Archives for category: Creation-Evolution

I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

http://biologos.org/blog/embracing-faith-accepting-ambiguity

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.

 


Yes, biodiversity is a problem for any young-earth supposition.

The simple fact of extensive extinction is a horrible problem for YEC. The population estimates are absolutely impossible in the time frame of only several hundred years. It is impossible to reconcile the stated basis of YEC claims with the reality of only 1 in 1000 species surviving on earth to modern times. (The ark was supposed to save them all. Why let 99.9% die off shortly thereafter?)

Not only are the South American ungulate species problematic for YEC all by themselves, there is the further fact that the majority of ungulate species are clean. Accordingly, there were not just a single pair of each of these different ungulates on the ark, but seven pairs, making it that much more remarkable that they all died out. (Seven mating pairs gives much better odds of surviving than only a single pair.)

Note, contrary to YEC assumptions and rationalizations, the bible explicitly defines kinds in Leviticus 11 (and elsewhere). Kinds of ravens; kinds of hawks; at least three locust/grasshoppers, each specified after its kinds, and beetles after their kinds (though the word might have been another set of locust type insects). Kinds is not genera or family, but species, or from Leviticus (and the bird list is reiterated in Deuteronomy), we must allow subspecies, by the modern definition. By the way, what bird or insect of any kind goes about on four feet? (Four, not six, not two–four. Leviticus 11:20, אַרְבַּ֑ע, not to mention bats listed with the birds.) Using the biblical definition of “kinds”, there would have been many thousands of clean ungulates on Noah’s ark.

Further, you mention the birds. The bible doesn’t delineate what birds are clean, but rather gives an explicit (though hard to define) list of unclean birds. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume from the express statements in the bible all the extinct birds were clean, including the enormous flightless birds. Thousands of those too on the ark.

A side note on clean: given the many generations Noah preceded Moses, what’s up with “clean” anyway?

Naturalis Historia

Life is incredibly diverse.  Millions of species fill the seas, land and skies of our little planet.  It seems as if there is no end to the discovery of new animals, plants and other life forms.  As a biologist who teaches a class about plant diversity, I can always count on discovering a new group of plants that I have never seen before which is always exciting.  But what blows my mind even more is the thought that what I see living around me today is but a tiny fraction of the diversity of life that has lived on this Earth.

A slide from a recent presentation I made on the discovery of deep time illustrating the mind-boggling estimates of number of species that have lived on earth versus the number alive right now. The images are of extinct marine reptiles on the left and cetacean alive today on the right. Image: Joel Duff the mind-boggling estimates of number of species that have lived on earth versus the number alive right now. Extinct marine reptiles on the left and cetacean alive today on the right. Image: Joel Duff

When you begin to look at fossils, the animals alive today can suddenly seem a bit mundane. And…

View original post 2,328 more words

I posted this on my Facebook then decided I needed to record it here.

(And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesiastes )

Uhm,

The preacher said:
“Humans and animals have the same destiny. One dies just like the other. All of them have the same breath [of life]. Humans have no advantage over animals. All [of life] is pointless.”
See several translations (especially Young’s) of this one verse here: http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/3-19.htm And, note the commentary, and note the, shall we say, backpedaling.

Click a translation you like to read the whole chapter.

I’ll say at minimum this establishes that death is simply part of the definition of living.

Go a little deeper with the tools. Such as:
http://biblehub.com/interlinear/ecclesiastes/3-19.htm

It is not wise to ignore the hard things.

A friend posted on Facebook about OpenWorm. Cool. It is not a new concept, but apparently we are finally doing it. Start a model at the most basic level, and work up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenWorm

And look at this (don’t freak out):

http://www.openworm.org/

Not a lot there, but it is the source; it’s where you go. It mostly says they are trying to recreate life digitally. That is, we will be able to run life simulations in the computer, and more importantly, we will be able to make robots that are as autonomous as the lifeforms they replicate. Scary, sure, but cool.

Remember, what can be done will be done. Let’s make sure we do it right.

Fundamentally, our models will never be very good until they are built from the base up. So this is a good and necessary start. Further, we will never well model the weather and climate. It is too complex to start at the bottom, too many factors to track and calculate. Even if we had sufficient computational capacity, we just couldn’t replicate the entire system well enough to be better than the approximates we already use, and we need to remember that such models are inadequate and always will be.

