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Does Evolution Contradict Genesis?

World

The theory of evolution proposes an explanation for how life in general and mankind in particular arose. It holds that that there was a long period in which natural processes gave rise to life and to the different life forms on earth.

This in no way conflicts with the idea of God. As the omnipotent Creator, he is free to create either quickly or slowly and either directly or through intermediate processes that he sets up.

He can even do a mixture of these things, such as creating the universe in an instant (as apparently happened at the Big Bang) and then having it experience a long, slow process of development giving rise to stars and planets and eventually life forms including human beings.

He can even intervene periodically in these processes going on in the universe, such as when he creates a soul for each human being or when he performs a miracle.

From its perspective, science can learn certain things about the laws governing the universe and the processes occurring in it. But that does nothing to eliminate the idea of God, for the question remains: Why is there a universe with these laws and these processes in the first place?

Consider an analogy: Suppose that after a thorough and lengthy scientific investigation of the Mona Lisa, I concluded that it was the result of innumerable collisions of paint and canvas which gradually went from indecipherable shapes and colors to a beautiful and intriguing picture of a woman.

My analysis of the painting may be correct. That is, in fact, what the Mona Lisa is and how it developed. But it by no means disproves nor makes unnecessary Leonardo Da Vinci as the painter behind the painting.

Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing the truth. Why? Because our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival. But if that were the case then why should we trust the idea that we are the product of purely random factors? The mental processes leading to this conclusion would not be aimed at producing true beliefs.

Charles Darwin seems to have understood this when he wrote:

“With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

This worry disappears if God was guiding whatever process led to us and if he shaped the development of the human mind so that it was aimed at knowing him, and thus knowing the truth.

"But," you might be thinking, "surely evolution contradicts the creation account in Genesis."

No, it doesn't.

The Bible contains many different styles of writing. History, poetry, prophecy, parables, and a variety of other literary genres are found in its pages. This is not surprising since it is not so much a book as it is a library – a collection of 73 books written at different times by different people.

As such it is important that we distinguish between types of literature within the Bible and what they are trying to tell us. It would be a mistake, for example, to take a work as rich as the Bible in symbolism and literary figures as if it were always relating history in the manner that we in our culture are accustomed to.

Much less should we expect it to offer a scientific account of things. If one is hoping to find a scientific account of creation then he will not find it in these texts, for the Bible was never intended to be a scientific textbook on cosmology.

Saint Augustine put it this way: “We do not read in the Gospel that the Lord said, ‘I am sending you the Holy Spirit, that he may teach you about the course of the sun and the moon’. He wished to make people Christians not astronomers.”

The Catholic Church is open to the ideas of an old universe and that God used evolution as part of his plan. According to Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers” (CCC 283).

When it comes to relating these findings to the Bible, the Catechism explains: “God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine ‘work,’ concluded by the ‘rest’ of the seventh day” (CCC 337).

Explaining further, it says:

“Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation–its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the ‘beginning’: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.” (CCC 289)

In other words, the early chapters of Genesis, “relate in simple and figurative language, adapted to the understanding of mankind at a lower stage of development, fundamental truths underlying the divine scheme of salvation.” (Pontifical Biblical Commission, January 16, 1948).

Or, as Pope John Paul II put it:

“The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of humanity with God and the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God” (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 3, 1981).

As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) explained:

“The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God...does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the ‘project’ of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary–rather than mutually exclusive—realities.”

The recognition that the creation accounts must be understood with some nuance is not new, nor is it a forced retreat in the face of modern science. Various Christian writers form the early centuries of Church history, as much as 1,500 years or more before Darwin, saw the six days of creation as something other than literal, twenty-four hour periods.

For example, in the A.D. 200s, Origen of Alexandria noted that in the six days of creation day and night are made on the first day but the sun is not created until the fourth. The ancients knew as well as we do that the presence or absence of the sun is what makes it day or night, and so he took this as an indicators that the text was using a literary device and not presenting a literal chronology. He wrote:

“Now who is there, pray, possessed of understanding, that will regard the statement as appropriate, that the first day, and the second, and the third, in which also both evening and morning are mentioned, existed without sun, and moon, and stars—the first day even without a sky? . . . I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.” (De Principiis, 4:16)

What Origen was onto was a structure embedded in the six days of creation whereby in the first three days God prepares several regions to be populated by separating the day from the night, the sky from the sea, and finally the seas from each other so that the dry land appears. Then, on the second three days, he populates these, filling the day and night with the sun, the moon, and the stars, filling the sky and sea with birds and fish, and filling the dry land with animals and man.

The first three days are historically referred to as the days of distinction because God separates and thus distinguishes one region from another. The second three days are referred to as the days of adornment, in which God populates or adorns the regions he has distinguished.

This literary structure was obvious to people before the development of modern science, and the fact that the sun is not created until day was recognized by some as a sign that the text is presenting the work of God, as the Catechism says, “symbolically as a succession of six days of divine ‘work’” (CCC 337).

Origen was not the only one to recognize the literary nature of the six days. Similarly, St. Augustine, writing in the A.D. 400s, noted: “What kind of days these were is extremely difficult or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!” (The City of God, 11:6).

The ancients thus recognized, long before modern science, that the Bible did not require us to think that the world was made in six twenty-four hour days.
 
 
Matt Fradd book on atheism
 
 
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Matt Fradd

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Matt Fradd is a Catholic apologist and speaker. He is a regular contributor to Catholic Answers magazine. He lives in North Georgia with his wife and four children. Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattfradd and visit his website, MattFradd.com.

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  • Bob

    "The theory of evolution proposes an explanation for how life in general and mankind in particular arose. It holds that that there was a long period in which natural processes gave rise to life and to the different life forms on earth."

    Evolution says nothing about how life in general arose, or how natural processes gave rise to life for that matter.

    ...and that is just the opening statement...

    • Evolution says nothing about how life in general arose, or how natural processes gave rise to life for that matter.

      At what point does evolution become pertinent then? One second after life arose? One century? One millennium?

      If evolution says nothing about how life arose or about how natural processes gave rise to life, how is it of any value at all?

      • Michael Murray

        At what point does evolution become pertinent then? One second after life arose? One century? One millennium?

        You would need to define the boundary between life and non-life to make a precise answer to this. But I would guess that as soon as natural selection came into play evolution (by natural selection!) was in play.

        If evolution says nothing about how life arose or about how natural processes gave rise to life, how is it of any value at all?

        It explains how the great diversity of life we currently see arose. It also shows that the appearance of design can arise without a designer. Whether it has value depends I guess on what you value.

        • Michael Murray De Maria • 8 hours ago

          You would need to define the boundary between life and non-life to make a precise answer to this.

          Why do you put the onus on me? Isn't it you who needs to make this difference? After all, it is you who says that evolution had no explanation for how life arose. Therefore, you need to explain how the transition from a non-living thing to a living thing took place and why that transition is not a form of evolution.

          But I would guess that as soon as natural selection came into play evolution (by natural selection!) was in play.

          By natural selection, do you reduce that to a simple, "survival of the fittest" paradigm?

          Does the pre-life "selection" of matter which will produce life not enter into evolution at all?

          If "evolution" does not explain this step, then what does?

          It explains how the great diversity of life we currently see arose. It also shows that the appearance of design can arise without a designer. Whether it has value depends on what you value I guess.

          The great diversity of life can also be explained by God's providence. But God's providence also explains the origins of life.

          So, tell me, what scientific theory explains the INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND SIMULTANEOUS group of random events it would have taken for non-living matter to come together into a cohesive organism which could immediately and without any forethought or design, move, consume, digest, divide and multiply (reproduce), create and burn energy, and do all the things that even the simplest of organisms can do. And, pass these things on to other generations.

          I mean, this miracle takes more faith to believe in than the existence of God. But I'd like to hear anyone's explanation.

          • Michael Murray

            it is you who says that evolution had no explanation for how life arose.

            There are two ways to use the word evolution. You can use it to mean things change such as: non-life evolves into life or single-celled organisms evolve into multi-celled organisms. Or you can use it as an abbreviation for the scientific theory of `evolution by natural selection'. That theory only applies to the last of these two examples of change. The first one and theories of how it occurred is usually called abiogenesis:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

            So asking how evolution accounts for how life began just doesn't make sense. Sort of like asking how evolution accounts for the motion of the planets. It doesn't. It isn't a theory about the motion of the planets. Better to ask how does science explain how life began and then go and read that wiki link above to get the answer.

            By natural selection, do you reduce that to a simple, "survival of the fittest" paradigm?

            It is not about survival so much as about increasing the frequency of your genes in the population of which you are a part. Survival will usually help you do that unless you are a competitor for your offspring's food or perhaps the source of your offspring's food or some situation like that. But I'm not a biologist so better to look at

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection

            or read some popular account. Personally I think Richard Dawkins' early books are wonderful but perhaps you would find his atheism too annoying. Ditto Jerry Coyne. Does anyone know a good account of evolution for theists ?

            So, tell me, what scientific theory explains the INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND SIMULTANEOUS group of random events it would have taken for non-living matter to come together into a cohesive organism which could immediately and without any forethought or design, move, consume, digest, divide and multiply (reproduce), create and burn energy, and do all the things that even the simplest of organisms can do. And, pass these things on to other generations.

            It is doubtful the jump was this sudden. The first life might have been more akin to viruses than bacteria as I understand it. See for example:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis

            There are lots of resources out there on abiogenesis and evolution by natural selection. I would encourage you to read them.

            EDIT: Maybe you would find some of Stephen M. Barrs articles over on First Things palatable? I think his basic position is that evolution by natural selection demonstrates the wonder of God's creation. For example

            http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2010/02/the-end-of-intelligent-design

          • Michael Murray De Maria • 8 hours ago

            There are two ways to use the word evolution…..It is doubtful the jump was this sudden. The first life might have been more akin to viruses than bacteria as I understand it. See for example:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

            There are lots of resources out there on abiogenesis and evolution by natural selection. I would encourage you to read them.

            I've read them Michael. My point is that none of them satisfactorily explain the jump from non-living matter to life. All they do is expect us to believe in a miracle for which they deny God's involvement. A Godless miracle, so to speak.

            Here's the choice that we have. We can believe that lifeless matter suddenly organized itself in a manner that would sustain life and then jumped to life. That's a great miracle. You expect me to have a great deal of faith in lifeless matter.

            I prefer to believe in God.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This is a god of the gaps fallacy. We do not yet know how we moved from non-life to life. We can hope that one day we will find out. However, we have no reason to postulate a god or call it a miracle.

            I prefer to believe in God.

            Which god? The fine-tuning god who used his powers to create life out of non-life or the omnipotent, omnibnevolent, and omniscient god, whose three attributes are irreconcilable with the world that we observe?

          • Ignatius Reilly De Maria • 6 days ago

            This is a god of the gaps fallacy. We do not yet know how we moved from non-life to life. We can hope that one day we will find out. However, we have no reason to postulate a god or call it a miracle.

            You don't know how we moved from life to non-life because you want to deny any explanation that contradicts your belief.

            But the best explanation for non-life coming to life is that another life produced it.

            Which god? The fine-tuning god who used his powers to create life out of non-life or the omnipotent, omnibnevolent, and omniscient god, whose three attributes are irreconcilable with the world that we observe?

            It is irreconcilable to you. You keep projecting your biases upon me. But just because you can't understand a concept doesn't mean I have the same problem.

          • Aishling Wray

            The thing that most atheist forget in this point is the simple statement "Nothing comes from nothing"
            What started the universe? I read "The God Part of the Brain" and in it the writer says that before the big bang existed there was only energy, that condensed itself to make solids. But tell me, where did this energy come from? Before that they talk about there being a vacuum. An empty space. But space is still something, space takes up room. Space has a component. Hence it is impossible for nothing to come from nothing. Someone explain to me, if there was no God that started everything off, how did this vacuum exist? After all that is not nothing.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This line of argument leaves you open to the "what caused God" objection.

            Why couldn't energy always have existed? As far as we know, the amount of energy in the universe doesn't change, but there isn't a law about a God creating energy.

          • Aishling Wray

            That's side tracking the question. Something would've had to exist to have created that energy. It can't have always been there. The reason why people argue for God is because God is seen out of space and time. But energy is in time, meaning it must've had a beginning. It doesn't make sense for it to just appear out of no where one day. "Nothing comes from nothing"

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Why can't energy have always existed?

          • Rob Abney

            Could energy exist before space and time?

          • Michael Murray

            If you don't have time how do you have before ?

          • Rob Abney

            Good point, I'll rephrase. Can you have energy without time/space?

          • Michael Murray

            The big problem here is there isn't a Theory of Everything (ToE) that combines quantum mechanics and relativity (space-time). But probably when we have such a theory space and time will become approximate concepts that are only valid in certain physical situations. My suspicion is that energy plays a more fundamental role in quantum theory than space and time and will persist in any ToE. But I'm a research mathematician who works on the edge of mathematical physics not a research physicist.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            My understanding is that quantum foam has energy. Couldn't the universe be in some sense eternal? Why is that impossible?

          • Rob Abney

            I think that energy requires space and time to exist. The universe may be eternal but my understanding is that many scientists accept the existence of a space/time boundary.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What scientists accept is that our current laws break down, when quantum effects become to large. You are not justified in positing a beginning or a transcendent energy creator

          • Rob Abney

            Are you saying that science cannot tell us if there was or was not a beginning so we also cannot assume a beginning based upon any other criteria?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, I am saying that you cannot use science (at this juncture) to determine whether or nor the universe had a beginning. Both you and the other poster are trying to use science to show that the universe had a beginning.
            I'm not sure what criteria you would use to assume a beginning. Aquinas does note that the beginning of the universe is a matter of faith not philosophy.

          • Rob Abney

            I would not say that I am using science but more like basic assumptions about materialism, that energy is material and cannot exist without space/time.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            But energy can exist without space time as we know it.

          • Rob Abney

            OK, that was my initial comment here; can you point me toward an article or introduction to that subject, not necessarily a proof but some support? Thanks.

          • Michael Murray

            What does

            God is seen out of space and time

            mean ?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I ask the question but never get an answer. I think it is secret. You have to be an illuminati or somesuch to get the real answer.

          • Sample1

            Haven't read that book but either you're misrepresenting the author (not good) or he's in pure speculation mode (which is fine) or he's in error because currently there is no way to know what things were like before the Big Bang or indeed if it even makes sense to say "before".

            Mike

          • Aishling Wray

            I'm relaying the energy part correctly, he did say that. When I say, "Before that they talk about there being a vacuum" I'm talking about a different theory put out by other scientists. Either way, neither makes sense in saying that the universe started from nothing. It's just not possible. We have to remember God is placed out of space and time, so Him deciding at any point to start off the creation of the universe makes more sense.

          • Sample1

            It doesn't appear that you are refuting anything in my reply but I am left with a question from yours.

            How exactly did your God create the universe?

            Mike

      • Bob

        This is irrelevant to my criticism.

        To your questions:

        At what point does evolution become pertinent then?

        For biology - once replication begins.

        If evolution says nothing about how life arose or about how natural processes gave rise to life, how is it of any value at all?

        For biology - It explains what happens once life arises, once natural processes have given rise to life.

        • Bob De Maria • 7 hours ago

          This is irrelevant to my criticism.

          I don't think so.

          For biology - once replication begins.

          Ok. Now, we're talking about natural selection. You've sidestepped the very first selection. Apparently, you want us to assume that lifeless matter simply sprung to life and began to replicate. But replication is a complicated process requiring all sorts of dna strings to pass along very complicated genetic instructions. But you want us to accept this miracle without question.

          I'd rather believe God did it. That is a much more simple and elegant answer to the entire question of biogenesis and evolution.

          For biology - It explains what happens once life arises,

          I beg to differ. You've got an assumption. That life sprang from lifeless matter. Now you've got to explain how that bit of matter received the instruction to replicate. Who told it to do so and why? That's not been explained, at all.

          Then, you have the problem of this organism, suddenly being organized in a manner that will allow it to live long enough to replicate. Where does it get the fuel to live? Did it eat before it sprang to life? Who gave it the instruction to eat? How did it know it had to eat?

          No, no. You've got thousands of unanswered questions which you want us to set aside and accept that these things all happened spontaneously and were generated by invisible and unguided random forces.

          Sorry. That's too much of a miracle for me.

          once natural processes have given rise to life.

          Natural processes? What natural processes? If they existed then, where are they now? Show me a natural process which animates lifeless matter?

      • Joaozinho Martins
    • Joaozinho Martins

      You are right, Bob: "Evolution says nothing about how life in general arose, or how natural processes gave rise to life for that matter:. To know why, Visit:> http://christianreading.com/jmartins/files/2012/03/Atheistic-Theory-of-Evolution1.pdf

    • neil_ogi

      evolutionists did say that non-living things 'evolve' to become living things. that's evolutionist's dogma of how life came to be!

      rocks are still rocks 'billion years' ago.. they are still non-living things!

      • Citation required. Which biologists have said that?

        Have you even read the OP? It is written by a Christian who accepts evolutionary science. To equate atheism with evolution (as you have done all over this board) is to create a false dichotomy, given the reasons enunciated in the OP. Perhaps you should read it again.

        • neil_ogi

          why don't you search again that atheists, evolutionists are making 'laws' of abiogenesis? why don't you search wiki? as i've said before, not all christians and theists accept evolution. some accept evolution as 'God-guided', evolution, is already dead if there's no evolution of non-living things into living things! so are you believing now that life's origin is not from non-living things? well, congratz.. you've just open your eyes.

          quote: 'To equate atheism with evolution (as you have done all over this board) is to create a false dichotomy, given the reasons enunciated in the OP' - is evolution the 'science engine' of atheists/evolutionists that's why they became atheists/evolutionists still? c. darwin and r. dawkins even commented that evolution has driven away from their christian faith. (that's why atheists love the phrase, 'reasons' ('science' e.g. evolution) changed their way of thinking, and not superstition.

          i have no comments regarding what the interpretations of early church fathers about the genesis accounts of origins. that's their interpretations. as i've said, christians are divided on that issue, whether the genesis origin's account is to be believed as fable, or a literal one (just like 'hell', most christians believe it as a place where eternal torment of unrepentant sinners take place, whereas, 7th-day adventist christians viewed it as just 'annihilation' place, or where the 'second death' will take place)

          • More gibberish from the science-illiterate. You still don't seem to understand that biological evolution and abiogenesis are two distinct fields of research. That there are open questions surrounding the latter does not in any way compromise our ability to study the former.

          • neil_ogi

            there's already the 'laws of biogenesis'.. the research for abiogenesis is already debunked.

          • What are these "laws of biogenesis"? Do explain.

            "the research for abiogenesis is already debunked."

            Citation required.

          • neil_ogi

            i thought you are a good science thinker? if there's already the 'law of biogenesis' then why pursue your dream to include in true science 'abiogenesis'? i already told you to perform an experiment (abiogenesis) for yourself ... if you can produce life from non-living matter then i will bow down to you

          • Well this has been fun, but since you refuse to understand that evolution and abiogenesis are distinct concepts I will have to bow out. There's only so many times I can repeat myself to a stubborn dullard such as yourself.

  • Mike

    Great piece and so desperately needed as too many ppl confuse the how with the why and the how with the what. John lennox uses ford car to illustrate the point: did the laws of internal combustion build the model t or did the mind of Ford? and then he adds: choose one, knowing that of course the choice is a false one as both were required. God created the physical universe and wrote the laws of physics and chemistry and the rest so both were needed to create humanity.

    BTW in the popular press and in most ppls imagination evolution also accounts for origin of life when it doesn't and doesn't purport to at least not technically; but most atheists say that EVENTUALLY the origin of life and human consciousness will be explained by "it" and so they in the process elevate it to a quasi-religious belief and metaphysical agent.

  • Matt Fradd argues:

    Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we
    have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing
    the truth. Why? Because our mental faculties would be the result of a
    random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true
    beliefs, but at mere survival. But if that were the case then why should
    we trust the idea that we are the product of purely random factors? The
    mental processes leading to this conclusion would not be aimed at
    producing true beliefs.

    I think that this line of argument is mistaken for two reasons.

    First, it seems as though there is a connection between survival and reliable beliefs. Consider three equal-sized groups of a particular species with beliefs: A, B and C. A have generally reliable beliefs. B and C have generally unreliable beliefs, but B's beliefs help them survive in their current environment and C's beliefs do not. An example belief would be about a poisonous plant that makes people sick, and if they eat it all the time, they die.

    Members of A have generally reliable beliefs about the plant. They avoid eating the plant.
    Members of B believe that the plant will not make them sick, but they desire to be sick. They avoid eating the plant.
    Members of C believe that the plant will not make them sick and do not desire to be sick. Members of C eat the plant all the time.

    Population C eventually dies out from self poisoning. Now Population A, which used to comprise 33% of the total, is 50% of the total. More of the population has reliable beliefs than before. But we continue. Maybe a disease spreads over the population, and the only cure is to eat the plant.

    Members of A have generally reliable beliefs about the plant. They eat the plant when they become sick.
    Some (imagine 1/2) of the members of B may have unreliable beliefs that just happen to lead them to eat the plant when they are sick. They eat the plant when they become sick.
    Others (also 1/2) of the members of B have unreliable beliefs that keep them from eating the plant even when they are sick. So they don't eat the plant when they are sick.

    Half the population of B dies out. Now A, which used to be 33% of the population, is 75% of the population in two steps.

    It seems as though, if an environment never changes, you could imagine that beliefs that help survival don't need to correlate well with reliable beliefs. However, if the environment changes in significant ways that affect survivability, reliable beliefs would seem to help organisms that have them to adjust to those changes. In that case, beliefs that help survival would correlate with reliable beliefs.

    Second, even if you believe that evolution would more likely lead to unreliable beliefs than reliable beliefs, you still should trust your beliefs. This is because the argument confuses metaphysical probabilities with epistemic probabilities. It may be that, in most other possible worlds, we would not have reliable beliefs. However, we have good reasons to trust our beliefs in this world, and so we should believe that we got lucky with our beliefs, not that we should doubt them.

    This can be illustrated with an analogy. Fine tuning has it that most values that fundamental constants take would lead to a universe without life. This means that the big bang (or whenever the constants are set) is unlikely to produce a universe that has life. That's a statements about metaphysical probabilities; probabilities that deal with the way the world might have been, not with the way the world actually is. If we conflate the metaphysical probabilities with epistemic probabilities, we would conclude that, therefore, there should be no life in our universe (since it's so unlikely), and we should not trust any claims that life exists in our own universe. So we shouldn't believe that we exist. That's clearly absurd.

    I think that these sorts of evolutionary arguments against naturalism fail for those two reasons

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      it seems as though there is a connection between survival and reliable beliefs.

      But they need not be true beliefs. Atheists for example frequently cite the evolutionary origin of religion as arising from mistaken pattern recognition. The belief that there is a lion in the bushes contributes to survival regardless whether there is a lion in the bushes or not.

      Instead of a poisonous berry, why not take belief in the motion of the sun or the earth? In what way does this contribute to "survival" (="reproductive success")?

      Or suppose A believes the berry is poisonous and avoids it, while B regards it as "unfamiliar" or "nontraditional" and likewise avoids it. The only thing that matters evolutionarily speaking is the avoidance, not the reasons for the avoidance.

      Just once, though, it would be nice to have an actual historical example of these mythical people who died out because they ate the berries.

      • But they need not be true beliefs.

        Right. Not all the beliefs need to be true. They just need to be reliably true.

        Instead of a poisonous berry, why not take belief in the motion of the sun or the earth? In what way does this contribute to "survival" (="reproductive success")?

        The failure of the argument is not that all beliefs contribute to survival, just that there is a connection between cognitive reliability and survival.

        Or suppose A believes the berry is poisonous and avoids it, while B regards it as "unfamiliar" or "nontraditional" and likewise avoids it.

        Then, by an analogous example to the one above, if the environment changes in a certain way, the ones who think the berries unfamiliar or nontraditional will avoid them in all cases, whereas A will tend to form true beliefs about the berries. B (or a good fraction of B) will go by the wayside once the disease hits.

        • Mike

          Have you ever considered why reproduction would be a goal in the first place; i mean why would the universe or whatever is ultimate reality, nature, forces, whatever (on the atheist worldview), why it would in a sense care about survival?

          This has always stumped me about naturalism, why survival at all?

          And actually thinking about it it always seemed to me to point towards something we might call "the principle that LIFE is somehow good in and of itself" which to me suggested Christianity or at least something that seems to put an emphasis life; in any case the last thing pure natural selection suggested to me was atheism and or random nature without any actual point.

          • You need to try and see this without the presumption that there are goals and purposes. Reproduction and survival are not goals, they are effects of chemistry and physics.

            The individuals and populations that win out are the ones who best adapt to the environment. They won't win out if they die before they have the chance to reproduce.

          • Mike

            I know but why those effects at all? Why would even a totally purpose-less universe seem to include that particular option as an option?

            Why life at all? Why not just explosions of magma? or Viruses replicating?

            It just seem really WEIRD that not just LIFE but successful life would sort of be the outcome at all.

            I guess questions like this are the beginnings of metaphysics and philosophy.

          • Why? Because the physics and chemistry lead that way. It is really weird, it is also very very very rare. There are billions of billions of galaxies and billions and billions of planets. We know of one with life, we may be the only one and most of this planet is non living. A tiny slice of the surface has life and one species has intelligence.

            It does make sense that in the incredible vastness of the cosmos, life would arise.

          • Mike

            Why do physics and chem lead that way in the first place? Why did the universe create or why does ultimate reality have laws in the first place and laws which have the capability to produce life from "dead" matter and which then seem to prefer those life forms that can reproduce?

            The question can not be answered "scientifically" can it? it's a metaphysical question.

            Just the fact that there is life and that "evolution" seems to "value" reproduction suggests to me that life and reproduction is somehow "important" to the Universe, no? i mean that's just common sense isn't it?

          • I do not know why the laws of physics are what they are. I am not sure the question even makes sense. Do you know why?

            I see no reason to accept the universe creates, I see no evidence of anything being "created" out of nothing. I don't know what you mean by ultimate reality, I am aware of one reality with no stratification.

            That life happens for dead matter is generally well understood by chemistry, but it is a long and complex science. Generally it is a function of the ability of carbon to make complex bonds and very complex compounds that interact in complex ways.

            Life forms that cannot reproduce, don't, which is why they die out immediately and we do not see them. Those that can, live on generation to generation, those that can get the limited resources better that others do better and we see more of them.

          • Honestly, no, I do not think reproduction or life seems important to the universe, or that the universe can "value" things. Life is extremely rare in the universe even if it were to exist in 0.1% of planets and that is very optimistic. If the universe could "value" something it would seem to be dark energy and dark matter, whatever they are, which seem to comprise the majority of the universe.

            You and I value reproduction and life, I would suggest because we are living life forms. Why do we have such a strong desire to live and reproduce? I think because only our ancestors with such an instinct bothered to mate and feed themselves.

          • Mike

            Do i know why? No but it makes MOST sense to me to assume they have a telos a purpose that they are "driving at" something.

            I mean at least we know that the laws themselves are NOT random and did not "evolve" but have been set either by someone or something, which to me again seems to indicate purpose.

            That life should for some chemical/physical reason be ordered towards reproduction at all is a clue it seems; that there is life at all written into those laws seems very peculiar.

          • Peculiar compared to what? We have no basis to do anything other than speculate on such questions. I guess you are saying that it feels to you that there is some intent or purpose to the laws of physics. There may be, but life does not seem be it, given its scarcity

          • Mike

            But that's the point exactly that DESPITE all the harsh environments the 1 in a bazzilion odds that there is something as weird as life (not to mention the physical constants set just right); peculiar to the vast emptiness of space, peculiar to nothing at all, i mean reality itself; the universe is peculiar, why something instead of nothing and why something so sophisticated so profound so strange compared to just nothing? The physical reality of existence itself seems to me to point to a purpose unfolding.

            Maybe it just comes down to temperament or something, a gift of faith by the spirit some ppl might call it but my view just seems to have SO much more support than the general atheist view that there is no purpose to anything that it's just a bizarre "Accident" of a universe devoid is meaning.

            Like i said maybe it's something you are born with like a genetic predisposition to believe?

          • The constants do make not only life more like, I will grant you they make a benevolent God more likely.

            But the rarity of life does the opposite. If there is God, there need be no laws of physics at all. He could easily have made us out of dust on a planet that was the centre of the universe. Basically he could have created the cosmos described in the Bible. A universe where life is prevalent and events occur based on will would be one thing. Rather our cosmos is such that the laws of physics seem to be a limit on any intention, including a god's.

          • Mike

            I guess that's why i said maybe it comes down to temperament or i don't know some inclination to believe (or not, heck maybe it is genetic); i believe that there is as much evidence for either position as the person wants there to be. Although "to me" it seems like there's way more evidence for my view to you the opposite seems true - i guess that leaves room for personal choice?

            I don't know but even before i became not just a cafe cultural catholic i could never seem to bring my mind around to the belief that there is no God/ultimate purpose to reality; i guess that's why pascal wager seems like such a strong argument to me, bc to me it appears neutral and so then why not if you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

            Anyway thx for the exchange.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Not all the beliefs need to be true. They just need to be reliably true

          I would have said "They just need to be reliable."

          Of course, "true" does mean "reliable," being derived from the Old English word for "trust." It is thus related to the Latinate word "faith." It does not in this sense mean "fact," although many folks today equate truth with fact, as Oscar Wilde once complained the English were in the habit of doing.

          • David Nickol

            Yes, we need a definitive answer to the question "What is truth?" before we can proceed. :P

          • William Davis

            This is why Greek philosophers loved math so much. Truth in the language of mathematics is much more obvious than truth in language. Language can be so ambiguous.

          • BrianKillian

            Right. When naturalists presume that they have true beliefs, they aren't simply presuming a belief in the reliability of those beliefs, they are presuming that there are, in fact, FACTS.

    • Phil

      Hey Paul,

      I think that this line of argument is mistaken for two reasons.

      As Statistician was pointing out below, and what I believe Matt was trying to point out is the argument that Plantinga made some years ago. Namely, that a person can't coherently hold both materialism (that all that exists is material in nature) and evolution to be true at the same time.

      The main thrust of the argument is that one's belief that evolution is actually true could be not because it is actually true, but only because it helps one survive. (So one has no rational ground to hold that evolution is actually true if taking a materialistic metaphysical POV.)

      But you point out then that it seems survival can have a connection to true beliefs, and I believe this can be true. But your intellectual ground for actually stating this is already gone. This is because your statement that "survival has a connection to true beliefs" may be a belief you hold simply because it helps you survive, not because it is actually true.

      In other words, only if you take the view that the human person has an intellect that transcends the mere physical biology of the human person and is oriented towards truth, can one coherently hold evolution to be true. It actually ends up being a very amusing "turn of events" in the evolution and God discussion.

      • David Nickol

        The main thrust of the argument is that one's belief that evolution is actually true could be not because it is actually true, but only because it helps one survive. (So one has no rational ground to hold that evolution is actually true if taking a materialistic metaphysical POV.)

        Those who believe in evolution do not believe in evolution because natural selection worked in favor of belief in evolution. Belief in (Darwinian) evolution is less than two hundred years old and did not "evolve." Perhaps a capacity or tendency for certain categories of beliefs could evolve, but specific "high-level" beliefs such as a belief in evolution or monotheism don't fall within the realm of evolution, but of culture.

        The question seems to me to be what guarantee is there that consciousness that arises by random mutation and natural selection will always arrive at truth. The answer is that there is no guarantee. However, why in the world there should be a suspicion that a conscious that arises by random mutation and natural selection could never know anything true, or never know reliably that some things are true and some things are false, seems wholly unwarranted.

        In other words, only if one takes the view that the human person has an intellect that transcends the mere physical nature of the human person and is oriented towards truth, can one coherently hold evolution to be true.

        I don't agree with this at all. What does it mean to be "oriented toward truth"? It took fifty thousand to one hundred thousand years of human thinking to come up with the idea of evolution by natural selection, and perhaps a majority of the world's population even today doesn't believe it. There is no reason to assume evolution has produced, in human beings, a whole race of individuals who are "oriented toward truth." But why should that mean that within human culture, those who seek to understand how the physical world works cannot understand evolution?

        • Phil

          Hey David,

          I think what will get to the crux of our discussion is leading from this:

          I don't agree with this at all. What does it mean to be "oriented toward truth"?

          To be oriented towards truth, means that the human person is not merely oriented towards survival, but has an intellect that can actually come to know the truth of reality.

          The crux of our discussion then is if one holds that evolution is oriented ultimately towards survival, and the human person is merely a physical being that has come to be through the complex process of evotuion, there is absolutely no way to know that any of our beliefs are true. Including the belief that evolution is true!

          (Many naturalists would hold that even to use the word of "oriented" in conjunction with evolution is wrong. Evolution isn't even oriented towards survival. It is simply that the most fit to survive, do survive--and we call this process "evolution". This pushes the dagger even further in the wound of the "materialist-evolutionist" incoherency.)

          • David Nickol

            (One may have a "correct belief", but one has no ground to say that it is true.)

            Are you saying that there is a difference between having a correct belief and a true belief? I don't understand.

            Would you say that if materialism is "correct," the equation
            1 + 1 = 2 is correct but not true?

          • Phil

            Hey David,

            Are you saying that there is a difference between having a correct belief and a true belief? I don't understand.

            That was really confusing how I wrote that up, I apologize!

            It would be more clear for me to have said, one could hold that a belief they hold is true, but they have no reason ground to actually say it's true. In other words, they can't claim the truth value of anything they hold.

      • Natural selection leading to the modern cognitive capacity does not mean we evolved in such a way as to develop methods to distinguish between truth and non-truth.

        Indeed, we know very well that we evolved many attributes that lead us to beliefs that I would say are not true. We developed a very long list of cognitive biases that have a good basis in evolution but lead us to believe irrational things.

        Natural selection favours genes that help survival, not to true beliefs.

        I do not justify my beliefs by saying that rationality evolved, but rather that they are rational.

        • Phil

          Exactly, so your belief in natural selection is just as likely to be false as it is to be true. You can't rationally hold that natural selection is true, because you may have simply evolved to believe that it is true.

          In fact, from your position this is true of everything. You can't rationally hold that anything is actually true, simply that natural selection has led you to think that it's true. (Including every past discussion you and I have had.)

          ---

          On the contrary, I hold that the human person actually has an intellect that transcends the mere physical which can come to know truth and isn't simply oriented towards survival (or at the whim of random mutations). This means I can actually coherently hold things to be true, such as evolution.

          That is the catch-22 with naturalism--you take away all your ground of actually being able to come to truth, including the truth of naturalism itself!

          • No, my epistemology and beliefs are not grounded in evolution, they are grounded in logic. Logic, the logical absolutes, are self-attesting. This is sufficient grounding to rely on logic as being reliable.

            Your epistemology, your belief that the human person has an intellect that transcends the physical is on no more secure basis. The fact that you believe it, doesn't make it true. You have no way to check if you are correct.

            Neither of us can have certainty about just about anything. I don't pretend to be able to come to certainty or truths about things, all I can do is make probability estimates based on a number of presumptions.

          • Phil

            No, my epistemology and beliefs are not grounded in evolution, they are grounded in logic.

            Is your logic grounded in evolution, or in something that transcends physical evolution?

            Neither of us can have certainty about just about anything.

            I agree, but your position goes a step further and makes it so the human person has no reason to believe anything they believe in true. The position I propose shows that we can come to truth, though never with 100% certainty. Yours leads to pure skepticism, mine leads to epistemological realism.

          • It is not "my" logic. If you are asking me what grounds logic it is the logical absolutes, which are self-attesting. They are one of two things I can say I am 100% certain of. They have nothing to do with the theory of evolution.

            No, I have good reasons to believe what I believe to be true, I have various degrees of certainty, from speculation to near certainty. For example, I believe it is true that I am wearing jeans, this is because I observe them with two senses. I may be mistaken, my senses may be fooling me and so on, but my uncertainty is limited to that.

            Evolution is a theory to explain observation of the diversity of life. It makes predictions and virtually all observation is consistent with it.

