A Tip of the Hat to a Young Earth Scientist and the BioLogos President

"Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”   -St. Augustine

a storm of comets_NASA picture of the day
A storm of comets: NASA picture of the day.

Dee has not changed her mind one iota. I still lean towards theistic evolution. However, until a few years back, I subscribed to the "live and let live category." With the advent of the "take not prisoners, you are heretics" movement by some in the Young Earth department, I decided to go on the offensive. One of my chief criticisms of Ken Ham, and the Young Earth movement, in general, is their cussed refusal to allow their supposed "science" to be tested via a process known as peer review. They claim that there is a monstrous, world wide conspiracy of scientists who are intent on subverting the truth. As Deb will tell you, I hate conspiracy theories. They can never be proven or disproven so they continue to exist as "gospel" truth.

However,there is renewed hope due to one young earth scientist who appears ready to submit his work to this process. Although I believe that their is little chance that he will be able to prove that the earth is 6000 years old, I commend him for his willingness to give true peer review a whirl. One of our readers, John J. contacted me about this development. He has some thoughts about the article of two scientist which was presented in Christianity Today. So I suggested that he write a post. When I asked how he would like to be identified, he wrote:

"Old John J, now retired, received at Ph.D. in experimental physics from Duke in 1967 and made computer science his career."

John does an excellent job explaining the scientific method to nonscientists like myself. Join me in thanking John for his hard work. (Note: Dee chose the sections to bold.)

The  July/August 2012 issue of Christianity Today feature article “A Tale of Two Scientists”, pp 22-29, by Tim Stafford, here,  is given the cover with the teaser

“They agree about the scientific method but not about what happened 'in the beginning.'” The article 's introduction is “How two evangelicals – one a young earth creationist, the other an evolutionary creationist – have lived out their faith and professions.”

Darrel Falk, the evolutionary creationist and president of BioLogos doesn't need either an introduction nor much discussion. Todd Charles Wood, associate professor of biology at Bryan College, Dayton Tennessee,is the young earth creationist and takes a position towards creationism and science much different than those of us favoring evolutionary or old earth creation might expect.

To adequately relate Wood's position with both mainstream science and the commonly held views of YEC I'll start by providing a brief overview of what science is and how it is done. Science is the systematic observation of the physical world and the development of theories that relate these different observations.

The hallmark of a good theory is how large and how diverse a set of observations it can explain. A good theory is predictive. It is possible to derive from the theory the expected results of an unmade observation. Good theory also enables the creation of useful technologies, essentially the same process as predicting observations.

The constantly repeating cycle of increasingly precise observation and improvement of theory is commonly referred to as the scientific method. The correctness of a scientific theory is not a voting matter. Most now well accepted theories were considered controversial when first proposed. Broad acceptance followed correct predictions by the new theories that could not be made by the existing ones.

The “hard sciences”, traditionally physics and chemistry are quantitative, where theory based numerical predictions of observations
can be made. With the development of DNA sequencing and manipulation, genomics, biology is rapidly moving from a descriptive, qualitative science to the “hard” group. This post is concerned primarily with the hard sciences.

The foundations of current science are the almost 100 year old theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. There is no experimental evidence that either of these theories have been unable to explain. All our 'techy" gadgetry and communications are built on the foundation of quantum mechanics. In addition the geometric methods of relativity are a necessary part of the Global Positioning System. The omnipresence of electronic and communications devices is itself strong testimony to the correctness of these theories.

As an aside, the scientific method can be encapsulated as hunch →hypothesis →observations → theory →law. Theories are well tested, supported by much experiment/observation and accepted by majority of scientists in a field. Denigrating something as “only a theory” is a gross misuse of the term.

A critical part of the scientific method is communicating your results, observation or theory, to your peers, others involved in related work.This is done by publishing in peer reviewed journals. Simply stated, the journal editor enlists the help of reviewers that are expert in the particular field impacted by the submitted paper. The review basically checks all the calculations, consistency of data with similar observations, use of relevant theory and adequacy of references to previously published similar work. The expectation is that the paper author will have done this adequately but checking often finds small errors or omissions. A scientific project is not complete until it has been successfully published. Your reputation as a scientist is built on the quality and quantity of your refereed scientific publications.

Science is a bottom up activity. General theories are found to explain observations. Science progresses by making observations and relating them to quantitative theories. Theological, philosophical or legal arguments are often made concerning the ramifications of a theory but do not impact the actual development and acceptance of a theory. A primary scientific objection to YEC is that it is a top down attempt to make science fit a preconceived religious viewpoint.

Science is very conservative in the sense that larger proposed changes require correspondingly larger and more definitive observational proof. Important experimental results that challenge existing theory or differ from similar observations will be independently replicated. New theories will be scrutinized to see if they make predictions that are contrary to known observations. Fame and fortune as a scientist comes from producing either significantly new and unanticipated observations or from creating more inclusive and more accurate theories. (Dee's note: It is important that readers understand that scientists crave to discover and prove something new or unexpected.)

Wood's hunch is that he can find evidence of animal “kinds” indicative of inclusion on the ark using the methods of computational biology and genomics. Where the hunch that leads to a research project comes from is not a problem. A Biblical based hunch is OK. His hypothesis on what to search for in DNA data is the most important part of formulating his project. Since evolutionary theory and a rapidly growing body of DNA data indicates that there is similarity in the genome of similar species, Wood's immediate problem is defining “kind” in a way that is detectable in DNA sequences but different from the patterns occurring from evolution processes. What sets Wood apart from the vast majority of YEC adherents is is attempt to justify his  beliefs by using the methods of science. Success is not a tentative or statistically insignificant answer presented in a blog, a conference or a non refereed online journal. A publication in a recognized, peer refereed journal is the only way to get acceptance of a controversial or unanticipated result.

The more controversial the proposed result is, the greater the required justification will be. The CT article doesn't touch on the huge (factor of almost 1,000,000) difference between the YEC desired age of Earth and the approximately 4.5 billion year age estimate from science. Since evolution already describes development of more advanced organisms from simpler ones over extended periods of time, I believe time will have to be part of Wood's YEC based hypothesis concerning genome analysis. Face it, any theory consistent with YEC represents about as extreme a revision to accepted science as can be conceived.

The CT article also contains an interesting sidebar. Implicitly, the real debate on origins is theological within Christianity, not between
science and YEC. Rather than characterizing the physical world and building theories to explain what is found, YEC tries to create a physical world description that fits their narrow view of Scripture and impose it on believer and non believer alike. My opinion is that YEC, by trying to act like science and make scientific sounding claims but without the rigor of  fields they mimic, is regarded solely as an irrelevant fringe activity by mainstream science and by its intellectual looseness calls into question the veracity of our claims about our Lord.

Lydia's Corner: Genesis 50:1 – Exodus 2:10 Matthew 16:13-17:9 Psalm 21:1-13 Proverbs 5:1-6


A Tip of the Hat to a Young Earth Scientist and the BioLogos President — 104 Comments

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    If (or, more like it, when) Wood’s work does not support his hypothesis, is he going to be willing to accept the alternative, and more likely, evolutionary hypothesis?

    I am astounded that someone who has had so much biological education can still be blinded to reality.

    I am glad to see that he seems to be making an honest attempt at learning for himself. The quality of that honesty will be on display, however, if (when) he comes to the point where he’s going to need to change his mind.

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    There are a number of YECs with legitimate PhD’s in geology, etc., Stve Austin being perhaps the most well-known. They post papers, give public presentions and post them on YouTube all for laypeople and all espousing a young earth (6,000 years being the most popular, sometimes 10,000) and denying geologic changes over millions/billions of year but attribute them to one catestrphic event – Noah’s Flood. What’s really telling, though, is the fact that while they attend conferences sponsored by legitimate scientic organizations such as the Geological Society of America, they never stand up at these meetings and present their evidence for their YEC view. Instead, they skulk around the edges of the conferences in order to enhance their standing with the lay public. To see what I mean, take a look at this article:

    When they do present, they will actually present in terms of an old earth as understood by the scientific community. In what I consider to be a cynical move, a YEC with a PhD named Marcus Ross gave a credible presentation at a GSA meeting – based on an old earth and talking about millions of years. When he was called out on how he could present such a paper when he actually believed in a 6,000 year old earth he said he ‘speaks using different paradigms’ depending on the audience. Here’s a link to a post discussing this particular event:


    These YECs aren’t interested in the truth at all, it’s all about promoting their YEC views, facts just get in the way.

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    I, too, believe that his research will only continue to indicate in old earth. I am curious if he will be able to accept it. I bet he will find it challenging.

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    Great article. Thank you.

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    Wasn’t Dayton, Tennessee where the Scopes trial took place?

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    Yes it was

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    I think there needs to be a little more respect here for those that hold to YEC. There are problems for those of you who hold to more of an evolutionary viewpoint..namely, hermenutics, the foundational aspect of the first chapters of Genesis and how you reconcile the Bible with your beliefs. I am not in any way saying that this invalidates your faith…rather, I am saying that there is conflict both ways. For example, if evolution is true, there was death before the fall and advent of sin. Genesis says that death came as a result of the fall (sin). There are NO transitional forms anywhere that are proven…if evolution was true/global, all over the earth we would find concrete, fossilized evidence of creatures with emerging wings/appendages/changes in body structure. We don’t. I guess I am saying that this issue is not “cut and dry” and on this blog I would appreciate some understanding and respect for those such as myself that believe in a literal view of Genesis.

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    I am going to be blunt here: the YEC position deserves NO respect as far as the scientific method is concerned. It has to put up or shut up. The problem is that YEC doesn’t even rise to the level of a theory, because it is essentially unreproducible and therefore, untestable. It is a matter of faith being put forward as a scientific theory.

    I grew up in Texas at a time when teaching evolution was a no-no in the schools. (Thank you Mel and Norma Gabler, the David Bartons of the 1970s.) Ironically, I placed out of biology in college (go figure), so I will be the first to confess my background in the biological sciences is scant. However, I have been keenly interested in astronomy since I was a child. Consequently, for me, YEC falls on one thing: the Universe is obviously older than 6,000 or 10,000 years. YECers have not given to me a theory as to why we can see stars and galaxies obviously further than 6,000 or 10,000 years away.

