Mike Keesey  

Easy Way to Disprove Biblical Creationism

November 8th, 2005 by Mike Keesey :: see related comic

Science does a very good job of disproving Biblical Creationism, but it’s actually unnecessary—Biblical Creationism can be disproved using The Bible alone.

We’re all probably familiar with the story of The Seven Days of Creation, whence the length of our week and certain religions’ rules about resting on The Sabbath (whether it be Saturday or Sunday), not to mention evocative quotes like, “Let there be light!” Genesis 1, the first chapter of The Torah (and The Bible) recounts God’s creation of the world in six days: 1) light and darkness, 2) a solid sky separating high water (the blue of the sky—Ancient Israelites didn’t know about light diffusion) from low water (the sea), 3) land and plants, 4) stars, the Moon, the Sun, 5) aquatic animals and birds, 6) land animals and people, male and female (number unspecified). On that sixth day, God blesses the people, telling them to “be fruitful and multiply” and to take dominion over the earth. Genesis 2 begins with God resting—the first Sabbath.

Then something interesting happens.

Genesis 2:4—”This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—.” The tale of creation begins again! And this time The LORD God (who seems to have picked up a new title) creates The Man (ha-’adam)—just one this time—before creating plants and animals. And he creates a woman as a helper for The Man after creating “beasts of the field and all the birds of the air” (which are now created simultaneously, not on separate days; not sure what happened to aquatic animals), famously from part of The Man’s side (possibly his rib). The woman (later, after The Fall, named Eve) is not even in existence when the LORD God creates the geography of the Fertile Crescent around The Man, tells him about the Tree of Knowledge or lets him name the animals.

What’s going on? Why are there two stories and why are they different? Objective study of linguistic, archaeological, and historical evidence to the rescue.

Biblical scholars have long recognized that the Torah (or Pentateuch—the first five books of the Old Testament, a.k.a. the Books of Law) have multiple sources:

  • Jahwist: characterized by an older form of Hebrew; the god’s name is Jahweh (also spelled Yahweh, and misspelled as "Jehovah"); 11th–10th century B.C.E.
  • Elohist: the god’s name is Elohim (or ‘Elohim); 8th century B.C.E.
  • Priestly Source: typically ritual-oriented; dates about 6th century B.C.E.
  • Deuteronomist: as the name suggest, the primary source of the Book of Deuteronomy; probably from the reform of Josiah, 622 B.C.E.
There are other sources as well, but these are some important ones.

There are two stories because there are two sources. The Priestly Source, with its emphasis on the ritual of the week, is responsible for the first version. The earlier Jahwist source is responsible for the second version, more personal (the LORD God actually walks with the Man), geographically local, and male-dominated.

What about God’s title? It’s an odd English translation of an admittedly puzzling source. “God” has been used as a translation for Elohim, and “The LORD God” as a translation for Jahweh. But what did they originally mean? Well, Elohim was originally a plural noun (like cherubim and seraphim, types of angels), hence passages like, “Then God [Elohim] said, ‘Let us make man in our image…’” (from Genesis 1:26; emphasis added). Possibly it was originally used to mean a class of gods, possibly sons of a god named ‘El or ‘Elohah. (”‘El” shows up in other deity-related terms, such as archangel names like my own “Michael” [Mikha’el].) Jahweh may have simply been the greatest god of this class (at least according to the Israelites), much as Zeus was the greatest god of Olympus or Oðinn the greatest god of Valhalla. As monotheism developed, the terms for “the main gods” and “the chief sky-god” may have merged.

So these stories are not any more a literal account of the origin of our world than is the story of the Earth being formed from the body of the giant Ymir, slain by Oðinn, Vili, and Ve; or Prometheos creating humans while Epimetheos created animals, using up all the gifts on them, leaving Prometheos with no option but to give humans fire. They are stories created by early agrarians, reflecting their fears, desires, and morals (which, of course, overlap some of our own), but they are not factual information about things that actually happened—else they would at least be consistent.

198 Responses to “Easy Way to Disprove Biblical Creationism”
G.R. Bell wrote:

Michael,
I usually enjoy reading your articles, but I have to politely say that you should stick to dinosaurs. Regurgitating syllabus points from a first-year undergraduate religions class taught by someone with a vendetta against the Bible hardly constitutes a valid case. You doubt special creation and I doubt the geological column. Differing viewpoints are great for debate and discussion. However, you at no point demonstrated a clear “easy way to disprove biblical creationism”. I would enjoy hearing some science that you think disproves creation—not rehashed talking points.
Best,
G.R.Bell

Mike Keesey wrote:

Perhaps my main point got lost:
The first story’s order of creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3):
* light and darkness
* sky waters, sea waters, and a vault between them
* land and plants
* sun, moon, stars
* aquatic and flying animals
* land animals and people (male and female)

The second story’s order of creation (Genesis 2:4–25):
* earth and heavens (including a garden in Eden, and various streams of water)
* man (Adam)
* rain; beasts of the field, birds of the air; plants (exact order not specified)
* woman

The order doesn’t match up—they cannot be taken literally. Fortunately, a good number of Christians, including some prominent paleontologists, understand this. The Roman Catholic church has even specifically commented on the matter, denying that it should be taken literally.

(In fact, in going over this, I note another inconsistency within the second story: when Jahweh creates ‘Adam, there are not supposed to be any plants yet [Genesis 2:5], yet Jahweh had already created a garden in Eden [Genesis 2:8].)

Anyway, to interpret these stories literally is not only logically impossible and contrary to what we have learned from geology, biology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, chemistry—well, just aboutallof science—but I think it cheapens them. The first story in particular is a beautiful ritual, almost like a song. It speaks well to our natural sense of order as it sets up domains (light and dark, sky and sea, land with plants) and then establishes rulers over them (heavenly bodies, swimmers and fliers, land animals), finally setting humans up as the rulers over all. (But under the watch of ‘Elohim.) But is it literal truth? Of course not—otherwise the first astronauts would have crashed into the vault that holds up the sky water.

I don’t have a vendetta against the Bible—in fact I very much enjoy studying it. I don’t hate Creationists—I used to be one! I do wish more people would approach the Bible critically.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Incidentally, I graduated about six years ago, so I’m not sure why you think I’m suffering from a biased first-year teacher.

G.R. Bell wrote:

I suggested you are “suffering from a biased first-year teacher” because you sounded strikingly similar to the first-year religion prof I had in college. Genesis1:11 says plants were made on the third day—Gen 1:27, Adam on day six. So, it is very logical that in chapter 2 there are already plants before Adam was made. I see absolutely no inconsistency with that. If you will notice the word “generations” in Gen2:4 I think you will understand the rest of the chapter better. Genesis 2 is not a 2nd account of creation. It is merely dealing with man—specifically Adam. “Generations” is the Hebrew word toledot meaning “account of men and their descendants”. Chapter two is talking about the events of day 6. The “Garden” and Adam are the focus and it is not reiterating the creation account. So, I am looking at the Bible critically by not ripping passages out of their intended context. Perhaps you should ask your self, “Am I looking at the Bible critically, or am I just looking for a contradiction?”

So, thus far you have not disproved the Bible account of creation, and made an appeal to authority with the Catholic Church. Usually bandwagon arguments are made when firmly ensconced dogmas are hard to let go.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Ah, but, “and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the land, and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for Yahweh Elohim (Yahweh of the Gods) had not sent rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground…. And Yahweh Elohim formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils breath of life, and the man became alive.” (Genesis 2:5, 7) There were no plants when Yahweh created the man. (Although he had created the garden in Eden … maybe it was a rock garden….)

Furthermore, you left out the bigger problem: which came first, people or other organisms? The first story says other organisms, then people (male and female). The second story says the man first, then other organisms, then woman.

I didn’t go looking for these contradictions; they were pointed out to me. In fact, I’d blindly read the passages for years without picking up on them—felt a bit stupid not to have ever noticed. Anyway, I like discussing these issues, but not having false assumptions made about me. (Not that true ones would necessarily be valid for our purposes here, either—argumentum ad hominem.)

As for mentioning the Roman Catholic Church, I am merely reiterating the fact that it still possible to be Christian without believing everything in the Bible (whichever version) to be the literal truth. Religion should not be trying to do science’s job. (But more on that in the weeks to come….)

M. wrote:

A small selection of evidence for evolution:

http://www.talkorigins.org

particularly:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

Evidence against creationism:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

Enjoy.

And while we’re on the topic: the main fault of creationism isn’t that it denies evolution. It is that it lies. In case you’re not clear what I mean: practically all “arguments” employed by “creationist scientists” are wrong regardless of whether life on earth evolved or was created. See the above link for details.

Scott Hartman wrote:

Nice Mike! Not to knock Mr. Bell ’s sincerity, but he’s regurgitating creationist propaganda when he claims that the second origin story is an account of what happened on the sixth day; Look through the actual bible and find a single verse supporting such a notion. I’m curious if Mr. Bell is an NRSV reader, as they are the ones who translate the term “toledot” as “generations”. This term is better translated to mean the less anthropocentric “beginning” or “development”. Indeed, this can be proved by reading 2.4 itself:

“These are the births (toledot) of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that Yahweh and the gods (elohim) were making earth and heaven.”

How could that possibly refer to Adam and a human lineage? Further more, there are major theological differences in the two stories; in the first the elohim are clearly transcendent in their actions; they will things into existence by their voice and/or intention (e.g. 1:3). There is no indication that men and women are made at different times (1:26-28). Note that the word used for mankind (”man” of 1:26) is not the same as the Hebrew word for male (second half of 1:27). In this first origin story we are made in the image of the gods.

In the second story, Yahweh is mentioned for the first time and is implied to be the head of the gods. Man is created from dust, and no indication is given that we are created in their image. Plus this god is getting his hands dirty, using dust to make Adam, and yanking a rib out to make Eve; gone is the transcendent beings simply calling creation into existence.

These aren’t bible-hating talking points; they are freely available to anyone interested in reading the bible. Finally, let me encourage anyone who wants to make arguments such as those by Mr. Bell to do some research into Hebrew. As Mike points out, elohim is plural. This is a simple fact: plural gods, and the term “us” in reference to actions. That’s the original Hebrew, and if you don’t like it take it up with the ancient Israelites.

Not only are the two origin myths incompatible in detail and theology, but a literal reading of them requires us to give up monotheism!

By the way, how can you “doubt” the geologic column? It’s not like picking your favorite sports team you know; you need actual data. I’ve been digging dinosaurs in the “geologic column” for over ten years, all over the western U.S. The rocks are always in the right temporal order, and we I have never, ever, EVER seen the wrong kind of dinosaur in the wrong time period, let alone people or modern mammals in Mesozoic rocks.

Oil companies spend, literally, millions of dollars every year to do oil exploration based on the geologic column. Seeing as how most oil company execs are themselves social conservatives (and the vast majority I’ve met are people of faith), do you really think they are propagating a falsehood at great expense to themselves? For what possible reason???

Jaime Headden wrote:

Well said, Scott. Mike and I have been poking around the various versions of the Bible for the purpose of finding out what was actually said, and meant, rather than the literalism that has sprung up since the KIng James Version was used as literal truth. Finding meaning and reason in the Bible requires an open mind, other wise like Bell one is simply parroting what others have said, such that because Genesis 2 occurs after Genesis 1, the events in 2 must follow 1 directly, rather than being of two separate origins and two separate explanations or “stories”.

G.R. Bell wrote:

Come on guys. “regurgitating creationist propaganda”? I simply pointed out that Mike’s argument wasn’t that strong. I am a microbiologist–and the types of arguments he makes against the Bible would never stand up in my field of science. Not very objective. If you feel like lambasting me for pointing out a weak argument and making a lot of false assumptions about me personally, that’s fine. For the record, I study the KJV.

G.R. Bell wrote:

Scott,
What do you do with Lystrosaurus? This Triassic index fossil has been found in Permian rocks. How did it make it through the largest extinction of all time? You don’t question the geologic column because it is a dogma of modern paleontology.

John R wrote:

the types of arguments he makes against the Bible would never stand up in my field of science.

Really? You don’t think that if you contradicted page 1 on page 2, people would take that to mean that either page 1 or page 2 would *have* to not be absolutely true?

“regurgitating creationist propaganda”

You are making some “creative” translations…

I study the KJV.

… although I see that they’re not originally *your* mistakes.

How did it make it through the largest extinction of all time?

The Permian extinction killed of 95% of life. The obvious answer would be that Lystrosaurus is in the other 5%. BBC’s got a simple version of it. With all other factors remaining consistent, seeing Lystrosaurus in two sets of fossils implies that it lived through the extinction, not that all the other fossil dating evidence must be wrong.

It’s worth noting that the only site I found saying that this meant anything beyond that not all life died in that extinction was Answers In Genesis, renowned liars and lunatics.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Find me a Lystrosaurus in Proterozoic or Cenozoic rock and then we’re talking. Heck, I’d even accept Cretaceous or Cambrian. A vertebrate genus persisting as long as Lystrosaurus did (after all, the Permian and Triassic are adjacent) is not that remarkable, and clearly something survived the Permian/Triassic event.

And Scott brings up some good points. Why do oil companies spend millions researching the geologic column if it’s “wrong” (whatever that means)? Exactly how much time have you spent digging through it? Can you give me any examples of species appearing in radically different time zones (e.g. Paleozoic and Cenozoic)?

Mike Keesey wrote:

I simply pointed out that Mike’s argument wasn’t that strong. —Bell

Where? You still haven’t addressed the differences in sequence between the two stories: other organisms, then people both male and female (Priestly chant) vs. one man, then other organisms, then one woman (Jahwist saga).

(Incidentally, If you buy the second story, whom did their children breed with, anyway? Each other? You try that in real life, you get deformities from inbreeding. Of course, the sons of ‘Elohim injected some of their bloodline into it [Genesis 6:1–2], but now we’re talking polytheism.)

Scott Hartman wrote:

“What do you do with Lystrosaurus? This Triassic index fossil has been found in Permian rocks. How did it make it through the largest extinction of all time? You don’t question the geologic column because it is a dogma of modern paleontology. ”

How can this possibly cast the slightest bit of doubt on the fossil record?!! Lystrosaurus is one of the most common dicynodonts, even in the Permian, and dicynodonts were amoungst the most common tetrapods at the time of the extinction. All things being equal, we would EXPECT the most common animals to have the best odds of making it through.

I don’t accept the geologic column because it’s dogma; look at my research record and you’ll see I’m not exactly known for upholding dogmatic positions. I also frequently question the geologic column. I think that the latest part of the Morrison stands a good chance of crossing the J/K boundary. I think that most sedimentological correlations (e.g. caliche beds) are probably bunk arcoss distances of more than a few dozen miles. But these are errors of a quarter million to maybe a million years, not an error of 65-300 million years.

I don’t question the antiquity of the Earth because I’ve made it my business to look into creationist objections (I’ll wager I have a larger collection of pro-creationist literature than you do) to modern dating methods, and they have all turned out to be bunk. I even spent extra time reading through grad-level nulear chemistry textbooks to make sure that the basiclay-person representation of these dating methods were representative. If you want want to question it, start here: http://livingtextbook.oregonstate.edu/

Get back to me when you, or any creationist, knows anything about the vast literature on radioactive decay and the mountains of data that support it. And don’t even think about bringing up something as silly as polonium halos.

By the way, your posts are making another common mistake, you are taking quotes out of context; you said: “Come on guys. “regurgitating creationist propaganda”? I simply pointed out that Mike’s argument wasn’t that strong. I am a microbiologist–and the types of arguments he makes against the Bible would never stand up in my field of science.”

But when I said you were regurgitating creationist propaganda, I wasn’t refering to your general arguements, I said explicitly: “Not to knock Mr. Bell ’s sincerity, but he’s regurgitating creationist propaganda when he claims that the second origin story is an account of what happened on the sixth day; Look through the actual bible and find a single verse supporting such a notion.”

Notice how there is absolutely no mention of your other arguements, only a reference to the idea that the second origin story is telling the events of the 6th day of creation. Moreover, you totally failed the basic challenge to find a single verse in Genesis to support it. Genesis 1-2 isn’t that long, if there is a shred of biblical support for the notion, surely it isn’t too hard to find it? I’ve read it three dozen times and never seen it, but if I’m wrong point it out to me. That would be actual evidence, rather than turning around and quoting me out of context to make it look as if I were slandering your entire post.

