Francis Collins interviewed in Times Book Review

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An interview with Francis Collins was published in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. The most interesting quotations, from our point of view, were possibly,

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Considering my own stance on the satisfying harmony of science and faith, you might be surprised to find on my shelves nearly everything written by Richard Dawkins (including “The God Delusion”) and my late friend Christopher Hitchens (including “God Is Not Great”). One must dig deeply into opposing points of view in order to know whether your own position remains defensible. Iron sharpens iron.

What book has had the greatest impact on you?

As an atheist evolving to agnosticism, and seeking answers to whether or not belief in God is potentially rational, my life was turned upside down 35 years ago by reading C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity.”

No further comment!

89 Comments

I take it he read Mere before he developed critical thinking skills?

My understanding is that mostly just Christians read apologetic work in order to re-enforce their faith with “logic” without actually leaving the cultural bubble and learning logic, so how much is Collins compartmentalizing here?

This from the man who evolved the belief that his daughter’s rape was god punishing HIM!? Narcissism!

Did Collins really say that? Here is what he said on PBS:

In my own life I’ve been spared many experiences of suffering, but not all. My own daughter, as a college student, was raped by a man who broke into her apartment in the middle of the night, a terrible experience that has left her affected for her whole life. But at the same time, looking at that experience one has to wonder, could God have prevented that? Should we blame God for not doing so? This was an act of free will by somebody who in a very criminal, awful way chose to exercise it. And could we even in that terrible circumstance be able to identify something that came out of this that was positive? My daughter would say yes now. So God’s perspective is different than ours. I don’t think God is the author of suffering. But if God were to intervene in every instance where suffering was about to occur, this would be a very chaotic and confused world. At some level, we learn most at those times where we’re going through suffering. [C.S.] Lewis, again, says God whispers when things are going well. He shouts in those difficult times. It’s his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. I think, in my own life, that’s been true. I haven’t learned very much when everything was going swimmingly. I’ve learned a lot when things were tough.

I see no hint that he thought God was punishing him or anyone else. Have I missed something?

Matt Young said:

Did Collins really say that? Here is what he said on PBS:

In my own life I’ve been spared many experiences of suffering…

I see no hint that he thought God was punishing him or anyone else. Have I missed something?

This is more a case of a paranoid “god must be sending us/me a message” reflecting a narcissism, paranoia and superstition that I’ve seen turn some people into neurotic wrecks. Its not the same as Matt G’s suggestion but that too is a common mentality. Once you create an all good deity that has to get all of the credit and none of the blame/responsibility the Problem of Evil™ needs a great many varied ad hoc rationalizations. Collins’ sense of “learning” something more from suffering means he had to go through a more convoluted and challenging process to square his reality with his emotional need to stay in his comfort zone.

Matt Young- take a look at the passage from The Language of God and see how you interprete it. He describes the rape as a challenge for him to learn the meaning of forgiveness. The question is, was the challenge given by God or simply due to the nature of the experience. I may have to back off from my harsh statement if others can help me understand what he meant, since I find writing more ambiguous than I remember.

take a look at the passage from The Language of God and see how you interprete it. He describes the rape as a challenge for him to learn the meaning of forgiveness.

I am afraid I no longer have a copy of The Language of God, and I am sure others are in the same fortunate condition. Can you post the relevant passage?

I have the opposite impression of C. S. Lewis. I mainly love the Narnia books. The lesser ones can get a bit heavy-handed, but I always enjoyed them. Therefore I gave his more overtly Christian stuff a chance. I found it so tiresome and unconvincing that it may have played a minor role in my realization that I just don’t and can’t believe in supernatural beings. (I’m about as non-religious as it’s possible to be, because I tried to be religious and failed. A lot of atheists were either traumatized by some harsh, bigoted religious sect, or were raised by atheist parents and given approval for choosing atheism. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but I was raised in a “nice” religion [certainly nicer that C. S. Lewis, although that isn’t saying much] that respected and encouraged education.)

As for Francis Collins, I have no problem with him. I would also have no problem if he went home from the lab and performed absolutions to members of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon after work. I don’t care that he “compartmentalizes”. That’s his business. He can ask for my advice if he wants it. I have a problem with authoritarians who want to force science denial and involuntary genuflection to their absurd, self-serving, hypocritical, post-modern version of Christianity.

“In my case I can see, albeit dimly, that my daughter’s rape was a challenge for me to try to learn the real meaning of forgiveness in a terribly wrenching circumstance.”