    And no, telling me that God created the entire Universe at some point several thousand years ago to look like it’s billions of years old–with no proof–is just a more sophisticated version of telling me the Universe was created last week, intact. It is like telling me the Devil buried the dinosaurs in the ground to fool us into believing in evil, atheistic evolution. (I’ve heard that too.)

    I can look up into the sky any clear night and see an old universe. If my boyfriend hauls out his 24 inch telescope, and we go out into the countryside with a dark sky, I can see glittering galaxies, island universes with billions upon billions of stars. They’re insanely long distances away from us.

    YEC relies on discrediting basic physical facts about the universe as we know it in order to “prove” itself. If the “god” of YEC is the true God, I won’t be following him, because it shouldn’t be a matter of “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” when my “lying” eyes tell me the Universe is a very old place.

    So, justabeliever, while the owners of the blog may respect your point of view, I’m going to tell you bluntly that YEC is faith-destroying and a theory absolutely unworthy of the beautiful and dangerous universe we live in.

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    just a believer

    Do you not know that there are Biblical solutions to the death before the fall thing? For example, is the death of animals different than the death of humans? Also, Genesis says that God told Adam that if he ate from the tree, “on that day you shall surely die.” But, on that day, Adam did not. Could death refer to something else, such as those with immortal souls who now must experience death? There are many sites that carefully explore the hermeneutics of this particular issue. 

    Also, did you know that there are tons of transitional species that have been found? The rumor that there are no transitional species is one that is propagated by the YEC crowd and I even bought that argument myself unitl a few years ago. It simply is not true.  After discovering, for myself, the numbers of transitional species, I began to move towards evolutionary creationism. And you can be darned sure that I read extensively, including wading through all of Answers in Genesis with increasing dismay. Please google on this subject and others and read outside of the YE contingent. Might I suggest Answers in Creation, Reasons to Believe, and Biologos?

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    justabeliever – No disrespect is intended to YEC folks. The Lord created the universe and its science. If interpreting early Genesis was intended to be science then the methods of science should agree with such interpretation. I believe Genesis, and in fact most if not all the OT, is God telling us about Himself and his great dislike of any form of idolatry and is not intended to be a science text.

    YEC supporters must take into account the costs of being wrong on this subject. It hurts evangelism and will impede our abilty to bring a moral perspective to the debate over how to use the rapidily developing medical technologies based on genomics.

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    Until i got attacked by the YE cavalry, I was a live and let live person, content to follow the CS Lewis axiom “People will not be condemned to hell ofr believing that God has a long, white beard.” But after being called a bunch of names and meeting kids and adults who have left the faith over the insistence on YE dogma, I got fed up. And since I have a blog, and my blogging friend does not mind, I get to indulge myself on this subject from time to time.

    The YE crowd posits that the galaxy was created with the light en route and try to get around the fact that light from distant starts obviously is much older that 6000 years. But they have trouble with the problem of measuring light from colliding galaxies and the fact that the further back you go, the number of entities becomes more dense obviously pointing to a big bang.

    It frustrates me that some Christian believe that the big bang is not a Christian concept. I believe that it proves the existence of a start to the universe. Many do not understand that some naturalists were not thrilled with the discovery of the big bang because it points to a starting point. God spoke and the universe leapt into existence.Now that was the big bang!

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    I do respect the views of those who are YECs and anti-evolution even though I strongly disagree with their views. What I am opposed to is the way YECs with scientific training write and present their YEC views to the public but won’t present them to the scientific community. Instead, they will present credible research to the scientific community that never involves issues related to a young earth and then leverage this to the public to make their YEC views look scientifically credible.

    There is so much data supporting an earth and universe that is so much older than 10,000 years that it’s impossible it seems to me to refute, particularly when those with scientific training who hold this view won’t engage other scientists on the issue. To list just a few items:

    – Astronomers have calculated the distance of stars as being millions and billions of light years away from earth
    – Atomic science has used radiometric dating to determine the age of rocks in the millions and even billions of years
    – The EPICA ice core contains annual layers of the Antarctica ice sheet going back 750,000 years

    Just these three measurements, from three completely different scientific fields, makes it hard to rationally believe in a young earth and makes Christianity look silly. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is not wrong on creation, it’s the YEC interpretation of the Bible that’s wrong. Genesis 1 is not a historical account of creation, it’s a literary explanation of God’s involvement in creation to a people with nothing approaching a modern scientific understanding of the world. St. Augustine recognized more than 1500 years ago the danger of claiming interpretations of the Bible that so clearly contradict what we know of the world:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.”

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    Thank you for saying this. I know of a umber of people who have walked away from the faith due to the insistence of youg Earth as a primary doctrine. Oh, they pretend it is not primary but they attack anyone who does not believe it  with vigor. I know, it happened to me.

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    To Southwestern Discomfort…..um…since when has evolution been a proven, scientific FACT and not a theory? Have you ever heard of the intelligent design folks who discredit evolution? If you believe in the scientific method, you cannot REPEAT evolution as it takes millions and millions of years. How does your belief in God as creator fit in with the atheistic beliefs of secular scientists? Where does He fit in? The incredible complexity of the universe gives Him glory. Over time, things decay. I am no scientist – I am trained in other areas, but I do not see how time plus chance equals anything but atrophy/decay, not an increasing level of complexity. I am not attacking anyone. I am saying there are issues with both sides, and I cannot reconcile these beliefs with logic or with the Bible. I wish it were so easy to solve this, but I don’t believe it is. These are not salvation issues.

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    May I ask why some believe it necessary to believe the earth is only 6000 years old and also why some believe it is necessary to believe that the earth was created in six 24 hour days?

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    Because they insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis (but not every other verse in the Bible) as opposed to a theological interpretation that it is a creation story, like others in the ancient Middle East and elsewhere, but with the God of the Israelites as the prime mover. They also fail to understand that almost all of the OT, and clearly all of the Pentateuch, was written in Babylon or Egypt or both, during the exile ca. 500 BC or 3500 to 7500 years after the events. It was all an oral tradition until then or, those parts that were previously in writing, were recreated by the exiles from memory.

    I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, take the books of the OT, other than some of the later prophets, as I take parables. Teaching stories with great theological truth, but not necessarily literal truth.

    As an epistemologist and attorney, I know that “truth” has many different meanings, of which literal is among the lowest forms of truth.

    to me, the great truth of Genesis 1 and 2 is: God was, before there was anything else; God created everything; and God said that his creation was good (n.b. not perfect!?!?!). Further that God caused humans to exist and desires a relationship with us, whom he loves. Then the rest of the OT shows that humans have a huge habit of rejecting him for everything in creation, including ourselves, to our own detriment, setting the stage for the redemptive gift of grace in Jesus Christ.

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    I have been very much looking forward to reading more about this issue. Only had time to skim so far, but will be back to read more.

    I have been a die-hard YEC up until this spring. I would never have considered even reading anything from an OEC perspective until I read a conversation here at TWW back in May. In a matter of minutes I found my mind opening to other possibilities and went directly to Genesis to read and re-read. I began reading at AiG with a critical eye for the first time, and exploring other sites such as the ones you mentioned to justabeliever.

    I cannot say at this point what I believe about the issue for certain, though I am leaning hard towards OEC with an openness to the possibility of theistic evolution (the text of Genesis 1 itself opened me to this). Have not yet studied enough to know.

    But I will say that this is the very issue which opened my heart to receive God’s love for the first time since before I entered the Reformed world. Considering the OEC perspective led me to belief that God is far greater, more infinite, more powerful, more intimate, and more loving than I’ve ever known before. A study of the seventh creation “day” (which in Genesis never indicates that it ended) led me to an in-depth study and meditation on Hebrews 3-4, which speaks of a sabbath-rest that remains to be entered into. It occurred to me then, that the ENTIRE BIBLE is a description, from start to finish, of God’s rest. And instruction to us on how to enter into it with him: Via Grace. I realized that my calling, as a Christian, is to REST with my loving Creator – this is an intimate relationship, not a system of bullet-points and checklists and restrictions! The impact this has had on my spiritual life is profound. I believe that the Holy Spirit himself has led me to this because I would never have considered it on my own.

    Hope I made sense…

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    All that to say, this is an important issue indeed – one that has the potential to make all the difference in what one believes of God and self and how we relate to each other.

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    Why do you think that one cannot believe in a creator and in evolution. Many of us do so. Why do you think that scientists=atheism/secularism. Many scientists, inclduing the great Dr Francis Collins are devout believers.

    We have all heard of intelligent design. Many on this blog, including myself, are very well read on the subject matter involving creationism. So it might be helpful to ask yourself a question. Why do intelligent Christians who love the Lord and believe that Scripture is authoritative believe in evoutionary creationism? Also, why do the vast majority of Christian scientists believe the earth and universe is very old, on the orders of billions of years? Are they just stupid? Do they not understand what you do about intelligent design? Do you not think that they have addressed these issues to their satisfaction?

    Also, do you know the main problem with how intelligent design is applied? We all believe in an intelligent Designer. But, intelligent design isn’t just what its name seems to imply.


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    As I’ve read somewhere else, if the first couple chapters are not literally true, then Jesus died for an allegory or a myth. If God did not literally curse Adam and Eve, then the cures of Adam is figurative as well.

    I understand why YEC are so adamant. If you declare Genesis as a parable or myth, then who gets to decide what else is just allegory, but not literally true?

    Maybe Jesus dying on the cross is just an allegory? Maybe Jesus coming again is just an allegory? Do you see the problem with this approach? It doesn’t leave you with a clear guide on how to “Believe” the Bible, and instead becomes a form of Christian Relativism.

    At least, that’s my take on the issue.

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    sorry…meant curse, not cures of Adam.

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    Dee – off topic – I sent you an email early yesterday morning with the guest post we talked about. Did you get it?

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    justabeliever: A few things.

    As I said, I am not a biologist, but I have a more than passing interest in astronomy. The problem with YEC is that it is not merely a biological theory, but also implicates geology, physics and astronomy (among others) and it CANNOT explain ANY of them AT ALL. It is a matter of belief with no evidence.

    Contrary to that, as I said, I can look up in the sky and see stars and galaxies that are further away (light years) than the YEC belief that the earth is only 6,000 or 10,000 years old. We have good theories to explain what we’re observing–which absolutely CANNOT be said about YEC.

