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Bible Genealogies - Reality?


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#31 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:20 PM

Violin,

A. How can science answer the "how" question about our origins if it ignores the "who" that was responsible, and has told us what he did? But science does ignore him - as David clearly said, it does not take his activity into account. Scripture explicitly tells us that creation did not come about naturally, without God doing anything in particular, "in just the way things have always gone on", as we see the world working today. Those who believe that are in error, without excuse (Rom 1:20) , and fulfil Peter's prophecy (2 Pet 3:3-5) - let us not be among them. Rather, scripture does explain the "how". It says that God created everything by his infinite power, by his perfect knowledge and wisdom, through the activity of his spirit. It is explicit that the things that are now seen were framed by the word of God, and not out of things that appear (Heb 11:3), as science naively presumes. This is the true scriptural faith we all ought to have. When scientists extrapolate into the distant past on the basis only of their observations of natural processes in the present, assuming that's the only way things have ever operated, and ignoring the creator's claim and the power of his creative word, they are certain to come up with the wrong answers.

B. You may be "relaxed about the possibility that Adam and his family were real individuals". But Jesus is hardly relaxed about the possibility that they weren't. In Matthew 19 he confirms the Genesis record; he asserts directly that God who made at the beginning (Gen 1:1) made them male and female (Gen 1:27), and said "for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:24). This is the divine foundation of marriage, in Jesus' teaching. You can't establish a divinely-ordained principle for human life on merely possibly real individuals; they must be absolutely real; without that, there is no authority - it would be like establishing case law from the actions of characters in a novel! - and Jesus would be in error to claim what he does from that context.

Moreover, the words in Genesis do not constitute just "stories and genealogies handed down over centuries of oral tradition". Jesus' teaching is that the words of Genesis 2:24 were uttered by God, the creator: "he .. made them ... and said, for this cause..." (Mt 19:4-5). But in context, those words are not presented as reported speech ("and God said, 'for this cause...'"), but as part of the narrative. This proves that the record of creation and the early history of man, both before and after the flood, is the word of God himself. Jesus trusted it and relied upon it, as should we. By his authoritative reading, we are clearly shown that it is not merely a human account, possibly distorted and exaggerated into myth and falsehood, as human histories (like the Sumerian kings') often are. We doubt it, and question its trustworthiness, at our own peril.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 30 September 2012 - 06:37 PM.


#32 violin

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:10 AM

It is perfectly possibly to analyse "how" without knowing "who" or "why". Imagine a kettle of boiling water - a scientist can explain what is happening to the water molecules, how the electricity passing through the element increases the energetic motion of the molecules until enough of them are energetic enough to break the weak hydrogen bonds that keep water in the liquid state for steam to start emerging from the spout - etc etc.

"Who" and "why" are that I've put the kettle on because I want a cup of tea. Totally different questions. You don't need to know "how" to enjoy the tea (although it is worth being thankful for the generations of scientists, engineers and technologists who have bred the tea variety, designed the electric kettle with its safety cut-out, smelted the aluminium to make the kettle, installed the national grid to my house, mined and processed the fossil fuels which generate the electricity to power my kettle, or the solar panels, worked out the equations which govern electromagnetism, devised the thermostat .....). The scientist doesn't need to know "who" or "why" is boiling water to understand the processes. The two explanations are complementary, not contradictory.

The Bible's creation narratives are God's message to his people about the "who" and "why". Firstly, "Who?" - Yahweh, Israel's God, is declared to his people as, not just a local tribal god like those of the nations around them, nor yet a natural object to be worshipped like the Sun or stars, which are given their proper place as mere created objects. It answers various "Why?" questions as well - Why do we rest on the sabbath? Why do people get married? Why is life so hard? The language and genre is similar to the creation stories of the nations around them, but subtly altered - God's word speaking within the historical context (just as Jesus came to be God's word made flesh in a first century Jewish man, and used those same accounts to teach those around him how they should live, not a biology lesson...)

Anyway, while I appreciate your concern that my salvation might be in peril and that I am "in error, without excuse", I beg to differ. My concern is more for those growing up in our community today who are often told that they need to throw out all of modern evidence-based science to accept a particular literal interpretation of certain Bible passages in order to be real Christians. This seems particularly illogical when we spend so much of our preaching effort using scientific and archaeological discoveries to "prove the Bible true". To pose another version of the original question - At what point in pre-history do the archaeologists, anthropologists and palaeontologists stop being "liars and deceivers" and start being useful as "proofs" ? Is it only when they agree with what we have already decided must be true? That is not an honest way to use evidence.

