Monday, May 17, 2010

Genesis and Theistic Evolution

I recently appeared as a guest on Jamin Hubner's Provocative Microphone discussing Genesis and Theistic Evolution (link to mp3). The first portion of the podcast is a discussion between the host and me and the second half is the host's thoughts on the topic.

-TurretinFan

26 comments:

John Lollard said...

I'm not so sure it is necessary to deny the reality of Adam or even the reality of the fall in the Eden in order to believe theistic evolution. I'm not sure how much C.S. Lewis you read, and I don't have any of his books right now, but I think it is "Miracles" where he gives his interpretation of theistic evolution, which includes a first man and a fall. I'm not asking you to agree with Lewis or any of that, just pointing out that he is one major Christian philosopher who argued for theistic evolution and a historical Adam.

I'm only saying that because your talk seemed largely focused on showing that the Bible treats Adam as a real person. Now, I realize that your talk was largely in address to people who specifically deny the historic reality of Adam, but I just wanted to mention Lewis' interpretation of things.

Love in Christ,
Reece

Coram Deo said...

TF,

I raised this question in a prior thread, but what are your thoughts so-called attack/defense structures observed in present day animals?

In Christ,
CD

Turretinfan said...

I enjoyed C.S. Lewis fiction, but I'm not a fan of his theology.

We're not told to what extent the fall brought changes in the animal kingdom. Some folks at places like Answers in Genesis seem pretty sure that there were radical changes to animal physiology. I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us, as far as I can see.

Kurt K said...

CD,

Why shouldn't we expect God to build attack/defense structures (ADS's?) into the "very good" creation which he knew would shortly fall under his curse?

I think it's reasonable to assume that 1) some such features anticipate the Fall, 2) some such features had non-carnivorous purposes before the Fall, and that 3) the genetic potential for some such features did not manifest until after the Fall. I imagine that sorting such things out would play a major role in YEC-oriented biology.

Also, I was trying to think of exemplary features for each of the above three categories, but then I realized that we have no way of knowing what features were manifested by the original baramins. Any of the various specialized features in, say, cats (e.g. cheetahs, lions, tigers, bobcats, etc.) may not have manifested in the original kind, unless we envision our original cat baramin as a striped, spotted lion with a long house cat tail, bobcat whiskers, and saberteeth. What does the "wolf" equivalent of a cat look like, where all the genes are mixed together?

I'm just thinking out loud, of course. I'm no scientist.

ppc said...

Having studied evolution from both sides (as an unbeleiver then later as a believer), and holding a B.A. in biology, evolution is far from proven...hence the word "evolutionary theory".

If the Bible is read before Darwin came along, 99.9999999% of believers would never assume anything but a young earth and a 6 day creation. Only modern day, "please the world" Christians would try to insert an unproven, scientific "theory" into God's inerrant word. What benefit is there to forcing evolution into the Genesis, other than to appear more "scholarly" to the world?

John Lollard said...

ppc,

"If the Bible is read before Darwin came along, 99.9999999% of believers would never assume anything but a young earth and a 6 day creation. "

I think that's the point. 99.9999999% of believers aren't active in biology. YEC is very intuitive; the sky is blue like water, so God separated the waters and called one heaven. The sun and moon are overhead, so God placed them in the sky as lights. There's a bunch of animals, and God made them all.

I agree that most people would assume something like that, especially if they read the Bible first. And now we get to your second question, what's the point of believing in evolution?

The point is when we actually start trying to explain things, YEC doesn't work. We need a lot of clumsy denials of differential calculus, piecemeal theories about subjective vs. objective time, pointed accusations at honest scientists for being godless and deceptive and evil, and a lot of really weird adaptions of the Genesis stories of the Fall and the Ark in order to explain the observed phenomena in astronomy, geology, paleontology, and biology.

I of course know you're going to say that no, the scientists are lying to distort the truth and that isn't what science really says. And I guess you're free to do that, much like a muslim is free to deny that the gospels actually say what they really say.

