The resurrection of Omphalos

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I’ve said in several venues that should the theocrats win, the next day blood will flow down the aisles and under the pews (one hopes only metaphorically, though that’s by no means guaranteed). We see that metaphor scenario playing out in a number of venues in contemporary Christianity. Ken Ham rails against theistic evolution, arguing that its acceptance of an old earth/universe erodes the authority of scripture, and now Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (William Dembski’s former employer), all but accuses Francis Collins’ BioLogos Forum of apostasy (or so Darrell Falk interprets it) on much the same grounds, while endorsing the venerable appearance of age notion to account for the data of physics, geology, paleontology, and evolutionary biology.

More below the fold

In 1857 Phillip Henry Gosse published Omphalos; an attempt to untie the geological knot, in which he argued (among other things) that the reason that the world appears to be older than implied by the Bible is that it was created to look old. Gosse distinguished between a diachronic interpretation of the geological record–it happened in time as the evidence suggests–with what he called a “prochronic” interpretation: God created the world at some time in the middle of its history and gave it the appearance of age, creating by fiat (false) evidence of (a non-existent) past history. And he really meant that, to the point that he illustrated it with what amounts precisely to Last Thursdayism:

Let us suppose that this present year 1867 [sic: I suspect this is a scanning error] had been the particular epoch in the projected life-history of the world, which the Creator selected as the era of its actual beginning. At his fiat it appears; but in what condition? Its actual condition at this moment: – whatever is now existent would appear, precisely as it does appear. There would be cities filled with swarms of men; there would be houses half-built; castles fallen into ruins; pictures on artists’ easels just sketched in; wardrobes filled with half-worn garments; ships sailing over the sea; marks of birds’ footsteps on the mud; skeletons whitening the desert sands; human bodies in every stage of decay in the burial-grounds. These and millions of other traces of the past would be found, because they are found in the world now; they belong to the present age of the world; and if it had pleased God to call into existence this globe at this epoch of its life-history, the whole of which lay like a map before his infinite mind, it would certainly have presented all these phenomena; not to puzzle the philosopher, but because they are inseparable from the condition of the world at the selected moment of irruption into its history; because they constitute its condition; they make it what it is. (pp. 352-353)

Now compare Albert Mohler, speaking at the Ligonier Ministries 2010 National Conference, in a transcript prepared by BioLogos:

I want to suggest to you that it is our responsibility to give an answer when we are asked the question “Why does the universe look so old?” In the limitations of time, it is impossible that we walk through every alternative and answer every sub-question. But I want to suggest to you that the most natural understanding from the scripture of how to answer that question comes to this: The universe looks old because the creator made it whole. When he made Adam, Adam was not a fetus; Adam was a man; he had the appearance of a man. By our understanding that would’ve required time for Adam to get old but not by the sovereign creative power of God. He put Adam in the garden. The garden was not merely seeds; it was a fertile, fecund, mature garden. The Genesis account clearly claims that God creates and makes things whole.

To be fair, Mohler also implicates wear and tear and (by implication) the Fall; his “Last Thursday” is taken to be the Biblical 6,000 years ago. But as always, the Flood bears some responsibility:

Secondly–and very quickly–if I’m asked why does the universe look so old, I have to say it looks old because it bears testimony to the affects of sin. And testimony of the judgment of God. It bears the effects of the catastrophe of the flood and catastrophes innumerable thereafter. I would suggest to you that the world looks old because as Paul says in Romans chapter 8 it is groaning. And in its groaning it does look old. It gives us empirical evidence of the reality of sin.

On BioLogos Darrell Falk asks How Should BioLogos Respond to Dr. Albert Mohler’s Critique of The BioLogos Initiative?. I don’t know, but I want the popcorn concession. What these folks are running into is the same problem that has plagued religions since centralized religious authority was invented: there is no mutually agreed and principled way to resolve disputes among competing interpretations of religious texts. And so we see interminable theological arguments leading to denominational schisms and (in the extreme) to sectarian warfare. BioLogos already interprets Mohler of accusing it of apostasy, and it looks like he fears that it is potentially sliding slowly down the slippery slope to (gasp!) theistic evolution, which Mohler describes as “the consummate oxymoron.”

As an aside, I have to say that I did find it amusing in Falk’s post that he characterizes Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene as God’s way of making it clear what “an atheistic view of the biological data” means. Dawkins as an instrument of God. Wow! The mind boggles.

Postscript After writing this I found that Ophelia Benson has also just posted on it, focusing mainly on Falk’s BioLogos post linked above.

300 Comments

“Like, whoa dude, we could be like in the Matrix, man, and all your memories could be just made up! Oh man, I’m freakin’ out!!!”

Honestly, what kind of jerk of a being would do that to his “beloved” creation? And, perhaps more puzzlingly, why? I’ve never seen any of the omphalos crowd explain the purpose of a faked-up past for the universe, except that their god’s a tricky bastard.

Tulse said: Honestly, what kind of jerk of a being would do that to his “beloved” creation? And, perhaps more puzzlingly, why? I’ve never seen any of the omphalos crowd explain the purpose of a faked-up past for the universe, except that their god’s a tricky bastard.

Mohler is quite clear about that: It’s to avoid the theological and exegetical problems that result from not retaining a literal interpretation of the Bible. Bear in mind that he doesn’t care one tiny bit about the science: he’s interested only in the religious texts and how to interpret them.

n BioLogos Darrell Falk asks How Should BioLogos Respond to Dr. Albert Mohler’s Critique of The BioLogos Initiative?

that they even bother to consider a response speaks volumes about why science should distance itself even further from this nonsense.

Biologos is a failure, if the goal is to help science.

RBH said:

Tulse said: Honestly, what kind of jerk of a being would do that to his “beloved” creation? And, perhaps more puzzlingly, why? I’ve never seen any of the omphalos crowd explain the purpose of a faked-up past for the universe, except that their god’s a tricky bastard.

Mohler is quite clear about that: It’s to avoid the theological and exegetical problems that result from not retaining a literal interpretation of the Bible.

You misunderstand me – I understand why Mohler wants to interpret things that way, but what I don’t understand is how he explains why his god would create an aged earth in the first place. It seems profoundly perverse to me, and makes his god a liar.

Tulse said:

You misunderstand me – I understand why Mohler wants to interpret things that way, but what I don’t understand is how he explains why his god would create an aged earth in the first place. It seems profoundly perverse to me, and makes his god a liar.

Ahhh. Sorry. Mohler doesn’t address that question in his talk, but IIRC (it’s been a while since I read Omphalos) Gosse does address it, though I don’t remember his rationalization argument now.

I suppose one should never underestimate the mental confusions of the ID/creationists; but this Omphalos Problem falls into the same philosophical genre as solipsism.

These are “exercises for the sophomore” that are easily reduced to the recognition that evidence for existence from within each sphere might just as well be taken at face value because it is what you are stuck with. You wouldn’t behave any differently if the universe was real and existed for as long as the evidence suggests.