Be careful what you assume about others; I’ve spent more time reading creationist material than any creationist I’ve met. I am not blindly clinging to dogmatic arguements (though I’ll admit that some scientists do) for the sake of my field. When I say that every single creationist arguement against evolution (or that supports creationsim) is wrong, I’m not blowing sunshine up your butt; it is the voice of long, tedious, and frequently nauseating experience.

marc hawkins wrote:

Hey! enjoy the comic, saw the first comment and was going to leap in, then saw the replies by far more eloquent and probably qualified people… and well, what they said :)

Thomas Alecto wrote:

Back to the initial statement by G.R. Bell in response to the two accounts of creation:

Notice that only one of the issues was directly replied to, namely that of the possibility (never actually stated by Mr. Bell, though it’s what works) that the animals referred to in the second account are just animals created for the Garden. If they are the same animals as described in the first account, then the accounts certainly conflict. Supporting the view that there is a conflict is the fact that Chapter 2 clearly says that ALL of the beasts and birds were created as helpers. Avoiding a conflict merely requires that the order of verses does not imply time order. Thus the animals talked about after the creation of Adam in Chapter 2 could have been the ones created on Day 3.

None of this, however, was pointed out. Bell complained about the attack on the Bible, and claimed that there WERE replies to it, but never actually made those replies. He also made an oblique ad hominem attack, not against Mike Keesey, but against a hypothetical religion teacher. No responses were made on the subjects of multiple authorship, or of the whole issue that arises for literal interpretation of the Bible when one realizes that the first line of Genesis reads literally “In the beginning, the Gods are creating the Heavens and the Earth.” Plural Gods and imperfective verb. Creation is not complete. Since none of these were responded to, we must assume that the hypothetical first-year religion teacher is actually pretty good. Bell has no easy responses to his teaching.

Are we looking for contradictions? Maybe. Then again, we already have one. Start by assuming God made the world. That means He made the rocks - and physics. There are no intervening authors (Yahwist, Elohist, or otherwise) no priests debating over which books are true, no Ecclesiastical Councils, and no translation. The rocks testify directly to a world far larger and older than that imagined by creationists. Now surely we still have to interpret them. But let’s remember what level we’re at. We stand in the same place relative to the geologic record as the hypothetical man who had the Scripture dictated directly to him. We have the source, Quelle, the original Act, as if we had handed to us an original gospel by Matthew in 40 AD. All we have to do is interpret it. Now that’s hard, but it’s far less hard than interpreting King James PLUS the translators and their biases PLUS our cultural biases PLUS the fact that English, Greek and Hebrew don’t directly overlap their word-concept boundaries PLUS the fact that the Canon was agreed to by thousands of imperfect men over hundreds of years PLUS that we don’t really know who some of the original authors were, and that those we do know (e.g. Paul) admitted they were not perfect. The rocks tell us that the world is billions of years old. The Bible says thousands. That’s the conflict. I trust the rocks for two reasons. First, as I’ve already said, the rocks were made by God, either directly or indirectly, but with no human intervention, while the Bible was made by man. Second, the Bible tells me so! Read Romans 1:18-26. It’s not just stating an argument from design. Remember, his readers already believed in the existence of God. He’s pointing out that you find out about the NATURE of God by looking at the NATURE of the world, and that Error comes from making God into something like one single piece of Nature.

I’m claiming that the modern creationists, by holding to the idea that God acts as a kind of blacksmith, forging together the world in one instant as a kind of patchwork, rather than through an all-encompassing eternal timeless design, are making God in their own image. They are ignoring information that says that the world is tremendous and subtle and magnificent, in order to hold onto a past idea that it is tiny and short-lived. Thus, they trivialize God and are led astray. It is the creationists, by making the Creator a short-reigned petty king over a tiny planet, rather than the Author of Physics, who are driving people out of the church, not all of the modern distractions that they blame it on. Some of them also, by saying or insinuating that ALL Truth exists within the Bible, are making the Bible into an image of God, as if somehow the all-encompassing Mind of God can be contained in several hundred pages. They have made the Bible into an idol, a thing made of matter claimed to be an oracle or true representation of the Living God. This is wrong on so many levels, and it is the root cause of much of the problems Christianity faces today.

As for comparing some of these criticisms to peer review, remember that evolution is accepted by experts all over the world - nearly all geologists and geochemists and the like (i.e. people who can “read the rocks” or understand how it’s done.) This happened despite the religious teachings of their cultures. On the other hand, the Bible fails such “peer review” by a majority of the world’s cultures. And I’m not speaking of “the masses” here anymore than for the rocks. People who can read the Bible in India, for instance, still tend to favor Hinduism, just like those in the US who read Hindu “scriptures” tend to continue to favor Christianity. In other words, it is the upbringing of a person, not the intrinsic worth of the scripture, that makes a person believe. This is very troubling. I too favor the Bible, but would I have done so were I born in India?

Lystrosaurus: Bringing this up sounds like the creationist argument technique I call “exceptionalism” which is a kind of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. When I first heard it, it went like this: evolution is wrong because of Piltdown Man. Piltdown Man was a fraud perpetrated by some British paleontologists, possibly out of frustration that homonid fossils were being found in Neanderthal, France but not in Britain. That’s like saying that if I find a copy of the Bible that for some reason is really in error - e.g. a page was left out by a printing house, that I should reject all of Scripture. I also worry that maybe that is what is at the bottom of creationism, that people fear that if a few verses of Genesis are proven incorrect, that they’ll have to throw out all of scripture. You know, the early Christians threw out the book of Enoch in the first few centuries AD, but that didn’t mean they disbelieved ALL Scripture. Just because I don’t believe they got Genesis right doesn’t mean I throw out all of the Bible. Slippery slope? Maybe, but get used to it! It’s all like that, all of life. It’s hard to make sure of things - but it leads toward the Truth.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Thomas, thanks for a wonderfully written reply that brings up many interesting points.

Captain Slack wrote:

He made the rocks - and physics. There are no intervening authors (Yahwist, Elohist, or otherwise) no priests debating over which books are true, no Ecclesiastical Councils, and no translation. The rocks testify directly to a world far larger and older than that imagined by creationists.

“THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.” (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Chapter IX

I also worry that maybe that is what is at the bottom of creationism, that people fear that if a few verses of Genesis are proven incorrect, that they’ll have to throw out all of scripture.

Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham, in a rare moment of truthfulness and maybe even sanity during a PBS show (I think it was a NOVA ep) about creationism, said point-blank that that’s his motivation for his belief system: “If I can’t trust what the Bible says about biology, how can I trust what it says about morality?” (I’m not sure where this attitude comes from, but my best guess is that it comes from taking the warning near the end of the Revelation, that anyone who edits “this book” [the said apocalypse itself] will have his name edited out of the Book of Life, and interpreting “this book” to mean the entire Bible.)

Mike Keesey wrote:

That’s kind of funny, since there was no such thing as “The Bible” when Revelation was written.

At various points (primarily but not entirely in the Old Testament), the Bible endorses genocide, senseless slaughtering of animals and infants, slavery, rape, etc.—I would hardly trust everything it says on morality.

John Omega wrote:

Michael:

Going quite a way back in this thread, I have a minor quibble with one of your assertions regarding a supposed contradiction in Genisis 2:

You wrote “when Jahweh creates ‘Adam, there are not supposed to be any plants yet [Genesis 2:5], yet Jahweh had already created a garden in Eden [Genesis 2:8] ”
Now, the bible translation you use(Which the hell one, by the way? The gist of it more or less* agrees with The translations I’ve seen, I am quite unfamiliar with this one.) says “and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the land, and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for Yahweh Elohim (Yahweh of the Gods) had not sent rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground…. And Yahweh Elohim formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils breath of life, and the man became alive.” (Genesis 2:5, 7)
It seems evident to me that YHWH had in fact created the garden, but that it had it not yet sprouted, as “Yahweh Elohim (Yahweh of the Gods) had not sent rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground”. In my experience, there is usually some time that passes between planting a garden and the thing actually growing.

* “Yahweh of the Gods”?? I have always been under the impression that the Tetragrammaton (YHWH, or Yahweh if you prefer… Yoowhoo or Yahoowahoo for all we know- there were no vowels in the original) is the name of God and Elohim is what he is, and that therefore a more sensible translation might be “the God Yahweh” rather than “Yahweh of the Gods”.

Mike Keesey wrote:

I’m using an interlinear bible, which I supplement with the excellent site searchgodsword.org for more information on etymology. I’m no expert, though, so I welcome correction.

Man as the gardener of Eden, allowing the seeds to fulfill their potential—makes sense. But still, the Priestly chant clearly has plants bearing seeds and trees bearing fruit on the third day of Creation, three days before people are created. They aren’t incipient seeds—they’re already bearing fruit. And when the Jahwist story talks about the land being bare when the man (ha-’adam) was created, it’s talking about all land (‘erets, also translated as Earth), not just Eden (:eden). Eden isn’t mentioned at all until further on.

There aren’t vowels, per se, but there are the semivowels yod and waw, which can act as consonants or as vowels (yod as a middle-to-high front unrounded vowel like /e/ or /i/, waw as a middle-to-high back rounded vowel like /o/ or /u/). The Masoretic texts also include vowel diacritics as the passages were traditionally read, but they are intentionally altered in the case of the word YHWH, since mention of his name is verboten. The scribes were not allowed to make any alterations to the letters, but they were allowed to add diacritics as they saw fit, so YHWH was given the vowel diacritics of other words (e.g., adonai “lord”), indicating that the other word should be read aloud so as not to commit blasphemy. (A misunderstanding of this practice led to the erroneous formation by Christian theologians of the word “Jehovah”—the consonants of yahweh plus the vowels of adonai). Nonetheless, we can rule out “Yoowhoo” because it would have been written “YWHW” and “Yahoowahoo” because it would have been written “YHWHW”. Still, you are correct that we don’t know exactly how it was pronounced—although “Yahweh” should at least be very close.

The problem with your translation is that ‘elohim is a plural, the plural of ‘eloah. Literally it says “Yahweh Gods”—I suppose it could mean the pantheon which Yahweh is chief of, but it sounds to me like it could be a title like Yahweh Shabaot (”Yahweh of the Hordes”). Someone with a better knowledge of Hebrew grammar could tell better.

Thomas Alecto wrote:

“YHWH Elohim” literally means “YHWH of the Gods”. That’s just the literal meaning of the phrase in Hebrew. “Elohim” is usually translated in the singular, but the associated pronouns are sometimes plural, as in Genesis, indicating that plural was intended. The singular of “Elohim” is “El” (sometimes “Eloh”, which is cognate with “Allah”). Tradition has usually rendered “Elohim” to be either singular (perhaps of the kind by which kings refer to themselves in the plural) or a plural referring to God and the Angels. Still, if one starts out taking the Bible literally, they have to account for why we are referring to “Yahweh of the Gods” in Genesis and other books.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Thanks for the clarification.

Gesenius says, “The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew,” so the “Yahweh + Angels” interpretation seems more likely. Might have included Ba’al, Asherah, ‘El, etc. in folk religions, too. Monotheism was certainly an introduced concept, not the original mode.

Scott Hartman wrote:

To add to what Mike said, it is very unlikely that it means “Yahweh and the Angels”, this is simply an attempt by modern monotheists to shoehorn ancient Canaanite/Israelite religion into their modern belief system. There are specific words used in Genesis to refer to “angels” or other lower dieties. With the overwhelming archeological evidence for polytheism as the original form of worship there, including temples found with El, Asherah, Astarte, and Ba’al all being worshipped alongside (and with equal stature to) Yahweh in pre-biblical Israel, it’s pretty obvious that the “J” origin myth of Genesis was penned by authors who thought Yahweh was the patron god of the pantheon, much as Athens viewed Athena. It’s equally clear from archeology that the populace of Judah and Israel (it’s doubtful as to whether there ever was a united kingdom, though Salomon appears to have been historical) never really bought into this dedication to Yahweh above the other gods, it was mostly just the “state” religion, though the bible itself makes clear that even state favoritism towards Yahweh waxed and waned with the ancient Hebrews.

Sean Haughian wrote:

I am a biologist and museum tour guide, so I quite frequently have people debating these issues with me. I don’t need information on radioactive-isotope dating, moon-dust, sedimentology, or anything else for that matter to show me that evolution is true, because the proof is present in the nearly perfect order that earth’s incredibly diverse extant taxa align themselves. You can argue all you want about taxonomic designations being anthropomorphic, but the truth is that the many homologies we observe in these organisms are clearly the product of descent with modification.

Many creationists argue that we cannot see evolution taking place, but we can — antibiotic resistance in bacteria, pesticide resistance in insects and plants, clear changes in gene frequencies of populations over time (not purposely engineered by humans) support evolution whether you can see it as a morphological change or not.

I have also asked many creationists what happened to the dinosaurs if the earth is only 6000 years old? Why is there no evidence of them in any human civilizations records? Some say the reference in the book of Job about the “Behemoth” prooves that we coexisted with Dinosaurs once upon a time (because there’s no animals alive today that could be considered behemoths), but then why are they not here today? The Flood? So when Noah was allowing the animals on the ark two-by-two, it was “Lions, check, Cows, check, Alligators, check, Apatosaurus, nope, sorry, your name’s not on the list…”. No, it is because dinosaurs went extinct long before man had evolved.

Evolution is supported by reason, observation, and logic. The Bible is great for moral guidance and metaphorical teaching, but not an exact history.

For those that believe in God, what is more perfect: God’s record of life on earth (i.e. the fossil record and diversity we bear witness to today), or ancient man’s interpretation of how it all began (whether it is inspired by God or not)?

Kiwi Carlisle wrote:

A giant chicken? Wow! I’d like to see that! I’ll bet Carney and Carnita would like the taste, too! Lovely writing, Scott!

Mike Keesey wrote:

Was that comment meant for today’s strip?

Also, I write the strip, not Scott. (But thanks, anyway.)

Kiwi Carlisle wrote:

No, the “lovely writing” was for Scott’s comments here. OK, on second glance, the T-Rex has wattles and the sorts of bristles one gets on a plucked chicken. Other than that, she isn’t all that chickeny. Mmmm…chicken.

Scott Hartman wrote:

And Mike does an excellent job with the comic strip!

John Omega wrote:

Thanks for the delightfully erudite smackdown on my prior comments.

*SIGH*… That’s what I get for using Cerebus and The Cartoon History of the World as my primary research material (Although as I recall, Gonick’s formulation of God’s name in TCHW was actually Yahoo-Wahoo, with the hyphen.)…

Mike Keesey wrote:

Gonick renders it “Yahuwa” or, abbreviated, “Yahu”. The former could be considered a semi-phonetic transliteration, although, “Yahu[w]ah” would probably be more accurate.

He also translates it as, “Oh, he”—I don’t know anything about that etmyological theory.

Good books overall, but not exactly a substitute for a real textbook. (The section on dinosaurs is particularly lousy, as I recall.)

Jorge Moreno wrote:

pretty good article! You gringos have begin to have a problem with those christian extremists. Should be careful or will be under a christian version of Taliban regime (e. g. You will come back to middle age).

The bible is a “conpendium” of contradictions.

Mike Keesey wrote:

¡Gracias!

(Wow, I didn’t know the word “gringo” was still in use.)

I think the pendulum will swing back again. I hope so, anyway—I really like this country.

Some Dumb Guy wrote:

Wow, you guys are having quite a nice debate here. I doubt I’ll be able to get every detail that leaps out at me, but I think I can get the main ones that made me want to respond to thing.

Omega all but summed up the standard answer to the claim that Gen. 1 and 2 contradict each other. One’s reffering to the making of the world like an overview, while the other is reffering to a specific bit, the Garden of Eden.

Sean, I loved your last reply. At one point you asked in reference to the ‘Behemoth’ of the bible, “But then why are they not here today? The flood?” Well, the creationist answer for that is… yes. You probably heard of the conopy theory, but in case you haven’t the next paragraph explains it…. poorly, but about as good as I can do.

Simply put, the theory is that it never rained before the flood (BTW: Mike, which verse in Chapter two said when God made rain? Maybe it’s my version but I can’t find it.) Now I know your going to say that’s impossible because everything would’ve died but hear me out first. In Genisis is was mentioned that things were watered by a mist/dew. It also mentioned a ‘vault of water’ in the sky. How do these two corelate? Simple. The vault of water may have in actuality been a massive amount of water vapour and ice in the atmosphere. This would’ve done two things, A: Air Pressure increases (This is important because dinosaurs couldn’t breath our current atmosphere. Their bodies need more oxygen than the world can offer right now.) B: UV light blocked out. (Good for health. Scientists have tested this and things grow bigger and live longer. ((There was a fossilized pider with a 3 foot leg span! I nearly crapped myself. There’s also a giant turtle at a museum in New Haven.)) Combined with the Oxygen scenario some believe this could account of the long lifespans at the beginning of the Bible) This would make things grow immensely big. Now from here the thoeries branch out a bit.