Already I have to change the word “punish” to “teach a lesson”. There is an extensive discussion of this at Jerry Coyne’s website from 2009.

harold said:

A lot of atheists were either traumatized by some harsh, bigoted religious sect, or were raised by atheist parents and given approval for choosing atheism. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but I was raised in a “nice” religion [certainly nicer that C. S. Lewis, although that isn’t saying much] that respected and encouraged education.)

As for Francis Collins, I have no problem with him. I would also have no problem if he went home from the lab and performed absolutions to members of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon after work. I don’t care that he “compartmentalizes”. That’s his business. He can ask for my advice if he wants it. I have a problem with authoritarians who want to force science denial and involuntary genuflection to their absurd, self-serving, hypocritical, post-modern version of Christianity.

I was raised in a similar diluted church, and it helped to inoculate me, but I do have a an issue with Collins and other “have their cake and eat it” theists, though not as obviously dangerous to civilization as fundies, they are still responsible for creating the false impression that the Abrahamic Monotheisms are benign, passing off their secular, Enlightenment, humanistic values as “christian” somehow.

But on an individual level we are dealing with an issue of consistency, though Collins does understand logic and the scientific method, which is more than most, it is undermined by this dual realities/epistemologies. Logic, scepticism, and peer review levels of accountability are not simply methods, they are standards, principles and picking and choosing when to use them is hypocrisy. His example undermines them, creating precedence for a belief in compatibilities that are logically impossible and the dissonance needed to maintain them.

Let’s never forget that Collins’ BioLogos Foundation has “no position” on the question of the existence of Adam and Eve.

If you want dualism and compartmentalization, I can’t think of much better than the Platonism of Lewis.

Glen Davidson

Matt G said:

“In my case I can see, albeit dimly, that my daughter’s rape was a challenge for me to try to learn the real meaning of forgiveness in a terribly wrenching circumstance.”

Already I have to change the word “punish” to “teach a lesson”. There is an extensive discussion of this at Jerry Coyne’s website from 2009.

It’s fascinating seeing this kind of mentality in action, a theistic Idée fixe results in non-sequesters of credit given to a deity for any number of social goods or natural beauties, but the moment something that raises the Epicurus Dilemma of benevolence as humans understand it being incompatible with inaction, God’s morality then has to be re-defined as more indirect, and non-analogous to human morality.

Specifically here we have a classic process where God is first taken out of the equation completely and the issue is then dealt with as any secularist would, on human interactive, social and psychological terms, the conclusion is therefore more natural, but couched in traditional theistic language (forgiveness), God is then worked back into the problem as the “ultimate” source of this noble intend or conclusion, satisfying the need to make him the final context and authority. (Things can unravel if he’s not needed for every social, morals issue, delusions need regular maintenance). So we are left with a safe cushioning God from the ugly reality with moral platitudes and weak reasoning. You see this a heck of a lot, its straight out the C.S. Lewis playbook.

Historically the Jews dealt with the Problem by just crediting God with evil as well as good, making him a more Ying & Yang being. The Zoroastrians just made an evil god to explain what they didn’t like about the world. Christianity, building more of Aristotle’s Idealized deity had to go more with the Zoroastrian solution, promoting Satan from servant to rival, but as he’s a bit taboo in liberal theology we get this cowardly moralizing trash instead.

Logic, scepticism, and peer review levels of accountability are not simply methods, they are standards, principles and picking and choosing when to use them is hypocrisy.

Of course, by this standard, every human being who has ever existed, including every atheist, certainly including me (by this standard), is a hypocrite. As is, likely, every human being who will ever exist.

Humans are emotion- and instinct-driven primates. We have the strong capacity to use heuristic problem solving techniques that often closely approximate formal logic and methodological materialism, so much so, that a few fields of human endeavor, practiced by a small subset of the world’s population, require that formally “rational” approaches be used, during work. But of course, the people who go into those fields go into them for the same reason I did (caveat, I am not a professional research scientist), which is because they like them. A purely emotional choice. Curiosity and a dislike of being told things are true by an authority figure, with a preference for having their truth demonstrated, were what attracted me to science. Subjective, emotional preferences.

I don’t believe in deities, and separately, don’t currently indulge in organized group rituals, but anthropomorphing inanimate forces and indulging in organized group rituals are deeply embedded human tendencies, not driven by “logic” (no human behavior is driven by “logic” unless you use the circular construction of declaring the achievement of human social, reproductive, survival and psychological goals as “logic” - and even then it’s not the achievement of the goals that drives us, but the compulsion to perform behaviors because they are related to alleles which have been selected for because they associate with achievement of the reproductive goal).

