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Evolution vs. Creation

Helcaraxë

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Mrs. Maggott said:
The Bible does not mention the movement of the planets. The fact that many Christians believed that the various heavenly bodies moved around the earth has nothing whatsoever to do with Scripture and everything with the "accepted science" of the age. The ancient Greeks (and probably most other ancients) knew that the earth was round because the sun at noon threw different length shadows depending upon where one was upon its surface. Hence, it was a simple deduction that one was standing not upon a flat surface, but a rounded one. Furthermore, the fact that one saw things rising from the horizon topmost first (rather than all of a piece) meant that one was seeing them approach upon a rounded surface.

Do not confuse medieval scientific understanding (or lack thereof) with Christian teachings; they are not the same. God did not feel it was necessary to go into physics and cosmology when He was interacting with mankind. Moral and ethical as well as religious issues were the order of the day, not science. If a man is good and keeps God's Word, it matters not if he has a mistaken understanding of the cosmos. On the other hand, if he is a whiz at quantum mechanics and a miserable essobee, his level of knowledge is equally irrelevant in the final analysis.

Suffice it to say that the Bible was written and collated at a time and in a place where advanced mathematics, physics and astronomy would have been beyond the understanding of the target audience. Under the circumstances, I think God did a pretty good job making Himself known to a bunch of nomadic shepherds and letting them take it from there (with His help, of course!).
I may be mistaken as you say, but I remember hearing that the Bible describes how the Earth is the center of the universe.

Anyway, medieval scientific understanding and Christianty are somewhat intertwined. It could be said the Bible constituted the "scientific understanding" of the time; it was a sort of barometer for the understanding of all things, both scientific and metaphysical. It was thought that the Bible contained all truth, and that all laws of science could be explained via the teachings of the Church; in this way, the small grain of scientific theory in the Bible was enlarged to enlarged to create a primitive understanding of natural law. So it is more accurate to say that science was dependent on Christian teachings, but the distinction is meaningless. The point is, the Bible paid little attention to science, and the bits and pieces of it that the Bible contains show an (unsuprisingly) undeveloped understanding of science.

This shows something about the creators of the Bible: their understanding of the world was still constrained by the meager scientific knowledge during the time in which the Bible was written. Ergo, the writers' understanding was not inspired by a divine source, or else they would have had much deeper knowledge of the world. The entire Bible deals with creation; don't you think that they would go into a bit more (accurate) detail about its properties?
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Helcaraxë said:
I may be mistaken as you say, but I remember hearing that the Bible describes how the Earth is the center of the universe.

Anyway, medieval scientific understanding and Christianty are somewhat intertwined. It could be said the Bible constituted the "scientific understanding" of the time; it was a sort of barometer for the understanding of all things, both scientific and metaphysical. It was thought that the Bible contained all truth, and that all laws of science could be explained via the teachings of the Church; in this way, the small grain of scientific theory in the Bible was enlarged to enlarged to create a primitive understanding of natural law. So it is more accurate to say that science was dependent on Christian teachings, but the distinction is meaningless. The point is, the Bible paid little attention to science, and the bits and pieces of it that the Bible contains show an (unsuprisingly) undeveloped understanding of science.

This shows something about the creators of the Bible: their understanding of the world was still constrained by the meager scientific knowledge during the time in which the Bible was written. Ergo, the writers' understanding was not inspired by a divine source, or else they would have had much deeper knowledge of the world. The entire Bible deals with creation; don't you think that they would go into a bit more (accurate) detail about its properties?
On the contrary. Genesis is quite cogent in its understanding of the flow of creation. And The Lord said, "Let there be light! And there was light!" (Big Bang). He also had the sun and moon created before life on earth and when life was created, He started with plants and ended with man rather than having man as the first of creation. He was also very careful to note that things were each of their kind (plants bearing seeds to produce the same plants and so forth). That is a rather advanced understanding of genetics, isn't it? Certainly far better than the halting first steps by "humanist" scientists at the beginning of the last century who found various parts of prehistoric animals and put them together to create nonsense! - and without any "help" from Scripture.