    YEC says that the speed of light is not what we know it to be. YEC says that plate tectonics is a sham. YEC says that fossils millions of years ago are a trick and good Christians shouldn’t believe in fossil geology. I could go on and on and on. And yet, YEC offers no proof, not even a good THEORY to explain the Universe as we see it today. YEC is no better than the “Omphalos theory,” better known as “Last Thursdayism,” i.e., the entire universe was created as we see it now, last Thursday. There’s no proof for that either.

    Two things anger me about YEC: first, that it’s a pack of lies with no bearing in reality and second, it denies the amazing, beautiful and dangerous universe we live in. If you claim you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t be telling Lies for Jesus. But that’s what YECers do.

    Thing is, other believers are afraid to tell YECers that they are liars. I, being outside the Christian orbit these days, have no problem telling YECers, “Yes, you are telling lies. And you will reap the fruit of your lies, when at least some of the people you’re telling them to figure out you lied to them. Then you will be responsible in part for destroying their faith.”

    YEC is putting Christianity in a box that Jesus never considered. The criterion for salvation is believing in Jesus as Lord, not that the Universe was created 6,000 or 10,000 years ago (as Ken Ham would have it). Making YEC a sine qua non for faith just makes it abundantly clear that I’ll not be rejoining the ranks of the “good Christians” any time soon, because I’ll not subscribe to lies just to fit in.

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    There is no problem with a literal Adam and Eve in evoutionary creationsim. God breathed the “breath of life” into Adam. It was a specfic intevention and one, I think, that involved the imputation of the immortal soul that differentiated Adam from other life forms. That is why I also have no trouble with death before the Fall. The animal creatures do not have souls in the same sense that humans have souls.

    Other things are worth noting. For example, God “created Adam out of the dust of the Earth. Could the dust be something different than dirt. Could that be a way for describing DNA, the foundation for all life? Also, He created Adam outside the garden and then placed him inside. Why? What was going on outside the Garden? Could Adam/Eve have been the first humans with an immortal soul and therfore be the true representatives of all men and women because of that immortal soul? It sure seems that Christians might agree on this one point.

    There is another problem with dealing with wooden literalism in interpretation.The Bible utilizes a broad specturm of devices to convey the truth. Jesus is portrayed as living water yet no one would confuse Him with a river.He is the Rock but we know the difference. Also, if the Bible was to appeal to all men, for all time in all cultures and understanding, the language would need to be broad enough and diverse enough so that everyone had a fighting chance to understand the concepts.

    Most people already reject some literalism in Scripture. They know that the earth does not stand on pillars. There are not four corners of the earth and the sun does not rotate around the earth. Yet some of these were considered “must believes” resulting in the imprisonment of Galileo. I believe the YEC today are like those of the time of Galileo. They wish to defend the honor of the Bible. Many of them would have voted to imprison Galileo had they lived in that day.

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    Southwester Discomfort

    I have actually heard some people say that the dinosaur bones were placed where they are by Satan to trick us. I also heard one guy in one of my churches say that the Discovery Channel has “evidence” that the earth is young and they are deliberately hiding it.  And Christians wonder why people think we are nuts…

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    I was going to email you later. I have had trouble with downloading it. I am trying to move it into a different file. i will let you know shortly if I am successful.

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    That is one of the most cogent descriptions of moving from YEC to OEC while coming to a greater understanding of the vastness of God that I have ever read. I plan to highlight it the next time i get a bug in my ear to do something on creationism (Groans are now occurring in my previous church and at AIG)

    The Sabbath rest is an interesting issue, and I am totally on board with you. We are in the era of God “resting” from His creation of the universe. Many people do not pick up on the significance that God is still at rest until the great day of the new heavens and earth. I had not thought about the concept of this grace yet it is so important. The grace, the love and the plan were there at the beginning and He always intended for us to rest with HIm, both now and forever! AWESOME!!!

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    It’s pretty clear to me that OEC/YEC/evolution is not a salvation issue, though I can understand why some YECs get so heated about it. They really are afraid that OECs/evolutionists pose a threat to the Fall and the Atonement. I don’t think they can sustain that accusation, but I can at least see where they’re coming from.

    I’m currently undecided, though I’m leaning OEC. What first got me to doubt YEC was a presentation at a homeschool convention, from one of those “fun” YEC guys who talks to teen groups. He presented what’s known as the “hydroplate theory” – that Earth used to have huge chambers of water just below the surface (the “fountains of the deep” from Genesis), which suddenly and catastrophically exploded out miles into the air, simultaneously flooding the surface and coming back to earth as “rain” and thus causing a global flood. I thought it was cool at first, but when I looked it up online later it got ripped apart as physically impossible. It made me seriously wonder what else in YEC was so patently scientifically unsound.

    Here’s a link to OEC Glenn Morton’s rebuttal of the hydroplate theory if anyone is interested.


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    Not to be picky, but most of the listeners or readers in Jesus time did believe in Pillars holding up the sky and four corners of the earth. Similar to when Satan took Jesus to the high point of the temple and could see all the kingdoms of the earth. The bible reflects the cosmology of a flat earth and the heavens literally being in the clouds above the earth.

    It’s only after the fact that we know that this can’t be true and say “of course, no one would believe it literally”…but to the original audience and writers they did take it as a literal description of reality.

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    I’m sorry, I mean to say four pillars holding up the earth, not the sky.

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    @ Dee:

    “I have actually heard some people say that the dinosaur bones were placed where they are by Satan to trick us.”

    Apparently my great-grandma (HEAVY generational German Catholic) on my dad’s side thought something like this. Dad would find little fossil shells in rocks all the time in MN (since the whole region was once a glacial lakebed), and she would tell him they were put there as part of a conspiracy by scientists to trick people. I also had an IFB friend growing up in our homeschool group tell me that dinosaur bones were “just big dog bones.” Not surprisingly, she went to BJU after she graduated…

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    Doubtful said it best. These literalists believe that one must read the Bible in a wooden, literal sense. Well, at least Genesis because they violate their own rules all the time. Take a look at the comment i left doubtful and Southwestern.

    I corresponded with a well-known professor-many would recognize his name but, due to his comment to me, I will not give it. He would be inundated with furious emails from zealots. I told him of my dismay when i was attacked by the YEC in my former church. He said that he believes these folks are hurting the cause of Christ around the world. The age of the earth is basically a done deal. When people start spouting  that a belief in a 6,00-10,000 year earth is a must, people turn away from considering the rest of the Gsopel. 

    Yet, to the zealots, they would rather people stay away from the Lord than tell them they can know Him and believe in an old earth and universe. That, Mot, is the essence of idolatry.I know one young man who went to school with one of my kids. He is no longer a believer. he went to a wonderful university and was able to disprove most of the supposed “science” of the YEC after one year. He decided that if YEC was bogus then everything else must be a lie as well. I tried so hard to convince him that he could believe in an old earth but he had already closed his heart becasue of the deceit that he perceived.

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    Some people also insist that God makes it hard to understand the truth and disguises the age of the earth so that only “true” believers will come to the faith. My husband calls this “God is a cosmic trickster” theory. He said that to a former pastor who went nuts. It was rather amusing.

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    I think the most important question in this debate is often overlooked, what does evolutionary creationism imply about the doctrine of original sin? If, like the theory of evolution says, man has evolved both individually and as a collective race how does this mesh with the fact that we are sinful by nature because we are descended from Adam and Eve? The idea that Adam and Eve evolved over time to become the human beings we are today is too close to saying that the race as an entirety evolved separately into a large group of human beings, contradicting the doctrine that man is inherently sinful because of his inheritance of original sin from Adam and Eve. I personally can not except evolution because of what it implies about how the Bible describes us and our sinful condition.

    Now the question of whether or not it was six literal days and how exactly God created the world in those Six days I don’t know, nor do I care much about it. I can see how some people are inclined to have to understand creation in their minds, I was blessed with the Grace of God to except that He created the world and not have to worry about how. I think that arguments about creationism vs evolution among Christians takes the focus off of Christ and ultimately on to us and our understanding. I am not saying that we shouldn’t discuss it at all, I’m only saying that like all elements of human reason and understanding it shouldn’t be our main focus.

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    Given the tone of this discussion I’d like to emphasize a point I made in the original posting (Dee, thanks for the emphasis you did provide). The mark of a good theory is its ability to make predictions. Testing theory experimental predictions is the way science evolves. Very much related to prediction is the development of new technologies. The computing and communications technologies that makes all the information devices we take for granted possible, is also a verification of these theories. Communications and computing are entirely dependent on solid state amplifiers known as transistors which represent an application of quantum mechanics. This development, first reported in 1947, resulted in the 1956 Nobel Prize for Physics. Several other important technological ideas (LASERs for one) also have their roots in quantum mechanics. This same quantum mechanics provides the conceptual basis for radioactivity thus provides a theoretical basis for radiometric dating. General Relativity concepts of space and time are necessary for the functioning of the GPS system.

    We consider the Lord to be all knowing, past present and future. With this understanding why would He be expected to give a detailed understanding of 21st century science to a nomadic, prescientific culture? Again, I think the answer is to look at the reason for the Genesis creation story in terms of our relationship with Him, not as a delivered for all time description of science.

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    Would we not all agree that the first matter and first energy cannot be shows to have had a natural origin?

    Matter and energy need a source.

    No one knows (in the scientific sense)that source.

    Even the make up and quantity of the matter and the energy are unknown.

    Therefore, the questions of origins are inherently theological, even if some people do not want to acknowledge that.

    And if the questions of origins are theological, than any theory that seeks to explain origins is going to have theological assumptions at their premise. This is true whether they are acknowledged or not.

    For any system to make sense, one has to set the table. If one can set the table with necessary matter and energy, and not be required to explain that (which by its very nature cannot be explained), then that person is getting away with unprovable theological assumptions at the heart of their system.

    It does not matter how detailed and exact they claim to be afterwards. The license they have taken is as big a license as any creationist will take, though the creationists do so in the face of what appears to be contradictory evidence while others are making assumptions that suppor their theory. I agree that this puts the creationists in the losing category on the plausibility scale because they have a bigger hurdle. And it’s a hurdle that cannot be “proven” in the natural realm.

