Creation, Evolution, and Embryology

I was delighted to see David Bailey quote a recent article by Joshua Moritz, in which he points out that the Bible uses the same verb to refer to God creating or making the lightning, or a baby in the womb, as for making sea creatures, and beasts of the field, and human beings, in a variety of passages.

No one who is not completely deluded and/or ignorant of the relevant evidence would deny that there are explicable natural processes involved in the formation of lightning, and snow, and organisms in the womb.

And so why do some people selectively choose to object only to the explanation of our origins from earlier living things in natural terms, when science accounts in natural terms for just about every process which, in the Bible, is prefaced with the words “God made…” ? What drives this? It cannot be fidelity to the Bible, since it rides roughshod across the Bible. Either God can be said to do all of those things without it contradicting explanation in natural terms, or belief in God as creator is disproven quite straightforwardly by means of meteorology and embryology, with no need to discuss the complexities of evolutionary biology. You can choose either, but what you cannot do while being consistent and honest is to embrace most of mainstream science, and then choose to regard one small subset or a handful of select domains as incompatible with Christian faith while the others are not.

So why do so many claim otherwise? I can only conclude that there are many who, even though they may think themselves sincere Christians, have been duped by malevolent and manipulative forces seeking to make the Christian faith an object of ridicule. Through their gullibility, their lack of discernment, and their lack of attention to Scripture, they have contributed not to the defense of the Christian faith, but to what can only be considered an attempt to undermine it. And their numbers in the United States have grown to such an extent that people actually mistake them for the representatives of the historic Christian faith! Those who know enough about the Bible, history, and science to know better, need to make their voices heard.

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  • John

    I’m glad you think you’re right. There’s not much room for other views given the tone of your writing.

    • There is plenty of room for a number of views in light of the evidence. But the Biblical, other Christian, scientific, and other evidence excludes some views as the work of charlatans, and young-earth creationism is in that category. Taking a conciliatory tone towards charlatans doesn’t do anyone any good, except for the charlatans themselves.

  • Kaz

    Two English sentences with the same verb:

    1) I’ve created a masterpiece!

    2) I’ve created a masterpiece!

    Sentence #1 was uttered by an architect upon the completion of the construction of a building he designed (=created). Sentence #2 was uttered by a painter upon the completion of a painting he painted (=created).

    You argue like a fundamentalist;-)

    • The article I linked to is talking about the same verb used with reference to divine creative activity. Sorry if you misunderstood from something I wrote.

      • Kaz

        What makes you think I misunderstood you?

        My point was that whether creation was directly or indirectly achieved is neither supported nor negated by the verb used. That’s the sort of argument that I’ve come to associate with the fundamentalist’s approach to exegesis. You know, like the fact that Colwell’s rule settled the translation question vis a vis John 1:1c, until it was realized that it didn’t, at which point Harner’s and Dixon’s thesis was put forth to show that QEOS is “qualitative”, which is assumed to mean something like “What God was, the Word was”, despite the fact that even that means no more and no less than the presuppositions within which the phrase is interpreted.

        • It is a response to a fundamentalist approach to the text, which claims that the verbs are significant – except when they ignore their significance.

          • Kaz

            So a dumb argument was offered to counter what was perceived to be a dumb argument?

          • Not to my knowledge. But since you have yet to show that you understood either the point countered or the point made, perhaps I should refrain from taking this further until you do, lest I find myself addressing what were in fact misperceptions?

          • Kaz

            There’s that skipping record again;-) James, any 6th grader can understand that argument. Pretty basic stuff.

          • Then you should have no problem persuading me that you have understood it. And since you choose to be anonymous, I have no way of knowing whether you are a sixth grader. 🙂

          • Kaz

            I’m not sure that I could persuade you that 1 + 1 = 2 if you were inclined to think otherwise;-) I’m not going to restate the argument(s) used in every post on your forum just to convince you that I understand them. Silly.

            BTW, you said:

            “You can choose either, but what you cannot do while being consistent and
            honest is to embrace most of mainstream science, and then choose to
            regard one small subset or a handful of select domains as incompatible
            with Christian faith while the others are not.”

            Actually, it is consistency and honesty, along with a heaping helping of courage that causes many to question Darwinian evolution (particularly its larger claims), precisely because it’s different from many other fields of scientific study; it seems to be more like a philosophical worldview than a science, and it does contradict the Bible, which contains evidence that the original writers considered Adam to be the first human being (e.g. Paul’s salvation doctrine; genealogies, which probably weren’t meant to be taken as metaphors; etc).

            It is the observation that there are serious logical, mathematical, and scientific problems with Neo Darwinism that causes many scientists and philosophers to question its validity. It is the observation that, along with the scientific problems, there are serious theological problems with naturalism that causes many Christians to resist it. You can bluster, boast, and belittle all you want, but that won’t dissuade people of courage from questioning the complacent consensus. It certainly won’t convince me to suspend my disbelief in the absurdity that is Neo Darwinism.

          • But it has been explained why such claims as those you make here about biological evolution are false. Biological evolution itself has as much the status of fact as anything in science that deals with the past as well as the present. If you don’t agree with Darwin about the mechanism then by all means propose another one. But don’t blur important distinctions and misrepresent science time and time again as though no one has ever pointed out your errors, and then simply repeat them again with an air of superiority over the thousands of scientists working in this field. It doesn’t make you look honest, moral, or well-informed, and certainly not Christian.

            Your comment also suggests that you did indeed fail to understand my point in the post above. This is incredibly frustrating – mainly because you insist that you understand while your words suggest that you don’t.

          • Ian

            “there are serious … mathematical … problems with Neo Darwinism that causes many scientists … to question its validity”

            You wouldn’t care to enumerate some of the serious mathematical problems with “Neo-Darwinism”, and the “many” scientists who question its validity on that basis would you? Speaking as someone who’s done rather a lot of work on the mathematics of evolution, I seem to have missed this rather important area of scholarship.

          • rmwilliamsjr


            It is the observation that there are serious logical, mathematical, and scientific problems with Neo Darwinism that causes many scientists and philosophers to question its validity.

            what are some of these things and those people?

          • Mary

            They are probably hanging out with the flat-earthers 🙂

          • rmwilliamsjr


            and it does contradict the Bible, which contains evidence that the original writers considered Adam to be the first human being (e.g. Paul’s salvation doctrine; genealogies, which probably weren’t meant to be taken as metaphors; etc).

            must i believe as did the original writers in polygamy, slavery, demons cause disease in order to honor God? is there a difference between the Bible using something people believed and teaching that belief is true for all people at all times?

            certainly slavery is the biggest issue like this in the Scriptures. All the writers believed slavery was God ordinated and necessary for a properly functioning human society. does that imply i must also? one only has to read robert dabney to understand this position.

  • A couple of hundred years ago, people did bristle at the scientific
    explanation for natural phenomena such as the rainbow and lightning. I lifted these quotes from A. Zajonc’s book “Catching the Light.” The first is from a Thomas Campbell whom I’d never heard of before.

    “When Science from Creation’s face
    Enchantment’s veil withdraws,
    What lovely visions yield their place
    To cold material laws”

    And John Keats wrote also

    “…In the dull catalogue of common things,
    Philosophy will clip an angel’s wing’s,
    Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
    Empty the haunted air, the gnomed mine …
    Unweave a rainbow…”

    It struck me as I read this that it may bear a relation to why so many American’s have such a resistance to what science has learned about our origins. People love mystery, desire wonder, and do not want to believe in what many perceive to be a cold, remote and random process-based material law. Comfort is sought in the miraculous.

  • izen

    Occasionalism covers this.
    God creates the lightning and the embryo as an ongoing act of continual intervention. Material causality is an aetheistic dellusion.

    • arcseconds

      I love occasionalism! :]

    • Nick Gotts

      Clearly, he needs to learn how to delegate!

  • Claude

    the Bible, which contains evidence that the original writers considered Adam to be the first human being (e.g. Paul’s salvation doctrine; genealogies, which probably weren’t meant to be taken as metaphors; etc).

    For heaven’s sake, even the Catholic Church accommodates evolution. Whether Adam was envisioned as literally the first man I won’t venture to say. But he was certainly the embodiment of the creature we all know: gullible, bewildered, prone to destruction. Evolution doesn’t neutralize Paul’s symbolism in the least.

    • Kaz

      “But he was certainly the embodiment of the creature we all know: gullible, bewildered, prone to destruction. Evolution doesn’t neutralize Paul’s symbolism in the least.”

      Paul’s salvation doctrine wasn’t based on mere “symbolism”; it was based on the understanding that the literal man Adam committed original sin, and as a result of that act he died, and passed sin and death on to his offspring. The fact that we can reshape his salvation doctrine anew in an effort to harmonize the bits that we like with the presupposition of naturalism doesn’t change the fact that what we then have is no longer Paul’s salvation doctrine, nor does it explain why, after rejecting the the first half as the product of ignorance, we manage to retain confidence that the second half is true.