Putting a gun to one’s head and pulling the trigger would be devastating if the world were real and you would have no idea what would happen if it weren’t.

So you might as well just treat it as real and learn something form it.

When recognized in those terms, it is clearly evident that ID/creationists are desperately trying to avoid reality.

See, I can almost comprehend the concept that a god might create a universe that looks older, it’d be fairly dull for a long time, if you had to wait for plants to grow and so on. I can also almost grasp the idea that, somehow, culturally changable ethics and subjective immoral activities can wear creation down, making it look more used.

However, it still doesn’t explain why the fecking light is coming from so far away. There’s no possible explanation of why a god would make starlight from stellar events that cannot possibly have existed.

I mean, seriously. The major fundamental flaw of cDesignists is to put some thought into their already flawed ideas.

What these folks are running into is the same problem that has plagued religions since centralized religious authority was invented: there is no mutually agreed and principled way to resolve disputes among competing interpretations of religious texts.

When it comes to issues of the natural world, I wish more would look to science as the impartial arbiter. Yeah, feeling a trifle optimistic today.

In posing my usual question to creationists to explain the lack of evidence supporting creationism or refuting evolution in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, I have always assumed there are two basic answers for creationism to be valid, i.e., that the scientific community is 1) engaged in a decades-long global conspiracy or 2) incompetent. I’m starting to think, in the context of presuppositionalism and Omphalos, that they also might think we are delusional, somehow blind to revealed wisdom. However, I think the argument can still be made that if the evidence is there and you completely and utterly miss it, it’s incompetence, whether due to lack of skill or misdirection by living in the Matrix.

Tulse said:

RBH said:

Tulse said: Honestly, what kind of jerk of a being would do that to his “beloved” creation? And, perhaps more puzzlingly, why? I’ve never seen any of the omphalos crowd explain the purpose of a faked-up past for the universe, except that their god’s a tricky bastard.

Mohler is quite clear about that: It’s to avoid the theological and exegetical problems that result from not retaining a literal interpretation of the Bible.

You misunderstand me – I understand why Mohler wants to interpret things that way, but what I don’t understand is how he explains why his god would create an aged earth in the first place. It seems profoundly perverse to me, and makes his god a liar.

And therefore Creationist leaders are not above lying outright to defend their bogus dogmas.

And that is why being a YEC is also being a blasphemer. You won’t ever catch me calling God a liar. I’d sooner beleive there is no God at all. So would most people.

Since Mohler thinks theistic evolution is the consummate oxymoron, then I guess we can presume that Mohler thinks his god cannot foresee the future consequences of whatever universe his god decides to set in motion? I guess that would explain why his god also cannot foresee the consequences of creating a bunch of stupid rules nobody can follow.

The thing about this that’s always bugged me is this: If it’s true that their god has created a universe with all the evidence that it’s old, then that’s, well evidence that it’s old. Therefore, they should have to agree that evidence based understanding, that is, science, must conclude that the universe is… old.

Therefore, teaching creationism or any of its illegitimate stepchildren is not science, but faith, and doesn’t belong in a science class. And since all the evidence shows that the universe is old, and is self-consistent, the science based on that is useful in understanding why the Earth and universe look and act the way that they do, and should be taught.

So why do they constantly try to stick non-evidence based material into science classes, and why do they constantly try to remove evidence-based material?

The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, a devout Christian, called the appearance of old argument the deceptive God blasphemy.

Jim Thomerson said:

The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, a devout Christian, called the appearance of old argument the deceptive God blasphemy.

I have heard that Gosse was somewhat taken aback by the hostility that his idea generated. He had been of the opinion that he had come up with an idea that would make everyone happy, but it turned out quite the opposite.

What these folks are running into is the same problem that has plagued religions since centralized religious authority was invented: there is no mutually agreed and principled way to resolve disputes among competing interpretations of religious texts.

Alternatively, we can say that there IS a mutually agreed and principled resolution mechanism - the schism. Last I looked it up, there were over 38,000 Christian denominations alone. And this is probably a Good Thing, because by now, you can read scripture, decide what YOU think it means, and find a denomination that substantially agrees with you.

Flint said:

Alternatively, we can say that there IS a mutually agreed and principled resolution mechanism - the schism.

“What do you get when you have two Baptists on a desert island? First Church of Island Baptist – and First Church of Island Baptist REFORMED.”

“What do you get when you have two Baptists on a desert island? First Church of Island Baptist – and First Church of Island Baptist REFORMED.”

Alternatively, a man is stranded on a desert island and builds two synagogues - he prays in one; the other is the synagogue he wouldn’t set foot in.

So I’ve just seen another anti-Darwin / evolution diatribe by Klinghoffer of the dishonesty institute, surprisingly as a post on the Huffington Post. Same old Klinghoffer, what drivel. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david[…]_630627.html

So I’ve just seen another anti-Darwin / evolution diatribe by Klinghoffer of the dishonesty institute, surprisingly as a post on the Huffington Post. Same old Klinghoffer, what drivel. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david[…]_630627.html

RBH said:

Tulse said:

You misunderstand me – I understand why Mohler wants to interpret things that way, but what I don’t understand is how he explains why his god would create an aged earth in the first place. It seems profoundly perverse to me, and makes his god a liar.

Ahhh. Sorry. Mohler doesn’t address that question in his talk

His quote addresses it (vaguely). “The universe looks old because the creator made it whole.”

IOW creationists of this type say that a universe that looks self-consistent and self-contained is ‘better’ than one that looks like a miracle-driven hodgepodge. And since God does everything better, that’s the reason he did the universe this way.

Why its better, how such a creation is ethical, and so on, we’re not told.

Somewhat off topic; but there is considerable interference on PT ant the moment.

How is this spamming by www.b2bsharing.com being handled?

Mike Elzinga said:

Somewhat off topic; but there is considerable interference on PT ant the moment.

How is this spamming by www.b2bsharing.com being handled?

By manually marking them as spam, which removes them and adds to the IP’s spam score and thereby makes it harder to comment, or something like that. Hell, I dunno. There’s also a message out to our webmaster about it.

In that vein, whilst whacking spam comments I may have inadvertently whacked one or two genuine comments. My apologies.

So supernova SN1987a, which was measured at roughly 170,000ly away, never actually exploded? God created light already on its way to the earth from a completely fictitious event that never happened? I like the Flying Spaghetti Monster explanation better. The FSM just alters our perception of reality.

John_S said:

So supernova SN1987a, which was measured at roughly 170,000ly away, never actually exploded? God created light already on its way to the earth from a completely fictitious event that never happened? I like the Flying Spaghetti Monster explanation better. The FSM just alters our perception of reality.

In one of his early books–I don’t now recall which–Henry Morris, the founder of the Institute for Creation Research, made exactly that argument: what we see as novas are merely “blobs” (Morris’ word) in a stream of starlight from a star that never actually existed.

RBH said:

John_S said:

So supernova SN1987a, which was measured at roughly 170,000ly away, never actually exploded? God created light already on its way to the earth from a completely fictitious event that never happened? I like the Flying Spaghetti Monster explanation better. The FSM just alters our perception of reality.