But, again, Scripture was talking to a nomadic peoples thousands of years ago! What would they have gained by being spoken to in a language (mathematical and scientific) that they could not have possibly understood? Would you start a kindergartner with algebra? Of course not!

Then, too, do not be confused by the later "literal" understanding of the Old Testament that was not the original teaching of Christianity but, in fact, is a much later occurrence and is limited to some denominations of Protestantism. In the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, there is no teaching of a literal translation of Scripture (with the exception of the New Testament, of course!).

As for so-called "natural law" as it is called in the West: this is a matter of morals, not science and involves an understanding of what constitutes vices and virtues, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, good and evil. It has absolutely nothing to do with physics or chemistry. And frankly, as far as morals and ethics are concerned, a literal translation of Scripture has
always been the understanding of the Christian Church until fairly recently. Indeed, when I was young, you could go into any church or synagogue and though you might hear different theological doctrines and worship, moral teachings were universal. Alas that that situation has changed so radically in such a relatively short time.
 

Walter

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Mrs. Maggott said:
On the contrary. Genesis is quite cogent in its understanding of the flow of creation. And The Lord said, "Let there be light! And there was light!" (Big Bang). He also had the sun and moon created before life on earth and when life was created, He started with plants and ended with man rather than having man as the first of creation. He was also very careful to note that things were each of their kind (plants bearing seeds to produce the same plants and so forth). That is a rather advanced understanding of genetics, isn't it?
Yes, but also a little far-fetched, IMHO, if I compare it with the Genesis as currently understood.
1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.
8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.
12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.
16 God made the two great lights-- the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night-- and the stars.
17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,
18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."
21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.
25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."
29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.
2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

From: New Revised Standard Edition - Courtesy of BibleWorks
 

Zale

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An advanced understanding of genetics? When was the last time you saw anything produce offspring that were of a different species to itself?
There is a tendency to take taken-for-granted observations as law, without anything being proved; I think the Bible (or its writers) may well have been guilty of this at this point.

As for Genesis mirrorring a scientific sort of view of creation: how did a wind (from God or otherwise) sweep the Earth before God created the atmosphere (6-7) and therefore air?
16: God made the greater (and lesser) lights AFTER the Earth, according to Genesis: according to science, the Earth is quite young compared to the rest of the Universe.
I have heard that fundamentalists believe the Universe (Earth first) to be around 10 000 years old; science's estimate stands at around 10 000 000 000 years.

(Note God said we are masters of all else on the Earth; what would the RSPCA say?)
 

Elessar II

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Zale said:
I have heard that fundamentalists believe the Universe (Earth first) to be around 10 000 years old; science's estimate stands at around 10 000 000 000 years.

First of all, science is famous for being totally wrong in numerous areas including geology. For example, a shoe-print was discovered in a formation of rocks that was supposedly millions of years old. Figure that, cavemen running around in penny-loafers! :rolleyes: :D
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Let us take a more considered look at Genesis:

1. To begin with, it does not say that the earth was created "first". It merely says that in the beginning, the earth "was without form and void". In other words, the earth wasn't! It didn't exist! That's what being "without form" means; and, of course, being without form, it must certainly be "void". The earth is mentioned first, because the people for whom Genesis was written would have been concerned with the origins of their world - Earth - not with the creation of the Crab Nebula or the Andromeda galaxy.

2. It is not true to say that we always knew that living things produce other living things of their own kind. Indeed, the understanding of such things begins with a medieval monk who made the first cogent studies of genetics (Mendel) even though I doubt even he understood the true meaning of what he discovered. In fact, as late as the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, men of science didn't really know how life evolved. In an attempt to discover how men contracted malaria in the tropics, a certain test was held. Many notable doctors and scientists believed that microscopic life occurred "spontenously" in unhygienic conditions and that therefore men got malaria from living in filthy surroundings. Other men of science and medicine, however, while not truly understanding how germs "happened", were of the opinion that malaria was transmitted through the bite of the anopheles mosquito. And so a test was held: a number of men were put in filthy barraks and forced to eat and sleep there. They were, however, protected from the mosquito. Another test group were placed in clean, hygienic barracks, but were subjected to the mosquito. Guess who got sick? Therefore, to say that "everybody knows/knew" that living things only arise from like forms of life is not universally true until fairly recently (historically speaking).