All my lifetime I have been interested to read about scientific advances and improved understanding of how the world around us fits together. Very often it can immediately add new insights into the message of the bible, whether in archaeology revealing more about ancient societies, psychology revealing more about healthy relationships or our capacity for self-deceit, genetics revealing the distinctiveness of Jewish inheritance in the "Cohen" surname, astronomy revealing the unimaginable scale of the universe, or ultrasound scanning revealing how the baby is "knit together in its mother's womb". But sometimes the observations don't fit with our preconceived ideas. We can wait, and wait for newer discoveries to fit better, but eventually the weight of evidence in a certain direction should lead us humbly to admit that perhaps we were reading parts of the Bible in a way it was not intended.

#33 nsr

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 01:09 PM

My main concern with such an approach is this: where in the Bible are we exhorted to do that? Where in the Bible are we told that we have to make the wisdom of God compatible with the wisdom of the world so that we don't lose credibility?

I genuinely do not believe we are losing large numbers of, if any, young people to the world because we are failing to address their questions of this nature. I don't know anybody who falls into that category. We are losing young people to the world for other reasons, I believe mostly because we are not stressing sufficient separation from the world and its ideals and values. I also suspect that "we are going to lose young people" is really a justification for people more concerned about their own credibility with their atheist intellectual peers. I am not convinced there is any real concern for young people and their questions.
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#34 Mark Taunton

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:44 PM

Violin, I agree with nsr. But to respond more specifically to your comments:

It is perfectly possibly to analyse "how" without knowing "who" or "why". Imagine a kettle of boiling water - a scientist can explain what is happening to the water molecules, how the electricity passing through the element increases the energetic motion of the molecules until enough of them are energetic enough to break the weak hydrogen bonds that keep water in the liquid state for steam to start emerging from the spout - etc etc.

"Who" and "why" are that I've put the kettle on because I want a cup of tea. Totally different questions. You don't need to know "how" to enjoy the tea (although it is worth being thankful for the generations of scientists, engineers and technologists who have bred the tea variety, designed the electric kettle with its safety cut-out, smelted the aluminium to make the kettle, installed the national grid to my house, mined and processed the fossil fuels which generate the electricity to power my kettle, or the solar panels, worked out the equations which govern electromagnetism, devised the thermostat .....). The scientist doesn't need to know "who" or "why" is boiling water to understand the processes. The two explanations are complementary, not contradictory.


Your example is utterly baffling. I cannot see any logical relationship between understanding a kettle being boiled by you to make a cup of tea, and understanding God's work of creation. You imply that the events of creation are entirely understandable and explicable by scientists, on a purely non-supernatural basis, just as a boiling kettle can be understood to be constructed, and to operate, by certain physical, natural laws. Yet science pays no regard to the fact that creation was performed by the all-powerful, all-knowing God, employing his perfect wisdom to do so (as Proverbs 8:22-31, amongst other passages, shows clearly). Scripture says that creation involved God explicitly saying, making & doing, not merely watching as everything in effect made itself, without any particular activity on his part.

Why can you not see the vast gulf between these two concepts? Are human scientists, engineers and technologists able to make - from scratch, not by tinkering with something that already exists - even the smallest of the living things that are all around us, the simplest bacterium, yet a million times more complex in its inner workings than any humanly-constructed chemically-driven device? How and why then do they suppose that any such thing could ever arrive at such a form, through a process of evolution? This mode of thinking is absurd: Paley was entirely correct on this point.

Now of course, because you need to in this context, you claim God was involved with evolution; but on what basis? If we are supposed to accept the results of science, then we must leave God out also, precisely because evolutionary science denies any need for a creator. You simply cannot have it both ways.

The Bible's creation narratives are God's message to his people about the "who" and "why". Firstly, "Who?" - Yahweh, Israel's God, is declared to his people as, not just a local tribal god like those of the nations around them, nor yet a natural object to be worshipped like the Sun or stars, which are given their proper place as mere created objects. It answers various "Why?" questions as well - Why do we rest on the sabbath? Why do people get married? Why is life so hard? The language and genre is similar to the creation stories of the nations around them, but subtly altered - God's word speaking within the historical context (just as Jesus came to be God's word made flesh in a first century Jewish man, and used those same accounts to teach those around him how they should live, not a biology lesson...)


Since you're making the claim, please provide the evidence supporting your assertion that "the language and genre" of the Bible's creation narratives are "similar to the creation stories of the nations around" Israel, but "subtly altered". I simply don't believe it. The pagan creation stories I've come across have all sorts of weird and wonderful goings on, such as gods (plural) cutting each other into pieces to make various parts of the visible world. There is no similarity of the sort you mention, so far as I have ever seen; the differences are anything but "subtle"! Exactly which other "creation stories of the nations" are you actually referring to? I need to see them, in order to believe what you say.

