I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

It appears SixApart bought LiveJournal. OMG! sixapart awaits your obeisances. bradfitz wonders what to do with all that money (link courtesy of marnanel). It’s fun to watch the drama, but I can’t say I care much.

BoingBoing linked to Edge’s question to (and responses from) various scientists, luminaries and latte-drinking iMac users: What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it ? So, how about the rest of you?

51 thoughts on “I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

  1. I am trying to eradicate faith from my life at present (and by faith I mean things that cannot be proven) – although I know that there are certain fundamental axioms that I assume to be able to think about anything.

    At present the important things that I believe for which strong evidence for but not proof:
    1. Logic is how one should determine what is true
    2. Same with mathematics (see 1)
    3. Science is the best system of determining what is true in the real world (I assume this because it seems reasonable as the scientific method seems to be a way of bridging the macro scale ‘uncertainty’ [I’m not sure if this is because its difficult to measure / predict as there is so much data or if it has something to do with things not behaving clasically] with maths and logic)

    These are things I believe but have no proof for:
    1. Things generally work out in the end (I suppose you could prove it if you had a reasonably broad definition of ‘generally’ and ‘work out’)
    2. The various philosophical arguments that destroy any kind of decision making / understanding of the world (e.g. you can never be sure of anything etc..) should be ignored (and /hopefully/ are wrong in some way that can be shown at a later stage)

    Things I ‘believe’ which are clearly untrue:
    1. I will not die
    2. Nothing like losing a limb, etc… could ever happen to me

    Things I ‘feel’ that I think are untrue
    1. Love, care, etc.. exist in some way other than being a series of chemical / electrical processes
    2. I have a property ‘consciousness’ that is external to the physical explanations of my behaviour (a kind of ‘spiritual’ other part of me)
    3. Marriage should be forever
    4. There is a ‘meaning’ in things – i.e. that you can’t use reductionism to reduce it to evolution / mathematics / etc…

    1. Hmm… I don’t believe it is possible to eradicate faith from one’s life (depending on the definition of faith, of course). As bluap points out, to some extent, we all believe things because people we trust told us so (I think I’m going to disagree with his wider point that science is just like a religion, though). As for logic and mathematics, logic can’t even prove mathematics true. Unlike the poster I liked to, I’m not attempting to broaden that into an argument that science is a church, everything is relative or similar, but just saying that mathematics and logic in themselves have their limitations.

      1. This came up recently on the UCCF forums.

        GIT really is a git as far as I’m concerned. It does seem to cause all kinds of problems with logic, but I am aware that there is still a lot of debate about it so I try nto to let it worry me too much.

        It’s not such a big problem for me as I’m more interested in science versus faith/religion. I haven’t encountered anyone yet who is trying to trump logic with their faith (apart from possibly the aforementionned UCCF-er), the religious people I know seem to be against science rather than logic (as they use logic themselves to understand their faith and have such a discussion with me).

        As you said later on the problem with religious ‘faith’ (of course it depends on how you define faith) is that it is by its nature fairly untestable – this differs from science.

        Mathematics and logic do have limitations, but at least they make a reasonable attempt at providing explanations which you can test. Religions by and large are powered by authority, emotions, and say-so which is ridiculous.

  2. What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

    I’m a great believer in “Science as religion”.

    To try to explain, one of the major aspects of a religion is an “explanation of what the world is”. (E.g. there is a God / when you die you may [under certain circumstances] go to heaven / thunder is created by by the god Thor / whatever).

    People believe these world-vision because someone they trust and respect told them this is so. You might do your own internal consistancy check but, in the end, you believe in this picture of the universe because you trust the person/book that instructed you.

    However, this aspect of world-vision isn’t confined to recognised religions. Take relativity as an example. I personally believe in relativity as a theory that explains a large proportion of the universe. However, I have no personal “proof” of relativity: I simply believe in it because people I trust (my school teachers, people who write popular science books, etc) tell me that it is true. They may tell me about all of the tests that have been done, but this is second-hand information (similar to reports of miracles in religious texts), and I still have to take it on faith, trusting that I haven’t been misled.

    In this sense, my belief in relativity is analogous to a Viking’s belief that thunder was created by the god Thor, or a Christian’s belief in heaven – we all take it on faith, based on our trust in what we are told.

    At this point scientists normally point out that science is unique, because anyone can go out and prove a theory. However, 99.99% of people don’t and, to these people, science is essentially a “religious” belief. What’s the difference between a scientist saying “if you travel fast enough then you’ll experience time dilation”, and an ancient greek saying “if you go down this cave, you’ll reach the kingdom of the dead, ruled by Hades”? Both are, in principle, testable. I personally, have tested neither so rely on faith and my own sense of “what feels right”.

    (Of course, there are other aspects of organised religions than the “world vision”, but many of these are trappings of the organisation, rather than things you take on faith.)

    1. People believe these world-vision because someone they trust and respect told them this is so. You might do your own internal consistancy check but, in the end, you believe in this picture of the universe because you trust the person/book that instructed you.