In one of his early books–I don’t now recall which–Henry Morris, the founder of the Institute for Creation Research, made exactly that argument: what we see as novas are merely “blobs” (Morris’ word) in a stream of starlight from a star that never actually existed.

I remember reading Morris’ crap and responses to it by scientists when I was in college and wondering why Morris was not prosecuted for fraud. I know we have a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion, but there should be logical limits to it. Claiming something is scientific which doesn’t even follow the rules of science and logic at all, just to defend some extremist view of the Bible that is itself illogical and a manifestation of idolatry certainly deserves no respect in any enlightened society.

So, Dr. Mohler pointed out:

But I want to suggest to you that the most natural understanding from the scripture of how to answer that question comes to this: The universe looks old because the creator made it whole.

When he made Adam, Adam was not a fetus; Adam was a man; he had the appearance of a man. By our understanding that would’ve required time for Adam to get old but not by the sovereign creative power of God. He put Adam in the garden. The garden was not merely seeds; it was a fertile, fecund, mature garden. The Genesis account clearly claims that God creates and makes things whole.

That’s a very strong statement there. Left unrefuted, it could do some damage to your theistic evolution brothers.

So, to help out your TE homies, let’s try a little exercise. Using the Scripture texts alone, offer a disproof of what Dr. Mohler said there.

Try it. Take your time.

******

What’s that you say?

You’re not able to pull it off using the Biblical texts?

Well, of course not. The Bible SUPPORTS what Dr. Mohler is saying and therefore the Bible opposes those Biologos boys. Nevertheless, this sort of stuff can give you valuable insights as to the heavy quandary that theistic evolutionists are stuck in 24/7.

See, for you Pandas, it’s all very simple. “Darwinism Sez So, Uniformitarianism Sez So, Screw Da Bible.”

And that’s that. Case closed. Three rails on which PandasThumb merrily rolls along.

The Biologos boys slavishly follow your lead on the first two rails (as expected), but they know that if they touch that third rail (“screw da bible”), they will burn up their own credibility with the Christian audience they’re so desperately trying to evangelize for evolution.

So, unlike PT, the Biologos guys CANNOT blow off the Bible when attempting to respond to Dr. Mohler’s statements. They’ve got to bring the Scriptures to the table somehow, in order to stay in the debate.

But that’s the kicker: Dr. Mohler’s apparent-age gig derives DIRECTLY from Scripture itself. Ooops. In chess terms, the Biologos boys are faced with a monster Zugzwang on this one.

So let’s hear some suggestions, PT amigos. How do we rescue Biologos on this one? C’mon, help a “Bio brother” out!

FL

FL said:

So, Dr. Mohler pointed out:

But I want to suggest to you that the most natural understanding from the scripture of how to answer that question comes to this: The universe looks old because the creator made it whole.

When he made Adam, Adam was not a fetus; Adam was a man; he had the appearance of a man. By our understanding that would’ve required time for Adam to get old but not by the sovereign creative power of God. He put Adam in the garden. The garden was not merely seeds; it was a fertile, fecund, mature garden. The Genesis account clearly claims that God creates and makes things whole.

That’s a very strong statement there. Left unrefuted, it could do some damage to your theistic evolution brothers.

So, to help out your TE homies, let’s try a little exercise. Using the Scripture texts alone, offer a disproof of what Dr. Mohler said there.

Try it. Take your time.

******

What’s that you say?

You’re not able to pull it off using the Biblical texts?

Well, of course not. The Bible SUPPORTS what Dr. Mohler is saying and therefore the Bible opposes those Biologos boys. Nevertheless, this sort of stuff can give you valuable insights as to the heavy quandary that theistic evolutionists are stuck in 24/7.

See, for you Pandas, it’s all very simple. “Darwinism Sez So, Uniformitarianism Sez So, Screw Da Bible.”

And that’s that. Case closed. Three rails on which PandasThumb merrily rolls along.

The Biologos boys slavishly follow your lead on the first two rails (as expected), but they know that if they touch that third rail (“screw da bible”), they will burn up their own credibility with the Christian audience they’re so desperately trying to evangelize for evolution.

So, unlike PT, the Biologos guys CANNOT blow off the Bible when attempting to respond to Dr. Mohler’s statements. They’ve got to bring the Scriptures to the table somehow, in order to stay in the debate.

But that’s the kicker: Dr. Mohler’s apparent-age gig derives DIRECTLY from Scripture itself. Ooops. In chess terms, the Biologos boys are faced with a monster Zugzwang on this one.

So let’s hear some suggestions, PT amigos. How do we rescue Biologos on this one? C’mon, help a “Bio brother” out!

FL

Thanks for proving yet again why blind belief in the literal “truth” of the Bible is blasphemous idolatry. You know that most knowledgable Christians do not want to commit that offense. So why do you?

Dale Husband said:

I remember reading Morris’ crap and responses to it by scientists when I was in college and wondering why Morris was not prosecuted for fraud. I know we have a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion, but there should be logical limits to it. Claiming something is scientific which doesn’t even follow the rules of science and logic at all, just to defend some extremist view of the Bible that is itself illogical and a manifestation of idolatry certainly deserves no respect in any enlightened society.

Morris and Gish were absolutely ruthless in their mischaracterizations of science. I think it had something to do with taunting scientists into debates with them.

I remember battling their misconceptions throughout the 1970s and 80s. They spread memes faster than the physics community could clean up after them.

Over at the ICR website you can still find much of Morris’s and Gish’s crap. For example, here is Morris on the Stars of Heaven with his original screwing up of thermodynamics and cosmology.

The creationists are still making hay off debates from back in the 1980s. They retract nothing; every crappy argument they started with back in the late 1960s can still be found on the internet.

In any other area of consumer protection, these bastards would be in prison. But they hide behind freedom of religion and get away with it.

Here is the speed of light crap from ICR.

You can find all these arguments at AiG also. As I said, they keep repeating the same refuted crap over and over. It’s their shtick.

Mike Elzinga said:

Dale Husband said:

I remember reading Morris’ crap and responses to it by scientists when I was in college and wondering why Morris was not prosecuted for fraud. I know we have a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion, but there should be logical limits to it. Claiming something is scientific which doesn’t even follow the rules of science and logic at all, just to defend some extremist view of the Bible that is itself illogical and a manifestation of idolatry certainly deserves no respect in any enlightened society.

Morris and Gish were absolutely ruthless in their mischaracterizations of science. I think it had something to do with taunting scientists into debates with them.

I remember battling their misconceptions throughout the 1970s and 80s. They spread memes faster than the physics community could clean up after them.

Over at the ICR website you can still find much of Morris’s and Gish’s crap. For example, here is Morris on the Stars of Heaven with his original screwing up of thermodynamics and cosmology.

The creationists are still making hay off debates from back in the 1980s. They retract nothing; every crappy argument they started with back in the late 1960s can still be found on the internet.

In any other area of consumer protection, these bastards would be in prison. But they hide behind freedom of religion and get away with it.