      Do you think that the genealogies were considered “symbolic” by their original authors?

      • Claude

        the literal man Adam committed original sin

        The Adam and Eve story seems to me to be a story about the dawn of moral consciousness and the apprehension that humans possess an innate tendency to threaten their own well-being and survival (“sin”). It is also a story that attempts to explain why women endure childbirth, a process that so often resulted in an agonizing death to bring new life (ring any bells).

        It is not the literal Adam that must be redeemed in Paul’s salvation theory, though Paul may explain it that way, but what Adam represents, and he obviously has a point.

        As for the genealogies, they are important to societies where social station is hereditary and kinship-related, i.e. the Levitical priesthood. But as I said before, I don’t wish to venture into this territory. I don’t know anything about it.

        • Kaz

          I think that you’ve done a fine job showing how someone from our time can reshape Paul’s doctrine in an attempt to retain the parts that we like. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, in doing so you no longer have Paul’s salvation doctrine. Nor is it obvious to me why one should believe that your reshaped version is true.

          At least liberals pick and chose what to accept and what to reject at the clause level. When you reach the point where you find yourselves accepting or rejecting biblical teaching at the word level, then you probably won’t even believe yourselves anymore;-)

          • Kaz, all you keep saying is that you assume that Paul’s view is your own. Can you actually address the evidence for this when others bring it up, and present the case for your own interpretation of what the Pauline letters mean and the theology you understand to be set forth in them or assumed by their author? Just assuming that Paul’s view was what your view is, and that you are both right, doesn’t seem likely to lead to anything but frustration on the part of all those who are patiently trying to engage you in conversation.

          • Kaz

            I assume that Paul’s view was his own, as explicitly taught by him, not my own. No one has provided evidence that Paul didn’t believe that Adam was a historical person, and so there isn’t really anything from that end to address.

          • That is why trying to have conversations with you is so frustrating. To those who have studied Paul’s writings in depth, it may seem obvious that Paul’s meaning is other than what you assume it to be. But your own stance is that you are simply reading Paul, and thus you think that your own view needs no explanation or justification while everyone supposedly needs to give an account for their foolish departure from the obvious truth. You seem unable to grasp that that what you think is obvious seems that way to you because of your modern context and the influences on your interpretative framework, and not because it is what Paul seems to mean in his own context and read on his own terms.

          • Kaz

            “You seem unable to grasp that that what you think is obvious seems that
            way to you because of your modern context and the influences on your
            interpretative framework…”

            Quite the contrary, actually. I’m the one who is allowing Paul to develop his salvation doctrine in his own way, while those who accept naturalism realize that that *way* can’t be allowed to stand, so they reshape it.

            Your mentor once said “Let John be John”, and I would suggest that you apply those words to Paul as well.

          • An ironic reference to James Dunn, whose article is entirely about not imposing an inappropriate framework on John adopted from another time. What you are doing is assuming that your own theology is Paul’s even when the evidence suggests otherwise. That is not the same thing. And what makes this clear is that Dunn presents a case for his conclusions, while you do not.

          • Kaz

            Actually, I’m not imposing anything on Paul, whereas you seem disinclined to allow him to make his case in his own way. You want to interpret him according to our time; I’m content to interpret him based on his own understanding of Adam.

          • I am sure you are convinced of what you write. But that does not make it correct. Few readers notice the framework of interpretation they impose on the text except through extensive study. If your understanding reflects what Paul meant, why are you unwilling and/or unable to present an argument showing that your interpretation fits the evidence better than the one that I have offered? Why do you just persist in asserting that you are right, the one who understands Paul correctly, and therefore everyone who disagrees with you must be wrong?

          • Kaz

            Aren’t you the guy who doesn’t believe that the Bible is God’s word, that many of the things written therein are the product of their time and culture (= ignorance, in many cases), and that we therefore have to set aside, reshape, and go beyond what it says for our time lest our beliefs be based on faulty premises? Why are you struggling so hard to put the burden of proof on me, when, as you said vis a vis Matthew, it really doesn’t matter what they believed anyway? Your concern is obviously context depended, but the context isn’t the Bible, it’s your desire to counter me.

          • Why are you once again trying to avoid answering questions and presenting a case for your interpretation? The burden of proof falls as much as me as on you when either of us makes a claim about the meaning of a text. I have offered an explanation of why I understand the text the way I do. Is your view simply indefensible? If not, then why do you refuse to make the case for it?

          • Kaz

            A few points:

            1) I must have missed your argument wherein you make the case that Paul didn’t consider Adam to be a historical person. Can you re-state it, offering not only the assertions but the evidence upon which the assertions are based?

            2) I have no problem making a case to show that Paul considered Adam to be a historical person, but there are considerations that make me hesitate:

            (a) Paul already makes the case quite clearly, at least to those who read him in light of his own worldview;

            (b) I suspect that even you know deep down (as far as it’s possible to “know” such things) that Paul considered Adam to be a historical person, and so your insistence that I provide an argument in favor of something we both already accept is a questionable use of my time, which is diminishing every day;

            (c) even if I were to spend some time composing such an argument, the history of your reactions to views you reject suggests that such an undertaking could only end in frustration; and

            (d) doing so would take some time to compose, and so perhaps that can be the 2nd entry on my blog, which I’ll alert you to once completed.

          • Kaz

            I had said:

            “even if I were to spend some time composing such an argument, the history of your reactions to views you reject suggests that such an undertaking could only end in frustration;”

            Please replace that with this:

            “even if I were to spend some time composing such an argument, the history of your reactions to views you have decided to reject — for whatever reason at a given moment and in the context of a given dialogue — suggests that such an undertaking could only end in frustration;”

            I decided to clarity this because I really don’t think that James would insist that Paul considered Adam to be a purely literary invention if he were conversing with fellow scholars. But in a dialogue with me — a person whom he apparently feels some need to counter — he has chosen to take a less cautious approach.

          • You’re running together two separate questions. I’ll address it in a separate blog post by tomorrow morning.

          • Claude

            But I don’t think I’m reshaping Paul’s doctrine. I think that’s what it’s about, in part.

            What do you think Jesus as the Second Adam means?

      • rmwilliamsjr


        Do you think that the genealogies were considered “symbolic” by their original authors?

        take a moment and compare how we do genealogies and how the ancients did theirs, not just the hebrews but the greeks.

        they all trace their ancestry back to the might men of the past, those almost demi-gods. just as the emperor of japan is the son of the sun god, adam was the son of god. it is the same pattern. trace your ancestry through the prominent men everyone talks about to the heroes and eventually to god himself.

        now i do genaology research, there are thousands of ancestry trees that supposedly trace back to charlemagne or even adam, it is the same human impulse. but what distinguishes modern genealogical research? evidence, accuracy is what matters, not to whom you relate.

        so yes the genealogies are symbolic, they tie together a people without much desire for actual accuracy.

        • I think we can say that either the genealogies in the Bible are symbolic, or they are simply wrong. We have two contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke, and Matthew drops names and still comes up short in one group supposed to be of 14 – because the numerical symbolism was clearly what mattered, not the biological descent.

          I suspect that many people think they have to adhere to a literal Adam because they think sin is some sort of genetic defect. But that is thoroughly unbiblical, and I would have thought it was obvious that nothing Jesus is said to do for humankind is depicted as a form of gene therapy.

          Here are links to a couple of older posts related to this topic.

          • Kaz

            “I think we can say that either the genealogies in the Bible are symbolic, or they are simply wrong.”

            Well, which do you prefer? Do you believe that they were symbolic or do you believe that they were simply wrong?

          • I think Matthew knew full well that he didn’t have three groups of fourteen, and that to get 14 in his second group he had to drop out names from Chronicles. And so I am inclined to think that they are not even trying to provide the sort of factual information that some modern readers insist that they do and must.

          • Kaz

            In your opinion, did Matthew believe that Adam was a literal person, or a symbolic one?

          • Of what importance is what Matthew assumed? He didn’t “believe” one way or the other in the sense that modern conservative Christians do, i.e. in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary. If Matthew assumed that the earth was flat and thus there really was a high mountain from which it was possible to see all the kingdoms of the world, would that mean that you or I must hold the same view? If so, why do you think that?

          • Kaz

            It’s important to me to determine your opinion on the matter, which is why I asked. Will you provide your educated opinion, please? Do you think that Matthew believed that Adam was a literal person, or a symbolic one?

          • Matthew 19:6 would lead one to think that Matthew shared Jesus’ view of the story as symbolic, but he may well have assumed it was also literally true. It is hard to tell, since such topics clearly did not matter to Matthew or other ancient authors in the way it matters to you. There is no discussion of the story’s literal factuality, or emphasis on it, of the sort that seems to typify your worldview.


          • Kaz

            There doesn’t appear to be anything in Matthew 19 that implies that Matthew doubted the historicity of Adam. What makes you think that Jesus didn’t consider Adam to be a historical person?