            It is not a theory to account or ground logic or reason. Our ability to use logic and to reason likely evolved, but they need not have evolved to a cognition that every conclusion is true. We know this is not the case

          • Phil

            It is not a theory to account or ground logic or
            reason. Our ability to use logic and to reason likely evolved, but they need not have evolved to a cognition that every conclusion is true. We know this is not the case

            What evidence do you have so as to know that not every belief you hold is only because it has helped the human person survive, not because it is actually true?

            If you are asking me what grounds logic it is the logical absolutes, which are self-attesting.

            Did the human intellect coming to understand "self-attested logical absolutes" arise out of the physical processes of evolution? Or did they come from somewhere else?

          • I do not have evidence, nor do I claim that ever belief I hold, I hold because it helps humanity survive rather than being true. I believe the brain I have is the result of many adaptations by way of natural selection, to allow complex cognition and that it did so because, on balance, along with many other adaptations, having such a brain gains Homo sapiens an advantage over Australopithecus and so on.

            I further believe that this brain also allows for a myriad of beliefs, many of which will not be helpful for survival, many will be neutral and many will be helpful.

            The human thought that logical absolutes are self-attesting occurs in the human brain, which evolved by way of natural selection. The logical absolutes are true independant of whether I believe they are true or whether my brain evolved. They are self-attesting. I do not believe they are true I am absolutely certain they are true. They are as certain as mathematics, which really is an extension of them.

          • Phil

            But the human brain could still have evolved only to believe that logical absolutes are necessarily true and mind independent because that's how the human person evolved; not because they are actually true.

            There is ultimately no way to figure out which beliefs you hold are actually true and which the human person believes because the human person evolved in that random manner. It is a radical skepticism not capable of any knowledge whatsoever.

          • There are two beliefs that we can hold with absolute certainty, logical absolutes and I think therefore I am. I don't think you are grasping the proof.

            I do not think evolution is capable of leading to beliefs with such resolution. In fact I don't think it leads to beliefs rather than instincts and intuitions.

            But let's say you are correct. I will take the logical absolutes as axiomatic, as I do with induction. We are no better off in our world views. What ability to you have to reason that your beliefs are true?

          • Phil

            What ability to you have to reason that your beliefs are true?

            I don't hold that the intellect and reason arose purely through the random physical processes of evolution, therefore they are not at the whim of those random processes, which are not interested in anything including truth value of beliefs. (This is ultimately because the intellect/reason is not purely a material entity, and evolution is a physical phenomenon.)

            I can reasonably hold that the intellect is actually oriented towards coming to true beliefs. Of course it is not infallible, but I do not hold that the intellect is purposeless (like evolution) or that it is oriented towards survival. Humans have an intellect that is actually oriented towards reasoning towards true beliefs, this cannot arise purely through purposeless physical processes if one still wants to be able to trust the intellect and reason.

            -----

            In fact I don't think it leads to beliefs rather than instincts and intuitions.

            Would your belief in logical absolutes be an instinct and intuition rather than a true belief?

            (I do agree that on the position you are proposing, the only thing one may be able to actually "know" is that they exist. Everything else you are left in the darkness of pure skepticism, unless you pull a Descartes!)

          • The question is, why do you hold that human intellect is oriented towards coming to true beliefs?

            My acceptance of logical absolutes is not an intuition or an instinct, it is a belief that I hold to be absolutely true.

          • Phil

            The question is, why do you hold that human intellect is oriented towards coming to true beliefs?

            An example should help. Someone believes:
            The human intellect/reason is not oriented towards coming to truth.

            What this person is actually saying is:
            I have used my human intellect/reason to come to the truth that it is not oriented towards coming to truth.

            Well this is just an absurd belief! In other words, one cannot coherently believe that it is not oriented towards coming to truth.

            ---
            The short answer then is; for you to say anything coherent at all is to implicitly believe that the human intellect/reason is oriented towards coming to truth. In other words, to hold the opposite belief is incoherent.

          • I am not sure I understand what you mean by "oriented" or "truth" for that matter.

            I do believe humans posess the ability to distinguish truth from falsehoods. I also believe humans have "hard-wired" biases that make it very difficult to make this distinction. I don't know if this means we are generally oriented towards truth or falsehoods.

            But again the question is not if, but why you believe intellect is oriented towards true beliefs.

          • Phil

            I am not sure I understand what you mean by "oriented" or "truth" for that matter.

            On Truth:

            Truth: the way reality actually is. Our intellect is said to have come to truth when it conforms itself to the way reality actually is.

            e.g., if you are actually sitting on a chair right now, that is a truth of reality. And I then say, "Brian is sitting on a chair". And I understand this to be true through the use of my senses and reason, my intellect has now come to a truth of reality.

            ----

            On orientation of intellect towards truth:

            When I say that you have used "right reason" or have "reasoned correctly", I have stated that as long as I am not mistaken about your use of right reason you have come to an actual truth of reality.

            In other words, it makes no sense to say that you have actually reasoned correctly and have come to a false belief using right reason (of course, assuming neither of us are mistaken about your use of right reason).

            In this way, we can say that reason and the human intellect is naturally ordered/oriented towards coming to true beliefs (i.e., truth) about reality.

          • I'm afraid I'm not interested in continuing this conversation if you will not answer the simple question of why you believe intellect is oriented towards truth.

            How do you know you have reasoned correctly? How do you determine what right reason is from non-right reason? And so on? Do you trust your senses and reason?

            I know what my position is, but you keep dodging this question.

            What I am getting at is that yes, one can trust reason, because the laws of logic are self-attesting. But we are limited in what premises we can apply logic and reason to. The information we get from our senses is known to be inconsistent and subject to mistake. Indeed, on another level we have no way to demonstrate that we are non in the matrix.

            These are limitations, all we can do is go what seems to be consistent. We look for patterns, we simply accept induction works, though it is not provable and so on.

            In this sense our confidence that our beliefs are true will always be contingent. We can only say that things seem true, to us, meaning they seem to be consistent with what we observe in the past.

          • Phil

            I will be honest with you, I just answered much your question in several previous comments. If what I wrote doesn't make sense to you, I apologize, but I can't help any further right now. I encourage you to read through the discussion Paul and I had, as that may help.

            In the end though, this discussion has gotten a bit absurd because to hold that the human person cannot come to truth is an absurd position. We must hold that the human person is capable of coming to truth (i.e., oriented towards truth). We must conclude that proper use of reason, i.e., proper use of induction and deduction, is capable of leading to actual truth. Paul's and my discussion focused on the fact that material evolution cannot support these premises, hence the incoherency of believing in evolution and materialism. I am thinking about writing up an article on this topic, so maybe that would help.

            Take care and have a Merry Christmas and God Bless!

          • Phil

            Hey Brian,

            I wanted to pass along that I started to read an interesting book by Thomas Nagel--"Mind and Cosmos". It has some direct application to our discussion so I wanted to pass along some of his quotes. But first an overview of the book (so far).

            ------

            Overview:

            Nagel is writing about the prominent issues with reductionistic materialism and its inability to account for mind. A great point of his is that mind has been "swept under the rug" to be eventually explained at a later date. The issue is that the fact we are able to do any sort of physical science is because of mind, therefore "mind" is not something that eventually has to be explained. Rather it should be one of the first things we look to explain. Because once we explain "mind" we will then understand how it is possible for the mind to understand the intelligibility of nature--and its ability to simply "do science" in the first place. (Ultimately, he holds that a materialistic metaphysical worldview will come to be held as prominently false, which is slowly becoming more popular in philosophical circles.) And he comes at this simply from a philosophical and scientific POV, as he is not very sympathetic to theism.

            I am only about a third of the way through and his focus of the book is not to propose an alternative, but simply to show that materialism is false beyond a reasonable doubt.
            He does not like theism for a handful of reasons, but interestingly enough, a theistic worldview based upon an Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics would solve the issues he throws out there with theism! A main issue he sees with theism is that it leads to a sort of "interventionist-God" proposition that seems to disrupt the natural order. But on an A-T account God does not intervene, God is always present at each moment, actually sustaining the natural order (Which is why "divine intervention" is always a tricky phrase to throw out, since to intervene hints at the fact that one wasn't present at some point.) It seems he has the issue of assuming that God can only be conceived as transcendent, yet mainstream theism most always proposes that God is both transcendent and immanent to creation.

            He throws out some ideas of what could replace materialism, but interestingly enough it doesn't appear that a hylomorphism, along the lines of the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical tradition, is on his radar! Many reject both the naturalistic explanation and the Cartesian theistic explanation of reality, but don't seem to realize that there is a middle ground to be found in A-T metaphysics!

            He says that he is staying away from any type of religious motivation in this book, so I always wonder if non-religion can influence a person's ability to genuinely address hylomorphism. (Or it could be the fact that he is not very familiar with it. After 2000 years of staying power, it makes me wonder how someone in the philosophical community could not be familiar with it!)
            Though I did take a class from one of the foremost Platonic/Socratic experts in the U.S. that didn't interpret Aristotle's metaphysics correctly...) Oh well, at least he makes his point well about the incoherency of materialism!

            ------

            Some relevant quotes on his issues with materialism/naturalism:

            -"Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself."

            -"Evolutionary naturalism implies that we shouldn't take any of our convictions seriously, including the scientific world picture on which evolutionary naturalism itself depends."

            -"...the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that though our cognitive capacities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have in using them directly--as we do in science."

            -"The existence of conscious minds and their access to the evident truths of mathematics [including logic] are among the data that a theory of the world and our place in it has yet to explain" (he is referencing only materialism and Cartesian theism here)

            -"In particular, it [evolutionary naturalism] does not explain why we are justified in relying on them to correct other cognitive dispositions that lead us astray, though they may by equally natural, and equally susceptible to evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary story leaves the authority of reason in a much weaker position."
            (Hence my own point about the susceptibility of reason itself.)

            -----

            Anyway, just some thoughts from Nagel which very much support what I was trying to propose. I'll be interested where he goes from here (though saddened he won't be proposing an alternative solution to materialism and his version of theism. Hope you have a happy new year!

        • Phil

          Exactly, so your belief in natural selection is just as likely to be false as it is to be true. You can't rationally hold that natural selection is true, because you may have simply evolved to believe that it is true.

          In fact, from your position this is true of everything. You can't rationally hold that anything is actually true, simply that natural selection has led you to think that it's true. (Including every past discussion you and I have had.)

          ---

          On the contrary, I hold that the human person actually has an intellect that transcends the mere physical which can come to know truth and isn't simply oriented towards survival (or at the whim of random mutations). This means I can actually coherently hold things to be true, such as evolution.

          That is the catch-22 with naturalism--you take away all your ground of actually being able to come to truth, including the truth of naturalism itself!

    • Phil

      Another simple way to state my position is--for your position to fly, you would ultimately have to show that survival and truth are actually the same thing. Because if there is any way that survival and truth are not the same thing, then we lose our complete ability to say that something we hold is actually true, and is not merely a belief that helps us survive.

      (And I'm not seeing anyway right now that a person could argue successfully that survival and truth are reducible to the same thing. In fact, I think we could find many examples to the opposite position--that survival and truth are two different things.)

      • Another simple way to state my position is--for your position to fly, you would ultimately have to show that survival and truth are actually the same thing.

        No, I don't. I just need to show that survivability correlates to reliable beliefs closely enough (Plantinga suggests 75%, but this seems arbitrary to me). And even if survivability does not correlate to reliable beliefs, this Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism doesn't work because it conflates metaphysical with epistemic probabilities. I can still trust that my beliefs are reliable, even if I also conclude that reliability was unlikely to result from evolution. Just like I can trust that life exists, even if life was unlikely to result from the Big Bang.

        • Phil

          I just need to show that survivability correlates to reliable beliefs closely enough

          The issue is you first have to conclude that the human person can come to reliable beliefs before you can even address if survivability is correlated to true beliefs. See the issue here? If you don't first hold that the human person can come to reliable beliefs, then anything you say after that is not reliable. (That is why this is a metaphysical issue, not epistemological.)

          We are staying on a metaphysical level first. We aren't even getting to the epistemological issue, as that comes later.

          • What you say here:

            The only way for a person to then save themself from committing
            intellectual suicide is to show that survivability is directly connected
            to true beliefs. Even holding a 99% correlation between the two can't save you, because
            you have no way to tell whether any belief falls in the 1% false or 99%
            true, unless of course you first hold that the human person has
            intellectual capacities oriented towards truth that aren't at the whim
            of evolution

            is an excellent example of a false belief. This demonstrates that some percentage of your beliefs are false (at least one out of the set of all of your beliefs). Yet you haven't committed intellectual suicide.

            Therefore, a 100% reliability for our beliefs is not necessary for intellectual integrity.

            Most people hold a certain fraction of false beliefs. People have all sorts of false beliefs: this stick is a snake, this person's name is Phil and not Paul, the integral of sin(x) = cos(x), the Earth goes around the sun once every 24 hours, Square B in this picture is a lighter shade than Square A.

            Beliefs don't exist in a vacuum. They are part of a network. If you have 99% true beliefs, you can probably use those interconnected beliefs to route out some of the last 1%. Regardless, you have good reason to trust any individual belief you have ("this is a rock", "this is a tree", etc.) as being true. Your beliefs are reliable, not perfect. Obviously not perfect.

          • Phil

            I think you are still stuck on the epistemological issue. We need to address the metaphysical question first.

            So your statement above, that my statement is a false belief has no ground to stand on, if you hold that the human person is merely a physical being whose intellectual abilities come from merely physical processes.

            ----

            Therefore, a 100% reliability for our beliefs is not necessary for intellectual integrity.

            You are exactly correct. But this is still epistemological issue, we need to discuss the metaphysical possibility of truth first.

          • We can't reason together about anything unless we can trust our ability to reason.

            If we can't do that, we can't talk about metaphysics or epistemology.

          • Phil

            We can't reason together about anything unless we can trust our ability to reason.

            Yes! This is a great way of boiling down what my main point has been.

            So if you hold that our ability to reason arose through mere impersonal physical processes of evolution, you can't have any reason to believe that it is actually directed towards coming to true beliefs. We just reason because that's what we do. Whether our reasoning makes any sense, we can't know. (It may come to true beliefs, it may not. But you aren't in a position right now to be able to say if it does or not.)

            My position is that the human person has a rational intellect that is actually oriented towards coming to truth and it is not at the whim of physical processes of evolution.

            To reiterate, holding both the truth of materialism and evolution is an incoherent belief.

            Does that help with the main point of our discussion any?

          • Phil

            My main point is: In other words, you have no way to tell whether evolution simply "wants" you to believe that your reason comes to truth, or whether it does actually come to truth.

            Maybe another way to make the point is:

            1) You seem to hold that our reasoning powers arose through impersonal physical processes of evolution.

            2) I hold that our intellectual powers of reasoning do not simply reduce to the mere physical, therefore they did not simply arise from impersonal physical processes.

            In (1), the person holding this can't say whether our reasoning powers evolved to be able to come to actual truth.

            In (2), this person can hold that our reasoning power are directed at truth, because they didn't evolve through impersonal physical processes.

          • But we can't even get to Step 1 of your argument, we can't talk about your argument or my responses to it, because we can't talk at all. We can't agree on common rules for conversation.

            Unless we can stipulate, as a default rule for discussion, that we can trust our reason, there's no point in my even engaging with your argument. Your argument (1)-(2) won't be convincing to me, because, for the purposes of our conversation, we can't trust our own reason.

            How do you suggest we proceed? Or are you happy ending the discussion here?

          • Phil

            for the purposes of our conversation, we can't trust our own reason

            Exactly, so on our proposed (1), we can't trust our reason and we can come to the truth of absolutely nothing (including the fact that we can't trust our reason!).

            I am trying to get at the fact that (1) leads to self-defeating arguments. That is what makes holding the truth of materialism and evolution incoherent.

            Hence, I have proposed a position that is not self-defeating and allows us to trust reason.

          • I am trying to get at the fact that (1) leads to self-defeating arguments.

            But to do that, you need to assume reason to begin. Then we apply our reason to the theory of evolution and how the ability to form reliable beliefs would correlate with survivability, and we find that we can trust the majority of our beliefs.

          • Phil

            Then we apply our reason to the theory of evolution and how the ability
            to form reliable beliefs would correlate with survivability, and we find
            that we can trust the majority of our beliefs.

            But on your view, our capability for reason arose out of natural selection, i.e., the theory of evolution, correct? So how do you show that your belief in the theory in evolution, and every other belief you hold is not simply to help you survive, not because it is actually true?

            But to do that, you need to assume reason to begin

            Exactly, hence my anthropology of the human person in regards to immaterial intellect/will, which posits as first principle that the human person is a rational animal.

            My favorite summary of my position so far from earlier is:
            You have no way to tell whether you have evolved to simply believe that your reason comes to truth, or whether it does actually come to truth.

          • So how do you show that your belief in the theory in evolution, and every other belief you hold is not simply to help you survive, but because it is actually true?

            Not all the beliefs I hold are true. I don't know which beliefs are false. If I did, I'd change them.

            You have no way to tell whether you have evolved to simply believe that your reason comes to truth, or whether it does actually come to truth.

            Except that we know that all adaptations interface with reality, they help organisms adapt to the real world. It is likely that, for organisms that have beliefs, their beliefs will connect to the real world. Those that are accurate will be more beneficial to survival in a changing environment than those that are not accurate.

            I have good reason to think that my beliefs are accurate. I also have good reason (without invoking natural processes, even) to think that not all my beliefs are true.

          • Phil

            I have good reason to think that my beliefs are accurate.

            But you have no reason to say that you have not evolved to believe this simply because it helps you survive, not because it is actually true. This is the catch-22 I'm trying to point out.

            Anything you say, I am able to repeat this. That is why this position is self-defeating and incoherent.

            Not all the beliefs I hold are true. I don't know which beliefs are false. If I did, I'd change them.

            The issue is that right now you in a corner. It isn't that you simply don't know which of your beliefs are false, but also which of them are even true. We have hit complete skepticism. It could be very possible that you believe everything you do simply because it has helped you survive, not because it is actually true.

            But the issue is that skepticism itself is self-defeating. By trying to claim that one can't know truth, one is trying to make a truth claim--it is an incoherent argument. I am proposing a position that saves man's ability to come to truth, but one then can't accept that the human intellect arose out of purely material processes.

          • But you have no reason to say that you have not evolved to believe this simply because it helps you survive, not because it is actually true. This is the catch-22 I'm trying to point out.

            I don't understand why this is a catch-22. If I have good reason to accept that a mindless process would favour reliable beliefs, then I have good reason to trust my beliefs, regardless of why I have them. The important thing is that I have good reason to think that most of them are accurate.

            A: If accurate beliefs help me survive, it turns out that 99% of my beliefs are true.
            B: If my beliefs were guided by some supreme intelligence to be reliable (but not infallible), it turns out that 99% of my beliefs are true.

            Either way, it turns out 99% of my beliefs are true. Why does scenario B help? What makes my beliefs more reliable under B than under A?

          • Phil

            I don't understand why this is a catch-22. If I have good reason to accept that a mindless process would favour reliable beliefs, then I have good reason to trust my beliefs, regardless of why I have them

            Because then the question is, what reasons do you have that make you believe that you think you have good reason to accept that "a mindless process favors reliable beliefs" simply because it has helped the human person survive, not because that belief is actually true?

            -------

            A: If accurate beliefs help me survive, it turns out that 99% of my beliefs are true.

            But if these beliefs simply arose out of a mindless physical process where the best equipped to survive normally survive, then all your beliefs can be false; and you simply believe them because they have helped you survive. (Of course including your belief that there is such a thing as "mindless physical process we call evolution")

            B: If my beliefs were guided by some supreme intelligence to be reliable (but not infallible), it turns out that 99% of my beliefs are true.

            On my view, the human person's views aren't "guided by a supreme intelligence", rather the human person has an intellect that transcends the mere physical processes of evolution. In other words, our ability of our intellect did not arise purely out of evolution. Therefore, we no longer have to doubt whether you or I believe anything simply because it has helped us survive.

            A leads to complete skepticism, B leads to the conclusion that we can come to actual truths about the world.

          • You seem to admit that in both cases, we have good reason to think that 99% of the beliefs are accurate (in case A, for the plant/disease argument I give; in case B because of some transcendent intellect). It seems that, in both cases, we should be skeptical about our beliefs: they tend to be true, but any of them could be wrong.

            I still don't understand why it matters how we came about our beliefs. It seems to me that what matters is that we can trust most of our beliefs (though none of them entirely or unquestioningly), however we happened to get them.

          • Phil

            You seem to admit that in both cases, we have good reason to think that 99% of the beliefs are accurate

            No, in (A), based upon your view, we have no reason to believe anything that we believe is true. (This is because the ultimate original of our beliefs is from an impersonal process not ultimately interested in truth. Unless of course one can successful argue that only people that hold true beliefs survive.)

            Only in (B), based upon views I'm proposing, do we have reason to believe that we can even come to true beliefs.
            ----

            Here's another summary statement:
            In (A), you have no way to show that every belief you hold is only because it helped you survive, not because it is actually true.

            If one holds that our intellectual abilities of reason arose merely from the physical processes of natural selection, then one has no reason to believe that anything they hold is because it is actually true (no matter how true it seems).

          • Let's build this step by step, because I seem to keep losing your argument (I don't see where the incoherence comes from).

            Step 1: Assume my reasoning generally works.

            Step 2: Ask where my ability to reason came from.

            Step 3: Posit purposeless naturalistic processes.

            Step 4: Estimate reliability of beliefs based on those processes.

            Find that reliability of beliefs is high. (based on the argument I gave)

            ...

            Step 5: Conclude that reason is incoherent based on prior steps.

            Could you explain in a bit more detail how you go from Step 4 to Step 5? Remember: We assume that my ability to reason works at the beginning, and conclude (you claim) that purposeless naturalistic processes should lead us to doubt our reason.

            I'd like to see either a response to my argument that naturalistic processes should lead us to believe that our reason is generally reliable, OR I'd like you to fill in what's missing between Steps 4 and 5.

            And to restate my argument, from your words:

            In (A), you have no way to show that every belief you hold is only because it helped you survive, not because it is actually true.

            I argue that accurate beliefs help considerably with survival (as per the plants/disease scenario). Since I have good reason to think that my cognitive abilities evolved for the sake of my survival, and I have good reason to think that accurate beliefs help considerably with survival, I have good reason to think that most of my beliefs are accurate. Not all, just most.

          • Phil

            Let me propose an amended 5 steps, and make sure you agree with them before I comment: (changes are in bolded italics)

            Step 1: Assume my reasoning generally works and reason is directed towards coming to true beliefs.

            Step 2: Ask where my ability to reason came from.

            Step 3: Posit purposeless naturalistic processes and this is not directed towards anything, since it is pureposeless.

            Step 4: Estimate reliability of beliefs based on those processes. (Find that reliability of beliefs is high. (based on the argument I gave))

            Step 5: Conclude that reason is incoherent based on prior steps.

            ----
            Do you approve? (PS-great decision to write this out step by step!)

          • I don't agree with step 1. I don't see what the addition gives us, and (more to the point) I don't think it is true. I don't think my faculties came about for the purpose of coming to true beliefs, and I certainly wouldn't want to begin by assuming that.

            I mostly agree step 3. The processes themselves are undirected, but the results of these processes may be.

          • Phil

            I don't agree with step 1. I don't see what the addition gives us, and (more to the point) I don't think it is true. I don't think my faculties came about for the purpose of coming to true beliefs, and I certainly wouldn't want to begin by assuming that.

            Well, then there is no reason to believe anything that you say! Since you say your intellect/reason is not trying to find truth. ;)

            What is the purpose of our intellect/reason then (or does it not have a purpose)?

          • I personally may be trying to find the truth, but I don't think that my faculties developed with that purpose in mind.

            I don't think that our intellect/reason has any purpose outside of what we give it.

          • Phil

            I don't think that our intellect/reason has any purpose outside of what we give it.

            The amusing thing is if we take the position that the intellect/reason is purposeless, the statement I quoted is also absurd. One can't even rationally hold that the intellect/reason is purposeless! The black hole of skepticism awaits!

            Thus the self-defeating nature of this position...and why it makes no sense to have a discussion if one doesn't even hold that the intellect/reason can come to true beliefs about reality. (One could say they want their "purposeless" intellect to come to true beliefs, but that doesn't make it true that it actually does or can.)

          • Phil

            I personally may be trying to find the truth, but I don't think that my faculties developed with that purpose in mind.

            Yes! This is actually the point I've been trying to make the whole time. You may be trying to find truth with an intellect/reason that can't even come to truth! This is the problem if you hold position (A).

          • Position (A) doesn't seem to have that problem to me. Since true beliefs are useful for survival, I would think my beliefs to be reliable, even though reliability wasn't the goal.

          • Phil

            Position (A) doesn't seem to have that problem to me. Since true beliefs are useful for survival.

            Sure, I'd agree that true beliefs are useful for survival, but you have no way to tell whether you simply believe something because it helps you survive, or because it is actually true (and maybe it also helps you survive).

            There is no direct connection between survival and true beliefs. One can believe something that has no connection to survival, while one can survive while not believing anything that is true. The question is still, what evidence do you have that what you believe is because it is actually true, and not simply because the human person has survived with these beliefs.

          • Why I personally believe something may have a great deal to do with survival or nothing at all. Why I personally believe something may have a great deal to do with whether it is true, or very little.

            If (as you seem to accept) I can accept that a good fraction of my beliefs are likely to be true (because true beliefs are useful for survival), then I can generally rely on their for my own personal ends. I should always be skeptical of them. Since the bulk of my beliefs are reliable, if I were personally to seek the truth, I could use my beliefs to test each other. I can even change the environment in controlled ways, make new beliefs based on my observations of that new environment, and compare those new beliefs to my old beliefs to find inconsistencies.

            It is true that this system will not provide me with much certainty.

            The question is still, what evidence do you have that what you believe is because it is actually true, and not simply because the human person has survived with these beliefs.

            My interest for this conversation is in whether my beliefs are reliable, given evolution and naturalism. I've argued why this would be the case: survival of organisms with beliefs seems to have a connection with those organisms having generally true beliefs.

            As far as I can tell, there's no objective purpose, no truth-orientation, to our development or physical existence. We do not exist in order to seek after the truth. That said, I think there may be a grand meaning in the fact that there are true beliefs at all; that anything is understandable. It is a wonder to me that the universe is in any way comprehensible. I am impressed in the reason that manifests itself in the structure of nature far more than I am in this evolved ape's ability to understand it.

          • Phil

            survival of organisms with beliefs seems to have a connection with those organisms having generally true beliefs.

            What evidence do you have that you hold this belief because it is actually true, and not merely because it has helped you survive?

            We do not exist in order to seek after the truth. I think there may be a grand meaning in the fact that there are true beliefs at all; that anything is understandable.

            You believe that things are understandable, but you don't believe that our intellect/reason is actually oriented towards coming to a true understanding of things? Sounds like an absurd position to me.

            From what I am actually gathering, it seems you actually do believe that the intellect/reason is oriented towards coming to truth/understanding reality.

            If (as you seem to accept) I can accept that a good fraction of my beliefs are likely to be true

            This may be our point of confusion, as I actually hold that you can have no clue how many of your beliefs are actually true--if any. All your beliefs could be true, all of them could be false, or anywhere in the middle. You have no way to tell. [This is with position (A)]

          • Phil

            To get more to the point, my problem with position (A) is that you can't know whether anything at all you believe is true. As I mentioned above, everything you believe could be true, false, or somewhere in-between.

            There is no way to separate what you believe because it is actually true, from what you believe because it has either helped you survive or the human person just evolved with this false belief. That is why I propose position (B) to solve this issue.

          • To get more to the point, my problem with position (A) is that you can't know whether anything at all you believe is true.

            I cannot know with certainty whether what I believe is true. But I have good reason to believe that a sizeable fraction of what I believe is true. I can understand why this will be a problem for some.

            Spinoza found any unreliability in beliefs to be a problem; he argued that, from purposeless causes, we can rely totally on our reason and beliefs because, he argues, there is no such thing as a false belief. I'm not bold enough to make Spinoza's radical claim, but I sympathise.

            If I believed as strongly as you did that my unresolvable uncertainty in my beliefs was a problem, I would probably accept something like what you or what Spinoza proposes.

          • Phil

            A significant fraction will be true. But you are right, I don't know for sure whether any of my beliefs is true. I'm uncertain about everything.

            It seems we are beginning to agree, as what I've been trying to hammer home is position (A) leads to complete skepticism. It's that you can have 0 confidence in anything you believe. You cannot even say that you have more confidence in this belief over that belief, or hold that it seems that about 75% of your beliefs are true. There is just as much likelihood that 0% of your beliefs are true as 75% or 100% of them are true.

            That is what happens when we combine materialism and evolution.

            -------

            But when we take position (B), we actually have reason to be confident in beliefs, to varying degrees. I have a 99.99% confidence I am sitting on a chair right now. That is what we would consider a true belief. On position (A), I could not even hold that it is a reasonable belief that I am sitting in a chair right now.

            I can't say anything about the truth value of that statement, since I can't figure out if I believe I'm sitting in a chair because it has helped me (or the human race) survive, or because it is actually a true belief.

            I hope this is beginning to get across how much of a radical and complete skepticism position (A) lead to!

          • It seems we are beginning to agree, as what I've been trying to hammer home is position (A) leads to complete skepticism. It's that you can have 0 confidence in anything you believe.

            Actually, I have high confidence in much of what I believe. Never 100% confidence.

            Now this:

            There is just as much likelihood that 0% of your beliefs are true as 75% or 100% of them are true.

            is obviously wrong. Even if my beliefs were completely random, among my binary beliefs ('this is true' vs. 'this is false'), it is highly unlikely that all of them are false. It would be more likely that 75% of them would be true than that 100% or 0% would be. If my beliefs were completely random, an external rational agent would say that about 50% of my binary beliefs are true.

            I've argued (and in the very numerous comments, you apparently haven't found the argument worth addressing), there's should be a correlation between reliable beliefs and survivability, so it's likely that a majority of my beliefs are true. Far more likely that the fraction of my true beliefs is much closer to 100% than 0%.

          • Phil

            I have actually addressed this on several occassions, but the ultimate answer is below.

            there should be a correlation between reliable beliefs and survivability

            How do you know that you don't believe this simply because it has helped the human person survive, and not because it is actually true?

            (This is the radical skepticism (A) leads to.)

          • I don't see how (A) leads to radical skepticism.

            What matters is whether the statement is true, not that I believe it because I was made to believe true things. I have good reason to think that, based on the way evolution works, my beliefs are mostly reliable. So I don't get to radical skepticism.

            You aren't being annoying. You aren't being convincing, either. I still fail to see this problem that you find so dire.

          • Phil

            Hmm, I'm trying to think of a new way to put the problem that position (A) faces. Your main point has been that because of how evolution works, you have good reason to believe that a good portion of your beliefs are true.
            The main point I am trying to make is you have no way to know if that very belief is actually true, or if you simply believe it because that is how the human person randomly evolved. In other words, its only possible that you believe that most of your beliefs are true because it has helped you survive.

            Let me just take this statement from your above comment:

            I have good reason to think that, based on the way evolution works, my beliefs are mostly reliable.

            We start with one assumption, position (A), which states that the human person's intellect arose completely from random aimless processes.

            You make 3 individual truth claims in the above statement:
            1) That you have good reason, or have "used good reasoning".
            2) That evolution works in a certain way.
            3) That your beliefs are mostly reliable.

            The problem is you can't know if any three of these beliefs are actually true.

            In response to the 3 claims:
            1a) You cannot know if you actually use good reason, or if you only think you use good reason because that is how the human person randomly evolved.

            2a) You cannot know if evolution actually works in a certain way, or if you only think it works in a certain way because that is how the human person randomly evolved.

            3a) You cannot know if your beliefs are mostly reliable or if you only think your beliefs are mostly reliable because that is how the human person randomly evolved.

          • Phil

            Maybe an example of a self-defeating statement/argument would help. Take for example the statement:

            "All truth is subjective."

            This statement seems innocent enough. Obviously the person holding it would need to defend it still. But when we look closer we realize, isn't this person trying to make an objective truth claim while at the same time stating that all truth is subjective??

            What the person is really saying is, "I objectively believe that all truth is subjective."

            As we can see right away, this is a self-defeating statement. In holding the belief that are already undermining their belief.

            This is the type of argument that position (A) falls into--ultimately self-defeating.

          • Here is why my position is not, as far as I can tell, self-defeating:

            1) I assume that my ability to reason generally works.
            2) I wonder where my ability to reason came from.
            3) I posit that my ability to reason evolved.
            4) I find that, if my ability to reason evolved, my ability to reason generally works.
            5) I conclude that my ability to reason generally works.

            If (4) was false, then maybe you would be able to show that my claim "my ability to reason evolved" defeats itself. But then you'd actually have to engage my argument for (4) and show where I'm wrong, instead of mindlessly parroting the same statements over and over.

          • Phil

            Hey Paul,

            After some reflection last night, I realized that I hadn't been as clear as I could have back when you first brought up this point (so I'm glad you brought it up again). I think some questions would help to clarify:

            1) I assume that my ability to reason generally works.

            What does it mean when you say that your "reason works"?

          • What does it mean when you say that your "reason works"?

            The way I come about beliefs is reliable. All else being equal, there is a high probability that the beliefs I form are true.

          • Phil

            Earlier you said that your reason is not actually oriented towards coming to actual true beliefs about the world. Would you still hold that to be the case?

            Because in the above comment, it sounds like you are saying that your intellect's reasoning ability is actually capable of coming to true beliefs about the world.

            All else being equal, there is a high probability that the beliefs I form are true.

            As a side note, what's the probability that this statement is actually true?

          • Earlier you said that your reason is not actually oriented towards coming to actual true beliefs about the world. Would you still hold that to be the case?

            We need to be careful here. My belief-engine is not oriented toward truth. The way I came about my brain, my thoughts and beliefs, is ultimately not truth-oriented. It just turns out that true beliefs help with survival, and so belief-engines that produce generally true beliefs (esp. those closely related to facts relevant to survival) would be naturally selected.

            Reason itself is a mystery to me. I wonder why anything makes sense at all.

            The way I use my reason is often (though not always) directed toward the truth. Sometimes it's directed toward finding my socks. Sometimes it's directed toward winning in an argument. The purpose of my reason is determined by me.

            Because in the above comment, it sounds like you are saying that your intellect's reasoning ability is actually capable of coming to true beliefs about the world.

            I think it is overall (although I can't claim this in a universal or unqualified way; I almost certainly have wrong beliefs).This is because beliefs are not atomic, they are interwoven and cannot be easily separated one from another, and natural selection tends to select for true beliefs. I can use the majority true beliefs to weed out some of the minority false beliefs.

            That's the idea, anyway.

            As a side note, what's the probability that this statement is actually true?

            I suspect it is high, but not 100%. If it is wrong, you should be able to show that it's wrong with argumentation, since we are assuming that our reason works in order to have a discussion. Of course, I could be misled in the majority or even in all my beliefs. I could be crazy, or a brain in a vat, or living in a world designed by a deceitful demon, etc. etc.

          • David Nickol

            What does it mean when you say that your "reason works"?

            Can you propose a test to determine if reason "works" or not? Do you suspect that it doesn't?

            It seems to me that if you suggest reason might not "work" if (non-theistic) evolution is true, you raise the possibility that humans are indeed the product of non-theistic evolution, and your own reason doesn't "work," possibly leading you to a false belief in theism.

            To approach it another way, what makes you suspect that your own reason "works"? You may have some internal flaw that prevents you from seeing the truth, and one of the problems that flaw causes is to prevent you from even detecting that flaw within yourself.

            There may be great tomes written about this, but if so, I haven't read them. But it seems to me this is a question much like "How do you know the sun will 'rise' tomorrow?" There is no way to prove the future will resemble the past in such things, but no one ever got anywhere betting on "the future will not resemble the past" as a general principle, and nobody ever got anywhere assuming human reason doesn't "work."