Moreover you appear to have got Jesus very wrong. Yes he was a first century Jewish man, but he was greater in wisdom and understanding than any philosopher, scientist or engineer who has ever lived. Indeed he was and is the son of God, the son of the creator himself, who filled him with his spirit and with all knowledge, to teach not only those around him in his day, but all of us, right down to the 21st century. Certainly he was not teaching mere biology, but are you implying that we cannot really believe what he said about creation, quoting the early part of Genesis, that God made them male and female at the beginning? Of course evolutionary theory says that the two sexes were not present from the beginning, but first appeared more than a billion years after life on earth began. So it flatly denies Jesus' words. Given that, which are we to believe - Jesus, or the evolutionary biologist? We cannot believe both.

Anyway, while I appreciate your concern that my salvation might be in peril and that I am "in error, without excuse", I beg to differ.


I'm not sure you do appreciate it. But in any case I was not singling you out. The pronoun I used was "us", not "you". We all equally - me just as much as you - need to hear the word of God and believe it, rather than being confused and deceived by the claims of the world around us, which are made in defiance of that word.

My concern is more for those growing up in our community today who are often told that they need to throw out all of modern evidence-based science to accept a particular literal interpretation of certain Bible passages in order to be real Christians. This seems particularly illogical when we spend so much of our preaching effort using scientific and archaeological discoveries to "prove the Bible true". To pose another version of the original question - At what point in pre-history do the archaeologists, anthropologists and palaeontologists stop being "liars and deceivers" and start being useful as "proofs" ? Is it only when they agree with what we have already decided must be true? That is not an honest way to use evidence.


I don't know where your words come from; who used the phrase "liars and deceivers", in relation to "archaeologists, anthropologists and palaeontologists"? I certainly have not done so. Please don't put words in my mouth.

That is not to say I accept everything those various "-ologists" say; they no doubt say what they think to be true, but that does not mean it always is true. We have good reasons to question the supposed reliability of modern scholarship and, by contrast, place our trust in the word of God. Let me give a specific example of that.

Over the past several years, I have done a considerable amount of research on the history of the city of Tyre, in relation to God's prophecy of judgements against it, and particularly its destruction as predicted in Ezekiel 26. In the process, I have found modern scholars, even those deemed to be authoritative on the topic, to be very confused, confusing and inconsistent in some of the statements they make, compared to older historical accounts that paid more attention to the scriptures, and treated them with greater respect, not merely as a source to be used in a very selective manner.

Modern scholarship cannot even get some basic geography right, with regard to Tyre. It is nowadays commonly claimed that the city called Tyre was always sited on the island that Alexander "the Great" captured in 332 BC by constructing his famous "mole" or causeway. The scholars, bizarrely, appear to ignore the multiple classical accounts that clearly say the mole he made to cross the sea-channel was built out of the ruins of ancient Tyre, thus proving that ancient Tyre was in fact on the mainland (and that this activity by Alexander's multi-national forces precisely fulfilled what Ezekiel had predicted). But even without reference to scripture, by going back to ancient sources - writings about Alexander and his activities by Arrian, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Diodorus of Sicily, &c, plus some even older ones (e.g. the El-Amarna letters) - and reading them carefully, a more consistent and logical account can be derived, which fits together both in itself and also with scripture. Indeed, when operating without the preconceptions on this point that most modern writers seem to labour under, it becomes straightforward to understand the history and geography of that city, in sufficient detail to show that God's word is perfectly true and his prophets accurate in their predictions, because they spoke that word directly from his mouth, not from their own imagination.

Are those various scholars who have written about Tyre "liars and deceivers"? No. I do not doubt that they believe what they have written on this subject. But nor do I believe some of the things they have written, because their assertions are simply inconsistent with that other evidence. Those scholars, on the question of ancient Tyre's location, are not deceivers; nonetheless I believe they have been deceived by the prevailing opinion among their peers about that question, and in turn absorbed that opinion and treated it as fact, lacking sufficient independence of mind and courage to question its validity. Such is often the way, on many matters, not only in the academic world, but in human activity much more generally.


All my lifetime I have been interested to read about scientific advances and improved understanding of how the world around us fits together. Very often it can immediately add new insights into the message of the bible, whether in archaeology revealing more about ancient societies, psychology revealing more about healthy relationships or our capacity for self-deceit, genetics revealing the distinctiveness of Jewish inheritance in the "Cohen" surname, astronomy revealing the unimaginable scale of the universe, or ultrasound scanning revealing how the baby is "knit together in its mother's womb". But sometimes the observations don't fit with our preconceived ideas. We can wait, and wait for newer discoveries to fit better, but eventually the weight of evidence in a certain direction should lead us humbly to admit that perhaps we were reading parts of the Bible in a way it was not intended.