-Some believe Dinosaurs were just big lizards that began dying off after the flood.
-Some Believe Dinosaurs were dragons. (Dinosaur was only added in the dictionary about 200 years ago.)

(**Now here is the part where you bring up the fire breathing dragon and ask me how I can even entertain the idea of such nonsense. To which I reply: Woah cheif. Have you ever heard of the archer fish, the cameleon, or, my favourite, the bombardier beetle. Animals can pull off some phreaky shit yo… and uh… word up.)

-Some believe that dinosaurs were a completely unrelated species and died off simply because of lack of oxygen.

As for which one of those is right, I dunno. I’m not six thousand or three billion or however many years old. I know dinosaurs existed, I know T-Rexes kick ass. I’m learning more, but I don’t have anything I could swear by right now.

Let’s see. Sean, you commented about anti-biotic resistant bacteria. This is NOT a good example. Evolution is a result of information getting added. What you described is information lost. Anti-biotics target a single piece of the complex cells known as bacteria. If a bacteria loses that piece, however is may be a little weaker over all, but the medicine doesn’t do anything to it. It’s like if you grew up without an appendix because there was a disease that would attack that organ and kill you. Sure, you survived, but did you evolve… well, backwards maybe.

And one final note for ya Sean. Homology is a bad argument. Genetics and molecular biology are better. Why? because even two species that look similiar can have very different DNA. Ask anyone, depending on what you believe to be the main trigger of Evolution, you can get very different Trees of Life. Now why is that imporant? Because the odds of getting a benifical mutation is was estimated by one evolutionist to occure in 1 of about ever 10^6 generations. Getting several to line up right is… well, I’d almost call it unscientific. So DNA, not outward appearance presents a much stronger case.

Now I think that does it for me… Oh yeah. I always here how the bible contradicts itself, but I never see anythng that can stand up to scrutiny. If want to put some of your better examples here I’d be glad to take a wack at them, so to speak. (Don’t give me one of those sites that’s lists a hundred and nine and so on. I am not THAT bored with my life) ciao.

Sean Haughian wrote:

You should choose a different name, as most will probably feel uncomfortable calling you “some dumb guy”.

Anyways, most antibiotic resistance is aquired through the addition of plasmids; circular rings of DNA that can be taken up into the cell and become part of the cell’s genetic makeup.

How about another example? A basic experiment to illustrate mutation rates in E coli bacteria (that is often performed in basic University genetics courses) is to generate back-mutations. Basically, what this means is that we select bacteria that have a mutation which does not allow them to grow in the absense of certain supplemental nutrients. We test various combinations of suppliments to ensure that the cultures we use have only one debilitating mutation. Next we grow these cultures and once there are enough, expose them to a light dose of UV radiation. Inevitably, when we spread these UV exposed cultures on a petri dish lacking the nutrient in question, we witness growth of some cultures. You are correct that it is a very small number, somewhere in the order of 1/1000000, but the UV radiation-induced mutations can and do yield some beneficial changes.

Secondly, evolution does not rely solely on spontaneous insertion mutations. There are many types of mutation that can drive evolutionary change, including deletions, substitutions, and reversals, among others. But mutation itself is not necessarily the only factor in evolution. Often the genetic information already present in a population is enough to induce change over time; gene frequencies shift naturally, sometimes in an oscillatory fashion and sometimes in a unidirectional one.

Third, the oxygen content varied considerably during the time of the dinosaurs (approximately a 150 million year span of time if you go with the radioactive isotope dating technique, which I know most creationists don’t believe); the extremely large insects you speak of mostly lived before the dinosaurs were around. In fact, according to some geologists, there were times (during the reign of the dinosaurs) when oxygen levels were actually lower than or comparable to those of today.

If you follow the paleontological literature closely, you will have noticed a few recent publications drawing attention to similarities between the pneumatic bones of dinosaurs and birds — birds actually have air sacs extending from their lungs into pockets formed by vertebrae, thereby significantly increasing the surface area of the lung. Because of this, paleontologists go so far as to suggest that these beasts may have even been able to sustain a warm-blooded metabolism as birds do.

Let’s break the main concepts of evolutionary theory down, just to see if they make good logical sense.

1. Individuals can and do produce many more offspring than necessary to survive, and in unlimited resource conditions, often approach exponential growth.

2. There is variation between individuals of every population.

3. This variation is heritable; it can be passed from parent to offspring.

I think these concepts are basic and logical enough that even the most ardent creationist would agree with them. Now, because there are more individuals produced than can possibly survive during unlimited conditions, they will inevitably reach an environmental carrying capacity, at which a substantial number of them must die. When this happens, who survives? The ones with the best genes of course, the ones best suited to this limited-resource environment. These are the individuals that will produce the next generation.

This is the process of natural selection — the driving force behind evolution. You cannot debate those three facts of life, and when you consider the result of such actions over millions upon millions of years, you cannot help but reach the ultimate conclusion that all life today shares one common ancestor.

I am not saying there is no God, indeed many of the most prominent theoretical physicysts today often speak of some unknown force that holds the Universe together, and no person really has a good explanation for who or what caused the “big-bang” conditions.

What it comes down to, is that the bible is one religious creation story of many from different religions. Of course if you are a Creationist, you believe that the bible is the ultimate word of God, but I ask you this: can you prove to me that another book of religious scripture is less truthful than the bible is? Would you think I was crazy if I told you that the sun and moon are only in the sky because they were taken out of a secret box by the mischeivious Raven of american aboriginal myth? Perhaps not, but certainly you’d think I was being illogical, believing in such ancient secular theories.

Evolution is a scientific theory; it was hypothesized 150 years ago, and has never been disproven. The bible is secular dogma, written by men (regardless of whether or not it was dictated by God), and most parts of it are almost 2000 years old. It makes a good moral guide, and is indeed a foundation for the law-systems of most western societies, but it is not fact, nor an exact history of the human race.

Some Dumb Guy wrote:

Heh, well for the name. I look at this stuff a lot, but I’m not a scientist myself. I can argue my point better than most because I look into a lot of main examples and general publishing that most people accept without a second thought, but my background doesn’t hardly makes my oppinion or thoughts qualified.

As for your response. That is probably the best defination of evolution I’ve ever read. I gotta copy, paste, print, and put a gold star on that. I take it your a genetisist?

That fact about antibiotic resistance is good to know. I was actually looking for some stuff to explain: Wait, if all antibiotic resistance is losing something, then wouldn’t the bacteria have degraded into nothing by now… something along those lines.

But now I have a question. Exactly how far does these muations go? I mean, I understand taking in the extra DNA changes the genetics of the bacterium, but how far do these changes go? Can one illness evolve into another or is just back and forth variations on the same sickness, kinda like the B-cells make variations of antibodies when they attach to an invader.

That second example you gave me was awesome too. I definately want to look into that.

And yes, I think I know what your talking about here. I recall an observation of darwins finches where drought caused the finches with bigger beaks to take control of the population for a while. The genes for bigger beaks were already their, but the envirement allowed them to dominate.

As well I also recall a rose experiment where they breeded red roses consistantly until they got a white one. The genes were already there, but most the time they were dominant. I think there’s a couple other well know example too, but you probably know more about this than I do anyway so I’ll move on.

Next onto the oxygen content. I would love to learn more about radioactive isotope dating but it’s so hard to find unslanted articles. Evo’s present it as infallible until proven wrong and Creationist’s present is as ueless until proven right. You seem like a decent guy, how would you respond to the claim that:

A) carbon dating is unreliable but the amount of the carbon in the atmosphere has not reached equalibrium.

B) There’s a limit as to how far back we you can go with radioactive isotope dating because after several half-lifes it there is so little of the element left it becomes very difficult to measure it correctly.

I remember hearing about the hollow bones before. I always thought it was an interesting discovery. But not much more than that.

And yes. The theory of evolution is a decent theory. I’ve never disputed that fact, but a lot of facts used to support evolution are twisted, sometimes by creationists, sometimes by evo’s own scientists.

Your next point, however, although it makes sense, is where a lot of creationists will strike. Gene frequency can only go as far as speciation before a mutation must come into play to get the animal in question one step closer to a new class of animal. No one really argues speciation. The creationist’s challenge is trying to prove theirs limits to how far an animal can go on it’s own.

You’re last explantion was quite well done, so I’d like to ask you two more things. How do you explain the cambrian explosion, which shows many of the major animal groups emerging at once and then very little change afterwards. And the second question is, isn’t the fact that we are losing our moon detrimental to the evolutionist theory because it cuts the time scale down by which evolution is suppose to occur?

Also, you mentioned the big bang, but doesn’t the theory of angular momentum discredit that?

And lastly. You made an interesting comment about the bible. In a nutshell you are right. If I said, I believed ‘poof’ the world here just showed up here one day with all the animals and peoples and memories, and gene freuencys… well, you’d have no way to prove me wrong, but you might, sit a few seats away from me if we were both trapped on the same bus.

The only way you could really discredit the bible is to strike it down when it takes leaps on things that can be proven or disproven. For example, the story of Daniel is a good example. They’ve actually found record of him under his bayblonian name. Also, it’s safe to assme that geology two thousand years ago was pretty close to how it is now. This causes much trouble for the apocryphal, as some of those books are have geological inaccurasies. Heck they even found a natural land bridge and chariot pieces in a specific area of the Red Sea. Sea Shells on top of mount everest are good for the bible account of the flood. Of course, none of these pieces of evidence are full proof, but they give reason to study the account and do take research just that one step further.

Anyway, pleasure chatting with ya. ciao.

Mike Keesey wrote:

There’s “dumb”, and there’s “ignorant”. I used to be a literal Creationist myself, but I don’t think I was dumb (except perhaps by virtue of being young)—just ignorant. And being ignorant, unlike being dumb, is curable.

The canopy hypothesis is scientifically untenable. There’s just no way for it to work, physically. But we don’t even have to worry about that. The canopy hypothesis assumes that the Hebrew Bible is literally true in everything it says. But the Hebrew Bible itself contradicts it, thus showing the hypothesis to be logically inconsistent.

It does say that ‘Elohim created a “vault”, but the Hebrew word, “RQY`/raqiya`”, is for a solid structure. (It could also be translated as “bulwark” or even “plate”.) Consider also Job (`Iyob) 37:18, “Can you beat [i.e., hammer] out the heavenly skies with him, hard as a cast mirror?”

Genesis (Bereshith) 1:17 says, “And ‘Elohim set them [sun, moon, and stars] into the vault of the Heavenwaters to give light over the Land,” so the ‘Elohim basically fasten them into a solid structure, a hemisphere that holds the waters of heaven (those that make the sky blue). This cosmological concept was common to the geographical area in early historical times. The Egyptians wrote about a “blue dome”, Homer is recorded as mentioning a metal hemisphere, and the Sumerians posited a sky-vault made of tin. A nice illustration can be found here.

Thus, the writers of the Bible were not referring to a mist in the stratosphere, but to a solid hemisphere sitting over a disc-shaped Earth. And, as Job shows, this firmament is not supposed to have disappeared with the Noachian deluge, but was still supposed to be around in Job’s day. Its existence has been pretty solidly disproven by the fact that space rockets don’t hit anything on their way to outer space, showing such ancient cosmologies as those held by the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks (except for those who were among the first to realize that the Earth was a sphere, of course), Sumerians etc. to be inferior in explanatory power to the modern view.

Mike Keesey wrote:

(BTW: Mike, which verse in Chapter two said when God made rain? Maybe it’s my version but I can’t find it.)

Actually, you’re right; rain is not mentioned, and I should remove that. But this doesn’t change that the Priestly story has man (humans, male and female) being created after animals, while the Jahwistic story has the human male being created first, then animals, then the woman.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Some Dumb Guy, you are reluctant to browse through the compendia of contradictions others have collected (and I hope it’s not due to laziness—Proverbs 6:6–11, 24:30–34), so I’ll offer one I’ve always found striking:

You shall not murder.
—Exodus [We’eleh Shemoth] 20:13*

A fair dictate (if a bit vague). But look at this:

“This is what Yahweh of the Hordes says, ‘I will punish `Amaleq [a neighboring kingdom] for what he did to Yishra’el [Israel], when he waylaid him on his way as he came up from Mitsrayim [Egypt]. Now go! And attack `Amaleq, and destroy all that he has. Do not spare any of them. And kill [everything], from man to woman, from child to suckling, from herdling even to flockling, from camel even to donkey.’”
—1 Samuel [Shemu’el] 15:2–3

So, on the one hand, Yahweh stipulates that, as part of his contract with Israel, they are not allowed to murder. But he also commands the Israeli king, Sa’ul, to commit genocide against a neighboring tribe, even their children, infants, and livestock. Sure seems like a contradiction to me.

There are many who believe the Bible should be followed as a moral guide, but not as a book of science. (The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has recently endorsed this approach.) But these people are cherry-picking, focusing on the sweet parts (and there are enough of them to keep some people busy) while ignoring the sour (endorsement of genocide, kidnap, rape, slavery, etc.). The Bible as a whole fails as science and as a moral guide, even though certain parts are acceptable. You have to use your own powers of discernment (preferably in cooperation with others) to sort it out.

* Also Deuteronomy [Devarim] 5:17, which slightly alters some of the Ten Statements of the Deal (a.k.a. The Ten Commandments), but not this one. But see Exodus 34:12–26 for a very different (and rarely-mentioned) version.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Sea shells on mountains are much better explained by deep geological time than by a brief worldwide flood.

One summer I worked in Thermopolis, Wyoming, in the Wind River Valley. As you drive south along Wind River, you are, in a sense, driving backwards in time. First there are beautiful red Triassic deposits, then grey Permian, then previous Paleozoic periods, then Pre-Cambrian rock. Elsewhere in the Thermopolis area are Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic strata, all laid out in order from earliest at bottom to latest at top.

My main interest was the fossiliferous rock, of course. Four strata I worked with were:
- The Chinle Formation (locally known as the Chugwater), the aforementioned red, Triassic beds
- The Sundance Formation, a green-grey Jurassic deposit
- The Morrison Formation, a grey deposit from the very end of the Jurassic Period which has famously yielded many dinosaurs
- The Pierre Shale, a Late Cretaceous deposit

These are not neighboring deposits, but are separated from each other (for example, the pinkish Cloverly Formation [Early Cretaceous] is one of several layers between the Morrison and the Pierre Shale).

Except for the Chinle, these are all fossiliferous in that region. The Chinle is fossiliferous further south.

In the Sundance, we find marine fossils: clams, squids, the odd bone from a marine reptile—I found a nice ichthyosaur vertebra once—and occasional traces of other creatures (worm tunnels, etc.). In the Morrison, above the Sundance, we find terrestrial dinosaurs: sauropods, allosaurids, stegosaurs, etc.

The standard Creationist response to this is that these were buried as they lived, with marine animals below terrestrial animals. Fair enough. But there’s a small problem: the Pierre Shale is marine.

The Pierre Shale contains sea shells, but it lies above the Morrison. At this point some Creationists point to turbulence, but then we shouldn’t expect any partitioning by ecological niche—sauropod dinosaurs should be mixed in with clams and squids. It also fails to explain why the Sundance has ichthyosaur fossils while the Pierre Shale does not, or why there are no individual species common to the two of them. Furthermore, why are ammonites, belemnite squids, marine reptiles (mosasaurs, sauropterygians, and ichthyosaurs), and non-avian dinosaurs absent from every Cenozoic deposit?

Finally, the Noachian deluge, variously said in Genesis to have lasted 120 or over 150 days* (but no longer than a year, in any event), is not enough time to form what we see in the fossil record. Remember, it isn’t all about destruction by burial—there are constructive forces at work, too. Look at the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and Texas—they not only have marine fossils, they are marine fossils. They are part of the Capitan Reef, a reef formed by calcareous sponges and encrusting algae, similar to coral reefs. How is something that massive supposed to have formed in less than a year?

* Another contradiction I can go into another time.

Some Dumb Guy wrote:

Wow. This stuff is great. First I’d like to adress the comment about the bible failing as a moral guide. Now there is no dispute that many horrific things have been done, and in fact still are being done in the name of the bible.

However People also used to believe that Black People were lower on the evolutionary scale and used that as an excuse deprive them of their human rights. Pigmys were also kept cages until they commited suicide. Yet I don’t think anyone here got that idea by studying evolution. Insane maniacs are insane no matter what they believe.

Also the Bible often uses poetic language that reflects the perceptions of people living thousands of years ago. When the book of Job speaks of Jehovah beating or forging the skies “hard like a molten mirror,” it well describes the skies as a metal mirror that gives off a bright reflection. (Job 37:18) There is no need to take the illustration literally, any more than you would the illustration of the earth having “socket pedestals” or a “cornerstone.”—Job 38:4-7.

