Archive for bible–seeking harmony between science and faith

Posted in Evolution, religion, science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Those that have read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, will be familiar with the term “biologos”.  This is a word Collins coined to describe his perspective on evolution/science and religion as he is uncomfortable with the term “theistic evolution”. 

While I do own the aforementioned book and believe it is valuable (though more so for those of a religious persuasion that have difficulty accepting modern scientific truth), I don’t necessarily believe it was well-written.  I do applaud Collins for creating this new BioLogos Foundation, however, and hope the writing on this site will be an improvement.  The mission of the foundation, as stated on their website, is:

We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.

The BioLogos Foundation promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives.

This is certainly a mission I can agree with and support, thus far.

One part of the website addresses commonly asked questions regarding faith, science, and their compatability.  For example, one of the questions addressed on the site is, “How was the Genesis creation story interpreted before Darwin?” 

I have not browsed the site in its entirety, but it is one I have bookmarked with the intent of investigating further in the near future.  I encourage others to go check it out as well.


Some brief difficulties in forcing Genesis 1 to be read literally

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

There are certain issues that arise when attempting to read Genesis 1 literally.  Now, let’s be clear…with God all things are possible.  Could God have created in six literal days using nothing but His words?  Sure.  But, let’s explore these briefly just for the fun of it:

Day 3–man, those plants are fertile!

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

The Hebrew word “zera” is used for “seed” here.  This word is often translated as “descendants”.  The text implies that on day 3 plants sprouted, grew to maturity, and then also produced descendants that same day.

Day 6–No wonder Adam needed to model God’s seventh day of rest after this!

God creates animals, man, brings the animals to Adam for him to name according to Genesis 2, and then creates woman.  Phew!  That sounds like quite a day.  Adam would have had to name many, many, many organisms or at least many “types” of organisms.

Some creationists will argue that this really would not have taken so long because Adam was only naming “kinds” of animals (fish, dog, cat, bird, etc.).  Let’s look at the text of Genesis 2:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. 

It is doubtful, naturally, that Adam was giving a name to each cow, each fish, each bird, and so on.  “I name thee Bessie, and thee Belle, and thee Milky…”  The text says Adam gave names to the birds of the air, livestock, and beasts.  Even if he was only naming “kinds” of these organisms, there would still be many “kinds” of birds, many “kinds” of beasts, and so on.  This is also ignoring the fact that we do not really know what is meant by a “kind” (is it something along the lines of a taxonomic family, order, phylum, class, or something else entirely), and we also can’t even conceive of how many “kinds” this would be anyway since some of the organisms alive at the time of Adam would now be extinct!

What did Jesus say about creation?

Posted in Evolution, Genesis with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Updated 10-5-08

Many creationists make the argument that Jesus believed in a literal creation story as told in Genesis. Naturally, if Jesus believed it, why shouldn’t we?

For example, in Mark 10:6 Jesus states:

“But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.”

Therefore, creationists say, there could not have been billions or millions of years of life before humans burst onto the scene. However, this statement ignores the fact that no matter how one reads the text, marriage (which is what this passage is really about) did NOT begin at the beginning of creation. Even if you take the verse out of context, not realizing the passage is talking about marriage, you would have to conclude that Jesus got it wrong.  Mankind was not even created at the beginning but on the sixth day (see Genesis 1). Humanity was created later as the pinnacle of the creation.  By reading the creation account literally, one comes across a bigger problem–you must either admit that Jesus lied or is very forgetful, according to Mark 10:6.

Furthermore, Mark 10:6 is rarely quoted in context when being used to debate creation. Mark 10:1-10 states the following:

Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.

Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Jesus is simply explaining the institution of marriage as was commanded to the first two creatures it applied to. The passage has no bearing on the age of creation.

In John 5:45-47, Jesus gives weight to the word of Moses:

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

One of the passages in the words of Moses is Exodus 20:11:

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Creationists often cite this verse as evidence that clearly Jesus and Moses believed in a literal interpretation of the creation account. This passage instructs the people to keep the Sabbath day holy and not to work on that day. This passage compares the six days of our labor to the six days God used to create. According to creationists, this means that both represent literal 24 hour days.