3. Finally, rather than comparing Genesis to present day science and finding fault with it, I would suggest that it is much more honest to compare it to other creation myths of a comparable age. I think that you will find it far more acceptable than the idea that creation arose from a cow or a tree or that the earth and the cosmos are held up by an elephant standing on the back of a turtle who is swimming in some metaphysical sea. Given the above, Genesis is positively modern in its concept and presentation of creation.
 

Helcaraxë

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Elessar II said:
First of all, science is famous for being totally wrong in numerous areas including geology. For example, a shoe-print was discovered in a formation of rocks that was supposedly millions of years old. Figure that, cavemen running around in penny-loafers! :rolleyes: :D
So do you suggest abandoning all science? Do you advocate sole reliance on the scarce scientific knowledge evident in the Bible? Science does not deal with absolutes, this is true. But it has proven generally reliable, and evolution is a well-grounded scientific theory.

Second: Do not make the mistake of thinking that science makes these kind of errors. The footprint was an error made by a small number of scientists; it does not prove that science itself is unreliable, only that those particular scientists need to retake their courses in archaeology. ;)
 

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For those who like to find flaws and contradicting statements in the Bible, the following site might be of interest:

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

Some of the flaws mentioned there are debatable, but there's a lot of interesting stuff to be found there.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Genesis is not science, nor was it ever supposed to be considered as such. However, it is a very "scientific" concept of Creation as opposed to the cow, tree and cosmic turtle, one must admit! Genesis was a means of informing a bronze age nomadic culture about God, the Creator, His relationship to Man (His ultimate creation) and Man's relationship to Him. Much of the Old Testament takes place in history and has proven to be quite accurate (many O.T. accounts have been verified by archeological "digs" and comments recorded from contemporary civilizations). However, there is much in the O.T. that is probably parable. For instance, did "Job" exist? Or rather, is his story the Bible's effort to answer the age old question why do bad things happen to good people? Was there a man named "Jonah" who met misfortune on the high seas - or again, was this a way of pointing out that when God calls, His people are obligated to respond lest worse things happen to them! The New Testament, on the other hand, is far more "historical" in that it deals with a relatively small (and well documented) time period and with characters whom we know existed - Herod, Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Augustus etc. One may reject the "theological" accounts that have been put forth in the New Testament, but Judah, Israel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Rome all, without question, existed.

Are there "inconsistencies" and "contradictions" in the Bible? Many say yes, although Biblical scholars frequently point out that such things are often the result of the many different translations taken from several different sources as well as the way different groups choose to "interpret" what they read. It may be that at least some of these "inconsistencies" exist more in the eye of the reader than in the text.

As for "science": it is only as good as human understanding which certainly has proven in the past to be faulty often to an incredible degree. Should we "throw it out"? Certainly not! God has given us the ability to learn and grow. Contrary to what many secularists say, there is absolutely NOTHING in Scripture or in Christianity that teaches the doctrine that God wants us to be ignorant or to abandon our intellectal ability - to, in effect, cease to think! In fact, when anyone tells you that he is preaching about God but then asks you to abandon your native intelligence and just listen to him, you may be sure that that person does not represent God but, in fact, His adversary! Jesus tells His disciples to be "gentle as doves" but "wise as serpents". He never said that to be pleasing to God, we are supposed to be stupid as sh....., er, effluvia.
 

Elessar II

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Helcaraxë said:
So do you suggest abandoning all science? Do you advocate sole reliance on the scarce scientific knowledge evident in the Bible? Science does not deal with absolutes, this is true. But it has proven generally reliable, and evolution is a well-grounded scientific theory.