By Gish, you mean Duane T. Gish, who was indeed Morris’ lientenant in the Institute for Creation Research. He was indeed one of the most blatantly shameless liars I’ve ever read, with one book in particular titled, “Evolution, the Fossil Say NO!” that was quite laughable.

Oh, I just looked elsewhere and he is still alive. Maybe we can still drag his @$$ to court, along with Ken Ham and other known frauds.

Oh, I just looked elsewhere and he is still alive. Maybe we can still drag his @$$ to court, along with Ken Ham and other known frauds.

But how will that provide any help to the Biologos boys in their hour of need?

FL said:

Dornier Pfeil asked,

FL, How exactly do you ascertain if a given “teaching” is “false” if different Christians hold to different “teachings”?

Answer: By taking the time to check out whether a given teaching is in accordance with the Scriptures, or in opposition to the Scriptures.

You misunderstood my query, and rereading it I realized I could have been clearer. I don’t care how biblical teachings are squared with academic(read scientific but not to be limited to science) ones. I want to know how you resolve conflicting biblical teachings. If christian A says verse A provides teaching A and christian B says verse A provides teaching B and teachings A and B are conflicted, how do you resolve them? I am not going to list specific examples as getting into any dispute over specifics would sidetrack my purpose. I want to know what general method christians would use to resolve biblical disputes.

This, “Answer: By taking the time to check out whether a given teaching is in accordance with the Scriptures, or in opposition to the Scriptures.” btw, would not be an acceptable answer to my revised query. It just rebegs the question.

(@ everyone except FL, this is actually on topic.)

FL said:

snip

Sorry, I clicked submit before I was ready. To address the rest of your reply I will say that I actually agree with your semtiment that a literal reading of the bible is completely at odds with modern science. I don’t think there is any way to square the two. But a figurative reading of the bible has no difficulties with modern science. Your problem seems to be that you don’t want to grant to anyone the perogative to read the bible as they see fit. I don’t get why you think you are so privileged to do so but we all have our own arrogances and conceits.

(I’m an American. How I spell perogative is my perogative.)

I don’t live on the internet. A few hours a week is all I can manage.

I can rationally and scripturally resolve the dispute by recognizing a literal reading of the bible as simply wrong. Modern science has no conflict with mythology when it is simply taken as mythology and not as a science textbook.

FL said:

And speaking of “avoiding questions”, let’s not forget THIS question.…

Hey, do you know of anybody (especially a theistic evolutionist) who can rationally and Scripturally resolve the huge clash between the evolutionary theory claim of human origins and the Bible’s clear claim of human origins?

Or, if you don’t know of anybody, can YOU resolve it?

This response was originally addressed to John Kwok and is based squarely upon my reply to Dornier Pfeil.

Now, neither John nor Dornier may be available to respond right at this moment, and that’s fine. There’s plenty of time; no need to rush.

If Mike, Stanton, or Dale want to reply specifically to what I’ve asked there, that’s fine. I’d love to see somebody offer a considered, supportable resolution of the problem, or merely offer a link to some other evolutionist’s proffered resolution.

But I’m not worrying about any “you didn’t answer my question” stuff. Nope. If you don’t want to engage what I asked John, just leave it be.

FL

Dornier wrote:

If christian A says verse A provides teaching A and christian B says verse A provides teaching B and teachings A and B are conflicted, how do you resolve them? I am not going to list specific examples as getting into any dispute over specifics would sidetrack my purpose. I want to know what general method christians would use to resolve biblical disputes.

The general method that Christians would use is this: You honestly have to go to the Scriptures, and then see if the Bible texts offer better support for the stated position of either A or B.

That’s the general approach. That might not be acceptable for non-Christians, but you are asking me what general method Christians would specifically adopt to resolve “biblical disputes.” Well that’s generally how we do it.

Ignoring the Bible’s teachings on a disputed issue, is not a rational option for Christians. The Bible is considered authoritative by Christians, (after all, the founder of Christianity clearly considered it authoritative, see John 10:35 abd 17:17). S

So it would not be “begging the question” for THEM to seek to determine whether position A or position B is better supported by the Scriptures.

(Btw, if you’ve been watching the Presbyterians as they debate homosexuality and gay clergy this month, you’ve probably seen this method in action, as all sides attempt to appeal to the Bible for support. That’s the “general method”, as you put it.)

But anyway, this does directly answer your query.

***

I can rationally and scripturally resolve the dispute by recognizing a literal reading of the bible as simply wrong.

Well, not this time Dornier. Given that the evolutionary theory “common ancestor” claim of human origins is diametrically and totally opposed to the Bible’s clear claim of a supernatural and direct creation of humans with no ancestors whatsoever (Gen. 2:7, 2:21-22), you didn’t actually resolve anything merely by saying that the Genesis passages are “non-literal.”

First, we cannot rationally afford to ignore the genre of those two Gen passages. The two Gen passages are written as straight historical narrative (not parables, not allegories, etc).

If you try to suggest that they are non-literal, you have to be able to support your claim from the texts/contexts themselves. Gotta offer some textual or contextual evidence of “non-literalness” there, and “Darwin Sez So” doesn’t count this time.

Secondly, if you suggest that Gen 2:7 and 2:21-22 are non-literal, then you’re also saying that they are historically false, because as you’ve already seen here, nobody’s able to come up with any rationally and Scripturally-supportive “non-literal” interpretation on those two texts. Can’t even offer a link to support such an interpretation.

Therefore either the two Gen passages are literally true in actual Earth history, or they’re just plain false, period. Nobody has shown any other rational options.

But that would then mean the dispute is NOT resolved at all. You’re simply saying the evolution claim is true and the opposing biblical claim is false. Which is fine, but you’ve failed to rationally reconcile the two opposing claims, so you’ve merely re-affirmed that one of the two positions is INDEED a false teaching (in your case, you’re saying that the Bible’s position is false.)

Just something to think about. Meanwhile, Christians can indeed figure out what teachings may be “false teachings” or not, by adopting the general approach of going to the Scriptures to find out.

***

(@ everyone except FL, this is actually on topic.)

Ummm, much thanks for reminding some other posters that what we’re discussing is topical. Sometimes they get a little Wall-happy around here. I appreciate that you’re of a different mind.

I’m pretty much done with this thread, except to answer Stanton’s inquiry in the next post.

FL

Side note for Stanton.….So you want me to affirm to you that the Southern Christians’ belief that “the Bible justifies American slavery” was/is a false teaching?

Sure, I’ll affirm for you that it was a false teaching. After all, the Grimke sisters pointed out multiple Biblical violations going on with the slavery horror-show.

(And I’m sure that my forebears who found themselves standing on antebellum auction blocks in the vicinity of Gallatin, Tennessee, can repeat my affirmation with much sadness and anger.)

And you want me to affirm for you that the “Curse of Ham” had nothing to do with Africans and therefore nothing to do with Black Americans? Sure; consider it affirmed. You have access to a Bible, so you already know that the curse was aimed at Canaan and his descendents not Cush and his African descendents. Therefore anybody trying to lay the curse on black people, IS propagating false teaching. There you go.