            There seems to me no reason to suspect that minds that arise through evolution can't arrive at some truth, and can't know with reasonable certainty what that truth is. But it seems quite clear to me that the human mind is not capable of knowing every truth. That is why we have philosophy—to argue about things we cannot know for sure. I think it was Steven Pinker who said that philosophy is the application of the same methods of problem solving used for problems that we can solve to problems that we can't.

            We do know that the human mind is, in many ways, designed to solve problems in a "quick and dirty" way. That is one reason why we experience optical illusions. In visual perception, the brain follows certain rules that work very quickly and work most of the time. That is why you see squares A and B as differing in shade in this drawing even when you know they are both the same. But human reason has figured out that this is an optical illusion, and has also figured out why such illusions exist. So it seems to me while there may be "roadblocks" in the way of arriving at truth through human reason, there are ways around a great many of them, and we can know many things that we can be certain are true.

          • David Nickol

            What does it mean when you say that your "reason works"?

            Can you propose a test to determine if reason "works" or not? Do you suspect that it doesn't?

            It seems to me that if you suggest reason might not "work" if (non-theistic) evolution is true, you raise the possibility that humans are indeed the product of non-theistic evolution, and your own reason doesn't "work," possibly leading you to a false belief in theism.

            To approach it another way, what makes you suspect that your own reason "works"? You may have some internal flaw that prevents you from seeing the truth, and one of the problems that flaw causes is to prevent you from even detecting that flaw within yourself.

            There may be great tomes written about this, but if so, I haven't read them. But it seems to me this is a question much like "How do you know the sun will 'rise' tomorrow?" There is no way to prove the future will resemble the past in such things, but no one ever got anywhere betting on "the future will not resemble the past" as a general principle, and nobody ever got anywhere assuming human reason doesn't "work."

            There seems to me no reason to suspect that minds that arise through evolution can't arrive at some truth, and can't know with reasonable certainty what that truth is. But it seems quite clear to me that the human mind is not capable of knowing every truth. That is why we have philosophy—to argue about things we cannot know for sure. I think it was Steven Pinker who said that philosophy is the application of the same methods of problem solving used for problems that we can solve to problems that we can't.

            We do know that the human mind is, in many ways, designed to solve problems in a "quick and dirty" way. That is one reason why we experience optical illusions. In visual perception, the brain follows certain rules that work very quickly and work most of the time. That is why you see squares A and B as differing in shade in this drawing even when you know they are both the same. But human reason has figured out that this is an optical illusion, and has also figured out why such illusions exist. So it seems to me while there may be "roadblocks" in the way of arriving at truth through human reason, there are ways around a great many of them, and we can know many things that we can be certain are true.

          • Phil

            Can you propose a test to determine if reason "works" or not?

            Sure; the easiest is to reduce the alternative position to absurdity, which then forces one to take the other position.

            The first thing to note is that when we say that "reason works", what we are truly saying is that reason is capable of coming to actual truth.

            -----

            So we have two positions:
            1) Reason is not capable of coming to truth (i.e., reason "doesn't work")
            2) Reason is capable of coming to truth (i.e., reason "works")

            We look at position (1), and we can see that the easiest way to reduce this position to an absurdity is that it is making a truth claim while at the same time denying that reason can come to truth. Well this is absurd.

            A rephrase of (1) would read: "I have come to the truth that reason is not capable of coming to truth."

            Well, this of obviously an absurd statement, therefore we can deny the truth of position (1), and state confidently that, Yes--reason is capable of coming to truth.

            (To answer your second question, I absolutely believe reason "works".)

          • Phil

            There seems to me no reason to suspect that minds that arise through evolution can't arrive at some truth, and can't know with reasonable certainty what that truth is.

            The key point is that you may believe this statement above to be true, not because it is actually true, but because that is how the human mind randomly evolved. In fact, we can say that about every single statement you say. That is the radical skepticism I've been pointing out to Paul.

            It seems to me that if you suggest reason might not "work" if (non-theistic) evolution is true, you raise the possibility that humans are indeed the product of non-theistic evolution, and your own reason doesn't "work," possibly leading you to a false belief in theism.

            Maybe a simple way of putting it is if humans are purely the product of materialistic evolution, then we have no reason to believe any of our beliefs are actually true (including the belief in materialistic evolution, hence Plantinga's argument).

            If I believe that humans, specifically the human mind, is not purely the product of materialistic evolution, then I can rationally believe that the human mind can come to truth that is not subject to the purposeless of evolution (plus I can actually believe that evolution is true, and I don't simply believe it to be true because that is how I evolved).

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The key point is that you may believe this statement above to be true, not because it is actually true, but because that is how the human mind randomly evolved. In fact, we can say that about every single statement you say. That is the radical skepticism I've been pointing out to Paul.

            There is no defeater for radical skepticism. It is a false dichotomy though to suggest that either we put trust in some being from premise B or reject that our reasoning works. Furthermore, one could object that our belief in B is not actually a true belief - it is just a survival belief.

          • Phil

            Furthermore, one could object that our belief in B is not actually a true belief - it is just a survival belief.

            Exactly, if we believe that position (A) is actually true. But if we hold that position (B) is the way that reality actually is, it explains our ability to come to true beliefs about reality.

            Our common real-life experience is that we can come to true beliefs about reality (in fact holding the opposite position is incoherent), and so we should have an explanation for this that can explain this fact as fully as possible.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm not sure how much what we believe to be true as bearing on what is actually true. Suppose in fact that A is actually true. We however, use reason and accept that B is true, but we would be mistaken, because B is actually nothing more than a survival belief. This is why I view your take on A as nothing more than universal skepticism in disguise.

            Luckily, we have reason to believe that A can lead to true beliefs. Furthermore, we should not think that A, in general, leads us to false beliefs. I think to properly question the ability of A to give us true beliefs, you would have to make some argument that it actually returns false beliefs.

          • Phil

            These two statements are at odds:

            1) I'm not sure how much what we believe to be true as bearing on what is actually true

            2) Luckily, we have reason to believe that [position] A can lead to true beliefs.

            In the first, you are getting at the fact that we really don't have any real way to tell if we believe something because it is actually true, or if we only believe it to be true because of random evolution.

            In the second, you then seem to imply we can actually know in a reasonable way that position (A) is true. But remember you can't state that position (A) is actually true, because you have absolutely no way to say that you don't simply believe it because that's how you evolved.

            One cannot hold that anything they say is actually true with position (A), that's how radical this skepticism is.

          • Phil

            One more question to add (I'll put both of them here for clarity's sake:

            Question 1: What do you mean when you say that your "reason works"?

            Question 2: When a person says that you have "reasoned well" or "used right reason" does this mean anything other than they believe you have used reason to come to some sort of actually true belief?

            In other words, can one actually and coherently use "right reason" and believe that they have not come to some sort of true belief?

          • my thoughts and understanding of the matter:

            A2: They formed a valid argument using premises which they believe are true and for which they have warrant.

            A2a: I think so.

          • Phil

            I will combine our two threads since we are at a natural point to do so. I'll list a quote from each and comment on them together:

            A2a: I think so [that one can actually coherently use "right reason" to come to an objectively false belief, and not simply be mistaken about their use of reason].

            My belief-engine is not oriented toward truth. The way I came about my brain, my thoughts and beliefs, is ultimately not truth-oriented

            It seems you hold that it is possible to use reason correctly (and not be mistaken about your correct use of reason) and come to an objectively false belief.

            Question 1: If you truly believe this to be the case, then even if you have objectively used right reason to determine that there is a reliable connection between survival and true beliefs (from your argument earlier), it is just as likely that right reason has led you to this objectively false belief. (Since right use of reason does not naturally lead to true beliefs.) Thoughts?

          • Question 3: If you truly believe this to be the case, then even if you have objectively used right reason to determine that there is a reliable connection between survival and true beliefs (from your argument earlier), it is just as likely that right reason has led you to this objectively false belief. (Since right use of reason does not naturally lead to true beliefs.) Thoughts?

            Two thoughts:

            (1) You may have read too much into my answer when you say:

            It seems you hold that it is possible to use reason correctly (and not be mistaken about your correct use of reason) and come to an objectively false belief.

            Because it is hard for me to imagine anyone disagreeing that it is possible to reason correctly (as I described) and come to an objectively false belief, and this doesn't seem to have any bizarre implications.

            To make sure we aren't talking past each other, let me give an example.

            People used to believe in abiogenesis, that if you leave, say, meat, alone long enough, maggots form out of the meat. This belief was based on warranted beliefs and valid arguments. It just turned out that further investigation revealed defeaters, new information that defeated one or more of the premises.

            (2) When you say:

            it is just as likely that right reason has led you to this objectively false belief.

            This suggests that there is a 50% chance that my reasoning has lead me to an objectively false belief. How do you know that it's 50%?

          • Phil

            Using good reason includes both proper induction and deduction. In your example it appears you are assuming that good reasoning only includes proper deduction (i.e., use of logic). If this is the case, then yes, you can come to a false belief with good logic, but bad induction. (Like your meat example.)

            But good reasoning must include both good induction and good deduction. If one has both of these, it only can lead to true beliefs.

            Your example that you put forward shows that people had not used 100% proper reasoning, because they did not use proper induction (this could partially have been because they didn't have the data/info to do so). This led to a false belief, even though they may have used proper deduction.

            Question 4: Can you propose an example where right induction and deduction led to an objectively false belief? (A true example of this would defeat my argument that reason and intellect is oriented towards truth.)

            ------

            This suggests that there is a 50% chance that my reasoning has lead me
            to an objectively false belief. How do you know that it's 50%?

            It doesn't point towards any specific percentage--it simply means that if use of right reason can lead to objectively false beliefs, then you have no way to know whether your belief in the connection between survival and true beliefs is true or false; even if you did you right reason to get that answer.

          • I don't know what you mean by proper induction. Do you mean that if you had infinite and perfect knowledge of everything, you would always reason perfectly? If so, my answer is yes, you would.

            It doesn't point towards any specific percentage--it simply means that if use of right reason can lead to objectively false beliefs, then you have no way to know whether your belief in the connection between survival and true beliefs is true or false; even if you did you right reason to get that answer.

            I can't know for certain, but I can know that most of my beliefs are probably true.

          • Phil

            Maybe a specific example would show the radical skepticism of position (A). I'll number the thoughts to make it more organized:

            1) We begin by assuming position (A) is a correct explanation of reality. There are two characters--an "omniscient narrator" and you, "Paul".

            2) You, Paul, are actually physically sitting in an actual chair. We know this because the omniscient narrator has told us so.

            3) We now shift to inside your mind--character "Paul".

            4) Your reason/intellect is not directed towards being able to come to actually true beliefs. [Per position (A)]

            5) Do you have any rational reason to believe you are actually sitting on a chair?

            6) On position (A), our analysis would be that; No, since your intellect/reason is not directed towards coming to actually true beliefs, there is no rational way for you to believe you are actually sitting in a chair.

            7) From the position of omniscient narrator, we have two options:
            a) We either conclude that Paul cannot rationally conclude that anything he believes is actually true or
            b) We conclude that position (A) is not a correct explanation of reality.

            ----

            Thoughts?

          • Are we assuming that Paul, me, the person we are talking to, is taking reason for granted as a starting point? If so, Paul has not seen anything that has caused him to doubt his reason, and the omniscient entity would conclude also that most of Paul's beliefs are true, so he should trust his beliefs.

            But let me put another related example to you. Maybe all of reality is made by a powerful demon who leads you to have only false beliefs. You believe (B), so the omniscient narrator knows (B) is false. The omniscient narrator would conclude both that you can't trust any of your beliefs and that (B) is not an accurate description of reality.

            Thoughts?

          • Phil

            The ultimate point is to show that on position (B) Paul cannot rationally believe that any of his beliefs are true (some of them may actually be true, but he can't rationally believe they are true).

            Are we assuming that Paul, me, the person we are talking to, is taking reason for granted as a starting point?

            That is point 4 above. In the end, reason doesn't matter anymore because you stated that using good reason can lead to true or false beliefs.

            If so, Paul has not seen anything that has caused him to doubt his
            reason, and the omniscient entity would conclude also that most of
            Paul's beliefs are true, so he should trust his beliefs.

            We are not talking about the omniscient position, we are talking about from "Paul's" position. Paul can have no knowledge as to whether he is actually sitting in a chair right now or not. (Only from the omniscient position can we know that Paul is actually sitting in a chair.)

            Again, we are led to radical skepticism where one can't even say that their belief that they are sitting in a chair is rational.

            But let me put another related example to you. Maybe all of reality is
            made by a powerful demon who leads you to have only false beliefs.

            Ignatius Reilly posed the "demon god" premise a few days ago, and in the end you can throw that premise into any argument and it ends all rational discussion. So the point is that that premise does nothing to help explain the fact that we actually do believe we can come to true beliefs about reality. This is the question we are trying to answer.

          • Ignatius Reilly posed the "demon god" premise a few days ago, and in the end you can throw that premise into any argument and it ends all rational discussion.

            I'm afraid that your tack seems little different to me. And as fun as the back-and-forth has been, I've done my best to show you why I can trust my beliefs, you remain unconvinced, and I think it is because you are continuing in a misunderstanding, either of your own argument or my position, I'm not sure which. But we don't seem to be getting anywhere. You repeat your position, I repeat mine. I don't think there's any point continuing.

            Thanks for the discussion.

          • Phil

            Anyway, it's time for me to duck out; it's been great chatting Paul! Thank you for the discussion. I'm thinking about writing up an article over the Christmas holidays on this very topic, so you have provided a lot of great content!

            ----
            As a concluding general final thought--we have this phenomenon that the human person can actually come to truth about reality in general. So our job is to come up with an explanation to explain this "truth" phenomenon.

            In the end, all ways to explain the appearance of truth from a materialistic POV will fail. This is because of the simple fact that truth is something that transcends the mere physical. Truth cannot be reduced to some kind of purely physical occurrence. The lynchpin is that to deny the human person's ability to come to truth is to try and make a truth claim, i.e., one can't hold that position without proposing an incoherent belief.

            So we are stuck with the human person's ability to come to truth via its intellect, and every attempt to account for this phenomenon via a purely physical explanation will fail. We are left to posit that the explanation for the human person's ability to come to truth cannot be reduced to a mere physical occurrence.

          • You're welcome. I hope you have a merry Christmas.

          • Phil

            Thank you, and a Merry Christmas to you as well!

          • Phil

            Hey Paul,

            I wanted to pass along that I started to read an interesting book by Thomas Nagel--"Mind and Cosmos". It has some direct application to our discussion so I wanted to pass along some of his quotes. But first an overview of the book (so far).

            ------

            Overview:

            Nagel is writing about the prominent issues with reductionistic materialism and its inability to account for mind. A great point of his is that mind has been "swept under the rug" to be eventually explained at a later date. The issue is that the fact we are able to do any sort of physical science is because of mind, therefore "mind" is not something that eventually has to be explained. Rather it should be one of the first things we look to explain. Because once we explain "mind" we will then understand how it is possible for the mind to understand the intelligibility of nature--and its ability to simply "do science" in the first place. (Ultimately, he holds that a materialistic metaphysical worldview will come to be held as prominently false, which is slowly becoming more popular in philosophical circles.) And he comes at this simply from a philosophical and scientific POV, as he is not very sympathetic to theism.

            I am only about a third of the way through and his focus of the book is not to propose an alternative, but simply to show that materialism is false beyond a reasonable doubt.
            He does not like theism for a handful of reasons, but interestingly enough, a theistic worldview based upon an Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics would solve the issues he throws out there with theism! A main issue he sees with theism is that it leads to a sort of "interventionist-God" proposition that seems to disrupt the natural order. But on an A-T account God does not intervene, God is always present at each moment, actually sustaining the natural order (Which is why "divine intervention" is always a tricky phrase to throw out, since to intervene hints at the fact that one wasn't present at some point.) It seems he has the issue of assuming that God can only be conceived as transcendent, yet mainstream always proposes that God is both transcendent and immanent to creation.

            He throws out some ideas of what could replace materialism, but interestingly enough it doesn't appear that a hylomorphism, along the lines of the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical tradition, is on his radar!

            He says that he is staying away from any type of religious motivation in this book, so I always wonder if non-religion can influence a person's ability to genuinely address hylomorphism. (Or it could be the fact that he is not very familiar with it. After 2000 years of staying power, it makes me wonder how someone in the philosophical community could not be familiar with it!
            Though I did take a class from one of the foremost Platonic/Socratic experts in the U.S. that didn't interpret Aristotle's metaphysics correctly...) Oh well, at least he makes his point well about the incoherency of materialism!

            ------

            Some relevant quotes on his issues with materialism/naturalism:

            -"Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself."

            -"Evolutionary naturalism implies that we shouldn't take any of our convictions seriously, including the scientific world picture on which evolutionary naturism itself depends."

            -"...the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that though our cognitive capacities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have in using them directly--as we do in science."

            -"In particular, it [evolutionary naturalism] does not explain why we are justified in relying on them to correct other cognitive dispositions that lead us astray, though they may by equally natural, and equally susceptible to evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary story leaves the authority of reason in a much weaker position."
            (Hence my own point about the susceptibility of reason itself.)

            -----

            Anyway, just some thoughts from Nagel which very much support what I was trying to propose. I'll be interested where he goes from here (though saddened he won't be proposing an alternative solution to materialism and his version of theism. Hope you have a happy new year!

          • Thank you for the link and the quotes. I enjoy Nagel's writing.

            I've not read this book by Nagel, but I have read some of what Nagel says about Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism. Nagel finds the argument convincing. The first premise of the argument Nagel finds convincing is:

            P(R/N&E) is low. (Plantinga, "Where the Conflict Really Lies", 2008, p. 317)

            Or, "the probability that our beliefs are reliable given naturalism & evolution is low". This is the premise I was arguing against during our exceedingly long and mostly enjoyable conversation. Nagel disagrees. Nagel thinks this premise is sound. To be fair, so does neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland, although she and Paul Churchland have different objections to the EAAN: they argue that the probability that our beliefs are reliable under evolution and naturalism is not uniform, but is a function of the kind of belief and way that we come about the belief.

            My argument (the one about the poison plants) is, as far as I know, unique to me. But it's similar to the refutation offered by Steve Law here: http://stephenlaw.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/plantingas-evolutionary-argument.html

            A final objection, there's another way around the EAAN that I've been toying with. It's a very radical idea, that all our beliefs are reliable because all beliefs have truth content. False beliefs are never entirely false: they are either built out of a combination of true beliefs, are are incomplete true beliefs. All complete beliefs are true. I don't accept this idea, myself, but I'm exploring it.

            And I'll end this post-Christmas post on EAAN with an interesting puzzle I've stumbled upon.

            Let's say I'm right, just imagine (as much as it may raise your hackles), that EAAN fails because Premise 1 is false, and that my objection demonstrates it to be false. This suggests that our beliefs, especially those that are closely connected to our evolutionary history, are fine-tuned by natural selection to be accurate, to be close approximations to the truth, and therefore to be generally reliable. I can trust my beliefs, especially my primal ones, the ones dealing with my sense experience, sense of self, etc. Some may be false, but they are a part of this network of beliefs, and can be winnowed away, and I, as part of the larger human society, can progress toward truth.

            If that's right, then consider the claim by some evolutionary psychologists, that our religious beliefs, our belief in God, is evolved. If so, then the mere fact that many people have this belief, coupled to my argument that beliefs connected closely to our evolutionary history may be especially trustworthy, is prima facia strong evidence that the belief is true, that God exists and desires from us some sort of worship, ritual or service. Evolutionary psychology, with this understanding, does not provide an argument against belief in God.

            The fact that belief in God evolved (if it did) is strong evidence in favour of that belief.

            I think that's an interesting puzzle, and one I don't have a good answer for.

          • Phil

            Paul, Hope all is well!

            Through some recent conversations, we came upon some formulations of the issue I was trying to point out with holding both evolution and materialism to be true:

            1) The human person is a completely physical being.

            2) Evolution is what describes the fact that some biological beings survive to reproduce and some do not survive to reproduce. The beings that survive to reproduce have a higher probability of having their traits continued to be passed down. And the more beings with the same trait give an even higher probability that that trait will be passed down.

            3) All a human person's beliefs can be reduced to the physical state of the entire human person including, but not limited to, the complex state of the nervous system and neuronal activity. (Because nothing but the physical person exists.)

            4) The entirely of the human person arose through evolution.

            5) Therefore, we could accurately conclude that persons in the past holding 'X' beliefs survived, and that is why we have 'X' beliefs at this point in history. Whether or not these beliefs are actually true is a completely separate issue.

            6) Let's substitute materialism and evolution for our "X" belief: Our belief that both materialism and evolution are true arises from the complex state of our nervous system and neuronal activity. The complex state of our nervous system and neuronal activity arose from the fact that our ancestors have survived to pass that on to us.

            7) Therefore, we can accurately conclude that materialism and evolution is a belief that either got passed down to us via our ancestors, or it is a genetic mutation that either will or will not be passed on. We cannot conclude that either materialism or evolution are actually objectively true beliefs.

            8) In fact, this applies to every single belief we hold. We cannot conclude that any of them are actually true. This leads to complete skepticism.

            9) Complete skepticism is a incoherent philosophical theory.

            Conclusion: Therefore, since holding both materialism and a materialistic evolution at the same time leads to an incoherent philosophical theory/belief, we ought to rationally reject the belief that both materialism and a materialistic evolution are true.

          • I risk starting two comment chains, since I wanted to bring up this point raised in Outshine the Sun by Andrew.

            Let's imagine that we are randomly assigned belief-producing engines. They produce our beliefs and each has a different reliability. Some produce only 30% true beliefs. Others 50%. Some virtually 100%.

            Maybe the vast majority, 99% of belief-producing engines, should produce <50% true beliefs. Can I try to determine whether I'm in the 99% or the 1%? It seems so, in this way. Beliefs aren't atomic. They don't appear in an unconnected way to other beliefs. Beliefs are interconnected, interwoven into other beliefs and sense experiences. Seeing a group of tigers, feeling the earth shake, smelling them, expecting them to possibly attack me, thinking that they see in a way similar to the way I see, noting they have warm coats, etc. etc. And I keep learning more, adding more to my web of knowledge.

            If my beliefs were <50% true, new beliefs would constantly conflict with the system of beliefs I had before, and I'd have to revise beliefs all the time. As it happens, maybe I only have to revise beliefs a handful of times. This gives me confidence that I have one of those rare belief-forming engines that yields near 100% true beliefs. It doesn't matter much how rare the engines are. That's the distinction between metaphysical probability and epistemic probability, in this case.

            But there's more. Moving back to the real world, I find that the network of beliefs that depend on survival ("is this a tiger?" "is this a street?" "is the sun out?" "am I hungry?" etc.) require almost no revision. Beliefs unrelated to survival ("does God exist?" "How do I solve this integral?" "Do electrons have extension?" "Does this set have a topology?") require constant revision. This is exactly what you would expect if our belief-forming engine were naturally selected, versus God-given.

            I think that my belief-forming engine didn't come about for the purpose of finding the truth or understanding the universe, but for the purpose of helping me survive.

          • Phil

            But the issue is again, you have no way to tell whether all you just wrote above you simply believe because it has helped the human person survive, not because it is actually true. Seriously, all of it.

            There is no way to even separate certain statements as being more likely to be true than others. Every statement is just as likely to be true as it is to be false, and you simply believe it because it has helped the human person survive.

            (I'm trying to be a little more direct in what I've been pointing out during this discussion, which is the reason for hopefully shorter answers.)

          • Don't forget Step 1. We start by assuming reason. That way I do have a way to tell that what I just wrote above is actually true. I'm just not 100% certain of it.

          • Phil

            We start by assuming reason

            The issue is we can't do this on position (A). Position (A) starts with the fact that the entire human person is a product of random evolutionary events, including its ability to reason. Assuming the human person's ability to come to truth through its use of reason puts our intellect over and above evolution.

            Position (B) states that the human person's capability for reason is not a direct product of evolution. We can properly assume the truth seeking capability of reason here.

            The question would then be, are your reasoning capabilities not susceptible to natural selection and evolution?

          • Phil

            As a side note, part of this might be challenging because self-defeating arguments are so obvious that they can slip right past us. We don't realize our most basic assumptions, so when we make a claim that is undermined by another of our basic assumptions, it can go by unnoticed.

            (e.g., assuming the truth seeking capabilities of reason, while holding a position on evolution that undermines this.)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You are basically hiding universal skepticism in a evolution+naturalism argument. One could argue that the god in hypothesis B is a deceiver god, who endowed us with a reasoning process that leads to faulty conclusions more often than not. I do not think premise B is immune to universal skepticism.

            What if we accept premise B, but our reason forces us to conclude that premise B is false? For instance, if the god in premise B is tri-omni, I would conclude that he cannot exist due to the problem of evil.

            I have a few objections to your view that naturalism+evolution makes it impossible for us to know anything.

            1) Traits that are good for survival are not the only thing that evolution gives us. Indeed, in many cases we have traits that are detrimental or agnostic to survival, but are passed on genetically because they are paired with traits that are good for survival. Finding truth could be a coincidental trait that is survival agnostic, but grew alone with our superior pattern recognition, which helps us survive. This is what I think is most likely. Often a trait can have a particular evolutionary advantage, but that trait can than serve another purpose.

            2) Knowing true things could be survival plus.

            3) Science seems to give us actual truths. We can observe, predict, and verify. It would seem to be a fact, based on the success of say physics that we can know at least some truths. That two objects fall at the same acceleration can be observed and repeated. I don't believe this is true because I evolved to believe it, I believe it to be true because I have observed it.

            4) Evolution has given us certain hindrances to discovering truth, which we recognize. Things such as confirmation bias, group conformity, and overzealous pattern seeking are all survival oriented. We can recognize some of the flaws that evolution imparts on our critical thinking and do our best to avoid falling into those traps. If we use premise B to justify our reasoning, why is there all or this evolutionary baggage attached to our reasoning? It would seem that the existence of the evolutionary baggage is evidence for our reasoning having evolutionary origins.

          • Phil

            Hey Ignatius,

            You are basically hiding universal skepticism in a evolution+naturalism argument. One could argue that the god in hypothesis B is a deceiver god, who endowed us with a reasoning process that leads to faulty conclusions more often than not.

            The short answer is that one can throw the ad hoc premise of a "deceiver god" into any argument and it does nothing to further our knowledge of reality. Also, to reduce ourself to a radical skepticism is an incoherent position to hold. So we should hold a position that does not reduce us into a radical skepticism.

            Paul and I haven't mentioned a god once, so it wouldn't be proper yet to throw that in right now. But between position (A), that leads to radical skepticism and position (B) which accounts for the human person's ability to come to truth--I'll take position (B) as the most coherent, consistent, and comprehensive of the two. And hence it would be the most rational to believe.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I have given reason to believe that A does not necessitate radical skepticism. Could you restate position B? I have been following the thread the past few days, and I thought that B involved a being of some kind. My apologies.

          • Phil

            Position (B): The human person is both a material and immaterial being. The materiality of the human person is subject to evolution. The immateriality of the human person is not subject to evolution, since evolution is a physical phenomenon.

            The intellect/reasoning capability is not purely a physical phenomenon, therefore it is not at the whim of evolution. Therefore the intellect can be capable of coming to actually true beliefs, apart from any connection survival or random evolution. In other words, we can believe something to actually be true, because it is true, and not because the human person simply evolved to believe it to be true.

            Ultimately, position (B) explains our experience of being able to come to true beliefs that aren't at the whim of random evolution. Position (A) leaves us in a state of complete skepticism.

            (PS-God bless ya for following along with this thread!)

          • Paul and Phil: Great back and forth! Would either or both of you be interested in expanding this into a guest post series?

    • Major914

      To make an 'evolutionary' argument is to have assumed naturalism.

      If we assume that supernaturalism is possible, rather than assuming naturalism is true/supernaturalism is impossible, we are more likely to conclude upon a greater likelihood that the physical/natural world is the dependent product of something entirely beyond nature.

      If supernaturalism is possible (or for the purposes of inquiry to be approached as possible), it is an error to view it as understandable by working backwards from and through its product, nature--that would merely be an imaginative and entirely unwarranted form of naturalism.

      If material reliability of beliefs were a conclusive truth test, there could be no truth. If truth were limited to materiality in any way, it could not be truth--but only factuality.

      If material nature is thoroughly self-determinative according to its own laws, rather than being a dependent product of laws which are unrelatable if attempting to consider from nature to supernature, then it is without truth, as temporary material survival as an end-in-itself can have no ultimate meaning or value, no truth value.

      What would cause a random material accident to consciously attempt continued survival under changing conditions? If nature/materiality is the beginning and end of itself, what could cause a biological entity (even if one could exist under the circumstances) to be inclined toward natural selection instead of natural de-selection?

  • Matt Fradd does an excellent job showing that Genesis does not contradict the idea of an old earth, although I wish he would have cited some Jewish thinkers as well, and I wish he would have left out his evolutionary argument against naturalism*.

    I'm wondering how Matt, or other theists here, answer other apparent conflicts between Genesis and Christian Theism in general and evolution. Namely:

    (1) Why would a good God bring about the diversity of life as we know it now using a method, evolution, that causes untold suffering and death of the span of millions upon millions of years, as well as the extinction of countless species? And all this before the fall?

    (2) Does Christianity require a literal Adam and Eve? If so, there is at least a superficial conflict between Christianity and Evolution, since it has been convincingly shown that the human population never fell under a few thousand members. Definitely not down to two.

    I'm interested in how readers here would answer these questions, especially Ye Olde Statistician, if you're around, with Question 2, since I know you've given that question in particular a great deal of thought.

    *The reason I wish Matt had avoided bringing up the Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism here is because the argument is quite sophisticated, and cannot be fairly represented in a single paragraph in an article about a completely different topic. The argument still deserves a reply, even in this form, and I replied to the argument in another comment.

    • Mike

      Were there any jewish thinkers back then who wrote on genesis? Serious question as the only one i've ever heard of was maimonides but he was in the middle ages? i think.

      • I was hoping he'd mention Rashi, a medieval Jewish Talmud scholar. I didn't know he was restricting himself to any particular time period, or why he would. Any time before the age of the earth was scientifically established would seem early enough.

        I don't know what, if anything, the Mishna or Talmud Bavli say about Genesis. That's where I'd look for earlier Jewish commentary.

        • Mike

          Thanks i've never heard of Rashi.

    • Mike

      One more thing: check out this fascinating essay for the adam and eve question you raise:

      http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

      • Thanks for this! I remember he'd written something, but couldn't find it. I think that a version of this article would be a good candidate for SN.

        • Mike

          Yes it's one of his best i think.

          As for why use a method involving so much suffering before the fall I don't know but i wonder if you eliminated suffering/pain what that would mean for humanity as what is the saying that unless one has suffered one can not know the human condition? To me it comes down to the problem of evil which is a very good reason not to believe God is all good;
          but one interesting take i heard was based on some research that apparently tried to show that animals don't have the same "consciousness" of pain that humans do; apparently they suffer but aren't aware that they are suffering and that that part of the brain is missing.

          • Krakerjak

            animals don't have the same "consciousness" of pain that humans do;
            apparently they suffer but aren't aware that they are suffering.

            That seems to kind of cold. I have owned pets that had to be put down, and believe me they were suffering. I have been at the bedside of loved ones that seemed to be "unconscious" because of medication....and it was obvious that they were still suffering.Consciousness is not the main factor involved in the fact that humans or animals are experiencing pain or suffering! You can't convince me that your understanding of "awareness" regards suffering has an validity in reality.

          • Mike

            I am not sure what "coldness" has to do with it. All i am saying is i heard that there is research coming out that appears to show that animals and humans do not experience physical suffering not to mention mental anguish in the same way bc of their brain structures; that animals lack some higher level processing "tool" that enables humans not only to feel pain but also to "know" or "realize" that you are indeed in pain. Animals just feel pain or do not but aren't "aware" of it in the same way that human beings are.

          • Krakerjak

            If I am only semi conscious and only partially aware that I am burning to death, do I still not suffer pain? Granted that if I am fully conscious I will suffer more intense pain. Your simplistic thinking really is "cold" and unsympathetic in the extreme...as I said..."in your desperate, pitifull, attempt to validate your belief system". I don't think that I want to talk about this anymore, especially to you.

          • Mike

            i think you're confusing things: i am saying that bc humans have a distinct ability to be self aware which animals do not they do not "experience" pain in the same way or on the same level - maybe like lambs to the slaughter the silence of the lambs they don't know where they're going bc they don't have that capacity that humans do. I am not saying that animals don't feel pain they do but NOT like humans, this research seems to be discovering.

            btw i am sorry i seem to be upsetting you; do you have personal experience with animal cruelty?

          • William Davis

            Krakerjak is overly dramatic. I wouldn't worry about it that much myself. There is some truth to what you say, but experience is inherently subjective. The only way to truly know what it is to be a dog, would be to become a dog, and that isn't possible. Personally I think in some sense dogs feel pain in the same way we do, but they do not fixate on it like we do. Dogs are naturally mindful, not lost in a representative world like we tend to be. If a human experiences pain, we tend to focus our entire mind on that pain, amplify it. The dog experiences the pain, but also experiences all of the properly functioning parts at the same time, so the total experience is close to neutral than that of humans. Humans have been shown to achieve similar pain reduction through mindfulness meditation. What I just said is likely more wrong than right, but it fits well into my mental model of the world.

      • Doug Shaver

        I don't know why it took me so long, I but I just now got around to reading it. Very enjoyable. I like his thinking. I don't agree with all of it, but I like it.

        • Mike

          He has a style that is hard not to like.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Does Christianity require a literal Adam and Eve? ... it has been convincingly shown that the human population never fell under a few thousand members. ... I'm interested in how readers here would answer these questions, especially Ye Olde Statistician, if you're around...

      To state that the human population never fell under a few thousand members is begging the question, since it assumes that there is already a human population.

      Now, suppose we assume sec. arg. that all changes in biological forms takes place by random mutation, and that one such mutation resulted in the capacity for rational thought. Which is more likely: that this mutation occurred in several thousand organisms more or less at the same time, or that it occurred in one organism first of all and spread?

      The latter being the case, the hunt by "the man" for someone else like himself now makes sense. The mutant is looking for another mutant, a "woman-with-words." (The naming of the animals establishes that he is a "man-with-words.")

      http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

      • I don't think rationality is a light-switch. But if it were, do you think that we must be directly related, all of humanity, to these two mutants? Because current evidence, if I understand it properly, suggests that the population of humans (or hominids, or whatever you want to call them) never bottlenecked down to two or near two.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          "Rationality" is ill-defined, and can often be seen when the only thing present is sensation, perception, imagination, and animal prudence. The specific claim regards the ability to abstract universal immaterial concepts from concrete particulars and to fear (as the Underground Grammarian put it) the snake-in-the-mind as well as the snake-in-the-flesh. An entity can either do this, even a tiny little bit, or it cannot do it at all. Naturally, if a being is capable of intellection, then that capability may be greater of less. But to have it at all is the marker between biological humans and metaphysical humans.

          But these discussions often fan out into "sentience," "cleverness," "problem-solving," and other such things.

          The size of the population of humans related only to the biological species, which we may think of as the "clay." Since biological humans emerged from some prior species, it is unlikely that there were ever only two. But genetics shows us that from a single mutant, a trait may spread through the larger population.

          • "Rationality" is ill-defined, and can often be seen when the only thing present is sensation, perception, imagination, and animal prudence. The specific claim regards the ability to abstract universal immaterial concepts from concrete particulars and to fear (as the Underground Grammarian put it) the snake-in-the-mind as well as the snake-in-the-flesh. An entity can either do this, even a tiny little bit, or it cannot do it at all. Naturally, if a being is capable of intellection, then that capability may be greater of less. But to have it at all is the marker between biological humans and metaphysical humans.

            Thank you for this clarification. I can see how this is much more of a sort of 'light switch' event. I wonder, could someone find the gene that turns this on and off? If the genetic information necessary for this fear is absent in some people, say from birth, does that mean that they are not metaphysical humans? Might this have certain ethical implications?