I just wanted to let you know, the point of believing in evolution is because of its ability to explain things that we observe in nature, and because of logical consistency.

Love in Christ

natamllc said...

JL

interesting ideas there!

"....in order to explain the observed phenomena in astronomy, geology, paleontology, and biology....".

With this sort of reasoning, I wonder if you are willing to go on record and debunk them Biblically?

Afterall, when I read that quotation, I stop and go, another one of those lies of the serpent, you know, the one, "you will be like God".

I find it interesting that in the quotation you put over the interesting "hook" of "need to explain".

Why is that? Why not just enjoy God's creation and get along with that instead of having to always argue from a position of strength/knowledge and a knowledge not nearly as relevant as knowledge?

I would draw your attention to 2 Peter chapter one and ask you to open up a Greek Word study on the two Greek words translated into the one English word, "knowledge" in that chapter?

My point is, I see no need to explain the obvious "phenomena" except for utilitarian purposes, like getting a man on the moon safely and bringing him back to earth to go, wow, we did it!

How does that phenomena deliver the goods to the Elect who could care less for that phenomena in lieu of God providing for their daily needs better than flowers and birds?

Did you read the story about the man who refused to leave his cabin near Mt. St. Helens in Washington State? He was warned the volcano was going to blow! It did. When they found him afterwards he was still wearing his hat both vaporized. They did a carbon dating test on the hat for some reason and found it dated about 1 million plus years old! Wow, I didn't know Stetson made hats that long ago? Did you? :)

John Lollard said...

natamllc,

"Why is that? Why not just enjoy God's creation and get along with that instead of having to always argue from a position of strength/knowledge and a knowledge not nearly as relevant as knowledge?"

I could not agree more. I don't think we necessarily need to know anything more than what we are told in Genesis. But I do think we need to explain what we already know.

One of my favorite passages is 1 Corinthians 1, where it talks about God's election of the foolish in order to shame the wise. I love it. It is so good to me, and I have to re-read it a lot to humble myself. All of the arrogance and pride of the new atheists comes to my mind when I read it, and I would almost rather be mentally handicapped and chosen than brilliant and deny YHVH.

I really hope that I'm not exuding the intellectual huffpuffery of new atheists, and I really hope that I'm not appealing to some sort of intellectual pride when I ask us to accept evolution as an explanation. I'm just appealing to the Christian's need to be rational, consistent, and truthful. The same plea as Dr. White gives to our muslim friends after a debate.

I finally accepted evolution because I did not know of a way to be respectful, honest, or consistent while still denying it. I do know ways to deny evolution, a lot of them, I just don't find that any of those holds up to the Christian standard of He Who Is Truth.

Love in Christ

natamllc said...

JL

I appreciate your demeanor and tone in being responsive! Thanks.

What would you define this experiment to be? Genetic correction or evolution?

I read this in some journal awhile back and thought to myself, here's an evolution definition refutation by the scientific method.

In a lab, they took a frog and injected nuclear product into it. Then they put the frog back into the general populaton of this frog family so it could mate. The next generation of this frog family were deformed. They took that generation of frogs and mated them. After the fourth cycle of this process the frogs coming into existence were just as normal as the frog injected at the beginning of this study!

John Lollard said...

natamllc,

Let me make sure I understand. The injected frog mated in the general population and made deformed frogs. Were the deformed frogs mated within the general population, or within the deformed population?

I don't know enough about frog biology to be able to comment much. I will say, given just this experiment, it seems like there are two explanations. One explanation is that generations of animals have a sort of "elasticity" that keeps them from going too far off from the "mean" and pulls them back if they do. Another explanation is that after the fourth generation of mating, the phenotype of deformity became suppressed, and only lived on, if at all, as a genotype. I'd be interested in even later generations from this frog.

That's only given the frog study, and maybe the first makes more sense in the frog study than the second. I don't really know enough to conclude either.