    But the non-creationists assumptions (whether overtly designated as theistic or not) are VERY large ones. In the philosophical sense, the creationists is 10,000,000 miles away, and everyone else is 9,000,000 miles away.

    Given the need to start with unprovable assumptions, and then throw in things like relativity (where mass, time and everything is relative), how are we to really make definitive statements about origins?

    I think that we should go where the evidence leads, and state so. But state so with a big qualifier that it is all subject to the one who made matter, energy, time, etc.

    There is nothing in the world scientific about the resurrection of Jesus. Nothing at all. Even all of the “evidences” are from friendly sources.

    And resurrection flies in the face of all that we know about science. It’s not that we just have no support. We have facts pointing in the other direction.

    Every person I have know who has died is dead. They have stayed dead. They have decomposed. They are not coming back.

    I believe otherwise by faith, but not because I have any scientific evidence to support it, and I have faith in the face of all the counterveilling scientific proof.

    But folks on the other side are also stuck. The is nothing scientific about right and wrong. About morals, which all acknowledge exist and are every bit as true as the things that science can prove.

    Who is not prepared that it is wrong to murder an innocent child? I mean transcendently wrong, not just against the prevailing mores of today’s society.

    What about love? What about the soul?

    These questions, like the utltimate questions about origins, are unanswerable from the natural world alone.

    The debate within the faith is essentially how to apply hermenutics of a book we believe to be divine with the scientific facts we observe.

    I believe that the better choice is to try and reconcile, where possible, the physical evidence that we have with the text, rather than try to deny the physical evidence. So I am not a YEC.

    But I am keenly aware that no system is “air tight” and that they are based on unprovable assumptions about lots of things from a long time ago. The effects of these things may be seen, but their mechanisms and origins elude us.

    And there are fierce debates within various evolutionary schools, as well. Like those between paleontologists who subscribe to punctuated equilibrium to explain the cambrian explosion (which is every bit as “faith based” as any creation story I have heard) and those who subscribe to a long, bit by bit climb.

    These are interesting discussions. No one should be too haughty about his or her opinions, though it is easy to see the faults in others’ thinking.

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    By the way, I was in a hurry, and not drunk, when I wrote that post. Lots of typos. Sorry!

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    The actual definition of evolution is a change in gene frequency over generations. You can see that in the lab – I have done it. Take a petri dish, make a smear plate so that you get colonies of bacteria all from the same source, expose it to UV radiation, and the bacteria that don’t die are changed by mutation.

    Now that’s not what we mean when we say “evolution” of course, we usually mean one species evolving from another, but still, that is the definition of evolution. I invite anyone to explain how the writer of Genesis was going to include this in the creation account, since he had no clue what genes are. Or how he was going to talk about life appearing on the earth about 4 billion years ago – do you see a number this large anywhere in the OT? Did the language and the concept of numbers available to that writer enable him to write that number?

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    I think you rightly state, that believing the Bible is a matter of faith and not evidence.

    When Christian apologists talking about Evidence demanding verdicts or that Christianity is a well established fact, they are being dishonest. Maybe not intentionally, but dishonest none the less.

    If you are comfortable believing, just because the Bible tells you so…fine. I appreciate that you are being honest about the source and of your beliefs.

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    Dan says: “…what does evolutionary creationism imply about the doctrine of original sin?”

    I think it explains it exactly. All of the selfish impulses we have, and tendencies to sins of the flesh, are things that developed as a result of natural selection – that is, they came about because somehow they allowed the species to continue and to have an advantage in a particular environment. This is the natural man. When the first “adams” were given a spirit to know God, they obtained the ability to push back against that. My cats want to please me, but it’s cupboard love. They have no sense of moral right and wrong at all.

    An example of this is a very plausible explanation I have run across as to the reason why (some) women enjoy reading books like Fifty Shades. Throughout the history of humanity, going back before we were recognizably homo sapiens and all, most of reproduction happened as a response to what would look to us today a lot like rape – that is, the female didn’t have much choice about mating. If it seemed to her that sex was about to happen, even if she didn’t want it to, and her body had an arousal response to that, then she was more likely to be ready for the sex act and less likely to be injured by it. Because injury could easily lead to infection and death, the females who had that response were the ones lived long enough to have more babies, so that sexual assault -> arousal response became part of our physiological makeup. So now women can play with the assault part by reading books, or having rape fantasies, what have you, and skip over the actual event, and have the arousal response, which is somewhat pleasurable.

    It’s not unlike fight-or-flight, the adrenaline response that you get when you are in danger, speeding up your heart and raising your blood pressure so you can defend yourself or run away. You can watch a scary movie and get the same physiological effect, which became prevalent in the population because it made the organisms that had it better able to survive and reproduce their genes.

    The point is, that if this explanation is true, it is a result of our evolutionary heritage – the natural man, as I said, and because of the fact that we also have a spirit with the ability to comprehend right and wrong, we may view these things as at the very least unedifying, if not in many circumstances downright sinful.

    Make sense?

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    It frustrates me that some Christian believe that the big bang is not a Christian concept. — Dee

    Which is a real hoot because when the Big Bang was first proposed, it was denounced as an attempt to insert Creationism into science. (Including backhanded slurs about the proposer of the Big Bang being Catholic.)

    Sir Fred “Prove Me Wrong!” Hoyle even went full-honk behind the Steady State Theory (update of Aristotle’s idea of the eternal universe, always been, always will be) just to debunk the Big Bang. (Hoyle had a habit of proposing outrageous theories and daring everyone to prove him wrong.)

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    We have all heard of intelligent design. — Dee

    To which I have to ask:

    Intelligent Design as a current version of “Natural Theology”, a centuries-old philosophical foundation of science, or…

    Intelligent Design (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean), the latest coat of camouflage paint for Young Earth Creationism?

    Because the word has been hijacked from a centuries-old Christian philosophical tradition to just another expendable weapon in Culture War Without End, Amen.

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    I have actually heard some people say that the dinosaur bones were placed where they are by Satan to trick us. — Dee

    I first heard of that one in Donna Kossy’s book Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief.

    And it is one of the symptoms of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory: Any evidence against The Conspiracy is Disinformation Planted by The Conspiracy.

    I also heard one guy in one of my churches say that the Discovery Channel has “evidence” that the earth is young and they are deliberately hiding it. — Dee

    Another symptom of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory: Lack of evidence for The Conspiracy is PROOF of The Conspiracy (who else would silence and suppress it?)

    Until The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

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    We consider the Lord to be all knowing, past present and future. With this understanding why would He be expected to give a detailed understanding of 21st century science to a nomadic, prescientific culture? — OldJohnJ

    The same reason the Plague of Demon Locusts in Revelation were really videos of helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapons (the stings) and piloted by long-haired, bearded hippies. And all the plagues of Revelation were really videos of Nuclear War and Nuclear Weapons Effects. The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. What did all those 2000 years of Christians possibly do without us Christians of the 1970s and beyond to show them what Revelation REALLY meant?

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    Some people also insist that God makes it hard to understand the truth and disguises the age of the earth so that only “true” believers will come to the faith. My husband calls this “God is a cosmic trickster” theory. — Dee

    So God’s name is really Loki or Coyote?

    Kind of makes sense — only Loki or Coyote would come up with “I will create everything 6000 years ago with a completely-airtight false trail of faked evidence — cosmological, biological, geological — going back 13.4 billion years, but if you dare believe any of My carefully-crafted deception, I Will Burn You In Hell For All Eternity.”

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    In response to Laura,

    “When the first “adams” were given a spirit to know God, they obtained the ability to push back against that.” – Laura

    If our sinfulness is caused by natural slection and not an inherited sin nature from Adam and Eve, then is the entire account of man’s fall allegorical? (“nature” refering to our spiritual status and not our natural body.) If evolutionary natural selection causes our sin nature then that would mean God’s act of creating us made us inherentily sinful. That means God created sin, God made us sinful it wasn’t a choice of our own to rebel against God. It was bred into us by the process that God used to create us. How then is this fair? How are we held accountable to this if it was the way God created us and not how we are by the inherited sinfulness as described in the account of man’s fall?

    As for our attraction to things that are contrary to God’s word, Shades of Grey being your example, I would say it has nothing to do with our natural bodies impulses but instead it has everything to do with our sinful spirtual nature. Saying that I am attracted to sin because my natural body has evolved to be that way and not because I am a sinful man places the responsibilty on the way I was made and not my own choices.

    It reminds me of the arguement about homosexuality, the idea that God created them homosexual makes perfect sense if you look at it from the perspective that our sin was created through the same process that God used to create us.

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    Doubtful wrote:

    “…If God did not literally curse Adam and Eve, then the curse of Adam is figurative as well…”

    If you go back and read the narrative carefully, nowhere does it say that the Almighty cursed Adam or Eve. The only curses and invocations were for the Serpent, the ancient hater & despiser of the humans. The account recites a whole litany of consequences for the humans, but this is NOT the same thing as accursedness.

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    Dee, I’m glad my earlier post made sense to you. 🙂 I am honored that you want to highlight it in a future posting.

    Do you know of any good books dealing with Sabbath-rest from the standpoint that God is at rest, and calls us into rest with him?

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    TWW’s twitter account suspended!!!!!!
    Coincidence? After exchanging three benign tweets with Jared C Wilson, our TWW twitter account has been suspended. We will get to the bottom of this and will keep you informed…

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    Don’t know your background at all or where you are coming from.

    But all faith or philosophical systems are based on presuppositions that are essentially religious.

    And everyone has a faith or philosophical system that is not provable by science.

    Christians are just up front about theirs. They may misconstrue what qualifies as “evidence”, but there is no confusing the basis for their beliefs. It’s the Bible and the witness of the church over the centuries.

    There are historical documents etc. that will verify Jesus’ existence, the existence of the church, basic names and places, and it’s fairly consistent and traceable, especially for anything from the ancient world.

    Not all faith systems are that way. But Christianity’s claims are based in history. I think that is essentially what things like “evidence” relates to. There can be historical proofs of Christ, the church’s existence, etc. But the only historical proof for the resurrection is the testimony of the church. We can prove from the earliest Christian documents and times that the church taught the truth of the resurrection. But we cannot prove scientifically that the resurrection occurred.

    Some faiths or systems are not dependent on history at all. They can be philosophies that do not have a historical basis.

