Archives for posts with tag: science

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.

 

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This is another item I wrote on Facebook, and decided I wanted on my blog as well.

My beautiful and intelligent wife happened upon this article (http://www.reasons.org/articles/have-quantum-physicists-disproven-the-big-bang), and she commented to me that she thought is was sad that people base their faith on something other than their relationship with God. That is, setting your faith in anything but God Himself is idolatry. There are people who hold the bible as idol, and there are people who hold science as idol. There are also people who hold science as their entire religion, but that is another (and sad) matter.

Mary also took exception to Dr. Ross’ take on Hebrews 11:6 (one of my favorite scriptures).

I very much appreciated Brother Hugh’s example of “knowing” his wife exists, but I agree with Mary that Dr. Ross overreached with his version of the scripture. ESV translates “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (http://biblehub.com/hebrews/11-6.htm for plenty to study.) Dr. Ross interpreted that to say if we would diligently seek out evidence for God, we would find it. I don’t accept that thinking. That is not consistent with my own experience nor our understanding of history. God governs in the affairs of men, but he does so with hiddenness. (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/07/divine-hiddenness-and-human-disclosure “I think it more suitably functions as a proof of the fittingness of revelation.”) God leaves us with the option of thinking we did it ourselves, or that we just got lucky.

It seems only fair to me.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us plainly that it is impossible to please God without faith, and we MUST believe in order to come to Him at all. Like it or not, understand it or not, this is the way it is. While I hold there is evidence for God, it is only evidence, and it can always be explained other ways.

I wrote this on Facebook, in response to a First Things article, http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/02/unscientific-obstinacy, and decided I wrote too much for Facebook. So, I’ve duplicated it here.

To Mark Bauerlein’s article:

Good point.

Are we alone in this galaxy? Yes. Yes, we are alone. There are no aliens who might visit. Think. If they could, the almost certainly could have done so at any time for the last several million years. People pretend, but there is no evidence. We have lots of evidence that they have not come, but we also have lots of evidence that they are not out there.

We have looked too well for too long to suppose we simply haven’t noticed them yet. There has been too much time for them to have not made their presence known, intentionally or for lack of caring. Nobody is there. Fermi noticed.

There is still the question of life. Well, the nature of the universe, the laws of physics, seem to make life, in some recognizable form, inevitable most everywhere we might find liquid water. However, if it could get off its planet, it most likely could have been doing so for millions of years, given the obvious fact that most of the planets in the galaxy had millions, even billions of years longer to work at it. So, there is probably life, but the chances of it having even the sense of a rat is vanishingly small.

There is also the question of the rest of the universe. Well, if you factor in the vastness, there is simply no knowing. While I assert the one data point we have implies the odds of others in any way resembling us, with hopes, dreams, desires, and drives, drive to spread amongst the stars, those odds are vanishingly small, but with the unimaginable vastness of all of space and so many galaxies, it is simply impossible to know.

We cannot know. We can never know.

If we find someone, then we will know. If we don’t, even for 100 billion years, we still will not know. It is impossible to prove we are alone in the universe.

We are alone in the galaxy. Accept it.

We cannot know if we are alone in the universe. Accept it.

Time and energy. The requirements for interstellar travel are doable. In fact, assuming humanity survives, we will populate the entire galaxy, probably within several tens-of-thousands of years, at least within hundreds-of-thousands, but the requirements of intergalactic travel are too great. It is not possible in any imaginable engineering sense. Sure, we may figure out some workaround. Perhaps there is something akin to a stargate. Star Trek warp-type drive is useless in this regard. Intergalactic space is too immense. The void is too barren. There is NOTHING between here and there. No possibilities of resources for refueling or repairing. Nothing. It is not possible. If something like a stargate is developed, then we can expect to populate many galaxies, but never most. The universe cannot be supposed so enduring to allow us the opportunity even if we could jump from galaxy to galaxy in a wink. We would still take billions, many billions, of years to populate and buildup and explore just thousands of galaxies. And frankly, there is no reasonable possibility of anything like a stargate existing, ever. Even an ansible type communication is impossible as far as we can suppose. Perhaps, but probably not. (I recall greater minds than mine have been proven wrong with such statements, but there is much science, experimental record, and well-tested theory behind such a supposition.)

So, is there really a scientific case for God? Yes and no. First, regardless of the evidence for God, it says nothing about God, that is: the who, the what, the why, the motive. These are mostly questions science, testing, cannot address. (As with students, academic testing may be used to assess progress, at least in some limited degree, but it can tell us nothing of the person. [And children are people first.])

There is no scientific or philosophical evidence or case that proves God in any way. There is evidence. There are cases to be made that are reasonable, but they are not definitive. Thus, the scripture tells us that to come to God, we must believe, and that we must believe that God is a rewarder–that seeking is fruitful. It is certain, without faith it is impossible to please God. The just shall live by faith. Faith is not science. Faith should be reasonable, not blind. Faith should be faithful, not obstinate. Science should be rational and natural, not forced and dogmatic. No scientism. That is far worse than any superstition ever.