You attempt to balance scripture against nature, as if the former may be outweighed by the latter. But unlike scripture, the natural world does not interpret itself for us, with reference to itself. Nature has no words in it that we can read directly(*). Apart from our creator's own words on the subject in the Bible (of which there are many), the only apparently authoritative words we can read in the world about nature are words that scientists have thought up, and written about nature, based on their observations. Nature itself does not give any words of that sort; instead, science constitutes man's interpretation of what is seen in the natural world. But that interpretation process is neither self-evidently valid, nor self-supporting in the way scripture is. Rather, it is founded on the philosophical assumptions of the scientist. And the key problem is that today, the universal assumption in science is a purely naturalistic one: just as David said previously, science does not assume God. Even if he is allowed possibly to exist, the scientific method does not allow us to accept him as the creator, as a god who ever did anything in relation to the state of the world. But God should be assumed, because he tells us himself in no uncertain terms that he is our creator, the one who made us out of dust. And therein lies the problem: because he was involved, was powerfully active in creation, when he is left out of the equations - as science requires us to leave him out - the answers we get are bound to be wrong.

(*) Having said that nature has no words in it, I must also observe that DNA is the most amazing illustration of God's supreme power in design, and comes amazingly close to "words". It is a complex code, like written human language, with several different levels of coding and operation, which when "read" produces multiple physical effects, including the construction of proteins, out of which all living things are made. This part of God's natural creation thus prefigures the spiritual creation in Christ, namely how Jesus was God's word made flesh, and how we must use that same word to be transformed into spiritual creatures fitted for his kingdom.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 05 October 2012 - 08:01 AM.


#35 violin

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:16 AM

It's probably not worth me pursuing this much further,as you seem to have completely missed the point of the kettle metaphor (which is not mine originally but borrowed). Most of scientific endeavour is aimed at describing and understanding the processes going on inside the kettle. Speculation about the reasons for the existence of the kettle, the origins of the kettle, the possible existence of other kettles, or the existence of any intelligence responsible for the kettle do not make any difference to the descriptions and physical understanding of what is going on inside the kettle. The noted kettleologist Dawkins may talk compete rubbish about the non-existence of a kettle-designer while others are fully convinced that there is a benevolent deity behind the kettle but they can still agree about what is happening inside the kettle. You are I believe confusing "scientism" - the belief some have that there is nothing outside the realm of the physical, material universe, with "science" itself, an endeavour which believers and atheists can both participate in. Your doctor's diagnosis of your illness is not affected by whether he/she believes that there is a God, but by their understanding of what is going on physically within your body.

You are obviously more of a specialist in other areas of academic study, and I would agree that there seems to have been a tendency in some circles to dismiss the usefulness of biblical texts in archaeological study, perhaps as a backlash against overenthusiastic simplistic first attempts to dig up Bible stories. There will always be debate and disagreement about how to interpret evidence, and science progresses by those with differing ideas proposing hypotheses, suggesting what evidence might confirm or disprove their hypothesis and either conducting an experiment or (in a more observational field like archaeology) going out to look for it. The Ritmeyer presentation on Sodom is a good idea of this - his colleague had a new hypothesis about the location of Sodom, based on his interpretation of a bible passage. They went to look for it, and what they have found provides good evidence that their hypothesis was in fact correct. Ritmeyer's colleague is a Christian, so would obviously take the bible seriously, but until they went to dig his idea would have just been speculation.

But the physical/ biological sciences don't led themselves in the same way to obviously testable hypotheses based on bible passages - or at least, most of those that did ("the earth is fixed, it cannot be moved") have long ago been found to be phenomological or poetic.

I'm delighted however that you highlighted the wonderful intricacy of DNA as an illustration of God's overarching design, as Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome project, is a committed believer, and theistic evolutionist, and has written an excellent book "The Language of God" making the same point. You are incorrect to state that leaving God out of "the equations" means the "answers we get are bound to be wrong" (where would you put God in E=mc2 anyway? ). When we get the "equations" we are catching glimpses of the mind of God, for those who are willing to see them. The very fact that the universe is governed by coherent, predictable, comprehensible laws, and is not capricious, is for many people evidence that leads them to a belief in a supreme creative intelligence.

Edited by violin, 05 October 2012 - 08:27 AM.


#36 Kay

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:07 AM

I'm delighted however that you highlighted the wonderful intricacy of DNA as an illustration of God's overarching design, as Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome project, is a committed believer, and theistic evolutionist, and has written an excellent book "The Language of God" making the same point. You are incorrect to state that leaving God out of "the equations" means the "answers we get are bound to be wrong" (where would you put God in E=mc2 anyway? ). When we get the "equations" we are catching glimpses of the mind of God, for those who are willing to see them. The very fact that the universe is governed by coherent, predictable, comprehensible laws, and is not capricious, is for many people evidence that leads them to a belief in a supreme creative intelligence.