          • Mike

            Sorry to interject i think it's more about whether you "naturally" ought to have that capacity not whether bc of a head injury you don't have it or bc of some accident of birth you are left mentally disabled; i guess if we had our ancestors around to study they would be more animal than human but could look like us - or they would be like the monkeys in planet of apes, hairy but clearly human.

          • The speculation in itself is interesting. The ethical implications of this are terrifying to me.

          • Mike

            Yes i agree; Ai and Blade Runner come to mind; human slaves with intelligence but none of whatever it is that makes us metaphysical humans - the unter mensch!

          • David Nickol

            But (as I have argued elsewhere), it's my understanding that Catholic thought very definitely attributes the capacity for rational thought to a spiritual soul, not to the workings of the physical brain.

            It is an interesting question what the "division of labor" is between a human brain and a human soul. But it seems to me it is assumed that disembodied souls (the saints in heaven, for example) are capable of the same kind of "mental" activity as embodied souls. So exactly what is the brain for?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            So exactly what is the brain for?

            Nice teleological formulation there!

            The brains are necessary for sensory stimuli to be received, processed and organized into a phantasm. (Sensory signals reach the brain at different times, so there must be a "common sense" that relates this color to that taste and this smell, etc.) The brains also seem to be a seat for memory and imagination. And of course, some of the brains are given over to the autonomous nervous system.

          • David Nickol

            The brains also seem to be a seat for memory and imagination.

            So when you pray to a saint in heaven, you are praying to an entity without any memory or imagination? Is a disembodied soul in a state of total sensory deprivation?

          • [--
            So when you pray to a saint in heaven, you are praying to an entity without any memory or imagination?
            --]
            Heaven is part of the eternal state. From eternity, all events past, present and future are accessible. I don't think a creature in heaven would have any use for memory because time wont exist.

          • David Nickol

            I don't think a creature in heaven would have any use for memory because time is not part of the eternal state.

            Are you saying humans exist in time on earth and will exist in time (with glorified bodies) after the resurrection of the dead, but that they are somehow outside of time in heaven?

            How can a person on earth communicate with a saint in heaven, have the saint intercede, have a miracle occur because of the intercession, all without the saint having a memory or (apparently) existing as a temporal being. How can some souls spend more time in purgatory than others if disembodied souls do not exist in time?

            It would seem that the Church teaches souls do spend actual "time" in purgatory, since it teaches the faithful to pray for souls in purgatory and provides rituals to shorten (or end) a soul's time in purgatory.

          • [---
            It would seem that the Church teaches souls do spend actual "time" in purgatory

            ---]In rereading what I wrote, I believe that I only spoke of heaven. Purgatory is not the same as Heaven. But you already knew that. Eternity is referred to as a state because it is outside of time. Heaven is part of that eternal state. This is nothing new.

            I think science has provided more insight into what eternity reasonably means these days, although St Augustine was the first propose that time was part of the created order, as opposed to the heavenly.

          • David Nickol

            How could it be possible that a disembodied soul is "inside of time" in purgatory and "outside of time" in heaven? It seems to me a disembodied soul is a disembodied soul whether in heaven, hell, or purgatory. It also is the case that human beings (according to Thomas Aquinas) are not human beings unless they are body and soul together. And since the ultimate fate of humans is to have bodies again (glorified ones), it does not seem to me to make sense to imagine any part of human existence (even the part with soul separated from body) as being outside of time.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
          • David Nickol

            This confirms Aquinas believed in the idea that a soul could exist separated from a body. He does not claim to be certain about the nature of a disembodied soul, but he does clearly affirm that disembodied souls exist.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Right.

      • Bob

        אױ װײ

      • William Davis

        Nice, original theory. It is much more likely that language developed more slowly over a larger population in truth, but I like what you did here. Interpreting the Garden of Eden as a mythology meant to convey points about human nature (starting with the "first" humans to indicate we inherited our nature from them, the ancients understood aspects of behavior are heritable) specifically that it is in our nature to go after the forbidden fruit is better to me.
        To me, however, the story is either incompatible with God's omniscience or God preordained the fall. Think about it, if you just "made" two kids, and put them in a playground unsupervised and tell them there is one thing they can't touch...you know exactly what will happen. One can talk about free will all they want, but that doesn't change the fact you know what the kids will do. Free will is a bit of an illusion. We're free to do what we want, but we aren't free to want what we want. We can cultivate certain attributes over time, like patience, but we cannot be patient just by thinking we want to be patient. If you really think about it, the modern scientific mindset celebrates the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in its core. It's a great story, regardless of its objective truth.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          It is much more likely that language developed more slowly over a larger population

          In order for language to develop, there must already be language to be developed. But do not confuse language with sign usage. Many animals use signs of one sort or another. One cry may mean "leopard!" Another may mean "mackeral here!" No one needs a language to say "It is raining." The simple fact of getting wet is sufficient. Language is symbol-mongering, not sign-mongering. The essay "The Two Tribes" by the Underground Grammarian found in Less Than Words Can Say, is worthwhile in this regard:
          http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/less-than-words-can-say/02.htm

          As is an essay in The Message in the Bottle by Percy Walker,
          But what is a symbol? A symbol does not direct our attention to something else, as a sign does. It does not direct at all. It "means" something else. It somehow comes to contain within itself the thing it means. The word "ball" is a sign to my dog and a symbol to you. If I say "ball" to my dog, he will respond like a good Pavlovian organism and look under the sofa and fetch it. But if I say "ball" to you, you will simply look at me and, if you are patient, finally say, "What about it?" The dog responds to the word by looking for the thing: you conceive the ball through the word ball.
          --Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle, p.153

          Free will is a bit of an illusion.

          It's simply a reflection of the incompleteness of the intellect. You cannot want what you do not know, and if your knowing is incomplete, your wanting will be indeterminate to any one particular means. When something is known completely, like "2+2=4" in standard usage, the will cannot withhold consent. Nor do we freely will our hearts to beat or our membranes to pass oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. Yet lots of people today want to make "free will" out to be a contraption.

          the modern scientific mindset celebrates the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in its core.

          In the scientific "mindset," there is no "good" or "evil." They are not material bodies with measurable properties. What does "good" weigh? How many amperes does "evil" conduct?

          Not everything need be considered in relation to natural science, the core of which is the measurable properties of material bodies, and not good and evil.

          • William Davis

            "In the scientific "mindset," there is no "good" or "evil." They are not material bodies with measurable properties. What does "good" weigh? How many amperes does "evil" conduct?

            Not everything need be considered in relation to natural science, the core of which is the measurable properties of material bodies, and not good and evil."

            I agree. I think eating the fruit also represents human curiosity, I just didn't explain myself very well. Curiosity is likely what drove them to eat it. Gen 3:4 "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. " The scientific mindset is all about curiosity, though a specific kind of curiosity. I realize the story is more complex than that, but I don't think my interpretation is unwarranted.

            As for the other items, I'll look into them. I've never looked into theories of the origins of language very well. So much to learn, so little time :)

      • David Nickol

        Now, suppose we assume sec. arg. that all changes in biological forms takes place by random mutation, and that one such mutation resulted in the capacity for rational thought.

        This seems to me to be an attempt to come up with a "naturalistic" explanation for "monogenism" (as Pius XII interpreted it) while ignoring what Christianity would certainly consider the absolute core message of the story of Adam and Eve, which would be that God directly created the human race.

        I do not see how it makes sense, in the Catholic understanding of human capabilities, to posit a "mutation" that resulted in the capacity for rational thought. As I understand the Catholic viewpoint, rational thought is only possible because human individuals have immaterial, spiritual souls infused directly by God. The Catholic view is that there is a discontinuity in going from pre-humans to humans, because to be a human person requires the infusion of a soul "immediately" by God.

        So according to the Catholic understanding, true humans did not and could not arise when some specific mutation took place. I suppose one might imagine some specific mutation was necessary for a pre-human to be "compatible" with a spiritual soul, but it seems to me Catholic thought is quite clear that humans are composites of spirit and matter. That indicates to me that (according to Catholic thought, and perhaps the thought of anyone who is not a materialist) something distinctly supernatural was necessary to bring the human race into existence.

        It seems to me that once you claim a direct intervention by God—a miracle, in other words—was necessary to bring the human race into existence, any attempt to give a scientific account of the same event is pointless. Science can't explain the infusion of an immortal soul. Presumably when God works a miracle, he can do anything he wants to do. If he wanted to cause a "mutation" in 10,000 pre-humans and infuse souls into them to make them true humans, he could have done so. If he wanted to infuse souls in one man and woman and have them be "our first parents," he could have done so.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          I do not see how it makes sense, in the Catholic understanding of human
          capabilities, to posit a "mutation" that resulted in the capacity for
          rational thought.

          In primitive times, one presents things in terms that can be grasped by the reader.

          As I understand the Catholic viewpoint, rational
          thought is only possible because human individuals have immaterial,
          spiritual souls infused directly by God.

          True, insofar as it goes, but not if you think of the soul as some separate substance that somehow occupies the same space as the body. The human being is a synole composed of body and soul, but not in the way of an assembly of two components. It is more analogous to the composite of rubber and sphericity that makes up a basketball. The human being is a single substance and, as Aquinas pointed out, the state of the body will affect the soul and the soul will affect the body.

          So there is no contradiction between the human being's body providing a capacity (or "potential") for intellection which may very well be genetically-based and possessing an intellective "annex" to its intelligible form. Since evolution does not (and cannot) handle non-biological things, it is only in a metaphorical sense that we can say intellection "evolved."

          • David Nickol

            The human being is a single substance and, as Aquinas pointed out, the state of the body will affect the soul and the soul will affect the body.

            Yet Aquinas clearly maintained that a soul could exist apart from the body. We have discussed here before the fact that Aquinas said that Abraham's soul was not, strictly speaking, Abraham, since the human person known as Abraham must be (as would be the case with any human person) a body-and-soul composite. But Aquinas clearly discusses the existence of human souls existing apart from physical bodies

            It is (is it not?), firmly established in Catholic thought that the soul separates from the body and (for those who are saved) waits in heaven for the resurrection of the dead. We are assured that we can pray to, say, St. Francis of Assisi, and that he will be aware of our prayers and will be capable of interceding with God on our behalf. And in Catholic thought St. Francis's soul is clearly capable of acting as the St. Francis who was and will someday again be a composite of body and soul.

            When the Catholic Church is in the process of investigating a dead person for the purpose of possibly canonizing him or her, almost invariably the evidence for canonization is an action on the part of the deceased—an intercession by the candidate with God to effect a miraculous cure of some kind for a living person. If the deceased person—the intercessor—who intercedes to secure a miracle is not the very same person who lived a life on earth that makes the intercessor a candidate for sainthood, who is it?

      • There is nothing in the theory of evolution that requires something like rational thought to develop simultaneously. Indeed, though some traits do evolve at the same time in difference locations, generally it is thought to occur in one individual and then spread to a population and so on.

        Indeed we have evidence that various humans species evolved from a common ancestor over the recent million years. Erectus, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens all had "rational thought", Neanderthals interbred with humans. None of the other hominid species survived, possibly due to the incredibly large advantage that the ability of abstract thought provides. But we don't know.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Erectus, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens all had "rational thought"

          Doubtful. "Rational thoughts" do not fossilize, so it's not clear what the scientific evidence is for such an extraordinary claim. Most of what we know of the other species can be accounted for by imagination without intellection. Note, e.g., that for over hundreds of millennia the Neanderthal toolkit hardly changed at all, and then only in response to local materials.

          Neanderthals interbred with humans.

          This has been going back and forth for a long time. The question is not settled. But note an earlier discussion regarding metaphysical humans vis a vis biological humans.

          • Rational thought does not fossilize but tools and use of fire does.

            In any event do you concede the main point? There is nothing in evolution or rationality that requires simultaneous mutation or that our moder cob initiate capacities occurred by way of a single mutation?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Rational thought does not fossilize but tools and use of fire does.

            What have tool usage and fire got to do with the ability to abstract universals from concrete particulars? Both can be adequately explained by imagination rather than intellect. Lots of animals use tools. I know of none that used fire, but it is not inconceivable that one may do so. That is, sensation followed by imagination and memory are sufficient to perform remarkable feats. But they are physical, not intellectual, feats.

          • Not just using tools, but making tools. This requires the ability to abstract things like purpose, problem solving, thinking about the future

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            making tools... requires the ability to abstract things like purpose, problem solving, thinking about the future

            Anything animals can be trained to do they could in principle be "trained" to do by natural circumstances. It's like "natural selection." That requires imagination and memory. That's how "problem solving" proceeds in pre-intellective beings. Learning does not require intellect, merely an ability to associate behavior with a reward. A tool may have a purpose without the animal being aware of that purpose. A bird gathers twigs in order to build a nest, but that does not mean that the bird conceives of the idea "nest" or "build" or "tomorrow."

            We find this hard to imagine because all of our imagining is filtered in the light of intellect and we tend to "think about" even our instinctual actions.

            It's basically the difference between the top portion of this:
            http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/WAW0019.GIF
            versus this:
            http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/WAW0010.GIF

          • Well, I do not know what is going on in a bird's brain. To me the ability to predict the future, solve problems, build tools are evidence of a kind of rationality.

            The question you raised seemed to be whether it was likely that the adaptation or adaptations required to give rise to the modern human brain could have happened in numerous hominids at once. Yes, but extremely unlikely. However this is not a requirement of evolution or Catholic theism.

            Genesis obviously suggests that there were no humans or similar hominids, then God created them out of dust and berthed life into them.

            Evolution predicts that modern humans evolved from a hominid species. You can interpret Genesis to fit within evolution, meaning it omitted the millions of years of hominid pre-intellect existence. But you cannot interpret evolution to mean humans were created ab initio from dust about 6000 years ago.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            To me the ability to predict the future, solve problems, build tools are evidence of a kind of rationality.

            That's because we cannot help but view it through the lens of our own reason. But Aristotle and the Greeks were not talking about "rationality" in the modern colloquial sense. They were talking about the capacity to abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars. Suppose the sky grows dark in the middle of the day, and certain animal species seek shelter. Are they genuinely "predicting" the future? [A storm is coming!] Or are they simply the descendents of those animals who took shelter when the sky grew dark, and so better survived the storm that did often follow? If natural selection can produce the appearance of design, surely it can produce the appearance of prediction.

            Likewise, problem-solving of certain kinds of problems require only sensation, imagination, and memory, not the abstraction of universals. There is some useful discussion here:
            http://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/what-really-are-uniquely-human-traits/

            Or as the Underground Grammarian wrote:

            When a zebra out on the edge of the herd sniffs a lion in the tall grass, he does not say to himself in any fashion, "I had better tell the others." (Nor would you, for that matter.) He simply does what is appropriate for a successful zebra to do under those circumstances. His startled neighbors, startled by what he does whether they sniff lion or not, do likewise. That's part of how they got to be grown-up zebras in the first place. The zebras who are slow to startle have a way of dropping out of the herd early in life. In a moment, the whole herd is in flight, but it cannot be properly said that a zebra has sent a message. It would be more accurate to say that the zebras have caught something from one another.
            -- "The Two Tribes," from Less Than Words Can Say

            ....

            Genesis obviously suggests that there were no humans or similar hominids, then God created them out of dust and berthed life into them.

            Where does it "suggest" this?
            In fact, when "Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch," there is a clear implication that there was at least one other biological human; viz., Cain's wife. Enoch also evidently has a wife.
            "Created adam out of dust" and "breathed life into him" is also a clear reference to human beings being a hylomorphic unions of matter (red clay="adam") and soul (anima="life", breathed into). That it may have been taken as a narration of historical events was reasonable for so long as there was no evidence to the contrary. Since it was not a matter of faith and morals, there was no doctrinal objection to dropping it.

            You can interpret Genesis to fit within evolution, meaning it omitted the millions of years of hominid pre-intellect existence.

            I have a book about the US Civil War that omits several centuries of European exploration and colonization. You cannot criticize a book for omitting somethnig that it was not written to deal with.

            But you cannot interpret evolution to mean humans were created ab initio from dust about 6000 years ago.

            Of course not. That's why "do it yourself" religions that try to pull literal stuff out of the Bible usually end up in trouble.
            On another board, a fellow named Crude wrote:

            Of course some people thought that, say.. the world was only 6000 years old. Many people did, and do. They’re wrong. Now, the idea of a 6000 year old earth being absolutely essential to the faith? Certainly among Catholics that’s been far, far less of an issue, even throughout those hundreds or thousands of years. What does it matter to our beliefs about God or Christ or sin? Very little, it turns out.

            Of course, human civilization really does go back to about 10,000 BC.

          • I think the authors of Genesis if they knew that modern biological humans have existed for hundreds of thousands of years before they were ensouled, would have phrased things differently. But that is just my interpretation.

            Did the Catholic see it your way before say, 1600?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Well, St. Jerome pointed out that the earlier parts of Genesis had the form of a fable. St. Augustine stated that the figurative sense was the default. Regarding Adam and Eve, the Council of Trent held only that the belief that all men were descended from Adam was dogmatic. (Interestingly, they did not insist on Eve.)

  • Good article. It well addresses how exegesis works and how layered explanations work.

    The part, excerpted below, makes a separate argument though. You may wish to flesh it out in a separate article. As structured, presently, it fails for reasons others have already pointed out.

    >>>>>Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing the truth. Why? Because our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival. But if that were the case then why should we trust the idea that we are the product of purely random factors? The mental processes leading to this conclusion would not be aimed at producing true beliefs.

    Charles Darwin seems to have understood this when he wrote:

    “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

    This worry disappears if God was guiding whatever process led to us and if he shaped the development of the human mind so that it was aimed at knowing him, and thus knowing the truth.<<<<<

    • Zachary Heil

      The problem with making a coherent argument in that regard is that the writer is starting with a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of how the evolutionary process works (the opening statement of the article makes that abundantly clear). The if/then is baseless. Natural selection itself is not random--mutations and environmental changes are. Also, "…random evolutionary process which is aimed…." How can something random have intent? The writer is self-contradicting without realizing it (I believe, because they favor the premise that a deity is directing the evolutionary process, and thus they're projecting that intention where none is needed in the natural explanation). Provided of course that he's not using the terms random and aimed loosely.

      It's especially worth noting that evolutionary changes, be they random mutations or how a particular population is naturally selected, don't necessarily have to have survivability traits. In fact, many times a population will acquire traits that add nothing or remain neutral to their survivability. Sometimes populations will keep traits once but no longer needed for survival, sometimes their neutral traits eventually become useful for their niche or because environmental impact encourages it.

      We have reason to doubt our mental faculties regardless of his argument for or against an natural explanation. All we can really do is settle on agreements, probabilities, collective deductions and so on. The only free ride we get in terms of absolute certainty is in mathematics. In the long run, everything is questionable, but that doesn't mean we can't find cohesion and reasonable compulsion to believe something is accurately being perceived. We all perceive color differently, some uncommon and rare people are severely debilitated and disabled in this regard, and an even rarer few can see a spectrum multiple times over what the average population can. We can construct color-blind tests to diagnose, and help people see and understand what would normally just be indistinguishable imagery. We don't just doubt our mental faculty in that regard out of hand, because we do have measurable outcomes. There is a compromise we make with our subjective reality that we understand (to whatever cross-checked degree), and with our objective reality that we understand in limited scope. That compromise is apparent regardless of the subject at hand, the only way it wouldn't be is if we were omniscient beings.

  • The link below is a pdf file: The enigma of Evolution, Suffering and Redemption according to John F. Haught

    http://repositorio.ucp.pt/bitstream/10400.14/14961/1/The%2520enigma%2520of%2520Evolution,%2520Suffering%2520and%2520Redemption%2520according%2520to%2520John%2520F.%2520Haught.pdf

    For theologians like Jack Haught, the human experience of suffering and evil results - not so much from some "ontological rupture" rooted in the past, but - moreso from a "teleological striving" oriented toward the future. Atonement doesn't ensue in the wake of some "Fall," but proceeds as an eschatological at-One-ment.

    Beyond any logical problem of evil (there is none other than gets voiced in bad philosophy) or evidential problem (there is none other than gets voiced in bad science), the author of the article addresses our existential problem with evil, how we cope with it, pastorally. And he summarizes Haught's evolutionary theology, which is neither a natural theology or philosophical theology nor an evidential argument (e.g. design inferences or anthropic principles) but a theology of nature, which starts within the faith and employs what we know about evolution to deepen our understanding of God, as gifted in special divine revelation. In other words, Haught's work resembles that of the psalmist.

    In other works Haught does advance philosophical arguments over against the caricatures engaged by the New Atheists.

  • John_QPublic

    I do not understand why Catholics are so quick to jump on the evolutionary band wagon, twisting Scriptures and faith to fit a fleeting moment in science. This paper by Robert Sungenis responds to a lot of points the author makes:

    http://www.faithfulanswers.com/the-case-against-theistic-evolution/

    • Mike

      What difference does it make how we got here: either we popped into existence at some point fully made in our present state or we didn't and had to change and morph and be built up - either way says nothing about whethe some divine supernatural intelligence had a hand - iow how a ford is made whether piece by piece or tele ported it still had to be designed.

      • John_QPublic

        It makes a difference because claiming evolution is consistent with Scripture demolishes Scripture and the authority of the Church. Scientific theories come and go. It is unwise to throw out Scriptures and the Church for the latest chapter in a speculative theory.

        • Mike

          oh with that i agree 100% but the church has NOT pronounced on evolution theory ever and probably never will; all it said is that it appears compatible with the faith that's it. btw excellent point about it just being a theory but the HOW it actually works how genes work and DNA etc that is still unknown and may show that there is actually a "direction" or telos to what appears to be a totally random process.

          • John_QPublic

            Did you read the paper I linked? Scriptures certainly do not get into biology, but they do talk about the origins.

          • Mike

            Sorry i don't follow you.

          • William Davis

            You are correct, the theory of evolution is very large, and constantly evolving in light of studies of the gene. John acting like it is some fleeting theory is huge mistake, however. Evidence for the premise of evolution via natural selection grows stronger every day, but exactly how it works, is still a huge of a mystery.

          • Mike

            Exactly; like the cambrian explosion may have had more to do with some coincidence in genes and dna than any environmental factors which exerted outside pressure; like did polar bears evolve white fur bc of the environment or did white polar bears move to where they would be less visible after they developed white fur; plus apparently what we think of as random is not random in the true statistical sense, so it's looking more like mutation is not just random mutation but may be driving at some state of equilibrium or whatever.

        • William Davis

          The evidence for the theory of evolution has grown stronger over time, especially with modern genetics. It's explanatory power is tremendous, and it correctly predicted that all life is built on the same unit (the gene) and that we would be closest relatives to the apes (98% of our dna is the same as a chimpanzee). Those were powerful and accurate predictions. Have you seen the "miracles" they are working using evolution. They are "evolving" microbes through artificial selection processes to produce enzymes that doe things such as directly convert cellulose into diesel fuel. In introspection, I recall as a child seeing all of the things man can do with science. Heal the sick, improve quality of life, create artificial worlds in computers. I always heard about the "miracles" of Jesus, but wondered, why did he stop doing miracles. Why have there been no genuine miracles for 2000 years? Comparing miracles was the way the Jews showed their God was better than the gods of the Egyptians, so why shouldn't that stand today. The problem is that science is cold, and gives no theories of meaning, only theories of reality. We humans need theories of meaning as much, if not more than theories of reality. I therefore applaud attempts to merge more accurate theories of reality given by science with theories of meaning given by religion.

        • Doug Shaver

          It makes a difference because claiming evolution is consistent with Scripture demolishes Scripture and the authority of the Church.

          More than one pope, speaking on the church's behalf, has affirmed their consistency. If I were a Catholic, I would perceive you as the one trying to demolish the authority of the church. Your argument, it seems to me, contains at least a hint of sola scriptura.

          • John_QPublic

            No pope has confirmed the consistency of evolutionary theory and Scriptures in any authoritative manner ever or at all as far as I have ever seen. Popes have said that there is no conflict between science and faith, and I agree with that. That does not mean that science that is wrong or unsubstantiated is consistent.

          • Doug Shaver

            No pope has confirmed the consistency of evolutionary theory and Scriptures in any authoritative manner ever or at all as far as I have ever seen.

            Either you haven't seen the statements I have seen, or else you are interpreting them idiosyncratically. I take them at face value, and at face value, they affirm consistency.

            That does not mean that science that is wrong or unsubstantiated is consistent.

            The claim that evolutionary science is either wrong or unsubstantiated is a favorite dogma of evangelical Protestants. Is that the ideological company you want to keep?

    • I wonder if John_QPublic is your real name? It must be horror when you get ID'd.

      Beautiful picture of SNR 0509-67.5.

    • William Davis

      You seem to be taken with Robert Sungenis (I was interested in the comments of a person who would be so concerned with the "authority" of the church). Here is an excellent catholic criticism of the movie Principle which you speak of. The author of the criticism actually understands physics.

      http://truthandcharity.net/protecting-faith-from-pseudoscience-a-review-of-the-principle/

      The idea that the catholic church would sponsor such a thing saddens me. Adding to misinformation and confusion helps no one, and in know way helps Catholicism. Has the church really not gotten over Copernicus yet?

      • John_QPublic

        I have read the article. She tries ot use Newtonian mechanics to disprove a cosmological theory that Newtonian mechanics is really not in a position to do, and which general relativity has no issue with (general relativity is the basis of most modern cosmology).

        Who is asking the Catholic Church to sponsor what?

        • William Davis

          I originally wanted to be a theoretical physicist, but ended up being an engineer. I only mention that to indicate that I am deeply familiar with physics. Newtonian mechanics and general relativity only differ slightly when determining orbits. Unless you need very precise calculation, there is now need to use relativistic equations. She does not say she is using Newtonian mechanics when discussing the orbits, besides, relativity puts you in the same place within a small margin of error.
          We know from observation that all the planets rotate around the sun, the sun rotates around the galaxy. There is nothing in GR that would contradict the conception of orbits. Is there a good explanation of what the documentary is trying to get across. The website is a sales pitch, and has no meat.

          • John_QPublic

            For what it is worth, I considered becoming a physicist, but chose engineering also.

            General relativity allows you to choose any reference frame, and locally it will act as though special relativity holds.

          • William Davis

            Sure. So in the film they are not trying to demonstrate traditional geocentrism (that all celestial bodies orbit the earth) but having the earth at the center of an inertial reference frame is a type of geocentrism? That's true.

      • Atheistic evolution makes no sense.

        But guided by Providence, evolution makes perfect sense.

        • William Davis

          "Making sense" has much more to do with the mind that perceives something, than that thing itself. We therefore have to be careful of applying common sense to anything outside the realm of normal experience. Evolutionary theory seems to be able to stand on its own, but the whole thing could have been designed by some greater intelligence. As for providence, I remain skeptical. I'm an engineer by trade, so I design things (software specifically) for a living. If we have to constantly meddle with our creations, it is a sign we failed to make them properly in the beginning. A well made creation does what it is supposed to do on it is own if it is designed well. I'm sure you see the problem this creates when applying it to God and the universe. The inherent problem is that an engineer has a different idea of what "makes sense" than say a theologian.

          • William Davis De Maria • 8 hours ago

            "Making sense" has much more to do with the mind that perceives something, than that thing itself.

            The human mind perceiving something and making sense of it can not be explained by evolution or by any number of random occurrences.

            We therefore have to be careful of applying common sense to anything outside the realm of normal experience.

            On the contrary, that unexplained phenomenon known as common sense is one of the greatest tools we have to understand things which we normally don't experience.

            Evolutionary theory seems to be able to stand on its own,

            Not for a second.

            but the whole thing could have been designed by some greater intelligence.

            That is precisely why evolution can't stand on its own. Nothing random can result in order unless it were intended to do so by design.

            As for providence, I remain skeptical. I'm an engineer by trade, so I design things (software specifically) for a living. If we have to constantly meddle with our creations, it is a sign we failed to make them properly in the beginning. A well made creation does what it is supposed to do on it is own if it is designed well. I'm sure you see the problem this creates when applying it to God and the universe. The inherent problem is that an engineer has a different idea of what "makes sense" than say a theologian.

            Really? You're an engineer who designs things and you believe that something which is a million times more complicated than anything you could ever create, happened by what amounts to an accident?

          • William Davis

            First you say that common sense is one of the greatest tools to understand things which we normally don't experience, then you behave as though my common sense is somehow inferior to your since it does not reach the same conclusion. Not only is that illogical, but it is a bit insulting. The biggest mistake your common sense is making is thinking that evolution is simply by chance. Evolution involves as much chance as the modern firearm. Organisms evolve through a process of trial and error. The errors are selected out through a specific process called natural selection. The original firearms were very crude, but luckily different people experimented with different ideas, and the good ideas stuck, the bad ideas were selected out. Over time we added rifling, improved actions, the modern magazine and other improvements through a long process of trial and error, much like evolution. Modern biotechnology is "fast forwarding" evolution to create bacteria that produce enzymes for industrial processes via an artificial selection process.
            I'm more of a deist than an atheist, so I look at science as studying the handiwork of God. In fundamental sciences like physics, it mostly appears that "God does not play dice" as Einstein said. As things grown more complex, we call elements we cannot predict chance. Chance is not necessarily chaos, it is the mathematical representation of the unpredictable. I suppose in essence, I am deterministic...God created the universe but does not meddle in it. I am not dogmatic about the idea, but based on all the evidence, it does seem to be correct.
            I have studied many religions, and went to Christian schools my entire childhood, was always made to go to church. I have studied history, literature, even social sciences a good bit, and I continue to educate myself in as many different disciplines as possible so I can expand my grasp of reality through the point of view of different people and disciplines. One thing I'm certain of, the author of the great work we call the physical universe is not the same author of the human religions. Though religions are a construct of man, they seem to be very important to him, and cannot be discounted. My personal favorite is Buddhism, as it is very much to the point of what religion is about...finding inner peace so you can bring about outer peace.

          • William Davis

            "The human mind perceiving something and making sense of it can not be explained by evolution or by any number of random occurrences."

            Inside of evolutionary theory there are a variety of models of how human intelligence evolved, here is a list (not exhaustive): Social brain hypothesis, social exchange theory, and sexual selection (my personal favorite). There is an entire branch of psychology called "evolutionary psychology" creates a very interesting model of the human mind based on an evolutionary presupposition. Delve into all this material for a while, then get back to me. Feel free to disagree with them, but you can't just say it can't be explained. It surely can.

  • David Nickol

    Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing the truth.

    Evolution is not a "purely random" process. Genetic mutations in a population may be purely random, but natural selection is not random.

  • David Nickol

    Because our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival.

    A "random evolutionary process" cannot be both random and "aimed." As I said in another comment, evolution is not "purely random."

    There is a concept in contemporary philosophy called cognitive closure which is "is the proposition that human minds are constitutionally incapable of solving certain perennial philosophical problems." It may very well be that human consciousness evolved in such a way that the human mind can understand certain things but not others and arrive at certain truths and not others. It might be noted that the Catholic Church maintains that certain mysteries are not against reason, but above it. It seems to me that this Catholic notion, like the notion of cognitive closure, does not call into question human knowledge arrived at through reason and the scientific method. Both notions simply acknowledge that human reason has its limits without questioning wholesale its ability to arrive at true conclusions.

  • David Nickol

    The recognition that the creation accounts must be understood with some nuance is not new, nor is it a forced retreat in the face of modern science. Various Christian writers form the early centuries of Church history, as much as 1,500 years or more before Darwin, saw the six days of creation as something other than literal, twenty-four hour periods.

    I don't believe this statement does justice to the complexity of the issue. Early Christian figures such as Origen and Augustine certainly did question literal interpretations of the Bible. However, and I hope this can be said without opening a can of worms, Church authorities (as in the case of Galileo) did not necessarily always recognize as authentic Catholic thought the opinions of Origin and Augustine about the figurative nature of parts of the Bible. And of course to this day, it is very difficult to get a sensible answer on what the Bible says about human origins (i.e., on Adam and Eve as "our first parents").

    In many, many way, I do believe regarding the Bible there has indeed been a "forced retreat in the face of modern science."

    And it seems very difficult for many Christians (including some Catholics) to imagine that, while some parts of the Old Testament (for example, the seven days of creation) may be figurative and theological rather than literal and historical, some parts of the New Testament (the infancy narratives) may also be figurative and theological.

  • Mike O’Leary

    “The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of humanity with God and the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God”

    It is quite possible to describe something unscientifically while at the same time not introducing inaccuracies. A children's book that teaches kids how babies come about can leave out large details and be couched in kid-friendly language and still be true. If that same children's book explains that baby was delivered by a stork, then it has added an unnecessary inaccuracy. Genesis features numerous inaccuracies that could have been left out and still shown that the world was created by God.

  • Mike O’Leary

    The first three days are historically referred to as the days of distinction because God separates and thus distinguishes one region from another. The second three days are referred to as the days of adornment, in which God populates or adorns the regions he has distinguished.

    I think I brought this up in a previous SN article, the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) have meaning. If God wanted to demonstrate that his creation was in two parts (the first three days then the second three days) he could have done so without using six distinct days. As I noted in my earlier post from a few minutes ago, something can be truthfully described unscientifically and not introduce inaccuracies. Why use the word "fourth" in describing the day the sun was created and "third" to describe the day the earth was created if we're not supposed to concern ourselves with order? The sole purpose of the ordinal numbers is to describe order.Christian apologists who don't take a literal reading of scripture will say that while something may not be literally true it still has a symbolic or figurative truth. Yet, there is no symbolic explanation for why in the second myth that the first woman comes after the animals, which came after the first man. If scripture is not literally true and not figuratively true then it is just plain wrong.

    The recognition that the creation accounts must be understood with some nuance is not new, nor is it a forced retreat in the face of modern science.

    This most certainly is a retreat, a fallback position to when facts prove too inconvenient. When it requires twisting the language to where most to all meaning is wringed from the words, then there really isn't a point to it.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) have meaning.

      Indeed, they indicate an enumeration, as in the clauses of a regulation or in the Kuba tale of the Nine Woots.

      Gen1 is not a myth -- it contains none of the markers of the myth genre. Rather, it is a late (post-Exile) poem of considerable sophistication, complete with refrain. It is not "about" the creation of the world, and certainly not in the sense of a naive narrative of events, but about the sanctity of the Sabbath. (It was the Sabbath that helped the Jews maintain their identity during the Exile when so many other ethnically cleansed folk disappeared into the general population.

      In the poem, God is imagined as a craftsman, perhaps a carpenter. What work is worthy of such a craftsman? Nothing less than "everything," i.e., "the heaven and the earth" or, as we might say "lock, stock, and barrel" or "the whole kit and kaboodle." So what's the first thing the craftsman does when entering the workshop? He lights the lamp or throws open the shutters.

      Day 1. Turn on the lights
      Day 2. Rough carpentry on the heaven.
      Day 3. Rough carpentry on the earth.
      Day 4. Fine carpentry on the heaven.
      Day 5. Fine carpentry on the earth.
      Day 6. Decorative accessories.

      Day 7. Kick back, have a few brewskies, and catch the game on the tube.

      Take away: if resting from work on the Sabbath is good enough for God, then it's good enough for you. So shut down your shop and give your workers a day off.

      So the sequence is meaningful, esp. in light of the Hebrew trope of using parallel structure as poetic: cf. Day 2/3 and 4/5, but also 2/4 and 3/5.

      Yet, there is no symbolic explanation for why in the second myth that
      the first woman comes after the animals, which came after the first man.

      Of course, there is. The whole point of the story is that "the man" was in search of someone like himself, one with whom he could share his life. The discovery of "the woman" must come at the end of the search for narrative reasons. "It's always in the last place you look" because after finding the object of your desire, you stop looking. A parent playing "find me" with her child does not immediately whip away the blanket and cry "There you are?" She will first look under the pillow, saying "Where's [baby]?" Then this place and that place, all the while the child is giggling with delight. If even a baby understands the emotional importance of placing the climax at the end, surely it is not beyond the mental capacity of a "Bright"!

      When it requires twisting the language to where most to all meaning is wringed from the words...

