Archive for creationism

Nature’s Witness by Daniel Harrell

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

A new book on Christianity and evolution is available entitled “Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith“.  You can read an intriguing excerpt from the book at Quintessence of Dust.

CISD candidates’ views on teaching evolution

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

CISD (Conroe Independent School District, one of the school districts north of Houston and one of the larger districts in the state) has a vacancy on the school board.  The following article addresses the views on teaching evolution of the candidates running for this open position.  Click here to read the article.

When voting on Tuesday, don’t forget about voting for the State Board of Education!

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Here is an article about the candidates running in my area, district 8, for Texas State Board of Education. 

Note that the incumbent, Barbara Cargill, advocates “teaching the controversy”.

Phew…lots of blogging tonight

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

Tonight I have given my best shot with a limited time frame at addressing several issues I have been wanting to address on my blog for some time.  I have mentioned on several blogs recently that I would be addressing some of these issues. 

Unfortunately, due to the huge amount of work I have to do, I can’t say that I’ve done justice to any of the topics entirely.  Thus it is likely that they will be revised and updated in the future.  Please keep this in mind when reading.

You  may also notice several references to Eric Kemp’s blog while reading.  This is not to “pick on” Eric.  Rather, as anyone who visits his blog already knows, several of these topics were addressed at his blog recently, and I had mentioned there that I would be writing about some of these things on my own blog.

Things I still want to cover in some detail in the near future for those who are interested (a list in progress):

  • The cosmology, cosmogony, and intent of the Genesis creation account

Please keep in mind that I do not often get to check for comments on my blog.  My blogging often comes in spurts; I can devote hours or days to it and then not be able to check it for a week.  Thus it is possible that your comments may not show up for several days because I may not be able to moderate for many days.  Please be patient.  🙂

What did Paul say about creation?

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

Some creationists attempt to say that Jesus and Paul also taught a literal six day creation.  I’ve already discussed what Jesus had to say here.  Regarding Paul, Romans 5 is often quoted to support creationism, as Eric Kemp does here:

If death and suffering already existed before the first man had a chance to sin, why do we need a savior?  The most important doctrine of Christianity, humanities need for a savior and Jesus’ ability to fill that roll, is based, according to Paul, on Adam’s first sin (Romans 5:16-18). 

Are we condemned merely because of Adam’s sin?  No.  According to Genesis, sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, but we are all sinful.  Do we not all deserve damnation based on our own deeds? 

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

Was Jesus’ goal to save us from physical death?  Are we ever promised that we won’t have to suffer physical death simply because we are believers?  No.  We are safe from spiritual death because Jesus died for our sins and rose again. 

The entire focus of Romans 5 is man’s fall and redemption through Jesus Christ.  It is not teaching creationism.

Does an “old earth” make God cruel?

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

Yet another common argument proposed by creationists is that the theory of evolution turns God into a cruel tyrant.  Some go even further and accuse “old earth creationism” of the same, even when it doesn’t include the theory of evolution.  For instance, Eric Kemp recently wrote:

How can God call His creation “very good” if there was billions of years of suffering and death in the animal kingdom before humans were created?  This notion also makes God into a bumbling, lying, cruel creator who lacks the power to prevent disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”

How does this make God into a liar?  He said it was “very good”; who are we to judge Him?  How does this make God bumbling?  One could easily make the argument that God is a bumbling fool if He created in the “creationist” manner.  “Oops, this model of Archaeopteryx isn’t really working out for me…I’ll let them go extinct and then start over from scratch.” 

The argument of God being “cruel” or “impotent” applies regardless of how old the earth is or whether evolution is factual.  Indeed, this is one of many reasons why people choose not to believe in God.  People get sick.  People get injured.  People die.  God could stop that if He chose to, could He not?  He is all-powerful, according to Christianity. 

Even if one does view evolution as cruel, etc, does it really matter?  We aren’t God.  If He chose to create via evolution, it really doesn’t matter what we think about it.  God’s character is complex.  Let’s face it.  The bible teaches that He has thrown plagues against the earth (and shall again), He will eventually demolish the earth in judgment, and ultimately sentence nonbelievers to eternal torment.  And yet years of animal death, of all things, is what bothers us about God and His creation in light of these other biblical tidbits?

Exodus and Creation

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

Updated 10-25-08

Creationists often cite Exodus 20, which refers back to Genesis 1 and the six days of Creation, as proof that the days in Genesis 1 are meant to be read literally.  For instance, Eric Kemp states on his blog:

Read the above passage again[referring to Exodus 20], no really I mean it.  God’s entire reason for the Sabbath, and for the literal Jewish work week, was because of a literal creation week.  If God wanted to say that the Jews should work six literal days, and rest a seventh, because He worked in an indefinite period of time, He could have used any of the other three Hebrew words for “a period of time”, but instead He chose what the Jews would interpret as literal days, the word yom

Get ready.  I’m about to shock the heck out of some of you. 