Are we special? Well duh!

Love


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

Things matter, or nothing matters.

I choose to suppose that things matter. That supposition leads me to believe God is. (Either God is, or God is not. That is about the same statement. Further, there is a reason, or there is no reason. Again, pretty much the same statement, and I just don’t think it is reasonable to assert there is no reason.)

Now, if any of these words mean anything, then I find that it follows that I freely choose. I can change my mind, but I am determined to find truth as I may and adhere to facts and reality as well as I can perceive.

I chose to write just now. It is not a mechanistic, chance confluence of quantum effects at the subatomic level with electromagnetic and chemical effects at the atomic level. I happen to be more than a machine.

There are issues we may need to address if we manage to create machines that can rationally choose as well, but that is not yet and a subject-heading for another day.

Dr. David Bentley Hart penned a retelling of a conversation he had with his dog. He wrote at First Things, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/02/roland-on-free-will. (First Things is an excellent source of insights on many subjects.)

Dr. Hart supposes the event was a dream, but Roland is obviously one smart pooch.

Roland says, “…and the rational freedom of the spirit, which is always striving to subdue the brute. Oh, what’s that lovely line from Yeats about the soul? ‘Fastened to a dying animal?’ Anyway, there’s something truly free there, something that isn’t the creature of an unhappy childhood or a frustrated hunger—it’s spirit, nous, Geist—something that can convert the countervailing tempests of physiological urges into the elations of reason set free. Well . . . this is something dogs understand very well.””

Excellent observation. Likewise, “Every aspiring young materialist dreams of growing up to be a robot.” Which is so simple minded, even silly. Yet, it seems so true of so many.

The saddest part of reductionist materialism is the ultimate hopelessness. It really does suppose there is nothing real, that there will be absolutely nothing in the long run.

The bottom line for me is that it is all real, and I really do have freedom, and I really am responsible for myself.

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?

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.

Writing for the New York Times,  gives us a dozen interviews with philosophers.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/philosophers-on-religion/

Warning, these are about religion, not necessarily supportive. Still, good fodder for deep thinking.

JOSHUA A. KRISCH, OCT. 13, 2014, writing for the New York Times, here, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/science/haunted-files-the-eugenics-record-office-recreates-a-dark-time-in-a-laboratorys-past.html, describes an exhibit set up to remind us the horrors of eugenics.

It is insightful. I particularly liked the following paragraph.

My comments:

When the Eugenics Record Office opened its doors in 1910, the founding scientists were considered progressives, intent on applying classic genetics to breeding better citizens. Funding poured in from the Rockefeller family and the Carnegie Institution. Charles Davenport, a prolific Harvard biologist, and his colleague, Harry H. Laughlin, led the charge.

First, the founders of eugenics were not “considered” progressives, they WERE the luminaries of all things progressive and liberal minded. The were the very definition of then-modern leftist thinking. They had no compunction regarding compulsory policies and imposing their will on others. The inferiors owed it to the progressive elites. The sacrifice for the betterment of the elite would be taken for granted, but the elite would understand. Those poor inferiors, those experimented on, those forcibly sterilized and worse, were simply the price of progress. The same applies today in climate alarmism and public education. Yes, two so disparate fields are being treated the same by the elite. The elite simply expect us to submit, to comply, to die as the subjects of their experiments.

Note the names in the paragraphs. Could not a paragraph on the Common Core State Standards be written changing a very few words and the names? The Gates Foundation comes to mind. Follow the money. Follow the power, the control. It is the same, and it is just as evil. Yes, CCSS is just as evil as eugenics. Likewise with climate change alarmism, but it is enough different I’ll leave it here.

The entire article can apply point for point, almost word for word, to the experiment we call public education and the contrived experiment of the Common Core State Standards constrictions being applied to it.

CCSS is progressivist. Anyone how supports it is progressivist, liberal, leftist. Interestingly, many political Democrats do not support CCSS. It is too liberal for them. Sadly, too many political Republicans hold out for the CCSS. Who can tell why. My first suspicion is that they are more elitist and more progressive than even most left-leaning elitists.

And this:

“The Eugenics Record Office was built around very systematized ideas that still might be seen as legitimate today,” said Noah Fuller, an artist and co-curator of the exhibit. “At the time, this was widely accepted as legitimate science.”

It was settled science. It is still accepted today as evidenced by the flood that became CCSS. That flood that is being turned back by angry mothers and caring teachers.

Don’t pretend you, we, are too sophisticated to institutionalize such policies today. We did it. We, the hoi polloi, are turning it back and cleansing our society of this sin, but the elites are fighting. Progressivists and liberals are in it for the long game. They will not relent. We must never relinquish our freedoms, our rights, and our responsibilities. It is up to us. Resistance is not futile.

There are truths here, and lessons to be learned regarding immigrants too. Don’t be part of the problem. Those wanting to come here are mostly good and good for us and our society. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Mr. Micklos sat in a wooden chair and thumbed through a few of the files. “This is pretty much exactly what it would’ve looked like,” he said.