          • You must not be paying attention to the details. The story is literally about what God has divided, one person becoming two. Yet Jesus and/or Matthew seem to clearly get that it is a symbolic story about two people becoming one flesh rather than vice versa. Much as Paul is happy to let his focus on Jesus reinterpret the Genesis story as about “one man” through whom sin enters the world, even though at face value the story by that point is about two people by whom sin enters the world. Clearly the literal details of the story are not his obsession in the way they are for some modern readers like yourself. It is such a pity that the modernist framework you impose on the Bible causes you to filter out and miss so much of what it says.

          • Kaz

            Nothing in what Matthew wrote suggests that he didn’t consider Adam to be a historical person, despite your obsession to the contrary.

          • I have offered you evidence. You have countered with an assertion. As I indicated even before we reached this point, you seem not to have a case for your interpretation, but only the assumption that it is correct, because it is what you think the text ought to mean.

          • Kaz

            You didn’t offer evidence that Matthew didn’t believe that Adam was a historical person. I’ve read your paragraph three times, and I don’t see anything that suggests such a conclusion.

          • I realize that your filters keep you from seeing things. But asserting that you are right and I am wrong is not an argument. Make the case for your interpretation.

          • Kaz

            You assume that Matthew didn’t believe that Adam was a literal person because (i) Eve sinned too and so it isn’t true that sin entered the world through “one man”, and (ii) their union was described idiomatically as their becoming “one flesh”? Firstly, there’s a logical disconnect here in that A (=the proposition that sin didn’t literally enter in the world via “one man”) doesn’t naturally imply B (=Adam therefore wasn’t considered a literal person). Secondly, describing things using idioms and metaphors doesn’t make the things they describe unhistorical. When I put on a few pounds and my father called me an elephant, that didn’t mean that I don’t exist!

            This is why I didn’t bother countering your argument yesterday, because it’s based on unsubstantiated and seemingly ad hoc assumptions. Secondly, in reference to #i, it overlooks the idea of headship that was an integral part of that culture. Eve sinned, but the one who was responsible for sin entering into the world was Adam. For a guy who constantly asserts that others are interpreting texts according to their own time and presuppositions, that one really went past you.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            In your opinion, did Matthew believe that Adam was a literal person, or a symbolic one?

            this is a false dichotomy. it is not just a choice between these 2 simple constructs. when you say literal, you really mean historical in our modern terms. our notions of what is historical are thoroughly modern and rely extensively on notions that Matthew would not have considered.

            adam is obviously symbolic, just the complex pun on his name/title infers that much. the questions about how much of our thinking about adam is not historical versus how much is historical is again a modern debate, not one Matthew would ever thought of participating in, his whole greco-hebraic world was saturated in meaning and symbolism we can never fully understand through our scientific/historically conditioned eyes. the problem is not with matthew but in our inability to really see with what we disparage as mythopoetic or pre scientific thinking.

            it doesn’t help to separate out the various ideas when you try to shove everything into one of two big boxes, either literal or symbolic.

  • James, Weak word association game. It won’t convince creationists or scholars who study ancient Near Eastern thought patterns. Ancient Near Easterners believed their high deities had a personal hand in the weather as well as the womb, as well as keeping celestial waters at bay, holding back the sea, keeping the earth stationary, moving the constellations (Job), as well as sending rich harvests or famines, or plagues or invading armies, as well as creating plants and animals from the earth and sea. It was a world held together and kept moving via personal actions and decisions of high deities. So you are arguing backwards if you assume a naturalistic scientific view, for say lightning and embryo-genesis, and then claim that that must be what Genesis 1 and 2 are saying.

    There is an excellent online chapter that explains how the Israelites and other ancient people believed that their high deity determined nature’s ways, and so their worldview revolved around a belief that nature was controlled personally by the high deity one’s nation worshiped:

    It’s not just the view of nature being personally driven, but when you compare Genesis 1-2 with other ancient Near Eastern tales “creation” is instantaneous. There is no intermediary process like “evolution” needed. Such a creator needs only a magical word and some earth.

    • I think you may have misunderstood my point. My point is precisely that the Biblical authors attributed lightning and snow to divine activity every bit as much as the making of humans and other living things. And thus to single out evolution as though that alone created issues for a “Biblical literalist” is in fact deceptive.

      • But the counter point is that ancient Near Eastern creation stories depict a high god creating stars, planets, plants, animals and humans instantaneously. The stories are about magical creators who mold or shape via hands or words instantaneously, It is a display of power as instantaneous as directing lightning bolts. Embryology takes longer, but it’s still not imagined to simply be a natural process. The article by Moritz ignores ancient Near Eastern creation stories and an interpretation of Genesis in its ANE context and instead plays up quotations from St. Basil, a figure well over five centuries later and influenced by Greek philosophical speculation, How is THAT supposed to be an argument that creationists or even ANE scholars would endorse?

        • I don’t think you are getting it. Why would someone today (in mainstream or progressive Christianity, and not a historically fringe view like young-earth creationism) want to adopt a viewpoint that reflects the most antiquated ideas about creation in the Jewish or Christian tradition? Who in the mainstream advocates that we ought to think about creation today in the way that ANE scholars reconstruct the thought of ancient Israel?

          • I understand the perspective you’re assuming. But mainstream and progressive Christians cannot leap past ANE context and assume like St. Basil that the Genesis story is silly putty to which we must apply our Hellenistic or 20th century ideas and imagination in order to understand it. The creation story needs to be understood in its original context, as a magical instantaneous creation of sun, stars, plants, animals. it’s not about the process we know today as evolution. What I’m saying is GOOD LUCK to today’s mainstream progressives when it comes to using such an argument to demonstrate some assumed harmony of ANE creation tales and modern science.

            Speaking of which, I just read a marvelous autobiography in which the author wrote, “I held to a progressive form of a Christianity (everything besides fundamentalism seems cutting edge to people leaving fundamentalism) that said, ‘All truth is God’s truth.’ I held to a view of the Bible being ‘conceptually’ inspired rather than literally inspired.” [Preacher Boy : A Liberty University Graduate Bids Farewell to Falwell and Hello to Atheism]

          • Of course the ancient story is not about the world as modern science understands it. That’s the whole point! One can make an argument against the fundamentalist attempt to claim that it is by showing how much else that they accept scientific perspectives about is depicted and described in likewise ancient terms. But progressive Christians are not trying to adhere to ancient cosmology. So I wonder whether you are thinking of some other group, or simply aren’t familiar with liberal and progressive approaches, which are not trying to harmonize the Bible and science, but are happy to accept that the former needs to give way to the latter as our understanding has progressed so much further than anything available to the Bible’s ancient authors.

            (Of course, you may be using “progressive” in the sense of “slightly less far along the spectrum towards fundamentalism, as per your second paragraph. But that is not “progressive Christianity” in any meaningful sense).

          • Yes, that’s a wedge IF you can get conservative Christians to accept the idea that no lightning bolt strike is ever instigated or catalyzed via the supernatural will of their Deity for some divine reason. Same with embryonic development. But I bet there’s still plenty of conservative Christians whose brains are always hungry to come up with “divine reasons” for “why things happen,” looking for some revelation behind every coincidence in their lives. In fact there’s a whole course the Alpha Course, popular in Britain, that trains people to view their “spiritual journey” in such a fashion.

            Neither are such folks eager to visualize the world as primarily impersonal atoms rubbing up against each other in proper statistical fashion in case of both the weather and embryonic development. So really WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT IS GETTING THEM TO ACCEPT A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF NON-DIRECT AND NON-SUPERNATURAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE COSMOS. GOOD LUCK. IT WILL PROBABLY TAKE A COLLEGE EDUCATION AND COURSES IN PHYSICS, METEOROLOGY, AND EMBRYOLOGY. And who has time for that when the only truly inspired book is the Bible?

            You also forget that fundamentalists ONLY GIVE IN TO NATURALISM BIT BY BIT, hording every inch they can in their supernatural bucket, never altogether emptying the bucket.

            SO IF THEY ACCEPT that the rising and movements of tides, as well as thunderstorms (with their lightning bolts), and also the development of embryos is 99% natural, that still leaves them with 1% God’s supernatural hand in the bucket and they will continue to place the utmost stress on that 1% God-sized hand, and not readily give it up.

            Even if they DO give it up, it doesn’t mean ALL cases also need to be abandoned, from lightning bolts to embryos to the creation of humans from the earth. That’s because fundamentalists can imagine SOME verses being metaphorical and others requiring more stress in a literal sense. For instance, they don’t blink an eye at the Bible verses that geocentrists cite (there are still a few geocentrist Christians and Jews, at least one with an advanced degree in astronomy, Bouw at biblical astronomy), because most Christians have grown to view such verses “metaphorically,” or “based on appearances.” They might even be willing to do the same with the verses about lightning bolts and embryos, but Genesis 1 for them can still remain bedrock, because it begins their whole Bible and because the story DESCRIBES MORE about what went on during creation than any of those verses about lightning bolts and embryos describe about what goes on.