It’s perfectly true that some people use calm, “rational” approaches more, and others use superstition and uncontrolled emotional reactions more, that it is reasonable to conjecture that the world would be in better shape if we all did the former, and to note that there is a modest but clear correlation between choosing the former and rejecting religion. But none of us are terribly rational in the end.

You can realistically ask that other humans not force you to indulge in their personal anthropomorphing or rituals. In fact, that’s been achieved, although we do have to defend that right constantly. Trying to get them to stop - that’s a bit like trying to get all the dogs in the world to stop barking.

harold said:

I have the opposite impression of C. S. Lewis. I mainly love the Narnia books…

Lewis used his fictional works to introduce readers to sophisticated Biblical themes, such as talking animals.

Let’s never forget that Collins’ BioLogos Foundation has “no position” on the question of the existence of Adam and Eve

Much to the annoyance of Ken Ham.

Matt G said:

Let’s never forget that Collins’ BioLogos Foundation has “no position” on the question of the existence of Adam and Eve.

No reason they should, is there? At least no scientific reason.

Steve Schaffner said: No reason they should, is there? At least no scientific reason.

You mean, something like a large body of scientific evidence that the human population was not bottlenecked down to two individuals in its recent genetic history? Twice (Noachic flood as well)?

Maybe their existence doesn’t necessarily rule out existence of other people someplace that’s else?

MaskedQuoll said:

Steve Schaffner said: No reason they should, is there? At least no scientific reason.

You mean, something like a large body of scientific evidence that the human population was not bottlenecked down to two individuals in its recent genetic history? Twice (Noachic flood as well)?

No, I don’t mean that. Biologos already has that evidence all over its website. I mean some scientific reason to reject the idea that Adam and Eve were real humans who were members of a larger population.

Steve Schaffner said:

MaskedQuoll said:

Steve Schaffner said: No reason they should, is there? At least no scientific reason.

You mean, something like a large body of scientific evidence that the human population was not bottlenecked down to two individuals in its recent genetic history? Twice (Noachic flood as well)?

No, I don’t mean that. Biologos already has that evidence all over its website. I mean some scientific reason to reject the idea that Adam and Eve were real humans who were members of a larger population.

You have a point. I have known people named Adam, and also known people named Eve.

You have a point. I have known people named Adam, and also known people named Eve.

I’m not sure what the point of your sarcasm is. I guess I’d better repeat my original question: is there any reason why Biologos should have a position on the existence of Adam and Eve?

MaskedQuoll has already answered your question. Human genetic diversity cannot be traced to two individuals, though I strongly suggest you investigate Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. The smallest the Homo sapiens population has ever been is about 1200 reproductively active individuals about 60k years ago (IIRC). I’ll send you a link to that reference if you like.

The point is that if Adam and Eve aren’t a bottleneck of two, then they aren’t what the bible means by Adam and Eve. You should think about what it means (or doesn’t mean) to say that Adam and Eve existed. We can all agree that there were various human couples in the past. What makes Adam and Eve a specific couple? They’re the ones the story happened to. Now, we can jettison aspects of the story that don’t work scientifically (animals created after Adam, Eve made from a rib, parents of all humans, talking snake, etc.) and retain what’s left. But what’s left? Nothing of interest to Christians or anyone else. And that’s why Biologos should take a position, assuming it’s interested in scientific evidence and such.

Matt G said:

The smallest the Homo sapiens population has ever been is about 1200 reproductively active individuals about 60k years ago (IIRC).

…who have descendants today. There likely were many more humans at the time, but they have no living descendants, correct? (IANAS)

Ye

Just Bob said:

Matt G said:

The smallest the Homo sapiens population has ever been is about 1200 reproductively active individuals about 60k years ago (IIRC).

…who have descendants today. There likely were many more humans at the time, but they have no living descendants, correct? (IANAS)

Right - these methods can only estimate that, hence the “reproductively active” part. For example, there was a population which occupied England before it was an island! After the English Channel was carved out 150-200k years ago by a massive flood (caused by the breaking of an ice dam, not god…), the subsequently isolated population apparently died off, and England was not recolonized until quite recently. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle describes ancient stone dwellings, and I wonder if he didn’t make them up.

Matt G said:

MaskedQuoll has already answered your question. Human genetic diversity cannot be traced to two individuals, though I strongly suggest you investigate Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. The smallest the Homo sapiens population has ever been is about 1200 reproductively active individuals about 60k years ago (IIRC). I’ll send you a link to that reference if you like.