This is important because numerous commentators have taken such illustrations at face value. (See 2 Samuel 22:8; Psalm 78:23, 24.) They have concluded that the Bible teaches something like the following, quoted from The Anchor Bible Dictionary.

The earth on which humanity dwells is seen as a round, solid object, perhaps a disk, floating upon a limitless expanse of water. Paralleling this lower body of water is a second, similarly limitless, above, from which water descends in the form of rain through holes and channels piercing the heavenly reservoir. The moon, sun, and other luminaries are fixed in a curved structure which arches over the earth. This structure is the familiar ‘firmament’ (raqîa’) of the priestly account.”

Clearly, this picture disagrees with modern science. But is this a fair assessment of the Bible’s teaching regarding the heavens? Not at all. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia states that such descriptions of the Hebrew universe are “in reality based more upon the ideas prevalent in Europe during the Dark Ages than upon any actual statements in the O[ld] T[estament].” Where did those medieval ideas come from? As David C. Lindberg explains in The Beginnings of Western Science, they were largely based on the cosmology of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose works were the basis of much medieval learning

Many bibles render the word Raqi’a as expanse. True some translations use the word “firmament” instead of “expanse.” From this the argument is made that the Genesis account borrowed from creation myths that represent this “firmament” as a metal dome. But even the King James Version Bible, which uses “firmament,” says in the margin, “expansion.” This is because the Hebrew word ra·qi´a’, translated “expanse,” means to stretch out or spread out or expand.

The Genesis account says that God did it, but it does not say how. In whatever way the described separation occurred, it would look as though the ‘waters above’ had been pushed up from the earth. And birds could later be said to fly in “the expanse of the heavens,” as stated at Genesis 1:20.

Also I gotta give you props too for using two scriptures in proverbs reprimand me. I don’t believe it’s because I’m lazy but rather because there’s a welth of information and I only began taking any of this two heart to years ago.

As for the contradiction you brought up fair enough. First let’s define a term, in this case, murder as done by wikipedia.

“Murder is the premeditated unlawful killing of one human being by another through any action intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. Legalised killing, such as genocide, can also constitute murder if it violates international law.

As with most legal terms, the precise definition varies between jurisdictions. For example, in the United States anyone who commits a serious crime during which any person dies, is guilty of murder (see felony murder).”

This is a little sad, but accurate. If you defend yourself and accidentally kill someone did yo commit murder? America sent thousands of troupes over seas to iraq and, Japan, and Europe over the various wars. Were they training murderers to go out and murder people. No, because killing someone doesn’t neccesarily consitute the crime that is murder.

Even from the get-go when the ten commandments were instilled the mosiac law allowed for the blood-venger to gain retribution. The mosiac law also included the principle of an eye for an eye type justice.

As for the genocide. This is always a touchy subject because it requires faith. When destroying an enemy looting the remains for riches was quite commonplace. When isrealites dominated places during the exodus, two things determined the outcome and neither was riches. How bad the budding civilization was, and had their forefathers made a pact with Jehova?

Some enemy nations had earned such ire that nothing was left so that nothing of their culture could live on. Many of these nations (listed at Deuteronomy 7:1) have been confimed to have had horrible practices. Several temples have been found that include quarters for the prostitutes, male and female alike. Slave trade, polygamy, ect. Also these nation had done somthing else. Deu:8:1 says god wanted the isrealites to take the land that was sworn to their forefathers. If the didn’t remove the tribes that had take up residence their, that would also make god a liar, which would violate his own standard of justice. Of course Isreal fell off the wagon a couple times too, but it was not destroyed, which brings me to my second point.

Sometimes special circumstances were allowed for nations that had a prior agreement with god. Isreal had a covenant that made the god’s ’special people’ (Deuteronomy 7:7,8) for a long time. A number of the small nations moses passed in the wilderness were not destroyed despite having horrible tendancies because of such prior agreements. And some, like the one you mentioned had their agreements run out.

This was good example, lotsa content. it does seem like a contradiction at first glance. But it is not. I have some questions about the strata and stuff too. But I need to look up a few more things and I’m getting drop dead tired. See ya.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Ah, the poetic excuse. Well, if that part is just poetry, what’s to prevent any other part from being poetry? Maybe the whole thing is just poetry! How can we tell, except by independent corroboration? The poetic excuse renders the Bible useless as an infallible book of fact. (Which it already was, but….)

I think trying to use the Bible as a book of science spoils it. I’ve never enjoyed the Bible more than when learning the original Hebrew, the connotations of each word, and gaining a true appreciation for the stories of these Bronze Age peoples. The Jahwistic story of Human’s creation is a beautiful (if somewhat misogynist) tale as originally told. The mist, the clay, the breath—there’s a wonderful tactile sense to it. But to look at it as scientific fact seems about as silly as regarding any other Bronze Age culture’s origin myth (many of which are also beautiful) as fact.

“Raqiya`” does have the connotation of “expanded”, but in the sense of a hammered-out plate of metal. I.e., you take a molten lump and hammer it out until it becomes thin, broad, and firm. It’s a smithing term. Every other culture in the area at that time also believed the sky to be a hard structure, yet nobody makes excuses about them actually believing it was ethereal. The wording is right there, plain and simple, and no amount of twisting and poor translation can change it.

If slave trade and polygamy are sins, then the Israelites and Judahites committed them as well. Yahweh is never shown to disapprove of such practices and, like everyone else in that general culture, takes them for granted. There are even laws relating to them—not disapproving of them, but telling how they are to be carried out.

Regardless of how sinful a society is, I don’t see how that could ever condone willful slaughter of children and infants. (And why exactly are the livestock to blame as well?) Are you telling me that if your pastor (or preacher or priest or what-have-you) told you that Yahweh had ordered the slaughter of all children and infants in the neighboring county, you would obey? You would slaughter babies on a sword for your god?

Doesn’t it seem a lot more likely that the elders were claiming Yahweh was on their side as an excuse to expand their territory? (A similar trick was employed during European colonialism.)

Horrible things have been done in the name of science as well as religion. Yet science offers a method to improve itself. Most religions say, “This is how things are, and do not question,” (with some exceptions, like some forms of Buddhism). But science says, “This is how things are as best as we know, and if you can detail or disprove any of it, by all means tell everyone.” Nowadays we know (as Darwin thought) that all humans are of a fairly tight-knit subspecies with some superficial differences, and science is not used as an excuse for racism.

Science, of course, is not a moral system. It is a method of exploring the universe and learning about it. But science is, I would argue, a necessary guide for anyone seeking a moral system. How can you form rules without knowing what they are about, or without knowing why we would want to form rules in the first place?

Mike Keesey wrote:

I retract any aspersions of laziness, by the way. Two years is not a huge amount of time, so you are just beginning, it seems.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Also, this ensuing discussion is quite fun and all, but the basic original point has not really been addressed by any of the apologists: who came first, male humans, or (non-human) animals? The Jahwistic tale says a male human, then animals. The Priestly chant says animals, then humans (male and female). Can’t have it both ways, folks! At least one of them has to be wrong.

This discrepancy, like many others in the Tanakh, is best explained as the result of varying traditions (often northern Israelite/Canaanite vs. southern Judahite) being molded together by latter-day redactors. The Bible, far from being delivered pristinely from God to Man, has evolved over the millennia, representing a conglomerate of various, often differing, sources.

Some Dumb Guy wrote:

Hmm, I believe we have found some common ground on this one (took a while) The bible is by no means a science textbook and those that think it is have a scre loose. It’s purposes are/were to be a moral guide and build faith in god. Science wasn’t of a lot of use back in those days. Not only that, Today’s science is so advanced, what we consider to be a science textbook would have been mad gibberish in those times. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. One one hand it makes difficult to discredit in various part, but also difficult to prove right.

Like the begining of creation you mentioned, it’s very simple, elegant, and generally satasfied everyones question as to how we got here. Suppose you believed god was real and he gave the whole explanation of biomechanics, genetics, ect. Not only would that be useless back then but no one would ever get past genesis.

A real problem for bible toting creationists is that they have to find evidence for things, some of which are impossible by todays standards (like revival) and things that are open to tremendous interpetation. It’s because of this I feel, that creationist are always on the defence and that religion is doomed to lose it’s influence.

But regardless, I’ll admit I do tend to believe the bibles words, where it becomes vague, science gets specific. It was actually this philosphy that made me want to read and learn at least a little about biology, geology, genetics would be awesome, but everything I’ve read on that have been miles over my head.

Erherm, but anyway… As for the idea that the whole thing is just one big poem. That might be jumping the guns a little bit there. When it goes into family trees for instance, those are obviousally supposed to be taken as fact. The account of daniel is also supposed to be based on much fact (Torture methods of the two empires daniel served under and government systems (Although briefly touched on.))

I would argue that there is a huge difference in contexts between the accout of daniel being thrown to the lions and and Job being asked if he could beat out the skies.

While I admit it is true that the root word (ra·qa`´) from which ra·qi´a` is drawn is regularly used in the sense of “beating out” something solid, whether by hand, by foot, or by any instrument (compare Ex 39:3; Eze 6:11), in some cases it is not sound reasoning to rule out a figurative use of the word. Thus at Job 37:18 Elihu asks concerning God: “With him can you beat out [tar·qi´a`] the skies hard like a molten mirror?” That the literal beating out of some solid celestial vault is not meant can be seen from the fact that the word “skies” here comes from a word (sha´chaq) also rendered “film of dust” or “clouds” (Isa 40:15; Ps 18:11), and in view of the nebulous quality of that which is ‘beaten out,’ it is clear that the Bible writer is only figuratively comparing the skies to a metal mirror whose burnished face gives off a bright reflection.—Compare Da 12:3.

Yes, polygamy and slave trades by todays standards are sines. And it’s true both these nations commited them. When travelling through the dessert even, polygamy was allowed for a short while (but not encouraged) but it presented an advantage, a way to increase the isrealites numbers quickly. However God’s standards are clear in this case.

1 Tim 3:2 If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work. 2 The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, 3 not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, 4 a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness;

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders; 6 if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children that were not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly.

Next the slave trade, while it is true that the slave trade today is highly immoral, back in the day there was also a use for such a system. First though we have to define another term. Even though with your background I’m fairly comfident you already know it.

The original-language words rendered “slave” or “servant” are not limited in their application to persons owned by others. The Hebrew word `e´vedh can refer to persons owned by fellowmen. (Ge 12:16; Ex 20:17) Or the term can designate subjects of a king (2Sa 11:21; 2Ch 10:7), subjugated peoples who paid tribute (2Sa 8:2, 6), and persons in royal service, including cupbearers, bakers, seamen, military officers, advisers, and the like, whether owned by fellowmen or not (Ge 40:20; 1Sa 29:3; 1Ki 9:27; 2Ch 8:18; 9:10; 32:9). In respectful address, a Hebrew, instead of using the first person pronoun, would at times speak of himself as a servant (`e´vedh) of the one to whom he was talking. (Ge 33:5, 14; 42:10, 11, 13; 1Sa 20:7, 8) `E´vedh was used in referring to servants, or worshipers, of Jehovah generally (1Ki 8:36; 2Ki 10:23) and, more specifically, to special representatives of God, such as Moses. (Jos 1:1, 2; 24:29; 2Ki 21:10) Though not a worshiper of Jehovah, one who performed a service that was in harmony with the divine will could be spoken of as God’s servant, an example being King Nebuchadnezzar.—Jer 27:6.

Before the Common Era. War, poverty, and crime were the basic factors that reduced persons to a state of servitude. Captives of war were often constituted slaves by their captors or were sold into slavery by them. (Compare 2Ki 5:2; Joe 3:6.) In Israelite society a person who became poor could sell himself or his children into slavery to care for his indebtedness. (Ex 21:7; Le 25:39, 47; 2Ki 4:1) One guilty of thievery but unable to make compensation was sold for the things he stole, evidently regaining his freedom at the time all claims against him were cared for.—Ex 22:3.

At times slaves held a position of great trust and honor in a household. The patriarch Abraham’s aged servant (likely Eliezer) managed all of his master’s possessions. (Ge 24:2; 15:2, 3) Abraham’s descendant Joseph, as a slave in Egypt, came to be in charge of everything belonging to Potiphar, a court official of Pharaoh. (Ge 39:1, 5, 6) In Israel, there was a possibility of a slave’s becoming wealthy and redeeming himself.—Le 25:49.

Laws governing slave-master relationships. Among the Israelites the status of the Hebrew slave differed from that of a slave who was a foreigner, alien resident, or settler. Whereas the non-Hebrew remained the property of the owner and could be passed on from father to son (Le 25:44-46), the Hebrew slave was to be released in the seventh year of his servitude or in the Jubilee year, depending upon which came first. During the time of his servitude the Hebrew slave was to be treated as a hired laborer. (Ex 21:2; Le 25:10; De 15:12) A Hebrew who sold himself into slavery to an alien resident, to a member of an alien resident’s family, or to a settler could be repurchased at any time, either by himself or by one having the right of repurchase. The redemption price was based on the number of years remaining until the Jubilee year or until the seventh year of servitude. (Le 25:47-52; De 15:12) When granting a Hebrew slave his freedom, the master was to give him a gift to assist him in getting a good start as a freedman. (De 15:13-15) If a slave had come in with a wife, the wife went out with him. However, if the master had given him a wife (evidently a foreign woman who would not be entitled to freedom in the seventh year of servitude), she and any children by her remained the property of the master. In such a case the Hebrew slave could choose to remain with his master. His ear would then be pierced with an awl to indicate that he would continue in servitude to time indefinite.—Ex 21:2-6; De 15:16, 17.

Female Hebrew slaves. Certain special regulations applied to a female Hebrew slave. She could be taken as a concubine by the master or designated as a wife for his son. When designated as a wife for the master’s son, the Hebrewess was to be treated with the due right of daughters. Even if the son took another wife, there was to be no diminishing of her sustenance, clothing, and marriage due. A failure on the son’s part in this respect entitled the woman to her freedom without the payment of a redemption price. If the master sought to have a Hebrewess redeemed, he was not permitted to accomplish this by selling her to foreigners.—Ex 21:7-11.

Protections and privileges. The Law protected slaves from brutalities. A slave was to be set at liberty if mistreatment by the master resulted in the loss of a tooth or an eye. As the usual value for a slave was 30 shekels (compare Ex 21:32), his liberation would have meant considerable loss to the master and, therefore, would have served as a strong deterrent against abuse. Although a master could beat his slave, the slave, depending upon the decision of the judges, was to be avenged if he died under his master’s beating. However, if the slave lingered on for a day or two before dying—this indicating that the master had not intended to kill the slave but to discipline him—he was not to be avenged. (Ex 21:20, 21, 26, 27; Le 24:17) Also, it would appear that for the master to have been considered free of guilt the beating could not have been administered with a lethal instrument, as that would have signified intent to kill. (Compare Nu 35:16-18.) Therefore, if a slave lingered on for a day or two, there would be reasonable question as to whether the death resulted from the chastisement. A beating with a rod, for example, would not normally be fatal, as is shown by the statement at Proverbs 23:13: “Do not hold back discipline from the mere boy. In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die.”

Certain privileges were granted to slaves by the terms of the Law. As all male slaves were circumcised (Ex 12:44; compare Ge 17:12), they could eat the Passover, and slaves of the priest could eat holy things. (Ex 12:43, 44; Le 22:10, 11) Slaves were exempted from working on the Sabbath. (Ex 20:10; De 5:14) During the Sabbath year they were entitled to eat of the growth from spilled kernels and from the unpruned vine. (Le 25:5, 6) They were to share in the rejoicing associated with the sacrificing at the sanctuary and the celebration of the festivals.—De 12:12; 16:11, 14.

As for condoning women and children that was not quite the case. I did some research on this and it was actually quite interesting. This is evidently not Isreal’s common war practice, but rather a special exception. They usual wartime practices were considerably more humane than most seem to believe. For example regarding the land of Canaan.