            There is in fact nothing about evolution in the biblical creation story than there is other ancient Egyptian, ancient Mesopotamian tales about how the cosmos, plants and animals were created–such cultures agreed in instantaneous creation, they just differed on which high creator god was the true one. They will also tell you that the other creation myths are indebted to humans living much nearer the actual time of cosmic creation, and such stories were passed down from Adam to all of humanity’s earliest people.

            As for “progressive Christianity,” what is that exactly? Do they agree on which parts of the Bible are the most inspired? Which less so? Whether any parts might not be inspired at all except by the imaginations of ancient tribesmen and wide-eyed mongers of the apocalypse during times of extreme upheaval in first century Palestine?

            Do progressives agree what happens to folks in the afterlife and on what basis the sheep and the goats will be separated? Or is such a separation just another metaphor? Should we fear “him who can cast both body and soul into hell?” Fear him how much exactly? What kind of warning and evangelism program ought a Bible-reading and devout progressive Christian practice? Or is this the era of coffee house camaraderie Christianity, and handing out books on apologetics rather than invitations to hear rousing sermons at church? Michael Patton is doing pretty good opening up Christian coffee houses where apologists speak, that could be Christianity’s next big development. That and apologetics conferences, and endless live debates with atheists. (Oh God just send down a sign and defend yourself BIG GUY.)

            I think even moderate-liberal-progressives like you could learn something after reading Preacher Boy, the book I mentioned. It might remind you of what’s really out there when it comes to religion. I find religion hard to take because humanity appears to be so easily prone to so many different forms of madness, obsession, from the tragically laughable to the violently insane, as well as the bane of simple human ignorance, emotional drives, fears and hopes both real and imaginary, and the difficulty of communication itself (the brain does not switch over to whole new views easily, it takes time even to form new neuronal connections/pathways). Let along the difficult of getting even “progressive Christians” to come to the same conclusions, aside from which coffee to drink at those coffee houses where Christians pedal the eternal truth built upon a mountain of carefully chosen metaphorical and scientific associations with “Bible verses.”

          • I think you are still thinking in terms of conservative Christianity and slightly less conservative. Or at least, you seem to be blurring the separate questions of how liberals formulate our views, and how one might try to persuade a conservative.

            Have you read any liberal or progressive Christian authors?

          • I’ve got ten years on you, I corresponded with and/or met in person Robert Farrar Capon and Conrad Hyers who were progressive Christians before there was a progressive movement, back in the early 80s when I was editing Theistic Evolutionists’ Forum. I also read the works of some Calvin College profs. who are pro-evolution, like Howard Van Til, back when some of their conservative brethren were trying to get them fired from their professorships in the 1980s..As for how progressives-liberals formulate their views, and how much they love science, I would very much like to see their faces when a large asteroid strikes the earth or a mega-volcano or caldera erupts, both being meg-disasters predicted by modern science, and both having happened in the past. Does it really matter what one believes about a particular religion or holy book when everyone’s wiped out? Our own radioactive and industrial waste could wipe us out. Or one of our own genetically engineered diseases. Or simply obeying God’s will to “fill the earth” could wipe us out, since that command was never rescinded, nor any limits placed on it, nor warnings to “not fill the earth quite so much because of the great dangers involved.” Do religious beliefs really matter that much? We live on the thin skin of a quaking planet in a shooting gallery of cosmic bullets, solar flares and novas. This planet is wonderfully fine-tuned for life, ahem, for every form of life from ticks, fleas, child killing viruses and eye-blinding parasites to dolphins, elephants, apes and humans. What can one really gather from that scientific evidence?

            You know where I think the most important difference lay? In those whom you can get along with on this intense and often confusing and brutal “ride” and those who condone eternal punishment. The latter just make everything tougher, communication, working together, et al, adding that veneer of “hell talk” on top of nature’s already rough exterior.

            The widest and most important difference is probably between those who believe in and condone eternal punishment and those who do not (the “do not” side includes atheists, general theists, as well as universalistic Christians-Jews-Muslims-Buddhists-Hindus). Please note that I added ‘and condone’ because it is one thing to believe in eternal punishment out of obligation to whatever is written in one’s holy book coupled with fear that if one doesn’t one will either be dishonoring God in some way and/or be eternally punished one’s self, and quite another thing to fully approve of eternal punishment in and of itself. But then again, there is probably also some overlap between those two types of believers in eternal punishment.

            Or as Brother Steindal-Rast put it, “‘Universalistic’ Buddhists and ‘universalistic’ Christians and ‘universalistic’ Moslems feel closer to one another than they feel to the fundamentalists within their own religious traditions. And the fundamentalists of each tradition can’t even get along with the other fundamentalists of that same tradition.”

            In fact I think that the more embarrassed a Christian is about a belief in eternal punishment, the more sane they are and able to play well with others. The world already has enough insanity.

            Apart from THAT difference, between largely inclusive universalistic religious believers and those who approve of eternal damnation whether through fear or obligation, I’d say that other differences pale in comparison, including differences between an atheist and a general theist, or even between an atheist and a universalistic religious believer.

            The trouble is that eradicating fear of hell or attempting to get others to interpret hell passages more metaphorically is about as easy as getting a creationist to accept that Genesis 1 is not really talking about instantaneous supernaturally guided creation. So I WISH YOU LUCK with your progressive Christian analogies, with noting how biblical authors used the word “created” in a variety of circumstances (if only a word retained exactly the same meaning in each new context, but they don’t, as creationists will be quick to point out, and the context in Genesis 1 is far plainer, and even if they accept the context as metaphorical in other circumstances, they are not likely to do so in the case of Genesis 1, not without studying evolution for years, and unlearning piece by piece every stupid creationist young-earth argument and video they ever ingested since their youth).

            So, good luck.

          • Thank you for the wish of luck! As you have named some names, it confirms that we are using terms like “progressive” and “liberal” with different thinkers in mind. And that is fine – there are lots of different ways of being progressive! In my own case, some of the more influential voices have been (from older generations) Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, and (among more recent) Keith Ward, Marcus Borg, and others in that vein.

            I agree that changing one’s mind is not easy. But I changed mine, and so I hold onto the hope that others can do the same – and that I can continue to do so when I need to!

          • I’ve read Tillich and Bultmann, including not only some of their I theology but their sermons as well. And I’ve read Honest to God. They were on a list of books Price sent me back when I was growing into a more moderate Evangelical. As I said, I’ve got ten years on you. I’ve even read a major biography of Tillich. And I’ve read that Bultmann’s mom remained a devout pietist her whole life, and I empathized with him since my own dear mom remains a very devout Catholic. But love and family connection is still love and family connection. And I care for people in my family regardless of beliefs. It’s only on the internet where I discuss such matters, with others who wish to discuss them.

          • IT WOULD BE NICE to know that progressives and liberal Christians did have a case for extracting surefooted meanings and teachings from the Bible that were relevant for all time and all places. But history only gives us approximations, probabilities. And when it comes to “science in the Bible,” the progressive interpretation has only “advanced” in the direction of retreat, retreating from geocentrism, from a young-earth, from separately created kinds, even from a literal Adam and Eve, which Evangelicals are still bickering over even in Christianity Today magazine.

            You want to find out something about the future, say future history, like the landing of humans on the moon or Mars, or you want to learn about future inventions like soap, dentistry or computers, or future medicine like vaccines, or future technology like moveable limbs and see-able eyeballs attached to human bodies that have lost them? Do you go to the Bible? No. You know the Bible knows nothing of such things. Yet you claim that a God who knows all, inspired the Bible.

          • Again, when you write “you” I assume you mean me, and yet the views you are attributing to the “you” are not ones that I hold. Is this just a rhetorical device, or do you think that I myself envisage God anthropomorphically, and view the Bible as a divinely-inspired text from God rather than human beings writing about God?

          • My “you” is meant for all people clinging to the Bible as an “inspired holy book.” My point is that there is no universally recognized way of determining whether ANY passage or book is “inspired,” either fully or in part. It comes down to which passages YOU think are “inspired.” I’d rather just let the question of “holy books” die along with so-called “revealed religions.” Look for the best in every book and every person and use your better judgment to get along in life, that naturally builds up over a lifetime of reading and interaction with others. And collect your own favorite passages from books and movies and make your own book that helps you get along in life, like this brief collection, though I could expand or contract such a collection at will as I learn and experience more: I also naturally trust that the vast majority of people like being liked and hate being hated. So I think “liberal Christian” is really an oxymoron, just be aware. That’s all that people really need to be, and curious. Though I’m certainly glad there are “liberal Christians, liberal Muslims, liberal Hindus,” etc.