But you know Stanton, all you’re doing is trying to change the subject.

Discussing American slavery, “the curse of Ham”, and affirming how some Christians fell for false teaching on those topics, doesn’t really have anything to do with what Dornier and I are discussing. After all, false teaching about slavery and the curse of Ham, does NOT magically salvage evolutionary theory’s false teaching about how the first humans originated in Earth history. The Bible still makes clear that it’s false teaching. You have no way to re-write the Bible there, and no way to reconcile the diametrically opposed historical claims.

So it’s like you’re stumped, and hence you seek to change the subject. You (and others) suddenly want to talk about something else, and then you insist I discuss the “something else” or go to the Wall. (Not ignoring you Natman, but it appears to be the same story with you too.)

Well, I’m not impressed by that kind of move, hmm? But, you now have the affirmations you apparently wanted, so there you go. Enjoy your weekend dude!

FL

It’s always obvious when FL just has to ejaculate.

It’s always obvious when FL just has to ejaculate.

FL said:

And speaking of “avoiding questions”, let’s not forget THIS question.…

Hey, do you know of anybody (especially a theistic evolutionist) who can rationally and Scripturally resolve the huge clash between the evolutionary theory claim of human origins and the Bible’s clear claim of human origins?

Or, if you don’t know of anybody, can YOU resolve it?

This response was originally addressed to John Kwok and is based squarely upon my reply to Dornier Pfeil.

Now, neither John nor Dornier may be available to respond right at this moment, and that’s fine. There’s plenty of time; no need to rush.

If Mike, Stanton, or Dale want to reply specifically to what I’ve asked there, that’s fine. I’d love to see somebody offer a considered, supportable resolution of the problem, or merely offer a link to some other evolutionist’s proffered resolution.

But I’m not worrying about any “you didn’t answer my question” stuff. Nope. If you don’t want to engage what I asked John, just leave it be.

FL

He said that AFTER I had said:

Dale Husband said:

Dale Husband said:

FL said:

Dornier Pfeil asked,

FL, How exactly do you ascertain if a given “teaching” is “false” if different Christians hold to different “teachings”?

Answer: By taking the time to check out whether a given teaching is in accordance with the Scriptures, or in opposition to the Scriptures.

FL

The Scriptures, including the creation myths of Genesis, don’t matter so much if they are made by people. People are not God, you idiot. Can you prove that God wrote the Book of Genesis?

Note that FL completely avoided my question, which is the whole point of why you can be Christian and not rely on Scrupture as an absolute basis for “truth”.

Therefore, his point is debunked. There is no evidence that God had a hand in the writing of any part of the Bible, let alone the Book of Genesis. But if you beleive in God as a Creator, then you can understand the true nature of God, including how he created, by studying the universe itself. That is the basis for Theistic Evolution.

So, does anyone else here wonder why I refer to religious fundamentalism and Creationism as blasphemy? FL himself shows us all why.

FL said:

First, we cannot rationally afford to ignore the genre of those two Gen passages. The two Gen passages are written as straight historical narrative (not parables, not allegories, etc).

If you try to suggest that they are non-literal, you have to be able to support your claim from the texts/contexts themselves. Gotta offer some textual or contextual evidence of “non-literalness” there, and “Darwin Sez So” doesn’t count this time.

Trouble is, you haven’t provided any support for your claim that Genesis 1 & 2 were ever intended to be read as literal. You also seem to imagine that the text and context haven’t been studied (to the point of exhaustion).

Since you are evidently engaged with the subject why not read an excellent example of scholarship on the matter: Nahum M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis: The World of the Bible in the Light of History. You don’t have to agree with what Sarna says, but at least you will have an idea of what it means to place Genesis in context. And you will then be able to discuss the matter with reference to facts.

(I assume, since you have requested context as well as text you are not going to stick to a naive sola scriptura line.)

Sarna’s book addresses the documentary hypothesis, the role of creation myths of surrounding cultures, and the beliefs of the writers and readers of Genesis. That is what context looks like.

When you’ve had a look at this, you will need to find evidence that Sarna’s claims are inaccurate to continue to believe in a literal reading of Genesis. Since, in Sarna’s (much quoted) words:

Literalism involves a fundamental misconception of the mental processes of biblical man and ignorance of his modes of self-expression. It thus misrepresents the purpose of the narrative, obscures the meaningful and enduring in it and destroys its relevancy.

FL, you’ve given the farm away when you go for

You honestly have to go to the Scriptures, and then see if the Bible texts offer better support for the stated position of either A or B.

and

(Btw, if you’ve been watching the Presbyterians as they debate homosexuality and gay clergy this month, you’ve probably seen this method in action, as all sides attempt to appeal to the Bible for support. That’s the “general method”, as you put it.)

You’ve admitted that in that specific instance, the Bible contradicts itself to the point where opposed sides are both using it to support their cases. It may say different things, and the task of the reader is to sort out which of those things are given “the better support”. Not which of them is definitely right. Which of them is more likely to be right, which of course depends on what the reader thinks is right, and on what the writer thought was right.

That is, the Bible does not speak clearly and unequivocably on an issue of morals and Church guidance. The divergence of its opinions on those issues are a reflection of the divergence of the minds of its readers and its writers. You have admitted this; there is no going back on it now.

But the Bible is supposed to be about morals and Church guidance.

How much less, then, should we expect of the Scriptures’ account of the history of the Earth when they are transmitted through the minds of men who had no knowledge at all of that? We should expect divergence, different ideas, different stories, varying accounts. And when we look at what is actually written, as opposed to what the literalists wish had been written, that is exactly what we find.

There is no getting around this, FL. You have admitted that the Scriptures are of varying authority, and that you have to pick and choose the ones that you think are authoritative, even in matters of moral behaviour. But any such choice necessarily must imply that some Scripture is not authoritative.

You’ve lost the farm, FL. Now go and make an honest living doing something else. You’re done here.

eddie, by “context” FL probably means something like “other Scripture that relates to the text in question”. He almost certainly doesn’t mean something as sophisticated as “the circumstances, place, time, culture, language, history and individual where the text originated.”

eddie said:

Since, in Sarna’s (much quoted) words:

Literalism involves a fundamental misconception of the mental processes of biblical man and ignorance of his modes of self-expression. It thus misrepresents the purpose of the narrative, obscures the meaningful and enduring in it and destroys its relevancy.

Nice.

This goes well with the specific example I provided above. One just can’t depend on etymology and other word-gaming tactics to extract meaning.

I wonder how FL would feel if he spend years working on a massive hotel building, designing it, constructing it, and decorating its rooms, finally finishing it and then leaving it to run according to the rules he made for it and nothing more.

Years later, he returns to find that some egomaniacs in charge of the building have written a book, claimed that the book was FL’s idea, and the book told a story about how he created the building in only a few hours, then made all sorts of rules that were not even mentioned by FL before, but imposed on the tenants of the hotel without FL’s explicit approval. Even worse, he finds that there are disputes within the hotel because several groups of egomaniacs have written other books, claiming FL inspired them too, with different stories, different rules, and even different depictions of what FL himself is like.

