the spectrum. ;)
    I will say that asking for one book to summarize all that falls under the label ‘evolution’ strikes a bit like asking for a single volume to summarize all of mathematics or all of physics. It’s a huge area of knowledge.

  • Albert the Abstainer

    If God is omnipresent, then God is found equally in all places, and is inherently inseparable from the universe.
    That being so, the universe manifests the is-ness of God.
    Evolution has extremely strong, to the point of being all but indisputable, evidence to support it. Some disagreement will exist about specific directions taken along evolutionary branches and factors influencing those directions, but evolution as an encompassing general theory is scientifically true.
    By extension of the universe manifesting the is-ness of God, evolution is a key mechanism which expresses that.
    Nature is the first and primary sacred form.

  • http://www.whiterose4jon.net Mike Mangold

    #72- these are all good and easy reads:
    The Structure of Evolutionary Theory; The Mismeasure of Man; Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History; and Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes by Stephen Jay Gould
    Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by E. O. Wilson
    The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God by David J. Linden.
    I like “Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes” the most.
    It’s interesting because Stephen Jay Gould and E.O. Wilson are on opposite ends of the political spectrum so the miscommunications and misinterpretations are similar to what goes on with Christians.
    Is anyone else having trouble submitting comments to BeliefNet?

  • http://science.drvinson.net David R Vinson

    Thanks RJS for bringing our attention to these matters. You’re doing us a great service. And I have a number of resources to suggest for #72, on the science webpage listed above. –DRV

  • dopderbeck

    RE: references — I second Doc Vinson’s mention of his website. Also, Francis Collins’ “The Language of God” and Darrell Falk’s “Coming to Peace with Science,” though (IMHO) weak on theology, offer good lay-level explanations of the science. Slightly more technical but also very good are the scientific essays in Keith Miller, “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation.”
    Scott M — ok, I think we’re close to saying the same thing. Your language at first suggested panentheism to me. But yes, God’s power infuses all of creation. In Thomas Torrance’s terms, the creation is absolutely “contingent” on God for its ongoing existence. And you are absolutely right — this means it is all “creation” even without periodic “interventions” in natural history.

  • http://krusekronicle.typepad.com Michael W. Kruse

    #72
    You might want to investigate the website Science and Faith by Berea College. Check out the essays and their references.
    Also, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation”, a collection of 21 essays edited by Keith B. Miller.
    There is also an article by Miller in the Georgia Journal of Science titled Countering public misconceptions about the nature of evolutionary science. I haven’t read this one but I like other things I’ve read by Miller.

  • Philip Henry

    Your Name (#72),
    If you want a different perspective on whether or not science has “proved” evolution, read Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson. He is a former law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, widely regarded as the “founder” of the Intelligent Design movement

  • RJS

    Philip Henry,
    By all means read Phillip Johnson – and Michael Behe, listen to what they have to say. Think it through. I have. I have also read Dawkins
    But don’t expect a lawyer to have the last word on science – at least not a lawyer with no real science training. Take Michael Behe, Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, Darrel Falk – those who know science – for the science. Read Alister McGrath who has degrees in both science (biophysics I think) and theology. Read the arguments and discuss the points of disagreement with others. I know Michael Behe is an ID proponent – one of the most important, so compare his arguments with other scientists, especially other prominent Christian Scientists.

  • Doug Allen

    Dear theology student,
    Read Darwin and about Darwin. You will learn a lot about scientific observation and scientific method and how frightened Darwin was to publish, yes, to even to think what he did. He may never have published if another biologist, Alfred Russel Wallace hadn’t contacted him. I’ll let you discover why.
    Almost all of Stephen Jay Gould’s books relate to revolution. Very good writer.
    Scott M. Thanks for your comments which I also find helpful.
    Doug

  • Alan P.

    As knowledge increases concerning the natural causes of the development of the creation it seems to me that we should consider the possibility that its continued existence depends on natural laws put in place at its inception rather than on God’s continued involvement. Most of the posts here seem to suggest that it’s a bad idea. Could be. I’m a complete layman and maybe all wet. I mostly just like reading what some folks with an education have to say on this page.

  • Kyle

    #72,
    Ted Peters has also done some wonderful work at the intersection of theology/science. His systematic theology “God: The World’s Future” is outstanding.

  • Scott M

    I’m sorry. I don’t really have any good recommendations. My knowledge and insight is simply the accumulation of living it, discussing different discoveries, helping as a lab tech, feeding statistical programs, listening to my Dad describe papers that were crap (he had “give back” to the peer review system) as well as the ones which really seemed to be onto something interesting, and generally just talking about his work. You can’t live that for three decades without absorbing a ton of information. Or at least, I couldn’t.
    But I don’t read much genetics or biology. My love has always been mathematics, particularly theoretical. And computers. My Dad did try to get me interested in biology, wildlife, and the rest growing up. But he also fed my love of mathematics. I’ve realized as an adult that some of the reading material I loved which he got me as gifts were not typical preteen/early teen reading material.
    Now I do read a lot of Christian stuff. That’s what I’m still trying to figure out. So it sounds like we are at different ends of the spectrum. ;)
    I will say that asking for one book to summarize all that falls under the label ‘evolution’ strikes a bit like asking for a single volume to summarize all of mathematics or all of physics. It’s a huge area of knowledge.