          • So even though you are talking to me, “you” is someone else. You (by which I mean you, Ed Babinski) can hopefully see why I was confused…

          • Straw Man

            Edward, I do think you’re missing James’s point. His point is that even the most arch-conservative Christian knows that there is no “storehouse of the snow.” If they were TRULY biblical literalists, they would be forced to accept that the Bible teaches not only instantaneous creation ex nihilo, but also storehouses for snow and rain, floodgates in heaven, etc.

            They do not confront this, precisely because the cognitive dissonance would threaten their very faith. They’ve set up the premise that if Genesis 1-3 is not a literal, historical account, then the Bible is a lie and there is no God. They’re defended on many fronts, and one of them is a casual dismissal of Job’s “storehouses of the snow” as simply poetic license.

            If they can be forced to confront it, however, then they might realize that they are already not literalists.

          • The only straw man here is your belief that conservative arguments and interpretations of Genesis 1 come crashing down with the idea of “storehouses,” which is something I explained above. Just read Genesis 1 and note how it explains creation in detail. Fundamentalists don’t have any difficulty with viewing some phrases in the Bible as “figurative language,.” such as the phrase, “the Lord bowed the heavens and came down to look at the city and the tower,” which they also don’t take literally, as if God has to “come down from heaven” to take closer look and does not exist everywhere at once. But Genesis 1 goes into too much detail for them to place it in exactly the same category. So good luck! I’ve found that creationists who are die hard have to unlearn loads of misinformation, piece by piece, such as dino-human footprints, and just how and why certain rocks are better at determining dates than others, and what kinds of ignorant misquotations appear inside creationist books, before they can even begin to imagine Genesis 1 is not to be taken so literally.

  • gamgokt

    reading this article and the following comments is like watching a bunch of blind people trying to find their way in a maze. mcgrath is desperate, trying to latch onto to anything that will justify his rejection of the truth and the rest present futile arguments for accepting a non-existent process. hebrews 11:3 puts an end to the evolutionary theory for real believers, that is if they do not accept genesis 2:1, or the other passages of the Bible that state God created and no process was used.

    For all those who choose evolution over creation, where in the Bible do God and Jesus give permission to use science over their word? Where do they give permission to listen to those who do not believe God?

    You evolutionary loving people do not have an argument, you are wrong and need to repent of your evil.

    • You might want to try reading the Bible – not just the greatest hits or Reader’s Digest version of proof-texts, but the actual Bible with all its depth and diversity.

      Then, try actually reading my post, and tell me whether you are consistent and apply the same logic you adopt with respect to evolution also to embryology, and snow, and lightning, and everything else attributed in the Bible to God with no awareness of natural processes.

      • gamgokt

        Oh I read it and the problem is, too many people are taking what God designed and attributing it to evolution. They also get confused and use it as evidence for evolution when it is far from it. it is simply evidence of God’s foresight, and care.

        i am convinced that God designed things a certain way to give people a choice between following the truth and following the lie of evolution. What did you want God to do, have reproduction done via the stork and the stork factory? You would miss out on all that great sex.

        Evolution wouldn’t think of that aspect because love-making helps two heterosexuals become one, draw closer together, and so on. God would have thought of that plus he would have thought of giving babies time to develop to meet the real world.

        Sure he could have made it so that they popped out in a matter of minutes after conception but what about the parents? That method would not give them time to prepare for the babies birth. Again, evolution being so lacking in intelligence and thought would never come up with that thinking about others.

        The same for the animal kingdom, mothers there need time as well to bond with their cubs etc. So God used similar methods, that doesn’t prove evolution, it means that God wanted babies to develop to be ready for the environment they will live in.

        The reasons humans and animals have similarities in their genetic design is because except for sea creatures, they and humans live in the same terrestrial environment not because they come from a common ancestor.

        • rmwilliamsjr

          you don’t have any formal education nor are you particularly well read in the field in biology are you? what you wrote here is nonsense.

          From Augustine in AD 415, The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Chapter 19.39):

          Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

          • Mary

            Wow. Thanks for that quote! I always thought that the church was totally against science in the past. I guess that wasn’t always true.

          • Please don’t try and “Augustine” your progressive Christian way out of the discussion concerning Genesis 1. Augustine is also quoted by conservatives, it all depends on the quotation:

          • rmwilliamsjr

            you are mistaken, i am neither a progressive nor a liberal Christian, i am rather conservative. it is a good quote, no matter who uses it.

        • arcseconds

          It seems to me that you’re not aware of the extent of the scientific support for evolution. It’s not just a matter of noting a few similarities between some creatures and going ‘oh, they evolved from a common ancestor’, when ‘oh, God used a similar design pattern’ would do just as well.

          I try to get people to phrase the alternatives as something that could actually serve as a scientific theory. You’re not doing too badly here — you propose that God uses similar genetics to accomplish similar designs due to similar environments.

          OK, we can work with that. On that basis, we’d expect similar genetics and similar designs for the same environment.

          So how does this theory fare when we look at the phenomena? Not well, I’m afraid. It works OK if you focus on terrestrial vertebrates, which we commonly do because we’re terrestrial vertebrates and when we think of animals we generally think of terrestrial vertebrates. However, evolution views terrestrial vertebrates as closely related to one another, so it too says that terrestrial vertebrates should have similar genetics and morphology. So they both win here, currently it’s a 1:1 draw.

          So let’s take some other examples. Terrestrial insects. They live in the same environment, so gamgokt’s creation theory says they should have the same genetics. But they don’t: their genetics and biochemistry and body plans are not very much like terrestrial vertebrates, but are a lot like crustaceans. How about terrestrial gastropods? Again, not a lot like either insects or vertebrates, but rather a lot like marine gastropods.

          Going the other way: sharks, dolphins and ichthyosaurs are all top marine predators. They also all look rather a lot alike. Surely if God uses similar genetics for similar outcomes, these examples would have very similar genetics. But they don’t: sharks are cartiligious fish, and dolphins are mammals. Ichthyosaurs were reptiles. For some reason God saw fit to put something very much like a terrestrial vertebrate into the ocean with the body plan of a fish.

          So it seems sometimes God uses similar genetics and sometimes not, so your theory is rather in tatters.

          Whereas all of these things are no problem for evolution. If one lineage can populate an environment, then it’s possible for another to do so too, so we’d expect to find genetically distinct creatures to often be found in the same environment, and also genetically related creatures to populate different environments. And we find this all the time.

          EDIT: so that’s a crushing 6:1 victory for evolution in three paragraphs, with the topic selected by the creationist side!

        • arcseconds

          You may want to educate yourself about the arguments for evolution before trying to rebut them.

          29+ Evidences for Macroevolution is what I normally recommend.

          How about you read all of that, then come back here and tell us how creationism can do a better job with, say, just 3 of them?

          • Does gamgokt believe in a young or old earth? A YEC first should be confronted with the evidence contra “Flood geology” before getting into topics of biology. And of course it takes infinite patience and time to discuss such matters one by one.

          • arcseconds

            I didn’t expect much from my discussion with gamgokt, and even then I was disappointed. They resorted to intoning a catechism fairly quickly.

            The good news is, that the infinite patience and time doesn’t have to be entirely supplied by me! The hope would be that something sinks in, and then later someone else will help something further to settle, and so on. There’s also the audience to consider, which is one reason I don’t generally like to see creationist claims go unchallenged.

            Anyway, you’re probably right: an old earth might be a better place to start. It helps to show the independence of the evidence for the contemporary scientific account. and maybe it’s a bit less threatening?

            29+ Evidences is probably a bit involved, too. Maybe there’s a more approachable site out there somewhere.

            I actually thought the site I linked to had an obvious link to a pretty reasonable page about old earth, probably still on There is a page about flood geology, but that’s not quite what I remember.

            Your page is interesting too.

        • susanburns

          Humans have many similarities with sea creatures – or at least water adapted mammals. Hairlessness, distended larnyx, deep-diving reflex.subcutaneous fat to name a few.

          • gamgokt

            I do not know who is talking to whom. arcseconds, you stretch your ‘evidence’ to fit the point you are trying to make. who said anything about body plans? I didn’t. But it is nice to see evolutionists still change the topic when they are wrong and try to sound like they are correct.

            The environment usually has to do with breathing, drinking, eating, germs, etc., you know everyday stuff that we have to deal with. Of course I noticed that you ignored the fall of man and its affect on genetic operation.

          • rmwilliamsjr


            Of course I noticed that you ignored the fall of man and its affect on genetic operation.

            where exactly in genetics can you detect the fall of man?

          • Mary

            Ah, the blissfulness of the YEC’s. They don’t have to actually explain themselves or even study their theories because it’s all in the Bible. Oh, wait, where exactly does it talk about genetics? 😉
            Actually it would be so cool if they could find an “original sin gene.” Then we could genetically engineer perfect, sinless people! No need for the atonement. Sign me up!!

          • In a certain sense our natural human traits of both compassion and aggression are “in our genes.” So it might be possible to genetically engineer human beings that are less aggressive. Though that might make us a less “competitive” as as well as “driven” and overall, a less “curious” species as well.