If I were in the place of that hotel designer and builder, I’d immediately have expelled all the egomaniacs who slandered and libeled me and tell the remaining tenants to a think for themselves with their own brains and leave me out of it.

In fact, FL would probably answer “God” to all those circumstances, and look at you funny for even suggesting that any other considerations could be relevant.

FL said: Meanwhile, Christians can indeed figure out what teachings may be “false teachings” or not, by adopting the general approach of going to the Scriptures to find out.

Or, as at Nicaea, Wittenberg, Canterbury, and Mount Vernon, Christians simply edit out the parts of “Scripture” that they don’t like. Or, as in Ethiopia, Qumran, and Salt Lake City, Christians simply add new parts to “Scripture”. When you control what is contained in the “Inerrant Word of God”, you get to decide what is a “false teaching” and what isn’t.

So, “going to the Scriptures” isn’t a very useful strategy to solve a theological argument. It never has been. As with most people, priests find it more useful to gain political or military power in order to brand their own theology as “Orthodox”, and all others as “Heretical”.

It’s rather amusing that the “Scriptures”, the “Inerrant Word of God”, keeps changing over time. If it was “Inerrant”, wouldn’t you think that it wouldn’t change? Unfortunately for FL, we know in pretty good detail how the “Scriptures” were written by Man, not by God. It was a messy process, and it still isn’t finished.

FL said:

Side note for Stanton.….So you want me to affirm to you that the Southern Christians’ belief that “the Bible justifies American slavery” was/is a false teaching?

Or what about how Christians have used the Bible to commit physical and literal genocide on other peoples?

You still haven’t explained to us why we should blame Charles Darwin for how Christians have used Jesus to propagate Anti-Semitism for 2 millenia.

Sure, I’ll affirm for you that it was a false teaching. After all, the Grimke sisters pointed out multiple Biblical violations going on with the slavery horror-show.

Then how come the Bible never condemns enslaving or owning people?

(And I’m sure that my forebears who found themselves standing on antebellum auction blocks in the vicinity of Gallatin, Tennessee, can repeat my affirmation with much sadness and anger.)

And yet, you have never gotten around to explaining how, if the Christian slaveowners were using false Christian doctrines to justify owning slaves, in that Noah allegedly cursed them to be slaves in the first place, why is Charles Darwin to blame for their lot?

And you want me to affirm for you that the “Curse of Ham” had nothing to do with Africans and therefore nothing to do with Black Americans? Sure; consider it affirmed. You have access to a Bible, so you already know that the curse was aimed at Canaan and his descendents not Cush and his African descendents. Therefore anybody trying to lay the curse on black people, IS propagating false teaching. There you go.

If the Curse of Ham is indeed false, then how come you can’t explain why so many Young Earth Creationists bought into it, including Henry Morris, who claims that the Curse made all of his descendants more servile http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/racism.html

But you know Stanton, all you’re doing is trying to change the subject.

And you’ve never been guilty of changing the subject? Hell, all of your posts are deliberate attempts to derail the topics of every thread you’ve posted on, either to spread lies, mock us, or boast about how great a hypocritical asshole for Jesus you are.

Discussing American slavery, “the curse of Ham”, and affirming how some Christians fell for false teaching on those topics, doesn’t really have anything to do with what Dornier and I are discussing. After all, false teaching about slavery and the curse of Ham, does NOT magically salvage evolutionary theory’s false teaching about how the first humans originated in Earth history. The Bible still makes clear that it’s false teaching. You have no way to re-write the Bible there, and no way to reconcile the diametrically opposed historical claims.

Are we to assume that you oppose all medicines and medical procedures because they were tested on animals specifically on the idea that medicines and medical procedures are tested on animals specifically because humans share a common ancestry with animals?

So it’s like you’re stumped, and hence you seek to change the subject.

Then how come you never post on the thread’s topic to begin with?

You (and others) suddenly want to talk about something else, and then you insist I discuss the “something else” or go to the Wall. (Not ignoring you Natman, but it appears to be the same story with you too.)

FL, you are a troll who trolls here in order to spread lies, derail topics with your lies and insults, and you also try to slander us and anyone who does not bow down to you as God’s Voice. If you don’t like having to justify your lies and slander for Jesus, why do you insist on continuing to post here?

That is, besides having a hoot deliberately pissing people off with your lies and how you masturbate to the thought of ordering God to send us to Hell to burn forever for not worshiping you.

Well, I’m not impressed by that kind of move, hmm? But, you now have the affirmations you apparently wanted, so there you go. Enjoy your weekend dude!

FL

Of course you’re not impressed. The only thing that would impress you is if I were to miraculously develop severe brain damage and then allowed you to manage the spiritual, secular and financial aspects of my entire life.

That, and I still notice that you haven’t explained why we should blame Charles Darwin for the Slave Trade if Christians used the Curse of Ham, and not “descent with modification” or even “survival of the fittest” as a justification.

Dornier Pfeil said:

(FL’s) problem seems to be that you don’t want to grant to anyone the perogative to read the bible as they see fit. I don’t get why you think you are so privileged to do so but we all have our own arrogances and conceits.

FL desires power over other people, and he thinks he can gain greater power if he can enslave people through manipulating and commandeering their relationships with God.

Hence FL’s constant slander of Christians and anyone else who accepts Evolution as being deluded or evil or evil and deluded, and him constantly trolling with posts of nothing but lies, gossip, slander and bullying, all in the hopes of getting us to somehow let him determine how we get to God.

In other words, according to FL, either we interpret the Bible ONLY according to FL, or we burn in Hell forever and ever and ever and ever for FL’s amusement.

FL said: The Bible is considered authoritative by Christians, (after all, the founder of Christianity clearly considered it authoritative, see John 10:35 abd 17:17).

Ooo! Ooo! I know the answer to that one! First, the founder of Christianity is Paul of Tarsus, who lived in the middle of the first century. The “Bible” was written (or rather, compiled) at Nicaea in the year 325. It would be difficult for Paul to consider the “Bible” to be authoritative, when it was written 250 years after he died.

On the other hand, much of the New Testament is in fact letters (purportedly) from Paul. So, to that extent, Paul would probably find his own writings to be authoritative.

Geeze FL, if you’re going to argue theology, you really need to get your facts about the Bible straight.

And, BTW, in John 10:35, Jesus is not talking about “The Bible”, which was written three centuries after his death. He is referring to the ancient Jewish “Scripture”, which he considered unbreakable. Jesus was trying to get the Jews to return to their roots, to be the Jews they once were. But, you’re a Christian. Remember? You don’t believe in the Jewish scripture any more. You broke what Jesus considered unbreakable, and now believe in the authority of new things outside of the Jewish Scripture.

Jesus would be appalled.