BioLogos has reposted this article by Denis Alexander which I must have missed last year. Dr. Alexander has several articles at BioLogos, and in this one he discusses why religion and philosophy are so important to science and facts.

While our genetics determine much about us, our genes do NOT determine who we are. Our choices are much more important to who we are and who we become. We are free moral agents, and we always have the ability to choose to do what is right.

Enjoy Dr. Alexander’s article: http://biologos.org/blog/made-in-the-image-of-god-human-values-and-genomics2

For millennia it was uniquely the pharaoh or the king who was seen as being in the “image of a god” in the polytheistic political systems of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Adad-shum-ussur, a court astrologer and cultic official in the seventh century B.C. royal court of Nineveh, made clear that the Assyrian king Esarhaddon is the very image of Bel (Marduk), the top god of that era:

A (free) man is as the shadow of god, the slave is as the shadow of a (free) man; but the king, he is like unto the (very) image of god.

That understanding is very significant. The ancient perception is still among us. We really do not see ourselves as truly free. We do not see ourselves created in the image of God, but in some shadow form that exists mostly as a slave. No, it is not just the king, not just the emperor, not even the President. It is all of you. We are all created like God, knowing both good and evil. Each, always, with the ability to do good, or to not. Each with the ability to realize our own destiny.

This whole last bit of the article is worth repeating:

Then God said, “Let us make adam [humankind] in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27].

In its historical context, the implications were revolutionary: the kingly and priestly male roles previously allocated to the privileged few by a pantheon of gods were now being delegated instead by the one creator God to the whole of humanity, male and female. In a stroke the entire ruling and priestly structure of Mesopotamian society was delegitimized. The Imago Dei was being democratized and it was now humankind who were to be the significant players in the arena of earthly life, the mandate to rule underlying their new responsibilities. Above all, humanity was set free by the one true God to determine their own destiny, no longer under the yoke of all-powerful dictators, nor under the baleful astrological control of the moon and stars.

Yet, ever since, humans have become experts at re-enslaving themselves, refusing the responsibilities that come with free-choice and submitting instead to narratives of fate and destiny. It seems ironic that today it is not the creation myths of ancient Babylon but the ideological interpretations of biology that provide the narratives of fate, in which genes “pull” humans toward certain political views and people cannot change their minds because their convictions are “rooted in their physiology.”

“It’s in his or her DNA” is a new phrase becoming increasingly embedded in our language, referring to something that cannot apparently be changed. On Sept. 8, 2012, Brad Pitt was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “America is a country founded on guns. It’s in our DNA. It’s very strange but I feel better having a gun.” No it’s not in our DNA, Mr. Pitt, either literally or metaphorically. People have choices — they are the prisoners neither of their genetics, nor of their physiology, nor indeed of their environments. Human beings made in the image of God are free to chart their own destiny in a way that preserves human value and dignity. On that we can leave the last word to Abraham Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows” (Aug. 17, 1858).

I must emphasize Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.

It really isn’t that hard. We are each free. I stand before God the same as all others. I answer for myself, myself alone, to Him, to Him alone.

http://biblehub.com/esv/romans/14.htm

4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. http://biblehub.com/romans/14-4.htm (The individual verses include the selected commentary notes.)

If we recognize each person individually, if we see each of us “stamped with the Divine image and likeness”, then we cannot treat each other wrongly. We cannot try to rule over or coerce. We will walk in freedom and responsibility, and we will acknowledge, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” If we remember that we all suffer and we all die young, it is a little easier to keep things in perspective.

Just remember, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Jonathan Baker writes the Age of Rocks blog. http://ageofrocks.org/about/

He provides this list:

http://ageofrocks.org/100-reasons-the-earth-is-old/

Enjoy

The title comes from the words of our Lord. Note, Jesus added “mind” to the quote from the Jewish Law. Mark tells us Jesus said it, adding mind, and the lawyer answered back wisely that we must love God with our whole understanding. It is clear that part of our service to, and love for, God includes our thinking and knowledge. That is science and philosophy. It is unwise, according to the scripture, to hold that there is animosity between science and faith. In fact, I hold that there cannot be one without the other.

Shannon Medisky wrote an article for BioLogos, http://biologos.org/blog/soul-strength-and-mind-how-biologos-brought-me-out-of-hiding, explaining how she felt shunned by her fellow Christians for accepting science without twisting it to certain dogma. I’ll add that the dogma in question is not even orthodox.