Jehovah instructed Israel as to military procedure in the conquest of Canaan. The seven nations of Canaan, named at Deuteronomy 7:1, 2, were to be exterminated, including women and children. Their cities were to be devoted to destruction. (De 20:15-17) According to Deuteronomy 20:10-15, other cities were first warned and terms of peace extended. If the city surrendered, the inhabitants were spared and put to forced labor. This opportunity to surrender, together with the assurance that their lives would be spared and their women would not be raped or molested, was an inducement to such cities to capitulate to Israel’s army, thus avoiding much bloodshed. If the city did not surrender, all males were killed. Killing the men removed danger of later revolt by the city. “The women and the little children” were spared. That “women” here no doubt means virgins is indicated by Deuteronomy 21:10-14, where prospective war brides are described as mourning for parents, not for husbands. Also, earlier, when Israel defeated Midian, it is specifically stated that only virgins were spared. Such sparing of only virgins would serve to protect Israel from false worship and no doubt from sexually transmitted diseases. (Nu 31:7, 17, 18)

However the amalekites were not just another enemy nation. They desended from Amalek, Son of Esau’s firstborn Eliphaz, by his concubine Timna. (Ge 36:12, 16) Amalek, a grandson of Esau, was one of the sheiks of Edom. (Ge 36:15, 16) Amalek’s name also designated his tribal descendants.—De 25:17; Jg 7:12; 1Sa 15:2.

The belief of some that the Amalekites were of a much earlier origin and not descendants of Esau’s grandson Amalek is not founded on solid factual ground. The idea that the Amalekites predated Amalek was based on Balaam’s proverbial utterance: “Amalek was the first one of the nations, but his end afterward will be even his perishing.” (Nu 24:20) However, Balaam was not speaking here of history in general and the origin of nations seven or eight centuries earlier. He was speaking of history only in connection with the Israelites, whom he was hired to curse and who were about to enter the Promised Land. Hence, after listing Moab, Edom, and Seir as Israel’s opponents, Balaam declares that the Amalekites were actually “the first one of the nations” to rise up in opposition to the Israelites on their march out of Egypt toward Palestine, and for this reason, the end of Amalek “will be even his perishing.”

Moses, therefore, in relating events of Abraham’s day before Amalek was born, spoke of “the whole field of the Amalekites,” evidently describing the region as understood by people of Moses’ time, instead of implying that Amalekites predated Amalek. (Ge 14:7) The center of this Amalekite territory was N of Kadesh-barnea in the Negeb desert in the southern part of Palestine, with their tributary camps radiating out into the Sinai Peninsula and northern Arabia. (1Sa 15:7) At one time their influence may have extended into the hills of Ephraim.—Jg 12:15.

The Amalekites were “the first one of the nations” to launch an unprovoked attack on the Israelites after the Exodus, at Rephidim near Mount Sinai. As a consequence, Jehovah decreed ultimate extinction for the Amalekites. (Nu 24:20; Ex 17:8-16; De 25:17-19) A year later, when the Israelites attempted to enter the Promised Land contrary to Jehovah’s word, they were repulsed by the Amalekites. (Nu 14:41-45) Twice during the days of the Judges these adversaries of Israel shared in assaulting Israel. They did it in the days of Eglon king of Moab. (Jg 3:12, 13) Again, with the Midianites and Easterners, they pillaged the land of Israel seven years before Gideon and his 300 men dealt them a smashing defeat.—Jg 6:1-3, 33; 7:12; 10:12.

Because of this persistent hatred, during the period of the kings Jehovah ‘called to account’ the Amalekites, commanding King Saul to strike them down, which he did “from Havilah as far as Shur, which is in front of Egypt.” However, Saul, overstepping Jehovah’s order, spared Agag their king. But God was not mocked, for “Samuel went hacking Agag to pieces before Jehovah in Gilgal.” (1Sa 15:2-33) Some of David’s raids included Amalekite villages, and when they in return attacked Ziklag and carried off David’s wives and goods, he and 400 men overtook them, recovering all that had been stolen. (1Sa 27:8; 30:1-20) During the reign of Hezekiah, some of the tribe of Simeon annihilated the remnant of the Amalekites.—1Ch 4:42, 43.

Of course though all this the children were still innocent, but the issue of how to deal with them not not so clean cut. The women and children were not allowed to survive because of how they were taught. It would make no sense to wound a nation just enough so you’ll only have to do it again next year, especially when that enemy nation is as dead set against you as the amalekites were against the isrealites.

The animals of course, weren’t neccesary, but served more as an example that nothing of the amalekites would survive. Futhermore it would seem as though Saul intended to use them for sacraficing (1Sam 15:15) This was paramounted to offering tainted water to someone who works in a water bottling factory and reeked of disresepct.

No doubt, people have involked god several times to do whatever they want, like expand territory or send troops into iraq. But the bible doesn’t teach racism any more than evolution does. The difference was simply in the people who went by it.

Now your right, many religions teach that “This is how things are, just do it.” It’s also true many christian leaders taught the same thing, this however, do not accurately reflect what is in the bible.

I also agree with your interpetation of what science says. Many evolutionists, however, go against such a code. You seem to be one of the good ones. I might also argue that evolution is as religious as chistianity.

From Wikipedia:

Religion is a human phenomenon that defies easy definition. It is commonly understood as a group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object (real or imagined), person (real or imagined), or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought. It is sometimes used interchangeably with “faith” or “belief system”[1] In the course of the development of religion, it has taken many forms in various cultures and individuals.

I wanted to go more in depth about the see shells and stuff but it’s taken my hours to look up all this stuff and write it down and I’m starting to get tired again so I’ll be breif.

Couldn’t the lack of fossils in some sedimentary deposites be caused by animal density in the deluge?

And the original appolagetic was addressed. Genesis 1 refers to creation of the word, 2 refers specifically the garden of eden. As for the bible changing over the millenia, haven’t they found thousandasds and thousands of dated manuscripts. The silver scolls are suppose to be like 2,500 years old. Anyways, take care and good night.

J.K. wrote:

I’d like to point out that although Mike K here groups the first part of Genesis 2:4 (”This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”) with the events of the second chapter, it more likely goes at the end of Chapter 1. The chapter and verse enumerations were of course made after the books were written and not divinely inspired. Henry Morris makes a good case for this in his book The Genesis Record. There are several (11) times in Genesis that the phrase “these are the generations of…” is used, and the phrase is most likely a signature of the author marking the end of an account, not the beginning. This may not be able to be rigidly proved, but it makes more sense than any other explanation.

Morris says “The weight of evidence suggests that the respective names attached to the toledoth represent subscripts or closing signatures. The events recorded in each division all took place BEFORE, not after, the death of the individuals so named, and so could in each case have been accessible to them… Thus it is probable that the Book of Genesis was written originally by actual eyewitnesses of the events reported therein.”

In this light, God was the only eyewitness of the Creation events up until Day 6, so He may have written the first chapter Himself (or He could have told Adam what to write).

If this is the case, then the rest of chapter 2 is best understood as a more detailed account of Day 6 events as witnessed by Adam.

Nevertheless, even if this is not the case, Mike is still sadly mistaken to think that his writings in any way provides an easy way to disprove the Biblical account of Creation. Mike gave this order of events [with my additions in brackets showing the Biblical timeline]

The first story’s order of creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3):
* light and darkness [Day 1]
* sky waters, sea waters, and a vault between them [Day 2]
* land and plants [Day 3]
* sun, moon, stars [Day 4]
* aquatic and flying animals [Day 5]
* land animals and people (male and female) [Day 6]

The second story’s order of creation (Genesis 2:4-25):
* earth and heavens (including a garden in Eden, and various streams of water) [summary of Days 1-5]
* man (Adam) [Day 6]
* rain; beasts of the field, birds of the air; plants (exact order not specified) [The reference to the animals and birds here (Genesis 2:19) implies they had already been created before Adam, and were now being brought to him - the particular Day for the creation of each is unspecified in this account (Adam wasn’t there to see it.)]
* woman [Day 6]

So where is this contradiction supposed to be? Chapter 2 goes right along with Chapter 1 as a more detailed account of Day 6.

The only confusing part might be verse 5 (”and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground”) At first it may sound like God is creating more plants, but a closer look provides a better explanation:

It seems most likely to me that God created SOME plants on Day 3 as seeds that hadn’t yet started to grow. This is best supported by the phrases “no shrub of the field had YET APPEARED” and “no plant of the field had YET SPRUNG UP” (emphasis added). In addition, God hadn’t sent rain yet and man wasn’t able to work the ground. Many seeds remain in the ground seemingly dormant until conditions are right for them to grow. Just because they may have appeared after God made Adam does not mean that they weren’t created before him. This explanation is also consistent with Genesis 2:8-9 where it talks about the garden God had PLANTED but seemed to GROW upon the arrival of Adam. Also note verse 15 where God tells Adam to WORK the ground… implying that the plants needed tending of some type (I’m not going to be hard-nosed about this point because it’s possible that these shrubs and plants were different than the kinds of plants created on Day 3, since they have the “of the field” designation attached to them — which is different than the plants refered to on Day 3 — and in either of these cases there is no contradiction with the Chapter 1 account).

Nowhere in Chapter 2 does the Bible necessarily invoke the creation of plants, animals or birds AFTER man/woman.

J.K. wrote:

By the way, Henry Morris’ explanation of the original authorship of different portions of Genesis also accounts for the name-change of God between the two chapters.

In the first chapter God is referring to Himself, or literally Ourselves (nothing contradictory with the plural since God is consequently revealed in the Bible as a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and if Adam is indeed the author of Chapter 2, it would be appropriate for Adam to refer to God as Jahweh (Adam would not use “Us” to refer to God, he would use “Him” so a different name is perfectly natural).

Sean Haughian wrote:

You guys have really been diving into it over the last few days.

I think the biblical interpretations by “Some Dumb Guy” are probably widely agreed upon by most Christians (as far as the morality of the bible), just as the messages of the Koran are agreed upon by most Muslims, but there will always be those who interpret things to suit their own purposes.

In regards to the radiometric dating that had been asked about, here is my explanation:

Many radioactive isotopes exist on our planet. A small proportion of these have long enough half-lives and stable enough rates of decay that they are acceptable as absolute dating methods.

Carbon 14 isotopes, I believe, have a reliable half life of somewhere around 5700 years (I can’t remember the exact number). They would not be useful for dating sediments much more than 100,000 years old. C14 is not typically used beyond that range. Uranium and Lead isotopes however, have half lives of about 46 billion years (one of the reasons why disposing of radioactive waste from atomic energy plants is so controversial). They are the elements that are typically used to date meteorites and ancient earth rocks.

These decay rates are constantly being tested in laboratories, and as time goes by, the precision is constantly being improved as we apply better measurements over greater time-scales.

As with any scientific testing, there are a number of samples examined before assigning dates to specific sediments. These samples are tested against each other, and against the estimated “relative” date applied based on other evidence found in the layer, such as fossils.

Once enough samples have been tested to generate a sample size with sufficient precision, a date is assigned within specific confidence limits. Obivously, when we are dating something that is several billion years old, the confidence limits based on our tests from only a few decades may span several million years, but this is not any more evidence of inaccuracy than it would be to count the number of blades of grass in a dozen square yard plots on a baseball diamond, and use that information to extrapolate the estimated total number of blades of grass for the entire field. You may be off by give or take 50,000 blades, but when your estimate is in the millions, it makes little relative difference.

Just to clarify, the relative dates applied by other fossil information are not counted as a separate sample, but as a quality control check; a way to tell us if our samples were contaminated or if our equipment is broken. Just as you may compare your grass blade estimate to that of another baseball diamond, with the same species of grass and similar lawn-care standards, to ensure you are doing your calculations correctly. If the two do not agree, we will try to collect another sample. If it happens more than once, it is usually time to publish a paper about certain organisms living an even longer time ago (or more recently) than previously thought.

I agree, that many people (especially devout athiests) argue evolutionary theory as religiously as the Pope does the virtues of saying the rosary. However, I sincerely hope you do not account me or Mike in that group, as evolution does have a scientific, logical basis that has survived many experiments and tests, never being disproved.

I must admit I am somewhat curious as to which side of the debate you are really on “Some Dumb Guy”? You seem to agree with many of the evolutionary theory arguments, and yet continue to bring up more creationist-type information at every opportunity. Are you simply playing devil’s advocate (please excuse the pun) or are you a genuine Creationist?

Sean Haughian wrote:

I forgot to answer you comment on the Cambrian explosion “Some Dumb Guy”:

The earth has in fact undergone many explosion and extinction events; times in history when an astronomical number of species have gone extinct, or developed orver a relatively short period of time (by short I mean in the order of a few million years).

You commented on the Cambrian explosion, though nearly ever major geological era in Earth’s history begins with an explosion, and ends with an extinction.

For example, the beginning of the Devonian is where fish really became diversified and occupied the oceans. The Triassic saw a huge explosion in terrestrial vertebrate diversity after the hot and dry Permain extinction with the evolution of the Dinosauria, and subsequent radiation into the many dinosaur species we know today.

And of course, nobody can forget the extinction of most dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous and subsequent radiation of mammals and birds throughout the Cenozoic era.

Also, in response to your statement that homology is a bad indication of evolution, I would suggest that externally obvious features, such as the mammary glands in all mammals, are the manifestation of a common genotype. While some structures can be evolved independantly in different groups (i.e. a bird wing and a bat wing), those are often obvious by anatomical examination, and comparison of different morphological traits on a scale of importance can be almost as effective as the genetic code itself.

For example, let’s take the marsupial sabertooth, Thilacosmilus, and the eutherian Smilodon. Both have really big teeth, therefore, they must be related, right? Wrong. Distinctive features of the hip bones and other key skeletal differences tell another story. The general rule when using anatomy is this:

The more important something is to an animal’s survival, the less room there is for variation. Small differences in the morphology of the heart or lungs, based on mutations in the developmental code for those body parts, often lead to death of the animal very quickly. Other, less important features, such as hair-colour or tooth shape, while still having an effect on an individual’s fitness, may be allowed to persist in the gene pool. What it comes down to is this: Between closely related species, small features like teeth, hair, and horns will help to differentiate between them. Between more unrelated groups, such as birds and mammals, those differences will be discernable in more important structures, as each group has had a much longer time to evolve independantly, thereby making significant key-characteristic altering mutations more likely.

The main reason I like to point out morphological similarity and difference when arguing evolutionary theory, is that you do not need to have an in-depth understanding of genetics to see it’s truth. It is an “evolution for dummies” approach, if you will.

Sean Haughian wrote:

PS homology can also refer to commonly evolved genetic traits

Sean Haughian wrote:

A slight correction on my radioactive isotope decay dates; the Uranium-lead decay has a half life of 4.5 billion, not 46 (I mistook it for the Rubidium-strontium decay time). The effective dating range for Uranium-lead decay is 10 billion to 4.6 billion years.

Truth-Seeker wrote:

Hi J.K., in response to your post….

In Genesis 1:21-23 it states:

21.And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22.And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23.And the evening and the morning were the FIFTH DAY.

Truth-Seeker wrote:

Sorry…continuing..

So, the “Aquatic and flying” animals were indeed made on the fifth day..according to Genesis 1. The Land dwelling animals were created on the sixth day. So fastforwarding to Genesis 2;
18: And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

It is obvious here that God created Man first then All (except for the aquatic ones) the animals. How could God bring animals to an non-existent Adam?
Anyways…The “flying” animals were created on the fifth day, and the land dwelling animals were created on the sixth (Genesis 1). And if both the flying and the land dwelling animals were created (in Genesis 2) on either day…it still contradicts. Because if the “flying” and land-dwelling were created on the fifth day, then it differs from Genesis one which said only the FLYING and aquatic animals were created, not the animals of the field..and the same for the sixth day. (It would contrast when ONLY the land-dwelling animals were made on the sixth day.)

Mike Keesey wrote:

J.K., in the time since I first wrote this post, I’ve continued studying and realized that the first part of 2:4 does indeed go far more naturally with the Priestly chant, not the Jahwistic tale. The people who did the numbering clearly missed the boat on that one. Perhaps I’ll rewrite the essay someday.

The rest of your points make far less sense to me, though, but, unfortunately, I won’t have time to go into them for a little while. (Work is busy lately.)

Truth-Seeker, you have nicely put your finger on my original point.

Some Dumb Guy—that’s quite an essay! You certainly are not lazy (or terribly dumb). I don’t have time right now to address all of it but I’ll mention a couple of things:
* Religion is defined as dealing with the supernatural, but science (including evolutionary theory) deals only with the natural. So it is not religion.
* The Bible does demand mindless obedience to Yahweh—look at the example of Abraham being ordered to kill his son.
* Mosheh (Moses) did not write the Torah, since it says that his place of burial is unknown to this day. A living person would hardly write that about himself, and there is no real basis other than tradition for ascribing authorship to Mosheh, anyway. All evidence points to the Torah having numerous authors, and reaching its final form far after Mosaic times. (If Mosheh was indeed a real person, which is neither here nor there.)
* As every other culture in that area seems to have believed the sky to be hard, I don’t see why the author of Job couldn’t have been literal in that point. But you’ve already agreed that the Bible is not a book of science, and that’s my greater point, anyway.
* The listing of generations actually is a bit poetic, in that nations are often personified as people. “X begat Y,” is kind of like a shorthand for, “Xistan tribe begat Yistan”—think of it like “John Bull begat Uncle Sam”. Thus :Amaleq is not (necessarily) a person, but a personification of a nation. (Well, okay, in some cases they might refer to actual founding patriarchs, but even then, the genealogies are often more long the lines of, “William the Conqueror begat George Washington.”)
* I agree that the whole book is not poetical—there are many bits of history corroborated by other sources. Then there are other bits with no corroboration (e.g., Hebrews being enslaved by Egypt) that we have to be more careful about—maybe they are true, and maybe they ain’t. Finally, there are bits with mountains of contradictory evidence (e.g., the universe being created in six days) that we can dismiss (or, if you prefer, celebrate) as myth and poetry.
* Thanks for saying I’m one of the good ones!

