Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Evolution Revolution?

I've been on an interesting metaphor in the stead of the abstract concept of growth, maturation of the human organism, more commonly referred to as a 'journey' for the past, um, 31 years. But more recently, I heard a short on a local Christian radio station instructing listeners that there is no mystery involved in understanding the dinosaurs, and acknowledging that many parents simply defer to evolutionary ideas because they haven't any ready answers for their children. It continues that since scripture says, in the book of Genesis, that there was no death whatsoever before the fall, evolution simply cannot be true, and therefore, human beings and dinosaurs and everything that is and has ever been on the earth has at least at some point existed concurrently since the beginning (paraphrased into my wordiness- edit bigger I say! lol).

Having paid absolutely zero attention to either side of the debate my whole life, having inserted the expected responses in my schoolwork from memory and not reason, I was startled that I even noticed this little bit of sickly sweet smelling radio candy.

So where IS that iron-clad scriptural account of no death before the fall? I checked Genesis; nothing. We surely die after we sin, but no mention of whether we were going to physically perish anyway (maybe it would have taken longer?), and nothing relating to the other creatures having never physically died before either. Okay, so without scriptural support and evidence for such a claim, why is this so commonly taught and accepted as scripturally sound doctrine?

Then, while reading Francis Collins' The Language of God, Collins alerted me to the Genesis account of the creation. Hmmm. Not all at once. Everything was created in steps. He asks how long the days were before the sun was created, if one holds to 'a day' being 24 hours, no more, no less. I consider the days described as eras rather than clock rotations anyway, so I wasn't bothered by this question. But, it occurred to me that the various arguments against old earth and evolutionary theory seem to rely very heavily or completely upon irreducible complexity and therefore, in a bizarro way, on inadequate technology.

Once we know and can view the parts that make what was previously thought to be irreducible, what happens to the arguments? What if the earth isn't flat and knowing this doesn't result in believers becoming morally unstable, abominable, reprobate despots?

My perspective on the universe seems to be evolving... ;) This may end up being the segue to my coming out of the... cave?

27 comments:

Christopher said...

Sarah,

What's interesting about "irreducible complexity" is that it only involves the reduction of complexities to the base level of the function of a certain object. Say, for example, the eye -- a popular object for the theory. The problem arises, however, that the eye as we know it now may not have functioned the way it does now, say, a million years ago. That would mean then that the base level of functionality of the eye would be different, and therefore more reducible, as it were. Thus, irreducible complexity is a shoe-string theory: only good for supporting its own knots, and incapable of tying anything else together.

suneal said...

Just to put 2 posts into one, perhaps if the Lord waits too long to return, He'll come back for naught, only to find a totally different race than He died for. Then we can tell Jesus, "Thanks for the help, we're o.k. now." Maybe eventually with enough time, we'll evolve out of sin. And to say "No, that is a spiritual problem," I think is getting closer to gnosticism. Paul did say sin "dwelt in his flesh," and so on. Of course I do not believe the body is evil, but that there is a link between sin and our bodies. Perhaps, there will be a sin pill...

suneal said...

Hi Sarah,
I agree indeed the Bible is not so overt as I am positive many Christian radio stations assert. But I think there is a new "fairness" law on the way, that will make such "opinions" less heard anyway.

Sarah said:

"We surely die after we sin, but no mention of whether we were going to physically perish anyway (maybe it would have taken longer?), and nothing relating to the other creatures having never physically died before either. Okay, so without scriptural support and evidence for such a claim, why is this so commonly taught and accepted as scripturally sound doctrine?"

Well, you probably know the Scriptures, but in Romans 6:23 it says, "the wages of sin is death." And in the garden of Eden (perhaps mere fantasy at this point now:)), God said to Adam and Eve regarding "sin," "the day you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). But if "day" means eras, maybe God was referring to "death" after 900 years or so when it is recorded Adam gave up the ghost? Or, maybe it refers to spiritual death, that happened that literal 24 hour day, which when Paul says we "were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ep 2:1) would then make sense to us also being born in spiritual death. Either way, both are inferred, spiritual and physical. Therefore, the "wages" Paul refers to in Romans, it seems has to have occurred in both a spiritual and physical sense after sin, or else, those wages are rather irrelevant to the topic Paul was discussing. Further more, from Genesis to our Lord's first Advent, Christ offered "eternal life" as the alternative to sin and its wages of death. Having said all this, it only applies to Adam and Eve onward, not to the any other creature.

But in Romans 8:19-25 it says "for the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God...that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage of decay and will obtain the freedom of the children of God." The whole point here is "the redemption of the body" for God's children, which is yet to come in the Second Advent, along with the whole of creation somehow being set free with the children of God, from some type of bondage, which I think in the context here is also physical, as will be the redemption of our bodies. Now, as I said earlier, this is only implied death due to human sin, and does not really probe the origins of death for the rest of creation outside humanity.

suneal said...

Chris said:

"The problem arises, however, that the eye as we know it now may not have functioned the way it does now, say, a million years ago. That would mean then that the base level of functionality of the eye would be different, and therefore more reducible, as it were."

Chris, why do you assume that one million years ago, providing the earth was here then, even though no one today can in any way assert that with absolute certitude; the human eye or any other eye would be more reducible? Do you want to provide the evidence for us? I think we all fall into the trap of being worn down by the mass media bombardment, that macro-evolution has occurred, and to prove that, we will always prove evolutionary theory by always assuming its assumptions are correct, such as, well, one million years ago the eye was obviously, well…more simple, because it had to be if evolution were true, which it is, therefore, the eye was simpler then (circular logic).

But, I could just as easily say and with just as great authority as Francis Collins or as Abraham Lincoln (random name) that one million years ago the human eye was actually more complicated than now. Now, where does that leave evolution? And the Trilobite eye is an example of “doublet” eye lenses which existed during the Cambrian period whenever that actually occurred. These eye lenses which would require highly sophisticated optical engineering equipment today, in order to simulate, were “supposedly” here at the earliest stages of macro-evolution. So, actually irreducible complexity then at “the beginning” was just the same for the eye as today, if we want to be consistent, scientific, and factual and un-enslaved from evolutionary pompous circular logic.