I do know there was a similar study done on carrier pigeons. Pigeons have been bred to have very colorful and decorative plumage. They allowed them to freely interbreed, and we were back to standard pigeons after a few generations. The reason is that all of the breeds wee bred from a standard "wild" pigeon and so all carried the genotypes for wild pigeons, while also carrying the genotype and phenotype for having some crazy feather effect that breeders liked. When different breeds mixed, the "wild" genotypes were found in both and so were most numerous and so most likely to be carried on, until eventually they dominated.

All I would say is, even if the first explanation for the frogs makes the most sense for the frogs, does it make the most sense for every single other experiment we've done? And even if the second frog explanation makes less sense for the frogs, does it make less sense for every single other experiment we've ever done? I'm not sure that either is true, and I have good reason to believe the answer to both questions is no.

Again, though, I'm not really an expert in this area.

Turretinfan said...

John Lollard,

It's not a question of activity in biology. It's a question of exegesis. YEC is what the text of Scripture says.

Your reason for rejecting it is the historical assertions of those who accept philosophical naturalism.

That's where the 99.... % issue comes into play. It's not just that a theistic evolutionary view is a stretch, it's such a wild stretch that practically no one before the 19th century can be found who would buy into it.

-TurretinFan

John Lollard said...

TF,

"It's not a question of activity in biology. It's a question of exegesis. YEC is what the text of Scripture says."

I'm not sure that I disagree. The text of Scripture does speak to YEC. As to whether or not that is what the Scriptures teach, I'm in doubts, but I'm not going to argue with your exegesis.

"It's not just that a theistic evolutionary view is a stretch, it's such a wild stretch that practically no one before the 19th century can be found who would buy into it."

I would be amazed if someone before the first publication of Darwinian evolution had bought into it. As it happens, the first publication of Darwinian evolution happened in the 19th century.

I would also be amazed if a Jew living in the 2nd century before Christ believed that Ha Shem was three divine persons who share one divine Being that is God. It seems reasonable to me to believe this, and it seems pretty obviously taught in Scripture, but I don't think any Jew believed it before it was revealed, and even listening to debates where Dr. White is questioned about this, his response it that the Trinity was not yet revealed until Jesus Christ was born into the world.

(Not like theistic evolution comes close to the doctrine of the deity of Christ, but it is an example.)

I would likewise be amazed if a Christian in the 1st century believed that the world was round. The flat earth theory seems pretty explicitly taught, whereas the round earth theory seems to be derived solely from the lack of a Hebrew term for "sphere" where God is described as sitting over the "circle of the earth". Yet I've heard this verse used apologetically to prove that the Bible teaches a round earth.

I don't really have a Biblical case for theistic evolution. I have a Biblical case for YHVH Elohim, and His son Y'shua the One and Only, by whom and through whom and for whom all things were created. I also have a scientific case for evolution. I'm not sure what to do with both. If I have to pick one, I pick YHVH, but I don't feel a need to pick one. If you feel you can only pick one, then pick YHVH. If any of this is going to harm the belief of anyone in YHVH, then ignore me or squelch me or something, as I'd rather people deny science and trust God than the other way around.

I am really just trying to be consistent with who God is and with what mankind has discovered about the universe around us, and treat all the evidence God has given us in a consistent and logical way.

Love in Christ,
JL

natamllc said...

JL

if I could be corrected, I believe it was the deformed mated with deformed which then mated with the next generation of deformed. Each generation started to come back to the normal form four generations back.

I believe I am convinced that TF's position is the correct Biblical interpretation of YEC.

natamllc said...

JL,

Some time back at John Byl's blog "by logos" he did a discussion on YEC.

Maybe TF was a part of it?

In any event, I am a literal 6 days creation and the seventh They rested believer because it would be inconsistent of God to establish the lunar count based on the earth, planets and stars movement and then apply His legal judgment against Moses after the Passover for getting the counts wrong, confining them to that counting system. It was a fixed count that God established that was to be carried out throughout all their generations and exacting and accurate, even to this day.

Just the idea of the present greater creation evolving from thousands and thousands of years into a time frame that has been exact now for these last several thousand years such as we are living in now without any corrections at all refutes evolutionary thinking no matter if you want to believe in God and Evolution as theistic evolution?