J.K. wrote:

Truth-Seeker:

Genesis 2:19 (”And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them…”) does not contradict the Creation account given by Genesis 1. A quick read of the translation may seem to put the animals and birds after the creation of man, but a little bit of study will show that is not the case.

First of all, the word that gets translated “formed” [Hebrew: yatsar] can legitimately be translated “had formed” in this context. And for the really picky, the word translated “and” [Hebrew: waw] can be translated “also” here as well.

So Genesis 2:19 could just as well read:
“Also out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and had brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them…”

Indeed, this is a much better rendering of the passage, because otherwise, the animals appear to be mistakes God made when trying to find a mate/companion/help meet for Adam, and that is certainly not implied in the context. The animals are not God’s failed attempts to make a helper for Adam before He decided to make a woman.

Henry Morris goes into a little more detail in his book The Genesis Record, which I highly recommend for anyone who is really seeking for more truth.

I’m sorry, but I have yet to see any supposed contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 that haven’t been refuted with reasonable explanations… and certainly no “easy way to disprove Biblical creationism”. Does anyone have any other verses in Genesis 2 that are difficult to understand?

ekzept wrote:

we don’t even know for sure what the Hebrew words in Torah originally meant, let alone whether or not they were intended to represent an account of how a universe originated. the very first sentence isn’t promising in itself:i mean, “beginning creates (or created) gods waters and earth” is what it says. it’s not complete. it’s missing a subject. maybe Elohim is doing the creating, maybe not. everyone assumes it is.or it could be that the narrator has more important things to say, and just wants to get on with the story. so he says “There was a beginning” and that’s it. it’s a rewarmed Babylonian creation myth. (Sarna, Understanding Genesis)

ekzept wrote:

sorry, there was supposed to be an image in there. see http://public.netcoop.airpost.net/BeresheitBara.gif

sandraregina wrote:

Hey, I’m just waiting to be taught the true creationist story of the Earth being formed Ymir’s body. After all, if all viewpoints are valid and evolution is just a theory, yada yada.

Seriously. I’m waiting.

Bobby wrote:

Yummmm… chicken… but anyway… wow, that’s a long discussion. I’m sorry. but i started to skip through the last fouth of arguments. But, on do the argumentatiating!

I believe that man elvolved from monkeys, which somewhere down the line probably evolved from fish-things, etc… However, I do have a major quibble with evolution: if there’s supposed to be mutation “testing,” if you will, whose to say that those mutations were the ones that were weeded out? for all we know, we were some horrific mutation with a slightly large brain and not as prominent brow, yet somewhow survived? I can just imagine it - baby Australopithecus afarensis being taunted by all the other “cooler” monkeys…

And why were those mutations weeded out? I personally think it would be awesome if there was ever a flamingo-chupacabra mix. It could be the pink ninja of the animal kingdom…

But more seriously, I disagree with “bible-bashing,” however, on this entire page, I did not notice one instance of actual bible-bashing. I am a christian, mennonite specifically (were a protestant off-shoot of the amish… don’t ask…), and agreed with many of the points made by scott and mike and such. I have long since viewed the seven days creation of the earth thing as a poetic metaphor. While I doubt the ancient Israelites knew anything about carbon dating, I think many myths (for loss of a better term) are started purposefully as a poetic explanation, and at the very least not absolutely strictly literal. The very idea of a higher being seperating earth and sky, yet still needing to rest, like any normal man, appeals to my poetic and creative senses. I do not believe in any of the creationism bs, the stuff the bring to the talkshows where the host is either stupid or paid-off, but I do believe that the world was created by god, and that he had quite an enjoyable time watching what happened, sort of like that new game, “spore.” I do think he was less than happy with the whole killing-each-other-for-no-apparent-reason thing, though.

As do the “behemoth” theory, one idea (this is probably not very likely, I’m not saying this is fact) is that the Isrealites stumbled upon some latger-than-normal elephants. Or maybe it just turned out to be a lawn chair or something. Or maybe the elephants were absrdly obese…

Anyways, those are 3.14 cents, don’t spend it all at once!

Mike Keesey wrote:

(I have Mennonite ancestry myself.)

Mutations nearly always accumulate gradually—the brain does not suddenly get bigger, but is gradually selected for size over millions of years.

The only instance I can think of where a sudden, dramatically appearance-changing mutation won out in natural selection is the case of certain albino cave organisms. In this case, albinism could have appeared in a single organism and then spread because: a) it made slightly more efficient use of available proteins, and b) the visual difference was undetectable in the darkness. There may be other cases of this as well, but usually evolution is a gradual process, barely discernible from generation to generation.

The problem with this type of theistic evolution (which I too was an adherent of for a time) is that natural selection requires a certain measure of cruelty. A species is not fashioned by a loving, supernatural clay-sculptor, but by organisms winning out over other organisms. One of the very basic requirements for natural selection is that some members of a population die out. Tragedy is an essential ingredient of the process.

Those who would believe in omnibenevolent gods will have a hard time justifying this…

(And, of course, one should not make the is-ought fallacy and infer that, because scientists maintain that natural selection created us, that they believe it is a moral process. Science is about describing reality, not about proscribing morality—although arguably one cannot have a good understanding of morality without a good understanding of reality.)

Mike Keesey wrote:

The behemoth need not have been any special kind of elephant. Most (all?) ancient Hebrews would probably never have seen an elephant, and it requires only a little healthy exaggeration to go from the actual animal to the one described in `Iyob.

As for the leviathan, I’ve recently had a thought about that and related dragon myths that I may write on sometime.

bizoomboom wrote:

It’s the fucking bible. You can’t take it literally. It’s been revised, rewritten, censored, and isn’t meant to be taken literally in the first place.

Peter wrote:

For goodness sake. Its like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. (ie pointless.) The only thing as bad as a bloody fundamentalist is a bloody athiest. Why cant all of you (and I mean on both sides of the argument, get a life and then get on with living it.)As objectionable as I find the silly fairy stories about creation in the bible, as ridiculous as I find the pea brains who actually BELIEVE it word for word, I find the athiests as bad in their constant yakking about the subject. Maybe its because I live in Australia where we dont have so many wacky fundamentalists and where people in the main just get on with their lives without arguing one way or another. As for me I am going to go on believing that we were sneezed out of the nose of the great argleblast.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Hey, we’re not as bad as the people who spend valuable time reading posts like these and then go on and on about how uninteresting it all is. ;)

Terik Ororke wrote:

After centuries of oral tradition, the biblical stories of creation and other things were written down. Much was added or orchestrated. Each creation story betrays itself as written by classes of people,–priests–Yahwistic–etc. You can tell by how each address God or names him. Your premise does not understand basic biblical formation.

Phillip wrote:

The problem is that this doesn’t require registering to post on! :)

As a Christian who’s just getting into the theology of everything, and up until now has been a mindless follower, i think Thomas Alecto put it the best last year.

Anyway, I have no degrees, but i do know that something that is required to have religion that you don’t need to be scientific is faith. I’ll even make it easy for people to bash and simplify it by saying belief. The bible, just like my high school science book, doesn’t require my belief to be true, just to be understood and accepted.

A wise man yelled at a frog, causing it to jump, so he promptly removed his front legs. He yelled again, causing the frog to jump once more, so the wise man promptly removed the hind legs. Yelling once more, the frog sat still. The wise man concluded the frog must have gone deaf.

We all believe what we want, but this belief is the guide to the goal of the truth.

bhyatt wrote:

Phillip wrote, “We all believe what we want, but this belief is the guide to the goal of the truth.”

But this is the problem scientist have. They don’t just believe what they want. They look at the evidence and come to the most likely conclusion. They don’t try to “rationalize” 3,000 year old writings. Fundamentalist Christians look at ancient writing and try to make it the complete truth. I hate to say this about faith, because I was raised in a Christian family, but “faith” in that manifestation is ludicrous. That took a lot of soul searching for me to accept, but it’s true.

Scientists aren’t perfect. They don’t have all the answers. But evolution is not something they’re divided on.

Phillip wrote:

bhyatt, based on much of the arguments posted here, and on evidence, or a lack-of evidence, there are still many things unexplained about evolution.

Sadly, i have to leave the detailed arguments to the educated, but i know enough about psychology and philosophy to know that regardless of what evidence we’re given, every human being tends to draw themselves to an expected conclusion even if this conclusion is the complete opposite of whatever “facts” are supplied. Or, maybe to say, we create our own reality.

But i think some of what was stated earlier in this by, i forget whom, puts it best by saying, loosely, that the bible was created by imperfect beings to “mold” an image of God on our imperfect selves. The bible is a guide, a rule book, a tool, and to a Christian, it’s the bread that keeps us going, spiritually, from day to day.

There is a happy-medium to everything in life. THAT is what we should be trying to reach. NOT who’s right or who’s wrong.

Tee wrote:

It’s astounding that intelligent people who have come across the concept of DNA still have time for the story of creation according to Genesis.

People are touting two arguments, creationism or evolution. Neither are true. Darwin didn’t come across the concept of DNA when he wrote down his theory. The mathematical possibility that we evolved from monkeys or any other species is ridiculous, if you still wish to believe in it despite the odds and in full knowledge of them, no rational person can be expected to accept your opinion to be based on logic or facts.

The odds of universal laws and everything just happening by itself out of the blue are also laughable. We don’t yet have a clear path to start trying to explain how we got here. Lets just admit it, we don’t know, we’re trying to find out. We’re only about 200 years into the technological era, it’s foolish to pretend that we have legitimate grounds to trust that a theory is true.

http://www.exchangedlife.com/Creation/unexplai.htm

Lets carry on trying to understand our universe before we jump to a conclusion that we know something, when in fact it is just a pacifier which holds us back through the false belief that we understand or know something when we actually have no way of knowing thus giving us a false sense of identity.

As people discover more factual truths about the way the world and the universe works, the theories of creationism and evolution will be exposed as the frauds that they are, spread by the ignorant
who just can’t come to terms with the fact they don’t really know what the truth is.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Tee, evolution is not about random happenstance—please do some more reading (I recommend Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable) and then come on back.

Tee wrote:

I’ve looked the book up, and the blurb states that Richard Dawkins is arguing AGAINST the odds.

“The human eye is so complex and works so precisely that surely, one might believe, its current shape and function must be the product of design. How could such an intricate object have come about by chance? Yet this is exactly what Richard Dawkins argues in his provocative and passionate new book–that life evolves through the accident of mutation, and that perfection in the natural world.parryan is the result of supreme, and fascinating, improbability.”

http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/writings/climbingmountimprobable.shtml

I’ve come across Mr. Dawkins before and have heard him
comparing the possibility of God or a more intelligent power akin to that of there being a spaghetti monster.

He is a Darwinist and believes in the monkey to human theory which comes from the nineteenth century before the electron microscope was invented. All he could see was a nucleus, cell wall and gel. We now know that a single cell is more complex than a chemical factory. There are thousands of parts working together to cause a cell function. If just one of the parts of a cell was missing, the entire cell will fail to function,thus collapse and die. This leaves evolution by chance a mathematical impossibility.

It’s covered in the article I posted a link to in the previous post:

http://www.exchangedlife.com/Creation/unexplai.htm

For evolution to occur we need to examine how the process would happen.

This passage delves into amino acids, the very substance which forms life.

“The most compelling evidence is amino acids. The simplest known living organism has over 500 amino acids. When amino acids form, they are less than one-millionth the size of a human hair. When they form, they form with side groups of atoms. Scientist have found that all non-living amino acids form with 50% of side atoms on the right side of the acid and 50% on the left. This is true on all non-living amino acids. Living cells can ONLY contain amino acids on the left side. ALL amino acids found in every single living cell contains only left-sided amino acids. In the most favorable environment of scientific labs, this has never been duplicated. No scientist has ever created the left-handed amino acid that is critical to the formation of life. All amino acids always form with left and right sided atoms. If scientist in perfect conditions can’t duplicate one single left-sided amino acid, how could the 500 necessary for life form by chance? The scientific odds of even one left-sided amino acid forming by chance is 10 to the 123rd power. In other words 1 chance in 10 followed by 123 zeros. i.e. 1 in
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Compare this to the rediculous odds of winning the lottery which is 1 chance in 80,000,000. And evolutionists say Christians have blind faith. But those are not the odds of life forming. It gets worse. That is only one of the 500 aminos necessary for the simplest life form. 20 specific aminos are needed for the simplest cell, but 500 in order for life to sustain in itself. The odds get worse. Those 500 different types of amino acids have to ‘evolve’ within a fraction of a millimeter of each other just to give them the chance of uniting. It gets worse. They also have to ‘by chance’ evolve at the exact same moment in time in a process that scientist say takes hundreds of millions of years. Elements break down the amino acids, so timing is critical. The chances of all these resources falling into place at the exact same time with the exact needed elements at the exact same place on earth within a few millionths of a millimeter of each other are 1 to the ERROR..Calculation overflow. Sorry, my Pentium doesn’t have enough memory to even write the number.”

Dawkins is a confirmed, and also a leading proponent of Darwinian theory. If he has written a book which suggests that such odds have been beaten, and more than once despite the knowledge that we have of how this process would occur (Which Darwin didn’t, he observed how animals adapted to their environment…..and which we humans also do, but no mutation actually occurs in DNA which would be necessary to create a new species. Darwinian theory fails to account for how
evolution occurs and in spite of what is known would be needed in order for it to occur and the chances of it happening.)

Mr. Dawkins either knows the processes and probabilities involved and argues against them
which is a slap in the face to logic and fact, and is detrimental to human understanding of who we are, where we came from and the processes involved. It is also a great dis-service to people who have not yet come across the probabilities and processes involved. Either Mr. Dawkins truly BELIEVES in what he says against the odds, or he is a charlatan who wishes to espouse the outdated and inaccurate theory of Darwinism as fact (and sell a boatload of books to the confused intellectual masses who have long been taught that it’s an either or option of creationism or Darwinism. It’s neither.).

Mike Keesey wrote:

Darwin (and Wallace) discovered a general principle, not a cellular mechanism (which was discovered later and fits extremely well with the idea). That principle does not at all equate to randomness. I see Creationists make this logical fallacy often, that all processes must either be random or conscious. (I made it myself when I was a Creationist.) In fact, most processes in the universe are neither. Crystals forming, planets orbiting, computers calculating, trees growing—these processes are neither random nor conscious, but the logical result of natural laws acted out on complex systems of matter and energy. They are awesome, but blind.

Natural selection is also a blind process. (And pretty awesome.) All it requires is replicators which vary in their ability to replicate. The patterns of those which are better at replicating will become more prevalent as time goes on. Quite simple logic. Variations may be introduced, and some of those variations may be, in a sense, random, but the outcome is anything but random. The race is to that which is best at replicating.

(Incidentally, some unfiltered randomness can be a factor in the gene pool of small populations—this is termed “genetic drift”. But it generally does not have significant phenotypic effects, and certainly is not capable of producing complex, novel structures.)

Some Creationists compare the idea of evolution to the idea that a randomized computer program could type out A Tale of Two Cities. But that is an unfair metaphor, since it lacks the element of selection. A better metaphor is that of a computer program which spits out random characters which are only preserved when they match the text. In other words, keep generating random characters until you get an “I”, then until you get a “t”, then until you get a space … so on until you have, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of time…,” and so on. This is actually possible. It requires some time, but that time is measured in days, not eons.

This metaphor is closer to the truth. You could bring it even closer by allowing the program to replicate any work of literature, from War and Peace to Green Eggs and Ham, since, in biological reality, there are millions of ways to be successful at replication (as shown by the millions of species in existence).

Please just read the book. By all means avoid his anti-religion books, but this one is just about biology. He does a fantastic job of explaining the process.