I don’t need to investigate the literature on human demographic history, since I’m quite familiar with. The point is that the Biologos folks are also well aware of that literature and push it heavily. Any discussion of Adam and Eve they promote is premised on a human demography with no tight bottlenecks. Since that is the case, what scientific reason does Biologos have to take a position whether Adam and Eve existed?

John Harshman said:

The point is that if Adam and Eve aren’t a bottleneck of two, then they aren’t what the bible means by Adam and Eve. You should think about what it means (or doesn’t mean) to say that Adam and Eve existed. We can all agree that there were various human couples in the past. What makes Adam and Eve a specific couple? They’re the ones the story happened to. Now, we can jettison aspects of the story that don’t work scientifically (animals created after Adam, Eve made from a rib, parents of all humans, talking snake, etc.) and retain what’s left. But what’s left? Nothing of interest to Christians or anyone else. And that’s why Biologos should take a position, assuming it’s interested in scientific evidence and such.

In a word, no. There are theologians and Old Testament scholars who think that Adam and Eve were historical figures, that they were part of a larger population, and that the Genesis story about them is both true (if not entirely literal) and meaningful for Christians. For example, some think there was a particular pair who were given a special opportunity to have a relationship with God and who rejected it. You’re free to argue with them, but you’d better work on your knowledge of theology, Hebrew and ancient Near East literary conventions before you do, because you’ll have to be arguing within their context. Personally, I think their ideas are kind of silly, and probably some of the Biologos folks do too. So what? They’re not in the business of dictating theology; they’re trying to get evangelicals to accept the results of science. For that purpose, it doesn’t matter at all whether somebody thinks Adam and Eve existed or not, as long as they accept the clear conclusions of science about human history.

Matt G said:

Right - these methods can only estimate that, hence the “reproductively active” part. For example, there was a population which occupied England before it was an island! After the English Channel was carved out 150-200k years ago by a massive flood (caused by the breaking of an ice dam, not god…), the subsequently isolated population apparently died off, and England was not recolonized until quite recently. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle describes ancient stone dwellings, and I wonder if he didn’t make them up.

Comparatively recently still means 14000 years ago (not long before that, the entire island was under glaciers). Whatever Doyle might have though were dwellings would almost certainly be tombs. The elite classes of bronze and iron age temperate Europe were obsessed with burials and there are thousands of tombs (now mounds) stretching from Scotland to the Caucuses.

Steve Schaffner said: They’re not in the business of dictating theology; they’re trying to get evangelicals to accept the results of science. For that purpose, it doesn’t matter at all whether somebody thinks Adam and Eve existed or not, as long as they accept the clear conclusions of science about human history.

I can agree that an Adam and Eve stripped of all objective meaning can’t be falsified, at least by biology. If that’s what they aren’t taking a position on, I can see it. They can still take a position on the nature of the story, i.e. that biology presents certain constraints: if they existed, they were not in fact the first pair, not the universal and exclusive ancestors of all living humans. Do they do that? And they can consider other elements too: creation of Adam from dust of the ground, Eve from his rib, creation of the animals, and the talking snake theory. Do they do that?

Steve Schaffner said:

In a word, no. There are theologians and Old Testament scholars who think that Adam and Eve were historical figures, that they were part of a larger population,

As noted already, if Adam and Eve were not the first humans, specially created by Y_hw_h in His own image, then you are already at variance with the text of Genesis. It does not surprise nor impress me that there are theologians who believe strange and oxymoronic things, that is the business of theologians.

and that the Genesis story about them is both true (if not entirely literal)

You take liberties with the language. If you mean “true” in the sense of “not actually true,” then please find a different word. There are many to choose from: meaningful, metaphorical, allegorical, symbolic; but “true” is not on the list.

TomS said:

I can’t restrain myself any longer.

Eve was not the mother of all the living. She was not the mother of Adam nor of Eve (just to restrict oneself to living humans).

So much for literal interpretation.

She would become the mother of all the living. As in: after Adam and Eve were dead. The contradiction you see is not there.

MaskedQuoll said:

TomS said:

I can’t restrain myself any longer.

Eve was not the mother of all the living. She was not the mother of Adam nor of Eve (just to restrict oneself to living humans).

So much for literal interpretation.

She would become the mother of all the living. As in: after Adam and Eve were dead. The contradiction you see is not there.