Now, on the other hand, since irreducible complexity actually IS provable now, why not say it has much more weight of argument than an improvable assumption? After all, the present and its testability to prove a constant, is real science. So, in my estimation, shooting down “irreducible complexity” on the basis of circular logic that has no scientific testability to its merit, is by far the weaker position. The burden of proof lies with evolutionary theory, not that of creationists. For the world we live in testifies to each animal after its "kind." It does not come into our purview to be any different than this. This is our experience and as such all we can prove. Horses do not procreate with apes. To say we all come from the same cell, but live in a world where no “macro-evolution or macro-evolutionary cross-pollination” is actually occurring (scientifically), puts macro-evolution on trial, not creation.

On a different note, no known mutation has ever led to an increase in genetic information, but only a decrease, something very condemning to macro-evolution. Unless there be that increase of genetic information and unless it be shown to be provable today (not some deference to some supposed evidence based on eons of time that is assumed to have taken place along with the myriads of other evolutionary assumptions necessary for its survival), then again, this theory is far worse than "shoe-string-like."

The Second Law of thermodynamics also points in a similar direction, that the universe is in a state of decay rather than formation. This state of decay would agree with Paul's argument for the creation being in travail, along with humanity under the regime of bondage to decay. Was Paul just here expressing the Second Law of thermodynamics?

Also, if it be true that things have always been changing, then universal constant laws are a conundrum. Why not assume even the Laws of gravity, the speed of light, el at, also were at one time more reducible than now? But no, macro-evolutionists are cherry pickers, taking from the tree the fruit necessary for "consistency" such as the speed of light (which therefore makes the universe a very old place according to projecting light traveled over distance back through time at an ASSUMED fixed constant forever- AMEN); while they also pick the fruit of change from their evolutionary tree of knowledge of what is and has been and ever shall be, which happens to in this case be “creatures” and “organisms” or the earth itself. But even there they cherry pick more, for some living dinosaurs have been found (example- Coelacanth) which use to exist with the other good old dinosaurs some “50 million years ago” (I think back in never-never land with the fantasy place called “the garden of Eden”), so while the extinct “guys” are left buried in the millions of years of "evolution," the living guys are merrily unaffected because somehow according to another assumption heaped upon another assumption heaped on another assumption, their environment remained constant enough not to lead to change!!!! Oh yeah, and the good old jelly fish stayed with us as they were "millions of years ago."

With regards dinosaurs living with men, there have been dinosaur and human footprints found together (“In the Minds of Men"- Ian Taylor; chapter 4). But, the powers that be easily dismiss such finds one way or the other. But think of the consequences. If even one example of this is found, where does that really leave macro-evolution? How can that theory hold the weight of that one simple already found finding(s). But no, it never happened, Ian Taylor is a quack. I mean, come on, what do most scientists have to lose the world over by threatening the one theory they hold as sacrosanct which all “serious” scientists adhere to? All they might lose is their careers, their jobs, their salary and their prestige. They might also lose their number one reason not to humble themselves before Almighty God and repent before Him, thus relinquishing control of their lives to Jesus Christ. “The kings of the earth and rulers set themselves, and take counsel together, against the LORD and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:2-3).

Sarah said...

Just a comment for anyone interested...

I've been thinking about the idea of millions of years and the various methods that have been employed to determine them.

If I walked two kilometres downstream from my cabin to my hunting camp, it would take me much longer to walk back the other direction given that it would then be upstream and I'd have to contend with forces that walking downstream, would have done one better than to not hinder my progress, but actually helped to speed it and require less effort and therefore less time than the other direction. The distance remains constant, but the journey much different. I wonder if this can be demonstrated in a macro-cosmic/time-evolutionary way as well, and if so, how would we account for this?

It's a weird idea, but what if it took less time for all of what we know to come to be than our measurements, going backward, even the same distance, can determine- simply because in going backward, we cannot account for cosmic forces that are not present in reverse at present. I always walk much more efficiently and with greater ease and in less time when I propel myself forward than backward. If my time were being measured from my destination backward to my origin, and that time was used to determine that I must have taken 2 minutes to walk *forward*, that estimate would be hugely inaccurate. Just a thought.

I think that the evidence for evolution is compelling, and not in the form it takes in mass media (I've yet to find anything compelling in that arena other than reasons for which I am personally disinterested), but in the small discoveries hidden in small books and journals, even those of believers who came to Christ as former atheists, *because* evolutionary theory begs the question of causation, and not as a filler of the gap left by inadequate technology, but precisely because the technology has measured all there is to measure and the beginning, the question of origin, requires cause for resolution.

This has to be the greatest testimony to the potential of veracity of the claims of evolutionary theory. The human genome and all of its clues into our origin are interesting also, but the clincher in my mind at present is the *reasoned* *harmony* between the claims of science and the truth in Christ.

It is also interesting to note that throughout recent scientific history, the number of biologist believers has remained constant while the number of biologists who support the claims and evidence of evolution has also remained constant at 100% or so close to 100% that the remainder is statistically insignificant.

I express that it is interesting only because that is the place accorded in my own mind to such data; I make no logical claim to authority based on these figures or the titles given to the people involved. It's just that if all mechanics agree that motor vehicles should not be constructed with plastic parts and have evidence that they practise to show why, even if I don't accept what they claim as absolute, I am at least somewhat compelled to at least consider what they've shared, given my relative ignorance of the subject.

Of course, that ignorance could be my undoing, but again, I think it wise to at least consider that the world may in fact orbit the sun...

suneal said...

Sarah, I respect your "free reasoning." You may not respect my "unfree reasoning." Either way, you are very nice in your comments here. Very Sarah-like as I know you.

One thing though, I do not think the earth orbiting the sun has any relevance here, for the opposite view may indeed be the one that has the earth orbiting the sun. I do think your personal investigation into truth as you see it has much relevance however. I hope that blossoms fully for you. Gosh you are kind!

Sarah said...

Suneal, I don't think of your reasoning as 'unfree' at all, just so you know. :) I take your point about the sun- especially since it was a few who believed it at first and not the majority trying to convince the minority as is the case with evolutionary theory.

The reason I used it as an example is that at the time of the first discovery of our heliocentricity, many religious folks were sure that if the church were embrace this new information as true, individuals were at peril of losing their salvation and becoming reprobate. They viewed the acceptance of heliocentricity as a slippery slope, which it wasn't and isn't. They took that information and extended what they considered the logic of it to conclude things that just are not the ends of the argument.