Phillip wrote:

I have an uneducated question to pose…assuming that both creationism and evolution have to have a “ground zero”, what created DNA? If some intellegent life did NOT create it, then where did it come from in nature?

http://cariboo.tru.ca/carryon/dcharbon/kdn02/genomedoubts.htm

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/origin-of-life.html

I looked and couldn’t find much. I would normally try to be more “unbiased” about the links but creationists seem to have scientists beat out for a “ground zero”.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Why does it have to be “created”? Are snowflakes “created”? Are extraterrestrial hydrocarbons “created”? Chemical combinations are perfectly capable of arising through natural processes.

The origin of DNA is not well-understood because it happened billions of years ago on an Earth that was in many ways very different from the current version (namely, not covered with life forms). It is probable that RNA came about first, and then DNA formed from that.

An introductory article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_Life

Mike Keesey wrote:

And Creationists don’t have a “ground zero”. Science’s “ground zero” is a physical universe; the Creationists postulate the existence of a complex extra-physical being without bothering to explain its origin.

Tee wrote:

Universal processes are automated and natural selection is a fact but considering how intricate and detailed everything is, can we argue that there was no intelligence involved in setting these up in the first place?

For example, everyone who uses a computer will have a slightly different computer system despite there being an operating system which could be the same for all users. Without the initial processes and rules coded, none of it would be possible. The chances are that everyone who has Windows XP has a slightly different setup despite the OS rules being universal.

Each snowflake is not created, but a set of processes in the world cause it to exist. For the hydrocarbons to exist universal processes which cause the interaction have to exist. Even a slight modification to natural laws would cause there to be no existence.

Much like a five year old cannot understand a PHD lecture, we cannot understand or comprehend the entire complexity of the universe, we simply don’t have enough time or mental skills (concentration and memory) to figure out something so complex as what the universe is. The chances are that there is intelligence involved in this amazing complexity, whether or not we can possibly comprehend or quantify it is another matter.

Unfortunately people have created religions, either through the hope of guiding people towards what is right or wrong or simply to put themselves into a position of authority, and all the religions have provided explanations about a higher intelligence that do not stand up to reason, don’t actually explain anything about this higher intelligence, and worse still, contradict facts and logic.

Religion cannot be confused with a higher intelligence, mans morals are not Gods morals. Probability suggests that there is intelligence involved in the existence of the universe, but none of the religions tell the truth about it.
It’s extremely probable that higher intelligence exists….but we cannot quantify or explain it with todays available information, we can but observe the universe and discover it’s beauty
and diversity with the senses we have without understanding the whole.

Mike Keesey wrote:

But where would that intelligence have come from? Natural selection, unlike Creationism, explains how intelligence can come to be in the first place. Sure, everything we see is intricate, but how does postulating a preexisting being that is even more intricate solve the problem? Surely that is much less probable!

The universe is a universe, not a person.

Mike Keesey wrote:

One more Wikipedia link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

Tee wrote:

Why does it have to be a being with a consciousness that is seperate from all living things?

The answer is, there is likely to be a higher intelligence but we cannot quantify what form it is in, nor can we trace how it started since we do not know what this higher intelligence is. Intelligence rises from consciousness. Our consciousness is constrained by time and space. What about the possibility of a consciousness not constrained by time,space or any sort of physical form such as we are.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Speculating about extraphysical entities is fine in my book. Stating that there is physical evidence of such a thing—well, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Everything we see, everything we know, everything we are can be explained by physical processes. Might there be more to existence? Sure. Do we have evidence of the extraphysical interacting with the physical? None whatsoever.

You can indeed view animal societies as having something along the lines of a collective intelligence. I don’t see how you can posit that that has anything to do with the origins of such a society—that’s putting the cart before the horse.

Owen wrote:

It’s good to see an eloquent, civilised discussion like this on the web - it’s (almost) restored my faith in humanity.

This is remarkably similar to an argument I’ve been having for a number of years with a friend of mine which concerns the sanctity of the scientific method.

Science is a framework to explain the universe. It’s ALWAYS a work in progress and may or may not stand the test of time (which is itself a far older systematic framework for testing theories).
Currently, in most countries at least, it’s regarded well and it may be that science or it’s successor will provide empirical proof that actually religion was right all along. Or not. Which really is the basis of the argument with my friend.
He is purely of the opinion that all things will be explained in time through science. I am not convinced and like to think that there are “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” and I think that religion has far more to offer than many scientists are currently willing to admit.

And you are quite right in that “science (including evolutionary theory) deals only with the natural. So it is not religion” but it provides a reasonable framework for a belief system that can lead to a quasi-religious faith in the prevalent scientific method.

At the same time I simply cannot condone the blinkered approach that most religions require from their worshippers.
(A nice little musing on the subject can be found at http://www.unm.edu/~humanism/socvsjes.htm)

This discussion pretty much epitomises what people are about - the investigation and interpretation of their environment, seeking explanations for that which they have no explanation for. This is the aim of both religion and science at the end of the day.

I have to tell you though - people in europe tend to regard the camps that are currently set up within the interior of the USA with a certain amount of bewilderment. (Please excuse me if I’ve mis-identified your respective countries and inadvertaently caused offence:).
You either believe or you don’t believe or you actively disbelieve. Most people tend to mix and match a certain amount of faith and spirituality and temper it with acceptance the science has much to offer and throws up some fascinating queries about what the universe actually IS.

Can someone enlighten me as to when the bible became so immobile? Thomas Alecto pointed out earlier in this thread that the book of Enoch was thrown out after a few hundred years. At what point did this schism between religion and rationality come to be such a wide gap that we now have people at each others throats over a question of whether it’s better to have blind faith or questioning doubt?

Where is the book of Darwin for example? At what point did the bible (and indeed religious texts in general) stop taking new admissions? Is there some sort of life-cycle for officially endorsed scripture?

Mike Keesey wrote:

Well, I think that here (in the States) as anywhere, most people fall into the “Who cares?” category. It’s just that the most vocal people don’t. (For the record, I am an American who was raised to believe Creationism and later came to be an atheist.)

Faith is only as good as what it’s placed in. How can you ever really know what it’s placed in is good? Which gods are false and which are real? Are fairies and little grey aliens real? I think testing and parsimony is really the only way to analyze things like this—i.e., the scientific method.

There may be more things than are dreamt of in Science’s philosophy. My beef is with those who dream them and then assert that they are real. That is the essence of blind faith. But merely wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so.

I’d love to have an updated Bible, but we’d have to cut out quite a bit of rubbish, and then, for fairness’ sake, include (edited) texts from other cultural traditions as well. And then, of course, as you mention, add scientific texts, too. At that point it starts to become a bit unwieldy. More reasonable alternative: keep stores of information publicly available through libraries and the Internet, and teach people to sift through them critically.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Owen, thanks for that link—I really enjoyed it. I have a suspicion that some form of polytheism is “wired’ into humanity (so to speak). Certainly there are very few self-professed “monotheists” who really deserve that title. We’re too attracted by the idea of a pantheon.

Phillip wrote:

Thanks for the answer to my question.

I now bow out gracefully, feeling i have contributed to the full capacity of my knowledge, and having learned a little bit more about life, the universe, and everything, shall set out to learn more and share.

I wanted to ask my question in a neutral manor. Not one that supported any one view, but i’m afraid i failed and made it seem a creationist’s question. :(

May you ALL find the goal you seek and may it bring you nirvana.

David Howell wrote:

I am not sure if it was in Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World” or in something written by the wonderful science writer/philosopher Chet Raymo, but the idea has been offered that the present dichotomy between religion and science dates back to around the 13th century when the Black Death swept through Europe. Europe was decimated. The survivors reacted in two different ways: some prayed that the curse would be lifted; others looked for physical causes such as rats and fleas and bad sanitation. Religion and science both offered paths to salvation. We are still looking for a way to combine science and religion into some kind of world-view or universe-view that is both comforting and rational. In the grand scheme of things, 800 years is not all that long. We need to keep trying.

K Zirk wrote:

A strange little discussion to be sure.From what i understand that the six/seven days creation were not 24 hour time frames.(see days of Noah,etc..)Moses was the one who wrote account seeing(in a vision from God,perhaps?!)the whole thing from a human on earth view-point.The Bible isn’t about saying how many millions/billions years it took or the exact path taken.Science wasn’t there either.Looking at a man’s bones won’t tell you much about who placed him
there or what kind of man he was.As for your apparent distaste for YHWH or Jehovah,i find it being added to a discussion about where we came from a rather personal,very non-science-like sidebar added to muddy the whole issue in the first place.We all have free will in the matter of where all this started.You can find the Divine name as a part of most of the Kings/and holy men
of the Hebrew scriptures.Do you have to accept the fact that we have been given a set of rules for living a “good” life?Nope!Does faith in the Bible mean a lack of respect for science?No.But since science is partly based in theory and changes(see Pluto and the nine planets theory)will be made to what science KNOWS is fact.What you assume to fact may yet prove to be a work of fiction. Faith in God is not for every one and from your comments that applies to you as well.
Have a nice day!

Tom wrote:

I’m surprised at the shallowness of “disproof” supplied in this article. The Bible is not some storybook taken off the shelf of your local bookstore. It is the Word of God. There is meaning in every word, and every verse has a *context* in which it was written.

Most, if not all Bible critics completely ignore context and fail to really study a passage. They find a “proof text” or a supposed “conflict” and attempt to expose it as a disproof of God. This article is a perfect example of horribly flawed reasoning.

Let me explain two simple points to you for further study, and I will be done.

1. The first account is a “birds eye” view of creation. The second account begins to add details. It’s that simple. It is not two separate accounts.

2. There is a *specific reason* for the change in the Lord’s title. God’s names (plural) in the Bible are extremely important. When the God changes to Lord God, it is because we are looking at His relationship to man - as Lord and creator.

Treat the Bible as a simple storybook, and you’re going to cut yourself. The Bible is a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways.

You are fully without your rights to ridicule and make fun of the Bible if you so wish. But don’t be surprised when your ignorance (ignorance is absence of knowledge, not name calling) is exposed and your arguments revealed as straw men.

Cheers

Tom

Mike Keesey wrote:

K. Zirk,

Moses (Mosheh) could not have written the Torah, as it mentions that the whereabouts of his grave are unknown. The Torah was compiled and edited by many scribes from several original sources, each of which had gone through many versions. Different parts are written in different dialects that correspond to different regions and time periods.

Finding the name of Yahweh in the names of the Judahite kings (although not the early Israelite kings, who instead followed ‘El and Ba`al `Adad) is about as surprising as finding the name “Thor” in the names of the heroes of the Icelandic sagas.

The designation of Pluto as a dwarf planet rather than as a planet is actually NOT a matter of science. It’s a matter of nomenclature. That is, the new designation had nothing to do with newly discovered data; rather it had to do with a new, rigorous definition of the term “planet”.

Of course, your point holds that science is a way of approximating the truth, not of obtaining it. But it’s the best thing we have, and by its self-improving nature it gets better and better with time.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Tom,

I suggest you do some reading on the Documentary Hypothesis (better termed a theory, really). The two stories are clearly from different sources when you study the original text. The first story is Israelite and shows a lot of influence from the neighboring Canaanites. The second story is Judahite and clearly of a separate origin. This is even acknowledged by many Christians and Jews. I recommend Friedman’s The Bible, With Sources Revealed and, of course, an interlinear Hebrew Bible.

I’m not making fun of the Bible so much as trying to elucidate what it is: a complex and fascinating cultural document with a complex and fascinating history. It is not the literal truth (thank goodness, or we Goyim would be screwed), but there’s a lot of interesting things going on in it, including many pieces of truth.

Mike Keesey wrote:

David Howell,

In the search for truth, I think rationality should always take precedence over comfort. Fact is, the medically-minded were right and those hoping for succor from above perished. Not that comfort isn’t important or that it doesn’t have its place, but there are unpleasant truths out there. Casting a blind eye to them is not going to help us in our quest.

We can try to come to terms with the universe, but the universe isn’t going to lift a finger to come to terms with us.

Tim D wrote:

Firstly, I’d like to know what you believe is the origin and inception of the Bible. I mean it is a book that claims to have been written over thousands of years by dozens of authors who didn’t know each other, and often supposedly, didn’t know each other’s work. It was penned in different languages and cultures and yet somehow this collection of stories and tales seems to relate a fairly common theme. I find that rather amazing. It’s a book that has had a profound effect on the world. I mean its the all-time best seller.
I want to know where you feel it came from, I’d like to know where you think its lying in its claims. I want to know how you disprove it and I think origin is important.

As far as your claims go towards the Bible disproving creationism, I think your quote of Gen. 2 is a little off. I’m no Hebrew scholar, but in my understanding Chapter 2 is where humanity starts being discussed. Chapter 1 was about creation nothing more, nothing less. So Chapter 2 expands on how humans were created. (And I know that there where no chapters in the Hebrew that was all discretionary divisions on the parts of western minds.)

Personally, no matter what you believe, if you believe in human existence you believe in faith. Something cannot come from nothing and when it comes to creation of the universe something had to be there first. I guess thinking finitely evolution can answer questions but if you have not start to trace to what do you have. And scientifically things simply dont get better over time, they get worse. Disorder is natural. I guess to me the idea of Evolution is that if left unprovoked things will randomly improve. So I guess its simply a judgement call because evolution is a religion too, it requires faith and the worship of the human intellect to
define that which it is uncapable of defining.

Thank You. I hope you can answer my questions. I guess I have always wanted for someone to prove the Bible was a lie. And this article has failed to do so.

Troy wrote:

Something bizarre has happened in my life. As a result I am a believer in Christ for the rest of my life. Science doesn’t explain it, maybe one of you sharp individuals can shed some light on it.

I’m going to make a long story short and I’m going to be honest and to the point. First I’d like to say that I am Caucasian, from an upper middle class family, and have a BS in CIS.

For twelve years of my life I was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol. I was able to refrain from these addictions most of the work week in order to hold down a job but when the weekend rolled around you could bet on me being a mess.

I got married and was able to clean up a bit but my addictions got the best of me and she soon filed for divorce. During the divorce I lived in a small apartment where I seriously began to think about my life and what I was doing to myself and others. I got on my knees and not only asked God for help with my struggles but also asked him to use me for His purposes.

What is bizarre about this is that my addictions to crack cocaine and alcohol abruptly ceased…no AA or rehab. No withdrawal, no cravings, not barely a thought. I am now a member of a church and lead a small group and am teaching the word of God and how to share ones faith.

I’ve read quite a bit of this blog, not all of it, and I see a lot of intellectual argument but I didn’t see anything about the conscience. What does your heart say? Why do we have a conscience;the knowledge of right and wrong?

Mike Keesey wrote:

Troy, that’s getting fairly far off-topic. This post is about the fallacy of Creationism, of believing ancient (and conflicting) origin myths over scientific theories. Conscience is a very different topic.

There hasn’t been a lot of scientific inquiry into conscience, but neuroscience and evolutionary psychology are beginning to shed some light. Conscience is something we all possess (with the possible exception of psychotics), regardless of religious belief (or lack thereof). It’s a universal (or nigh universal) feature of the human mind (and probably exists in some form in some other animal species as well).

The “short” answer is that a predilection for conscientious behavior was probably selected for as an adaptation to an increasingly complex social environment. As intelligent, social primates, we have to deal with other intelligent, social primates on a daily basis. Like any organism, we are each looking out for ourselves and our relatives (”selfish” gene theory). But, since we have the capability of complex memory, this allows for mutualistic altruism as well. We can remember a favor someone did for us and pay it back, and then repeat that process. Out of this practice come certain rules of conduct: don’t screw people over (or they’ll retaliate), help those in need (since they might help you one day), etc. Given enough time (and a big enough population), the individuals with the mental wiring that performs best in this kind of social environment will tend to win out, passing on the genes for that wiring to future generations. (Now, of course our behavior isn’t entirely dictated by innate wiring, but it’s certainly influenced by it, and that wiring does dictate the range of possibilities for our behavior, even if it doesn’t dictate the specifics.)

The exact mechanics of the conscience are still poorly understood, owing to the extremely difficult nature of neuroscience (which is still a young field, after all). I have hope that we’ll get more answers in the future, but, for now, there’s still a huge amount if work to be done in this area.

Troy wrote:

Mike, thanks for your interesting response. The conscience is indeed a mysterious thing. I heard something pretty interesting the other day. Forgive me for straying off the topic again but I promise I’ll get out of your hair.

There is a protein in our bodies called Laminin. It’s an adhesive that glues all of our cells together. So we are basically held together by this stuff. If you go to Google Images or Yahoo Images and do a search for Laminin you get some pretty interesting results. One might say we are held together by tiny crosses.

Wish you well in all of your endeavors Mike.

Mike Keesey wrote:

No problem.