Ms. Medisky explains how she grew up as excited about Jesus as she was about science, but she soon realized that most Christians won’t stand for that. She closeted herself.

She correctly states:

We’re called to love God with all our soul, strength and mind. My scientific pursuits and interests were an important part of the latter. Learning more about the world—including how we got here—was simply another facet of honoring God. And to do anything less than wonder, question and learn would be to deny a very important part of the potential God so graciously gave us all.

That is how I have always felt. Like her, I’ve always stayed quiet about my acceptance of science, especially after I lost all reservations regarding biological evolution, but I’ve never been one to back down or equivocate. If you ask, I’m going to answer, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

She wrote for BioLogos. It makes sense that she praised them highly. While she felt alone, I learned long ago there were plenty of Christians like me who accepted science as simply part of God’s creation. Still, BioLogos is a comfort to me too, and it is an excellent resource. If you want to learn, BioLogos is an excellent place to start.

Of course, if you’d rather just be fundamentalist, go ahead and take the indoctrination and talking points of the young-earth creationists, and be confrontational and sure of yourself. However, I strongly recommend following the words of the prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Yes, this is what the Lord requires of each of us.

Regarding Jesus statements regarding creation.

Mike listed, “Mark 10:6: Mark 13:9; Luke 11:50-51; john 5:45-47 links Jesus to Moses- Exodus 20:11 plainly says God created the world in 6 days. Pretty strait forward teaching by our Lord and savior.”

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

but from the beginning of the creation, a male and a female God did make them;

6 ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/10-6.htm

2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,a 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Context here has hardly anything to do with creation. It is about divorce. It is about the hardness of their hearts. It is about submitting ourselves to the order God establishes. There is no hint of Jesus sanctioning some interpretation of the creation hymns over some other.


Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
But from the beginning of the creation,…. Of the world, or of man: , “from the beginning of the creation of the world”, is a way of speaking often used by the Jews (r): the phrase “of the creation” is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions; and so it was in Beza’s most ancient copy, and it is only read, “from the beginning”, as in Mat_19:4,8; see Gill on 
Matthew 19:4, See Gill on Matthew 19:8

As Gill points out, the creation reference is simply “beginning.” It seems unlikely Jesus added more than “in beginning, God.” No elaboration regarding how or what.

Seem to have missed something with Mark 13:9. Seems more of a Freudian slip. Perhaps the reference is to verse 19.

I’m not quite sure how this apocalyptic statement applies to “creation,” but:

http://biblehub.com/mark/13-19.htm

For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.

for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now, and may not be

19 ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις, οἵα οὐ γέγονεν τοιαύτη ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣν ἔκτισεν ὁ Θεὸς ἕως τοῦ νῦν καὶ οὐ μὴ γένηται.

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/13-19.htm

The language is hyperbolic, not making any commentary on creation. Mike, I certainly hope you understand that I hold God as creator.

http://biblehub.com/luke/11-51.htm

from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.

from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the house; yes, I say to you, It shall be required from this generation.

http://biblehub.com/matthew/23-35.htm

What am I missing here? How does this have anything to do with commentary on some interpretation of the creation hymns?

http://biblehub.com/esv/john/5.htm

45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Again, what am I missing? Jesus believed in Moses. I believe in Moses. How does this enlighten us regarding some interpretation of the creation hymns?

I’ll throw in this: http://www.godofevolution.com/did-jesus-believe-in-a-six-day-creation-and-a-literal-adam/ I find Mr. Francke a bit hard to take at times, but I generally agree with him.

The symbology of the creation week in the first creation hymn of Genesis is not in question. I do wonder how someone can take this particular bit of the story and make it literal while ignoring such assertions about a firm dome that separates the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but there is nothing firm up in the sky, and there are certainly no waters up there for such a dome to keep from falling on us.