    What’s most interesting is that many non-Christians, or persons of no faith, have never really come to grips with the essentially religious presuppositions that they believe in. Those presuppositions are every bit as unprovable as Christianity’s. But they are believed just as doggedly.

    As I said, Christians are up front about theirs.

    But it is amazing how uncomfortable many people who don’t believe get when they are pressed on what they believe and why.

    Good talking to you.

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    I just LOVED what you said about “resting”. It is so true. Never thought about it in those terms before (linking it to God resting in Genesis). I fully agree about resting in him — breathing him in like air, learning to hear his voice in real time, moment by moment, which may bypass word form (not that I am expert in this at ALL, mind you).

    ***In short, resting as in relaxing in His acceptance of and love for me and living my best life now in and through him.***

    Resting, as in being accepted now, forgiven now, loved now, delighted in now — as opposed to being guilt-ridden, unaccepted, excluded, outside, not good enough.

    Resting, as in learning to receive holy spirit help moment by moment towards growing patience, kindness, wisdom, self-disclipline, generosity of heart, compassion…. towards growing my human relationships in healthy ways,…. towards growing in my natural abilities (how to improve my swim stroke, how to get more accomplished in my day, how to pinpoint goals and succeed in reaching them,…

    Resting, as in learning to branch off the vine. Learning to receive a stream of nutrients from the living vine. Learning that on gray, stormy, inhospitably cold and dark days the vine is still alive and so I must be, too.

    How I see it, at least.

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    Laura, that early ‘reproductive rape’ theory has been largely discounted – that was from evolutionary psychology (not evolutionary biology – not the same at all) and is not a branch of study that backs up their hypothesis with much evidence.

    Dan asked: “If our sinfulness is caused by natural slection and not an inherited sin nature from Adam and Eve, then is the entire account of man’s fall allegorical?”
    “That means God created sin, God made us sinful it wasn’t a choice of our own to rebel against God. It was bred into us by the process that God used to create us. How then is this fair? How are we held accountable to this if it was the way God created us and not how we are by the inherited sinfulness as described in the account of man’s fall?”

    So, two major Christian theological points, first, 5 point, true Calvinists will wholeheartedly agree God caused it all, but they have a thousand wiggle out clauses to protect them from an accusation that we, therefore, aren’t deserving of punishment. You can google it and bore yourself to tears – go farther back than the TGC, there is reams of it out there. Second point, how are we held accountable for another person’s sin, especially a sin that happened oh 6,000 – 200,000 (depending on your beliefs) years ago? How is that fair? See, Original sin is not part of the early church and, very telling, not even part of Jewish tradition. Do a little experiment, go through the Old Testament and see if Adam is ever mentioned again after Gen. 2 -3 (except in genealogies). If Adam’s sin was so essential to our understanding of our own sin, why is he never brought up again? This is what pointed me to the inherent weakness of the idea of Original sin. Even more telling, is what God says to Cain (chronologically right after Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden).

    Here is the interesting comment: Gen. 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door;it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

    If Cain was doomed to sin, due to his sinful nature that is a very awkward verse if Original Sin has just been established on earth (I am sure Calvinists have a million explanations for it): “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

    The church spread and grew for 350 years before original sin was an accepted concept. I don’t hold to tightly to Original Sin, we are very capable of sinning without blaming a (possible) ancestor.

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    EXACTLY!!! You’ve added so many of the exact same things that I would have added to my thoughts above had I had more time.

    You said, “Resting, as in being accepted now, forgiven now, loved now, delighted in now – as opposed to being guilt-ridden, unaccepted, excluded, outside, not good enough.”

    I cannot even describe how profoundly my relationship with him changed when I realized this – that I AM pleasing to my Father. Not only am I allowed to pitch the exhausting, perfectionistic rules and checklists on how to please him – this is what I am called to do! To Rest. With him. To put down my works and to trust that the work Jesus did for me on the cross is sufficient to bring me into the intimacy with God – and to keep me there, to draw me ever further into it. THIS is Grace. THIS is a Love I would die for.

    Still astounded that God used one of the ideas I feared most, OEC, to lead me to this love. I am so grateful!

    So, if YEC’s wish to claim their doctrine as essential to understanding of the Gospel, I must strongly but respectfully disagree. For it was through exploring OEC that I, for the first time in my life, have seen clearly what Jesus did for me and what he calls me to be. Through OEC that I finally see the Scriptures as the Grace-book. Front to back. It OPENED me to the Gospel rather than closing me to it.

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    Val – indeed!

    I think Augustine came up with his idea of original Sin and imposed it as a template on various parts of Genesis. Problem is, there isn’t anything about so-called original sin in there.

    there is “Don’t eat of the fruit of this one, solitary tree” and some consequences for humans, which include being driven out of the garden of Eden.

    But is there any real evidence – or even a faint suggestion? – that somehow the whole creation was perverted because the first humans sinned? It doesn’t seem so – and really, there’s little/no description of the world outside the garden, except for the bit that comes a little further on re. rivers and an admittedly Mesopotamian understanding of how rivers flow + a dash of their geography and comments on where certain commodities come from.

    I think, from a literary standpoint, that Genesis is a pastiche: there are the two very different creation accounts (the 1st one highly poetic); then a bunch of miscellaneous early stories, then Noah, then more miscellaneous and often oddball bits of what sounds like folklore (songs of god and the daughters of men, nephilim, etc.) and then it’s on to the patriarchs – and that whole section is written like a literary narrative, complete with nuanced behavior, psychological insights into the “characters” and why they do what they do, and much more.

    Some of the things that come up in the narratives of the patriarchs remind me of the vivid portraits of individual characters (spiritual, psychological, emotional) that start showing up in late 19th-century novels by the likes of Tolstoy and Doestoevsky. That kind of psychological insight was supposed to have been pioneered in the 19th century, but yet, it’s there – in an earlier, less developed form – in Genesis.


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    If you look at what Adam and Eve actually did to fall, it seems to support evolutionary creationism in my mind. They ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why might God have forbade knowing good from evil? Perhaps because humans had to have evolved to a certain point to be infused with spirits that were in God’s image and something hastened that process (the snake) so we became self-aware before we were ready.

    My theological theory is likely flawed but as a Biologist and a Christian, there is nothing but support for evolution. And the one does not threaten the other (either way.)

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    Val, I know it doesn’t rise to the level of theory – it’s just a school of thought – and I certainly know it’s been disagreed with. Has it been scientifically debunked, though? Because the origin of the adrenaline fight-or-flight response is pretty well agreed upon, isn’t it?

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    “If our sinfulness is caused by natural slection and not an inherited sin nature from Adam and Eve, then is the entire account of man’s fall allegorical?”

    Er, yeah. The talking serpent story is allegorical, yes. There’s meaning for us in the story but we can’t be like little children and think the meaning is primarily literal, with whatever life lessons we might accidentally find along the way.

    Cain was jealous – he wanted to be the favored one (favored = survival) – and so he killed his brother. The tension there would be between doing what was right, and tolerating his brother being favored even though that went against the grain, and even trying to figure out what his brother was doing right so he could emulate it; and giving in to his fleshly impulse to take out the competition. As Val said, God told him sin would try to master him but he had a choice whether to give in to it. So no, we have to live with the consequence of our evolutionary heritage, but we can take responsibility for ourselves to some degree. Living according to the flesh alone, and the consequence of that which is to die like animals, is what salvation saves us from.

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    It’s been interesting reading these posts, as usual! 🙂

    Re YECs, I worked with one once who was a true gentleman and godly man, and even though I now disagree with some of his positions, I felt he was a man of integrity. So I would be loathe to give any YEC believer a hard time unless I thought they were consciously lying or misrepresenting.

    Re transitional forms, I have to agree that this ia a bit of a red herring. To give just a couple of examples, Archaeopteryx shows features common to both reptiles and birds, and so-called proto-mammals from the pre-dinosaur period show features of both reptiles and mammals (correct me if I’m wrong). Also recent fossil discoveries in China have shown that some dinosaurs had feathers and were presumably gliding.

    An interesting thing in my own limited experience (through keeping animals) is that mutations don’t seem to appear gradually but fully-formed. For example, I once had a monitor lizard who was born with an extra, backward-pointing toe complete with claw. Some mutations appear to be hidden within the DNA code and are somehow activated if the right “switch” is pressed during the process where the two sets of chromosomes come together – but I’m not an expert in this field, so I would ask someone like Laura to correct me!

    When it comes to the origins of the human race and sin I think we are in a slightly different category. I do believe that Adam and Eve were real individuals, that they had a choice and they chose their own way rather than God’s. Animals to a certain degree show character through their behaviour, the higher up the ladder of consciousness and awareness one goes (no-one says “bad wasp”, for example, but people do say “bad dog”), but I would argue that only in human beings do we see a recognition of good and evil, right and wrong, somehow independent of any evolutionary origins (though I don’t think sociobiologists would agree with me!). After all we don’t hold animals guilty in a moral sense if they kill a person, whereas we lock up or hang human murderers.

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    Original sin?

    It is passed onto the next generation via the 23rd paternal chromosome. Either the X or Y given to you by your dad.

    Justification for this theory? Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and his human genetic material came via Mary. If females carried the sin mutation, Jesus would have been born with the stain of original sin and clearly Jesus did not have original sin. Since the rest of us poor slobs didn’t get conceived that way, the variable (genes passed on by our fathers) is the logical route of transmission of the mutatad allele namely our dads.

    So much for the patriarchy and men having something to lord it over females.

    Note: tongue is firmly planted in cheek.

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    Thanks for that link, Debra. I find prehistoric amphibians just as interesting as dinosaurs! Recently I acquired a book on the subject. In appearance they do seem to run the gamut from being half-fish to half-reptile or just bizarre-looking, as with the boomerang-headed ones. And some of them were very large. It’s interesting when you compare with them with modern amphibians, most of which belong to the frogs and toads and are quite modest in size.

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    I was “told” by self-styled “experts” that no transitional species had ever been discovered. I believed it. That all changed when a close friend, an evolutionary creationist, challenged me to look at some evidence of the large numbers of trasitional fossils that had been discovered. I did so and old Dee spent much of the day kicking herself. I had violated one of my rules which says to always check out what is being spoonfed to us. 