I wonder if it isn't the same in that respect as the concerns about the slippery slope of embracing evolutionary theory or errancy of the scriptures. I really don't see (anymore) why it's an either-or proposition. If God can create the universe and all it contains, who are we to determine exactly how He did that or was supposed to, for our comfort's sake? Why exactly, couldn't He have created the earth and all it contains on a progressive scale of adaptation and evolution? Why can't we accept that we love a God who takes risks? We know He does and has, yet we often refuse to admit what we see and how we communicate with Him, which is to assume that we and what we say and do matter, which means that He risks when He allows us to matter since as dynamic beings, mattering means risk.

On the subject of the second law of thermodynamics, I just learned about this about a month ago, so my understanding of it and all of its implications is yet shallow, but from what I have read and learned about it with little research, I can see how it is being applied to both the argument for evolution and also for creationism. The difficulty I see though, is that in using it for 'disproving' evolution, it has to be truncated into a microcosmic closed system, which the universe is not, and given that God applies His own energy from outside (assumedly), it really doesn't apply at all in any sense to refuting evolution.

To try to clarify where I'm going with this, I'll use some mundane examples and hope that I've worked this out adequately.

The 2nd law states that in a closed system, entropy increases over time.

In my kitchen, if my dishes are left in the sink in a big dirty, messy pile, over time, this mess will increase- made evident by things growing and gases being emitted, dishes falling and breaking owing to the growths pushing n the stack and causing imbalance. Entropy increases.

BUT, *I* come and re-stack, wipe the growths off, and proceed to wash the dishes, carefully drying them and putting them away into their respective cupboards. Entropy in my kitchen has been reduced, but the net entropy of the universe has in fact increased when considering the ripple effect of the original mess having now effected six people, their schedules and contentment with the state of their home. Net entropy has indeed increased, while the microcosmic system in my kitchen has indeed become more ordered. This isn't a violation of the 2nd law.

I think that it's the same with evolution. There are two factors involved, of course, for me, because I don't think that the universe is closed to the workings of God, so automatically, the law isn't entirely relevant as long as God acts from outside toward us, which I fully believe He does. The second factor is that if we believe what we've been taught in the scriptures, then even though there is order in the universe, entropy will in fact increase, necessitating God's intervention. This is why I find it curious that the 2nd law is used by believers to refute evolution since in applying it as they do, they also incidentally propose the negation of the actions of God toward us.

A funny illustration that any parent will recognise:
Post conception, order increases as the cells divide and growth occurs in a wonderfully ordered way. Entropy is non-existent in this little world where everything comes together for the formation of an amazing little person with all of his/her parts and potential for the finished-fully formed human being. BUT THEN, once that little being is born, entropy RULES!!! The home becomes a disaster site, the mum and dad forget who they are, what they are supposed to be doing, seem to age ten years in 2 weeks, miss appointments, make mistakes at work, let laundry pile and mildew grow in places that used to be bright and white, and friends think they'd fallen off the face of the earth. Net increase of entropy... lol

I also don't think the 2nd law is supposed to be universally applied anyway, as it really only applies to certain systems, as stated in the law itself and it is over-extended, I think when applied to this argument, unless it is to support evolutionary theory, from the perspective of atheism or deism.

I'm still just figuring this out, so don't take what I've written as what I think is absolute. I know there are myriad considerations I haven't addressed. Usually I wouldn't share my process, but honestly, I am doing so this time for the sake of Christopher who finds it frustrating when I just suddenly (it seems to him, being unaware of my internal life) change my perspective or my actions/behaviour.

The problem with this for me is that my thinking is changing, adapting, evolving even as I write because my writing is far slower than my thought process, and I don't think linearly either, so writing it in words is also not a very accurate representation of my thoughts. Uh well. It's all I can do... :)

Anyway, it's a way that I can attempt to not be completely in my own head and possibly connect with others, so I'm taking that risk.

:) Thanks for responding, Suneal. I'm interested in your thoughts (even though like for me- and everyone-, the words don't convey the whole meaning of your thoughts).

Blessings

Christopher said...

"...I am doing so this time for the sake of Christopher who finds it frustrating when I just suddenly (it seems to him, being unaware of my internal life) change my perspective or my actions/behaviour."

And thus, the net entropy of Sarah's psychological self has increased. ;)

I think I'm going to have to read, re-read, and re-re-read your comment, Sarah. I get the gist of it, but it hasn't cemented in my head. Effectively, your 'shallow' understanding, as you put it, is at oceanic depths for the likes of my droplet of a brain!

I love you, Sweety!

suneal said...

Thanks for sharing "in process" Sarah, as we all know, I totally relate to the inadequacies of blogging. Still, like you, at some point I agree it is a form of "communion" with others, however problematic it be.

Let me share some thoughts "as I think it too," so please I ask also to not be pinned to these words.

First off, evolution should also imply "devolution." There is no reason really from a purely evolutionary stand point, that everything should not just "regress" completely out of existence, similarly to how it supposedly "evolved." So yes, that should really support the Second Law of thermodynamics. I think, entropy is really a closed system through a process of change, losing a certain energy it before contained towards work, such that it can not be regained, while all variables within that system "flatten out" or become equal. Where creationists have their point, is that we start with systems already formed, and as such they only seem to "deform," not the other way around, certainly not reform such that there is higher order (which obviously is necessary for macro-evolution, and the “ascent of man,” rather than the “descent of man” as Darwin put it). Evolution is insincere from the get-go, for it talks of descent hindsight, rather than begins at point zero and from there properly accounts for such things as “closed systems” of the highest most phenomenal order “evolving” through the magical ingredient called “time.” To me, the 2nd law is applicable to everything, in that the whole universe as we NOW know it is one large system comprised of many closed systems, usually interactive and overlapping with each other. It is this overlapping that creates the "open universe," but the "open universe" is still very ordered, and law abiding. Why so if the second law of thermodynamics for more "closed systems" shows entropy? How did it first get to a "non-entropic" state? What keeps it there? It is not "entropy" itself that shows evolution to likely be impossible, but rather what that entropy implies, an ordered universe with millions of ordered closed systems within it, something very "unnatural" in a way, whereas "entropy" shows us what is natural to closed systems or even the universe at large (a star going super nova for example). How many stars have been documented to form? What are their names so I can look them up?