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7549.htm

One can pretend the word just means “expanse,” but it clearly indicates the firm separation of waters above and below the earth. The notion is elsewhere in the bible, including http://biblehub.com/2_peter/3-5.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_cosmology

http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/gre13.htm

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/11/ancient-hebrew-cosmology.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/cosmo_bibl2.htm

Don’t forget the fact that the first three chapters of Genesis contain two separate hymns. The two are different in so many ways that asserting they are somehow the same, by the same author, is simply disingenuous. I suspect that if Moses were around, he’d tell us that the two creation hymns were the stories of his people, God’s people. I further suspect that if Moses were to deny such an obvious and simple explanation and attempt to prove in a court of law that he was the original and sole author of the two stories, he could not convince a jury, especially if Shem and Ham were able to speak up and claim authorship of one each before Moses.

So, Mike, for the record, I agree with Jesus. I cannot find evidence that Jesus ever said anything about creation that could help us know how to interpret the creation hymns. Any assertion regarding Jesus’ teaching about creationism is simply wrong.

The clear teaching of Jesus was to love one another.

I consider this a central tenet of Jesus, “28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I consider Jesus’ addition of “mind” to be significant, and I choose to love the lord with all my mind. My mind includes the knowledge that several different, independent disciplines in science confirm the usefulness of the aspects of biological evolution day in and day out.

I routinely post information related to evolution, and the weight of evidence, the breadth of evidence, the practicality of the evidence is overwhelming. I could not honor truth any other way than accept that evolution is a theory is as established and as useful as the theory of gravity.

As a closing thought, consider ebola. It is big in the news right now. Please review this article: http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2014/10/24/fossil-virus-found-in-hamsters-points-to-an-ancient-origin-of-ebola-virus/

(I reblogged that blog article previously.) Consider that virus DNA sometimes gets mixed up into animal DNA, and it goes along for the ride through the generations. The Natural Historian discusses an example of such with regard to ebola and hamsters and voles. Do hamsters and voles fit your definition of “kinds”?

Consider this: http://biologos.org/blog/the-evolutionary-origins-of-genetic-information-part-1

That set of articles goes in-depth explaining what we know of biological evolution in genetics.

Regardless, there are plenty of confirmable examples of speciation. It takes a determined, a predetermined, mindset to ignore the evidence and keep asking for more. Jesus had it happen to him, and he replied that the only sign would be his resurrection. Well, I can’t and won’t make such claims, but I find it insulting to be badgered about examples of speciation when a simple Google search can find many, many examples in the published literature in seconds.

Further, evolution does not depend on confirmation of a common ancestor for all of us apes. In fact, the practicality of evolution doesn’t depend on any aspect of it being proven. The fact remains that it is useful. It is probably the most useful and most beneficial theory in all of science, in all of history.

Finally, let’s go so far as to suppose some knowledge and evidences are discovered that are so profound that all of biological evolution is “disproven” and abandoned and replaced by new theories that work even better. Then what? Would it prove God? Would it lend any support to creationism? No. It would not. God would still be approachable ONLY by faith. The railers would still rail. No new thing would be under the sun.

Accordingly, I close with a question: Why fight me and others who accept the obvious? Why tell me I’m wrong to acknowledge evolution? Why badger me for evidence you won’t accept? Why pretend some society or organization will give me money if I “prove” evolution? You know good and well that no one will ever collect on such an “offer.” The criteria set are simply impossible. Why not admit that such offers are only grandstanding? Admit that such offers are disingenuous.

Obey Jesus and love.

Young-earth creationists like to assert that they know what the Hebrew word מִין (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/4327.htm) and its variants mean in the Bible. Assuming my internet-based tools (and my skills in using them) are adequate, this word is not actually used in the Bible.

These words are:

לְמִינָ֔הּ (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/leminah_4327.htm) 12 occurrences

לְמִֽינֵהֶ֗ם (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/leminehem_4327.htm) 1

לְמִינֵ֔הוּ (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/leminehu_4327.htm) 14

לְמִינ֔וֹ (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/lemino_4327.htm) 4 occurrences.

The word is translated kind or kinds consistently, but apparently it also means schismatic or heretic. Perhaps worth pondering another day.

This isn’t the only Hebrew word translated “kinds” in the Bible, but there seems little use in delving into the others. This one has several occurrences. We should be able to figure the context.

If you click through the links above, you see the obvious, the creation account at the beginning of Genesis, then the similar statements in the story of Noah.

Now look at Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Here we see the same usage of the word with very specific differentiation.

Look at Leviticus 11, starting in verse 13, with the list of birds that are not to be eaten or handled. Eagle, bearded vulture, black vulture, kite, falcon of any kind, every raven of any kind, ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, hawk of any kind, little owl, cormorant, short-eared owl, barn owl, tawny owl, carrion vulture, stork, heron of any kind, hoopoe, and bat.