In reality, I don’t think it really matters whether you think Genesis 1 is using such terms as “yom” in a literal manner.  I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Then why go to the trouble of the stuff you have written previously on your blog?”  I do think good arguments can be made for not reading these terms so literally.  Also, things like this are what initially piqued my curiosity, several years ago, that maybe there is more to the creation story than meets the eye.

I actually don’t have much of a problem with this argument of Eric Kemp’s, quoted above.  It is entirely conceivable, in my opinion, that God would have indeed used the words in Genesis in this manner to make the Jewish people treat the work week in such a way.  I agree that one of the interests in Genesis 1 is to correlate the divine work in creation with the six days of work in the Jewish week.  Obviously it would have been inappropriate to depict God’s creative work in eleven days to a society who based many of their rules, celebrations, etc, on the six-and-one schema (six days of work, one day of rest). 

God set a pattern for us in creation, with six “yom” followed by a seventh “yom”.  This is acknowledged by all.  Yet do not mistake me.  To read into these verses that God is making statements about the actual length of the creation is more than what the text supports.  This still does not mean that Genesis is teaching, scientifically, how God created the heavens and the earth. 

The intent of the creation story in Genesis is to set up a monotheistic religion at a time when most people worshipped many gods.  The intent is to smash the beliefs of polytheistic societies to bits while affirming belief in one supreme Creator.  God gave the Jewish people something they could relate to in Genesis by drawing on cosmological imagery familiar to Near Eastern cultures.  It is doubtful that this would have been as effective at helping the Jews establish their identity and religion if God had used scientific principles and terminology to describe exactly how the universe was created.  More on this to come. 

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!

Miller-Urey experiment revisited

Posted in science with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by airtightnoodle

The famous Miller-Urey experiment, frequently attacked by creationists, appears to have produced more intriguing results than the original scientists first suspected.  The experiment is famous for producing amino acids from an apparatus filled with methane, hydrogen, and ammonia–the conditions that were once believed to represent the early Earth’s atmosphere.  Eventually these conditions were considered to be inaccurate.

Jeffrey Bada, one of Miller’s former students, found that Miller had done more work on this issue that was never published when he inherited Miller’s possessions after his death.

Miller had left samples in a box:

…from a device that spewed a concentrated stream of primordial gases over an electrical spark. It was a high-powered variation on the steady-steam apparatus that earned him fame – but unlike that device, it appeared to have produced few amino acids, and was unmentioned in his landmark 1953 Science study, “A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions.”

Bada and his team analyzed these samples that Miller left behind and found no fewer than 22 amino acids.

This should comfort all the packrats out there.  Don’t throw anything away!  🙂

You can read more about this here.

Don McLeroy defends Texas creationists

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Today’s issue of the Waco Tribune-Herald features a guest column from Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.  McLeroy, as mentioned previously on this blog, is a creationist.

Texas is adopting new science standards. Scientists representing evolutionists and calling themselves the 21st Century Science Coalition say that creationists on the State Board of Education will inject religion into the science classroom. Should they be concerned? No. This will not happen.

They also say that the board will require supernatural explanations to be placed in the curriculum. This will not happen.

First of all, this is the first I’ve ever heard of the 21st Century Science Coalition.  Googling reveals their website, located here.  In any case, I find it interesting that McLeroy singles this one organization out.  This seems to give the appearance that this is one of the only groups out there concerned about this issue, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.  But let’s be fair.  Perhaps they had an editorial in the same paper recently that I missed and McLeroy is simply responding to it.  In any case, let’s be clear: these are not the only people making a fuss.

Regardless, how can McLeroy repeat that “this will not happen”?  What other reasons would creationists have for wanting to have a say in the science TEKS?  And how can he definitively dictate what may or may not happen? 

McLeroy then makes a statement to stun all Biology teachers and evolution supporters across the world:

First, is understanding of evolution “vital” to the understanding of biology? No.

I guess McLeroy isn’t familiar with the famous Dobzhansky article that really sums it all up: “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”.

Next, has evolution been demonstrated to be true beyond any reasonable doubt? No.

Is evolution’s support from the peer-reviewed literature unassailable? No.

If these are the criteria by which evolution has come under assault, then much of science should be suffering under the same scrutiny.  No scientific theory is ever going to be proven to be 100% true.  No theory is safe from criticism and peer review.  That’s the beauty of the scientific method–which, many scientists will agree, HAS shown evolution to be true beyond “reasonable doubt”.

Does evolution have scientific “weaknesses”?

The 21st Century Coalition not only says no but insists that we must strike the weaknesses language from our standards because leaving it in threatens our children’s scientific reasoning.

If we’re not going to apply the same “weaknesses” technique to all other scientific theories, then yes, it certainly does threaten our children’s scientific reasoning.  Our students deserve a 21st century science education, not watered-down science, whether it is biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc.