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Old 01-25-2002, 12:10 PM   #1
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Creationism & the Bible

First of all, know that I'm not critiquing anyone's particular faith. As much as I'm critiquing others' faiths, I'm critiquing my own.

Religion just baffles me. Some people just scratch their head wondering why so many people aren't religious anymore, but I know why: the rift between science and religion. Personally, I have no issue reconciling science and religion, but I am definitely in the minority on that one amongst the self-professed "religious." In Ohio, there is a bill that wants to force the teaching of creationism alongside evolution.

So, on a local TV station, we get a debate between two local high school science teachers: one is from the public school and the other is from a Baptist high school. Unsurprised, but still dismayed, I hear from the Baptist high school teacher that they teach creationism primarily, and their discussion of evolution is just in how to "debunk" it. Keep in mind that his belief is that the Earth is just 10,000 years old. Now I could see his reaction if the public schools' teaching of creationism was just to say how retarded it is...they'd have a fit.

So we get callers on the phone. Three out of four, of course, were creationists. The fourth brought up my viewpoint that the belief in evolution doesn't necessarily negate the existence of God; that God could have created the Earth in a span of billions of years. If you wish, a symbolic seven days, rather than a literal seven days. What did the Baptist high school teacher say in reply? That he was just "limiting God," basically dismissing him as a bad Christian.

Never mind that even the Bible doesn't even fully support the current creationist model if you actually read it thoroughly.

"Cain then left the LORD'S presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. Cain also became the founder of a city, which he named after his son Enoch." -- Genesis 4:16-17 (emphasis added)

Now if Adam and Eve, with their children, Cain and Abel, were the first humans, where did Cain's wife come from? Were the writers of Genesis sloppy? No. We've forgotten a very important perspective of Genesis: it was written under the belief of polytheism. Each culture was created under their own god. Hence, the Jews were created by Yahweh (God), the Philistines were created by Baal, etc.

"You shall not have other gods besides me." -- Exodus 20:3 That was a very important passage. If people were already monotheistic, what was the point of commanding that? So where did Cain's wife come from? Notice in Genesis 4:16, Cain is cast out of Eden and settles in Nod. His wife is from Nod, a "pagan" territory. Hence, his wife would have been "created" by the god of the people of Nod, as assumed by the writers. Genesis then forgets about Cain in the next chapter and continues on about the descendents of Seth, Adam and Eve's third child--hence, concerning themselves only with the Jewish lineage.

"Jews" are only maybe 10,000 years old, if you take the Bible literally, but that doesn't mean the Biblical writers didn't believe that the rest of the world didn't exist before them. The Garden of Eden, if I dare say, is a separate entity from Earth. A proverbial place of paradise--"Heaven"-- that, once Adam and Eve were kicked out, doesn't exist on our same plane of reality. Genesis isn't about the history of the world; it is about the history of "His chosen people," the Jews--a people born in paradise, but kicked out to settle amongst everyone else on Earth. Most of us here are not of Jewish decent; we descend from Gentile origins. Our ancestors were pagans that converted to Christianity centuries ago. Hence, we should not be concerned with ideas of Adam and Eve, etc., because we are not descendants of them, nor were we ever intended to be.

Heh...I'm not even remotely a creationist either. Evolution all the way. What do you think?

Melon

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Old 01-25-2002, 12:53 PM   #2
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Interesting topic, Melon.

While I do think it's quite possible that the world is billions of years old, I believe in creationism all the way.

You're right - one "day" could have been millions of years - by the time, man was created, the world could have already been billions of years old. I'm not exactly sure why so many people live and die by the "literal 7 days" theory. If God created it in 7 days, that's okay with me. If he created it in billions of years, that's okay with me, also.

I do not, however, believe in the evolution of man. The Bible says that God made man in his own image from the clay of the earth. Not from an omeoba (I can't spell that word), a zygote, or whatever. That part is meant to be taken literally, I believe, because it is the "breathing life into him" and the "in his own image" that are the important parts.

So where do the women come from when Cain "takes a wife"?