  • Scott M

    Well, that was weird. The page refreshed as I was typing and discarded the paragraph I had completed. Here goes take 2.
    Alan (#83), the god you are describing is essentially the Deist god, the one who makes the clockwork universe, sets it running, and steps back and watches. Such a god is by nature distant and ultimately deconstructs as unnecessary. It makes no practical difference if that god exists or not. Basically, you end up more or less with Nietzsche whatever path you follow. That’s one fundamental problem with such a god.
    The other problem, if you’re someone who follows Jesus of Nazareth, is that such a god is completely unlike the God made fully known to us through Jesus and further described in Holy Scripture. He is the one who once gave as his name the idea that he simply is, the only self-existent one. He is not only the creator of all things, but the sustainer of all things. He is everywhere present and filling all things. By that same token, of course, I find it highly unlikely that we’re going to look into the fabric of creation and find signs of “unnatural” intervention providing “evidence” of this creator God. Given what we say, or at least what we should say, about God, that strikes me as absurd. And I think part of the need to find material evidence flows from the idea so many have absorbed that God is somehow distant — that he’s somewhere else.
    Diverging slightly from this topic, it occurs to me that something similar may be at work when people try to figure out how our problem, death, relates to the natural universe. It’s clear from the dramatic and utterly unprecedented nature of the solution (the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit) that this was not a straightforward problem. The solution was multidimensional and utterly nonlinear as Christ, in the Resurrection, defeated death and emptied Hades, past, present, and future. That certainly seems to indicate that the problem was multidimensional and nonlinear. I’ve long thought that sin had to have, by it’s nature, acted and continue to act in nonlinear and even apparently noncausal ways. And that the problem we all inherit, death and the corruption leading to death, permeated creation (or at least the piece somehow connected to us). I’ve more recently discovered that it’s not a particularly new idea.
    Anyway, it relates here because, if it is a fabric of reality sort of problem, death would also look ‘natural’ to our senses, to the material evidence we could gather. Yet we largely reject it as natural. That’s not true only of Christianity, but of many spiritual perspectives, though the way that rejection plays out varies greatly. As Christians, we believe that when Jesus came out of that tomb, he altered human nature. It is no longer our nature to die. Past, present, and future, death has been defeated. That’s why, even though the act of (from our perspective) future new creation has not yet fully come and death still appears to reign in our flesh, our language is not of people dying, but of falling asleep.
    We can’t really imagine a reality without death, whatever that may mean. We can’t imagine a creation that is not disordered and often lethal. I don’t believe that some of the descriptions of a “timeless” eternal state are very useful or even Christian. (They remind me more of one of the dominant eastern spiritual perspectives.) “Time” is, more or less, simply the ordering of events. And whatever the renewed creation looks like, we can tell from Scripture that there is an ordering of events and activity (and work) still proceeding. Heck, even the barest hints of the self-existent Trinity we see before creation suggest some ordering of action. I like the way N.T. Wright puts it. God created time and created lots of it. But it does seem apparent from Scripture that all creation knew something changed when Jesus came out of the tomb and is now groaning for the eikon to get a clue.
    Anyway, I know that was a digression, but the thought (about death also appearing natural and present from the ‘beginning’) came to me this morning. I thought I would share it. If you’re going to look at the fabric of creation (whether in genomes, astrophysics, or the quantum level) for evidence of God, the evidence is not in something unusual which we can’t otherwise explain at the moment. The evidence *is* everything.

  • Scott M

    And #85 posted because I refreshed the captcha and didn’t notice until after I hit Post that the text was an earlier comment. I hit stop, but obviously not fast enough. I had copied the comment (#86) to the clipboard, so was able to post it.

  • Claire

    Hi, a great book for Christians to read on the topic would be: “Creation or Evolution: do we have to choose?” by Denis Alexander who is Director of the Faraday Institute. It covers many of the hot topics that concern evangelical Christians as well as providing a good scientific explanation about what evolution is and providing more detailed evidence for evolution than would be possible on this blog.

  • RJS

    Claire,
    I’ve heard good things about Alexander’s book, but don’t have it – perhaps we will get to it one of these days.

  • Steven Johnson

    I’m wondering if someone can point me to one really good discussion of the case for common descent based on DNA evidence, accessible for laypeople but detailed enough to press the case to the satisfaction of the knowledgeable creationist, that is available on the net. Falk’s ch 6 is great, but I’d love to be able to point to a web article as a basis for discussion. Searching so far turns up tons of chat and snippets but not the mother lode, as it were. Thanks in advance if you have any leads.

  • http://herenowkingdom.com/ Andy Catsimanes

    Even though I see it’s from 2008, I just got this post delivered to my inbox.

    I’ve recently been re-reading some books on consciousness and it seems to me that what makes humans different is not definable in terms of DNA, but in our relationship to the Logos.

    God created all creatures from the same physical stuff. But it is only humans whom God chose to breathe the breath of life into.

    That breath of life is our Spirit-empowered capacity to participate in the Logos. Or you could say it is our capacity for “parole” (speech) which makes us qualitatively different from creatures which, though possessing various degrees of consciousness, even “langue” (language) are not animated by the Logos which forms us in God’s image.

  • RJS4DQ

    Andy,

    I think you have a good point.

    This showed up today because I’ve been slowly reproducing my archive over at musings, and whenever I publish an old one the first part gets sent to subscribers. There is nothing I can do about that as far as I can tell.

  • http://herenowkingdom.com/ Andy Catsimanes

    I’ve only been following you for a few months, so I was happy to see it!


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