Look at how clearly the Bible is using kind here and differentiating between kinds of vultures, kinds of owls, kinds of water-shore birds, and bats. Don’t forget that the bible calls bats birds rather than mammals. Clearly “kind” means something much more specific than “family” in biology.

The statement about insects is interesting: 20“All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. 23But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.

The statement is that all insects are unclean. Then, well, okay, you can eat the ones with jointed legs for hopping. Then it specifies four categories of locust/grasshoppers and says all of the kinds in those categories. The usage of kind here is consistent with species and subspecies. Of course, all winged insects have six legs, not four. I’m just not sure what to make of that.

The passage goes on to lists a few kinds of lizards, and refers the kinds of the great lizard. Again, we must be at least at the level of what we all call species in everyday life. Not families or orders.

Deuteronomy reiterates.

There is one more use of kinds in Ezekiel 47, where he describes the waters flowing from the temple. Ezekiel stipulates many kinds of fish. It says many kinds of trees, too, but the Hebrew doesn’t use the same word. A transliteration would be closer to “all trees” grow there. So, for sense, all kinds of trees. Neat vision. Not real clear what it means, but it has always seemed to me that Ezekiel was concerned with recording his visions, not explaining them.

So, to the usage and definition of kinds, it seems that the common understanding of species and subspecies applies as the Bible itself uses the word. The Leviticus usage (reiterated in Deuteronomy) rules out genus or above for any biblical usage of the word.

So, when someone is trying to define “kind” as a biological family or higher, point them to Leviticus 11 and ask how many kinds of falcon there are. Ask whether an observant Jew would need to include in every kind of falcon the several species and the few subspecies of every one of the species of falcons extant and extinct. Be sure to mention that with the exception of the list of unclean birds (which included bats), all other birds are clean. God commanded Noah to take 14 (seven pairs) of all the clean birds. (Or was it all birds? Is it clear that only one pair of unclean kinds of birds were commanded?)

BTW, everyone knows that moose, elk (all deer for that matter), and giraffe are clean, right?

An article in Nature seems to say that inconsequential mutations within our genes and proteins can be as significant as extinction in determining the evolutionary path we living creatures have taken since the beginning.

Michael J. Harms & Joseph W. Thornton published

Historical contingency and its biophysical basis in glucocorticoid receptor evolution

here http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v512/n7513/full/nature13410.html

They say their “findings demonstrate that GR evolution depended strongly on improbable, non-deterministic events, and this contingency arose from intrinsic biophysical properties of the protein.”

My friends with “design” leanings will assert that God directed these highly improbable events. It is interesting to contemplate, along with all the other improbable constraints that coalesced to bring us to where we are, but the fact remains, these events are natural, not supernatural. The fact remains, it is impossible to please God without faith; it is impossible to come to God without first belief that he is and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him.

The article, being at Nature, is expensive, and I won’t be buying it, so I’ll quote the editor’s summary,

Can evolutionary biology become a predictive science? The answer to that question depends largely on whether it proves possible to develop a quantitative measure of the role of chance historical events in shaping evolutionary paths. With that objective in mind, Michael Harms and Joseph Thornton start from a database of thousands of variants of an ancestral form of the glucocorticoid receptor to look for mutations paving the way for the appearance of a larger-effect mutation creating a new ligand specificity, and they find none besides the historical permissive mutations. Their result shows that the evolution of this class of hormone receptors is critically dependent on rare non-deterministic events, constrained by protein biophysics. Evolutionary contingency is often seen in terms of chance external forces such as extinction by asteroid impact or climate change, but this work points to the internal organization of biological systems as a further powerful source of contingency.

Just an annoying aside: I don’t know why editors allow “non” to be needlessly hyphenated.

As to the use of “predictive” in the editor’s first sentence, I suppose he is indicating the use of predictive models based on our understanding of evolutionary biology and mutation in order direct evolutionary change in organisms in order to get new ones with specific characteristics and traits. I think he mainly means we have to understand a lot better before we really move beyond trial and error in these regards.

I’ll add that there is plenty of references on the Nature page to keep someone busy for a long time, and many libraries will have free [to use] access to many of the resources. So, you can check it all out expending only your time.