Bible says that Adam was the first man God created. Maybe God created other people after he created Adam? Could be...and yet the Bible says that "as sin came from one man, Adam, so life comes through one man, Jesus", so that establishes a line, in which we could all eventually trace our ancestry back to Adam. So, if God created other men , that line would be broken...people would all be tracing their ancestry back to different "first men", and that sin/blood line would not be intact.
However, what if God had created other WOMEN after he created Eve, in the same method he created Eve? For example, I believe that maybe God created a wife for Cain by subtracting a rib from him and creating a wife, specifically for him. That way, the blood/sin line would never have been broken, and every one could indeed trace their ancestry back to Adam.
Those are my thoughts, anyway.
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Old 01-25-2002, 05:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest:
I do not, however, believe in the evolution of man. The Bible says that God made man in his own image from the clay of the earth. Not from an omeoba (I can't spell that word), a zygote, or whatever. That part is meant to be taken literally, I believe, because it is the "breathing life into him" and the "in his own image" that are the important parts.
I'm really intrigued by this. How do you deny the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution, including the widespread belief in the life sciences that "nothing in biology makes sense without evolution" (articulated by Dobzhansky). I have a background in molecular biology and genetics, so it baffles me that evolution is disputed when things like genetic recombination are standard facts. I'd love to get some input from you.

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Old 01-25-2002, 05:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram:
I'm really intrigued by this. How do you deny the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution, including the widespread belief in the life sciences that "nothing in biology makes sense without evolution" (articulated by Dobzhansky). I have a background in molecular biology and genetics, so it baffles me that evolution is disputed when things like genetic recombination are standard facts. I'd love to get some input from you.
Microevolution (evolution within a species, for anyone reading this who doesn't know) has occurred and occurs to this day in the animal kingdom. I don't think you would find many creationists that would argue with that. In man, genetic mutations would fall under "microevolution".
Macroevolution is a very different creature altogether. Many scientists would disagree with you if you assert that there is "overwhelming scientific evidence" for the macroevolution of man.


[This message has been edited by 80sU2isBest (edited 01-25-2002).]
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Old 01-25-2002, 06:01 PM   #5
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I'm very pleased with both the maturity and the thought behind the responses so far. Because I don't want to dominate, hence no one else responds, I want to hear what others think before I reply.

Melon

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Old 01-25-2002, 06:22 PM   #6
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I think there are two main disputes in evolution right now:

The first is whether the necessary chemicals (RNA, DNA and such) could have formed out of the prebiotic soup and formed a cell.

The second is whether Darwininan selection (mutations, genetic recombination and differential reproduction) can account for the existence of species such as humans.

I remember some author saying that a cell naturally forming out of the prebiotic soup is comparable to a cake forming out of flour, eggs, sugar, butter and icing. It can be done under laboratory conditions, but whether it could have happened "naturally" during 4 billion years on Earth is still a mystery (at least to me).

As for Darwinian selection, it's easy to imagine wings or fins turning into arms or such. It takes quite a bit more imagination to imagine things like eyes or brains forming naturally. You can find more primitive forms of such organs in other animals, but that doesn't necessarily prove that human brains are the evolutionary progeny of monkey brains or whatever. I think the fossil record shows that over millions of years, species generally stay the same, but new species also tend to appear in the fossil record every now and then. However, intermediate species that connect these new species with possible ancestors generally don't show up in the fossil record.

Of course, over the course of 4 billion years some strange things can happen. Personally, I believe that if evolution did occur, it must have been an intelligently directed process, but I believe this for strictly religious reasons.
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Old 01-25-2002, 06:28 PM   #7
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hmmmm. Well it's certainly a topic that I feel I need to do more thinking/researching on. I was brought up under the creationist umbrella but I have since moved to a point where I can accept that evolution "might" be the way that God created the world. If he did, that does not threaten my faith. I know that there are highly intelligent people who can argue both sides of the debate just within religious circles.

I think to limit God is wrong, whether it be to say he could not have created the earth and it's inhabitants out of thin air or to say that he could not have used evolution as a means to create them. It wasn't that long ago that we believed the sun revolved around the earth and that the earth was flat and that these were provable in the Bible and not to be questioned. So to use some Biblical texts as literal "proof texts" in scientific theory seems a bit iffy to me. But to assume the absence of an all-powerful God and construct a theory that would explain the existence of life is also not a very powerful inducement for me. In either case, I don't have enough experience in science to make a clear personal judgement on what I think is correct.