Oops. If I’m going to ask FL to get his facts straight, I should be a little more precise myself, or he’s going to quotemine me. Paul of Tarsus was the founder of the Christian Church, not precisely “Cristianity”, which is the word that FL used. But the rest of the comment still stands.

Actually, all the schisms arise from the Protestant reformation. It’s the notion that the only true path to God is to read and understand the Bible for oneself, rather than to rely on a single authority (ie, the Catholic Church at the time) for the true word of god. Now, everyone (including FL) has the responsibility and “authority” to decide for themselves what the Bible says. Unfortunately, many wrongly think that means that they also have the “authority” to decide for everyone else what is True, and to damn everyone to Hell if they disagree. Yet another blasphemy. Or at least a damn big conceit.

At least the Anglicans (that FL mentions) agree that there can be different interpretations of the Bible. He simply misunderstands what they’re trying to do with those differences. Not only does FL get his science hopelessly wrong, he doesn’t even know his own religion very well.

Sorry to be so OT, but I’ve recently been learning about the history of the Bible and the early Christian church. The “context” that FL so disdains. It’s fascinating stuff. And when FL starts erroneously quoting theology he obviously knows nothing about, it kind of frosts me. I mean, it’s one thing to be willfully ignorant of stuff he doesn’t care about (like all of science). It’s another to be willfully ignorant of stuff he claims authority from, and claims to know something about. Just appalling.

Cheers.

FL said:

Sorry for the typo, John. Merely missed the last letter of Mayr’s name.

Hey, do you know of anybody (especially a theistic evolutionist) who can rationally and Scripturally resolve the huge clash between the evolutionary theory claim of human origins and the Bible’s clear claim of human origins?

Or, if you don’t know of anybody, can YOU resolve it?

FL

It would appear the William P. Brown (Columbia Theological Seminary) has done so.

Scott said:

Actually, all the schisms arise from the Protestant reformation.

Ummm…No. Think about the split between Rome and Constantinople. Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox.…none of ‘em related to the Protestant Reformation.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

W. H. Heydt said:

Ummm…No. Think about the split between Rome and Constantinople. Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox.…none of ‘em related to the Protestant Reformation.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

A reasonably good map is here.

W. H. Heydt said:

Scott said:

Actually, all the schisms arise from the Protestant reformation.

Ummm…No. Think about the split between Rome and Constantinople. Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox.…none of ‘em related to the Protestant Reformation.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

You are completely correct in saying that the Christian church schismed a number of times before the Protestant reformation, but I think it reasonable to think of earlier successful schisms (that is, splits that lasted) as political in nature rather than theological.

Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism and others were successfully destroyed after being declared heresies. The split with the Eastern Orthodox communion was essentially about who was the highest authority in Christendom, the Bishop of Rome or the Patriarch of Constantinople, and exactly what that authority consisted of. Was he merely “primus inter pares”, or did he wield magisterial power over his fellow prelates - and lay princes? These are political questions, not theological ones as such.

There is, of course, a political dimension to the Protestant reformation, too. The Anglican split was essentially about the power of the English crown, not over anything to do with belief. But with Calvin and Knox, the question is theological. Scriptura solis is a theological idea, and it implies rejection of all traditional authority, all sacerdotal hierarchy, and reliance on the individual’s interpretation of the Scriptures alone.

These are radical departures in a theological sense. The earlier schisms - where lasting - were about who was in control of the Church and of the power it wielded in the secular world. The Protestant reformation’s central tenet was that God is, and nobody else.

Of course that idea - which is, essentially, the abandonment of human authority over the believer - produced the situation that applies today. God, however much his authority is appealed to, doesn’t seem to speak or act any more. Or if He does, it’s in many voices to many different effects.

Perhaps He did speak to George Fox and Mother Shipton and Charles Wesley and Anne Lee and Joseph Smith and all the others. If so, His message couldn’t have been to reunite, because they didn’t. They produced further schisms, further splits, further bitter feuds and, in some cases, further religious wars.

I think the idea that the Protestant reformation is responsible for the utter fragmentation of Christianity is justifiable, then. The schisms before that were few, and along political lines. But as soon as you allow the idea that Scripture, interpreted by individual conscience, is the sole authority, the rest follows.

Of course, it has been noted by many that the Reformation was preceded by the Renaissence, and followed by the rise of science and the Enlightenment. But post hoc, ergo propter hoc doesn’t cut it, in history, or in science.

Hey FL are you willing to take the Jenny McCarthy pledge and promise not to take a flu shot the next time we have a credible influenza pandemic? After all, you wouldn’t want to displease your LORD, the one true CHRIST, by taking medicine produced by some of our fellow evil evilutionists who’ve been corrupted by Lucifer into thinking that evolutionary biology is sound mainstream science, of which epidemiology is merely an applied aspect of it. Am I right?

Looking forward to reading your oh so thoughtful response.

Peace and Long Life (as a DI IDiot Borg drone),

John

Dave Luckett said:

W. H. Heydt said:

Scott said:

Actually, all the schisms arise from the Protestant reformation.

Ummm…No. Think about the split between Rome and Constantinople. Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox.…none of ‘em related to the Protestant Reformation.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

You are completely correct in saying that the Christian church schismed a number of times before the Protestant reformation, but I think it reasonable to think of earlier successful schisms (that is, splits that lasted) as political in nature rather than theological.

Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism and others were successfully destroyed after being declared heresies. The split with the Eastern Orthodox communion was essentially about who was the highest authority in Christendom, the Bishop of Rome or the Patriarch of Constantinople, and exactly what that authority consisted of. Was he merely “primus inter pares”, or did he wield magisterial power over his fellow prelates - and lay princes? These are political questions, not theological ones as such.

There is, of course, a political dimension to the Protestant reformation, too. The Anglican split was essentially about the power of the English crown, not over anything to do with belief. But with Calvin and Knox, the question is theological. Scriptura solis is a theological idea, and it implies rejection of all traditional authority, all sacerdotal hierarchy, and reliance on the individual’s interpretation of the Scriptures alone.

These are radical departures in a theological sense. The earlier schisms - where lasting - were about who was in control of the Church and of the power it wielded in the secular world. The Protestant reformation’s central tenet was that God is, and nobody else.

Of course that idea - which is, essentially, the abandonment of human authority over the believer - produced the situation that applies today. God, however much his authority is appealed to, doesn’t seem to speak or act any more. Or if He does, it’s in many voices to many different effects.

Perhaps He did speak to George Fox and Mother Shipton and Charles Wesley and Anne Lee and Joseph Smith and all the others. If so, His message couldn’t have been to reunite, because they didn’t. They produced further schisms, further splits, further bitter feuds and, in some cases, further religious wars.

I think the idea that the Protestant reformation is responsible for the utter fragmentation of Christianity is justifiable, then. The schisms before that were few, and along political lines. But as soon as you allow the idea that Scripture, interpreted by individual conscience, is the sole authority, the rest follows.

Of course, it has been noted by many that the Reformation was preceded by the Renaissence, and followed by the rise of science and the Enlightenment. But post hoc, ergo propter hoc doesn’t cut it, in history, or in science.