Oh, I know perfectly well that there have been thousands of years of retroactive fitting of whatever the Bible says to whatever anybody wants to believe and often compounding that by saying that that interpretation is the truly literal reading; so it is pointless to argue this, and I made a mistake in not restraining myself a little bit more. I will not repeat that mistake.

Let’s never forget that Collins’ BioLogos Foundation has “no position” on the question of the existence of Adam and Eve.

That is their official policy, yes. But BioLogos has gotten rid of their very competent Old Testament scholars, who certainly didn’t take Adam and Eve to be historical people.

The last thing I want to do is split hairs on biblical quotations. Just two points, though:

1. None of the Eden story makes sense unless Adam and Eve are intended to be the sole progenitors of all subsequent humans. You can parse it otherwise, but any other reading is forced and creates more problems than it solves. (The solution, of course, is that the story is fiction.)

2. That’s hardly the silliest part of the story, which I think goes to God’s futile search for a companion for Adam before finally hitting on a piece of his rib. Worth quoting in full:

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Well, at least in that version, with the addition of the helpful helping verb “had”, god didn’t create all the animals on the spot to see if Adam would like any of them. But it’s still very, very silly. “So, Adam, how about this beetle? No? Perhaps a water buffalo? OK. Here’s a bustard I’m very fond of.” Etc. How one can even try to salvage any kind of historicity out of that is beyond me.

John Harshman said:

The last thing I want to do is split hairs on biblical quotations. Just two points, though:

1. None of the Eden story makes sense unless Adam and Eve are intended to be the sole progenitors of all subsequent humans. You can parse it otherwise, but any other reading is forced and creates more problems than it solves. (The solution, of course, is that the story is fiction.)

2. That’s hardly the silliest part of the story, which I think goes to God’s futile search for a companion for Adam before finally hitting on a piece of his rib. Worth quoting in full:

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Well, at least in that version, with the addition of the helpful helping verb “had”, god didn’t create all the animals on the spot to see if Adam would like any of them. But it’s still very, very silly. “So, Adam, how about this beetle? No? Perhaps a water buffalo? OK. Here’s a bustard I’m very fond of.” Etc. How one can even try to salvage any kind of historicity out of that is beyond me.

| MAN AS OLD AS FROGS | EVIDENCE HARSMAN IS A FRAUD: | https://groups.google.com/forum/#!original/sci.bio.paleontology/un2jTzJuJTY | TO FIND OUT HOW MAN IS AS OLD AS FROGS; VISIT: | http://thrinaxodon.wordpress.com/faq | HARSHMAN! I’M HERE.

The thing about the Collins quote about his daughter’s rape is that he DIDN’T start with “My daughter’s rape was a challenge for me…”. Of course it would be a challenge to learn how to forgive that kind of violation - that is immediately obvious to anyone. How he DID start the sentence was “In my case I can see, albeit dimly, that my daughter’s rape was a challenge for me…”. What is there to “see, albeit dimly” about this? It is blindingly obvious that this would be challenging, so why is it so dim for him? His phrasing makes it sound a lot like he thought he was being tested (like Job, perhaps?), and that he was starting to understand that.

Steve Schaffner said: Frankly, this entire thread baffles me. Panda’s Thumb claims to be devoted to promoting evolution and countering anti-evolutionary efforts. So here’s a well-organized, quite competent effort to promote acceptance of evolution by the core of the creationist movement, American evangelicals. It presents completely conventional biology, it does so clearly, it’s well funded and well publicized. Heck, they’re actually teaching evolutionary biology to evangelical pastors. This is the most promising development in pushing back creationism since, well, ever. Everyone here should be giddy at the prospect. Instead, all I see is pissiness because Francis Collins found C.S. Lewis convincing. To be blunt, what the fuck is the matter with you guys?

I am in general agreement, though I think you are painting a somewhat rosy picture of Collins. Biologos softpedals things that a true mainstream view would not softpedal. Here’s an example, from their website. Pay close attention to the last sentence. Ask yourself whether it gives the correct impression of the mainstream, scientific view:

One option is to view Adam and Eve as a historical pair living among many 10,000 years ago, chosen to represent the rest of humanity before God. Another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an allegory in which Adam and Eve symbolize the large group of ancestors who lived 150,000 years ago. Yet another option is to view Genesis 2-4 as an “everyman” story, a parable of each person’s individual rejection of God. BioLogos does not take a particular view and encourages scholarly work on these questions.