Secondly, evolution does not invite God to "come and clean the kitchen." That would be Christians that invite God to do that, and in the end, His participation is creatively teleological. Now, at this point, neither Creationists believing Genesis literally nor Francis Collins believing God using evolution to create what we have today, is problematic. I just think it is completely misleading and unnecessary, and as far as I read Scripture, contradictory to it. The reason the universe holds "constant" it could be argued from Scripture is just as much because God is involved in that present work, as because God was as involved in bringing it all into being. Such Scriptures as Hebrews 1:3, that "He upholds all things by the Word of His power," is an example of this. But, also to be realized from Scripture is that we wait for “a new heavens and a new earth.” So, maybe God never meant the one we see to be as permanent anyway. Note, I am not saying that the "constant" is absolute, for even the Second Law of thermodynamics says it is not. But the Bible in my estimation paints the parameters (rather vaguely but nonetheless) of both its constancy and its fluxion. Therefore, and as I made note by quoting Romans 8:19-25-ish, that the Bible actually supports a certain "decay" within creation, but attributes that to the sin problem of our whole cosmic existence. Therefore, taking Genesis as literal does not necessarily mean the Second Law of thermodynamics does not support such a proposition.

Also, yeah, there are many valid reasons scientists and Christians would support the theory of evolution. First off, to be in that field in any serious manner, implies a certain acceptance of the scientific community’s beliefs, science and "evidence." The same could be said regarding "vaccinations," could it not? Which theory is right, is it "germ theory?" But please don't take me as goading you into my position by such a comparison, I merely make a point about both the tendency towards acceptance within the scientific community based on a trusting inter-dependency between scientific fields and about the tendency of peer pressure this creates such as was in the days of "the earth is flat."

I had a thought about "biologists" and the seeming evidence you bring forth, if I understood you correctly, that they near all believe in evolution. My thought was, "they carry the mantle of Darwinianism the most." In other words, in that field is the greatest pressure to uphold that theory. There are many well-known mathematicians who have laughed at the theory out loud! Why don't a few biologists follow suit? Paleontology despite its multiple efforts to find intermediate species really can only say, "the fossils...appeared!" Archeopterix - the so-called bird-reptile has been conceded by many leading evolutionists to be a bird, and birds were found before this in the evolutionary "tree." So, whatever is being deduced by genome mapping, similarly to many Darwinian claims in history since Darwin, evolutionists claim to have finally "sealed the deal;" evolution could not have happened in the real world without the fossil evidence nor without the other fields of science being able to say "yes” according to evidence. As such, I think it safe to say, biology is not central to proving or disproving evolution more than any other related field to the subject. By the way, Micheal Behe, the originator of the ‘irreducible complexity” is an “Intelligent Design” advocate and a biochemist (I am not saying he does not believe in a form of evolution, I am not really sure of his beliefs). Francis Collins is not, being rather a theistic evolutionist. If Francis Collins wants Christendom to see the “light of Darwinism,” and open up their minds, what is his problem with accepting “intelligent design”? And as I made note in my previous comment, genetics as far as I can tell supports more strongly the “closed-system” of species or as a better designation and Scriptural one, “each after their kinds.” Any “higher evolving” within a particular species, seems antithetical to what has been scientifically documented and proven. The most basic amino acids that are the building blocks of life can not be “zapped” into existence from non-living matter into living. The mathematical probabilities for abiogenesis to occur is for all intense purposes beyond the number of electrons in the universe which is estimated at 1~80 power. At some point mathematical probability has to deal with existent matter for matter as we know it to be! If the probabilities already outweigh the matter itself, wow!, what faith to believe in macro-evolution it must take. Or, what ignorance. This is where I liken your sun-analogy to be correct. Better as an evolutionist not to think about such things, or as is convenient for Francis Collins, to have a God to “clean the kitchen” when needed. Personally, Sarah, and I don’t mean to thwart the process for you, the cleaning will have to be so frequent upon closer investigation that you might just want to hire in the “Carpenter” to come renovate the whole kitchen from “scratch.” Definitely when it comes to your personal life, wouldn’t you want to?:)

But this leaves me at my last point. If evolution were all or even 50% of what it is sold as, marketed as, and fraudulently and arrogantly purporting itself to be, then yeah, I think I would likely join you Sarah in looking for a “mixture” kind of solution. But you know what? It isn’t even close to being taken seriously in my books, and I have noticed online websites dedicated to calling evolution “evilution,” and some of these people do not believe in a young earth, or creationism at all. It simply fails on its own merits. Most people who see evolution’s complete failings, all agree on this; that an incredible Intelligence lies behind a very intelligent design in the universe! Again, why would not Francis Collins agree to and see that “intelligent design” and agree its complexity lies outside any reasonable natural processes for its existence without major (miraculous-outside natural processes) intervention by the Creator.

Again, I just wanted to “think in process” with you Sarah, I really liked the originality of your thoughts on the second law of thermodynamics and in the previous post your “deep thoughts” on going backwards upstream perhaps leading to a reversal of the processes we now are part of, in a longer amount of time than originally it occurred in. Whew, did I say that right? If I didn't quite get everything you said, I'll try again when I am less tired.
Bye.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid that this discussion has moved beyond my ability to confidently respond with a sincere measure of intelligence. I do, however, have a thought: When did salvation through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ become contingent upon a belief in Creation as espoused by Ackerman or Price?
Now, I realize that no one on this blog is suggesting this, but "out there", in the arena of Christian public opinion, this is the message being conveyed. Personally, as I have studied this taboo topic over the last two years, I have come to an almost fantastical view of creation. Can you imagine a being who, unmoved by the ravages of time that are familiar to us mere mortals, brings into existence a Universe that, at its very core, is founded on the very principle of free will that we hold so dear? A Universe, seeded with the building blocks of life, that can grow, change, spawn life and become whatever its course of freedom chooses. I find that far more mind boggling then a universe back handed into a ready-made existence, complete with pre-manufactured dinosaur bones, a few eon ago. Imagine this being, whose very triune nature is one of community and fellowship, waiting for His creation to come (dare I say evolve?) to a place where He and it could enter into relationship. And, I do mean all of creation. It is, in my opinion, the hight of human hubris to assume that all of "this" was designed just for us. I do not believe it is outside the realm of possibility that God enjoys a measure of fellowship with ALL of His creation. After all, Jesus said his Father saw every sparrow that fell to the earth. That's far more attention then even the most nature-minded of us give to the simple sparrow.
Just a thought, or two.

suneal said...

Some beautiful thoughts Anonymous. I remember hearing on CBC radio a composer (I believe of Japanese nationality) who believed birds were singing literally God's song. He wrote compositions entirely dedicated to this. What if this happens all the time? What if creation for the animals, even though they live in the fallen world of humans waiting for "the manifestation of the sons of God," is lived "close to God" such that it lies beyond normal human perceptivity? If we live in a spiritual fog most of the time, which occurs as both Christians and as non-Christians, then how could we know creation's true state with God except He show it to us?

At a philosphical level you and Sarah say some pretty profound things. I think those kind of thoughts should be embraced as either a theistic evolutionist or Intelligent design proponent or as a creationist.

sarah said...

Suneal,

Thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. I am in the midst of chaos as usual (lol), so I'll have to respond in increments and hope that when I hit post, my ideas are presented somewhat coherently (as usual...).

I completely agree with you that the way the ideas about evolution are presented is definitely cause for suspicion. Recognising a bit more than when I first wrote, I can now begin to delineate my position on the matter, which is much more like what Anonymous proposes. Darwinianism and mainstream evolutionary ideology don't appeal to me in the sense that I cannot see thier sense, even aside from the obvious lack of account for causation.

I have to learn about what the scientific Intelligent Design theory is because again, as it is presented in mainstream media, it seems nonsensical to me as well. For instance, the idea of irreducible complexity as pointing to an intelligent designer on it own, without a great deal of qualification (again, I'm currently ignorant), seems somewhat ridiculous. If we believe that God created the universe from nothing (a commonly held belief), then there is obviously a near-infinite or infinite reducibility. How far we can go to see what that looks like is a matter of our technology, and that on its own doesn't do anything for an argument for a creator, just another god of the gaps.

I had in mind ideas like those presented by Anonymous, but hadn't yet connected the idea of free will, which as he presented it, is really a beautifully symmetrical and also organic thought. Fractal, I guess, in such a lovely way.

When I was a young girl, I didn't know Jesus as I do now, but I knew there was a God, and my earliest memories of hearing birds singing are filled with wonder and joy. I used to listen at my window and imitate them in song, adding lyrics, and listening to the melodies of some birds which were very long and complex, and they repeated those melodies! I knew they were singing to God, thanking Him, even though at the time, I had no real understanding of why or what that would mean otherwise. I also saw trees and all manner of vegetation this way, posed in worship, growing in the light of the sun toward God, reaching for Him with the intent to embrace Him, touch His face, delight Him.

As you know, I had a troubled childhood, and these thoughts often consumed me, gave me hope and allowed me to escape my immediate circumstances. It wasn't until I met Jesus that I began to understand the import of the beliefs I had apart from what I was taught as a child.

I've often said that as a child I had no imagination because I think of what others describe- fantastical worlds, invisible friends, etc... and also watch my own children whose imaginations are completely out of this world! But, then I remember things like this, and while that isn't imagination in a fantastical way, and certainly since I think it was observation and evaluation rather than imagination, it served a similar purpose for me in some ways.

Anyway, I agree with many of if not all (I'm not yet sure) of your points about evolutionary theory, Suneal. I think what I am proposing isn' the presupposed acceptance of evolution that I agree with you does have an enormous influence over the interpretation and even observation of scientific data. I think my ideas- not mine as in unique, just as in being formed in my mind from other sources mixing with my particular brain juice at this time- are not at all accepted or considered even valid considerations by most scientists, although I'm guessing and my guess is based upon popular presentations of scientific findings and not on the actual reports or honest appraisals of scientists themselves, since I have little access to their primary research.

As far as Francis Collins, he was not clear about his precise beliefs concerning when (except at the beginning, which he is very clear about and then That God continues in relationship with us) and how he thinks that God participates in creation except that he does believe in the salvific grace of Christ's atonement and all normative doctrine of the creeds of Christianity. He is as far as I remember, not a Darwinist, agreeing that Darwin opened a door, but didn't lay out the room in its entirety, and of course, that Darwin was blind to God, who did.

Your response has helped me to clarify my expression of where I'm going with this, so thank you.

I didn't even know that to say that I see validity in the theory of evolution, was to be understood as being a Darwinist! I have a lot to learn obviously. I know a bit about Darwin, I just didn't know that in discussion, acceptance of his ideology is presumed when the subject is evolution. Haha. Now I do. ;) I am not a Darwinist, lol.

Regarding the amazingly unlikely possibility of life even exosting let alone actually growing and changing on earth, I think this is a pretty beautiful testimony to God's creative action. It occurs in our lives in a similar though far less profound way; there is a clay deposit outside our cabin, and left to itself, it is extremely unlikely to develop into a sculptural representation of a woman dressed in ancient Roman garb, BUT, a little help from my hands, it just might. Then looking backward, we can calculate the probability of it having become a woman dressed in ancient Roman garb as next to or absolutely zero, and be left with a question. Who made this? Someone had to have! Without the someone, the likelihood of this is ziltch!

It's just bizarre to me to try to calculate probability in reverse from finished product to before it came into existence in its current form, or at all. My illustration isn't meant to be analogous to creation and/or evolution, just to the absurdity of trying to calculate things whose parameters we cannot know in the present.

Yes, it is entirely unlikely that if God didn't create the universe, it would exist anyway. Okay... so... ? We exist... without God, the probability is... and we exist...

My interest in evolution is certainly not a slippery slope into being less concerned about God and His love for us, His real participation with us in our lives and His, His intentions/will, our intentions/will, the importance of humanity or of the earth, our sin and His sacrifice, etc.... What does happen for me though, personally in considering this is that I now have a greater appreciation and concern for meeting the needs of the whole human being, the whole of humanity, the whole earth and all of its ina=habitants- not that I couldn't have this intensity of concern without considering evolutionary theory, just that in doing so, I do, personally.