          • Mary

            Maybe so, but you can’t label these characteristics as “sin” in the absolute sense. Not all aggression is “bad” since we need it for survival. Not all compassion is “good” either. Too much compassion can result in for instance becoming a co-dependent enabler to a drug addict.
            I do however think that we all could learn to be more compassionate, though 😉

          • gamgokt

            That is the point–science is incapable of detecting so much when it comes to humanity that it is not the authority or source you can go to to get your information when it comes to origins. Origins belongs in the world of theology and science is an interloper forcing its way into the issue when it doesn’t belong.

            Science cannot say anything about origins because God’s creative act wasn’t done the scientific way—it was done God’s supernatural and divine way.

          • Guest

            last thursdayism

          • gamgokt

            No but I see you are going to dismiss the truth because it isn’t what you want to hear.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            Science cannot say anything about origins because God’s creative act wasn’t done the scientific way—it was done God’s supernatural and divine way.
            i’ve thought about AiG’s distinction between origins and operational science since i first encountered it years ago. it’s not new as “last thursdayism” shows.

            how to visualize such a claim?

            it’s as if God created this great movie screen at 6kya and projects this false history from the back. thus all unbelievers are deceived into thinking the story on the screen is really what happened. True Believers, armed with their Biblical understanding see the screen for what it really is, a false historical projection and preach that science has no access back in the world’s timeline before the creation of the screen.

            but as anyone reading even soon realizes the definition of who is a True Believer and exactly when this screen was created, let alone the nature of the controller of the projection, become very serious problems.

            the fundamental problem has to do with the nature of the past. there really isn’t any difference between last thursday and 6kya and 4.5Bya, except quantity, if you like, AiG, want to set some kind of qualitative difference(before and after the screen) you can not really anchor it anywhere between last thursday and 4.5Bya except by edict. so True Believers will end up defined as those few who accept your specific fatwa. like most things in religion it has no court of final appeal, no adjudication procedure to judge between competing screen creation dates, just groups led by little emperors each declaring how long ago their screen was created, and declaring their submission to their god as a result of their faith in the right date.

            frankly i prefer science’s court of final appeal-reality.

          • gamgokt

            I have not used Job 38 because I think you are well aware of the passage.Evolutionists can only guess at what they think took place but they can never verify their alternative ideas.

            Of course you like science’s supposed final court of appeal because it gives you a false say in something that you have no say in. God is not putting his creative act up for a vote where the most popular idea wins. He is saying you have a choice, you either believe me or you don’t.

            That is all anyone gets to do as far as origins is concerned. Your post tells me that either you are jealous of those who have found and stuck with God”s truth because they believe him or that you want to be a king maker and tell everyone else what they should believe and who gets to state what it is they are to believe.

            Science has no say in the issue, no authority and not even a vote. If you do not want to believe God that is your choice but you can’t attack those who do.

          • rmwilliamsjr


            If you do not want to believe God that is your choice but you can’t attack those who do.


            i believe God wrote the Bible, i just don’t believe He wants me to understand the world is 6k years old when the evidence from His Creation clearly teaches otherwise. i believe your interpretation of the Bible is wrong and i do have every right to point that out to you that you are mishandling the Word of God. that is not an attack but an admonition.

          • gamgokt

            The question you have to answer is: Where did both God and Jesus give permission to use science to over-rule their word? You have no right to point anything out or make admonitions because you are not telling the truth.

          • No, the question you have to answer is where did the Creator give you the right to allow what human beings have written about God and creation to trump the evidence of the creation itself?

          • gamgokt

            Humans are not God and were not there. They do not know what took place at creation unless they read and believe the Bible.

            The other question is why can’t you answer the question? What are you afraid of? are you afraid that you will see that you do not have permission to take science over God’s word?

          • This is the exact same language that another troll commenter used, and so I am guessing that you are the same person having returned. If you wish to comment here, I will insist that you actually make some effort to understand the topics you comment about. I have a low tolerance for people who claim to be Christians like myself and yet do not accept the importance of honesty and accuracy. Truth matters, not trying to score points on behalf of the views you happen to hold and assume are part of the essence of Christianity.

            Now, as for your last comment, it is bizarre. Are you saying that the authors of Genesis read the Bible? What on Earth does that mean? And who gave you permission to disrespect the Bible’s teaching that the invisible God can be known from creation, as is said in Romans 1 and in several psalms? Why do you refuse to accept what the Bible teaches about this?

          • Nick Gotts

            Were you there when the Bible was written?

          • rmwilliamsjr

            i’ve wanted to ask that of Ken Ham since i first saw their use of “were you there?”

            the problem is that they(YECists) believe creation had a single point origin, which makes the question, from their POV, make some sense. most probably believe in some type of fixed point origin for their Bible as well, unfortunately both ideas are very wrong.

            the problem is that when asked “were you there when the Bible was written?” it is nonsense since “the Bible” has no single or even a numerable number of origin points. you could argue that the form we have, with chapter and verse numbers dates from the first printing. to when the canon(s) were fixed, make a few choices there. to when each scroll took on a more or less fixed content (even more choices).

            but in any case, the question is incoherent and can’t be answered.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            since modern science arises in Europe in the 16thC, i would expect that looking in the Bible for it would be a fruitless task. if you point out where i am not telling the truth I would be be glad to research it. but you have been long on accusations and a bit short on actual data in this conversation so i’m not expecting specifics from you.

          • gamgokt

            This is the point where I get to say you do not know much about ancient science. Did you know that ancient medical and dental science was very advanced? They even had prescriptions. Modern science is no different from the ancient variety, they had witch doctors as well and voodoo spells etc., but guess what–so does the modern world with all of its technology.

            What you are saying is that both Jesus and God could not know the future, could not know of science and were incapable of giving good instructions to their followers. You do not believe in GOD, you believe in a god of your own making.

          • Mary

            Yes they had prescriptions, herbal prescriptions. How does that have anything to do with the topic at hand? Sure there were some civilizations who were advanced FOR THEIR TIME. But it is not true that they knew what we know today.

            Where in the bible does it discuss science? Is there anything in there that talks about bacteria and viruses? There is no such thing as bible science unless you believe in a square flat earth surrounded by water and set on four pillars. And heaven is a physical (not in another dimension) place in the sky as evidenced by the story of the Tower of Babel.

            If you get satellite TV, cable, or use a GPS then you have to acknowedge that the bible got all that wrong.

            The fact is that we would not have science today if it weren’t for those brave people who bucked the church doctrine. You have them to thank for the fact that you have a computer and the internet to even post your opinions.

          • Mary

            Who is attacking who? You are the one who chose to come here and express your contrary opinions. No one is persecuting you. If you come here to debate then it is reasonable for others to expect you to bring evidence to the table, which you have not.

            This is why people have trouble taking YEC’s seriously because all they do is whine about being persecuted. Poor babies.

            Science certainly does have a say because it can be verified. The biblical account cannot.

            “you want to be a king maker and tell everyone else what they should believe and who gets to state what it is they are to believe.”

            The pot calling the kettle black?? Seriously you are describing yourself and all your YEC buddies who want to force religion down everyone’s throat. You have a right to your beliefs but you cannot treat them as fact. You believe that all the evidence is just the result of a trickster God so what is the point of even coming here? It certainly can’t have anything to do with having a rational conversation!!!

          • gamgokt

            Take a long, honest look at science on origins and developement and not one thing they claim can be verified. Whereas with the Bible, we have everything verified–ex. kinds verified every time science tries to mate animals from different kinds…it doesn’t work.

          • Either you are happy to simply make false claims, or you have uncritically accepted what charlatans have duped you into believing. A Christian cannot afford to be so undiscerning as you show yourself to be.

          • gamgokt

            Again with the insults. You can’t even answer a simple question but seek to avoid it by changing the subject. Answer the question before insulting again please.

          • It sounds like you were quoting me. Stop just saying that those who disagree with you disagree with God and answer the questions posed to you! If you continue to behave like a troll, I will ban you. This is a place for serious conversations about serious topics. If you do not wish to participate in such a high level of discussion or are unable to, the internet is full of places where your level of inanity and dishonesty would be welcome.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            re:Take a long, honest look at science on origins and development and not one thing they claim can be verified. Whereas with the Bible, we have everything verified–ex. kinds verified every time science tries to mate animals from different kinds…it doesn’t work.


            i guess that pretty much sums up your position.
            good luck with apologetics with anyone who knows how to read.

            i find your ignorance, not just about science or evolutionary biology, but about the Bible, even how the English Bible itself came to be in your possession, just plain sad. and discouraging. you will fail at apologetics and blame it on anyone/anything but your own ignorance, something you could fix if you wanted to.

            It ain’t so much what we know that gets us into trouble. It’s what we know that just ain’t so.
            Twain, Mark

          • gamgokt

            You attribute too much to science. I guess you are unaware that language translation was done in the ancient world, which is why the rosetta stone has 3 languages on it and other artifacts have two or three different languages on them as well. Science has nothing to do with translation work

            You give science too much credit and no credit to God for providing the intellect needed to learn different languages. Science contributes little to life, but it does contribute a lot of destruction to civilization which you ignore in your little praisefest for science.