He shook his head and added, “Think of all the people whose lives were completely out of their own control.”

This statement applies exactly to millions of our children in our society today! Let it not stand.

I agree with Dr. Shughart, but he misses the point.

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=5027

The alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is not wind and solar. Heaven knows it is not wind! Despite the assurances of prominent science communicators, solar cannot and never will provide significant amounts of the power we need to survive.

See, the alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is slavery and death.

Before the energy era, primarily based on fossil fuel, life was hard, brutish, and short. Those who lived in a poor semblance of affluence did so at the direct expense of others: slaves, serfs, vassals, subjects, whatever the name, culture, and time. Note, we pretend that is still the case, but that is a lie. Everyman in the developed world is free to own his own stuff and work for his own benefit, not his lord’s. The liberals and progressives are working diligently to make us a feudal system again, but most of the time I don’t believe they are succeeding.

Regardless, energy for machines and technology have freed us from the misery that was life for most of human history.

The only alternative to coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is misery. There will always be powerful people. Our current system of politics and readily available, reasonably inexpensive energy is the only attainable way to keep the powerful from enslaving and killing the rest of us.

Our collective history skews us to fear the powerful. Our recent history of the success (to a poor extent, but the illusion is powerful) of the masses, the labor movement, and some of the popular uprisings make us think we can collectively control the powerful. We cannot.

Our only defense against the powerful is readily, reliably available energy (fuel, power, electricity) at affordable prices for the people. Then the individual is empowered to defend himself. (Ladies, you are included. Don’t get political over grammar rules.)

Dr. Shughart suggests that CO2 is problematic. It is not.

Carbon dioxide is plant food. Anyone against feeding plants is also against feeding people. More plant food means more plants. More plants means more to eat and fewer people starving. The other factor in ending starvation is readily available fuel and electricity to get the food to the starving and refrigerate it until they get to eat it.

Again, being against coal especially, but coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear collectively, is to be for slavery, starvation, and death. This goes for oil infrastructure too, like the Keystone Pipeline.

Got it? If you act against coal, you are acting in favor of enslaving and starving people, your brothers, your fellow-man.

Power to the people means coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear.

Carbon dioxide is an essential ingredient of life. It is not pollution any more than oxygen or water, both of which are far more dangerous. Both oxygen and water contribute directly to billions of dollars in damages, both slow and sudden, and thousands of deaths every year.

Trying to control carbon dioxide means trying to control your breathing. Taxing carbon is half-a-step from taxing your very breath. Those who pretend we need to stop producing carbon prove their hypocrisy with every breath they continue to breath.

Charles Battig wrote this article for American Thinker: http://americanthinker.com/2014/06/beware_of_false_prophets.html

He is correct. We must reestablish the validity of science. It has become a radicalized, fundamentalist religion. They will be burning us at the stake soon, they already joke and write about it.

By the way, the industrial revolution and the inexpensive energy we have is what ended slavery. Fighting coal and forcing energy costs up will very likely bring back slavery, as slave labor is the only option for the hyperwealthy when the machines have no power, or when that power costs more than keeping slaves. The environmentalists want to put us all in chains as slaves, literally.

I am struck that it seems to be Reform (as in John Calvin) teachers who are trying hard to reconcile faith with science.

Greg Cootsona is an associate pastor at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, California. (Home to my favorite meteorologist, Anthony Watts, since Gary England retired.) Anyway, he has written a short article about determinism.

http://cootsona.blogspot.com/2014/05/genetic-determinism-materialism-freedom.html

I’ve never understood the notion. If determinism is true, how could we tell? I mean, if my brain is determined to think by outside forces that I can in no wise control, how can I know I know anything at all?

Here is the fact: I am accountable. I will be judged, ultimately and in the absolute sense, and I can trust that I will be judged justly. There will be a day of reckoning, balancing the books. The fact is that there is such a thing as justice and right, and evil is so easy to understand because it too is real. Choose! You are responsible for your choices, so choose wisely.

I’m trying to internalize this fact into all I am and all I do. I hope you will do so too.

I’ve refrained from saying much about the new Cosmos. I’ve written a bit here https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/cosmos-good-grief/

I really am not pleased with it overall. They had such an opportunity.

I record my exasperation. I really think it ought to be possible to sue Neil and company for such gross negligence. Of course, who am I, a lowly engineer, to question such a preeminent physicist? Well, I’m the same guy that is willing to question the Pope (though I usually find myself agreeing with him), the President (and it has been decades since I’ve agreed with one of them), and even the local pastor. I question all authority. I try to question myself and my own biases.

The global warming episode is utterly emotional and fact-free. A stereotypical Jewish mother has nothing on Neil when it comes to guilt trips. I guess he wants everyone, especially the children, to feel guilt and shame that they are not doing their part and suffering now so that the future generations can have something in the distant future.

It borders child abuse in my opinion.

Solar power and wind power are pipe dreams! Read the rest of this entry »

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