In considering evolutionary theory, I can reconcile easily that we are both in a state of higher being and also in a state of decline as a species (whatever that means)- as human beings anyway. Our sin is our decline and it affects everything and everyone everywhere. The connectedness of the universe, of the earth and its inhabitants becomes clearer and not spiritualised, but real. That ripple effect that has concerned me for years is made more tangible and less philosophical/spiritual- although it is certainly not beyond spirituality and philosophy to see and understand it fairly well at least.

I've heard many testimonies of people who grew up 'churched,' later discovered Darwin and his theories and subsequently left the church. There are many reasons I can think of for why that might be, none of which apply to me personally, though.

My search for understanding is an act of worship of my Lord, and it should never be confused with a lessening of reverence or love for Him or wonder and awe of Him and His works. Considering these ideas is refreshing and compelling to me in my love for Christ, for God. I love the way that Anonymous describes it; it is beautiful. I am also very diligent in checking myself, making sure that I am remaining faithful, centred on God in all of this (and everything else too, although I'm obviously not perfect and fail quite frequently- thanks be to God who wrangles me back every time!!!).

I am not a 'good' scientist; I never begin with a premise that eliminates my Creator. ;) Although, I think that I am a good scientist in that I am willing to follow the evidence to wherever it leads, praising God for His wisdom and the wonder of His love and work in all things, since He is absolutely *evident* in all- so following isn't ever a threat to my faith, of course.

Sorry for the convolutions. You're in receipt of a linear explication of the spherical processes involving my thoughts/emotions/senses/intuitions/prayers that happen inside my head, so it has to look pretty messy. I'm wondering if I should wait until its solidified in there before I lay it out, but alas, for the sake of my loving husband and friends, I risk seeming like a moron, lol. This is a scary place for me...

I love you guys. <3

Sarah

Christopher said...

"Sorry for the convolutions. You're in receipt of a linear explication of the spherical processes involving my thoughts/emotions/senses/intuitions/prayers that happen inside my head, so it has to look pretty messy. I'm wondering if I should wait until its solidified in there before I lay it out, but alas, for the sake of my loving husband and friends, I risk seeming like a moron, lol."

Wow. Okay. I'm not sure that it's you who would look like a moron at all, Sarah. You'll notice that I haven't really layed out any of my thoughts on the issue of evolution/creation/ID/Biologos, etc. And that's precisely because I haven't got the foggiest notion about much to do with any of it. On the other hand, you have delved into genome theory, chemistry, biology, micro and macro evolution, Darwinianism, creationism, et al.

So, far from appearing intellectually stunted in any way on this topic, you have a lot of waiting to do. That is, my friends and I will need to catch up to you (I don't include Suneal, however) in order to not appear moronic.

toshido said...

"I consider the days described as eras rather than clock rotations anyway"

Do you often completely and radically change the meanings of words to justify your conclusions?

Is there any real reason to assume that a day is an era?

Christopher said...

Toshido,

Can you tell me what the following uses of the word 'day' mean, please?

1. "Back in the day..."

2. "In the olden days..."

3. "Those were the days, my friend."

4. "In days of old..."

5. "Day in, day out..."

6. "Day by day..."

Or something a little more archaic:

1. "In days of yore..."

2. "Ancient of days..."

I look forward to your response.

toshido said...

Most of those refer to single 24 hour period, or multiple 24 hour periods without specifying the amount of days.

1. Unspecified day. it is not referring to an era, week, year etc. It is a direct reference to an unspecified day.
This works because the time frame is abstract and must be inferred by context.
i.e. Back in the day I walked to school everyday.

the time frame in context is when the speaker was in school, the specific day is irrelevant. it could also be said with a specified day though.

i.e. back on Monday September 23, 1981 I had to walk to school.

2-4, 1-2: These examples use the plural of day, days. This is again an unspecified period of time but because it is plural it indicates more then 24 hours, with no upper extremity.

i.e. Days of old. Could be an time period such as medieval times. Could be an age, such as the bronze age. Or it could be a week, such as back in the old days I played a major paintball tournaments in Montreal.

5. Day in day out. Only talks about the start and end of the day. it is defined as an unspecified number of days
http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1CHMB_en-USCA301CA303&defl=en&q=define:day+in+day+out&ei=AcKsSZrQAaakNavDxd8E&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title
Or the title of a David Bowie song.

Again I agree this does not define a set amount of time, other then it is measured in days, but this does get a bit too abstract.

6. Day, by day.
Why even include this one? This obviously means day after day with an unspecified amount of days. Simply that you take on day after the other.

These are very different then saying on the first day, on the second day, etc... This is clearly and definitively a reference to a single day.
it does not say in the first days, in the second days, etc...

toshido said...

It gets even worse to assume that a day is an era if you read the book of genesis, Gen 1:5 to be precise.

My source since I am sure you would hate my bible if I could find it (jehovah's witness gave it to me)

http://www.bibleontheweb.com/Bible.asp

"God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day."

Clearly even God himself is defining a day as a period of time consisting of one evening and one morning.

if you do not like that source, try these.

http://bible.cc/genesis/1-5.htm

i have not read them all but those that i have read from that source all say one day is a day, i.e. 24 hours, not an era.

toshido said...

Ahhhh, I think I may have your answer before you answer it.

How long is an evening, or morning? Since in scripture it only states there was light and dark, morning and evening without ever going into detail of how many hours, minutes, seconds etc are in each of those segments I assume you will use that as your reasoning to say a God day can be as long as he feels it should be.
And why not? if you describe something using solely qualitative observations then no quantitative comments can be made from those comments. Which means we need to wither use common sense, or arbitrary values to quantify the qualitative. i obviously prefer common sense where others that would like to say a day in genesis is an arbitrary amount of time.
that is to say i like to say a day is a day is a day, or 24 hours.
Others would like to say that a day is however long a time it needs to be to make sense to justify there conclusions.

I know I am rambling now, it just makes n sense to me, a day is a day, get over it.

sarah said...

Toshido wrote: Do you often completely and radically change the meanings of words to justify your conclusions?

Snark noted. Completely uncalled for, but duly noted.

Toshido wrote: Is there any real reason to assume that a day is an era?

Before God created the sun, how long was a day?

The creation story is not just about the earth either, Toshido, so in your estimation, how long was the day before the sun was created on Jupiter, or in another galaxy?

It would be imminently helpful if you did some valid and context-considerate research on topics you wish to discuss. Unless you don't and just want to appear clever, in which case, I don't have time to do your research; I am always in the midst of doing research for myself and my family. I simply don't have the time to do it for you too, even if I felt inclined.

Not intending to be harsh, but just frank. My time is very precious these days (as in this era of my life, lest there be any confusion).

Christopher said...

Hebrew lesson for you, Toshy. "Day" is both a literal 24-hour period, and also an extention of time indicative of an aeon, or span of time.

And to quote from the article:

"As early as Genesis 2:4 we see yowm in the singular with an attached infinitive used to indicate an extended period of time. Strong's does not show this since the King James Versions retain the translation of day, but other translations recognize that in this case yowm refers to the time of the entire creation of the heavens and earth as recognized by the The Bible: An American Translation and others, "At the time when God made the earth and the heavens."

Have fun!

toshido said...

So in the case of the bible a day is truly an arbitrary period of time.

Convenient.

toshido said...

Chris you referring to the hebrew word yowm seems weird to me.

If it did not specify the time period of one morning and one evening then your argument about translation would make sense. But it does define the length of a day.

Of course what planet are we on is an interesting and abstract type of argument for varying lengths of day. Again pretty arbitrary and abstract supposition used to simply come to the required conclusion.

The problem here is I am following the written word and coming to the conclusion from the words.
it seems you guys have the conclusion and are making the words match your conclusion.

Unfortunately that means some arbitrary and abstract thinking.

You see I believe in lex parsimoniae. since Chris seemsto like the latin foundations of words and theories. otherwise known as Occam's Razor, which theorizes that:

"The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory."

i would also call that common sense.

Sarah said...

Toshido, you seem to be suggesting that either you are biblical literalist, or require believers to be. You already admit that we don't see women being stoned for not being virgins when wed, and I can add to that the apparent lack of hand and eye removal as well. Clearly context is a pretty important aspect of interpretation and understanding- anything, that is.

You are picking out our understanding of the use of the word 'day' in ancient Hebrew, but you have nothing to offer of any scholarly value, just some misplaced and untenable claims to logic and theory which you also clearly do not understand since you've gravely misapplied them here.

Why have you singled out the word 'day' and left out the myriad other words of the scriptures that require context for understanding? What about 'household' or 'son' or 'man' or 'child' or 'rod' or 'arm' or anything else?

Occam's Razor applies easily to this situation, but in the reverse of what you've posited. Firstly, it is far, far simpler to allow for the definition of the word 'day' to have its inherent multiple uses than it is to try to fit the creation story to fit just one. Then, even simpler (more Occam-esque) is taking the definition that allows for the story to make sense without having to *actually* re-define words and rearrange the whole thing to suit.

A 24 hour period as the sole definition really complicates the whole story. So, Occam's Razor properly applied to this story requires the allowance for the most easily applied interpretation of the word in its context with all of the story remaining intact.

You have tried to apply Occam's Razor to the word 'day' on its own, but have failed to recognise its place in the giant web of words that make up the language. By doing so, you have overly complicated and made impossible many of the expressions we have and continue to need in order to interpret and understand using language, let alone just this one story.

You also seem to want to redefine the word 'day' for every people and language that has ever existed, limiting it to the only definition that serves to 'match your conclusion.' Your accusation doesn't work out against those who understand the creation story to not be a play-by-play real-time account of the beginning of the universe (which, by the way, is a recent manner of understanding the story- just from the last 100 years or so- not historical whatsoever).

Perhaps you didn't notice that what makes the story *evidently* allusionary (necessitating metaphors and non-exact/literal/reality-based/broad words and meanings to be used in context most especially) is that the description of the creation as told for the second time in Genesis 2 is incompatible time-wise with the same told in Genesis 1. In Gen. 1, vegetation is created three days before Adam, but in Gen. 2, Adam is created first, before anything but dust is available on the surface of the earth.

What's more is the nonsense of insisting that without the sun- the day and night- there were still 24 hr periods known as 'days' which delineated God's actions previous to His own creation of the 'day' (24 hr period) itself.

Over 1600 years ago, St. Augustine wrote more than 5 comprehensive texts on the subject of the creation story and concluded with the rest of (or nearly) Christendom then that the 'days' in the creation story must logically be understood as indeterminant periods of time or eras as the word is used (without strain or redefinition to suit anything/one) to indicate in not just the ancient Hebrew language, but nearly or every language that we know of.

Occam's Razor properly applied to the creation story negates your points altogether.



Also, I am not interested in taking the particular definition of a word as it suits me, but rather as it was intended in the first place. This is sometimes a difficult task to uncover, but I do my best by actually looking into the matter; research and reflection, discussion and openness all work toward me being better able to ascertain the meaning of words and concepts as well as how and when they apply, amongst other things.

Quoting a Wikipedia article on the fly in defense of a position I am not even certain I take- much like highschool debate-doesn't cut it for me, so I don't do that and I find it disingenuous when others assume that in doing so they are educating me beyond my ignorance.

The abstract also seems to offend your delicate reasoning ability, which makes it all the more odd that you presume to teach me about philosophical concepts that require abstract reasoning.

You've left us with no way to discuss anything whatsoever with you. There is no in-road to Toshido's ever-moving philosophy/definitions/double-standards/illogic.

You could start with researching Occam's Razor since you brought it up, if in fact you are even interested in it. By researching it, you will come across a wide spectrum of understanding by many, many scholars- scientists, theologians, philosophers, etc...- and will easily learn how and when to apply it. Then it would be interesting to discuss the creation story with you with Occam's Razor as our premise for interpreting it in its entirety.

toshido said...

Sarah you are right.

If you begin with the knowledge that a day could mean any arbitrary length of time then of course the simplest thing to do is also believe that an evening and a morning is also an arbitrary length of time and so you can easily justify that conclusion.
And yes that is is really extremely simple. Almost as simple as saying that a day is a day. of course then you get the wrong answer.