So basically I think I just said "I don't know" in a round-about way, eh? I don't have a problem with Christianity and evolution. I don't have a problem with Christianity and creationism. I want to find out more and make an intelligent and informed guess. Either way, it doesn't affect the state of my Christianity.

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Old 01-25-2002, 06:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Personally, I believe that if evolution did occur, it must have been an intelligently directed process, but I believe this for strictly religious reasons.
Perfect. That totally sums up my feelings on evolution, too. I'm not entirely willing to subscribe to either full-blown creationism or all-the-way evolutionary theory, simply because there is conflicting evidence (and, in some cases, lack of evidence) on both sides of this debate.

One interesting thing to read for anyone who likes this kind of thought-train is the Aquinian proof of the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas gets a hard rap from some philosophy students (hell, from some philosophers) because he can be hard to read, but he's currently one of my favorite philosophers and moral thinkers. Put *very* basically, Aquinas traces all things in the world back to God as the source of all things. For example:

1.) All things are in motion.
2.) All things that are in motion were put into motion by something else.
3.) For the first thing to have been put into motion (so that all else could be put in motion), there must be a prime unmoved mover.
4.) That "unmoved mover" is God.

(That's the Philosophy 101 explanation...probably there are people who could get into a much more involved discussion of the Aquinian proofs, but I'd have to dig out my notes from said class for a quick refresher. )

From my own Christian standpoint, I care not how God created the universe. All I know is that God *did* create the universe, and whether it took seven days or seven billion years is immaterial to me. No matter how God chose to do it, the universe is a pretty fucking amazing place, and it was an amazing feat to create it at all, let alone with the order and beauty that God gave it.

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[This message has been edited by paxetaurora (edited 01-25-2002).]
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Old 01-25-2002, 06:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest:

Macroevolution is a very different creature altogether. Many scientists would disagree with you if you assert that there is "overwhelming scientific evidence" for the macroevolution of man.
I would argue that the vast majority of scientists would still support macroevolution. This may be only my assertion, but I can vouch that each and every professor I've had (there have been dozens, some world-renowned), who is an expert in either evolutionary biology, molecular biology, DNA repair, genetic recombination or microbial genetics has referred to scientists who don't support macroevolution as "kooks." Now, that may be inappropriate in some, or even many, cases, but as I said, it has been my experience that each "hard scientist" I've encountered has felt, unequivocally, that macroevolution is sound science. For example, there are molecules called evolutionary chronometers which support this idea. Basically, one of these is the 16S rRNA subunit, which is highly conserved among the three main recognized domains - eucarya, archaebacteria, eubacteria. The differences in the 16S rRNA were actually used to establish, for the first time in history, that archaeobacteria and eubacteria are two separate domains. When you look at evolutionary chronometers, their genetic sequence is a clue of the degree of relatedness based on the notion that highly conserved (similar) regions are conserved because they have some important function in terms of the gene product they encode. Also, there is much evidence for genes which are orthologues (sequences which are similar in many organisms because they have descended from a common ancestor). An example would be the mammalian beta globin. If you look at the evolutionary history of the planet, you will see that as conditions on earth changed (for example anaerobic --> aerobic), different organisms were able to emerge, but their emergence was based on the genetic code of existing organisms. There are phylogenetic trees upon phylogenetic trees organizing a sort of hierarchy of appearance. So, I would say that definitely, not only is macroevolution taught as standard science in post-secondary institutions, but if you pick up any textbook of molecular biology, it is the only "version" presented.
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Old 01-25-2002, 08:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora:
From my own Christian standpoint, I care not how God created the universe. All I know is that God *did* create the universe, and whether it took seven days or seven billion years is immaterial to me. No matter how God chose to do it, the universe is a pretty fucking amazing place, and it was an amazing feat to create it at all, let alone with the order and beauty that God gave it.
Very well said.

To expound a little, true, some believers think that accepting the idea of a very old universe, created from the Big Bang around twenty billions of years ago, limits God.

But to believe that God created the universe according to a literal translation of Genesis is (at least) as limiting. It requires God to have created the universe in seven days AND give it the appearance of being twenty billion years old - unless the laws of physics aren't immutable or our observations (or reason) is REALLY, HORRIBLY off.