Just a few points the first only to clarify as you are probably aware of this anyway - Francis Collins retired from the Genome Project in 2008.

He has also changed his mind on a number of aspects from "The Language of God" (2007) to his more recent book "The Language of Life - DNA and the Revolution in Personalised Medicine" (2010)

As example the former book:

Darwin's theory predicts that mutations that do not affect function (namely, those located in "junk DNA") will accumulate steadily over time. Mutations in the coding regions of genes, however, are expected to be observed less frequently, since most of these will be deleterious, and only a rare such event will provide a selective advantage and be retained during the evolutionary process. That is exactly what is observed. This latter phenomenon even applies to the fine details of the coding regions of genes [continued] If, as some might argue, these genomes were created by individual acts of creation, why would this particular feature appear?


The latter written only a few years later:

It turns out that only about 1.5 percent of the human genome is involved in coding for protein. But that doesn't mean the rest is "junk DNA." A number of exciting new discoveries about the human genome should remind us not to become complacent in our understanding of this marvelous instruction book. For instance, it has recently become clear that there is a whole family of RNA molecules that do not code for protein. These so-called non-coding RNAs are capable of carrying out a host of important functions, including modifying the efficiency by which other RNAs are translated. In addition, our understanding of how genes are regulated is undergoing dramatic revision, as the signals embedded in the DNA molecule and the proteins that bind to them are rapidly being elucidated. The complexity of this network of regulatory information is truly mind-blowing, and has given rise to a whole new branch of biomedical research, sometimes referred to as "systems biology."


The is rather an interesting discussion @ Sententias beginning with:

OCTOBER 1ST, 2011

Theistic Evolution and Purposive Permission

by Max Andrews

This objection to intelligent design is within a theistic philosophy and theology. The theistic evolutionist would make the arguments for Darwinism just like the atheist would make his arguments for Darwinism; the only difference is that the former is a theist. Asa Gray (1810-1888) was a proponent of evolution who suggested that God guided evolution. The problem for the theistic evolutionist at this point is that if God guides evolution, it is design. Guidance implies purpose and involvement. The theistic evolutionist, so defined as God guiding evolution, is not really a detractor from design, rather he would be a proponent of common decent, which is entirely compatible with design.

and continued here.

It is more the conglomeration of ideas, and the ideas change along the way as Collins also said:

The discoveries of the past decade, little known to most of the public, have completely overturned much of what used to be taught in high school biology. If you thought the DNA molecule comprised thousands of genes but far more "junk DNA", think again.


And the ideas taught as fact till the research moves on and change of mind - and the research and intricacies often astound the researchers, or just how wrong they have been in their assumptions.

Such knowledge is still in its infancy - but no matter how complex and intricate - the outcome is always known before the research is commenced, that evolution is the creator, rather than God.
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#37 Kay

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:27 AM

But the physical/ biological sciences don't led themselves in the same way to obviously testable hypotheses based on bible passages - or at least, most of those that did ("the earth is fixed, it cannot be moved") have long ago been found to be phenomological or poetic.


Just wondering, violin, if you can point out the passage where it says:

"the earth is fixed, it cannot be moved"

These are the quotations I have found but not specifically your wording:

"Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved." 1 Chronicles 16:30

"The LORD reigns, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, with which he has girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved." Psalm 93:1

"Say among the nations that the LORD reigns: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously." Psalm 96:10

"So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smoothes with the hammer him that struck the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering: and he fastened it with pegs, that it should not be moved." Isaiah 41:7

Though not specifically what you have quoted.

Is the world (earth) firmly established?

Yes it is, as we see before us and even in its orbit.

There is a difference, the implication it seems using such that man's understanding has moved on from this, and of course Galileo and Copernicus - but the difference is that God's Word didn't contradict the reality because in truth the world (earth) is firmly established, and in set patterns and cycles.

However, the Word of God says that God created man in his image, and everything was after it's "kind" - which incidentally is an established scientific fact - by observation.

What isn't established is that of all came into being through common descent (yes, limited common descent of which everyone agrees with).

The thought of common descent for all is not based on reality, but rather assumption of the similarities and that is why science has to back peddle, front peddle, brake, reverse then move forward a little, change gear because the research most times doesn't fit the story line of evolution through common descent, how man-kind came into being.
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#38 violin

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:47 AM

There are still people who certainly believe (as the Church did pre- Galileo) that Ps 93 v 1 teaches a fixed earth and therefore a geocentric universe:

http://www.fixedearth.com/

which is probably the verse I was thinking of. The fact is that some people took (and still take) this verse "literally" to mean obviously one thing: most of us nowadays are quite happy to take it in another way which seems to us equally obvious because we accept the evidence from elsewhere that the earth orbits around the sun.