I have written about this matter too:

http://circleh.wordpress.com/2009/0[…]word-of-god/ One of the great tragedies of the Protestant Reformation, in addition to destroying forever the unity of the Christians in western Europe, was that it enshrined the Bible as the sole source of dogma among Protestants. Now, I will grant that the incredible corruption and tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages made the Reformation both necessary and inevitable, but the way it was done by most Protestants made spiritual tyranny inevitable among them as well. This was because they simply replaced the Catholic papacy and church councils with the Bible itself, or rather, how Protestant leaders read the Bible. Calling the Word of God what is actually your INTERPRETATION of words of men writing in the name of God is stretching things beyond any bounds of logic you can imagine, which is why Christians constantly emphasize faith as their standard.

When you read the Bible, you are not reading the original Word of God at all, but something that was written by various authors (in many cases, unknown), copied many times, translated, printed and published in various languages and editions over thousands of years. After all this time, there is really no way we can tell what the real Word of God may be, and instead we are left with something that gives a dim view of God at best. It is like someone telling a long and complex story to a friend, who then repeats that story to another friend, and so on until eventually the story has been repeated about 30 or 40 times and finally the original storyteller hears the story again….and realizes how inaccurate his story has become, even with details added or omitted that he never intended, maybe even with different character names and a different outcome made by people who didn’t like the story as it had been told originally. Nowhere does this analogy become more apt than with the four Gospels in the New Testament, with their own contradictions and altered, added and omitted details. None of them were written by Jesus himself, and they were written decades after the events they describe, as even fundamentalists admit in their own propaganda.

The conflict between Creationism and evolution in the life of creation “scientist” Kurt Wise illustrates the absurdity of Biblical dogmatism clearly. He was unable to let go of his assumption that the Bible was infallible, so he declared, despite his scientific training (even studying under Stephen Jay Gould), that the teachings of the Bible trumped any physical evidence from the universe that supported evolution. This is illogical, since the Bible itself says that God created the universe and mankind, thus one would expect what we find when we study the universe to be the tool by which we can confirm whether or not the Bible is God’s Word. And the intelligence that God supposedly gave us must also be used as a tool to determine what is true or even acceptable, or God wouldn’t have given us brains in the first place.

But the Biblical dogmatist says that without the Bible, most of us would not know of God at all. That may be true, but that would not justify adhereing to absurdities or even outright lies for the sake of beleiving in God. We know that the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree as a boy was made up to illustrate the moral value of honesty (how ironic), but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t exist, since all the other historical records of his military achievements and Presidency are beyond dispute. We need to use science and reason to find out what is valid and reject what is rediculous, or we will doom ourselves.

Jesus himself said that the Jews of his time erred by “teaching as doctrines (of God) the teachings of men.” And that is true whether you believe in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church traditions or the Protestant dogma of sola scriptura. Either way, you will be led into tyranny. Truth can only be found via science, never dogma of any kind. Science unifies people by showing what is true via objective study of the universe and everything in it, while religion with its baseless assertions divides people.

It must be noted that my statement is just as applicable to Islam, the Quran, and the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran cannot be the Word of Allah, though it contains much wisdom. It also contains much evil and must be regarded critically by science and reason just as much as the Bible.

Yes, precisely what Mr. Luckett said. :-) Perhaps the term “splintering” would have been more accurate than “schisming”, to differentiate the Protestant Reformation from other, earlier splits in the church.

Following the links in Mr. Elzinga’s map of Christianity, it, and learning about more modern American religious history, it seems pretty clear that changes in church theology were and continue to be as much “political” in nature, with a sometimes thin veneer of theology to cover political power grabs (thinking of the Southern Baptists in ‘79).

The existence of 38,000 recognized interpretations of the Bible (one of Wiki’s references) certainly doesn’t lend any support to FL’s position of the Bible as an “inerrant” Authority on any secular topic (as per Mr. Husband).

Okay, so I’m a relative amateur at religious history as well. :-) At least I’m trying to learn about it.

FL said:

Hey, do you know of anybody (especially a theistic evolutionist) who can rationally and Scripturally resolve the huge clash between the evolutionary theory claim of human origins and the Bible’s clear claim of human origins?

Note this origins poll of not TEs but professional scientists who are Christians. For the first question in the poll there are 7.5% that didn’t affirm any of the statements that correspond either to some aspect of evolution or an old earth. This is probably the upper limit of YEC since the age questions are specific and scientists who are not experts may not want to affirm that without checking.

I did further crosstab analysis of the results here. My conclusions are that Christians who are professionals in the sciences are more likely to accept the mainstream science the more they are familiar with it. Full time scientists were much more likely to accept it than retired ones. Also those in government, education, and medical over and against industry and ministry. This makes sense since origins is basic research and the former areas are where this happens. And the most patent effect is biologists and geologists and physicists/astronomers were much more likely (25%-30% difference in views) to affirm the science than say engineers. For example, all the full-time geologists affirmed a 4.6 billion year old earth.

Also, another thing that came out was a factor that had no effect. There was absolutely no difference in the results regardless of whether the scientists did undergrad work in a Christian or secular college.

The second question deals with the so-what question of human origins that FL asks and we were all over the map. Of the various options concerning human origins only 6% affirmed:

“Adam and Eve had no contemporaries, and were the biological ancestors of all humans, living in Mesopotamia around 10,000 years ago.”

The largest response was:

“The Bible is consistent with several of the above options and the issue is not of great importance.”

In the comments sections a number of people affirmed the Bible being consistent was several of the options but the issue being of great importance.

In the book Already Gone YECs Ham and Beemer correctly note the mass exodus of young people from the evangelical church. What they don’t see is the following conclusion they are drawing.

1. The Bible and evolution/old earth are mutually exclusive.

2. Evolution and even more so an old earth is true.

3. Therefore my parent’s faith is lame. Q.E.D.

By committing the fallacy of the excluded middle YECs are far more effective evangelists for atheism than the so-called New Atheists could ever hope to be. I’m not saying that the “solutions” to the theological problem are all that compelling but disallowing the attempt before you start pretty much guarantees the result above, particularly if our children end up being in the sciences and come face to face with the undeniable evidence.

FL said:

And speaking of “avoiding questions”, let’s not forget THIS question.…

Hey, do you know of anybody (especially a theistic evolutionist) who can rationally and Scripturally resolve the huge clash between the evolutionary theory claim of human origins and the Bible’s clear claim of human origins?

Or, if you don’t know of anybody, can YOU resolve it?

All one need do is to follow the lead given by Biblical literalists in their resolutions of any of the huge clashes between different parts of the Bible, or between the Bible and our knowledge of the world (such as facts of astronomy).

In the case of evolution, it is a lot easier, because nobody in the Ancient Near East had any concept of evolution, so was impossible for there to be a denial (or affirmation) of evolution in the Bible.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on July 5, 2010 4:45 PM.

Castle Rock - South Table Mountain was the previous entry in this blog.

Freshwater: Tightening the vise is the next entry in this blog.

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