Well, you could also say that our blueprints are winding staircases, we live on a ball, and our thoughts are created by series of trees and shrubs. Simple forms like these are usually pretty common throughout nature.

After all, benzene rings look like Stars of David, and this inscription of the shahadah looks like a mitochondrion. The human mind is adapted for ambitiously recognizing patterns.

katie wrote:

I think you should find something better to do than bash an intelligent design, just because you have nothing intelligent to believe in (as your creator) doesn’t mean you can belittle the truth.

get a real job

katie wrote:

I apologize for my brash words in the last comment. It just makes me angry when people spend so much time trying to prove the Bible wrong without even trying to see the truth in it. I hope you’ll forgive me and try to see my point by actually reading and studying the Bible and not viewing it as a devout critic.

God bless,
katie

Mike Keesey wrote:

Katie, I would hope that it is clear from the above that I *have* spent a good amount of time reading the Bible, and not just the English translations, either. And I considered myself Christian for a good, long period of my life.

I accept your apology, but I have to say I find these kind of knee-jerk reactions quite “un-Christian”, at least in the pacifist, accepting, loving sense of the word “Christian” (there are some other senses as well). Perhaps you should read it a bit more — I think you’ll find that parts of it preach tolerance. (Granted, other parts preach genocide, misogyny, etc. but .. well, you’ll just have to sort out which parts you accept and which parts you don’t.)

Troy wrote:

What’s up Mike? I thought I would pop in to see if anything new has been posted. I see Katie got owned :) Hey I’m curious, I see you said you considered yourself Christian for a good period of your life. Did something happen that caused you to become bitter towards God? Did you feel like you were lied to?

Mike Keesey wrote:

Well, I can’t very well be bitter toward something that I don’t think exists, can I? I might as well be bitter against the Easter Bunny, or Thor, or Ishtar, or Shiva, or Paul Bunyan.

But to answer your question, no, it was a gradual realization that the only reason I was a Christian is because I had been brought up as one. Had I been brought up as a Muslim, I would have been a Muslim. Had I been brought up as a Buddhist, I would have been a Buddhist. Had I been brought up Wiccan, I would have been Wiccan. (And of course, if I had been brought up as an atheist, I would have been atheist … it goes both ways.)

I couldn’t base my belief system on something that arbitrary, could I? So I began to try and look beyond the influences of my upbringing and take a cold, hard look at religion. What I found, and continue to find, is that all religions are part true (at least in some sense of “true”) and part fiction, mere fabrication (and generally shifting fabrication, so that a religion of one time period is different than the “same” religion in another — Rabbi Yehoshu`ah bar-Yosef would find Christianity very different in many ways from his own beliefs, assuming he existed).

My nontheism stems from nothing more than an attempt to be objective. There was no tragic occurence, no sudden impetus, no critical event. I simply got to a certain age, opened my eyes, and looked beyond my own culture.

Troy wrote:

I think believing there is no God is like believing a tornado could slam into a Home Depot and leave a fully intact house in its wake. Things just don’t fall into order by chance. Somebody created us and earth. Look at a building…how do you know there was a builder? Because the building exists.

I think the best thing God did for us, besides Jesus, is give us a conscience. Because our conscience will never rest until we stop resisting our creator and embrace the one who will deliver us from our sinful nature.

You may think i’m just saying this, but I pray for you Mike. Since my first post, I pray for you every time you pop into my mind. I pray that God will show you what you’re searching for. That you will wrestle with Him like Jacob.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Troy, I hoped you wouldn’t do this, but you’ve just gone and done what pretty much every religious person does in a conversation like this: ignore every single thing I say so that you can “witness” to me. Not a bit of your response has anything to do with what I wrote. It’s like talking to a machine!

Now I can understand why you act this way, because I was in a similar place myself once. I’m going to guess that you’re in love in Christianity. You’re infatuated. You’re head over heels. In many ways being in love is a wonderful thing. It’s certainly a wonderful feeling. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to put blinders on a person.

Do you think I’ve never seen those arguments before? Do you think I never used them myself? There are serious logical errors in your post. To be fair, they’re common errors and you’re far from the first person to make them. (*Ahem* I have, too.)

First of all, you’re assuming that if there isn’t a mind behind a process, then that process must be chance. Mind or chance, the only two processes in the universe. Wrong.

When an apple falls from a tree to the ground is it chance, is it mind, or is it gravity? When a snowflake crystallizes, is it chance, is it mind, or is it due to the chemical properties of water? When lightning strikes, is it chance, is it mind, or is it transference of electric charge?

The universe operates in a logical (although not necessarily intuitive!) fashion according to certain laws that have been discovered (or are still in the process of being discovered) through science. The reason Charles Darwin is accounted as one of the greatest biologists of all time is because he discovered a law that explains how biological complexity can be generated without preexisting mind. (Alfred Russel Wallace independently came up with the idea around the same time, but didn’t put as much work into it as Darwin did.) It’s a stunningly elegant idea, and has opened the doors to a new understanding of where modern life comes from.

All you need is: 1) a population of replicating entities, and 2) variation within that population. (That variation could be due to chance, but doesn’t have to be. It just has to exist and be inheritable.) Darwin (and Wallace) noted that some of the variations are going to do better than others, meaning that they will replicate more than the others. The next generation will be dominated by entities who have inherited traits from the most successful members of the previous generation (”successful” meaning “reproductively successful”). This iterative process will proceed, like a ratchet, generation after generation. As the eons unfold, vast changes will arise, even though the change from generation to generation is small, often imperceptible.

So chance may be an element of evolution (look up “genetic drift” and “founder effect”), but it is not the force that drives it to achieve the staggering complexity we see around us. That force is selection, not chance.

So much for that error. On to the next. Suppose the universe was created by a mind. Does it follow that that mind is the Modern Christian Tri-God? Why not some other culture’s god? Why not the Demiurge of some early forms of Christianity? Why not a multitude of gods? In fact, if you’ve read my essay at all, you’ll know that one of the creation stories (the Israelite/Canaanite one) says the world was created by “‘Elohim”, which is a plural. The other (the Judahite one) says it was created by one god, Yahweh. The Bible, when literally interpreted, can’t even agree on the deity that created the world, so how can you assert one?

Finally, suppose the Modern Christian Tri-God did create the world. Why is it seeded with so much overwhelming evidence for evolution? Is/Are He/They trying to deceive us? Might it be that the stories of Genesis are to be seen as an allegory, as a poem and a parable (respectively)? Might it be that, as many Christians, including those in the Vatican, consider, that Deus Pater created life through evolution?

Now if you’re going to respond, please respond to the points I have actually made. Take your time. Do some reading. Thanks!

Troy wrote:

Ok, you caught me with my “blinders” on. Let me take them off.

A couple of questions from my Evidence Bible…

Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

How would you explain that “staggering complexity” you mentioned?

As for your last point, I stick with Revelation 18 and 19.

Mike Keesey wrote:

No worries, man — I’ve been guilty of that in the past myself. (Much worse, really.)

Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species?

This is actually something that has been debated a lot among biologists, and the debate is not over. What is the unit of natural selection? Richard Dawkins and others have made a good case that the unit should be considered the gene. Check out his Selfish Gene for more on that idea.

But this unit is really just a basis, since “selfish” genes can cause related organisms (i.e., family members) to care for each other. This is called “kin altruism”. “Kin altruism” explains many things, like why parents sacrifice themselves for their offspring and why members of ant colonies work together (they are very closely related to each other, moreso than human siblings, excluding twins, are to each other). Other forms of altruism are possible, too, of course, but they are nearly always reciprocal (or intended to be).

That said, it’s always good to get a second opinion, and there’s work by other scientists with other ideas. Really, though, it’s possible that natural selection works at multiple levels: it just requires some type of varying replicator. Genes, organisms, and populations could all be considered varying replicators (particularly the first two).

Game theory is also something to look into if you’re interested in this (fascinating) question.

Natural selection works with what’s available, but mutation, recombination, etc. are constantly fueling it. The best explanation of how this works that I’ve seen is Richard Dawkins’ outstanding (and underrated) Climbing Mount Improbable. Read that if you read nothing else I mention.

Incidentally, selection does not always favor increasing complexity — the invertebrate Trichoplax may be an example of the reverse. Nearer to home, so may Homo floresiensis (although this is heavily debated). And, of course, the persistent success of bacteria also indicates that, often, simple is good. But selection favors complexity often enough to have produced a few interesting lineages.

What does the fall of Babylon have to do with this? (And are you aware that Revelation was included in the Bible by mistake? Some early Christians thought it was written by another John, and the others were too afraid they might be right to leave it out. But now we’re getting into the subject of biblical textual analysis, and that’s a big subject indeed, full of forgeries, insertions, and variations.)

Shebardigan wrote:

“How would you explain that “staggering complexity” you mentioned?”

Complexity is a naturally-arising feature of evolving systems. It’s been demonstrated in a number of non-biological systems that contain the elements of imperfect reproduction and differential success (i.e. some non-biological analogue of the process of evolution in the biological world).

For example, a significant amount of hardware and software “design” is now being done by evolutionary processes. Check out http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/users/adrianth/ade.html for information about how electronic systems can be seen to evolve, while generating novel and complex functionality.

David Marjanović wrote:

In case anyone still reads this…

famously from part of The Man’s side (possibly his rib).

Clearly his rib. That’s because both “rib” and “life” were ti in Sumerian — and because the Sumerians loved puns in their homophone-rich language (compare Chinese*), they had a myth where a goddess was created from the rib of a god. Memes mutate and spread…

* Bats are a symbol of good luck in China, because both “bat(s)” and “good luck” are .

and imperfective verb. Creation is not complete.

Oh, so that’s where the Catholic dogma of creatio continua comes from.

Salomon appears to have been historical

Could you elaborate?

Mitsrayim [Egypt]

Hey, cool, that’s a dual, right? Must be Upper and Lower Egypt.

Mike Keesey wrote:

Ah, didn’t know the Canaanite myth was borrowed from Sumeria. Makes sense.

Must be Upper and Lower Egypt.

I believe that’s correct. Sort of like our “Carolinas” and “Dakotas”.

Cerapax wrote:

Hi,

I’d like to ask “some dumb guy” a question….

If the great flood really did happen and the whole thing with Noah releasing the dove and how it returned with a branch of an olive tree. Where did the olive tree branch come from?

Here’s why I ask.

“Olive trees roots love water but can’t stand wet feet, they rot if they are constantly wet. Look for signs such as defoliation on the lower part of branches, yellowish leaves throughout the canopy and rubbery branches to recognize over-watering stress.” -

http://www.olivinursery.com/pages/basic_farming_info.html

So not only do Olive trees die out, but they start to lose their foliage when they are over watered! So how did the dove find the olive tree that played such a big part of Noah’s story?, now this isn’t just over watering but a prolonged period of flooding!

oh, but then there’s….

“God resolved that he would never again curse the ground because of man, nor destroy all life on it in this manner.”

So then God made a pact with man that “he” will never curse the ground nor destroy all life because of the actions of man!

….and even sealed the deal with a rainbow!!

so, what’s up with this?

“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence,’ New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge,” - http://www.repentamerica.com/pr_hurricanekatrina.html

So either God lied or this is just another case of religious contradiction? hmmm…. it really makes you wonder!

Anna wrote:

Teesiabal, I loved that joke!! Gorrdon… sorry, what did u say u were offering??? Can u repeat?? Love the comic.

Hope to meet you in some future SVP.

A young paleontologist from Spain.

(Ed.: This comment refers to SPAM that wasn’t pruned for a while. As for SVP, 2010 is looking more likely than 2009.)

Philosopher wrote:

Has anyone else noticed the following recurring happenstance in this marvellous discussion ?

The overwhelming majority of posts are really well constructed and contain the fruit of careful thought and/or study, and in some cases pose very probing questions, but a small minority of contributors have written as though they have taken only the most cursory look at anything here before reacting, and then pose “questions” that are either more rhetorical than actually investigative and which have in any case been thoroughly covered, and often deeply debated in earlier posts.

What I find interesting is that posts of that kind seem to come pretty well exclusively from one side of the debate rather than the other, and I am wondering why that is, and whether it tells us anything.

(Such interjections have come almost exclusively from contibutors who obviously see themselves as committed christians. What a shame that they do not realise that by doing so they devalue all that they hold most dear.)

Philosopher wrote:

The important difference is between FACT and FAITH

The Bible is about Faith, not Fact, and that is why contradictions etc are beside the point.

Those who wish to do so *choose* to have faith and find doing so worthwhile. That is a matter of choice and one cannot quarrel with the choice they make.

The problem arises when those who choose to have Faith in the Bible start to confuse its teaching with Fact, because unlike Faith, Fact is not something that can be chosen. (One can choose whether or not Jesus Christ is one’s Saviour, but one cannot choose whether or not gravity causes objects to fall to the ground.)

This site has been mainly about just one (apparent) contradiction on the first page of a large book, but there are at least 1400 more instances in which Bible texts appear to flatly contradict other Bible texts, which surely indicates that whatever the Bible appears to say cannot necessarily be taken at face value. It is less about Facts than about pieces of prose that may be found helpful or reassuring (if one has Faith in them).

As a support for Faith, the early chapters of Genesis have been found (by millions of people) to be absolutely wonderful, but as science has begun to reveal more and more Facts about the origins of the universe in general and our planet and mankind in particular it becomes more and more important to avoid thinking of Genesis 1 & 2 as Fact in any scientific sense. That is not what those passages are about.

Christians who wish to spread their Gospel should also remember that by claiming that their faith is incompatible with scientific fact they are actually preventing many people from taking Christianity seriously. What they are doing is at best unnecessary, and has the net effect of preventing large numbers of people from ever becoming believers - which surely very much the opposite of what Jesus meant when he said “make all men my disciples”.

Teagan wrote:

Your first paragraph about disproving creationism with the Bible is not accurate; they repeat creating man so they can go further into detail of the CREATION of man. Notice how it also says that God created man out of DUST then created woman from man. If you also notice that God has many different names including Messiah, Lord, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, etc. When you quoted the Bible in the 2nd paragraph it clearly SAYS, “WHEN” the creation of the heavens and the earth. So it is referring back to the text at the beginning of the Bible. And yes the Bible was written by different people, but notice how they PREDICT what happens later in the Bible, and also in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are written by 4 different people about the same HISTORICAL event and this proves that those books are accurate because they all were written by different people, they were about the same event, they were written in different perspectives and were written at about the same time. I dare you to try and disprove Christianity to me, every single piece of evidence you think you have is not valid evidence.
Thank You, and by the way, I am a freshman in high school…
Please if you want to try and disprove creation, email me at:
creation_believer@yahoo.com

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I was reading your article and some of the responces and have to point out that a man named William Paley used the example of a pocket watch.suppose you came upon a time piece lying in a meadow. examining it, youd find interconnected gears, springs, and levers moving the hands around the face in a regular motion. such an object could not just appear. surly it must have been made by some unseen craftsperson. the workings of a living creature are at least as complex as a watch. this is obviosly evidence of a creator God.

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So we can go back and forth all day and try to disprove ID and build a scientific case for evolution. Personally I think the bible is accurate, yes it was recorded by men inspired by God. Could there be flaws, sure. Are there flaws in the History books that we read?
Someone actually wrote down the event’s as best described during the time that it took place. Yet, most of us believe it….

The issue with Bible is that everyone want’s proof that God exist.
God if you are real, then show me. What else does he need to do?
Even if you said I don’t believe in the bible. You still have to deal with the fact that JESUS was a real person. There are several historical accounts of his life outside the bible. Look it up if you don’t believe me.. So the question is this. Was Jesus a prophet, and teacher. Like the Coran teaches. Was Jesus a good person like the book of Morman teaches. Who was this man called Jesus of Nazareth?

If he was God in flesh, what was the whole point of his life?
Most people hate dealing with this b/c it causes us to take a hard look at our life. I’m sure that many of you are much smarter than me. And based on your background, you understand science in a way that I will never begin to comprehend. I just know for me, I have seen God provide more proof than I could ever try to discredit.

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I have heard this argument before, and you are correct on there being multiple authors of the Bible. However, these are just two slightly different ordering of the same story. This happens in the New Testament as well. What I believe you are ignoring is that the 66 books of the Bible were written by at the least 39 authors over a period of 1500 years, all of which were consistently focused on the same God! Which if you have read the Bible you would recognize only the Holy Spirit’s part in this. Science may not prove the existence of God but it also has no explanation of miracles. Once you’ve experienced God scientific proof is completely unnecessary! One more amazing thing about this God of the Bible is that you dont have to earn his love!!!! No matter the situation you can know that He love you!!!

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