As a rationalist, I have to believe that God didn't simply build the universe, atom by atom, but created it by building some simple initial state, writing the laws of physics, and willing that primordial state to follow those laws. Otherwise there's no point in trying to scientifically ascertain how the universe was created. Cosmologists and biologists are spinning their wheels in the mud.

Also, as an engineer, I find much more attractive the idea of God willing the Big Bang and everything else falling into place. It's one thing to create life; it seems far more impressive to create a system in which life more-or-less naturally arises.


Further, Genesis does say rather explicitly that man was created uniquely and with a special purpose.

(Which reminds of Steve Martin's The Jerk: "I found my special purpose!" But never mind.)

I too believe that the fact we're made "in the image of God", etc., is the salient part, but even that need not be literal: after all, God may not have a physical form (and probably doesn't), so we may not be literally made in His image.

As an aside, I think it rather amusing that some people (elsewhere) find it offensive that man came from a single-celled critter. Coming directly from the dirt is no less humbling.

And, in a way, if life arose from the earth itself, we may have evolved from other life and still be made ultimately from the dirt. Either way, I think the important parts of our similarity to God is our ability to reason, our free will, and - most crucially - our soul. These things have little, if anything, to do with the physical realm.


But, ultimately, the theories of how God created the universe and us is irrelevant in comparison to the truths that A) He purposefully created everything and B) He created us uniquely. Everything else is the details of His methods.


(And if anyone is curious, I believe that the universe was created by the Big Bang, and that life is guided by the rules of microevolution. I'm not completely sold on the idea of macroevolution - specifically, the transistion from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells and the transition from single-celled to multicellular life - but it doesn't bother me if the theory is correct. And it doesn't bother me *too* much if we're all wrong on God's methods either. My salvation and my relationship to Him do not hang on such details.)


Finally, returning to melon's original post, I honestly don't see the interpretation that Genesis was written "under the belief of polytheism". I see it more as God speaking to a polytheistic world, not God presenting or agreeing with the theory of there being many gods.

"You shall not have other gods besides me." -- Exodus 20:3 That was a very important passage. If people were already monotheistic, what was the point of commanding that?

In one sense, even monotheistic people need to be reminded not to have priorities higher than God Himself - not money, ambition, or even physical needs.

But in the original sense, yes, the Isrealites were polytheistic. Hence, the Commandment. But that doesn't mean the Bible asserts that polytheism is true. Theologians believe "Thou shalt have no other gods" doesn't imply that there actually other gods.

(Besides, when in the Pentatuch does these other gods make an appearance? Other than a little sorcery in Exodus 7, which could have easily been charlatanism on the part of the Pharaoh's advisors, there's nothing supernatural that occurs outside of God's will.)

Notice in Genesis 4:16, Cain is cast out of Eden and settles in Nod. His wife is from Nod, a "pagan" territory. Hence, his wife would have been "created" by the god of the people of Nod, as assumed by the writers.

Eh?

There are those who believe that these other people are implicitly created in other acts of creation. Specifically, Genesis 1 ends in the creation of man, and Genesis 2 has another semi-conflicting telling of the creation of man; some believe that indicates two separate acts of creation. At the very least, the theory has some scriptural basis.

To say, "Hence, his wife would have been 'created' by the god of the people of Nod, as assumed by the writers," you have to use a pretty big "hence", a gigantic leap of logic - one that I don't think is supported by scripture, and one that you certainly don't support here.

I'm just wondering if you do have more to support that leap.
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Old 01-25-2002, 11:26 PM   #11
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One of my thoughts is that evolution can exist within a species only, so we didn't come from amoebas. Sorta like apples can't be oranges, to put it really simply. I agree with sula that evolution or no, it doesn't really matter.

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Old 01-26-2002, 12:17 AM   #12
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I learned about the beginning of life in Geology class...studying rocks and soil and...mud. Imagine a puddle of ooze in a primordial crevice, with a mixture of odd elements floating around, when lightning hits it and suddenly these elements are transformed into a single "cell" that begins to move about on its own. That's the theory.
Does man come out of this? Dunno. I don't think Darwin's theory can be proven consistently across species...it's rather speculation.