    My husband and I took  our kids up to DC to see the Museum of Natural History and I walked through the Evolution of Man exhibit with new eyes. I began to see that it was possibie to believe in the Bible and to accept evolution. Biologos and Dr Collins have helped me in that regard.

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    I am sorry you spen so much time kicking yourself when it should have been spent in awe and wonder at the way living things work.

    One thing evolution does no even attempt to explain is how things got started and I believe we may never know for certain but God has placed such an intense curiosity in the human spirit that I can’t imagine He doesn’t delight in our inquiry.

    But just take in the wonders of the natural world and, in particular, the wonders of things that are blessed enough to be alive and jus marvel in it, that is, in my experience, a form of worship.

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    Love your inverted dimple remark!!!

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    Hi, Jan.

    I’m so glad you responded. As far as this “resting” goes….

    certainly not doing nothing, staring at the ceiling tiles. it’s full of doing. so, resting in the sense of “being settled”.

    Like, I am very familiar with lonliness, the colorless pain of being isolated from unconditional love with skin on (although it was a reality — there were plenty of people who loved me unconditionally, i just couldn’t believe it and couldn’t receive it; so full of nervous doubt — but as I began to dare to “just see” and learn to let it in and trust people and trust myself that i actually might be worthy of being known and knowing in return. Conquering this fear of not being worthy to be accepted over time and receiving unconditional love with skin on…. oh the deep peace of it).

    But in the same way, the reality of God’s true acceptance, unconditional love, pleasure and delight in us is real, is now — it may not be our experiential reality, but that doesn’t mean it is not a fact.

    We are accepted. “It is finished”. (the great divide bridged, to put a finer point on it)

    “It is finished”. It is settled. I am settled.

    and oh the deep peace of it.

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    on this resting thing……

    being settled.

    accepted by God, to the point of being welcomed to merge and join in his substance & grow out of him, as a branch from a vine.

    and certainly full of doing (a very healthy branch, sprouting all over).

    for a while now i’ve been struck with how this reality extends into the practical realm.

    I love to swim — i’m by no means a natural athlete, nor a habitual swimmer — but in college i desired to have more endurance in swimming, and to do the “flip turn” (to at least “look like” a serious swimmer!). So I taught myself by observing what true swimming athletes were doing. And as I would try this and that, I would at the same be asking God to show me what to do. Just wordless communication to him as I was exerting in the water. And I feel he was very happy to do so — i feel my learning was exponentially increased and my body and mind truly learned some things.

    I’ve also done this with mundane tasks in life, how to do them better and more efficiently. and with learning how to turn desires into goals and actually making progress toward them, reaching them, even. (must say I’m queen of the unfinished projects, so I’ve only scratched the surface of what God and I can do together.)

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    Way up the comment thread someone was “lamenting” the fact that Evolution was “only a theory.” When you say this, all you do is to show your total ignorance of science in general. Theories are as good as it gets. You start with a hypothesis–you might call it a “strong hunch with some data that support it.” As time passes, you continue to test the hypothesis(usually with more and more elegant and “testing” experiments). Eventually, the hypothesis comes to be a theory because it always has supports/explains the observation of the experiment. If you ever have the theory fail, the theory must be revised.

    We may remember a few months ago when neutrinos seemed to have been clocked at a speed that was faster than the speed of light. Many pointed out that if this were the case, the Theory of Relativity would need to be either revised or discarded. As time has passed, the presence of errors in the measurements seems to be the cause of the “observation.” The Theory of Relativity is holding firm.

    You may be wondering about “Laws” which seem “better” than theories. Theories make an effort to explain the observation. Laws simply report what is always observed when the experiments are done. Laws make no effort to explain the observed results–but they are quite dependable.

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    Original sin is not part of the early church and, very telling, not even part of Jewish tradition. – Val

    Er, yeah. The talking serpent story is allegorical, yes. There’s meaning for us in the story but we can’t be like little children and think the meaning is primarily literal, with whatever life lessons we might accidentally find along the way. – Laura

    Romans 5:12-14
    12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    Did Paul believe in a literal Adam? It appears he did. Did Paul believe that man inherited a sin nature from the sin of one man, Adam, it appears he did. If the Holy Spirit came to Paul so that he could understand all the scriptures, as he was an apostle, then why didn’t he understand that the fall of man was merely allegorical? Or are Paul’s words here also to be considered allegorical?

    15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    Paul very much believed that Adam was a real man that we have all inherited a sin nature from him and we can’t explain away this fact by saying that he couldn’t comprehend evolution or the allegorical sense of the fall on man. Paul’s eye were opened, Jesus came to him and called him to be an Apostle, therefore the Holy Spirit came upon him revealing all the scripture to him. If this is the case why would Paul present Adam as if he really existed, shouldn’t have said that sin entered through the allegorical “adams” that were our biological ancestry?

    The doctrine of original sin isn’t an invention of Calvin, Luther, or even Augustine, it is something clearly taught by the Apostle Paul, if we start doubting what Paul wrote and what he preached and taught then the whole of Christianity unravels. Where does allegory end and real history and theology start? Oh yeah so in case we wondered if Paul was truly and apostle, God the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write this about Paul.

    2 peter 3 14- 18
    14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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    Thank you for the wonderful comment. Many non-scientists do not understand what is meant by theory. The YEC crowd comes off as uninformed by this statement. But that is how they are taught-sound bits and talking points and many of them a blatantly misleading.

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    Thank you for your comment. Although I tend towards evolutionary creationism, I do not see a problem with a real Adam. The Bible is pretty specific that, at one point, God breathed the gift of life into him. It was at that moment man, as we know him, was born.

    This man had the immortal soul, the gift of life that I believe was breathed into him at that point in time. It is that immortal soul that differentiates us from all life that came before. I believe that death referred to death of Adam, the one who had an immortal soul breathed into him, and those who came after. That is why I have no trouble with death before the Fall.

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    “Paul’s eye were opened, Jesus came to him and called him to be an Apostle, therefore the Holy Spirit came upon him revealing all the scripture to him.”

    hmmmm… revealing the greater point of it all?

    Or, revealing which category of truth everything fall into and what it all means? What is literal truth, what is metaphorical truth, what is moral truth, historical truth, embellished historical truth….

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    First of all let me say thank you for this wonderful website and for this forum of respectful open discussion.
    I’m not really arguing against the idea of evolutionary creationism in general, more the implications of the entire creation story being pure allegory. The question I have asked myself is: if no literal fall happened than how is it that man is inherently sinful? I have no real problems with speculation on how creation was achieved only on the idea that the fall of man was an allegory for some other way that man has inherent sin, or that we aren’t sinful by nature because of Adam’s sin.

    I am a science (Medicine) major in a public college and grew up in public schools, having taken a plethora of biology and chemistry classes I understand the theory of evolution as presented by modern science, and I believe in some of the findings, micro evolution and adaption are pretty clear and observable things, but as far as how God initially created the world I really don’t know, nor do I really find it very important to my personal walk.

    My main argument is for the discernment of reading into texts the ideas of modern science or philosophy where the Biblical authors appear to have had a literal understanding, for example the fall of man. The process and theory of evolution might explain creation but it can’t in my opinion explain how we might be inherently sinful as the Apostolic writers wrote.

    Thanks for your response, Dan.

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    As you well know, I remain a skeptic* of the evolutionary model regardless of whether it’s TE or AE (theistic or atheistic) for reasons which are beyond the scope & topic of this thread. We’ve gone round and round on this topic before, but it’s always been amicable and never rancorous. For that I thank TWW and you blog queens! If only others (blogs) could be as civil and tolerant.

    By the way, I thought the article about Falk & Wood was fascinating. Wood has courage of conviction to still believe in a supernatural designer who designs with common materials (DNA) in situ rather than a designer who is constantly tweaking the common materials to achieve new results.

    [* For those of you here who are fervently commited to the evolutionary model, please see that skepticism and outright rejection of a thing are not one and the same.]

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    You always think differently. That is what I love about you. I always look forward to reading your comments!

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    Bennett Willis – Thanks for emphasizing that theories are the best supported explanations offered by science. I’ve always felt that “only a theory” showed a complete lack of understanding of science.

    I too, enjoyed the saga of the Faster Than Light Neutrinos. A loose fiber optic connector eventually provided the unexplained 60 billionths of a second early arrival of the neutrinos. For want of a nail … . An experimentalist’s worst nightmare. Still, it’s a very good example of the scientific method working and the importance of peer review. The wrong result was never formally submitted for publication and the error was found and easily corrected. However the early disclosure of the incorrect result did lead to the resignation of two of the top level leaders of the experiment.

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    Paul believed the fall and sin through Adam to be literal, if he believed this about the scripture and the truth and the ability to rightly teach was given to him than how can we say that the fall is allegorical? If it is allegory, shouldn’t he have known that the fall was an allegorical representation of something else and taught man’s inherent sinfulness that way?

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    Why is it that you think Paul had all knowledge in complete scope concerning the topics on which he wrote?

    He surely had loads of knowledge, and deep insight. But it had its limits, simply because no human mind has been given all knowledge — on any subject (botany, biology, physics, geology, nutrition, music, etc.). It’s just a preposterous thought.

    Knowing his background and the time in history in which he lived, I would assume he also believed in a worldwide flood — which from my current understanding is quite doubtful.

    Paul was not perfect, his knowledge was not perfect, his communication was not perfect. He was an errant human being like you and me.

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    I don’t think he had knowledge that rivaled our modern understanding of science, but he taught that there was a literal Adam. If he believed this and taught this, and the bible is indeed inspired by God then isn’t there a literal adam?

    I don’t think he understood exactly what happened to create the world, but he pretty definitively said that sin and death entered through one man. Whether he knew how the body works or about plate tectonics or other aspects modern understanding doesn’t factor into whether or not he believed Adam was a literal man or not.

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    My husband(a cardiologist) and I are involved in a large ministry with medical and dental students in this area. We have monthly dinners and speakers and have over 100 attendees. It has a loose association with CMDA. What’s you specialty?

    This issue was not important to us until we began to discover that, due to the hard push of the YEC, some medical students were beginning to question the faith. Thankfully, with the advent of Francis Collins and Biologos, we have something significant to counter atheistic, presuppositional naturalism. Some of the medical students got together to study The Language of God.