As for science "back-peddling" (I hope you mean "pedalling", which is what I do on my bicycle, rather than "peddling" which has implications of dodgy selling...) - yes, new findings adjust the detailed picture, and previous ideas are revised in the light of new evidence, but no one has discovered a single organism whose DNA does not fit into the picture of common descent. Individual scientists may put forward hypotheses which turn out to be falsified by evidence or experiment, and have to be withdrawn or revised, but that's how science works.

The term "kinds" is not a scientifically definable term, but an description of everyday life. It is clear from fossil evidence that at different times in the earth's history there were many very different "kinds" of creatures roaming the planet. It was careful observation of the huge variety of organisms, past and present, that he encountered on his voyage around the world on the Beagle that led Darwin to begin to question the (then) orthodox idea that species were fixed and immutable.

And surely we must agree that "in the image of God" is not intended to be a physical description, implying that God is a human-shaped being with arms and leg (although poetically he is often spoken of in those terms to help us to comprehend his power and his compassion). Whatever it means to be in God's image (conscience, creativity, ability to love, "eternity in the heart", self-awareness? ) it is not a definition of our physical bodies which are indeed "dust", being composed of exactly the same elements as everything else in the physical world.

Edited by violin, 10 October 2012 - 07:48 AM.


#39 Kay

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

violin

Thank you for your considered thoughts, appreciated as always :)

The pedalling and peddling can be both one and the same in the discussion hence the use of the word in a particular way and as described below.

What is being promoted to the Church, is a peddle, that God's Word is not true, that science has the answer to the meaning of life, and all its concepts and that the Church has no option other than to believe what science (evolutionary) says regarding origins.

Evolution rather than God is what is being peddled by the world - so in the context, the word is correct, which I am certain you understand and are aware of, and the peddle even by Collins changed within a short period.

DNA, the same could be said - that they haven't discovered anything that likewise doesn't fit the picture of common design (again, it is the interpretation).

The inference placed upon it from the point of science, evolutionary, there is no God, hence the outcome could only be through common descent - whereas the Word of God says differently - and such would be common design.

The discussion, in the image of God - that at that stage in Genesis (the creation of man), it is plural rather than the singular of God creating (the Elohim).

We also have the added, if you disbelieve in that it was the physical image - then how did man "evolve" into a thinking being and that is as you have rightly stated to become:

"conscience, creativity, ability to love, "eternity in the heart", self-awareness"

how did this evolve?

It is at the core of belief especially in view that some believe in an evolved group as well as a created group (others entirely evolved) - how did those who had "evolved" evolve into beings gain the capacity to have (and especially in view of the many opinions by several in the brotherhood - again - one created group, another evolved group, all evolved etcetera, that Adam and Eve didn't exist, that creation is flawed therefore God had no part in outcomes because of the flaws and the various other claims made):


"conscience, creativity, ability to love, "eternity in the heart", self-awareness"?

Just a - ps: The fixed earth (and really has nothing to do with the argument amongst brethren. We both know that you get extremes on all sides of particular viewpoints, though have never ever heard of this in the brotherhood - fixed earth - but of course may be by one or two in the annuls of time?) - how is that any different to those who now profess there is no God ... what is the difference?

As example Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Coyne and others - do the extremes cancel one another in view that we believe in God and that God is the being responsible for all we see about us and they disbelieve and make claim that such all came into being through randomness filtered by natural selection?

What makes the most logical sense?


Such is one of the issues in this discussion (not here in particular - but about believing in God and Creation) - that those who believe in such are painted in many different ways, of being denialists, or as you used the example of "fixed earth" when you would be aware that no-one believes such here and so forth - so the extreme is used as always to say that if you don't go along with world view then you are placed into certain categories or aligned with such.

Edited by Kay, 10 October 2012 - 09:39 AM.

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#40 Mark Taunton

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 02:05 PM

It's probably not worth me pursuing this much further,as you seem to have completely missed the point of the kettle metaphor (which is not mine originally but borrowed). Most of scientific endeavour is aimed at describing and understanding the processes going on inside the kettle. Speculation about the reasons for the existence of the kettle, the origins of the kettle, the possible existence of other kettles, or the existence of any intelligence responsible for the kettle do not make any difference to the descriptions and physical understanding of what is going on inside the kettle. The noted kettleologist Dawkins may talk compete rubbish about the non-existence of a kettle-designer while others are fully convinced that there is a benevolent deity behind the kettle but they can still agree about what is happening inside the kettle. You are I believe confusing "scientism" - the belief some have that there is nothing outside the realm of the physical, material universe, with "science" itself, an endeavour which believers and atheists can both participate in. Your doctor's diagnosis of your illness is not affected by whether he/she believes that there is a God, but by their understanding of what is going on physically within your body.