      This is a common plaint by fundamentalists, who also tend to confuse common colloquial meanings (in modern English!) with all meaning. It is always astonishing how closely these objections here parallel fundamentalism. You guys must have been hell on wheels in poetry class. One is reminded of the letter Charles Babbage wrote to Alfred Tennyson:

      In your otherwise beautiful poem "The Vision of Sin" there is a verse which reads – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born." It
      must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

      I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born."

      The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

      I am, Sir, yours, etc.,

      Charles Babbage

      The main difference is that Babbage may actually have been joshing.

      • Mike O’Leary

        Gen1 is not a myth -- it contains none of the markers of the myth genre.

        It personifies natural forces and tries to explain things that a primitive culture could not explain. It typifies the myth genre.

        It is not "about" the creation of the world, and certainly not in the sense of a naive narrative of events, but about the sanctity of the Sabbath.

        No doubt the Sabbath is an important aspect of Genesis 1 and 2, but it is not the thrust or even a majority of that scripture. That would be like saying "It's a Wonderful Life" isn't about George Bailey but instead the 1929 stock market crash.The God as craftsman analogy is so incredibly vague that you could just as easily insert a half-dozen other creation myths with equal or better accuracy than the one Genesis gives. Again, it's not that the story in Genesis is light on details it's that the author(s) felt the need to add in numerous specific details that are wrong on a scale of billions of years. The story could have made an adequate poem without those untrue aspects added.As far as the explanation as to why animals come between the first man and first woman, it tells of a time when there was man but not woman. We know that not to be true, and the whole point of the article is whether evolution contradicts Genesis. Without a doubt this is a contradiction. If someone wants to brush it aside then they may do so. Yet doing so means disproving the assertion that all scripture contains some element of truth.

        surely it is not beyond the mental capacity of a "Bright"!

        Have I at some point referred to myself as a bright? No, I actually dislike the term as it casts those outside of it as being of less intelligence. If you're casting aspersions at me, please at least do so with something I've actually written.

        This is a common plaint by fundamentalists, who also tend to confuse common colloquial meanings (in modern English!) with all meaning.

        Which common colloquial meaning have I confused here with "all meaning"?

        The main difference is that Babbage may actually have been joshing.

        While "Vision of Sin" might be a lovely poem, clearly we don't give it the same weight as the Bible. Why? 1) It is said to speak of hour very origins. 2) It's said to be divinely inspired by The Holy Spirit. 3) Christians including the Catholic Church say that each passage of scripture contains truth. We're supposed to treat the Bible to a much higher standard than other literature, yet so very often it's Christians who will backtrack, handwaive, disregard, or otherwise degrade what the Bible says.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Gen1 is not a myth -- it contains none of the markers of the myth genre.

          It personifies natural forces and tries to explain things that a primitive culture could not explain. It typifies the myth genre.

          Where are the culture heroes in the first chapter? They mythic part doesn't start until Gen 2:4.

          No doubt the Sabbath is an important aspect of Genesis 1 and 2, but it is not the thrust or even a majority of that scripture.

          Only Gen 1:1 to Gen 2:3 is the later poem. It serves as an intro to the whole anthology and seems to have been written in post-Exile times. Some have attributed it to Ezra the Scribe. This was long past mythological time.

          The God as craftsman analogy is so incredibly vague that you could just easily insert a half-dozen other creation myths with equal or better accuracy than the one Genesis gives.

          Certainly. But in history one must restrict oneself with what was actually done, and this was the imagery (not analogy) that the poet actually used. That's like complaining that clouds are not actually lonely and Wordsworth could have picked a half dozen other images of loneliness. Indeed, he could have; but he didn't.

          The story could have made an adequate poem without those untrue aspects added.

          So poems are intended to be instruction manuals in the natural sciences? You Babbage, you.

          it tells of a time when there was man but not woman.

          Metaphorically speaking. This of course is in the Yahwist account that begins in ch. 2 following the introductory words "This is the story..." written by the "Priestly" editor of the book. The formula "This is the story..." is used five times in the first half of Genesis and five times in the second half.

          You seem to be confusing the purposes of the poet (Gen 1) and the reported myths (Gen 2 et seq.) with the purposes of a modern scientist. But not even pre-literate peoples ever confused their mythoi with an historical narrative.

          the whole point of the article is whether evolution contradicts Genesis. Without a doubt this is a contradiction.

          About in the way Mona Lisa contradicts Chicken cordon bleu.

          Which common colloquial meaning have I confused here with "all meaning"?

          You are insisting on a historico-narrative reading of a) poetry (Gen 1:1-Gen 2:3) or b) myth (Gen 2:4 et seq.; 5:1 et seq.; etc.).

          While "Vision of Sin" might be a lovely poem, clearly we don't give it the same weight as the Bible

          [waves hands] Yo! The point is over here! It is the tendency of the prosaic-minded to read everything as if they were historico-narrative rather than imagery; not how culturally important the various instances are.

          1) It [Genesis] is said to speak of hour [sic] very origins.

          Though not in the biological sense.

          2) It's said to be divinely inspired by The Holy Spirit.

          Yes, but not written by or dictated verbatim. It's Genesis, not the Qur'an.

          3) Christians including the Catholic Church say that each passage of scripture contains truth.

          Indeed it does. As St. Augustine of Hippo once wrote:
          In all the sacred books, we should consider the eternal truths that are taught, the facts that are narrated, the future events that are predicted, and the precepts or counsels that are given. In the case of a narrative of events, the question arises as to whether everything must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what happened. No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense. For St. Paul says: “"Now all these things that happened to them were symbolic." ”... If, then, Scripture is to be explained under both aspects, what meaning other than the allegorical have the words: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth?” etc. etc.

          so very often it's Christians who will backtrack, handwaive [sic], disregard, or otherwise degrade what the Bible says.

          And that really bugs fundamentalist literalists.

          • Mike O’Leary

            Where are the culture heroes in the first chapter? They mythic part doesn't start until Gen 2:4.

            Myths can have cultural heroes but do no require them.

            So poems are intended to be instruction manuals in the natural sciences? You Babbage, you.

            Poems that are divinely inspired, that are said to be true, that are from a source that is said to be incapable of lying should be devoid of unnecessary error. Remember, this is supposed to be instructive. We don't teach our children incorrectly only to later teach them correctly.

            Metaphorically speaking. This of course is in the Yahwist
            account that begins in ch. 2 following the introductory words "This is the story..." written by the "Priestly" editor of the book. The formula "This is the story..." is used five times in the first half of Genesis and five times in the second half.

            It doesn't matter if that phrase was used 100 times if the story makes no sense on an allegorical level.

            But not even pre-literate peoples ever confused their mythoi with an historical narrative.

            No one in the past ever thought the tales in the past
            were literally true? We have people today with access to the sum of man's knowledge at their fingertips who still believe it's literally true.

            You are insisting on a historico-narrative reading of a) poetry (Gen 1:1-Gen 2:3) or b) myth (Gen 2:4 et seq.; 5:1 et seq.; etc.).

            I'm insisting that if what is written does not work in a figurative way and it does not work in a literal way then it doesn't work period. Genesis is a rich tapestry of error, even when trying to claim that we should only focus on that scant elements that resemble truth, and asking that we jettison all the elements that can't be explained away in even the most forgiving allegorical sense.

            [waves hands] Yo! The point is over here! It is the tendency of the prosaic-minded to read everything as if they were historico-narrative rather than imagery; not how culturally important the various instances are.

            Don't tucker yourself out. There's no need to wave hands above and beyond the handwaving you're already undertaking. I know what you're getting at, I'm just explaining how it's so very wrong.

            Though not in the biological sense.

            In any sense. Couldn't the alleged source of all wisdom come up with a poem that imparted to us humans how he created us and how important the Sabbath is without also adding false nuggets of untruth as well? Also don't forget that this article is entitled "Does Evolution Contradict Genesis?" and not just Genesis 1. As I noted in another post, Genesis 30:31-43 fails as we know with certainly that is not how genetic information is passed from a parent to its child. Is that a poem too, or an ode to disproven science?

            Yes, but not written by or dictated verbatim. It's Genesis, not the Qur'an.

            The Holy Spirit appears very sloppy if it allows room for so many mistakes/inaccuracies/errors/ lies. I'll state it again: A story or poem can use fanciful language and allegory and still be accurate, but it simply can not include extra elements that are demonstrably wrong in an allegorical sense (and not just wrong but on a scale measured in epochs). Assuming that whoever wrote Genesis was divinely inspired to do so, the author(s) felt that the story as it stood was insufficient and added items that were untrue in all senses of the word. What is to prevent me from saying parts of Mark are a poem or that Exodus 20 was a myth? Each time that a fact is discovered that runs counter to what the Bible says, and with each walking back done by apologists to salvage the scripture, it lessens the strength those same apologists can take when asserting that certain other parts of the Bible are literally true.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Myths can have cultural heroes but do no require them.

            Tthat's only one such mythic element missing from the prologue. Where are the others?

            Poems that are divinely inspired, that are said to be true, that are from a source that is said to be incapable of lying should be devoid of unnecessary error.

            A thing may be true without being factual. Think of the various fables we use to instruct our young. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast, and so on. All teach a truth, but none relate facts.

            It doesn't matter if that phrase was used 100 times if the story makes no sense on an allegorical level.

            The phrase is a marker used by the editor to indicate the beginning of a new story. That's all. I don't know why you think the stories make no "allegorical" sense. Not all figures are allegories. "These are the descendents of..." introduces various traditions regarding the relationship of the Hebrews with various other tribes around them, as of the time of writing. That doesn't make Ishmael or others "allegories" any more than a rancher rounding up a hundred head of cattle leaves behind their bodies.

            No one in t he past ever thought the tales in the past
            were literally true?

            Certainly with the rise of science there has been a greater tendency to view such documents in the prosaic narrative sense. After all, that how science reads her own texts. It's no coincidence that Fundamentalism appeared in the same years as the word "scientist" or science as a profession. However, even earlier there was some contention between Antioch and Alexandria on this point. But certainly as long as the science supported the narrative reading, no one noticed there was even a problem

            Did the Kuba consider that the Nine Woots had actually lived? Do children suppose that Goldilocks actually lived? It's not even clear that our categories fit in such circumstances. Historical consciousness is a relatively modern phenomenon.

            Oh, and one thing about Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic teachings: they are not contingent on what "lots of people believe."

            Genesis is a rich tapestry of error, even when trying to claim that we should only focus on that scant elements that resemble truth

            I think you mean "elements that resemble facts about the natural world."
            If you thnk the notion that ancient writers lacked the knowledge that we think we have today, will cause me to drop from the stalk, you are mistaken. As Fr. Georges Lemaître wrote:
            "The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less - some more than others - on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or as ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors of historic or scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if errors relate to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them. ... The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all."
            Or, to paraphrase Augustine: It's a Bible, not an astronomy text.

            Couldn't the alleged source of all wisdom come up with a poem that imparted to us humans how he created us and how important the Sabbath is without also adding false nuggets of untruth as well?

            The scribes who wrote these things used the vocabulary, tropes, world-knowledge, and literary forms of their own day. The worst mistake amateurs make regarding history is the back-projection of modern knowledge on earlier times. "How could they not have known?" But when we see the errors with which such writings as Kepler's or Newton's are rife, we realize that we must understand century A from the viewpoint of century A, and not from that of century B.

            As I noted in another post, Genesis 30:31-43 fails as we know with certainly that is not how genetic information is passed from a parent to its child. Is that a poem too, or an ode to disproven science?

            But Darwin is also wrong in this regard; as were the early geneticists and, in all likelihood, whatever it is that "we know with certainty." The ancient writer surely exaggerated the infuence of epigenetic factors. But we do know now that how a gene expresses may depend on environmental cues. For example, cloned populations of helmeted water fleas may develop or fail to develop their helmets depending on the presence of a chemical marker for their predator fish in the water where they hatch. Same genes; different bodies.

            A story or poem can use fanciful language and allegory and still be accurate

            I'm not sure I can accept your expertise on poetry.

            What is to prevent me from saying parts of Mark are a poem

            That it is not written in poetic language?
            Again, you seem to be confusing "true" with "facts about the natural world." But a writer trying to explicate some moral truth will use whatever knowledge of the world is current without much thought to whether that worldly knowledge will still be au courant a couple millennia later. If Genesis were being written today, it would probably incorporate imagery from current genetics and physics; and O'Learies 6000 years from now will laugh at it.

          • Mike

            Brilliant; can you put these objections and answers into a big book that we can all buy and keep on our shelves as a reference? Please?

          • Mike O’Leary

            Tthat's only one such mythic element missing from the prologue. Where are the others?

            Do you mean the parts where myth personifies natural forces? Where myth is used to explain that which can not (at the time) be explained? The elements that I already brought up in my first response to you?

            A thing may be true without being factual. Think of the various fables we use to instruct our young. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast, and so on. All teach a truth, but none relate facts.

            There is a big difference between fables and Genesis. I know there was no Beauty. I know there was no Beast. There was no mob attack. There was no dance. There was no true love's kiss. There were fictional events. The story imparts wisdom about beauty and acceptance.Now let's look at Genesis 1. It has three characters. According to the catechism Yahweh, Adam, and Eve are all real. Genesis 1 says that God created heaven, Earth, the sun, the moon, plants, animals. These are said to be real events -- although not in the way that they are described. Each is said to demonstrate truth, but whereas fables will provide guidlines for thought and action (e.g. "Don't judge a book by its cover.") Genesis says that being A did action B (a very literal truth)So instead of myths and fables which sometimes feature fictional characters and fictional events you say Genesis 1 contains real characters and real events but described in unnecessarily-incorrect poetic language. But that's assuming Genesis 1 is "true" (in the sense that if we later find parts that ar e not true we can just chalk it up to poetry). From a neutral perspective Genesis 1 looks just like a myth, including the numerous other creation myths.

            Did the Kuba consider that the Nine Woots had actually lived? Do children suppose that Goldilocks actually lived? It's not even clear that our categories fit in such circumstances. Historical consciousness is a relatively modern phenomenon. Oh, and one thing about Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic teachings: they are not contingent on what "lots of people believe."

            As I mentioned before, there are people today who have the benefit of so many discoveries about the many different fields that Genesis touches upon who still state that the tale told in Genesis is real. Yet you decree out of hand that a pre-literate people (who obviously didn't write down what they believed) did not believe such tales.

            The scribes who wrote these things used the vocabulary, tropes, world-knowledge, and literary forms of their own day. The worst mistake amateurs make regarding history is the back-projection of modern knowledge on earlier times. "How could they not have known?" But when we see the errors with which such writings as Kepler's or Newton's are rife, we realize that we must understand century A from the viewpoint of century A, and not from that of century B.

            And there is the key: One's willingness to admit error. I can say that a person in the past who advanced knowledge also at times had hypotheses that were incredibly wrong. Those who say the Bible is all truth can't admit error. It means fudging the viewpoints and playing the "What this passage really means" game. No one has such disregard for language as an apologist.You asked "How could they well have known?" They had the one and only Holy Spirit to guide them. It's said to give humanity access to truth that was otherwise unobtainable. It's a shortcut to declaring truth that often times has ended up being a dead end.

            But Darwin is also wrong in this regard; as were the early geneticists and, in all likelihood, whatever it is that "we know with certainty." The ancient writer surely exaggerated the infuence of epigenetic factors. But we do know now that how a gene expresses may depend on environmental cues. For example, cloned populations of helmeted water fleas may develop or fail to develop their helmets depending on the presence of a chemical marker for their predator fish in the water where they hatch. Same genes; different bodies.

            Without a doubt environmental factors can impact a pre-born animal between the stages of conception and birth. We only have to look at Thalidomide babies or to a lesser extent mothers who smoke during pregnancy. The problem is you're comparing chemical reactions that occur during gestation to what is seen by a parent as sperm races toward the egg. It's as if the light waves of stripes sends a signal that makes its way to the unfertilized egg to say "make sure to give the offspring stripes". It is quite amusing to think about it.

            I'm not sure I can accept your expertise on poetry.

            All things considered I take that as a compliment.

            That it is not written in poetic language?

            Can poetic language be only poetry if it contains certain poetic markers? But let me rephrase the question, since I'm more concerned about truth. How do we know any passage in the Bible is not myth?

            Again, you seem to be confusing "true" with "facts about the natural world." But a writer trying to explicate some moral truth will use whatever knowledge of the world is current without much thought to whether that worldly knowledge will still be au courant a couple millennia later. If Genesis were being written today, it would probably incorporate imagery from current genetics and physics; and O'Learies 6000 years from now will laugh at it.

            If Genesis were written today and the authors said that they had been given divine truth from an invisible spirit that allowed them access to that which could not be known, then I would expect the O'Learys 6,000 years from now would laugh at it (even if it did get more facts correct).

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Do you mean the parts where myth personifies natural forces?

            Where in the prologue are natural forces personified? In fact, the ancient Jews were remarkable in that they did not personify the Sea or the Night or Time. Where is the Jewish Poseidon? In a couple places it states things like "God told the earth" to bring forth the living things and "the earth" did so. IOW the natural forces were embedded in matter.

            Where myth is used to explain that which can not (at the time) be explained?

            By which you mean natural phenomena not yet explained by natural science. But that is not what myth is used for. Myths are used to explain the rightness of the worldview. Preliterate people have a "rolling horizon" that runs about three generations into the past. Everything more recent is "historic times" while things beyond the horizon are "creation times." As time passes, formerly historic events and narratives become compressed, details are smoothed out, complexities are simplified. When de Brazza contacted the Tio in 1880, everything before 1800 was 'origin times.' By 1960, deBrazza himself had become a Culture Hero and the events of 1880 were fading into myth. Again, we have a case in which a Navajo ambush of a party of Hopis returning from Ft. Defiance c.1855 was recorded by anthropologists in 1892 and then again in 1936. One can see the morphing of the events from straight reminsicence of a survivor of the ambush to an elaborate tale in which the whole episode is elevated to an explanation of the then-current social and political structure of the Hopi clan, in which the child survivor becomes the main character and the ambush is reimagined as a planned duel over a woman for the purpose of setting the Hopi-Navajo border.

            For literate societies, the rolling horizon may lie three hundres years in the past. E.g., In AD 778, a Basque war party ambushed the Carolingian rear guard as the Franks left Spain to deal with the Saxon threat (a bareaccount in Annales regni francorum). Forty years later, Einhard, a minister of Charlemagne, mentioned details of terrain and tactics and listed “Roland, prefect of the Breton Marches” (“Hruodlandus Brittannici limitis praefectus”) as one of four named casualties (Vita karoli magni). But by 1098, Roland the “paladin” had become the central character, chief of Charlemagne's "round table," the Basques had morphed into Saracens, and a magic horn and tale of treachery had been added (La chanson de Roland). Similarly, events of the 17th century had become myth in the popular imagination by the 20th century: e.g., "Pocahontas," "Plymoth Rock," "Galileo the Culture Hero," etc.

            I know there was no Beauty. I know there was no Beast. .... The story imparts wisdom about beauty and acceptance.

            Exactly. It is true without being factual.

            Genesis 1 says that God created heaven, Earth, the sun, the moon, plants, animals. ... Each is said to demonstrate truth, but whereas fables will provide guidlines for thought and action,... Genesis says that being A did action B.

            This can be quite annoying for those who wish everything spelled out as in a technical manual.

            you decree out of hand that a pre-literate people (who obviously didn't write down what they believed) did not believe such tales.

            No. Taken their cue from modern preliterate societies, anthropologists can say that they did not divide the world into the same categories of thought as we do.

            Those who say the Bible is all truth can't admit error. It means fudging the viewpoints and playing the "What this passage really means" game. No one has such disregard for language as an apologist.

            That's the problem with fundamentalists. They confuse scholarship and doctrine with "disregard for language." But Basil knew Hebrew and Greek and Augustine knew Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, whereas modern literalists know only English, and even that only in a colloquial sense. Often, they believe that Christians obtained their beliefs from the Bible!!
            This may be helpful:
            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm

            You asked "How could they well have known?" They had the one and only Holy Spirit to guide them. It's said to give humanity access to truth that was otherwise unobtainable.

            But not necessarily facts about the natural world. As Augustine wrote:
            In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.”
            -- Contra Faustum manichaeum

            Without a doubt environmental factors can impact a pre-born animal between the stages of conception and birth. ... what is seen by a parent as sperm races toward the egg. .... It is quite amusing to think about it.

            Sure. The science was rather more primitive at the time than it is now.

            Can poetic language be only poetry if it contains certain poetic markers?

            Certainly. In ancient Hebrew, poetry is typically marked by parallelism of text. E.g., the A/B;B/A form:
            "My son, if your heart is wise, / my heart also will rejoice;
            And my inmost being will exult, / when your lips speak what is right."
            -- Prov. 23:15-16
            Greek poetry has different markers: regular patterns of long and short syllables, where length is determined by how many mora (or "beats") each syllable takes. (This is very different from modern English, which co-opts the Greek forms but uses stress rather than length.)

            since I'm more concerned about truth.

            So far you seem concerned only with facts, and facts about the natural world only.

            How do we know any passage in the Bible is not myth?

            a) when it is a bald narrative of events, such as the court chronicles of Israel and Judah that appear in digest form in the books of Kings and Chronicles, or the accounts of Ezra and Nehemaiah.
            b) when they are legal or ritual instructions, as found in Leviticus and elsewhere.
            c) when they are short stories or novelettes, as in Tobit, Esther, Ruth.
            d) when they are sermons or prophesies, as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, most of Paul's letters, etc.
            e) when they are legends, the residues of narratives that have passed beyond the historical horizon, such as Joshua and Judges.
            f) when they are bioi, such as the gospels
            g) when they are visionary or "hidden" proclamations, as in the Apocalypse or parts of Daniel.
            h) when they are books of wisdom, such as Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs, etc.
            i) when they are outright songs and poems, such as Psalms and Song of Songs.

            If Genesis were written today and the authors said that they had been given divine truth from an invisible spirit that allowed them access to that which could not be known

            Which author claimed that?

          • Mike O’Leary

            Where in the prologue are natural forces personified?

            Playing the role of gravity, nuclear fusion, photosynthesis and several other processes is a character called God (sometimes going under the name of Jehovah).

            In fact, the ancient Jews were remarkable in that they did not personify the Sea or the Night or Time. Where is the Jewish Poseidon?

            Jehovah aka Adonai aka Elohim. I know Christians don't like to equate their god with other gods, but he fills the exact same role.

            By which you mean natural phenomena not yet explained by natural science. But that is not what myth is used for. Myths are used to explain the rightness of the worldview.

            The story of Persephone explaining why winter occurs is not a myth? There is no rightness of worldview, but merely an explanation of why things occur.

            Preliterate people have a "rolling horizon" that runs about three generations into the past. Everything more recent is "historic times" while things beyond the horizon are "creation times." As time passes, formerly historic events and narratives become compressed, details are smoothed out, complexities are simplified. When de Brazza contacted the Tio in 1880, everything before 1800 was 'origin times.' By 1960, deBrazza himself had become a Culture Hero and the events of 1880 were fading into myth.

            Imagine if I told the following story: There once was a Jewish carpenter who spoke of loving one another. He died and 70-100 years later people wrote stroies as to what they claim he did. The true events of what happened to him faded into myth.

            Exactly. It is true without being factual.

            The moral is true. The story is not true. The first part of Genesis isn't just trying to pass of moral (The Sabbath is important) but also trying to pass off brute facts (God created the universe.) Brute facts require that things be accurate and true. A story where George Washington crossed the Delaware on a flying dragon would not be true, even the final conclusion (that Washington crossed the Delaware) was true.

            This can be quite annoying for those who wish everything spelled out as in a technical manual.

            When it comes to general concepts, ideas, best practices then a story with fictional characters and fictional events with fictional outcomes are fine. The lion and the mouse don't have to be real to impart the wisdom that it is good to be merciful. The trouble is when we have real places, (allegedly) real characters, and inaccurate events, yet we are supposed to assume a real accurate conclusion took place. A truth saying "A did B" is not the same kind of truth as something like "patience is a virtue".

            No. Taken their cue from modern preliterate societies, anthropologists can say that they did not divide the world into the same categories of thought as we do.

            Citation please. Specifically, what can you show that pre-literate Jewish society did not as a whole believe Genesis was literal? Remember during the Biblical that while some church fathers did not believe it was literal others did. But your saying a society many years earlier did not have such debate and were firmly in the camp that said it wasn't literal.

            That's the problem with fundamentalists. They confuse scholarship and doctrine with "disregard for language."

            I wouldn't call those people fundamentalists. It's merely people who grow weary of the silly word games, where a figurative meaning of a word or phrase can mean the exact opposite of its literal meaning. It's where "third" does relate to "second", and "righteous" doesn't mean "righteous", and "this generation" can mean so many different things, and "can't" means "won't", It can be downright Orwellian at times.

            This may be helpful: http://www.newadvent.org/fathe...

            The link contains descriptions of what the chapters of the book on sale will teach. Everyone here who expresses doubts in what the Bible says have read similar books and articles before. It's a guide on how to get the scripture to say what one wants them to say as opposed to what they actually say.

            But not necessarily facts about the natural world. As Augustine wrote: In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.” -- Contra Faustum manichaeum

            I'll state it again. God is said never to lie, yet he put into the scripture things that are not true despite not needing to add those false details. He could have taught us to be Christians without making us dumber about nature.

            Sure. The science was rather more primitive at the time than it is now.

            My amusement doesn't come from a primitive society trying to make sense of a natural world so far out of their grasp. No, what I find amusing is a person in first-world 21st cenury with Mendel, Darwin, Watson, Crick, and the Human Genome Project to look upon and trying to pass off Jacob's striped reed plan as scientifically sound. Not only to say it's scientifically sound but that it's such that our understanding of genetics has not caught up to Jacob. That's quite a leap in order to say Genesis doesn't conflict with evolution.

            How do we know any passage in the Bible is not myth?a) when it is a bald narrative of events, such as the court chronicles of Israel and Judah that appear in digest form in the books of Kings and Chronicles, or the accounts of Ezra and Nehemaiah.

            I agree.

            b) when they are legal or ritual instructions, as found in Leviticus and elsewhere.

            I agree.

            c) when they are short stories or novelettes, as in Tobit, Esther, Ruth.

            Let's stop there. How does a short story about Ruth differ from a short story about Moses or Jesus?

            d) when they are sermons or prophesies, as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, most of Paul's letters, etc.

            I might be missing things, but for now I would have to agree.

            e) when they are legends, the residues of narratives that have passed beyond the historical horizon, such as Joshua and Judges.

            I disagree as both books could easily be myth.

            f) when they are bioi, such as the gospels

            Just like E, I disagree. The gospel could very well be myth.

            g) when they are visionary or "hidden" proclamations, as in the Apocalypse or parts of Daniel.

            I disagree.

            h) when they are books of wisdom, such as Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs, etc.

            I agree.

            i) when they are outright songs and poems, such as Psalms and Song of Songs.

            I agreeIn short, just because a writing has a narrative and is written as factual doesn't mean it can't be a myth (pardon the double negative) and doesn't mean it is true. I was discussing the story of Jesus wandering the desert with someone and he kept insisting that it wasn't meant to portray actual events but merely to show Jesus' resolve against sin.

            Which author claimed that?

            2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."Ephesians 1:13-14 "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. "2 Peter 1:20-21 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."1 Corinthians 14:37 "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Where in the prologue are natural forces personified?
            Playing the role of gravity, nuclear fusion, photosynthesis and several other processes is a character called God

            That is not "personification." In fact, all the account states is that God commanded that all these things came to be, and in a couple places is event described as commanding matter to bring these things to be. In no wise is he described as "gravity personified."

            Jehovah aka Adonai aka Elohim. ... fills the exact same role.

            Whatever role he fills, it cannot be the exact same. The Greek nature deities were precisely personified natures. Poseidon was not an old bearded man with a trident who lived under the sea. Poseidon was the sea, and the sea was Poseidon. But pari passu, Poseidon was not thunder and lightning, was not the sun, was not time.

            70-100 years later people wrote stroies as to what they claim [Jesus] did. The true events of what happened to him faded into myth.

            a) Well, it started earlier than that. Paul's epistles are earlier than AD 60, since he and Peter were executed under Nero. This is only 27 years after the events,within the living memory of most witnesses. Following standard Greek historiogrpahical practice, Peter's accounts were gathered by his secretary only after his death. (Greeks preferred the "living word," i.e., live testimony, over documents because the former could be cross-examined and the latter could not be. E.g., Porphyry prepared his book on the teachings of Plotinus only after Plotinus had died and the eyewitnesses were dying off.)
            b) The Jews were a literate, not a preliterate folk. A longer horizon is called for. The synoptic gospels are no later after the events than the Vita Caroli Magni after the events of Roncesvalles Pass.
            c) The books that really were more than a hundred years after the eyewitnesses were dead were the Gnostic gospels and these were rejected.

            The moral is true. The story is not true.

            You are still conflating "true" with "factual."

            The trouble is when we have real places, (allegedly) real characters, and inaccurate events, yet we are supposed to assume a real accurate conclusion took place.

            So you would reject realist fiction like War and Peace?

            what can you show that pre-literate Jewish society did not as a whole believe Genesis was literal?

            Genesis is a "book." That presupposes a literate society. The intro poem is usually dated to the end of the Babylonian Exile.

            I wouldn't call those people fundamentalists. It's merely people who grow weary of the silly word games, where a figurative meaning of a word or phrase can mean the exact opposite of its literal meaning.

            You mean that "life is just a bowl of cherries" means that life is literally a bowl of cherries? Can you cite an example in which a figurative meaning is the "exact opposite" of the "literal" meaning? This is a complaint so often heard from the fundamentalists against the Catholics (and Orthodox, when they remember) that it is always intriguing to find the same objections from what ought to be the opposite camp.

            [St. Augustine's book is] a guide on how to get the scripture to say what one wants them to say as opposed to what they actually say.

            "...as opposed to what they actually say." You fundies get really upset with Augustine. I am astonished that you have read the entire book so quickly.

            God is said never to lie, yet he put into the scripture things that are not true

            Recte: not "factual" within the metaphysic of modern thought.

            He could have taught us to be Christians withou t making us dumber about nature.

            Check Augustine again. It can only make us "dumber" about nature if you assume it was intended to teach us about nature. Instead, the authors used whatever imagery that was suggested by the science of the time. It's not their fault the science was wrong.

            My amusement doesn't come from a primitive society trying to make sense of a natural world so far out of their grasp.

            Please tell me the irony was intentional.

            what I find amusing is a person in first-world 21st cenury with Mendel, Darwin, Watson, Crick, and the Human Genome Project to look upon and trying to pass off Jacob's striped reed plan as scientifically sound.

            Who said it was scientifically sound? It was a widespread folk belief, one that still had currency in this century. Sure, epigenetics is not as plastic as all that, but it turned out that the neo-Darwinian synthesis was also wrong -- though in a different way. The genome does not determine everything.

            How do we know any passage in the Bible is not myth?
            How does a short story about Ruth differ from a short story about Moses or Jesus?

            Usually in the dramatic structure.
            both books [Joshua and Judges] could easily be myth
            They are more likely to be legendary; that is, actual events that have been distilled and pureed, like George Washington and the Cherry Tree.

            The gospel could very well be myth

            Nah. There's nothing in them resembling the myth genre and plenty resembling the bios genre.

            g) when they are visionary or "hidden" proclamations, as in the Apocalypse or parts of Daniel.
            I disagree.

            The Apocalypse of St. John is a coded denunciation of Nero's Rome. Using "code" is not a "myth."
            You seem to think that any writing that is not prosaically literal is a "myth."

            Which author claimed that?
            2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof , for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

            I missed the part where Scripture is supposed to be profitable for discovering facts about the natural world.

            But, holy moley, proof-texting? That's another old fundie tactic! Are you sure you're not a crypto-fundamentalist?

            2 Peter 1:20-21 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation

            That's why we rely on the consensus of the professionals. As Augustine also said, when multiple readings of a text are possible, there is no harm in holding any one of them provided it does not work against the double love (of God and neighbor). He also said that no one reading should be held with such staunchness that one cannot discard it if it should be shown to be in error. Only the moral teachings are held a doctrine, and even some doctrinal issues are left open.

          • Mike O’Leary

            That is not "personification." In fact, all the account states is that God commanded that all these things came to be, and in a couple places is event described as commanding matter to bring these things to be. In no wise is he described as "gravity personified."

            The fault lies not in the stars, Horatio, but in your understanding of how stars and planets form. That would be gravity.

            Whatever role he fills, it cannot be the exact same. The Greek nature deities were precisely personified natures. Poseidon was not an old bearded man with a trident who lived under the sea. Poseidon was the sea, and the sea was Poseidon. But pari passu, Poseidon was not thunder and lightning, was not the sun, was not time.

            Poseiden wasn't the sea. He controlled it with his trident, calming and ragining seas, forging islands, etc. Zeus wasn't lightning. He made lightning. Apollo wasn't the sun. He rode a chariot in the sky that was the sun. My point stands.

            So you would reject realist fiction like War and Peace?

            Let's say we have a person who knows nothing about the history of Russia, of the Napoleonic Wars, of every aspect of history related in the novel. How does one decide which parts are fact and which parts are fiction? By studying the actual history. We know going in that some portion of War and Peace is fictional. There are people today and people in the past who can not say the same about Genesis.

            You mean that "life is just a bowl of cherries" means that life is literally a bowl of cherries?

            No, but when someone says that it's raining cats and dogs I don't expect to see plummeting mammals. The way these biblical passages get explained, you expect someone to use that phrase to describe a bright sunny day.

            Can you cite an example in which a figurative meaning is the "exact opposite" of the "literal" meaning? This is a complaint so often heard from the fundamentalists against the Catholics (and Orthodox, when they remember) that it is always intriguing to find the same objections from what ought to be the opposite camp.

            I'll give you two:1. The story of Lot. Lot offers his daughters up to be gangraped by an angry mob as opposed to doing anything else. God, who had sent angels to find 10 righteous men, spares Lot and his family and destroys the town. There God declares Lot as a righteous man (and, in fact, 2 Peter 2:7-8 also identified him as a righteous man). This is despite the fact that this vile act by Lot can in no way be called righteous. I called into the Catholic Answers Live show on the radio and spoke to Partick Coffin and Dr. David Anders with this problem. They tried to say that when the Bible calls someone righteous it doesn't always mean that they are righteous but instead that God has a plan for that person. I was then cut off for time, but I wanted to ask them why they felt that someone could be both righteous and not rigtheous simultaneously.2. In the Bible where Jesus said that he does not know the day or hour but only the father. I was in a discussion with another person and I noted that one of the key attributes for being god is omniscience. That person avoided the common response of Jesus "speaking from his human side" (which is a very silly argument that just makes Jesus look like he has multiple personality disorder) and said that Jesus does know the hour. The reason he says that he doesn't know is because it's a play on the Jewish custom of the father announcing when a marriage between his son and his future bridge would occur, even though because of the planning involved everyone would know when the marriage would be. Still they left that announcement to the father as a way to honor. In this regard, the person I spoke to said that Jesus said he did not know the hour as a way to honor God the father, but did know. In short, "I don't know" means the exact opposite, "I do know". Now I'm not saying that you buy into this nor that the Catholic Church does either; but I've heard this from multiple people, so it's not just one guy's crazy theory. In fact, it's the best explanation as to why Jesus doesn't say only the father and the Holy Spirit know. It's just when a certain amount of silliness is let into the discussion, the way apologetics has, it's hard to set a bar as to what is and is not true.

            "...as opposed to what they actually say." You fundies get really upset with Augustine. I am astonished that you have read the entire book so quickly.

            I outright said I haven't read the book, merely that it's indicative of the Bible never meaning what it says mentality that we are all very used to.

            That's why we rely on the consensus of the professionals.

            By professionals can I assume you mean your particular brand of scriptural gatekeepers? Because if we take Christian scholars in general there is only a limited consensus and only on certain topics. If we take all religious scholars, the gap widens. The text needs to stand on its own and not be usurped to the point where the said meaning differs wildly from what is writtien. I don't trust people who try to sell me a bridge and I don't trust people who say A means not A.If we can agree on nothing else I would imagine we can agree that we're going around in circles specifically on this issue of truth vs. facts, whether figurative speak is still true if it contains unnecessary inaccuracies, and just the whole figurative vs. literal thing in general. Our posts are growing longer and longer but the impasse isn't breaking. It's only fair that you have the last word on this matter, so please fire away. Thank you for your time and responses.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The fault lies not in the stars, Horatio, but in your understanding of how stars and planets form. That would be gravity.