          • arcseconds

            Gosh… that’s why the National Cow-Squid Mating Programme has never had any success! And it was in the Bible all along (apparently — where does the Bible explain this again?).

            I’ll phone the Government immediately. All those stupid scientists, blinded by Evolution into thinking that everything can mate with everything else, they’re sure going to have egg on their face.

          • gamgokt

            They are blinded by evolution because they do not believe God. Unbelievers do not have the light, they are in need of it. Evolution is the product of UNBELIEVERS thus it cannot explain anything and misses the truth.

          • arcseconds

            You’re just ranting now :]

            You have no idea of how you come across to other people, do you?

          • Mary

            First of all, You do not define the term “kinds”. Second of all science has shown that we can breed lions and tigers to produce viable offspring called “lygers” But lygers themselves are sterile.

            This is actually very good evidence for evolution, not against it.It demonstrates that at one time lions and tigers were of the same species. They are genetically similar enough to each other to breed, but because of speciation they are genetically different enough that they produce sterile offspring. This happened because at some point their populations became environmentally separated.

            I have looked at the evidence. YOU HAVE NOT BASED ON YOUR OWN ADMISSION. You have acknowledged that there is evidence for evolution in an earlier post. What you have said is that God planted all the evidence as a test for believers. So which is it? You can’t claim to believe both!!!

            It is you that keeps putting up a smokesscreen to confuse others.

          • gamgokt

            i have never acknowledge the idea that there is evidence for evolution, there is none because it does not exist. a lack sterilty is why you cannot mix and breed kinds–it doesn’t work. breeding one animal that can’t produce more is very good evidence for Genesis 1 and the different animals. With evolution you would NOT have that problem. it has no capibility to create such a barrier.

          • Since you do not understand what evolution is, it is not surprising that you have also been in a position to be duped by the claim that there is no evidence for it. Either that, or you are just a liar. But your claim is pure falsehood. If you want to learn something, you can do so here, but I have a low tolerance for people who simply tell blatant lies in a manner that is incompatible with Christianity, making my own faith tradition look like it is somehow connected with liars like yourself. If you wish to continue commenting here, I expect you to make some effort to learn about this topic, and not merely stick your fingers in your ears and say “There is no evidence, I can’t hear you, la la la la la!” Because the truth is that your lie about there being no evidence for evolution is like someone saying that there is no such thing as a Christian author. There is evidence in abundance, and one would actually in both cases have to have consciously avoided reading anything relevant in order to make such a claim, and thus the dishonesty involved is obvious to anyone who actually does read relevant literature.

          • rmwilliamsjr

            i sincerely hope you can come back to this page in 10 years and see your ignorance. i know those thousands of people who will google into this discussion will. you are a very poor spokesman for your faith. sad, God expects more.

          • Mary

            You have no idea what you are talking about. With evolution there would be no barrier???? Where is your reference on that? The reason why different species cannot interbreed is because their DNA is not compatable. This is a RESULT of speciation, genetic change as in my example. On the other hand we have the example of dogs, while even though there are different breeds, they can still mate and produce viable offspring. Why? Because there isn’t as much separation in populations to produce enough genetic change to make them incompatable with each other.
            I have no doubt that I will not change your mind. You are too lazy to even do your homework on this topic. But maybe others who read this might get something out of it.

          • Nick Gotts

            Minor point of information: ligers are not invariably sterile. In support of your general point, we see a complete range between total inter-species infertility, through complete or partial hybrid sterility, through various types of “hybrid breakdown” (where second or subsequent generations are inviable or of reduced viability), to one-way gene flow between populations, to complete interfertility. Which is, of course, exactly what we expect if species evolve from earlier species, and exactly what we don’t expect if they are fixed and separate.

          • Ian


          • Mary

            Thanks for your reference. I stand corrected.

          • rmwilliamsjr


            That is the point–science is incapable of detecting so much when it comes to humanity that it is not the authority or source you can go to to get your information when it comes to origins. Origins belongs in the world of theology and science is an interloper forcing its way into the issue when it doesn’t belong.


            science, or better yet, organized human wisdom has brought you the Bible, unless you read Hebrew and Greek. for the science of linguistics has translated those words and created your English Bible. anthropologists have contributed as have archaeologists your blanket condemnation of human wisdom is short sighted, for you would not hold your english bible without tens of thousands of human beings contributing to it’s creation. you would not even know where Israel was without their help.

          • gamgokt

            Science did not such thing now you are making science to be like God–omniscient and all powerful.

          • Mary

            No you are claiming that you are omniscient and all-powerful because you believe you have God all figured out.

          • gamgokt

            God has told us pretty clearly who he is, what he wants, likes, and what he did. You are the one making things difficult for yourself.

          • Mary

            Where is your evidence that God has said all these things?

          • arcseconds

            I don’t think I changed the topic in any meaningful sense. Body plans are obviously intimately related to genetics and adaption. But even if I had gone off topic a little, it shouldn’t matter: for creationism to be considered as any kind of a rival to evolution, it needs to deal with all the evidence, not just the bits you happen to like.

            But I’m a bit confused about the rules you’re trying to enforce here. Let me get this straight:

            I’m not allowed to talk about anything other than what you’ve explicitly mentioned, because that would be changing the topic and ‘stretching’ the ”evidence” …

            … but I am required to address the fall of man and it’s affects on genetic operations, even though you never mentioned it.

            So, I’m to strictly adhere to things you’ve already mentioned, except when you decide that I’m remiss for not dealing with something you didn’t mention.

            That sure sounds like a fair and unbiased way of structuring a discussion to me!

            I’m getting the impression that you’re more interested in accusing me of breaking hidden rules that are impossible to adhere to than actually addressing what I said. Let me know when you want to discuss the matter, rather than playing games.

            (And let me know that you want to discuss the matter by discussing the matter. Reading that website I suggested would be a good start.)

          • gamgokt

            No rules but when you go off topic, we know it is a diversion tactic by evolutionists. Body structure has little to nothing to do with living in environment. we know that different animals can move from and to different climates and succeed.

            Since humans and most animals must breathe oxygen, drink water and watch out for germs etc., there has to be some similarity in their DNA to accommodate this fact. This has nothing to do with evolution for that process would not know what kind of environment that would exist and it would not guide development to meet an environment it knows nothing about.

            God would know. Reproduction is moot because God chose a certain method to have His creation reproduce. Some were slightly different than others but again, evolution wouldn’t even know that reproduction was needed, after all it should continue its process from the one-celled original species continuously if it is to be a true process.

            We would not have any difficulty in finding that common ancestor and we would see it in action today. In fact, we would see the whole process in action right now but we don’t thus evolutionists are scrambling to explain something they can’t. evolutionists are trying to explain things from the finished product backwards and they can’t do it because they cannot verify one claim they make nor show how it transitioned.

            Evolution is in a corner it can’t get out of.

          • arcseconds

            As I said, I don’t think I did go off topic. I only mentioned body plans in passing, and that was in order to show that animals can live in the same environment in the same way and yet not be genetically similar to one another.

            Being trigger-happy with accusations is in itself a diversionary tactic of sorts. It means instead of focusing on the topic of discussion, we end up talking about my supposed transgressions. This allows you to avoid thinking about what I’m saying. Looking out for tricks also distracts you from thinking. I don’t need any tricks.

            You claimed that similar environments accounts for similar genetics. But animals living in similar environments often don’t have similar genetics. And animals with similar genetics often live in different environments. So your account doesn’t actually account for similar genetics.

            Since humans and most animals must breathe oxygen, drink water and watch
            out for germs etc., there has to be some similarity in their DNA to
            accommodate this fact.

            No there doesn’t :]

            Crustaceans and molluscs use haemocyanin to transport oxygen. Vertebrates use haemoglobin. It should be pretty obvious just by looking at the pictures that these are completely different proteins, and therefore have completely different genetics. Haemocyanin uses copper at the oxygen binding site and haemoglobin iron, and they’re not at all similar in the details of their operation.

            Insects depend pretty strongly on pipes that allow air to flow directly to their organs, so the supply is by gaseous diffusion.

            So again, similarity of function give no clue about similarity of genetics.

            Anyway, even if this did work out in your favour, if you’re going to give a rival account to evolution, you can’t just restrict yourself to explaining genetic similarity in some restricted domain. You have to explain it in all the cases that evolution can explain it, in other words, almost all cases.

            So, why are dolphins genetically related to hippos as their closest terrestrial living relative, and not sharks? Or, for that matter, why are they not that closely related to manatee, which are very similar looking fully aquatic mammals, which are more closely related to elephants?

          • Mary

            I don’t claim to know as much as you do but I have also learned from documentaries that there are creatures that do not breathe oxygen at all, but rather methane. which blows the case for the claim that the atmosphere has always been the way it is now. Of course you probably already know that, but I thought I would throw that into the ring also.