As for being or requiring theists to be biblical literists, yes i do. if you truly want to live by god`s words then do so.
if you want t pick and choose what portions of the bible to follow then feel free, but admit to it.
What portions to follow and which to ignore is largely dictated by current social and economic times. This makes Christian morals relative. Furthering the argument of relative moralism.

Unless you have a divine answer to which parts of the bible to ignore and when to ignore them. Which i admit is one of the most confusing parts of christian faith in my opinion.

How do you choose which parts of the bible to ignore. Which parts do you chose creative inerpretation and abstract imagination to justify. And which parts do you choose to follow simply as written.

Sarah said...

Is the above your response to my latest comment?

suneal said...

Sarah said:

"Why can't we accept that we love a God who takes risks? We know He does and has, yet we often refuse to admit what we see and how we communicate with Him, which is to assume that we and what we say and do matter, which means that He risks when He allows us to matter since as dynamic beings, mattering means risk."

Sarah, you write so many varied thoughts on topics that I hope you do not mind me sticking my head back into the conversation to make a few more comments. I understand your sentiments above, written by you in one of your earlier comments, but I think it unfair what you possibly insinuate, that believing in a literal creation account means God has taken less risk!

Anonymous said this which I think might echo your sentiments Sarah;

"A Universe, seeded with the building blocks of life, that can grow, change, spawn life and become whatever its course of freedom chooses. I find that far more mind boggling then a universe back handed into a ready-made existence, complete with pre-manufactured dinosaur bones, a few eon ago."

Again, I think it unfair to assume a literal or Creationist view of Genesis does not also imply what is said here. Micro-evolution is not denied by Scripture nor Creationists. However, "whatever its course of freedom chooses" might be going a little too far. For example, how did a jelly fish choose to be what it became, brainless and all? I know this borders on ridiculous, but that is kind of my point.

Sarah again in the vastness of your comments you said;

I knew they were singing to God, thanking Him, even though at the time, I had no real understanding of why or what that would mean otherwise. I also saw trees and all manner of vegetation this way, posed in worship, growing in the light of the sun toward God, reaching for Him with the intent to embrace Him, touch His face, delight Him."

Thanks for sharing this very intimate story. I admire your ability pre-Christian in your life to be so spiritually aware. That was indeed a God-thing. It took me knowing Christ to hear the birds praising God.

Sarah said...

Suneal wrote: ...but I think it unfair what you possibly insinuate, that believing in a literal creation account means God has taken less risk!

I am sincerely not insinuating that God would be taking no risk if He created the universe in 6 days, ie: 24 hr periods. There are myriad possible insinuations from what I wrote, admittedly, and I didn't elaborate, so the onus is on me to give my comment context that doesn't allow for the impossible insinuations. ;)

I have had the experience with evangelicals that the assumption about God is that He is immutable and therefore takes no risk whatsoever. That because He knows everything, then He does not and cannot risk, even for our sake, and that free-will doesn't imply any risk on His part. But then, we pray. We ask Him for things. We ask Him to change the obvious course ahead of us from our own doing, or that of someone else.

How can these be reconciled? If He takes no risks, why ask Him to change something? Do we assume that He already determined what we'd ask based on what He already willed us to do? How do we escape the atheist criticism that God created us in a state to become broken and then forever requires us to ask Him to fix us and then show gratitude for it? I don't think God is a sadist, and yet any human being behaving that way would be aptly labeled as such.

So, since I take the view that God does risk, I am willing to accept the idea that maybe He created the universe knowing that although He continues to interact with us and intercede when He wills, the universe may have been created to change and grow and evolve into whatever the outcome would be, and that when we had evolved into the state that would allow us to engage in dialogue with Him as intelligent beings, we would know Him in a new and miraculous way.

Ugh, this is so inadequate an explanation; I wish I had time to elaborate beyond this... I'm sorry. Your question and friendship certainly compel me in a good way, I just really can't amidst the chaos that surrounds me (cheerful chaos, but chaos nonetheless).

I can elaborate a bit on what specific little things keep me from discounting the possibility of evolution (though Darwinism still doesn't describe what I'm considering):

What do we make of the strange orders of creatures and vegetation that regardless of our 'camp' just strike everyone as primitive- early forms of life? Simplistic in contrast with more sophisticated forms, but comparable in terms of their ability to sustain themselves in their environments?

I'm thinking of creatures like those found in the abysses- deep ocean and deep caves. Many of the creatures seem like their cousins but deprived of light for some long that they no longer have eyes or pigmentation, but then there are others which really stretch the acceptability of same-day creation because they really do have characteristics that don't seem due to just lack of light, and they move and eat and function in ways that seem like precursors to the way that more sophisticated creatures behave.

It was after we had children that I began to notice these things through watching Planet Earth and other nature programs and the amazing creatures they've filmed.

There's a fish in the amazon river that was filmed for the first time a few years ago. It eats wood. Wood. Not evidence for evolution, but just interesting given the way it looks and the whole system surrounding its survival. It is so unlike most of the creatures there, and yet so like other odd, seemingly very primitive creatures scattered all over the earth, but not as numerous as those unlike it.

Why is there a seeming dichotomy of primitive creatures and sophisticated creatures? This is purely speculation on my part, but I can no more ignore it than ignore that I have two feet and not four, that having two feet makes me more alike to other bipeds than to quadripeds in that respect.

I don't know, and if I never actually decide on a camp, I'm okay with that. I am most assuredly not on a quest to find a camp; I am just willing to consider more than I had previously. :)

Suneal, regarding my childhood recognition of the communications between Him and His creatures, since becoming a believer- follower of Christ- I never questioned that what He tells us about everyone knowing Him because all of creation testifies of Him is true.

That experience also helped me to distinguish between my experience now with Christ, and that of one who would follow those leanings and inclinations into a philosophy/religion such as Buddhism, or Hinduism. It's as if I can see and appreciate much of what they see and why, but I have something else too- my Lord and Saviour.

I feel an endearing-ness to people who have already embraced the realities I recognised as a child (regardless of religion/philosophy), and can easily converse and relate to them on that level, which is a blessing. It is also the reason I couldn't ever embrace more than what we share in common- that is to go further than that to leave my Lord. I could never.

Anyway, it makes for interesting discussion usually. :)