            There is no contradiction. But I doubt if a word for "gravity" as we understand it even existed back then. Even to the Greeks, who almost started science, "gravity" meant something like "weight." Certainly in Latin that's what gravitas meant. I still don't get why you think a poem should have described then-unknown scientificalistic details.

            Poseiden wasn't the sea. He controlled it with his trident, calming and ragining seas, forging islands, etc.

            I'll go with the anthropologists and historians on this one. Sorry.

            Let's say we have a person who knows nothing about the history of Russia, of the Napoleonic Wars, of every aspect of history related in the novel. How does one decide which parts are fact and which parts are fiction? By studying the actual history.

            Certainly. There are other methods as well, but that would be primary. If one's interest were essentially and entirely focused on learning how something operates, one would rely on engineering and science. But if one were writing a novel or a poem, this would not be one's primary concern. The writers relied on the then-current consensus science when they needed an image.

            when someone says that it's raining cats and dogs I don't expect to see plummeting mammals. The way these biblical passages get explained, you expect someone to use that phrase to describe a bright sunny day.

            Provide an example.

            1. The story of Lot. Lot offers his daughters up to be gangraped by an angry mob as opposed to doing anything else.

            The most sacred thing in the old Near East was hospitality. Just about anything else could be sacrificed in the name of hospitality. The Hebraic usage of hyperbole as a poetic trope is well known, too. I would be curious about the Hebrew word that the Anglos translated as "righteous." It probably means something more like stalwart or obedient, but I don't know. I would be curious if Lot is described as "righteous" in saying this or if he comes across only as desperate.

            2. In the Bible where Jesus said that he does not know the day or hour but only the father. I was in a discussion with another person and I noted that one of the key attributes for being god is omniscience.

            Jesus is also described as dying; yet one attribute of the God is that he is eternal and unchanging. The councils decided that Jesus had two natures: he was fully human as well as fully God. Moderns are subject to a Nestorian heresy that cannot imaging Jesus save as a human shell being used as a mask by a divine being.

            The challenge was to produce a figure of speech that meant "the exact opposite of it's literal meaning." For example, "Yeah, right," which in a certain tone of voice means the exact opposite. The problem with documentary sources, as the ancient Greeks knew, is that you don't get tones of voice, only the recorded words - and sometimes only paraphrases. But it is also a problem to grasp the figurative meanings of figures of speech in a foreign language. German has a figure that translates as "another cow off the ice." It's meaning is not evident from its literal words. Augustine, in the book you declined to read, explains that there are figures in Greek that do not translate into Latin. The same would be true of Greek or Latin -- or especially Hebrew -- into English.

            I outright said I haven't read the book,

            Well, yeah. I knew that. (See "figures of speech")

            merely that it' s indicative of the Bible never meaning what it says mentality that we are all very used to.

            If you have not read it, how do you know what it is indicative of? The whole "meaning of the Bible is not always naively literal" really, really bugs you guys. Yet, that's the way it has been read in the traditional churches ever since they wrote and assembled the book.

            By professionals can I assume you mean your particular brand of scriptural gatekeepers?

            The Church Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils, the consensus. Remember, the Church came first; the Bible came after. So the faith does not come from the text; the text comes from the faith. And that really, really, really bugs you fundies.

            Because if we take Christian scholars in general....

            Two-thirds of self-professed Christians belong to the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Bill and Ted's Excellent Bible Thumping Shack is actually kinda far down the list of scholars.

      • William Davis

        Gen 1 isn't a myth? Myth a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. It's one of the better myths of the time. How much have you studied ancient civilization? The Sumerians, Egyptians, Hindus, ect all had mythologies that had many similarities, but also differences that lent credence to their particular culture. The Jews borrowed much from the Egyptians and Sumerians. Ever hear of Utnapishtim, he was in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the survivor of the great flood. Ever hear the Egyptian Myth of the Golden Lotus, the Egyptian magician parted the sea to find the golden lotus necklace. Both of these myths predate the Torah by nearly 1000 years. The Enûma Eliš, the Babylonian creation myth, bears interesting similarities to the genesis myth, but it was written around the same time as the Torah. Obviously these stories were being passed around in oral tradition between competing civilizations and each civilization was making them their own. Hindus argue all this came from them, Egyptologists say it all came from them, ect. People are naturally tribalistic, so none of this is surprising. I don't mind that you believe the myth to be true, but please don't act like it doesn't perfectly meet the definition of a myth.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          What has the flood story got to do with Gen 1?

          The myths are not related until starting in Gen 2:4 et seq., introduced by the "priestly" editor with the words "This is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation..."

          Also, do not confuse the recurrence of powerful tropes with the identity of the myths they are used in.

          Keep in mind that the Amorite migration, of which the ancient Hebrews were the far western wing, spread out from the vicinity of Ur following the collapse of the Third Dynasty and followed the curve of the Fertile Crescent into Canaan. Why should it be startling if the tribes at the western extreme of "Abraham's journey" should bring with them the stories they had had at the eastern extreme? The Mexican Indians also had a flood story. They probably did not get it from the Sumerians.

          • William Davis

            "What has the flood story got to do with Gen 1?"
            It is another mythology that has similarities to those of other nearby civilizations. I don't find it disturbing that they brought back stories from other civilizations or exchanged them, its what we humans have always done (those these are some of the first recorded examples). I was just trying to emphasize the idea that it is a mythology. The flood stories have an important moral...don't anger the gods or they'll take us out. I wasn't aware of a Mexican Indian flood story. I think flood stories are an example of a mythology that has truth in it. Whether or not the flood covered the entire world is just a technicality.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "What has the flood story got to do with Gen 1?"
            It is another mythology that has similarities to...

            My original contention was that Gen 1:1 - Gen 2:3 was not a myth, but was a late poem produced as an "intro" to the entire anthology of writing the ancient Jews preserved. The actual myths begin in Gen 2:4 with the words "This is the story..."

            That the flood story is a myth does not mean that the intro is itself a myth, rather than a symbolic poem.

            Useful, too, to keep in mind that we know of the Sumerian myth by means of Assyrian versions written much later, and later in fact than the Israelite kingdom.

            Xenophanes, a Greek philosopher, proposed a world-flood as the best scientific explanation for marine fossils being found in the mountains of Greece. He knew of no other natural explanation for how marine life could be deposited so high up in the mountains. It was not until the Middle Ages that Albert of Saxony reasoned his way to uplift as a possible alternative.

            It is not unreasonable to suppose that other peoples had also seen marine fossils in the high-up hills (of the Zagros Mts., for example) and come to the same conclusions. IOW, the similarity of legends can also be explained by deduction from a common source and not necessarily by passing stories from hand to hand.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "What has the flood story got to do with Gen 1?"
            It is another mythology that has similarities to those of other nearby civilizations.

            True, but irrelevant to the point being responded to; which was that Gen 1:1-Gen 2:3 is a late poem used as an intro to the entire anthology of Jewish writings, and is not itself a myth. That there are foundation myths, culture heroes, and tribal "genealogies" in Gen 2:4 et seq. is another issue.

    • Christian apologists who don't take a literal reading of scripture will say that while something may not be literally true it still has a symbolic or figurative truth. Yet, there is no symbolic explanation for why in the second myth that the first woman comes after the animals, which came after the first man. If scripture is not literally true and not figuratively true then it is just plain wrong.

      On the contrary, look at Gen 1. The man and woman come after the animals. Therefore, Gen 2 can either be considered an error, since it describes as the man and woman coming before the animals. Which si what you are doing.

      Or it can be viewed as revealing spiritual truths. Which is what I believe.

      Gen 2, in revealing that man came before the animals, tells us that God planned from all time, to produce mankind in His image. Just as God knows all of us before He knits us in the womb (Jer 1:5), God knew Adam and Eve before He engendered them in the Garden.

      • Mike O’Leary

        Except in Genesis 2 God created the male human, then created the animals, then created the female human. By that reasoning and by what you're saying God planned to create man and did so, created the animals, didn't realize that man would want a mate, and only then planned and created woman.And let's say that science determined that man came first, would you be crowing about how Genesis 1 was demonstrating spiritual truths and Genesis 2 was factual? Prior to the study of man's origins and the universe's origin did someone tell the world which of the two Genesis version we should take as literal fact and which was spiritual? You can't pick and choose after the fact. Even Criswell managed to get one preciction right before it occurred.

        • Mike O'Leary De Maria • 10 hours ago

          Except in Genesis 2 God created the male human, then created the animals, then created the female human. By that reasoning and by what you're saying God planned to create man and did so, created the animals, didn't realize that man would want a mate, and only then planned and created woman.

          No.

          I am saying that Gen 2 is a spiritual account which explains that humanity is the ultimate reason why God created the universe.

          And let's say that science determined that man came first, would you be crowing about how Genesis 1 was demonstrating spiritual truths and Genesis 2 was factual?

          Let's deal with the facts. I could ask you hypothetical questions all day long. I could turn this hypothetical against you. What would it resolve?

          Prior to the study of man's origins and the universe's origin did someone tell the world which of the two Genesis version we should take as literal fact and which was spiritual?

          Yes. When Moses received the revelations, he wrote them down separately in order to distinguish between the more literal (Gen 1) and the more spiritual (Gen 2) versions.

          The Jews recognized the difference. An example of such is the commentary by Rashi. Although he is dated 1040-1105, his commentary is based upon the older Jewish oral tradition.

          formed: [וַיִּיצֶר, with two “yuds,” hints at] two creations, a creation for this world and a creation for the [time of the] resurrection of the dead, but in connection with the animals, which do not stand in judgment, two“yuds” are not written in [the word וַיִּצֶר describing their creation. — [from Tan. Tazria 1]

          You can't pick and choose after the fact.

          Actually, you and I are both in that position. We have to choose after the fact. We weren't there when these things took place.

          Even Criswell managed to get one preciction right before it occurred.

          But, so far, you've not got anything right. Keep trying though.

          • Mike O’Leary

            No. I am saying that Gen 2 is a spiritual account which explains that humanity is the ultimate reason why God created the universe.

            How do animals coming between first man and first woman give a spiritual account as to humanity being the ultimate reason why your god created the universe.

            Let's deal with the facts. I could ask you hypothetical questions all day long. I could turn this hypothetical against you. What would it resolve?

            I'm just looking for a straight answer. Are we to have learned the value of Genesis 1 and 2 from the start, or only after man truly began to understand our universe do we try to rationalize the absurd and contradictory Genesis accounts. The more we approach the writing honesly and less with post hoc explanations the better understanding we'll have. You gave me a very cogent answer before regarding a scriptural reference for the Jacob story. I'm looking for more of that.

            Yes. When Moses received the revelations, he wrote them down separately in order to distinguish between the more literal (Gen 1) and the more spiritual (Gen 2) versions.

            Did you read the article above? The author is explaining that the story in Genesis 1 is not literal. He's trying to say that the order given isn't literal. Actually, both verison fail miserably at coming close to a literal explanation.

          • How do animals coming between first man and first woman give a spiritual account as to humanity being the ultimate reason why your god created the universe.

            That is precisely how. The first account was more literal and explained the creation in order as they occurred in time.

            But, the fact that the second account puts man first shows that God always intended to make man.

            I'm just looking for a straight answer. Are we to have learned the value of Genesis 1 and 2 from the start, or only after man truly began to understand our universe do we try to rationalize the absurd and contradictory Genesis accounts. The more we approach the writing honesly and less with post hoc explanations the better understanding we'll have. You gave me a very cogent answer before regarding a scriptural reference for the Jacob story. I'm looking for more of that.

            Its more like you me to give you answers with which you agree. The book of Genesis and the rest of the Bible was written in a timeless manner with which people of all generations could get out of it value for their period of time.

            do we try to rationalize the absurd and contradictory Genesis accounts.

            You consider it absurd and contradictory. But I understand the relationship between the two documents, perfectly.

            You gave me a very cogent answer before regarding a scriptural reference for the Jacob story. I'm looking for more of that.

            I'm glad you liked it.

            Did you read the article above?

            Most of it. I'm very familiar with the topic, so I didn't read it all.

            The author is explaining that the story in Genesis 1 is not literal.

            He is right.

            He's trying to say that the order given isn't literal.

            Think about it, Mike. We're talking about millions of years of creation condensed into one page of text.

            How literal could it possibly be?

            Actually, both verison fail miserably at coming close to a literal explanation.

            In your opinion.

            But I'm of the opinion that it is an elegant explanation which will literally paint a picture which the unschooled mind can clearly see in their mind. At the same time, it is written like an orchestra piece which can be played to music. And then, it has enough information that the intelligent scholar can research and compare to physical sciences to confirm the truth of the revelation.

  • Mike O’Leary

    There is one part of Genesis not mentioned in the article which absolutely contradicts evolution. Genesis 30:31-43 tells the story of Jacob wishing to get payment from Laban (whose flock Jacob has been tending). Jacob recommends that he take all of the spotted and striped animals. Laban agrees. Jacob then repeatedly breeds the strongest of Laban's flock in by striped reeds he has created in order to get spotted and striped offspring, which he then takes for himself. Those passages make no mention of godly intercession to make this happen, it's just taken as a given that what one's parents see at the moment of conception has an impact on the offspring.

    • those passages make no mention of godly intercession to make this happen,

      The fact that God is helping Jacob is a given. This is what Laban, Jacob's father-in-law, admitted to Jacob:

      Gen 30 27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.

      • Mike O’Leary

        Just because God was said to look favorably upon Jacob doesn't mean that he performed miracles for him. There is no mention of God telling Jacob to perform certain rituals (something that the Bible has God do in other situations in which he has people do things to bring about miracles). You are adding to scripture because the facts force you to do so.

        • I guess you're of the "if its not in the bible its not true" camp.

          But I'm Catholic. I don't need explicit texts to arrive at conclusions which I believe are implied by the text. And, yes, because God looked favorably upon Jacob, that means that He performed miracles to help Jacob. Because, in Scripture, God performed miracles to help everyone upon whom He looked at favorably. Whether there is an exception to that rule, I don't know. I haven't found it.

          • Mike O’Leary

            I'm of the "if it's not true it's not true" camp. More importantly I believe you can't just assert things at will to try and make things seem true. Let's say your particular god is real and miracles are real. There is nothing to say that what Jacob did was done via miracle. There are other passages which describe when Yahweh performs a miracle, but not here. You said, "[B]ecause God looked favorably upon Jacob, that means that He performed miracles to help Jacob." That's like saying because I gave $5 to homeless woman that I gave $5 to every homeless person I ever met. There is no indication whatsoever that your god performed miracles for every single person he favors and at any time they wanted it (like trying to scam Laban out of sheep). In fact, there are biblical commentaries which do not ascribe what Jacob did to a miracle but to basic cleverness.You are adding to scripture which you as a Christian are sternly warned not to do via passages like Deuteronomy 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I command you nor take anything from it." and Revelation 22:18 "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book."

          • Mike O'Leary De Maria • 19 minutes ago

            I'm of the "if it's not true it's not true" camp. More importantly I believe you can't just assert things at will to try and make things seem true.

            That knife cuts both ways. You can't simply assert that because it isn't mentioned explicitly in Scripture, it is not therefore, taught, implicitly.

            Let's say your particular god is real and miracles are real. There is nothing to say that what Jacob did was done via miracle.

            There is no other explanation.

            There are other passages which describe when Yahweh performs a miracle, but not here.

            There are many passages which state explicitly that God performed a miracle. There are many which don't, but assume that we know that God intervenes in the lives of those for whom He cares.

            You said, "[B]ecause God looked favorably upon Jacob, that means that He performed miracles to help Jacob." That's like saying because I gave $5 to homeless woman that I gave $5 to every homeless person I ever met.

            That doesn't even make sense.

            Scripture is not written in accordance with what Mike O'leary wants to believe. It is written within a certain context. And this context can be understood by anyone who reads the Scripture.

            And Scripture tells us, in no uncertain terms, that God intervenes on behalf of those whom He loves. And that includes Jacob.

            Genesis 31:10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grizzled. 11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

            There is no indication whatsoever that your god performed miracles for every single person he favors and at any time they wanted it (like trying to scam Laban out of sheep). In fact, there are biblical commentaries which do not ascribe what Jacob did to a miracle but to basic cleverness.

            Seems to me that you know very little about Scripture. Without going through every verse in Scripture, these verses show that God not only intervenes on behalf of those He loves, but also on behalf of their friends.

            Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

            John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

            You are adding to scripture which you as a Christian are sternly warned not to do via passages like

            Deuteronomy 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I command you nor take anything from it." and Revelation 22:18 "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book."

            Lol! Let's continue this discussion and we'll see which of us is reading his presuppositions into Scripture.

          • Mike O’Leary

            Genesis 31:10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grizzled. 11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

            When you've got a point, you've got a point. That verse seems to indicate that Yahweh had a hand in getting the final result. Now to be fair, there are older biblical commentaries which treat what Jacob did as purely natural; but I can't rightfully say that there are no passages which allow for the end result to be a miracle from God.

            That knife cuts both ways. You can't simply assert that because it isn't mentioned explicitly in Scripture, it is not therefore, taught, implicitly.

            But other times in the Bible when miracles are said to occur there is mention of Yahweh's intercession. You can't just say "God did it" if a flaw or contradiction occurs in the scriptures with no explanation. That's adding to scripture, but more importantly it undercuts scripture if it can't stand up on its own.

            That doesn't even make sense.

            Let me phrase it another way. I have a total of 9 neices and nephews and couldn't love any of them any more. Assume I did a very big favor for one of them. Would it be fair to say that I did a favor for all of them because I love them all?

            Scripture is not written in accordance with what Mike O'leary wants to believe. It is written within a certain context. And this context can be understood by anyone who reads the Scripture.

            Context is not a magical phrase that tell us that we can come to any conclusion we want about what is written. Even among believers there is no consistency to its meaning.

            And Scripture tells us, in no uncertain terms, that God intervenes on behalf of those whom He loves.

            Yet the efficacy of prayer is appallingly low.

          • When you've got a point, you've got a point. That verse seems to indicate that Yahweh had a hand in getting the final result. Now to be fair, there are older biblical commentaries which treat what Jacob did as purely natural; but I can't rightfully say that there are no passages which allow for the end result to be a miracle from God.

            Ok, great.

            But other times in the Bible when miracles are said to occur there is mention of Yahweh's intercession.

            Not always. Nor is there such a rule.

            You can't just say "God did it" if a flaw or contradiction occurs in the scriptures with no explanation.

            There are no flaws or contradictions in Scripture.

            That's adding to scripture,

            Unless you can provide verse which supports the rule which you are inventing, it is you who is adding to Scripture.

            but more importantly it undercuts scripture if it can't stand up on its own.

            You seem to be approaching this topic from a "Scripture alone" point of view. This is a Protestant doctrine which they introduced in the 15th century in order to justify leaving the Catholic Church.

            Neither Jews nor Catholics ever followed that doctrine. First, it isn't supported by Scripture.

            Scripture says:

            Deuteronomy 6:7 (KJV)

            And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

            2 Thessalonians 2:15

            15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

            The Catholic Church has always taught that the New Testament was written based upon the Teaching of Jesus Christ. These Teachings of Jesus Christ are called Sacred Tradition. And it is based upon this Sacred Tradition that the Church wrote the New Testament.

            Scripture was never expected to stand alone. It stands upon the foundation of the Sacred Tradition passed down by Jesus Christ and the cornerstone which is the Church which Jesus Christ established.

          • Doug Shaver

            There are no flaws or contradictions in Scripture.

            Of course not, if you can interpret the Bible any way you like. I could prove myself infallible, if my words can mean whatever it suits me to say they mean.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Of course not, if you can interpret the Bible any way you like. I could prove myself infallible, if my words can mean whatever it suits me to say they mean.

            Obviously there are contradictions in scripture, if it has to be taken literally... but this is a problem only for literalists, which De Maria and the overwhelming majority of Christians are not. But there is a very large range of interpretation possible between "literally" and "mean whatever it suits me to say". Do you not see other options Doug?

          • Doug Shaver

            I see lots of options that don't presuppose inerrancy.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Then why pose the false dichotomy between:
            "There are no flaws or contradictions in scripture"
            and
            "I could prove myself infallible if my words can mean whatever it suits me"?

          • Doug Shaver

            That is not a dichotomy. It's an analogue.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            What is an analogue of what?

          • Doug Shaver

            Certain arguments are used to demonstrate that there are no flaws or contradictions in scripture, notwithstanding numerous apparent counterexamples. I could use similar arguments to prove that I have never uttered a false statement in my life, notwithstanding numerous apparent counterexamples.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Ok now I follow you.

            There is a minority within Christianity who have adopted a fideist approach, they are typically absolutists regarding Sola Scriptura, often literalist, and regard human reason as radically corrupt. Conversely, the majority of Christians take a "faith AND reason" approach, and are fine with varying types of interpretations of scripture passages.

            There are obvious contradictions within scripture taken literally (the first two chapters of Genesis contradict each other regarding whether animals were created before or after humans). I cannot argue on behalf of the literalist group, and I find their position silly, and contrary to Christian tradition. Unfortunately the US seems to be a hotbed of this nonsense, for which I can only offer Americans my sympathy.

          • Doug Shaver

            Conversely, the majority of Christians take a "faith AND reason" approach, and are fine with varying types of interpretations of scripture passages.

            I think I made some comment in another thread about the multivalence of the word "faith" within the Christian community. Under any definition, though, I can't see it as a justification for arguments that beg the question.

            Plenty of skeptics, I'll admit in a heartbeat, do go to absurd lengths to find contradictions. The ranks of unbelievers include a substantial contingent of fools and charlatans. I agree that plenty of the Bible's apparent contradictions really are only apparent: they have credible resolutions. That noted, though, if some resolutions are credible only to people antecedently committed to the doctrine of inerrancy, then I think the doctrine has a serious problem.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            It is true, you can twist your mind into all kinds of contortions to rationalize how two apparently contradictory verses do not contradict each other. But this affliction stems from literalism, and a rampant misuse of the bible in the first place. It is not only the ranks of unbelievers where dwell the fools and charlatans!

          • Doug Shaver

            I decided many years ago to abandon any use of the argument that the Bible is not credible because it has contradictions. I have, in my own judgment, more than enough other reasons to question its credibility.

          • Not a valid comparison, in my opinion.

            1st. You, perhaps, could do so. But even you don't believe the idea that you are infallible. Therefore, you have never kept a record of your words, throughout your life.

            2nd. As far as I've seen, you don't claim to be God nor do you claim that you are providing or have ever provided the Word of God. Therefore, even if you claimed to be infallible, no one would care. And no one would test the claim.

            3rd. Scripture claims to be the Word of God and inerrant. And the claim is taken seriously by millions and has been taken seriously by millions more through the centuries.

            4th. Many, through the centuries, have tested the claim of inerrancy. Others have, in response, explained the apparent discrepancies.

            5th. All the claims of error in Scripture have been identified and explained.

            6th. Those who have heard the explanations and reject them, still hold to the idea that there is error and contradiction in Scripture. But their rejection of the explanation does not make them right.

            7th. Our explanations may not seem right to some. But they satisfy us and other believers. That is enough. The truth is true whether anyone believes it or not.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Hi De Maria, thanks for your comments, I am enjoying reading you. Welcome aboard the faith.

            3rd. Scripture claims to be the Word of God and inerrant.

            Scripture doesnt claim to be the "Word of God", no occurance of that phrase in scripture refers to scripture. And scripture doesn't claim to be "inerrant", and it wouldn't matter logically if it did. Inerrancy is a claim of the church about its scriptures.

            Have you read Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" yet?

          • Hi Garbanzo,

            Thanks for the welcome.

            Scripture doesnt claim to be the "Word of God", no occurance of that phrase in scripture refers to scripture. And scripture doesn't claim to be "inerrant", and it wouldn't matter logically if it did.

            Actually, it does. But you have to understand the underlying Tradition.

            First, we see Jesus saying:

            John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

            Jesus Christ is here saying that this Teaching is in Scripture, because Scripture is the Word of God and therefore, the Scripture is without error.

            Then we have St. Paul saying,

            2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

            If Scripture is "inspired of God", then it is, by definition, inerrant.

            Further, we have Jesus saying that the Church which He established would be infallible:

            Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

            This matters because Jesus Christ did not write the New Testament. The Church wrote the New Testament based upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ. That which we, today call, Sacred Tradition.

            Inerrancy is a claim of the church about its scriptures.

            That's the underlying Tradition. We both know that Jesus Christ established a Church and gave that Church a Deposit of Faith, otherwise known as Sacred Tradition. This Tradition includes the Teachings of the infallibility of the Church and the inerrancy of Scripture. These go hand in hand. When the Church wrote the New Testament, She wrote it based upon the Sacred Deposit of Jesus Christ. And since the Church is infallible, she wrote the New Testament without error.

            John 10:35 and 2 Tim 3:16 don't overtly say, "inerrancy of Scripture", but we know that they imply that Scripture is without error, because this is the Tadition which has been passed down in the Church from the time of Christ.

            Have you read Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" yet?

            Many years ago. I highly recommend it.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "To whom the word of God came" does not mean they read the scriptures, it means they received the prophetic spirit of God.
            There is an enthusiastic writeup on the subject here:
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kermitzarleyblog/2014/10/the-bible-is-not-the-word-of-god/

            Paul's claim in Timothy that "all scripture is inspired" would seem to imply, logically, that the epistle itself is not scripture. Or to put it another way, it would seem that when Paul refers to "all scripture" he is not referring to his own letter he is then creating or to those he has not yet even written.

            Yes, it is part of Catholic doctrine that scripture is inerrant, though scripture does not use that word.

          • Garbanzo Bean De Maria • 3 hours ago

            "To whom the word of God came" does not mean they read the scriptures, it means they received the prophetic spirit of God.
            There is an enthusiastic writeup on the subject here:
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/k…

            But in the context of John 10:35, Jesus Christ immediately made clear that He was speaking in reference to the Scriptures.

            Paul's claim in Timothy that "all scripture is inspired" would seem to imply, logically, that the epistle itself is not scripture. Or to put it another way, it would seem that when Paul refers to "all scripture" he is not referring to his own letter he is then creating or to those he has not yet even written.

            Perhaps. But it is the Holy Spirit which is speaking through St. Paul and I don't think the Holy Spirit is constrained by time. For confirmation that the Holy Spirit intended to write Scripture through St. Paul, we can turn to St. Peter who'said:

            2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

            Yes, it is part of Catholic doctrine that scripture is inerrant, though scripture does not use that word.

            Not in those words. But if "the Scripture can not be broken" does not mean that Scripture is without error, I don't know what it means.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "Scripture cannot be set aside" would be in regards to the fact that the author of the scriptures referred to some human beings as gods.
            I have re-read some recent discussions on the Catholic position on scriptural inerrancy; it seems to me to be in a much less developed state than I had thought.

          • What do you mean?

          • Doug Shaver

            Not a valid comparison, in my opinion.

            Your opinion is noted for the record.

  • If you believe that Genesis says that two biologically modern human beings first appeared at once and that all humans are descended from them, no, the theory of Evolution does not contradict this, paleontology contradicts this.

    The theory of evolution does not claim to account for the origins of life. It does not say that human diversity is the result of random processes, though random mutation is required. It does not say that human reason or intuitions are reliable to establish true beliefs.

    The theory of evolution says that most of the diversity of life on earth is the result of a process of unguided natural selection. (The rest is artificial selection by humans, eg breeds of animals and plants). If you read the book of Genesis as saying this is not the case, there is a contradiction. If you read the book of evolution as being compatible with this, there is no contradiction.

    • <a href="http://washedsanctifiedandjustified.blogspot.com/2014/10/contd-from-7qts-about-big-bang.html"There is no contradiction between Scripture and Science.

      The Genesis accounts reveals that two biological entities were "ensouled" at once and that all human souls are descended from them.

      • Well, it says that the first human was made from dust. Science says that is not the case. If you interpret "Genesis 2:7 (KJV)
        7[And the ] Lord[ God formed man ] of[ the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.]" to mean God "ensouled" pre-existing hominids that had evolved from a common answer with other great apes over millions of years and so on, you do not have a contradiction. Otherwise, only one can be true.

        • Well, it says that the first human was made from dust. Science says that is not the case.

          Have men not cloned an entire specimen, sheep and cat, by taking a bit of matter (i.e. dust) in the laboratory?

          Does the Scripture not describe God taking a part of Adam to make Eve?

          If you interpret "Genesis 2:7 (KJV)7[And the ] Lord[ God formed man ] of[ the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.]" to mean God "ensouled" pre-existing hominids that had evolved from a common answer with other great apes over millions of years and so on, you do not have a contradiction.

          That is how I interpret Genesis. But I do not deny the possibility that God, took a bit of dust and created a man, there and then. The Scripture says:

          Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

          Otherwise, only one can be true.

          I think that is premature. Science has far to go before they claim to know how man was created.

          Scripture is not a science text. And it is not intended to convey scientific data. But faith and reason do not contradict. Much of what Scripture reveals about nature is now being corroborated by science.

          • That is fine, you can interpret it however you like. But just note that you interpret it to be consistent with what science has discovered. It never works the other way round.

          • It certainly works the other way around.

            Science is rediscovering God. There is no scientific explanation for biogenesis. Not a reasonable one. Unless one adds God to the equation.

        • Garbanzo Bean

          "Well, it says that the first human was made from dust. Science says that is not the case."
          I thought materialists could get behind "made from dust". It sounds like a materialist claim of where life came from, and evolution proceeded to form man. So, evolution is the breath of God.

          • No, evolution is evolution. Abiogenesis is abiogenesis. It is nonsense to say "evolution is the breath of God." No theory of biology says that humans arose from dust being formed into human form and having some mysterious life force breathed into it by a divine being. I take Genesis to mean what it says, rather than, as you seem to be suggesting here, that it means humans arose from natural processes following hundreds of millions of years of evolution from common ancestors with mice and daffodils. If this is indeed what you interpret Genesis to mean, there is no contradiction with the theory of evolution. If you believe a supernatural being was necessary, there is a conflict.

            Evolution has no need for a "God" who breathed life into humans, or from some "ensoulment" event. Adding such unjustified conclusions is not science, or rational. If you feel the need to do so, for some spiritual or personal reason, you are free to do so.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Keep in mind that natural selection is eliminative, not productive. Evolution offers no explanation whatsoever of why life was produced in the first place, now why it continued to produce ever new life forms.
            I tend to interpret Genesis poetically, not scientifically.

          • No one claims that the Theory of Evolution explains the origins of life. As I've noted, you need a theory of abiogenesis.

            I also interpret Genesis poetically. I do not think that was the intention of the authors.

            Keep in mind that saying a God created life does not explain anything either. It just takes something mysterious, the origin of life from non-life and pretends to answer it with a greater mystery, an immaterial mind somehow made life happen by sheer will.

            Scientists investigating natural abiogenesis do not have enough evidence to meet the standards of science. But they have plausible explanations.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            It is nonsense to say "evolution is the breath of God."

            No, it is poetry.

            I take Genesis to mean what it says

            A literalist, then? Or what do you mean?

            The problem, generally, is with the entire materialist approach. A materialist account of building a house could start out something like this: some atoms and molecules over here pushed around some other atoms and molecules over there; this process continued and eventually there was a house. Now, this could be fine tuned to the point that every atom and molecule involved is accounted for, and no gap is left in the materialist record. Dont you think there is something left out of this account, even though it is a complete materialist account?

          • Well I'm confused now. What does it mean that God breathed a soul into a man he made from dust? What symbolic role does the nostril play in your poetic interpretation? If the interpretation is to be aesthetic, fine. If it is supposed to tell us something about our origins what is that?

            When I say I think it says what it means, I mean it says that an entity named Yaweh, literally created the first human from dust and made another from his rib. There is no indication of metaphor here, it appears to be a straightforward account of supernatural creation. I put it to you that the only reason we say it is some kind of poetic metaphor for what really happened is because science has indeed show anything like a literal account to be proposterous.

            Your straw man of a materialist account of house building is equally silly. Materialism does not deny intention, awe, wonder or poetry.

          • Brian Green Adams Garbanzo Bean • 2 hours ago

            Well I'm confused now.

            No you're not. It sounds to me like you're intentionally confusing issues.

            What does it mean that God breathed a soul into a man he made from dust? What symbolic role does the nostril play in your poetic interpretation? If the interpretation is to be aesthetic, fine. If it is supposed to tell us something about our origins what is that?

            I get the impression that you don't really want answers to the those questions. What you seem to be doing is denying that metaphor and poetry can be used as a teaching technique. Is that right?

            When I say I think it says what it means, I mean it says that an entity named Yaweh, literally created the first human from dust and made another from his rib. There is no indication of metaphor here,

            The key words there are, "I think". Can we agree that the world does not revolve around you and that you don't make the rules about how everyone is to understand Scripture.

            As for us, we follow Catholic Doctrine. And it tells us that Scripture is written in many literary techniques and is understood in many senses. This is a mere exchange in a comment box, so I'll just post one sentence of Catholic Teaching about how to understand Scripture. But if you want to learn how to understand Scripture according to Catholic Teaching, I suggest you take a course.

            1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

            it appears to be a straightforward account of supernatural creation. I put it to you that the only reason we say it is some kind of poetic metaphor for what really happened is because science has indeed show anything like a literal account to be proposterous.

            I put it to you that the only reason you won't admit that it is a poetic metaphor is because you want to justify your presuppositions.

            Your straw man of a materialist account of house building is equally silly. Materialism does not deny intention, awe, wonder or poetry.

            You did and continue to do so where it comes to denying Biblical Truth.

  • Doug Shaver

    Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing the truth. Why? Because our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival.

    The process of evolution includes random events, but to say that A includes B is not to say that A is B. Evolution is not a purely random process.

    • There is no such thing as a purely random process.

      1. the term "purely random process" is an oxymoron. Something is either "purely random" and not a process, by definition. Or something is a process and can't be described as purely random.

      2. it is mathematical and scientific fact that "pure randomness" is nonexistent. Math and science can not prove the existence of God. But math and science can prove that "pure randomness" does not exist.

      For purposes of illustration, let's take this example. Say you have a coin. You flip it. In our world, you get either heads or tails. In a purely random world, you could get, heads, tails, cows, pigs, etc. etc. But you would never get two outcomes the same since every outcome would be completely different, completely unrelated to the previous outcomes.

      In a purely random condition, no order could result.

      • Doug Shaver

        2. it is mathematical and scientific fact that "pure randomness" is nonexistent.

        I have read the works of quite a few mathematicians and scientists who have had something to say about that. Your statement does not represent anything like a consensus among them.

        • How did they interpret "purely random"?

          If "purely random" means that each event is totally unrelated to any other event, then pure randomness does not exist.

          If "purely random" means that an infinite number of possibilities have an equal chance of occurring, then pure randomness does not exist.

          But, if they claim that there is a finite number of possibilities, then they need to show "WHO" reduced the odds.

          • Doug Shaver

            How did they interpret "purely random"?

            Interpretation has nothing to do with it. We're talking about meaning. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, scientists and mathematicians define "random" to mean, in general, "having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard," or, in some particular contexts, "governed by or involving equal chances for each of the actual or hypothetical members of a population; (also) produced or obtained by a such a process, and therefore unpredictable in detail."

          • And you have thereby proved that pure randomness could not result in order. And if they can't result in order, they can't result in life. Because all living organisms are ordered.

            According to the Oxford English Dictionary, scientists and mathematicians define "random" to mean, in general, "having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard,"….

          • Doug Shaver

            And you have thereby proved that pure randomness could not result in order.

            I have not proved anything like that. And even if I had, it would be irrelevant because evolution is not pure randomness.

          • I have not proved anything like that.

            I think you did. And I think anybody reading your reply will come to the same conclusion. Let me show you. I made a very specific statement. I said:

            And you have thereby proved that pure randomness could not result in order.