          • arcseconds

            That in itself isn’t really evidence that the atmosphere wasn’t always oxygen/nitrogen. They may have evolved to cope with niche environments where methane is available.

            I think that may be true, in fact. Methane on Earth is produced by anaerobic organisms that reduce carbon dioxide to methane. So I think that’s where methanotrophs get their methane from (they oxidize methane to methanol).

            The strongest argument, I think, that the Earth didn’t always have an oxygen atmosphere is that oxygen is a highly reactive species. It’s not likely to be generated by naturally-occuring non-biological processes, and even if it was generated it would tend to react quite quickly (on geological timeframes anyway).

            What produces our oxygen? Photosynthesis. Oxygen almost certainly didn’t exist in its elemental form on Earth in any great quantity prior to the evolution of cyanobacteria.

            thanks for mentioning it, though, because it was an opportunity to read the wikipedia page on methanotrophs :]

          • Mary

            Thanks for responding. I am finding out a lot of interesting stuff from others like you, despite the antics of our dear “Dr.” I have seen documentaries where they have talked about the theory that our oxygen supplies have most likely come from stromatelite colonies, of which there are fossils.I think they are a form of cyanobacteria.

          • Mary

            I forgot to mention that these are the oldest fossils on earth. Waaay older than other fossils we have found which means that it does not fit into the YEC paradigm.

          • arcseconds

            and in fact they’re still with us today, in places like Shark Bay in Western Australia.

            (If anyone says “why haven’t they evolved into humans yet”, I’ll probably scream…)

          • Mary


          • arcseconds

            It was probably a mistake for me to mention this to gamgokt, though, because it only makes sense if the earth is old, which he apparently doesn’t believe.

          • arcseconds

            Your other claims just show your ignorance of biology in general and evolution in particular. Evolution doesn’t know anything whatsoever, and it only ‘guides’ development in the sense that poor competitors don’t get propagated. It’s important not to anthropomorphize it. As only those creatures most adapted for a given environment survive, it doesn’t need to predict environments to adapt creatures.

            There’s absolutely no reason to expect for the common ancestor to still be around, and plenty of reasons to think it wouldn’t be. It was a long time ago, so even genetic drift could make it very different. Moreover, the environment is very different today. There’s an oxygen atmosphere, and nasty bacteria everywhere that would eat it all up. Why on earth would you think it would be still around?

            As far as seeing the process in action right now — we do see that, all the time. See for example multicelluarity evolving in the laboratory. We’re not of course going to see an animal species go from fully marine to fully terrestrial in our lifetime, but on smaller scales we can see everything we’d expect to see at play.

          • gamgokt

            The old do not understand argument. Sorry but you are wrong. Evolution doesn’t exist at all and there is no point in further discussion with you because you refuse to acknowledge that your definition of evolution is so broad that it can change it to what you want it to be whenever you find yourself in a corner and you see it doesn’t work.

            The environment is not very different today and that is another statement you cannot verify. You can claim it but verifying it is another matter. And you can’t do it. Until you do, i would shut up about it.

            The environment hasn’t changed since God created it, it is the same today, with a little more pollution, as it was when God brought it into existence.

            you are not seeing evolution in action today as you cannot verify that evolution is responsible for those changes and since those experiments are not following evolutionary claims at all and are manipulated by scientists you got nothing.

            All you are seeing is God’s genetic design, corrupted by sin, reacting to ingredients mixed with the DNA. Until you show from the common ancestor forward that evolution works without help from humans, you have nothing.

          • arcseconds

            Gamgokt, gamgokt, gamgokt,

            When everything you say about biology and what evolution claims is either completely wrong, or so misleading that it might as well be wrong, then what are we supposed to say? “You don’t understand” is a mild way of putting it.

            “animals have similar genetics becuase they all need to breathe” is just plain wrong! Insects use a completely different mechanism to vertebrates. Molluscs use the same basic mechanism but implement it using very different proteins. So your account just plain fails — similar genetics are not at all necessary to achieve the same things. I don’t want to rub your nose in it particularly, but you’re acting like saying you’re ignorant of biology is a tactic. It’s not a tactic, it’s the plain truth.

            You’ve stopped engaging again and reverted to restating your position and accusing me of trickery, so yes, I agree, the conversation has to end.

            But let me just ask this. What are you trying to achieve by saying
            these things? Are you hoping to actually advance your cause?

            Because the way you’re doing it at the moment just makes you look arrogant and pig-headed, as well as foolish and ignorant. That’s going to drive people away from whatever it is that you’re offering, not bring them in. My advice is to educate yourself so at least you sound like you know something, or don’t discuss biology at all.

            If you feel you have to testify against the awful evolutionists, be honest! Say you don’t know anything about biology, don’t really care about biology, and that you believe that Genesis provides a literal, factual account of how the world came to be. That’s what people are going to conclude anyway, so you may as well tell them up front. Some people will be impressed by your simple faith, many will be impressed by your honesty, and everyone will be relieved that they can avoid a pointless discussion.

          • A progressive Christian cannot simply “Augustine” their way out of discussions concerning Genesis 1. Augustine is also quoted by conservatives, it all depends on the quotation, see these quotations for instance:

  • AUGUSTINE and the MODERATE/LIBERAL appropriation of his “wisdom” concerning GENESIS

    Augustine (354-430) wrote that the authors of the books of the Bible “have not erred in any way in writing them.”


    “. . . [in Genesis 1] the firmament was made between the waters above and beneath, and was called ‘Heaven,’ in which firmament the stars were made on the fourth day.” [Augustine, City of God chapter 11.5-9] In that same chapter Augustine also cites Psalm 148:3-4 that states the “sun, moon, stars and heaven” praise the Lord along with “the waters above the heavens.” And in The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustine wrote: “The term ‘firmament’ does not compel us to imagine a stationary heaven: we may understand this name as given to indicate not that it is motionless but that it is solid and that it constitutes an impassable boundary between the water above and the waters below. . . . Whatever the nature of the waters [above the firmament], we MUST BELIEVE in them, for the authority of Scripture is greater than the capacity of man’s mind.”

    Augustine’s interpretation was echoed by Martin Luther as late as the fifteenth century: “Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which . . . are the waters. . . . We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we MUST BELIEVE them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding” [Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 1, Lectures on Genesis, ed. Janoslaw Pelikan (St. Louis, MI: Concordia, 1958), pp. 30, 42, 43].


    In Eden, it would have been possible to beget offspring without foul lust. The sexual organs would have been stimulated into necessary activity by will-power alone, just as the will controls other organs. Then, without being goaded on by the allurement of passion, the husband could have relaxed upon his wife’s breasts with complete peace of mind and bodily tranquility, that part of his body not activated by tumultuous passion, but brought into service by the deliberate use of power when the need arose, the seed dispatched into the womb with no loss of his wife’s virginity. So, the two sexes could have come together for impregnation and conception by an act of will, rather than by lustful cravings.
    [Saint Augustine, The City of God, Book14, Chapter 26]


    The recorded Egyptian dynasties extend back some thousand years or more before Noah, the flood, or the Tower of Babel. Roughly speaking the great pyramid at Giza was constructed ca. 2560 B.C.E. approximately the same time as the Genesis narrative places the flood, with continuous Egyptian civilization predating and postdating this time. David N. Livingstone in ADAM’S ANCESTORS notes that Augustine (354-430) opposed these ideas. Indeed, the continuing dispute over chronology was sufficiently strong that Augustine devoted a whole chapter of THE CITY OF GOD to “the falseness of the history which allots many thousand years to the world’s past” and another chapter to the “mendacious vanity” and “empty presumption” of the Egyptians in claiming “an antiquity of a hundred thousand years ” for their accumulated wisdom. (Livingston, p. 9) While Augustine had no doubt that these reports were false, the seeds of inconsistency and discrepancy were present and were factors to be considered – if only to be refuted soundly. (See, David N. Livingstone, Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins. The author is Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen’s University, Belfast. His book looks at the history of the idea of pre-adamic or non-adamic humans in western Christian thinking from the early church (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine) through the middle ages, the explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, the debates on racial supremacy, and on to the present day.


  • I’ve worked out (he was in some cases posting the exact same words and phrases!) that gamgokt is in fact the same troll that was here previously under the name “David Tee.” And so I’ll do what I can to keep him from wasting all of our time.

  • Nick Gotts

    I’m dubious about your claim that the ancients, including the Greeks, did not distinguish between literal and symbolic texts. For example:

    The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat
    from its interest, but if it is judged worthy by those inquirers who
    desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of
    the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does
    not reflect it, I shall be content.
    In fine I have written my work not as an essay with which to win the applause of the moment but as a possession for all time.

    Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

    I’m aware that Thucydides’s methods were not the same as those of a modern historian, but doesn’t the quote indicate a very clear understanding of what literal truth means?