Also, it would seem logical if this idea were allowed to leaven a lump, they could go after the implicit details of the prophesies that have come about and settled and give the enemy more defense against our reformed view of Biblical eschatology.

And I am like you with biology, I know just enough to be stupid about it!

That frankly is why I like coming around TF and this blog. He has been very gracious to ignorant and stupid and uninformed wretches that come around in here like me! :)

John Lollard said...

"I believe I am convinced that TF's position is the correct Biblical interpretation of YEC."

Okay :)

I think there is much to be said for such an interpretation.

I was pondering not so long ago. A typical creationist claim is that the Fall caused most of nature to become corrupted. Christians normally point to carnivorous animals or parasites, but I was thinking not too long about about the sort of superficial reality of light and sound and quantum mechanics even, and I was wondering if this too could be accounted for as an effect of the Fall.

And it got me going on some sort of "broken history" type of theory. That is, that the Fall caused reality itself and the history of the universe to collapse. Had we remained unfallen, we would continue to live in a geocentric universe with a flat earth and Elohim in our midst walking among us, but we fell and the ideal sort of universe we once had is no longer a reality either.

I know of no reason to accept such a belief, but I thought it was worth sharing. Hopefully you'll find it interesting at the least.

natamllc said...

By the way John,

did you look up the two Greek Words in 2 Peter one?

I would like to know your thinking on that simply because that dump fisherman, Peter, after being indwelt with the Holy Spirit wrote such intelligent understanding of both science and metaphysics. I wouldn't of guessed God could so endow a thick head as he with such brilliance? You?

John Lollard said...

natmllc, I did read the passage, and I tried to read the Greek version I have, but I am just that ignorant of Greek. I can only assume that Peter is drawing a distinction between intimate personal knowledge of God and head knowledge about God?

And I am continually amazed at God's ability to transform the mind.

Love in Christ,
JL

Turretinfan said...

Creationism and particularly Creation as an historical event is a primary doctrine of Christianity. "Flat earth" is not. Reference point Geocentrism is hardly debatable (i.e. it's obviously true that Earth is our reference point for observing the Universe), and it is absurd to suggest that gravitational Geocentrism either is taught or was believed.

John Lollard said...

Hey TF,

"Creationism and particularly Creation as an historical event is a primary doctrine of Christianity"

I wholeheartedly affirm Creation. I don't affirm Creation as A historic event as I believe God remains active in His Creation, but I would say there are certainly historic evidences of God as Creator.

""Flat earth" is not."

Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. Since your only argument with me about Creation is that it happened in the way literally described in Genesis 1-3, it seems you are arguing that literal understanding of the Bible is essential. If that's the case, a literal understanding of the Bible seems to affirm overwhelmingly a flat earth. I would recommend going to tektonics.org, where they have a huge selection of quotes that seem to point to a flat earth, and the majority response is that it is meant in a poetic sense.

But now I'm not sure what you mean that we should take the Biblical account of Creation at face value. The Biblical account of Creation says that the sky is another ocean and that the earth was here before the sun and moon were placed as lights. At face value, Genesis 1 also strongly suggests to me a flat earth. Do you believe these things?

Can I suggest a poetic interpretation of Genesis?

You are correct about reference point geocentrism. I should not have brought that up.

Love in Christ,
JL

Turretinfan said...

"Well, I guess that depends on who you ask."

Who exactly thinks that "flat earth" is a primary doctrine of Scripture? What does this person or group think the theological significance is?

-TurretinFan

John said...

"Who exactly thinks that "flat earth" is a primary doctrine of Scripture? What does this person or group think the theological significance is?"

I would think people advocating for YEC would think a flat earth is a theologically significant doctrine.

You seem to think that a 6,000-year-old universe is theologically significant, and you seem to think that because the plain text of Scripture tells us this. But the plain text of Scripture also tells us the earth is flat, has corners, has a foundation, and has a domed ceiling of the sky which is a second ocean.