            I didn't say anything about evolution in that statement. But you also said:

            And even if I had, it would be irrelevant because evolution is not pure randomness.

            Which means that you drew the right conclusion. You provided this definition for random:

            scientists and mathematicians define "random" to mean, in general, "having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard,"….

            That is disorder. And, although no scientist defines evolution as purely random, everyone accepts that there are some purely random elements to evolution. And they claim that these elements lead to more and more intricate organization and order. Whereas, that is impossible.

          • Doug Shaver

            everyone accepts that there are some purely random elements to evolution.

            Yes, they do.

            And they claim that these elements lead to more and more intricate organization and order.

            No, they don't.

          • Does evolution claim that all living creatures evolved from single celled organisms? Or not?

            All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds

            news.nationalgeographic.com/.../100513-sci...

            National Geographic Society

            May 14, 2010 - All life on Earth evolved from a single-celled organism that lived ... the group that includes plants and other multicellular species, such as …

            Are mammals more complex than those one celled creatures?

          • Doug Shaver

            Does evolution claim that all living creatures evolved from single celled organisms? Or not?

            What it claims is that all living creatures are related by descent with modification from a common ancestor. That common ancestor was, yes, a single-celled organism.

            Are mammals more complex than those one celled creatures?

            Yes, they are, but that complexity was produced by non-random forces.

          • Now this is where the rubber meets the road.

            Non-random force? As for me, I believe the Force which created the awesome complexity and beauty in nature, is God.

            What do you call your non-random force?

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't believe there is only one force at work in this universe.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Perhaps you could enumerate some random forces, and some non-random forces, so we know what sort of things you are talking about.

          • Doug Shaver

            Two examples of nonrandom forces are gravity and electromagnetism.

            I believe there are no actual random forces. When we speak of forces that result in random events, we're being metaphorical. The "forces" in those cases are states of affairs that, because of their complexity or other reasons, have a set of possible outcomes that can be modeled as random distributions. States of affairs are not forces in the sense used by physicists.

          • wo examples of nonrandom forces are gravity and electromagnetism.

            I believe there are no actual random forces.

            If you consider them, not random, then they are here for a purpose. And non sentient forces can not have a purpose, by definition.

            When we speak of forces that result in random events, we're being metaphorical. The "forces" in those cases are states of affairs that, because of their complexity or other reasons, have a set of possible outcomes that can be modeled as random distributions. States of affairs are not forces in the sense used by physicists.

            You say so.

            But you're substituting a bunch of unlikely, to my mind, impossible assumptions, for the one assumption that most elegantly and logically fits all the scientific theories.

            Now, these forces, if they are not random, are here for a purpose. They can not have given themselves a purpose unless they were sentient and conferred with each other as to what they would do to complement each other's power.

            The best explanation is that God produced these forces in order to accomplish His will in Creation.

          • Doug Shaver

            If you consider them, not random, then they are here for a purpose.

            I don't see why.

            If the universe has a purpose, then perhaps we could infer that the forces according to which it operates derive their purpose from the universe's purpose. I know of no reason to think the universe has a purpose.

          • I don't see why.

            Because, if they are not random, they are purposeful.

            If the universe has a purpose, then perhaps we could infer that the forces according to which it operates derive their purpose from the universe's purpose. I know of no reason to think the universe has a purpose.

            That seems to be the bulk of your argument. Either, you don't see it or you claim no reason to believe it.

            And I think that's pretty much all you've got. That is to what the atheistic argument boils down.

            But just because you don't have a reason or you don't see a reason, doesn't mean that we don't also.

            We can see by the fossil record that life becomes more complex. We also see that the highest form of life created was a human being. We see in the Revelation of God that He disclosed that all nature was created for human beings.

            Therefore, science and Faith agree in this matter. And there are many more reasons which we have which lead us to believe in God.

          • Doug Shaver

            That seems to be the bulk of your argument. Either, you don't see it or you claim no reason to believe it.

            What's wrong with that argument? If I don't have a reason to believe something, what obliges me to believe it?

            We see in the Revelation of God that He disclosed that all nature was created for human beings.

            Yes. You believe God has given us a revelation, because you have a book that says so. And you believe the book because an authority has told you that you must believe it.

            That seems to be the bulk of your argument. Either, you don't see it or you claim no reason to believe it.

            And I think that's pretty much all you've got. That is to what the atheistic argument boils down.

            And your argument seems to boil down to submission to authority.

          • What's wrong with that argument?

            It isn't an argument. It is merely a subjective preference.

            If I don't have a reason to believe something, what obliges me to believe it?

            Nothing. I'm just highlighting that it isn't based on logic or reason. Its simply based on personal preference.

            And your argument seems to boil down to submission to authority.

            That's not how I see it. The first thing I did is reject the flawed atheistic arguments that life could spring from non-living matter on its own and that the random forces released in the Big Bang could result in order and intelligence.

            Then, I accepted what I consider a better and more reasonable explanation for Reality.

            Then, knowing that God is the greatest Being in Existence, yes, I made a conscious decision to yield to Him through the organization which I believe speaks for Him.

          • Doug Shaver

            What's wrong with that argument?

            It isn't an argument.

            You said it was my argument.

            If I don't have a reason to believe something, what obliges me to believe it?

            Nothing.

            OK. Then I'm not doing anything wrong if I don't believe it.

            I'm just highlighting that it isn't based on logic or reason. Its simply based on personal preference.

            If you don't see any logic or reason in my thinking, I'm not at all surprised.

          • You said it was my argument.

            That's true. Then you asked me, "what is wrong with that argument?" And I told you that it is not an argument because it is mere subjective personal preference. You fail to explain anything. You simply say, "I don't believe it."

            An argument consists of a rational explanation for your position.

            Argument - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument
            Wikipedia

            In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion.

            Simply responding with, "I don't believe it." Does not constitute an argument. Or if it does, it is of the weakest sort.

            If you don't see any logic or reason in my thinking, I'm not at all surprised.

            The point is that I don't see any logic or reason in the words, "I don't believe it." At the most, that just explains that you reject our reasons out of hand, without any reason. It does not substitute for rational argumentation.

          • Doug Shaver

            So you admit to saying both that I have an argument and that I have no argument?

          • Lol! That's funny, Doug.

            Yes. I admit that, in my opinion, your argument contains no rational explanation for your position. It boils down to a rejection of our position, out of hand. Therefore, it can be said, that your argument contains no rational arguments.

          • Doug Shaver

            . . . arguments that life could spring from non-living matter on its own and that the random forces released in the Big Bang could result in order and intelligence.

            So that's what you used to think? That was not atheism. That was scientific illiteracy.

          • So that's what you used to think? That was not atheism. That was scientific illiteracy.

            That is what atheists claim that science teaches. And you're right, it amounts to scientific illiteracy.

          • Doug Shaver

            That is what atheists claim that science teaches.

            Some atheists might make such a claim. There is nothing about religious disbelief that endows anyone with a proper understanding of science.

          • Lol! You'll get no argument from me.

          • Nor do I. But I believe all the forces were put here by God. The reason being that forces which pre-existed or were born with creation, would not produce the order we see in the universe unless they were sentient beings.

          • Doug Shaver

            forces which pre-existed or were born with creation, would not produce the order we see in the universe unless they were sentient beings.

            You believe that, and so you may infer whatever it implies. I don't believe it, and so I can infer nothing from it.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        A random process is a process that is indeterminate. That is all. For example, a grasshopper could take one step forward on the number line every second starting at 0. We can determine exactly where the grasshopper will be at 10 seconds, because this process is deterministic.

        An example of a random process would be a random walk (or Brownian Motion). In this case, the grasshopper would either take a step forward or backwards every second. We have no way of knowing where the grasshopper will be at 10 seconds. This is a random process.

        This is what mathematicians and scientists mean when they are talking about random processes. You are talking about something different. I'm not sure what it is you are talking about, but sense it is mathematical in nature, it would be nice to have a precise definition.

        For purposes of illustration, let's take this example. Say you have a coin. You flip it. In our world, you get either heads or tails. In a purely random world, you could get, heads, tails, cows, pigs, etc. etc

        There are probability spaces that could reflect this scenario. Describing this mathematically isn't necessarily a problem.

  • Doug Shaver

    "But," you might be thinking, "surely evolution contradicts the creation account in Genesis."

    No, it doesn't.

    It certainly does contradict certain interpretations of the Genesis account, and many Christians think those interpretations are the only correct interpretations.

    I would worry about whose interpretation was correct if I felt obliged to believe the Genesis account, but I feel no such obligation. Genesis is a record of what some ancient peoples believed about how their world came into existence. I see no reason to give those beliefs any credence under any interpretation.

  • Doug Shaver

    our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival.

    So what? Our actions are based on our beliefs. The notion that we should expect no correlation between the truth of our beliefs and the likelihood that actions based on those beliefs will facilitate our survival seems plain silly to me.

    • I agree. But sillier than that is the idea that a "random evolutionary process" would be aimed at anything. Whether it be survival or beliefs.

      Only an intelligent being can create something with an aim at producing certain results.

      • Doug Shaver

        But sillier than that is the idea that a "random evolutionary process" would be aimed at anything.

        Yes, that would be silly. But nobody who actually understands evolution is under the impression that it is entirely a random process.

        • Yes, that would be silly. But nobody who actually understands evolution is under the impression that it is entirely a random process.

          If it is not entirely random, then who manipulated the odds?

          • Doug Shaver

            Why should I think any odds were manipulated?

          • Because there are limited number of events. Someone limited the number.

            Example: Dice. Someone made them and restricted the number of random events to that number.

            DNA. Before evolution began, before evolution could begin, Someone created dna and thus restricted the number of events that could result to those which could pass on life.

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't believe DNA was created. I believe it was produced by natural forces.

          • I understand.

            I believe that DNA was produced by God. The reason being that, in my opinion, natural forces occurring at random could not produce the complex codes and messages which are found in DNA and which according to science, pass on information throughout the organism instructing said organism how to behave.

          • Doug Shaver

            The reason being that, in my opinion, natural forces occurring at random could not produce the complex codes and messages which are found in DNA

            You opinion is based on a misunderstanding of the relevant science. No one who regards evolution as a fact thinks that any natural forces are occurring at random.

          • You opinion is based on a misunderstanding of the relevant science. No one who regards evolution as a fact thinks that any natural forces are occurring at random.

            This is an article from the University of Berkeley:

            Mutations are Random

            The mechanisms of evolution—like natural selection and genetic drift—work with the random variation generated by mutation.

            Factors in the environment are thought to influence the rate of mutationbut are not generally thought to influence the direction of mutation. For example, exposure to harmful chemicals may increase the mutation rate, but will not cause more mutations that make the organism resistant to those chemicals. In this respect, mutations are random—whether a particular mutation happens or not is generally unrelated to how useful that mutation would be…..

            Here's another article:
            Forces of Evolution - LiveScience

            http://www.livescience.com/1796-forces-evolution.html

            Aug 15, 2007 - Scientists accept four forces driving the evolution of complex organisms. ... These include: mutation, random genetic drift and gene flow….

            Are they wrong? Or are you using the terms "random" or "evolution" in some different sense?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, you are using the terms random in a different sense than usual. A random process is one that is indeterminate. That is all.

            I believe that DNA was produced by God. The reason being that, in my opinion, natural forces occurring at random could not produce the complex codes and messages which are found in DNA and which according to science, pass on information throughout the organism instructing said organism how to behave.

            Counterexample. Complicated things can be formed via random processes:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion-limited_aggregation
            Exactly how did God create DNA? Did he have to intervene in the universe to create life? If we do find a natural process that is responsible for DNA, will God no longer be necessary?

          • Ignatius Reilly De Maria • a day ago

            No, you are using the terms random in a different sense than usual.

            I'm using random precisely as it is defined.

            A random process is one that is indeterminate.

            in·de·ter·mi·nate

            ˌindəˈtərmənət/

            adjective

            not exactly known, established, or defined.

            You just shot your argument in the foot.

            That is all.

            Agreed.

            Counterexample. Complicated things can be formed via random processes:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…

            Dig deeper. Go to the examples provided and read the description:

            These works come from a study of organic natural forms and their relationship to simple mathematical rules.

            If they are done according to mathematical rules, then they are not random.

            Exactly how did God create DNA? Did he have to intervene in the universe to create life? If we do find a natural process that is responsible for DNA, will God no longer be necessary?

            Science hasn't answered those questions. But science has shown that all which was created observes various natural laws. The existence of these natural laws are very strong evidence for the existence of God.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            By indeterminate, it is meant that we do not know how the process will unfold. For instance, if we have a grasshopper that hops along a number by sometimes hopping forward one step and sometimes hopping backwards every second, this would be indeterminate. This is also known as a random walk. After 10 seconds, we cannot know where along the number line the grasshopper will be. This is all that is meant by indeterminate.

            A deterministic process would be if the grasshopper jumped forward one space every second. We would know that at 10 seconds the grasshopper would be at 10. The grasshoppers position is determined.

            I'm using random precisely as it is defined.

            You are not using the term as mathematicians and scientists understand it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomness

            From the article:

            A random process is a sequence of random variables describing a process whose outcomes do not follow a deterministic pattern, but follow an evolution described by probability distributions.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_process

            And from that article:

            This is the probabilistic counterpart to a deterministic process (or deterministic system). Instead of describing a process which can only evolve in one way (as in the case, for example, of solutions of an ordinary differential equation), in a stochastic or random process there is some indeterminacy: even if the initial condition (or starting point) is known, there are several (often infinitely many) directions in which the process may evolve.

            These works come from a study of organic natural forms and their relationship to simple mathematical rules.

            If they are done according to mathematical rules, then they are not random

            That is not true.

            Science hasn't answered those questions. But science has shown that all which was created observes various natural laws. The existence of these natural laws are very strong evidence for the existence of God.

            So God did or did not need to directly create DNA after already creating the universe? You claimed that because science did not know how DNA was created and that it could not have come about naturally that God must have intervened to bring life into the universe. T
            The existence of natural laws have no bearing on whether or not a god exists. They are simply the patterns that we see in the universe. However, if we know the law giver by his laws, we can say that whoever created the natural laws that we live by is cruel and unjust.

          • Ignatius Reilly De Maria • 21 hours ago

            By indeterminate, it is meant that we do not know how the process will unfold. For instance, if we have a grasshopper that hops along a number by sometimes hopping forward one step and sometimes hopping backwards every second, this would be indeterminate. This is also known as a random walk. After 10 seconds, we cannot know where along the number line the grasshopper will be. This is all that is meant by indeterminate.

            That is a very simplistic example which does not apply to evolution.

            In other words, it is a random walk because you don't know in what direction the grasshopper is walking.

            But according to evolution, you know the direction. The direction is towards further and further complexity. According to evolution, life started with one celled creatures and so far, has culminated with animals of major complexity.

            And, if you examine even the least complex of the creatures, they contain and pass on information which human intelligence is just now learning to interpret.

            A deterministic process would be if the grasshopper jumped forward one space every second. We would know that at 10 seconds the grasshopper would be at 10. The grasshoppers position is determined.

            A deterministic process would produce predictable results. Scientists are learning how to predict evolution. Once they do, they will prove that these forces are not random. But produced by an overarching super Intelligence which we call God.

          • Ignatius Reilly De Maria • 21 hours ago

            By indeterminate, it is meant that we do not know how the process will unfold. For instance, if we have a grasshopper that hops along a number by sometimes hopping forward one step and sometimes hopping backwards every second, this would be indeterminate. This is also known as a random walk. After 10 seconds, we cannot know where along the number line the grasshopper will be. This is all that is meant by indeterminate.

            That is a very simplistic example which does not apply to evolution.

            In other words, it is a random walk because you don't know in what direction the grasshopper is walking.

            But according to evolution, you know the direction. The direction is towards further and further complexity. According to evolution, life started with one celled creatures and so far, has culminated with animals of major complexity.

            And, if you examine even the least complex of the creatures, they contain and pass on information which human intelligence is just now learning to interpret.

            A deterministic process would be if the grasshopper jumped forward one space every second. We would know that at 10 seconds the grasshopper would be at 10. The grasshoppers position is determined.

            A deterministic process would produce predictable results. Scientists are learning how to predict evolution. Once they do, they will prove that these forces are not random. But produced by an overarching super Intelligence which we call God.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That is a very simplistic example which does not apply to evolution.

            In other words, it is a random walk because you don't know in what direction the grasshopper is walking.

            Usually simple examples are the best for illustration. A random walk can model a genetic drift, which is a part of evolutionary theory.

            But according to evolution, you know the direction. The direction is towards further and further complexity. According to science, life started with one celled creatures and so far, has culminated with animals of major complexity.

            That is not true. There is not a direction towards complexity. There is a direction towards survival. What we have witnessed (out of the many possible evolutionary directions) is not the only way evolutionary forces can proceed. That is why is a random or indeterminate process. Evolution does not work towards the existence of an intelligent species. For instance, Humans would possibly have never evolved if it was not for a cataclysmic event that destroyed the dinosaurs.

            A deterministic process would produce predictable results. Scientists are learning how to predict evolution. Once they do, they will prove that these forces are not random. But produced by an overarching super Intelligence which we call God

            Not just predictable results, but certain results. We know where that grasshopper is at every second. We can use random processes to predict where a stock will most likely be at in two days (and we could be very wrong), but we do not know exactly where it will be at in two days. Random processes can have predictability.

            You will have to wait until scientists find evidence for God designing evolution before you make that claim. I would not be optimistic though, the trend of science has been to remove God from where He was once thought necessary. However, if science does find God, you will still have all your work in front of you. You will need to show that your particular god is God.

            Whether He created it directly, only He knows. Scientists can't prove that one way or the other. Or are you claiming that science can prove this?

            I don't make claims about what scientists can or cannot prove until they actually prove it. If scientists succeed in finding a natural process that forms DNA, that will certainly be evidence against God directly creating it. If they do not, that will not be evidence that God directly intervened, it will only be evidence that we do not yet know who DNA was formed.

            I don't remember making any such claim. But I do remember saying that DNA contains so much information and of such a high complexity, that these could not have come about by a RANDOM process.

            But you have yet to show me that you know what a random process is. I have given you examples of very complex patterns that have come about as a result of a random process.

            By the way, "natural" and "random" are not synonyms. God produced all which you see in nature.

            Never said they were. Do you have evidence for your claim that God produced all that we see? I suppose all that we see includes forest fires, earthquakes, mass extinctions, volcanos, hurricanes, tornados, disease, plague, and other natural disasters.

            You actually have to give evidence that natural laws require a God. You then have to give further evidence that your god is God.

            I disagree, God is all loving and all beautiful. However, this discussion is about whether Genesis and Evolution contradict. Not about your opinion of God's attributes.

            So you prefer to discuss atheistic strawman to the actual objections that atheists bring with regard to evolution and genesis. For instance, according to evolutionary theory there was much death and destruction in the world before the fall. This contradicts the Biblical account, which says that our first parents sin brought death into the world. Evolution however, requires death to form new species. What does the law of evolution say about the supposed law giver?

          • Usually simple examples are the best for illustration. A random walk can model a genetic drift, which is a part of evolutionary theory.

            That is not true. There is not a direction towards complexity.

            Didn't you say that we learn from deducted reasoning from examples of real life?

            Did all life evolve from single celled creatures or not? Are mammals more complex than one celled creatures or not?

            There is a direction towards survival.

            Apparently, survival entails more complexity. Because the animals we see today are more complex than the one celled organisms which sprang to life from the primordial ooze.

            What we have witnessed

            Nothing. It is mere surmise. You weren't there.

            (out of the many possible evolutionary directions) is not the only way evolutionary forces can proceed. That is why is a random or indeterminate process. Evolution does not work towards the existence of an intelligent species. For instance, Humans would possibly have never evolved if it was not for a cataclysmic event that destroyed the dinosaurs.

            But humans did come into being. And random forces can't produce intelligent ordered results. No one can use reason to deduct this idea. No such thing has ever been witnessed in nature.

            Not just predictable results, but certain results. We know where that grasshopper is at every second.

            And you have just shot your RANDOMNESS idea right in the foot. Because if you know where the grasshopper is at EVERY step, you know where it is going. And if you know where it is going, then it isn't a random walk.

            We can use random processes to predict where a stock will most likely be at in two days (and we could be very wrong), but we do not know exactly where it will be at in two days. Random processes can have predictability.

            Thank you. And who created the stock market? And who created the forces which affect the stock market?

            These things are created and affected by man's actions. Now, use your deductive reasoning.

            You will have to wait until scientists find evidence for God designing evolution before you make that claim.

            They have already found it. You just reject the evidence because you don't want to believe this to be true.

            I would not be optimistic though,

            What you want is besides the point.

            the trend of science has been to remove God from where He was once thought necessary.

            That might be your trend because you misuse the sciences. You admitted yourself that science can not disprove God's existence. Yet, you take scientific data and mix in your false assumptions and come to false conclusions.

            However, if science does find God, you will still have all your work in front of you. You will need to show that your particular god is God.

            I can do that.

            I don't make claims about what scientists can or cannot prove until they actually prove it. If scientists succeed in finding a natural process that forms DNA, that will certainly be evidence against God directly creating it.

            But not evidence against the existence of God.

            If they do not, that will not be evidence that God directly intervened, it will only be evidence that we do not yet know who DNA was formed.

            And still not evidence against the existence of God.

            And, still talking about DNA, if we see a simple sheet of paper with a message on it, we don't assume it was made by random forces. But we deductively reason that it was made by a human intelligence.

            Therefore, since we know that DNA contains intricate, detailed information which instructs the organism how to function, we deductively reason that it was made by an intelligence of a higher order than any we have ever seen since human intelligence can not produce it or replicate it.

            But you have yet to show me that you know what a random process is. I have given you examples of very complex patterns that have come about as a result of a random process.

            The term "random process" is an oxymoron. No process is random. Random means "indeterminate" as you described. No process is indeterminate.

            proc·ess1

            ˈpräˌses,ˈprōˌses/

            noun

            1.

            a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

            You don't agree with this because you have a presupposition that you need to justify to yourself. Once you are rid of your presupposition then you will begin to see things as they are in reality.

            Never said they were. Do you have evidence for your claim that God produced all that we see?

            It is "self-evident" as you would say. Nothing else can account for the complexity of life. Nothing else can account for its beauty.

            I suppose all that we see includes forest fires, earthquakes, mass extinctions, volcanos, hurricanes, tornados, disease, plague, and other natural disasters.

            Nothing else can account for any of those things. God is awesome in every sense of the word.

            You actually have to give evidence that natural laws require a God. You then have to give further evidence that your god is God.

            Look at the evidence that we have already discussed and use that vaunted deducted reasoning you have claimed to know.

            So you prefer to discuss atheistic strawman to the actual objections that atheists bring with regard to evolution and genesis.

            We are discussing evolution and genesis. Not your personally presuppositions about a god in whom you don't believe.

            For instance, according to evolutionary theory there was much death and destruction in the world before the fall.

            Yep.

            This contradicts the Biblical account, which says that our first parents sin brought death into the world.

            Death of the soul. The Original Sin was a mortal sin.

            Evolution however, requires death to form new species.

            No, actually. That is an assumption with no basis in truth. For instance, if we look at Darwin's finches, we see several branches which will presumably evolve into different species, simultaneously.

            What does the law of evolution say about the supposed law giver?

            There is no law of evolution. It is a mere theory.

            And, the beauty of creation says that the Creator is all beautiful since it is from Him that all beauty is derived.

            The evidence which we find of evolution also points to the Intelligence of the Creator, since the simplest of creatures which we can find contain and pass on information of an order higher than human intelligence, since human beings can not produce or replicate any of it.

          • Doug Shaver

            Are they wrong?

            No.

            Or are you using the terms "random" or "evolution" in some different sense?

            No. Those sources support what I'm saying, not what you're saying.

          • No. Those sources support what I'm saying, not what you're saying.

            I don't think so. But you're welcome to explain.

          • Doug Shaver

            My explanation would be pointless. The lurkers can read your quotations and decide for themselves whether they are more consistent with what I'm saying or what you're saying.

          • My explanation would be pointless. The lurkers can read your quotations and decide for themselves whether they are more consistent with what I'm saying or what you're saying.

            Agreed.

        • Great Silence

          Could you please give us an example of what other possible answers we could be looking at, other than a creator or a random process? Deism?

          • Doug Shaver

            If you must ask, my answer would have to recapitulate everything your science teachers in elementary and high school were supposed to have told you.

          • Great Silence

            No real answer then.

          • Doug Shaver

            None that you'd be satisfied with.

  • In my opinion, there is no such thing as "purely random".

    If any process were "purely random" nothing could ever happen, since random means that one event is totally unrelated to the next. The only way that anything could have come about is if an Intelligence had limited the possible events based upon certain laws.

    This pretty much guarantees the existence of God. Since there is no other possible explanation for the existence of such laws.

  • Folks,

    Purely random processes can't lead to any type of organization. All that they can create is chaos. Organisms, by definition, are organized.

    And there can be no "reason" unless there is a Sentient Being who produces it and gives it to organisms which arose according to His plan.

    Pure randomness is chaos. Even Satan is incapable of producing it, although he is working hard to destroy God's plans and reduce them as close as he can, to chaos.

    • Mike

      They think that it's more reasonable to presume literal nothingness created all of this beauty and amazing mathematical exactitude than a mind!

      • Doug Shaver

        I know of no one who thinks literal nothingness created anything.

        • Mike

          Sorry atheists believe that there was never real nothing only the "initial stages" of the universe so the laws of physics and some quantum vacuum say BUT those things always existed or were created by literal nothing according to atheists, correct? basically everything catholics believe except God.

          • Doug Shaver

            Sorry atheists believe that there was never real nothing only the "initial stages" of the universe so the laws of physics and some quantum vacuum

            How do you know that about atheists? Has someone done a survey on what atheists believe about the origins of the universe?

            those things always existed or were created by literal nothing according to atheists, correct?

            I'm an atheist. I don't believe that.

          • Mike

            Isn't that what atheism is? All the same stuff catholics believe about the physical universe minus God? So they replace "God" with "quantum vacuum" or "Chance" or "Necessity" or something like that something metaphysical like that?

          • Doug Shaver

            Isn't that what atheism is? All the same stuff catholics believe about the physical universe minus God?

            No. Atheism is the absence of theism, and that is all it is.

          • Mike

            ok, thanks.

          • Doug Shaver

            You're very welcome.

          • Doug Shaver

            Mike, I can understand how someone could get that impression, if their only encounter with atheism was on a few websites. Most atheists (not all) who engage in any sort of activism are, as a matter of contingent fact, committed to a scientific worldview of the sort that the Roman Catholic Church is, with obvious exceptions, comfortable with.

          • Mike

            Yes that's why to me secular catholics and jews are basically atheists in that their lives have almost nil "need" for supernatural elements and are happy "picking daisies" as they say.

            "Serious" catholics begin by making metaphysical claims about reality whereas atheists don't believe there is enough evidence to make most claims and especially not enough evidence to make the "strong" claims that the church makes; they are generally speaking Skeptics?

  • Jerry Joseph

    Look at the life of Jesus. How he teached people.? Through parables . It contains a message to convey. Like wise may be God want to convey message of creation through a parable. Also bible ends with another story type book (Revelation). We cannot literally interpret that. Message is conveyed through a story.

  • Joaozinho Martins

    "The ancients knew as well as we do that the presence or absence of the sun is what makes it day or night, and so he took this as an indicators that the text was using a literary device and not presenting a literal chronology". Speculations and personal opinions vary. We should have no problems in taking Genesis 1 as a literal account of creation. In fact, the first verse describes a creation that is unique. What is described in Genesis 1:3-31 is a restorative work of re-creation in six literal days subsequent to the chaos on earth as in Genesis 1:2. For details,
    Visit:> http://www.separationtruth.com/resources/GAP-SECTION+1..pdf
    Also visit:> http://christianreading.com/jmartins/

  • Lawrence Auster wrote in 2006:

    This “stochastic” idea is apparently that God could plant all the apparently random mutations in the mix which would still lead to fish and spiders and birds and chimpanzees. And I repeat, if the “randomness” was created by an intelligence to have certain results, then the process is not random, even if it appears random to us.

    This idea is exceptionally hard for people to get, for two reasons: one, because it is so simple; and two, because they want so strongly to believe both in God and in Darwinism, and this idea precludes that. If the mutations occur randomly, then there’s no intelligent purpose behind them. If there is an intelligent purpose behind the mutations, then they are not random. Any definition of randomness that is used to get around this fundamental logical contradicton is not honest in my opinion.

  • catsandfictionalcharacters

    Hi. I just got my Disqus profile and don't really know how to use it, so forgive me if make any mistakes.
    I read your article and believe that my question wasn't addressed. If it was and I missed it, I apologize. My question is this: Genesis Chapter 1 verses 29 and 30, say "29 And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat. 30: Ad to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was done." I had Catholicism hammered into me ever since I was born. I know that Catholics, or the ones I know, agree with everything you said in this article. I know that they believe that not everything in the bible should be taken literally. But I don't see how this passage could possibly be taken in any way other than that all animals were vegans before the fall, and that it was only after the fall that suffering began. There is a wealth of evidence saying that animals were killing and eating each other and going extinct way before humans even existed. How do you explain that?
    My name is Catherine Manney, by the way. I think the rules said I was supposed to say that, but again, I just signed up. Thanks to anyone who is taking the time to read this, and I would love it if someone responded.

    • Hi, I hope I can help.

      Hi. I just got my Disqus profile and don't really know how to use it, so forgive me if make any mistakes.I read your article and believe that my question wasn't addressed. If it was and I missed it, I apologize. My question is this: Genesis Chapter 1 verses 29 and 30, say "29 And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat. 30: Ad to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was done."

      In other words, God has given all plants as food for the creatures on earth. In an allegorical sense, plants do feed all animals. Flesh eating animals eat plant eating animals and without plants all life as we know it would disappear from this planet.

      I had Catholicism hammered into me ever since I was born. I know that Catholics, or the ones I know, agree with everything you said in this article. I know that they believe that not everything in the bible should be taken literally. But I don't see how this passage could possibly be taken in any way other than that all animals were vegans before the fall, and that it was only after the fall that suffering began. There is a wealth of evidence saying that animals were killing and eating each other and going extinct way before humans even existed. How do you explain that?

      The fall (i.e. Original Sin) is about the death of the soul (i.e. mortal sin). Not about the death of animal life. Only human beings have souls.

      My name is Catherine Manney, by the way. I think the rules said I was supposed to say that, but again, I just signed up. Thanks to anyone who is taking the time to read this, and I would love it if someone responded.

      If that helps. See also, this.

      • catsandfictionalcharacters

        Thanks! :)

  • Yikes. This is why Christianity has become a kind of running embarrassment. This is one of the more shallow pieces I've seen on this issue, as it fails to engage the deepest issues that evolution poses for the Christian narrative. Worst of all, we have the opening statement:

    "The theory of evolution proposes an explanation for how life in general and mankind in particular arose. It holds that that there was a long period in which natural processes gave rise to life and to the different life forms on earth."

    Great. Another religious person who doesn't understand the difference between evolutionary and abiogenetic theory. I'm starting to wonder if there is a religious person out there who actually understands evolutionary science.

    • So you're saying that abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution?

      At what point then, did lifeless matter begin to evolve into living matter? Did matter begin to live before it had the necessary attributes to survive and reproduce?

      Oh, I get it, you want us to take for granted that suddenly a rock grew a mouth, teeth and lungs and legs and eyes all this happened without any forethought or design. It just happened. One day, there was life on earth and evolution began.

      Sorry. Talk to someone who believes in miracles. I believe in God.

      • We actually don't know enough about the origins of life and organic matter to say how it fits into contemporary evolutionary theory. These are open (and exciting) questions.

        What I find rather strange, and logically untenable, is filling this vacuum of ignorance with the deity of our choice. Is this not "God-of-the-Gaps" theology--ascribing that which science has yet to explain to our God?

        And it looks like you have created a caricature of modern science. I suppose one could say that Chrstianity is the belief that a primordial man and rib-woman brought sin into the world and incestuously populated the earth so that a Palestinian zombie-carpenter could sacrifice himself to himself to cure humanity for a disease he himself foreordained? See how easy that is?

        Of course, neither is quite accurate, is it?

        • neil_ogi

          then why you cling to your 'belief system' if you can't prove anything? is atheistic arguments for the origin of life testable? then if not, then why cling to it?

          • Please tidy up your grammar so people can better understand what you're asking. Your question (AIUI) doesn't make sense. There aren't "atheistic arguments" for the origin of life. The origin of life (abiogenesis) is an unresolved question in science. And even if it were resolved, it wouldn't necessarily tell us anything about whether theism or atheism is true. To follow this logic is to engage in God-of-the-gaps reasoning, something most sophisticated theologians abandoned long ago...

          • neil_ogi

            why you are sooo concerned about my grammar? sooo affected?

            if that issue is unsettled, then why evolutionists still insist that life's origin was just a 'natural' cause?

          • If you cannot string together an intelligible sentence I cannot properly answer what you are asking.

            Evolutionists aren't "insisting" anything, since the question of life's origin (on earth and elsewhere) is, once again, unresolved. When we don't have an answer, we don't fill the void with dogma. You were thinking of religion. Religion does that, prolifically.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: ' we don't have an answer, we don't fill the void with dogma.' - atheists have filled that dogma by injecting the panspermia hypotheses. (aliens seeding life).. don't deny it.

            atheism is classified as religion, too.. because it has many beliefs that are irrational and unscientific (e.g. universe's origin just 'pop' out of nothing, non-living things evolved to become living things) - they are dogmas.. they are just the result of imaginary thinking of atheists and you.

            you're actually the first one who criticise my use of english language. FYI, english is just my 3rd language, after visayan and tagalog.

          • "atheists have filled that dogma by injecting the panspermia hypotheses. (aliens seeding life)"

            What does atheism have to do with panspermia?

            "atheism is classified as religion, too"

            Citation required.

            "because it has many beliefs that are irrational and unscientific (e.g. universe's origin just 'pop' out of nothing, non-living things evolved to become living things)"

            Try to keep up. None of that has anything to do with atheism. And those are gross misrepresentations of science. Have you ever actually read a science book?

            Is this what passes for public discourse these days?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'What does atheism have to do with panspermia?' - it does because that's what your atheist evolutionists believe.

            quote: '"atheism is classified as religion, too"

            Citation required. - of course, you believe is something 'that is not there' and believe 'that's there'.. i only want: where's the evidence? that's your claim, and that claim must have facts and evidences

            quote: 'Try to keep up. None of that has anything to do with atheism. And those are gross misrepresentations of science.' - then why not just rebut my claims against atheistic sciences?

          • "it does because that's what your atheist evolutionists believe."

            Not this atheist, nor any atheist of which I'm aware.

            "of course, you believe is something 'that is not there' and believe 'that's there'.. i only want: where's the evidence? that's your claim, and that claim must have facts and evidences"

            This is gobbledygook. Try again.

            "then why not just rebut my claims against atheistic sciences?"

            More gobbledygook. What in the world is "atheistic sciences"? There's no such thing. Science isn't inherently atheistic nor theistic, because it doesn't carry a metaphysically necessary conclusion.

            Please stop wasting others' time with inane caricatures of what you *think* they believe. Instead, here's a thought: Why not just ask them?

          • William Davis

            I spent some time trying to explain things to Neil in a humble and completely academic fashion. The phrase "pearls before swine" comes to mind...

          • neil_ogi

            nope, when i ask you if you really believe the writers of wiki, you have no reply. you'd just simply answer a 'yes' or 'no' answer but instead you attack my education, why the philippnes and south american countries are still poor because of domineering catholic church influence on governments, etc

          • neil_ogi

            anyway, if the philippine education systems are 'poor' according to you, william, you must not expect every filipino engineers, scientists, nurses, doctors, seamen, etc in every continent of this planet. how dare you said that!

          • William Davis

            Lol, at least you remember that be thing correctly from our convo ;)

          • neil_ogi

            because you are attacking me, or the catholic church. you are not into the issues, as i've said before.

            ad homs attackers are no place in this civilized society

          • William Davis

            You've made it clear that talking about the issues with you is impossible. All that's left is an explanation of why. The problem is either you, or your environment, I think it's polite to assume it's your environment :)

          • neil_ogi

            just stick to the issues, as i've said before..