One last comment from my studies long ago, a researcher once found that E. coli could consistently beat extreme odds of starving [and surviving] by mutating to eat an alternative food in their culture dish. The story goes that the researcher forgot to add the nutrient to a set of culture dishes one night, and he was disappointed to see his failed experiment the next morning. However, a couple of the cultures had survived. He investigated and found they had mutated such that they could eat an organic component of the culture gel, something that was not supposed to be able to happen. Odds against it were several million to one. So, he tried again with the same results. Then he tried various directed experiments along those lines and kept finding that the E. coli could consistently be extremely long odds. One experiment necessitated a contingent mutation, as the authors of the article here cited discuss. That is, the E. coli had to mutate ineffectively before a useful mutation was possible–a two step mutation pair. The E. coli managed. That is, while starving they mutated in a way that didn’t help them eat, yet that mutation allowed them to make a mutation that did enable them to eat and survive.

I’ve never managed to find again the specific references when I’ve tried. Perhaps the information is readily available now, but it will still require the right search. Regardless, such research continues, and the almost limitless variations and abilities of life grow more astonishing as we understand it better.

 

Andrew Wollitzer, Pastor of Berkeley Covenant Church, provides the following sermon regarding science and religion. He mostly tells his own story.

He titles it, “Why Should We Care?”.

http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/media/2012_07_08_Why_Should_I_Caremp3.mp3

Consider taking three-quarters of an hour and be edified. He addresses well why science matters to Christians. The above is from Scientists in Congregations:

http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/resources/audio-recordings/

And the Berkeley church website is here:

http://www.berkeleycov.org/

Here is the link to the sermon from their site. http://www.berkeleycov.org/audio/sermonMP3s/2012_07_08_Why_Should_I_Care.mp3

Never lie to your children. Not in the least. Not in any way.

 

Warning: If you came here to find confirmation of your preconceived ideas, you are probably in the wrong place. Regardless, Welcome! I hope you can learn something here in the things I find worth recording.

At the BioLogos web site, Graeme Finlay has written an interesting and compelling article about our genetics. He tells his own story, and his writing style is good and easy to read. He points out that cancers grow from a single defective cell. He explains some of the details related to critters with common ancestors.

We all know that our DNA is a mixture of our parents’ DNA, and the sequence runs for each generation. Accordingly, my children have genetic markers that my uncle had. With our ever-increasing abilities in genetic sequencing technologies, we can now look at the most minute details of the genome, and what we can see is not only quite observable (something the bully Ray Comfort always asks for), but it is also quite obvious.

Dr. Finlay presents the information so we can all understand.

I invite you to click the link, read, and see if you agree.

http://biologos.org/blog/human-evolution-genes-genealogies-and-phylogenies

Please find the comment button if you care to add anything. I’m always open to comments.

I availed myself of an opportunity to see Ray Comfort’s video. It was worse than I could imagine. What bothered me most was that while he shoved microphones up people’s noses and badgered and bullied them, the Christians watching tended to cheer. So sad.

I suppose that many in that room felt they had been bullied, either for their antievolutionary views, or more generically for just being Christian, but when you can make PZ Myers look like a generally good guy, better than you make yourself look, you have failed.

We teach our children not to bully. We teach them not to cheer on the perpetrator when someone pays back the bully or other generally bad children. We teach our children to repay good for evil, as our Lord taught us. We teach our children to walk in love and to go the extra mile, even to turn the other cheek. The adults in the room watching Ray Comfort badger and bully people seemed to have forgotten that, or that it should apply doubly to them as teachers, those to whom much has been entrusted.

I viewed the video as an utter failure in all regards. It seems impossible, but I assume Comfort thought he was doing something akin to evangelism in the making of the film and the derogatory treatment of his victims both in person and in the cutting room.

One can only guess how many people simply walked away when approached by Comfort, being treated so rudely. One can only wonder how many people gave more cogent answers, or how many became obviously terrified. How many people were interviewed who did not give answers that fit the narrative Comfort cobbled together?

There was no truth, no honesty, and no compassion in the video. Are those who condone the video simply saying all is fair in love and war? If so, they got the war part right. The interviews were essentially hit and run warfare on the unsuspecting people attacked in the video. Perhaps they assert they are making war on us, so we must make war on them. However, I again remember our Lord telling us to love those who persecute us.