Bubba, this is a bit confusing here: But in the original sense, yes, the Isrealites were polytheistic.

Originally the Israelites were monotheistic, you would agree? Later they did stray occaisionally. All the prophets had to keep coming around to remind them to worship only one God.

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Old 01-26-2002, 01:56 AM   #13
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I'll post my opinion later when I have some more time, but I just wanted to commend everyone's willingness to discuss this "controversial" subject in such a civil and respectful manner.

I read a lot of forums on other band websites and I can assure you that this is a VERY UNIQUE place. I think U2 fans are one of the few type of fans that reflect the actual band. U2 is a very open-minded, humble and compassionate band. As a result, they attract a very diverse group of fans that tend to connect with each other in a very special way.

Sorry to babble here, but I'm just really grateful that Elvis has given us this GIFT called Interference.com!

As another Interferencer once put it so eloquently "I believe that all U2 fans are soulmates."



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Old 01-26-2002, 12:39 PM   #14
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I hate to burst a few bubbles, but the Israelites were originally polytheistic, in that they believed that multiple gods existed. That is not to say that they worshipped several gods; only one. Since Yahweh was the God of the Israelites, they were to worship Him only, as commanded in Exodus. He was their creator and their protector. The concept of monotheism, in that all other gods were false and didn't exist, evolved later. It is believed that Judaism arose out of worship of the Sumerian sun god, Elohim, since this name is briefly mentioned once in Genesis in reference to God. Since I believe that tradition states that Abraham is from Ur, which was in Sumer, this would make sense.

Zoroastrianism, a dualistic Persian religion that evolved around 500 B.C., shook things up by introducing the concept of only two gods, rather than multiple. It was during this time that Israel was controlled by the Persian Empire and it is around this time that most of the Old Testament texts used in the Bible were written. This religion gave us the concept of a loving God and the concept of Satan (Ahriman or "Shaitan"), although we changed Satan from a competing god to a lesser entity subordinate to God, but evil nonetheless. Hence came the modern concept of monotheism in that there is only one God and all others don't exist.

We can argue creationism, but we cannot change history. For better or for worse, we have to live with it.

Melon

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Old 01-26-2002, 01:04 PM   #15
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I thought I'd say I agreed with everything you said before this. And, as for the "polytheism" mention, read the previous message I wrote.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
There are those who believe that these other people are implicitly created in other acts of creation. Specifically, Genesis 1 ends in the creation of man, and Genesis 2 has another semi-conflicting telling of the creation of man; some believe that indicates two separate acts of creation. At the very least, the theory has some scriptural basis.
Genesis has four different writers. The first creation story was written by the "Priestly Writer" and the second is the "Yahwist" version. The evidence for this is in analyzing the writing style. Like with modern literature, each author has a different style of writing. It was no different back then either. The book of Genesis itself that we use is likely a compilation of texts put together about 2500-3000 years ago. It would definitely have been curious to see how this book evolved over time, but, like most ancient things, the sources are lost.

Quote:
To say, "Hence, his wife would have been 'created' by the god of the people of Nod, as assumed by the writers," you have to use a pretty big "hence", a gigantic leap of logic - one that I don't think is supported by scripture, and one that you certainly don't support here.
Scripture doesn't support this, but history and anthropology does. It is certainly a hypothesis of mine--one I just created myself--so I'm not trying to pass it off as "the Truth." I'd surely love to see it debated. Regardless, unfortunately for us, writers don't tend to state what is obvious to them, so all we have are implications. As I stated in a previous posting, the original belief was that "gods" were a cultural thing--i.e., a god for each people--and there is a great possibility that the writer wrote the Adam and Eve story with that quasi-monotheistic/polytheistic belief in mind.

Of course, it doesn't mean that polytheism is right whatsoever, and I don't believe it either as a 21st century individual. However, we cannot negate what they believed back then. Why Genesis is unique is that it is the oldest text of the Bible, written before the exile into Babylon and the later Persian liberation around 500 B.C. Every other text we have currently was written either during that time or afterwards, where Zoroastrian beliefs had already changed the nature of Judaism.

Quote:
I'm just wondering if you do have more to support that leap.
I am a proverbial student of history as much as I am a proverbial student of theology.

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time

[This message has been edited by melon (edited 01-26-2002).]
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