Now yes, if we very narrowly interpret this statement, it can be read as “Biologos makes no claim on how the bible should be interpreted” rather than “biologos makes no claim about the origin of humanity.” But its extremely weaselly. It sins by omission. It certainly gives the impression that Biologos thinks all of these possibilities are factually credible.

If you really want to tell people what science says, I think you can’t just leave people with that last note. You have a responsibility to say, outright, that our best understanding of human evolution leads practically no doubt that the human race was never a single pair of individuals.

As Steve Schaffner pointed out, the human population during the Neolithic Period was on the order of 10,000 individuals

No, it was much larger than that during the neolithic period.

This must have been a typo.

Harold here is assuming religious scientists have a need to “compartmentalize”.

A lie.

In fact, it was/is a major factor in religious scientists’ desire to investigate nature.

Moreso, I would say it is a key advantage. Religious scientists don’t limit potential avenues of investigation simply because of cultural inhibitions. A-theists do.

If anything, it is the a-theist’s compartmentalization of cultural influences that is hindering their ability to move science (especially biology)forward in any revolutionary way as theists did in the past.

As for Francis Collins, I have no problem with him. I would also have no problem if he went home from the lab and performed absolutions to members of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon after work. I don’t care that he “compartmentalizes”. That’s his business. He can ask for my advice if he wants it. I have a problem with authoritarians who want to force science denial and involuntary genuflection to their absurd, self-serving, hypocritical, post-modern version of Christianity.

Steve P. said:

Harold…

Say SkevieP, how’s it going in the never-ending search for a teeny-tiny piece of True Evidence for the existence of your gods?

Steve P. said:

Moreso, I would say it is a key advantage. Religious scientists don’t limit potential avenues of investigation simply because of cultural inhibitions. A-theists do.

As for Francis Collins, I have no problem with him. I would also have no problem if he went home from the lab and performed absolutions to members of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon after work. I don’t care that he “compartmentalizes”. That’s his business. He can ask for my advice if he wants it. I have a problem with authoritarians who want to force science denial and involuntary genuflection to their absurd, self-serving, hypocritical, post-modern version of Christianity.

What potential avenues of investigation are you referring to?

I think whether somebody is accommodationist is a subjective judgment; roughly, if A calls B an accomodationist, it means that B puts less effort into resisting the common enemy than does A. So it’s relative to the amount of energy that the speaker puts into whatever the fight is.

Henry

Keelyn said:

Steve P. said:

Moreso, I would say it is a key advantage. Religious scientists don’t limit potential avenues of investigation simply because of cultural inhibitions. A-theists do.

As for Francis Collins, I have no problem with him. I would also have no problem if he went home from the lab and performed absolutions to members of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon after work. I don’t care that he “compartmentalizes”. That’s his business. He can ask for my advice if he wants it. I have a problem with authoritarians who want to force science denial and involuntary genuflection to their absurd, self-serving, hypocritical, post-modern version of Christianity.

What potential avenues of investigation are you referring to?

I’ve been asking Steve for many months what benefits we can expect from ID-science that we can’t from naturalistic science. Maybe you’ll have better luck getting an answer than I have. I’m not holding my breath.

Permit me to address what Carl Drews brought up.

According to Genesis 4, there were other hominids around at the time of Adam and Eve:

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.

14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

No, verses 13 and 14 do NOT support Drews’ thesis. This is important; that text absolutely doesn’t do so.

I’m not asking the Pandas to agree with the historical claims of Genesis (not in this post anyway). I’m just saying that there’s NOTHING in the Genesis text (and especially not Gen 4:13-14) that suggests that “there were other hominids around at the time of Adam and Eve.” The Bible’s clear position is that Adam and Eve were the very first humans on Earth.

****

The Panda poster John Harshman, is entirely correct when he replied to Carl Drews that:

“None of the Eden story makes sense unless Adam and Eve are intended to be the sole progenitors of all subsequent humans.”

He’s right. Why is he right? Here are four excellent reasons from Michael Houdmann:

First, Adam is called the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is inconsistent with the idea that God created men before Adam.

Second, according to La Peyrère (the popularizer of the “Pre-Adam” theory, for racial reasons–FL), the Gentiles were to live outside of the Garden of Eden while Adam enjoyed paradise, a privilege which came with the responsibility of obeying the Law of Paradise—not eating the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 2:5-8, however, says quite plainly that before God created “the man whom He had formed,” the very same man which He placed in the garden, there were no men upon the earth to cultivate the ground.