    In the end it boils down to, for all Christians of good faith, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.That is the tipping point the determines those who believe in Creator God and those who do not.

    The sin part is easy. Spend one day looking at yourself and the world and it is understood.There is only one solution-the Cross and Resurrection. We are now positionally holy but functionally sinners which brings me to my knees every day, grateful for the grace.

    Although I understand the framework argument, and believe one can accept the fall and sin within those parameters, I do believe in a literal Adam. I have often thought of Adam as the man removed from the world and placed into the Garden, and along with Eve, stood on a stage that would determine the path of mankind.

    Have you ever read CS Lewis space trilogy-Out of the Silent Planet. I loved the second book, Perelandra, which played out the Garden incident on the planet of Venus. I highly recommend it-it profoundly affected me.

    Thank you for your input.

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    I believe humans also inherit a divine nature of goodness. If they don’t, how can Romans 2:14-16 also be true?

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    So Dan, I have so many points here, but really, it all can’t be unpackaged. I will just put some really rough point forms out about church history, original sin, original father/mother beliefs and you can go have fun mining the internet for more details. The Calvinist crowd will not be much help here as there views are based on later Church ideas, not original views, so move beyond that tradition. Easter Orthodox and Pre-11th Century Catholicism do not have a belief in Original Sin, despite Augustine being sainted many centuries previously. Wikpedia is often skewed to one view, or not well defined in this area. Anabaptists sights have some pretty good insights to it, if they aren’t just parroting reformed ideas. Anyways, here it goes.

    – to get at what Paul is saying there you need to know two things well:
    1) His society, Jews and believers included, all believed in a common mother/father theory – unlike other cultures who had different ppl created by differnt gods. This theory was older than Greco/Roman society, is also found in ancient India (Adam = man; Hebrew, Atman = man; Sanskrit), so I would place it early Babylonia, but may be older.

    -The idea that Paul is getting caught up in is more specific to his day/time, it is called Preformationism – it was a belief all the offspring of a man were bundled in his sperm (called ‘seed’ in the Bible), and like Russian dolls, all of his son’s offspring was imbedded in a micro-infant curled up in his sperm (seed) on and on. So, Adam had a fully formed Seth in his loins, who had a fully formed Enosh in his micro-body inside Adam’s seed, and Enosh had a fully formed Kenan inside his super-micro body which was inside seth’s micro-body, inside Adam.

    Read Hebrews chapter 7 for a look at how the ancients saw human reproduction (this is where Abraham is paying a tithe to Melchizedek):Heb. 7:9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

    Nowadays we know that no human lives inside their father’s body until they are born, so there is no Levi inside Abraham, no you, I, nor Paul inside Adam. We are all new, unique creations when our DNA combines at conception to make us. (But the ancients didn’t know this, or that the earth travelled around the sun, yet God never stopped the Book of Joshua from writing that by stopping the Sun it wouldn’t lengthen the day). So there is another example of preformation in the Bible (not allegory, just a different idea of what was what back then). The main Biblical point is not changed here, Jesus is still a High Priest, greater than Abraham, whether Levi existed then or not.

    Okay, that was preformation. Why do we cling so tightly to this notion of Original Sin?

    – Dan says: “if we start doubting what Paul wrote and what he preached and taught then the whole of Christianity unravels.” You mean what you believe God taught.

    2) Okay, crash course in Church history. For the first 1,000 years of Christianity NO ONE believed in Penal Substitutionary atonement theory – the idea that we were all condemned sinners (due to Adam) and God just absolutely had to punish that sin, lucky for us, Jesus jumped in to take God’s wrath and we never got what we deserved. If that wasn’t the idea behind Jesus’ accomplishments on the cross, what was? Christus Victor mainly, actually an older form called Christ Ransom theory. In this view, Christ dies on a cross for us to set us free from the bondage our sin put us under. Specifically, in Christ Ransom theory, our sin bounds us to Satan. We can not pay the price to be set free, so Jesus comes and pays it for us. This view mirrors the Jews bondage in slavery and release by God, as Roman slaves can’t pay off their own debts to their captors, likewise, neither can we pay off our debt to Satan, and so, we are born into captivity due to our fore-father’s. It is not that we inherit a sinful nature from Adam, but that we all got taken into slavery due to Adam’s sin, and Satan is not going to let us go, so Jesus came to set us free.

    If we view our bondage to sin this way, still followed in Eastern Orthodox churches, then there is no Original Sin, or depraved nature that God needs to take his wrath out on. Just a tendency to run too close to the wolves den and get dragged in, and need a rescue. We are more like bratty 2 year olds than vile creatures to God. We need correction, we need a spiritual parent – God – to survive the wiles of Satan, just as a 2-year-old needs an earthly parent to survive predators and kidnappers (Think 2004 Tsunami victims and baby-selling rings). We certainly don’t need another Jesus-complex leader, claiming to have the “way” in today’s oh-so-worse-off world (ha!). We just need to know who to follow, not how bad our sin is. Just like we don’t tell a two year old what could happen to them if they ran away (and got caught by a predator), God doesn’t really tell us how our sin, and Satan’s bondage will be played out after death if we don’t lean on Jesus to save us. Fire and Brimstone is an analogy, but why does Satan get our soul for all eternity if we eat one little disobedient fruit snack?

    What I do know is, when we build theories on ancient, outdated foundations of knowledge and blood is spilled by Christians towards other Christians over issues that aren’t even foundational, then we end up having to apologize centuries later. Galileo in science, John of the Cross in faith – the Catholics killed him, then sainted him, and thousands upon thousands of Protestants, Anabaptists, and Catholics in Reformation Europe – Why? Because they thought like you – if we start doubting what Paul wrote and what he preached and taught then the whole of Christianity unravels. No, it doesn’t, it moves on to Jesus – where it should go.

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    Hi Muff,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I agree that penal substition is not the only theory regarding the Atonement, although it is a strong one in my opinion and certainly superior to the liberal canard of Christ setting an example!

    However I do also understand what Dan is saying. I think it is one thing to say that Genesis 1-3 is written in a poetic or creation-myth form (using “myth” in the technical word rather than the popular idea of something that ain’t true). I think it is another to say that Paul was actually writing from a position of ignorance of the facts when he wrote Romans. And of course the Prereformationist church also accepted Paul’s writings at face value! 😉

    Regardless of whether one consciously holds to an Augustinian/Calvinist doctrine of original sin (or total depravity), Romans 5 does appear to teach that sin entered the world (perhaps the Greek implies “human society” rather than “cosmos” – any experts here?) via one man, Adam.

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    Hi, Dan.

    “but he taught that there was a literal Adam. If he believed this and taught this, and the bible is indeed inspired by God then isn’t there a literal adam?”

    I suppose the next question is how do we understand “inspired”.

    Much to discuss there. Don’t have time to begin to collect my thoughts on that one.

    Back to “literal adam” — i’m quite sure he always believed that, growing up in his jewish culture, growing up the son of a pharisee and becoming one himself. It is not unreasonable to give credence to the possibility that he (& his contemporaries) understood the information they received about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit through the lense of a literal adam (whether or not he really existed).

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    Val and elastigirl – thank you.
    and as Val mentioned, there is no “original sin” theory/doctrine in Judaic tradition, either in NT times or now.

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    Laura –
    My understanding is that there was some questionable methods those psychologists used to arrive at that theory, so it was no longer considered valid – I will try to find it, but am busy right now – prepping for a new school year, and getting my kids ready for next week too.

    The adrenaline theories can be tested, in a lab. The issue is, how do you show they occurred due to one thing or another in human history? It would be very hard to verify if most relations between males and females resembled rape. If we look at stone age tribes in the Amazon, for example, or the Kalahari Dessert, there is no such culture of rape, Chimps don’t do this, nor do Bonbos – other primates. Did Neanderthals? Homo Habilus? Denisovans? How can we tell?

    In genetics, in the last ten years, we have sequenced Neanderthal DNA (30,000 year old remains still contain DNA), Human DNA, Chimp DNA, and Bonbos DNA. We are watching our history unfold, written in DNA code, before our eyes. The neurons, however, decay after a short span so we can’t dig them up and check how they worked. That is why saying ‘they thought/did this or that’ is quite difficult to verify in pre-writing cultures.

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    was “told” by self-styled “experts” that no transitional species had ever been discovered. I believed it. That all changed when a close friend, an evolutionary creationist, challenged me to look at some evidence of the large numbers of trasitional fossils that had been discovered. — Dee

    The problem with the “no transitional species” argument is that it is a rigged argument. Easier to demonstrate than explain:

    1) Take a handful of change out of your pocket. Each coin represents a fossil in a sequence. A FINITE number of fossils.
    2) Put two coins on the table a little distance apart.
    3) Young Earth Creationist points to the gap between. “Where’s the transitional fossil in-between?”
    4) You put another coin/fossil between the first two to show the transitional form.
    5) YEC points to the two gaps between the three coins. “Where’s the transitional fossil in-between there? And there?”
    6) Repeat (4) and (5) until you run out of coins. (Remember there are a finite number of fossils in existence.)
    7) Watch YEC point to the gaps between all the coins and crow in triumph. “WERE YOU THERE? HUH? HUH? HUH?”

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    LOL! You are funny.

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    Koyla – except every time the ‘Preformationist church’, as you call them, mentions the word, or scripture, they are referring to the Jewish Old Testament used at that time. That is also significant to this discussion, because the writings Paul used (and quoted from regarding Adam) do not come from our current Old Testament cannon, nor do they come from the Apocrypha. They come from a group of writings I believe most commonly referred to as the Psudographia. Why is this significant? Because the Psudographia was rejected by the early church when they cannonized the Bible – about 3 Centuries after Paul writes this. So, yes Paul said it, but he doesn’t quote Genesis here, the source is much closer to the Psudographic writings, yet the church will reject all this three-hundred years on.