Since we both agree in one God who is Creator, who acted out of love and not necessity to create a universe which He called good, making men and women in His image, one man and one woman as one flesh and one bone, and asking them to be fruitful and multiply, can you explain what the theological significance is of the things we don't agree on?

What is the theological significance of plants coming before the sun? Of earth before the sun? Of the sky before the sun? What is the theological significance of the sky being a second body of water? What is the theological significance of some animals being created on one day and some on another, the significance of them all traveling across the globe to be named, and the significance of them all returning immediately afterwards across the globe?

What is the theological significance of all of the billions of species that we know of all being created in one single day while gradually some of them have died out? (Or do you allow for some slight amount of genetic drift, like one kind of frog becoming another kind of frog?)

All I am saying, TF, is it seems (to my subjective and flawed intellect) that your reason for being a YEC is the plain text reading of Scripture. But the plain text reading of Scripture also tells us things which you don't seem to believe in, like that the world is flat or that the sky is water. If you're willing to deny the plan text reading of Scripture there because those things are not essential, then what is it you believe different from me that is essential?

I apologize if my tone got out of my control, too, or sounded too confrontational.

Love in Christ,
JL

Turretinfan said...

Maybe you didn't understand my question, so let me rephrase it.

Can you identify anyone who has said: "I think the flatness or the earth is theologically significant," or something to that effect.

-TurretinFan

John said...

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

founded the

http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=65

which believes that
"Samuel Rowbotham's Flat Earth views were based largely on literal interpretation of Bible passages"

I'm not sure if you want something more than this. I can find something if you'd like

Turretinfan said...

John:

Re-read the question.

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

Why shouldn't we expect God to build attack/defense structures (ADS's?) into the "very good" creation which he knew would shortly fall under his curse?

I don't know, Kurt; good question.

Anyway I'm not looking for reasons to doubt God's Word, I think we simply notice certain structures in nature that appear to be designed for defense and/or attack.

I don't personally know anyone who disputes this observation, so the question then becomes, why do we observe the design of these structures?

Your proposed solutions don't seem unreasonable to me, nor does TF's response which is, at least as I understand it, essentially "I don't know".

That sort of response, however, is probably less than satisfying for someone like John Lollard, for example.

Now it wouldn't be unreasonable at such a juncture to say, "Well, that's John Lollard's problem and he should take it up with God if he won't submit his carnal reasoning powers to the Word of God."

And likewise it wouldn't be unreasonable for John Lollard to then offer a rejoinder such as, "I'm merely employing the noetic equipment that God gave me to observe His natural revelation in order to arrive at conclusions based upon said observations; therefore if I can't trust the noetic equipment God gave me to arrive at truthful conclusions about the world He placed me in, then how can I rationally trust the conclusions you've reached with your noetic equipment as somehow being more valid or true than my own?"

And so it goes.

In Christ,
CD

natamllc said...

John

ἐπίγνωσις
epignōsis
ip-ig'-no-sis
From G1921; recognition, that is, (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: - (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment).

verses: 2, 3, 8

γνῶσις
gnōsis
gno'-sis
From G1097; knowing (the act), that is, (by implication) knowledge: - knowledge, science.

verses 5, 6, 20

εἴδω
eidō
i'-do
A primary verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equivalent, G3700 and G3708; properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know: - be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot. Compare G3700.

verses 12, 14

Again, an interesting discussion back and forth between you and TF.

I would point you to some understanding, here: the entire chapter 28 of Job and then picking it up at Chapter 38 until Job comes to his senses while before God's Glory.

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Job 38:2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

I suppose you would come back and say look at verse 38:6?

The point is I would say, your approach is fairly uncommon and unnatural especially now that we have a very good understanding of the basic forms of the created universe.

But, honestly, we now 'know' the earth has been round all the time even when some were have a little flathead about it. Having this knowledge and going back and rereading the Scriptures one can keep in mind what God indeed created and what it has been from the beginning all along; well, if you want too, that is?