OK I see the idea now. But the problem is that you are seeking to use this generally, including outside the relevant context. Science seems to work quite well (and I am happy with its explanations) in the context of how the world is now, i.e. how it works, in accordance with the apparent "laws of nature" - e.g. gravity, electro-magnetism, chemical interactions, etc, etc. But it's another question altogether when scientists attempt to explain how the world came into being. This is where things go wrong, because the scientist leaves God out of the picture, but the Bible is explicit that he was instrumental in those events. So leaving him out, and explaining events in the distant past by extrapolating from the operation of the natural laws we observe today, is a mistake, one that Peter identifies in his prophecy (2 Pet 3). The idea that "all things continue as they have from the beginning of creation" is clearly wrong, as Peter says, because the heavens and earth came into being not naturally but "by the word of God". If we accept the Bible is true, then we should accept its inspired and authoritative account of creation, which involves extreme and unnatural events - things outside the realms of what science can explain. We should accept that account, because it comes from the creator himself. As I already pointed out, Jesus believed and taught that, identifying God the creator as the narrator in Genesis.

You are obviously more of a specialist in other areas of academic study,


Actually my background is more in science & technology than in history/archeology etc. I am interested in many areas of academic study that relate to the Bible and what it says, including science.

and I would agree that there seems to have been a tendency in some circles to dismiss the usefulness of biblical texts in archaeological study, perhaps as a backlash against overenthusiastic simplistic first attempts to dig up Bible stories. There will always be debate and disagreement about how to interpret evidence, and science progresses by those with differing ideas proposing hypotheses, suggesting what evidence might confirm or disprove their hypothesis and either conducting an experiment or (in a more observational field like archaeology) going out to look for it. The Ritmeyer presentation on Sodom is a good idea of this - his colleague had a new hypothesis about the location of Sodom, based on his interpretation of a bible passage. They went to look for it, and what they have found provides good evidence that their hypothesis was in fact correct. Ritmeyer's colleague is a Christian, so would obviously take the bible seriously, but until they went to dig his idea would have just been speculation.


It's not just a question of "the usefulness of biblical texts"; it's a question of the reliability of scholarship. It is a mistake to rely on scholars' opinions as if they are sources of incontrovertible fact. They're not. Please note that I'm not saying that "scholarship is generally wrong" - by no means. But the point from my research on the location of ancient Tyre is that current scholarly consensus on that very specific point is quite wrong, not simply because I say so, but because I can demonstrate its inconsistency with the relevant classical and pre-classical source texts. So we should not suppose that the common view among academics, on any particular issue, must simply be accepted, because they're scholars and we're not. Individual scholars in any discipline can be wrong, just like anyone else can be. Sometimes even the majority / "consensus" view of scholars is wrong, as in the case of Tyre. So we should not rely on scholarship as the definitive source of truth. Only God's word qualifies as that.

But the physical/ biological sciences don't led themselves in the same way to obviously testable hypotheses based on bible passages - or at least, most of those that did ("the earth is fixed, it cannot be moved") have long ago been found to be phenomological or poetic.


Well the problem there is with using one's own intuitions alone, or the interpretations of those who are clearly in error in doctrinal matters (such as the Roman Catholic church), to understand the Bible's meaning. We should instead use the Bible to interpret itself. We can do that by considering the Bible's own wider usage of the original words of any particular statement, and identifying what those words actually mean, biblically. When we do that in the case you mention, we find that it simply isn't speaking about absolute immobility, or the earth's supposedly fixed position as compared with the apparent movement of the sun, moon or stars. (That latter point should be obvious anyway, because the other heavenly bodies are not mentioned in the context.) So the idea that the RCC had, and used against Galileo, that the earth was fixed in space and only other objects moved, is simply not taught in such passages, or indeed anywhere in the Bible, so far as I can see. Those who suppose that believers in a recent creation event are committed to such a view (I'm not saying you suppose that) because they take a "literal" reading of early Genesis, are themselves mistaken over this.

I'm delighted however that you highlighted the wonderful intricacy of DNA as an illustration of God's overarching design, as Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome project, is a committed believer, and theistic evolutionist, and has written an excellent book "The Language of God" making the same point. You are incorrect to state that leaving God out of "the equations" means the "answers we get are bound to be wrong" (where would you put God in E=mc2 anyway? ). When we get the "equations" we are catching glimpses of the mind of God, for those who are willing to see them. The very fact that the universe is governed by coherent, predictable, comprehensible laws, and is not capricious, is for many people evidence that leads them to a belief in a supreme creative intelligence.