Third, God created Eve for Adam because he was alone, there was no one else like him around (“It is not good for the man to be alone… but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him” Genesis 2:18, 20).

Fourth, Adam named his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all the living”.

– M. Houdmann, “Does the Bible say anything about a pre-Adamic race?”, GotQuestions.org

So here you can see that poster John Harshman is entirely correct. Those biblical texts cannot be ignored.

****

Secondly, and equally important, the one text about Cain’s wife that Carl Drews tried to appeal to (4:13-14), can be rationally explained in line with the Bible, WITHOUT appealing to the discredited Pre-Adamite theory.

Again, I am NOT asking the Pandas to accept the historical claims of Genesis in this post; I’m only showing that you do not have to resort to the discredited Pre-Adamite theory in order to find a plausible bible-supportable explanation for the mention of Cain’s wife.

As for Cain’s fear of being lynched, his marriage to an unknown woman, and the fact that he founded a city (Genesis 4:14-17), Adam was almost 130 years old by the time that Cain killed Abel (Adam had Seth, his next son after Abel’s death, when he was about 130 years old; Genesis 4:25; 5:3). And we know that Adam had sons and daughters (Genesis 5:3). At 130 he could have had grandkids and great-grandkids by the time that Cain killed Abel. Cain had plenty of family members to be afraid of after killing his brother.

Cain apparently married a family member (a necessity back then) at some point before Abel’s murder. It seems odd to us today, but incest wasn’t outlawed by God until the Law of Moses. It may have been around that time that generations of degenerative genetic mutations began to take a toll on our DNA. God outlawed incest for our protection. It became (and remains) dangerous for close relatives to procreate because of shared genetic defects which become expressed in their children causing severe deformities and other problems.

As for Cain founding a city, if he lived to be the average age back then, he probably lived to be about 900 years old. By the time he died, his family would have been a small city. If Cain had a child at the age of 30, and his child had a child at the age of 30 and so on, Cain could have produced 30 generations by the time he died (30 generations times 30 years each equals 900 years).

– M. Houdmann, “Does the Bible say anything about a pre-Adamic race?”, GotQuestions.org

So you see that a plausible explanation DOES exist. Again, you don’t have to believe any of this. Just understand that if you DO happen to accept the Bible, you can at least account for Cain’s wife WITHOUT having to reach for a discredited theory like the Pre-Adamite theory.

****

Bottom Line:

Some Panda atheists have suggested that evolution “disproves the Adam and Eve hypothesis”. For this ONE post, I do not challenge that atheistic position, believe it or not.

(In fact, that atheistic position is a far more rationally supported position than the Theistic Evolutionists. Sincere congrats, guys.)

My post here is simply to demonstrate and repeat the following facts:

There NEVER was any such thing as a Pre-Adamite hominid race, according to the Bible.

There NEVER was any such thing as Adam and Eve being “part of a larger population”, according to the Bible.

There NEVER were any other humans on the planet prior to Adam and Eve, according to the Bible.

FL

Steve P. -

Instead of rambling about how other people should do science, why don’t you get busy and do some ID science yourself?

Oh, and by the way…

FL -

This isn’t a Biblical interpretation site. I realize you’ve probably been banned from most actual Biblical interpretation sites, but that doesn’t make this into one.

Time to dump the troll to the bathroom wall, or just ban the bastard altogether.

harold said:

Steve P. -

Instead of rambling about how other people should do science, why don’t you get busy and do some ID science yourself?

Pseudoscientists of all stripes seem to have a ‘hundredth monkey’ view of science. I.e., the failure of their grand idea to produce results at an individual researcher level just means more people need to adopt it, and that when some magical critical mass is reached, it’ll start to work.

You very often find the same thinking in politics too. For example, lower tax rates are supposed to bring us flowers and bunnies and happiness…please ignore the nine states that already have no income tax, and the fact that they are spread across the range of economic success, with no correlation between their tax rates and prosperity. To the hundredth monkey types, this just means that more states (and the fed) must enact deeper cuts before the flowers and bunnies appear.

Just Bob said:

And Cain married, uh, somebody.

Perhaps he married his rib. There is precedent for that, even within his own family.

MaskedQuoll:

What do you mean “even within his own family”? That’s the only family there is, you know.

FL:

Attempting to turn Genesis into a self-consistent story is a fool’s errand. You seem qualified.

harold said:

As Steve Schaffner pointed out, the human population during the Neolithic Period was on the order of 10,000 individuals

No, it was much larger than that during the neolithic period.

This must have been a typo.