I tried to Google search for anyone else calling Comfort a bully. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t find any.

I agree with this article.

http://www.godofevolution.com/evolution-vs-god-denigrates-science-using-technology-that-science-makes-possible/

I really think it wise to recall a song from one of the legends of country music, Marijohn Wilkin, and her song God is Love.

http://www.valentinemusic.co.uk/home/music/marijohn-wilkin-buckhorn-music/marijohn-wilkin-buckhorn-music-tracks (scroll down a bit)

The opening lines are the point. The fire-and-brimstone preacher seems to always forget that God is Love!

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,a but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;b 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I don’t think I find any of this in Comfort’s video, especially what I underlined.

4-1 ds

When confronted with awkward examples of literalism, biblical literalists like Ken Ham point out that some biblical passages are literally poetry and artistic imagery, and that is certainly true.

There are still significant problems that are always ignored, though.

RJS (rather than Dr. McKnight) of Jesus Creed posted this article, http://musingsonscience.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/no-interpretation-needed/ where he discusses the tendency of biblical literalism to be more along the lines of philosophical foundationalism, which he asserts is often the same for strident atheists.

Flat earth? It is hard to claim artistic speech or poetry with the four corners of the earth. Revelation 7:1, while it is a vision, it is hard to assert it is merely figurative. Revelation 20:8, where the revelator likens the army to the sands of the sea, but at least he indicate that is simile. Isaiah 41:8-9 can hardly be seen as God speaking metaphorically. There is textual uncertainty in that one though. Isaiah 11:12 is a pretty straight forward statement of four corners.

There are enough references to corners, and other references indicating the ability to see all the earth from great height (or vice versa), that it is easy to argue for a flat earth, yet nearly all Christians reject the notion. We know good and well it is spherical and has no corners. That is a problem generally ignored by biblical literalists.

The bible indicates the earth is firmly established and cannot be moved. The Psalms assert it twice. While obviously poetic, the statement is clear, not presented with an apparent intent of artistic licence. It is reasonable to suppose the Psalms are remembering David’s song when the ark of God was returned, as recorded in I Chronicles 16. Again, poetic, but not presented as metaphor in any way. It seems obvious the biblical writers understood earthquakes, so they could not have been intending to mean the ground never trembles. They seem clearly to have meant the earth was on a stationary foundation that couldn’t be kicked over or disrupted. Again, no one supposes this means what it seems plainly to mean. Another ignored issue among biblical literalists.

There is, also, the use of the word for heaven. The bible regularly uses it to indicate the air, where the birds fly, and the sky where the celestial bodies are, and for the abode of God, and then there is the heaven of heavens reference. Real hard to get literal with that much variability in one word.

While many of the biblical assertions about heaven, such as where God stores snow, hail, and lightning, can be justifiably taken as figurative, it is quite hard to get around Genesis 1:6-8 when one insists on strict literalness in the rest of the first chapter.

http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-6.htm

http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-7.htm

http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-8.htm

These links open each verse with several translation in parallel. Clicking a version heading for a verse will open the chapter in that translation. Note the tool bars toward the top of the pages. The interlinear shows the Hebrew and transliteration, with ready links for the word or (more informatively) Strongs’ rendering of it.

Obviously the only way to take these statements literally is with this graphic:

4-1 ds

I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of anyone espousing that concept. That is, there are still a few people, typically claiming backing from their sacred writings, that the earth is flat, or that the earth is actually stationary with all the universe revolving around it. (Not only Christians do this.) But I’ve never heard of anyone trying to claim this graphically depicted view that so closely matches the statements in the opening chapter of Genesis. No one in modern memory asserts the universe is filled with water and that the sky is firm enough to separate out some air for the earth to sit in within.

I also have trouble seeing how to take literally the waters gathering together in a single place, yet the very next verse refers to seas (plural). It is verifiably obvious that all the water is not gathered in just one place, and the fact is confirmed right there in the remainder of the statement using the plural for large bodies of water.

Check it. http://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/1-10.htm

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3220.htm

I’ll close by quoting RJS’ closing:

“The foundationalist approach to knowledge is the root of many errors. We need to read Scripture for all it is worth, from beginning to end. But the foundation of our faith is in God and in the person of Jesus Christ, not in the “plain” reading of Genesis 1.”

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