          • neil_ogi

            why not just rebut my claims? all you do is just talk nonsense issues? are you aware that most of your scientists are rejecting science? (science doesn't prove anything?).

            you are just wasting my time here. i didn't invite you to comment in my posts.. since you are involve now, why not comment on my other posts?

            i said 'atheistic science' because, when most evolutionary theories failed the scrutiny of science (e.g. laws of biogenesis, laws of entrophy), they will try harder in order for their mythical theories (non-living things evolve into living things) to be included in mainstream science, even if TRUE science rejects that wishful 'atheistic science'!

            so tell me if your 'atheistic sciences' have support from true sciences?

          • Michael Murray

            you are just wasting my time here. i didn't invite you to comment in my posts.

            Posting on a public website like this does by implication invite comment on your posts. If you think someone is wasting your time then just don't reply to them.

            Note to self: Try to take own advice next time.

          • neil_ogi

            i welcome replies but not name-calling, ad homs, rude and uncivilised one, nor out-of- issues comments

          • "i didn't invite you to comment in my posts"

            Actually, you did. You replied to my comment on this post. That's like initiating a conversation, and it would be rude for me not to respond.

            Instead of commenting here, I think your time would be better spent on picking up a book. Any one except the Bible. You (and your grammar skills) will thank me for it later.

          • neil_ogi

            i welcome replies but not name-calling, ad homs, rude and uncivilised one, nor out-of- issues comments. have you read my earlier reply to you? english is just my 3rd language, and if you found my english improper to you, so be it, as long as someone understands it. do you speak more than 2 languages as i do?

          • It's not your poor English that is the problem. It is your utter confusion and misinformed outlook on the matters in which you are discussing--the confluence of which can be gleaned amid the linguistic imprecision. It is not ad hominem to give well intentioned advice.

          • Try picking up the following...

            The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Sagan, 1995)

            Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Prothero, 2007)

            The God Delusion (Dawkins, 2006)

            Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

            Evolution: Making Sense of Life

            The Tangled Bank

            At the Water's Edge

            Why Evolution Is True

            The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence For Evolution

          • neil_ogi

            aww well, you are fond of collecting 'just-so' stories written by champion of legendary atheistic writers

          • ^^Anti-intellectualism, everybody.

            And atheism has nothing to do with understanding how science works. Not all of the above books were written by atheists, anyway.

            Do you relish being wrong multiple times before dinner?

          • neil_ogi

            why not talk with r. dawkins why he became an atheist!

          • Right. Because one person in a group speaks for the whole.

            Religious logic fail/

          • neil_ogi

            therefore, don't accuse theists that if one theist falls, all theists are like that. then you can't generalized that all theists are the same. for example, if the catholic church did cruelty to its 'heretics' (inquisition period) then atheists and you have no rights to say that all theists are like some catholics.

          • "then you can't generalized that all theists are the same"

            I don't, and haven't. Please point out to me where in this thread that I did that. If you cannot demonstrate this, then you have just demonstrated yourself a liar.

            Ball's in your court.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Yikes. This is why Christianity has become a kind of running embarrassment' - so you generalised christianity here..

            quote: 'Another religious person who doesn't understand the difference between evolutionary and abiogenetic theory. I'm starting to wonder if there is a religious person out there who actually understands evolutionary science.' - so tell me, in plain language, how do you explain evolution? (no 'just-so' stories (for the nth-time) pls)!

          • neil_ogi

            and also explain 'abiogenesis'?

            that's why atheists are trying to debunk the 'law of biogenesis' and replace it with their own pseudoscience 'abiogenesis'... i wonder, why atheists and you, didn't believe Jesus rose from the dead, while you believe that an 'inorganic matter' could become alive? therefore there is no death. death is just an illusion

          • "so tell me, in plain language, how do you explain evolution?"

            It is not my responsibility to explain basic science to you on a comments board. I recommended several books to you and you refused to read them. You are the embodiment of anti-intellectualism and Xtian fundamentalism.

            This is not generalizing, this is me calling a spade a spade.

          • neil_ogi

            you believe in evolution, why not explain even in parts only? what if an elementary pupil ask you to explain it? you might not want to answer: 'oh, that's the way it was' or 'i get some books on evolution and just read them'!!

            no you're generalising (e.g. fundamental christianity).

            i'm not anti-intellectualism, (already exlained it). i'm against fairy-tales advocates

          • "you believe in evolution, why not explain even in parts only?"

            Because a Disqus comments board is not an appropriate medium for communicating complex, nuanced concepts. I recommended some very fine books on the topic, and if you were truly interested in learning more, you would not have refused to read them.

            "no you're generalising (e.g. fundamental christianity)."

            Actually, to distinguish between fundamentalist and mainline Xianity is the exact opposite of generalizing. Do you not know what generalizing means? You should refrain from using words you don't understand if you value clear communication.

            "i'm not anti-intellectualism"

            Then why won't you read the books I recommended earlier?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Because a Disqus comments board is not an appropriate medium for communicating complex, nuanced concepts.' - i only ask you to explain even in parts only.. you need not to explain detailed ones. or are you using Discus...' because you can't explain evolution?

            quote: 'Then why won't you read the books I recommended earlier?' - as i've said, im not into reading 'just-so' stories (for the nth time), everybody can claim that! but can't prove it, test it, verify it..

          • "i only ask you to explain even in parts only.. you need not to explain detailed ones."

            Cool. Look up population splitting and divergence. That would be an excellent start to your journey.

            "as i've said, im not into reading 'just-so' stories"

            The texts I recommended contain nothing of the kind. The only way for you to find out is to read them for yourself and desist regurgitating the hogwash you learn in church every Sunday.

          • neil_ogi

            you are a lover of evolution, at least you must know how to explain it, even in plain language. you are always referring books for me to read. why not summarise the books and tell what to me you've read?

            the 'common ancestor' in the first place was just a concocted story. evolutionists didn't even explain its origin, how much more the 'population splitting and divergence'? therefore, evolution was already dead in water.

          • If you are really interested in learning more about these topics, why aren't you preoccupied with the works of the scholarly community instead of ranting on a discussion board? This suggests you don't really care about adapting your beliefs to the evidence, but the other way around.

            Try this one for starters (I already recommended this book to you previously):

            http://www.waivingentropy.com/2012/06/16/review-evolution-what-the-fossils-say-and-why-it-matters/

            "the 'common ancestor' in the first place was just a concocted story. evolutionists didn't even explain its origin, how much more the 'population splitting and divergence'? therefore, evolution was already dead in water."

            More unintelligible gibberish. Looks like you're still conflating evolution with abiogenesis. How many times have I pointed this out now?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: ' scholarly community' - then who are these scholar community?

            you are being ask to explain how is the mechanism of evolution works.. you didn't know/understand. what if a high school student happens to ask one question about evolution, what will be your answer: 'i don't know, just search the google'.. so im thinking that you have no knowledge on evolution per se.

            quote: ' Looks like you're still conflating evolution with abiogenesis.' - of course.. the idea that a non-living matter 'EVOLVE" into living matter is the main mantra of evolution. all evolved (inlcuding the universe).. then there is a 'chemical evolution'

            im not here for rant discussions. im just quite irritated about the claims of atheism, as if all their theories are true.

          • I posted a link for you to read on this topic. It seems you haven't read it.

            But I have better ways to spend my time than this.

          • William Davis

            But I have better ways to spend my time than this.

            Exactly.

          • Michael Murray

            But I have better ways to spend my time than this.

            Plus you haven't got as much time. Neil has eternity to ponder evolution. Not like us poor atheists.

          • neil_ogi

            why wouild i read those links you referred for me when in fact you, yourself doesn't understand/ really know what is the mechanism of evolution? how many times i ask you to explain it for me!

          • quote: 'Yikes. This is why Christianity has become a kind of running embarrassment' - so you generalised christianity here..

            Nope. I didn't. I was clearly underlining the embarrassment that is Christian fundamentalism as distinct from mainline Xianity, which does not engage in such foolish anti-science tirades. You could learn a thing or two from them ;)

          • neil_ogi

            fundamental christianity = anti-science? that's mega claim without any basis at all. how many christian,theists scientists have won nobel prizes?

            so how do you know it? what is the paradigm (it's not mainstream science, i guess) that you are using why you think fundamental christians are some kind of 'embarassment'? all you talks are mere claims, claims are not to be taken seriously unless it pass all the scrutiny of true science

          • Sorry, I don't speak gibberish.

            One of the main identifiers of fundamentalist Xianity is an opposition to science that doesn't ostensibly comport with their parochial worldview. So that's where you see things like a rejection of evolutionary science, Big Bang cosmology, climate change, etc.

          • neil_ogi

            evolutionary science - only microevolution is observed, directly and indirectly, it's even predicted in the Bible, '..according to its kind'..

            big bang - universe from a tiny 'dot' that is trillionth times smaller than you can imagine? where did it gets its energy to 'explosde'? explosion always result in 'disorderly' and not 'orderly' ..

            climate change - therefore uniformitarianism is false. climate is always changing. biblical writers and early civilizations witnessed it (e.g. noah's flood). catastrophism always happen

          • "evolutionary science - only microevolution is observed, directly and indirectly, it's even predicted in the Bible, '..according to its kind'.."

            Evo bios don't think in terms of "micro" and "macro" but in terms of population splitting and divergence.That would be a good place for you to start.

            "big bang - universe from a tiny 'dot' that is trillionth times smaller than you can imagine? where did it gets its energy to 'explosde'? explosion always result in 'disorderly' and not 'orderly' .."

            That's partly right (minus the many spelling errors). The outward expansion of the early universe was very chaotic indeed, and only after it cooled beyond threshold levels did the baryonic matter coalesce into nebulae, galaxies, planets and the like.

            "climate change - therefore uniformitarianism is false. climate is always changing."

            Of course. That's what the word climate *means*. The difference between this warming trend and the trends in the past is the time intervals in which the change is occurring and, of course, that WE are the cause.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: '(minus the many spelling errors)- you really ridicule my use of grammar and spelling? ok, i'll spelled it right (due to typo error -'explode'.. are you happy now?)

            quoteThe outward expansion of the early universe was very chaotic indeed, and only after it cooled beyond threshold levels did the baryonic matter coalesce into nebulae, galaxies, planets and the like." '- 'disorderly' doesn't produce 'orderly' . there's no such things that galaxies, planets, stars, etc formed out of chaotic environment. it's just assumption

          • I can't make heads or tails of whatever is written above.

          • neil_ogi

            i didn't say that all the books you presented are authored by atheists. im for anti-fairy tales books

          • Where does the Bible fit in that schema, I wonder?

          • neil_ogi

            the Bible is written for salvation of man, not entirely for scientific purposes. this book transformed millions of lives, ranging from former die hard criminals to cannibals of southern pacific isles, who said that the bible contains fairy tales.. that's just the claims of atheists and you, just present evidences, not assumptions

          • Not mutually exclusive. The Bible can contain *both* history and mythology. In fact, it very much does.

          • neil_ogi

            yes, histories - noah's flood, exodus, creation ex-nihilo, etc.

            how about atheism? they published, and even peer-reviewed events (e.g. common ancestor, aliens, etc) that didn't even proved existed! so you believed in these events that never happened 4.5 billion years ago?

          • "yes, histories - noah's flood, exodus, creation ex-nihilo, etc."

            I'm sorry, are you actually saying that Noah's flood is history?

            "how about atheism? they published, and even peer-reviewed events (e.g. common ancestor, aliens, etc) that didn't even proved existed! so you believed in these events that never happened 4.5 billion years ago?"

            PhD in gibberish. Once again, no one will take you seriously until you're able to string together a coherent sentence.

            I find it interesting that those who reject science and subscribe to ANE mythology in its stead consistently have poor education, can't form coherent thoughts and grossly misunderstand the science they so vigorously deny.

            Your time would be much better spent picking up those books I recommended, along with a dictionary.

          • neil_ogi

            noah's flood is universally commemorated in hundreds of cultures on this planet. egypt has flood 'legend' and so did the hawaiians, mesopotamians, jews, chinese, south americans, etc. the bible is considered to be a testimony, a historical documents. you didn't believe this happened 2,000 years ago and yet you believed in events that's not even witnessed, ('common ancestor, prebiotic soup, aliens, macro-evolution) 'billions' years ago?

          • Are you familiar with the countless other flood myths discovered by anthropologists over the centuries? Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic of Atra-Hasis? In fact, anthropologists tell us that cultures living next to large bodies of water that flood are more likely to develop flood myths in their culture.

            Have you ever entertained the idea that such symbolic narratives might actually be taken symbolically?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'anthropologists tell us that cultures living next to large bodies of water....' - that's their claim. there are flood stories even in middle africa where water is not to be found.

            who said that those were 'symbolic narratives'?

          • "that's their claim"

            You disagree? Please secure your PhD in the relevant discipline(s) and submit your research for peer review in an academic journal. That's how progress in academia occurs. Not by illiterate, grammar-deficient hacks ranting on comment boards. #truth

          • neil_ogi

            i'm hearing again this 'peer-reviewed' thing. as i've said, peer reviewed doesn't mean that the theory has been declared 'true', then the 'grammar deficient hacks ranting, blah, blah, blah' - i thought you are not attacking my grammar skills? if i can't explain english fluently here, don't personalise me, you were told that my english is just my 3rd language. we are here to discuss the evolution/creation issues, and not my english language skills.. oh my!

          • "i'm hearing again this 'peer-reviewed' thing."

            LOL! Yes, the lifeblood of science. It's pretty important.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'misinformed outlook' so what's this? are you telling me that i should embrace the unscientific claims of evolutionists about evolution, for instance? so what kind of sciences am i to follow? the 'atheistic sciences' that are not based on experimentation and observations? or the true sciences that are proven correct thru experimentations and observations?

          • I'm saying you should try to engage what scientists, atheists and whomever else you choose to denigrate each Thursday actually believe, instead of beating the dead horse of a misinformed caricature. Once again, there is no such thing as "atheistic sciences". You should stop using this phrase, unless it is your goal to sound like a dunce, of course.

            Read a few of the books I posted above.

          • Michael Murray

            You have more stamina than I did ! I gave up when I heard "just so stories" for the tenth time.

          • neil_ogi

            of course, the 'just-so' stories are the most favorite phrase employed by atheistic evolutionists to their mythical theories. it never dies down. the other phrases are: 1.'chance did it' - why chance? it's because atheists don't have plausible explanations and just subscribe to 'chance-did-it' as the 'scientific explanation'; 2.'it happenes to be there' - this is the classical phrase when atheists can not fully explain the origins of something (for example, dawkins, when forced to explain the origin of the eye, 'and there was a cup...' a light-sensitive area ... (then the 'cup' happens to be there'... then the 'retina' , he never explained its origins, he just said, 'it happens to be there' etc, etc. 3. 'blind and unguided process' - when atheists are confronted to explain in detail, for example, the evolution of the vertebrate eye; 'that the eye could have developed gradually by small increments, and the rest are 'unguided and blind processes, thru millions of years'

          • neil_ogi

            r. dawkins and other top apologists of atheism have said that there was actually no design detected in every organs of the human body. they are just apparent.. and yet they can't explain why they are just apparent? the fact that inventors of a camera was patterned after the eye.

            if atheists want to defend their claims, defend them by not using the 4 classical phrases: 1. chance-did-it 2. happens to be there/ happens to be around 3. 'blind and unguided process' 4. accident. i wondered why they all use these phrases, it's because they can't explain the cause

          • neil_ogi

            i already explained about 'atheistic science' and mainstream science.

          • No, you didn't. Have you read those books I posted yet?

          • neil_ogi

            atheistic science - abandons the laws of biogenesis, instead that life just 'happens to be around' or life just 'pop' out of nothing (just like the universe, it just 'pop'), life evolved from non-living things - where's the evidence? why there's still no life forms found in the moon, mars, etc?, the panspermia theory, that aliens seeded life on earth from outer space - i thought science only deals with 'natural' cause, and no intelligent agency is welcomed? -- do you believe these dogmas courtesy of your 'bright' scientists?

          • As already stated, no. I don't. Do you have a learning disability, or are you just a troll?

          • neil_ogi

            is that all you can answer? ad hom again (learning disability).. atheists are all experts in ad hom attacks.

          • I've never claimed to be an atheist. Stop projecting. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an atheist.

            You invited me to comment when you replied to my post. I provided a list of books for you to read to help you sort through some of the confusions and misunderstandings you have. You then made an anti-intellectual snide remark. What else can I do?

          • neil_ogi

            i didn't say you are an atheist or what! i always say 'atheist.....' and im not refering it to you. but the books you are referring for me are actually science fiction books. they offer no scientific evidences, just 'just-so' stories (13th times).. all are assumptions and conjectures. now do you want me to believe that the universe just 'pop'? then, we will no longer use 'science' anymore, because ALL just 'pop'...we don't needs those books that you are offering for me to read because EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE just 'pop'

          • Gibberish, gibberish and more gibberish. If you could string a coherent sentence together maybe people would begin to take you seriously?

            "but the books you are referring for me are actually science fiction books."

            LOL. I think there's an extra seat in the clown car if you want in.

          • William Davis

            Neil's vocabulary: Atheists, "just-so" stories, and "pop". That's all he says, over and over and over....If you insult education in the Philippines (which is pretty bad) he'll leave you alone...at least that worked for me.

          • neil_ogi

            i'll repeat that phrase: 'just-so' stories, and 'pop' because all atheists theories are based on these conclusion.

            william, why are you insulting our educational system in my country? who are you to judge? you know nothing about our educational system here.

          • neil_ogi

            just tell me if those books are really scientific! quote: 'I think there's an extra seat in the clown car if you want in.' - oh another ad hom attack.

          • When were you planning on contributing something substantive to the OP? I'll repeat once more, until you're able to string together a coherent argument (or even sentence), ad hominem is all you'll get.

          • neil_ogi

            i did contribute something relevant in this issues. you were asked to answer some intelligent questions and you answered the typical 'ad homs' attack, or you gave answers that were irrelevant to the issues.

            do you believe that the universe just 'pop'? do you believe that everything in the universe just 'pop'? you provided no intelligible answers. they are simple questions.

          • "do you believe that the universe just 'pop'? do you believe that everything in the universe just 'pop'?"

            Nope. And neither does any practicing cosmologist or physicist. To even ask that question demonstrates you have done zero due diligence in engaging the relevant fields. If you want to be taken seriously (and stop giving religious folk a bad name), getting your science from actual scientists rather than pop-religious apologists is a good start.

          • neil_ogi

            oh..i thought you believe that the universe just 'pop' (actually im referring it to atheists who are 'poisoned' by krauss)

            im not giving religious folk a bad name. it's your interpretation, it's your claim, and you generalised me as a representative of a religious folk. who's talking now?

            so who are the 'actual' scientists? are the 'actual' scientists you are referring to? those scientists that never subject their data to observations, experimentations?and tested and verified accordingly?

          • Michael Murray

            so who are the 'actual' scientists? are the 'actual' scientists you are referring to? those scientists that never subject their data to observations, experimentations?and tested and verified accordingly?

            You can find some of them over here

            http://www.arxiv.org

            You can read their work and verify their calculations.

            Or maybe start here with the cosmologist Sean Carroll explaining what science is

            http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/07/03/what-is-science/

          • neil_ogi

            i believe scientists only interprets data that is not according to the dictates of what he believes. atheist scientists interpret data to be true even if those data are against their interpretations. (e.g. physicists say that the universe started from a very minuscule 'cosmic egg', trillions of times smaller than you could imagine, and eventually exploded, for 'whatever reasons' - (catchy atheist phrase), and produced a universe or even a multiverse. even this theory is well-supported by the majority of cosmologist scientists. but the science of cosmology is not actual science, it's a religious belief system of atheists. then there's another 'just-so' story concocted by a well-known, highly respected scientist (cosmologist/physicist), l. krauss, that the universe just 'pop' out of nothing (because physics calculation is zero). he spends almost half of his book explaining mightily how it was done, and yet no plausible explanation is given. all were 'just-so' stories. i can agree with l. krauss that the universe was created ex nihilo with the involvement of a Creator (in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth..), but if there's no supernatural agent, the universe will not exist.

            i read one article that the planet Mars was once covered with flood because of the presence of martian canyons, but scientists (geologists) easily dismiss that the earth was once covered with flood (the fact that the earth is covered with 70% water, and the planet mars was not).. so you see, the evidence is there, but scientists interprets its data according to his beliefs. but who's going to prove objectively that his data is wrong or not? of course we have to weigh the possible (best explanation) data.

            when mt. pinatubo erupted, it caused huge changes on geography. some towns that are not flooded, now submerged several feet of flood. you can even see a bell tower rising out of water. now the crater has a 2square km of lake that became a top tourist attraction. if these events are not observed, geologists will say that the changed landscape, the lake, were produced by gradual, step-by step processes, by millions of years. the fact that the events took place only in days or a couple of months.

            the radiometric dating methods used by secular scientists to date one specimen is at question. one dating of rock yielded hundreds of millons of years, but other radiodating techniques yield billion years old. so what will we believe? those 2 findings are not compatible with each other? carbon 14 dating is the most accurate, secular scientists don't use it to date dinosaurs (because they assume that dinosaurs died millions of years ago), and yet objective scientists even discovered RBCs, tissues (even elastic tissues) in fossilized dinosaurs.. therefore, we can say that the other scientists is not telling the truth despite the evidence that the fossils of dino have still intact tissues, RBCs, DNAs on them.

            miracles - don't you know that life is a miraculous event? that the creation of the universe is another one? miracles happen before 'natural'.. if non-living things evolve into living, then why we can't discover life-forms on other planets, our own moon?

            secular scientists even laugh at Jesus' ressurection, because 'science' tells us that dead is dead is dead! then why they are pushing theists/christians to believe in non-living things to evolve into living things? an inorganic matter into living matter? therefore death is just an illusion.

            when r. dawkins is explaining the evolution of the eye, he just say, thru gradual, step by step process, thru millions of year, the eye evolved. what! is that an explanation? where did the eye's parts originate? they just 'happened to be around'(eternal), 'pop', then the eye is actually almost eternal. how's that organism with eyes survived in the wild if it was still blind because the process is millions of years? it survived the million years when in fact the organism, which is 'holding' the eye, can only live until several years only.

            science is a natural paradigm. there's no such claim that 'science doesn't prove anything'.. only the interpretations are changing and not science

          • "it's your interpretation, it's your claim, and you generalised me as a representative of a religious folk."

            Please point out to me where in this conversation I did either. If you cannot do so, you have demonstrated yourself a liar.

            "so who are the 'actual' scientists?"

            By that I mean not William Lane Craig and his ilk. Have you read Sean Carroll? He has some good books and lectures on the Big Bang. Highly recommended.

          • neil_ogi

            again, you are referring the writings of s. carroll? everybody can write the so-called scientific papers, and yet they can't explain them.. or even if they can explain them, in theory only (just like evolution, it remains a theory), but when it is subject to observations, testing, repeat experimentations, they all failed. i hate to say this, for the nth time, 'just-so' stories are not accepatable. (even s.carroll says that 'science doesn't prove anything'.. so he's establishing his own science just to support his wild imaginations and claims)

            why hate WLC? why not indulge with him a debate?

          • "again, you are referring the writings of s. carroll?"

            Again? That's the first time I've mentioned him. Please pay attention.

            "or even if they can explain them, in theory only (just like evolution, it remains a theory),"

            You clearly don't understand the meaning of 'theory' in scientific parlance.

            "why hate WLC? why not indulge with him a debate?"

            Where have I said I "hated" him? I don't hate anyone. Please don't put words in my mouth. And he has been debated by dozens of people. You can look them up on YT.

            You have shown yourself to be a dishonest debater, an outright liar, and someone with an embarrassingly distorted understanding of science. Why should anyone take you seriously?

          • neil_ogi

            i'm referring the writings of s. carroll about how he 'twisted' science per se. he might claim that 'science doesn't prove anything' then, why he's still searching? or that he wants science to agree with his atheistic science.

            i use 'hate' because that's the first word came into my mind. im sorry if i upset you.. but you are not into the issues anymore.

            quote: '..distorted understanding of science' - so i ask you, what science you believe in? the neutral science that is always being tested and verified? or the pseudo-sciences of atheism?

          • "so i ask you, what science you believe in? the neutral science that is always being tested and verified? or the pseudo-sciences of atheism?"

            I follow the evidence wherever it leads. If it led us straight to God, I would relinquish my atheism forthwith.

            Also, *all* science is continually tested and verified. Provisionality is one of its central and lasting virtues. You obviously don't understand how science works. Please do pick up the texts I recommended you earlier.

          • neil_ogi

            all the evidences point toward a Creator, or God. a rock, a lifeless matter,or a plain energy, chemicals, have no volition, not a conscious entity..nor have a power to create..and yet you solidly believe that it caused all life-forms on earth? then you really don't understand science!

            science always deals with empirical observations, repeatable testing and experimentations. evolutionists don't do that. in fact, they are the ones declaring that 'science doesn't prove anything'.. how so? they don't know!

          • "all the evidences point toward a Creator, or God."

            Oh? Then why aren't the overwhelming majority of scientists religious? Why do they lean considerably toward nontheism?

            "a rock, a lifeless matter,or a plain energy, chemicals, have no volition, not a conscious entity..nor have a power to create..and yet you solidly believe that it caused all life-forms on earth?"

            No, I don't. Instead of telling me what I believe, why don't you actually ask me first. It's common courtesy.

            "then you really don't understand science!"

            Irony on stilts.

            "science always deals with empirical observations, repeatable testing and experimentations. evolutionists don't do that."

            You should actually refer to them as 'biologists', not 'evolutionists'. (The latter is seen by many as a pejorative.) And actually, evolutionary biology adheres to the principles of the scientific method and has passed with flying colors. Your ignorance is showing with every new comment you make.

          • neil_ogi

            oh my,, can you cite citation that the evidences lead to atheism? most theist/christian scientists were winners of nobel prize, almost 70%.

            quote: 'No, I don't. Instead of telling me what I believe, why don't you actually ask me first. It's common courtesy.' - then tell me how is life formed?

            quote: ''biologists', not 'evolutionists'. - then why is r. dawkins is claiming that he is an evolutionist, and yet he is just a biologist?

            quote: 'evolutionary biology adheres to the principles of the scientific method and has passed with flying colors.' - then why evolution is still a theory?

            quote: ' ignorance is showing with every new comment you make.' - then prove your claim.. actually you didn't rebut every claim i made, instead you took notice of my english use

          • William Davis

            Don't you get tired of saying the same thing over and over and over. All one needs to know of neil is "just-so" stories and pop...just-so stories and pop...just-so stories and pop....atheists, just-so stories and pop.

          • neil_ogi

            why would i stop? unless these 'just-so' stories are well presented, well-explained and well experimented

          • neil_ogi

            do you want me to read books that are full of 'just-so' stories that were not even verified true by mainstream sciences?

          • neil_ogi

            eovlution, which is not observed, directly and undirectly, is believed by atheists happened.. that is their science, that is their mythology

          • So you're an anti-intellectual? Thank you for confirming what was already perfectly obvious.

          • neil_ogi

            i'm not anti-intellectual. i'm anti-fairy tales

          • Actually, point-blank refusing to read books recommended by those trying to help you clear up your misunderstandings of certain topics fits very general definitions of anti-intellectualism.

            "i'm anti-fairy tales"

            ...says the religious person with zero understanding of science and philosophy.

          • neil_ogi

            i already told you that those books you referred contains assumptions, conjectures and, again, for the nth-time 'just-so' stories.

            atheists can publish tons of 'scientific' books, peer-reviewed by 'fools'... but not even subject them to observations, experimentations and scrutiny.. and yet you believe those garbage? wow.. you've got so much blind faith in those scientific books that 'masquerade' as true science'

          • Are you saying you've read each of the books I recommended above?

            And for the dozenth time, science has NOTHING to do with atheism. And now you're calling scientists "fools". Have you published any peer-reviewed literature recently? What have you published, exactly?

            Your arrogance is astounding.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'science has NOTHING to do with atheism' - then why use science to debunk the claims of theists?

            peer-reviewed? peer-reviewed by whom? those fools? those who engage with pseudo-science? masquerade like true science?

            evidence is based on actual observations and experimentations, and not on mere opinions, assumptions and conjectures, and again, 'just-so' stories

          • "then why use science to debunk the claims of theists?"

            Only when theists make claims that are contradicted by said science. Why is this so difficult for you to grasp?

            "peer-reviewed? peer-reviewed by whom? those fools? those who engage with pseudo-science? masquerade like true science?"

            Again, your arrogance is astounding. What have you published? If you don't like peer review, what better method do you propose?

          • neil_ogi

            again, as i've said, atheists/evolutionists are trying to discredit the 'laws of biogenesis' and replace it with their 'science' 'abiogenesis', which is never verified and tested. and it's been 'peer-reviewed' by evolutionists. yes, it was 'peer-reviewed' by fools.

            'peer reviewed' is not the same as 'evidence-based reviewed'.. i ask you if something that is' not alive' will evolve into something 'alive'..is true! why not experiment it for yourself if you can prove it?

            creation and intelligent design movements are censored by these atheist/evolutionists.

          • "atheists/evolutionists"

            I'm going to, once again, stop you right there. False dichotomy. You do understand what that phrase means, right? Most educated people around the world accept the conclusions of science on evolution, regardless of faith affiliation. Evolution is not synonymous with atheism, and to equate the two only underlines your overt ignorance.

            "yes, it was 'peer-reviewed' by fools."

            More arrogance on Aisle 9.

            "i ask you if something that is' not alive' will evolve into something 'alive'..is true!"

            Evolution does not equal abiogenesis. That's, like, the fourth time now. Do you have a learning disability?

            "creation and intelligent design movements are censored by these atheist/evolutionists."

            Citation required. Show me the scientists who are being "censored". Go on, I'll wait.

          • neil_ogi

            'peer reviewed' is not 'evidence-based reviewed' ..

            quote: 'Citation required. Show me the scientists who are being "censored". Go on, I'll wait.' - you didn't know this? maybe ask r. dawkins, atkins, ruse, etc. or maybe type in google, 'why creationists are being censored''why creationism should not be taught'

          • Oh I see! So when *you* ask *me* for evidence and I point you to some high quality resources on the topic, you refuse to read them and tell me to provide everything in the comments. But when *I* ask *you* for evidence to back up your claims, you do the same thing, except it's OK when you do it?

            Umm...double standard much?

            Still waiting on your evidence that creationists are being "censored". Something tells me I should have a lot of patience.

            I love also how you ignored the rest of my comment above...maybe because you have no intelligible response to muster?

          • neil_ogi

            'peer reviewed' doesn't follow that a theory in question is 'true' .. if evolution is 100% peer-reviwed by Ph, scientists around the world, then why they can't elevate its status to 'laws of evolution'? again, because of your stubbornness, and im going to remind you again, that 'peer-reviewed' can't be equated with 'evidence-based reviewed'

            creationism and intelligent design movements have been censored by evolutionists. they are not allowed to be 'peer reviewed' their articles, papers and researches. they even went to courts just to censor them. they don't want the public to be informed of alternative to be taught in public schools. i gave you links (citation) about this.

            but you never gave citation that evolution has been proven true. citations pls!!

          • "i gave you links (citation) about this."

            No, you didn't. You have not posted a single link.

            And now I'm done. You are an outright liar. I feel sorry for people who have to interact with you on a daily basis.

            Its ironic that people who call themselves Christians are the most dishonest, immoral people you're likely to meet.

            Good riddance.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Its ironic that people who call themselves Christians are the most dishonest, immoral people you're likely to meet.' - you again generalized that christians are like that! if you don't like me, my comments, just concentrate on me and not the whole christians. so who's talking now, liar!

            i'm still hoping that you explain, even in plain language, your unscientific evolution theory

  • truecreation_dot_info

    Many people don't understand the purpose or the methodology of science. What they understand is the caricature that is presented in the media (and unfortunately, sometimes in the classroom, when the teachers themselves are poorly trained).

    It isn't the purpose of science to prove anything. If more people -- Christians and atheists alike -- understood this, our Christian witness to atheists would be much more effective. Proofs are for mathematics. Science only offers the best available explanation for a set of facts. Such an explanation, when it is well-supported, is called a theory. It's funny how some people decry the use of statistical models in climate change, and then it's usually those very same people who turn around and use statistical models (very poorly made ones) to "prove" how evolution cannot be true.

    Gravity is a theory. So is evolution. They are both extremely well-supported theories, and they are both observable -- even macroevolution. And for Christians (like myself), there is nothing in the theory of evolution that preludes God's involvement. God is the cause, but Christians should at least be open to the possibility that macroevolution is the method that God used for the diversification of life over millions of years.

    http://truecreation.info

    http://truecreation.info/is-evolution-statistically-impossible/

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

    http://phylointelligence.com/evidence.html

    And for those who decry "Darwinism", recognize that there is nothing in Darwin's writing which precludes the existence or direct workings of God in nature.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2011/09/what_darwin_said_about_god.html

    Nonetheless, equating the modern theory of evolution with "Darwinism" would be akin to equating the modern theory of gravity with "Newtonism". We've come a long way in both. Do science offer all the answers? Nope. For all we know about gravity, we still don't know everything about how it works. Gravitons? Gravity waves? These things are still being tested. Similarly, we don't know every last detail about evolution. But the theory paints a very consistent picture of how life diversified.

  • Peebo1

    I wonder if any one in the previous 400 odd posts pointed out how wrong the Author's opening lines were?

    "It holds that that there was a long period in which natural processes
    gave rise to life and to the different life forms on earth."

    In one fell swoop they are conflating 'Abiogensis' with 'Evolution'.

    After such a fundamental mistake, I am now lost to wondering if tying to read the whole article is worth while?

    *Edit*

    And I see such very conversation happening in the looong, drawn out conversation bellow.

  • Kevin Mark

    Evolution absolutely contradicts Genesis as well as the entire Holy Bible.

    Holy Scripture tells us in plainly and clearly that God is not the author of death:

    "For God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living." -Wisdom 1:13 (DR)

    Romans 5 tells us that death entered the world through sin. However, St. Paul goes on to tell us plainly and clearly that bondage to "corruption" (or death) is not restricted to humans but that all creatures (or created things including animals) suffer because of the fact that sin and death entered the world through our first parents, and that all created things (or creatures) await for redemption:

    "For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body." -Romans 8:19-23 (DR)

    Why does all of creation need to be redeemed if it too is not in a fallen state? Holy Scripture shows us what this redemption will look like for the animals:

    "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk...." -Isaiah 11:6-8 (DR)

    "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together; the lion and the ox shall eat straw; and dust shall be the serpent's food: they shall not hurt nor kill in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." -Isaiah 65:25 (DR)

    Thus, when Jesus returns, all of creation will be redeemed and restored to the original paradise God had created (but even better, if that could be imagined), where death, even animal death, will be obliterated. The reason plants could "die" even before the fall is because they do not contain blood; Holy Scripture tells us that the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11,14). Thus, creatures such as plants that do not have blood are not alive in the same sense as those that do have blood, according to the reckoning of God, the author of Holy Scripture.

    The prevailing assumption of course is that evolution is true. Here we can learn from St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote (quoting Aristotle), "a small error in the beginning becomes a big error later on." What is this big error? Believing that God created through evolution. The Angelic Doctor writes in the Summa Contra Gentiles, "The way that God created the world reveals God's character. A wrong understanding of the way that God created the world reflects a false understanding of God." In other words, how God did things, such as his creative acts, tells us about Him. Believing that God created through the most cruel, pitiless, "survival of the fittest" means imaginable, namely evolution, tells us about God's character. This is the character of an evil God - which is why evolution is a satanic theory. In contrast, we see that God the Son turned water in to wine miraculously and immediately, and did all his other miracles immediately. God the Son's miracles were of the same character and nature as God the Father's, and this is one of the many reasons why those who know God's character can see that evolution is incompatible with reality, because evolution is incompatible with His Holy character.