Sorry, it was a careless mistake. Human populations on the order of 10k individuals occurred during the Stone Age:

Human line ‘nearly split in two’ at the BBC; by Paul Rincon, Thursday, 24 April 2008.

The Genographic Project’s findings are also consistent with the idea - held for some years now - that modern humans had a close brush with extinction in the evolutionary past.

The number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the Late Stone Age.

The Neolithic Period began roughly 10,000 years ago:

Complete Mitochondrial Genomes Reveal Neolithic Expansion into Europe

John Harshman said:

The last thing I want to do is split hairs on biblical quotations. Just two points, though:

1. None of the Eden story makes sense unless Adam and Eve are intended to be the sole progenitors of all subsequent humans. You can parse it otherwise, but any other reading is forced and creates more problems than it solves. (The solution, of course, is that the story is fiction.)

2. That’s hardly the silliest part of the story, which I think goes to God’s futile search for a companion for Adam before finally hitting on a piece of his rib. Worth quoting in full:

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Well, at least in that version, with the addition of the helpful helping verb “had”, god didn’t create all the animals on the spot to see if Adam would like any of them. But it’s still very, very silly. “So, Adam, how about this beetle? No? Perhaps a water buffalo? OK. Here’s a bustard I’m very fond of.” Etc. How one can even try to salvage any kind of historicity out of that is beyond me.

Just thinking, I am not a Christian, but it seems to me there is absolutely no reason why someone can’t be a committed Christian while also finding most of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) historically hokum.

Carl,

Thanks for the reference.

it seems to me there is absolutely no reason why someone can’t be a committed Christian while also finding most of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) historically hokum

Seems like a fine solution to me. And yet it’s so seldom employed.

Posted on the wall, but it seems it belongs here.

Someone pointed out above the silliness of the whole “Naming the Animals” business in Genesis, and how it reflects on the competence of a god who would need to try out every animal on Earth as “an help meet” before taking a chunk out of Adam to magically transform into Eve. It works in a Bible Stories for Children sort of way because you can show pictures of lots of cute animals. But for anyone over 6 it’s just silly, fairy tale sort of stuff.

The disguised truth behind the “Naming the Animals” episode:

It’s CODE. It was morphed into “naming” the animals by the rabbis who eventually wrote it down to protect the prudish sensibilities of innocent Hebrew maidens and little kiddies.

First, why would Adam need “an help meet” (KJV)? He doesn’t have to do any work, either to feed, shelter, protect, or even clothe himself. He lives in PARADISE. None of that “in the sweat of thy face” stuff applies yet. What would he need help with?

Well, there is ONE thing that he could use some help with. He frequently has one hard problem. Being a young, healthy guy, he wakes up in the morning with a major erection. He probably experiences it at other times during the day, too. And being painfully innocent, he doesn’t know what to do about it. He just has to suffer a bit until it deflates on its own and he can have a good piss.

So God sees that Adam needs a helper for the one and only problem that he has. God’s solution? Bring every [kind of] animal to Adam to see if any can “help” him with his “problem”! And Adam “named” them. Sure, that makes a better family-friendly tale. Shall we say he test-drove them? But apparently, none filled the bill. None of the gloves fit, so to speak (thank you, Adam!). Especially not the porcupine.

However, it seems that one came close. Adam even gave her an endearing name that is only one letter off from the name he eventually gave his human wife. Think about it.

But none was quite right, or satisfying enough. After all, he had to run and catch his first love whenever he felt the urge, and that kind of takes the starch out. So God got around to making an actual woman to “help” Adam with his one chronic “problem”.

Adam “named” the animals in the same sense that all those patriarchs “knew” their wives. It makes a better tale for the kiddies.

I don’t know what point you are trying to make, but if you are saying that this is evidence for the biblical Adam and Eve you had better read the article again. If that is the case, it doesn’t say what you think it says.

Just Bob said:

Adam “named” the animals in the same sense that all those patriarchs “knew” their wives. It makes a better tale for the kiddies.

If God provided females to “meet the needs” of other male animals, what was the problem with making Adam?

After all, this deity made Adam in its own image; and Adam presumably had “urges.”

What did the deity have? Was Adam to be the deity’s “partner” but then Adam turned out to be straight? Oops!

This isn’t a Biblical interpretation site.

So, is that what you likewise told Carl and John?

I’m only responding to their stated positions, and haven’t responded to them more than once.

FL

@Ed: Have you read Mere?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 29, 2013 11:45 AM.

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