Second: Do not make the mistake of thinking that science makes these kind of errors. The footprint was an error made by a small number of scientists; it does not prove that science itself is unreliable, only that those particular scientists need to retake their courses in archaeology. ;)
No, I don't think abandoning science would get me anywhere. After all, I believe that science was created by God to give man an understanding of how awesome God really is. Unfortunately, man has taken it and twisted and perverted it into a tool used to try to prove that God doesn't really exist.

And secondly, it is not a mistake to think that science makes these errors. Throughout history, science has continually made mistakes over and over again with amazing reliability. So you cannot just take whatever science throws at you without question.
And although I agree with you that those guys need to go back to school, the fact of the matter was that on hearing that a shoeprint of all things was found fossilized in a rock formation that was established to be millions of years old, the scientific community turned their backs on the incident, refusing to investigate the matter further. The point is, the scientific communtiy is totally biased against anything that would even hint at challenging their "proven" laws.
 

Helcaraxë

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Elessar II said:
No, I don't think abandoning science would get me anywhere. After all, I believe that science was created by God to give man an understanding of how awesome God really is. Unfortunately, man has taken it and twisted and perverted it into a tool used to try to prove that God doesn't really exist.

And secondly, it is not a mistake to think that science makes these errors. Throughout history, science has continually made mistakes over and over again with amazing reliability. So you cannot just take whatever science throws at you without question.
And although I agree with you that those guys need to go back to school, the fact of the matter was that on hearing that a shoeprint of all things was found fossilized in a rock formation that was established to be millions of years old, the scientific community turned their backs on the incident, refusing to investigate the matter further. The point is, the scientific communtiy is totally biased against anything that would even hint at challenging their "proven" laws.
But you are making the same mistake again. You are blaming science for the mistake of scientists.
 

Gothmog

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A dictonary definition.

science n a branch of knowledge requiring systematic study and method, especially one of those dealing with substances, animal and vegetable life, and natural laws; natural sciences, e.g. biology, geology, and the physical sciences; physical sciences, e.g. physics, chemistry.

So as you can see, science can do nothing, it is only a branch of knowledge. It is basicaly a method of work sometimes employed by scientists to achieve their goals.

You cannot blame a method for not being used correctly ;)
 

Zale

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My definition of science: the process by which we investigate the world (either material or immaterial) around us.
It would be geologists who made the footprint mistake. Any human is prone to making efforts. An estimate is just that; it is accurate only to about 10%, if that. I think that it has been checked by so many scientists since that any obvious error would have been pointed out.
Not believing the Bible's version of Genesis doesn't necessarily mean I refute the possibility of a Creator (God); the Universe has to have been created at some point and, even though Steven Hawking thinks it arose spontaneously from nothing, I think that breaks the law of conservation of energy (and matter, seeing as the two are interchangeable), thereby requiring something outside the laws of Physics; God is a very tantalising solution.

(PS - you do not study science, you study something and are called a scientist.)
 

Elessar II

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But you cannot prove that science is unreliable by saying that scientists are unreliable.
What I'm trying to say is that what we sometimes believe to be proven laws and facts of science could very well be false, and all throughout history we see illustrations proving this point.
Take Galen for example, for many, many years doctors and physicians took Galen's assertions as proven fact. The scientific branch of medicine revolved around the theories of Galen and these theories were made out to be scientific law. Then all of a sudden, discovery after discovery was made proving Galen to be, in fact, wrong.
 

Helcaraxë

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Elessar II said:
What I'm trying to say is that what we sometimes believe to be proven laws and facts of science could very well be false, and all throughout history we see illustrations proving this point.
You are absolutely right. Which is why science isn't perfect. But the same can be said of the Bible, when taken as literal fact. It all may well be false. Heck, how could we even know? It's a leap of faith, as Kierkegaard liked to say. But it is a mistake to dismiss all science as faulty.
Elessar II said:
Take Galen for example, for many, many years doctors and physicians took Galen's assertions as proven fact. The scientific branch of medicine revolved around the theories of Galen and these theories were made out to be scientific law. Then all of a sudden, discovery after discovery was made proving Galen to be, in fact, wrong.
But again, this is a scientist, not science.
 

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