    Consider this, the scriptures the Bareans use to see that Jesus is the Messiah, is not (completely) considered inspired by the later Christians. It is hard to get our heads around today. The Bible didn’t fall out of the sky – plunk. It developed and, dare I say it, evolved over many Centuries. Why do some denominations consider the Apocrypha inspired, other reject it? This was a much later change – long after Rome fell. There is no guarantee the Bible we all know and use today will be considered scripture (in it’s present form) 2,000 years from now. God uses the Bible to reach us. But in the end, we are his sheep, we will follow his voice in the dead of night, long after the last Bible is lost, banned or stripped from Christians. Millions of Christians today have never seen the whole Bible, many have deep relationships with Christ. This sort of pandering to a select few verses of the Bible and saying Paul meant what Augustine was saying is a stretch. You can’t verify it, the early church didn’t follow Augustine’s teachings on Original Sin, it is not essential. Like you say – it has strengths, it works well with the “Old Testament” God, it makes Satan less of a powerful figure (not able to hold us hostage and cause God to have to come die for us), etc. At the same time, it cuts against passages such as:
    Matthew 20:28
    just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a *ransom* for many.”
    1 Timothy 2:6
    who gave himself as a *ransom* for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
    Hebrews 9:15
    For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a *ransom* to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

    This means the Apostles (Mark says the same thing), Paul and the writer of Hebrews (if it is not Paul) all concur on this, not that Christ came to pay a debt to God’s wrath, but that this “death” entered through Adam (God also said the day they ate that fruit they would die, Adam went on to be the longest living human in the Bible, if you are a literalist, that would be the world, ever) needed to be ransomed to set us free – eg. someone/thing was holding mankind captive until a Ransom was paid – are you suggesting God is holding us Ransom and Jesus has to come rescue us, and people in the early church thought this way? Sure, Jesus freed us from our captivity to Satan – brought about by Adam and EVE not doing their priestly duty but somehow selling us all to the Devil, allegorically or actually – but that doesn’t mean Jesus was a) standing in for God’s wrath against us or b) Adam was our biological father that we inherit the “sin gene” from, that is not said in Romans (argument from silence, if we stick with the text).

    *For more on why Adam and Eve were priests in the Garden, John Walton has a new book about Genesis 2 coming out that will explain that. In a quick summary, all the near-east ancients had their ideal temples to their god/desses depicted as a garden. The logic there was, if a god/dess bothered to make humans (they considered us slaves to the gods) to work in their gardens, wouldn’t they be in those gardens, enjoying it? So, that garden imagery to us is like English Castle lawns, but viewed as the place God would live and commune with humans (a temple for priest/esses essentially).

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    The Jewish Virtual Library’s entry on the Pseudigraphia. (Just for fun!)

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    Pseudepigrapha is the correct spelling.

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    Thanks Numo – I love learning all this stuff – we are at one of these turning points in Christianity – where new info revives older concepts and creates an examination of our centuries of added-on traditions and practices. I was very pleased to learn that the early church didn’t weigh our entire salvation on the Original Sin theory and feel human population genetics isn’t a problem for bible-believers, since it wouldn’t have changed much if the early church subscribed to it instead of Preformation. And it explains who Cain was so afraid of, but I digress.

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    Hi Val,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. My understanding was that the Scriptures quoted in NT times were from the Septuagint in at least some cases, which was the comparatively recent Greek translation of the OT scriptures. The Pseudegraphia appear to be apocryphal books – the list in Wikipedia is huge! – but apart from Jude I cannot think of one NT writer who quotes specifically from one of these books (help me out if you know otherwise!).

    I didn’t intend to say that Paul meant what Augustine said – I think Paul meant what Paul said! (In the inspiration of the Holy Spirit).

    I think I would take issue with your suggestion that the Bible might not be the same shape as it is now in 2,000 years time. Towards the end of the 2nd century I believe people like Irenaeus were already talking about apostolic writings, ie the ones that should be accepted in addition to the OT scriptures, and Origen tried to draw up an authoritative canon in the 3rd century. Wikipedia has a good article on the subject here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_of_Scripture. I think F F Bruce also wrote on the subject, but unfortunately I don’t have his book to hand.

    There was disagreement about which books to include and exclude quite early on, but tellingly even Luther was unable to get some NT letters removed (inc. James and Hebrews). Whether or not one regards the apocryphal writings as authoritative does not really affect the integrity of the OT & NT. I think the bigger danger is that the view that the Bible may change in time opens the door to cultism, in the sense that other writings (eg the Book of Mormon or the writings of Sun Myung-Moon) then become regarded as equally valid “revelations”. That, to me, would be my biggest problem.

    Re the observations on rape, I would agree with you. Approaching from a different view, although mating in the animal kingdom can be a rough affair, courting is also important in many species, including reptiles. A male Komodo Dragon despite (or perhaps because of) his size has to proceed quite carefully with his approaches to a female because of the damage that can be done. Similarly male red-eared sliders go through the stroking of the female’s face with the claws. Mating activity in some species is consensual based on cycles and pheromones, as anyone who’s watched a female cat in heat draw a male can testify. The idea that rape is somehow part of an evolutionary process and a normal activity is not borne out by the evidence in my opinion.

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    Dan, I have no idea if you’re still reading this, but …

    Let’s say that God revealed to Paul all the details we now know about evolutionary theory and the idea of common descent with variation by means of mutation and natural selection. Do you really expect that Paul could have communicated this to the people of his day? They would have supposed he was talking nonsense. No one would have listened to any of his arguments.

    Now suppose that Paul took the commonly understood creation narrative of 1st century Israel, including a literal Adam, and used it to communicate the point he was actually trying to make: that Christ is the man who redeemed people from their sinful nature. Belief in a literal Adam is just an ancillary point to Paul’s teaching: that Jesus conquered death and sin and made a way for us to return to communion with the Almighty God.

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    Not arguing, because again I am not asserting that idea, just stating that it is a school of thought that certainly explains some things.

    But when I say “looks to us like rape” I don’t mean knock a woman in the head and drag her in the bushes. How about 13-yr-old girls in the Middle East today who have arranged marriages to grown men they have never met. If a woman only responded to men courting her with hearts and flowers this kind of thing, which goes back to the dawn of time, wouldn’t be successful.

    Animals may be driven by their hormones to have sex, because they are in season, but they don’t necessarily want it. It’s as consensual as it would be if a woman was drugged with an aphrodisiac she couldn’t resist, which is to say, not. All pretty complex.

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    Hi Laura,

    Well, I know cultures differ, but I still feel uneasy about the sort of arranged marriage you are referring to. In the UK there have been a few nasty problems arising from the desire of a father to marry his daughter off to a relative on the Indian subcontinent and the daughter very much not wishing to. In fact the problem is partly that the culture of the daughter has already changed from that of the father.

    At least in the Genesis narrative of Isaac and Rebekah, it’s written that Isaac loved her when he first saw her. 🙂

    Perhaps I’d better also qualify what I said earlier. Animals are driven to mate at certain times of year or (in the case of some mammals) certain times of month, but even then I think in a lot of them there is still an element of choice of partner as evidenced by competition among males, whether peacocks, snakes or lizards. Even during mating season, for example, a female newt may swim away if not interested in the male for whatever reason. I agree it is all pretty complex!

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    About arranged marriages between very young girls and adult men (older at that) -w ell, we (people in Europe and North America) did that until very recent times… so I’m not sure that we’re in a position to say that it’s a “barbaric” thing (as if *we* never did it).

    Now, I am absolutely NOT advocating such arranged marriages. I think they are scary. But the truth of the matter is that we are wearing blinders and ignoring our own (recent) history if we think it’s only something “those people” (whoever they are) engage in or have engaged in.

    Even in the US, the age of consent was very low in some states until recent decades – 13 or 14. (Though I would have to look up the states in question to be able to give you more concrete info.)

    So… though i really am concerned and know that there are all kinds of really ugly problems surrounding this, I also think we Westerners need some perspective. (Very easy to demonize The Other – in this case, the South and East Asian communities – no?)

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    You have a valid point.

    People had shorter lives in those days and they took on the responsibilities of adulthood much earlier than is accepted in the west today.

    Now we recognize a new stage of development, the young adult, because the brain hasn’t finished developing until the mid 20’s.

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    Numo, yes, it’s been an ongoing thing across cultures, since forever. Women haven’t traditionally been able too count on being courted or having any say in the person they are partnered with.

    That’s not necessarily the case with arranged marriages, of course. Sometimes it’s more of a matchmaker thing, where the man and woman are introduced by their parents perhaps, and they spend time together with the understanding that they are to marry if they find each other acceptable. A far cry from that poor little child bride in Yemen who was literally raped to death a few years ago – she begged her mother to be allowed to come home and her mother told her to submit and stop shaming the family. Here is one article about her. The reality for many, many girls and women through the centuries has been something not much short of that.

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    Laura – sadly, I know… and I've also known people who got married at age 13.

    In the latter case, the women seemed like they were well and happy. In some societies, young teenagers are married to other young teenagers.

    And arranged marriages can be hell.

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    When I lived in Nepal, a South Indian preacher came and gave a sermon on how Rebecca had an arranged marriage, therefore only arranged marriages were moral, dating was immoral, and in his culture and Patriarchal Rebecca’s culture that was true. Then he used it to say what was wrong with a “love Marriage” (groan). This is why I struggle with ppl unable to put the Bible in it’s cultural context first, then work out what is being said, it is not a – history book, marriage improvement book, list of rules for prosperity book, a science book, a “how-sin-came-into-our-nature/soul” book, it isn’t a perfect church structure book, it is a book about God interacting with his ppl in their space and time, and how he is trustworthy to continue to finish the work he began. His Kingdom isn’t about how things got here, it is about following his lead in a broken world.

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    Val – +1!!!

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    Thanks for running my original article. Even though I hoped there would be some stronger debate with the YECs the comments were very insightful.

    On a different subject: scientific fraud, a deliberate attempt to publish false or misleading data and/or experiment results or to make theoretical claims that can’t be sustained in a respected journal, is a continuing low level problem in science. It is generally found by the scientific community itself, not by separate investigative agencies. Proven fraud is essentially professional death for a scientist. A recent case is the Jan Hendrik Schon affair at Bell Labs documented in “Plastic Fantastic How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World”, Eugenie Samuel Reich, Macmillan 2009, ISBN 978-0-230-62384-2 and also covered in the wikipedia. One of AIG’s favorite words in describing science they don’t agree with is fraud. Exodus 20:16 applies.

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    Old John J
    You got over 100 comments which, if you notice around the blogging world, is not too shabby! I am quite interested in the subject of fraud and will do some reading If you are ever interested in writing another post on the subject, please let me know!