Yes, the universe that resulted from God's creation (so far as we can observe it today) is presently "governed by coherent, predictable, comprehensible laws, and is not capricious". But to suppose that God constrains himself to work only within those natural laws, which he as creator imposed on the universe, is clearly a mistake, and at odds with scriptural statements. If it were true, the miracles we read of in the Bible would be impossible. Iron does not float; water cannot become blood by holding a rod over it; water cannot become wine simply through a man speaking; and no human being known to science has ever been raised from the dead. To imagine that God is able and willing when he so chooses to cause such direct breaches of the "natural laws" we observe today, yet did not do so in the process of bringing the universe into being, with the earth being formed specifically "to be inhabited", is to fail to read scripture for what it clearly says. For example, by the issuing of God's creative word, in a single day, the waters brought forth all the many types of creatures that live in it, as well as the birds (Gen 1:20-22). This is one act of creation, but it is not substantially different in kind, only in scale, from the turning of the waters in Egypt into blood, or the miracle at Cana.

The record of creation in Genesis (and elsewhere) includes many clear statements of such divine, super-natural activity, whose meanings are not ambiguous. Science cannot account for this, and its explanations deny the possibility of it, along with those many other later miracles. The equations of science, when applied wrongly to the past when God was directly active in creating, or indeed to Biblical times when miracles were performed, leave no space for God. Yet so far as we know today, those equations are correct. Thus, scientists suppose God actually did nothing, but on the mistaken basis of assuming that conclusion in the first place. But God is not limited to work only within those equations and laws we know. If we suppose he must and did work only within them, we are going against what the Bible clearly says. This is bound to be incorrect: God's word is truth.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 12 October 2012 - 03:14 PM.


#41 Mark Taunton

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 05:27 PM

Violin,

There are still people who certainly believe (as the Church did pre- Galileo) that Ps 93 v 1 teaches a fixed earth and therefore a geocentric universe:

http://www.fixedearth.com/

which is probably the verse I was thinking of. The fact is that some people took (and still take) this verse "literally" to mean obviously one thing: most of us nowadays are quite happy to take it in another way which seems to us equally obvious because we accept the evidence from elsewhere that the earth orbits around the sun.


I responded to your earlier comment on this, but to expand on the point, since you mention it again in more detail...

You say some people take the words of Psa 93:1 "literally", and link to a geocentrist web-site. But the fact that some people have that view doesn't entitle anyone else to assert a particular "literal" meaning of the words of the psalm, and require anyone who reads the Bible "literally" - such as in regard to Genesis 1, or the genealogies in Genesis 5 - to accept that asserted meaning for the statement in the psalm. It just isn't so. We should rather let the Bible interpret itself, and work out the meanings of the words of any scriptural statement, including that in Psa 93:1, from how those words are used generally in the Bible. When we do that, we readily come to a different conclusion from the one you appear to want to impose.

In this case, it doesn't take much investigation to discover that the geocentricists have made a silly mistake. Firstly, the word you rendered as "fixed" actually means "prepared" or "established" - those are the ways in which it is most frequently used. But regardless of exactly what it does mean, it is very clear from its actual scriptural usage that it doesn't mean "fixed", in the sense of "physically immobile". That this is not its "literal" meaning is most obvious by comparing Psa 93:1 with Psa 8:3. Here are the two verses in the NKJV:
  • Psa 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
  • Psa 93:1 The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
In each case I have highlighted the English for the Hebrew word you rendered as "fixed". If this word really does mean "physically immobile", as the RCC supposed in the time of Galileo and asserted against his ideas, then there would be a blatant error, obvious to anyone who has ever looked up into the night sky, as David in Psalm 8 says he did. That is because the same word is applied scripturally both to "the world" and to "the moon and the stars". Even without any knowledge of celestial mechanics, it is plain that the world and the moon and the stars are not all "physically immobile". People throughout the ages have observed some form of relative movement of those bodies. Moreover, that is not just between "the world" and "the moon and the stars", but between all three elements:
  • the moon appears to move, relative to the earth
  • the stars appear to move, relative to the earth
  • the moon appears to move, relative to the stars.
It doesn't matter how that movement was actually understood to occur, the point remains that at least two of the three elements obviously do move, and are not "physically immobile". And since the particular Hebrew word in question is used directly about all three elements, it logically cannot include such a meaning. Indeed, Psalm 8:3 alone proves this point, since as seen from Earth, the moon and stars do not stay in fixed positions even relative to each other, regardless of their apparent movement relative to the earth.

So we don't need to refer to "evidence from elsewhere" to disprove your assertion that the Bible "literally" teaches that the earth is fixed (and everything else is moving). Scripture, all by itself, shows that it doesn't teach this at all.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 13 October 2012 - 08:43 PM.





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