However, God declared other Sabbaths. A Sabbath for the land consists of six years of cultivation followed by a seventh year of rest (Leviticus 25:2-4). This establishes the principle of six periods of work followed by one period of rest. And in this case, the “days” are not six 24 hour periods.  This 6:1 ratio is used in many instances to express important principles, including 6:1 year cycles in Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7.

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, it is important when reading the bible to keep in mind the history and cultural influences of the times.  The ancient Israelites were in need of establishing an identity for themselves.  These people were facing ancient Near East nations that were mostly hostile and polytheistic.  The Sabbath principle allowed them to establish their identitiy and develop an efficient work ethic-first in a nomadic situation and then in a land they were charged to establish as their own. 

Ironically, most Christians recognize the important principle in Exodus without taking it absolutely literally. Most do not rest or devote the actual Sabbath day (Saturday) to worship. If this passage is meant to be taken literally, we should all be worshipping on Saturday. Yet most Christians truly see the significance of the principle stated above, six periods of work and one period of rest, without following the literal interpretation.

In my opinion, I do not feel that one can conclusively say that Jesus was a “creationist” or believed in a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account. Certainly he affirmed the supremacy of God the Father and acknowledged the Father as creator, but this says nothing about the manner in which God created the heavens and the earth nor how long it took Him to do so.

Later I plan on commenting on what Paul had to say about creation. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you may find the following posts interesting:

Death Before the Fall?

Should the creation account be read literally?

You may also be interested in the following blog, Servant’s Thoughts.

Evolutionist Open Invite

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Over at Woad Warrior, Bazooka Knight has posted an open invite to evolutionists to share why they “believe” in evolution.  This guy seems truly interested, so I’ve posted my own thoughts there, and would encourage any others to do the same.  It should make for some interesting conversation, hopefully.

Happy reading/posting!

Even creationists realize their arguments are stupid, sometimes

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2008 by airtightnoodle

This page has probably been around for some time, but I just recently found it myself. 

Answers in Genesis has a page devoted to “Arguments we think creationists should NOT use“.  Yes, you read that correctly!

The site then lists several arguments creationists should not use and explains why.  However, some of their explanations are, of course, in error.

For instance:

“There are no beneficial mutations.”

This is not true, since some changes do confer an advantage in some situations. Rather, we should say, “We have yet to find a mutation that increases genetic information, even in those rare instances where the mutation confers an advantage.”

Yet increases in information, no matter how you define information, have in fact been observed

  • increased genetic variety in a population (Lenski 1995; Lenski et al. 1991)
  • increased genetic material (Alves et al. 2001; Brown et al. 1998; Hughes and Friedman 2003; Lynch and Conery 2000; Ohta 2003)
  • novel genetic material (Knox et al. 1996; Park et al. 1996)
  • novel genetically-regulated abilities (Prijambada et al. 1995)

Another example from AiG:

“No new species have been produced.”

This is not true—new species have been observed to form. In fact, rapid speciation is an important part of the creation model. But this speciation is within the “kind,” and involves no new genetic information.

Wow!  First we have the creationists admitting that new species have in fact been observed to form!  I’m amazed at this admission.  However, they go on to qualify that it is within the “kind”.  The problem with the concept of “kinds” is that one can continually move the boundary between “kinds”.  And, of course, the genetic information bit was already covered above.

Anyhoo, it’s an interesting read.

Evolution is good

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Quote of the day…saw this while reading the AP Environmental Science list serv.

…And God saw that it was good, and evolution continued.

Hope for those super-literalists, or those that only read the KJV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Almost everyone has come across a SUPER literalist student of the bible.  Or maybe you’ve come across someone who insists the only bible we should use is the King James version because it’s “authorized”. 

Well, they may be on to something.

As many people are aware, the King James version mentions “unicorns” several times.  Now, most people would jump to the conclusion that of course the word “unicorn” isn’t meant to indicate the mythological beast depicted in medieval tapestries, the beast that children of the 80’s cheered for as it drove the red bull into the sea, and so on.The Last Unicorn

Most would probably assume the word “unicorn” was meant to represent some other animal that had one horn, or perhaps looked as if it had one horn from the side.  Perhaps a wild ox, of some sort.

Ah, but not so fast!

Just recently a unicorn was discovered, and not in some remote place rarely traveled by the civilized world.

It was found in Italy.

So, without further ado, I present to you…the unicorn!

 Deer with one horn

Cute, isn’t it?