      You can do better than that. You can judge the world-vision not just by checking it is internally consistent, but by testing how much of what the person/book instructs you is coherent with your experience of reality.

      1. True. But that’s true for science _and_ religion.

        For what it’s worth, the closest I’ve had to a religious experience was when reading a Scientific American article on “Chaotic Inflation”. To me, it made a huge amount of sense, and solved various of my misgivings of the standard theory, in a particularly elegant way. Chaotic Inflation may not be true in reality, but it is likely to remain as my “creation of the universe” story of choice…

        1. True. But that’s true for science _and_ religion.

          The emphasis of my last statement should be in the “how much”.

          Most of my day to day experiences science has absolutely nothing to say about. Whereas Christianity has much more to say about my day to day experiences where science is silent; and can provide a framework in which the existence of scientific natural laws can make sense.

          So yes, it is true that both science and religion are coherent with my experiences, but that range of experiences that are coherent with are massively different.

        2. I haven’t got a clue what “Chaotic Inflation” is.

          Although, while I imagine it probably does manage to be coherent with a large number of our cosmological observations, I would imagine that it has made no difference to your daily understanding of the world around you.

          Of course, I know nothing about it, so I could be completely wrong. Please do tell me if I am, and then more importantly what “Chaotic Inflcation” is!

      2. I have started to hear this approach to Christianity – or perhaps rather just evangelicalism recently – it is a bit odd to me as before evangelicals seemed to be more interested in arguing that evangelical Christianity is the truth. They appear to be falling back to a position more of ‘it feels right inside’ which is only a short step away from the kind of liberalism they were decrying only 5 years ago (and presumably still are in some churches).

        I used to be an evangelical Christian but I no longer am as there is no good evidence that the claims made by Christianity is true. You either get there by assuming that the Bible is the word of God and should therefore everything it says should be entirely trusted (which you can’t logically get to – all you can do is start with that assumption which is ridiculous), or you have some kind of religious experience – which isn’t very helpful as people have religious experiences in every religion.

        I think evangelicalism is the best of the types of Christianity because it makes statements which are generally logical and have some (attempt) at justifying why they are true – it’s just that there are big big big problems in there (like believing the bible is an accurate true account meaning you have to disregard evolution etc).

        1. I don’t think nlj21 is saying that one should follow “what feels right inside”, but rather that workable worldviews have to correspond to reality as well as being internally consistent. I don’t know whether he’s read Nick Pollard’s book Evangelism made slightly less difficult, but it sounds similar to the sort of thing which Pollard puts forward as a way to tackle people who just aren’t interested in Christianity: you need to analyse their worldview to see where the holes in it are and show them this before they will be willing to look at something else. Pollard’s questions for examining a worldview are: Is it internally consistent?, Does it agree with reality? and Does it work? (by which he means does it have desirable consequences for its followers and society, I think).

          1. You’re right, I probably over egged it a bit (when haven’t I done that?). My comment though is really a reaction to the (perceived) change in the Christianity Explored course I’m on… At first it seemed that they were going to be able to logically show why Christianity is true – and from that everything else should follow. Now they seem to have switched to more of a ‘does it feel like it describes the world you see?’ rather than ‘we know that Jesus existed, we know that he was God, etc..’.

            I suppose I wouldn’t have a problem with a religion that claimed to ‘work’ for it’s followers, and claimed to be a good thing ™ – it’s when they make absolute claims to be being true that I get really deeply involved.

          2. that workable worldviews have to correspond to reality as well as being internally consistent.

            Yes, you’re right. That was what I was saying. I haven’t read Pollard’s book, but there are similar arguements in pretty much every Christian book I’ve read which comment on Christian views of reason and knowledge. I don’t think the idea of workable worldviews is exclusive to Christianity, in fact I think similar ideas are the basis for the “big theories” of science. It has been commented that both Christians and scientists have a critical realist view of the world.

            It is probably worth mentioning my view of reason. Reason cannot be used show if a worldview is correct; it is used to detect error, to refute fallicy.

        2. Ok, I’m think I’m going to work through this backwards.

          it’s just that there are big big big problems in there (like believing the bible is an accurate true account meaning you have to disregard evolution etc).

          No you don’t. You only run into those big problems if you interpret scripture as a piece of contemporary scientific literature. It isn’t. Well before Darwin it was thought Genesis 1:1-2:3 should be taken figuratively. To quote some early Christian commentators:

          “I do not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate mysteries through a sembalance of history” – Origen, AD 231

          “No Christian would dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense” – Augustine, AD 391

          The whole Young Earth Creationist, anti-evolution movement is really quite recent (last century), possibly in reaction to what was happening in Germany in the first half of the century. It isn’t based on sound biblical exegesis.

          It’s late and I have to be up early, so I’ll reply to the rest, god-willing, tomorrow (probably as responses to the comments below).

          1. You only run into those big problems if you interpret scripture as a piece of contemporary scientific literature. It isn’t.
            It depends on what you mean by scientific literature. I don’t think God was explaining exactly how he might have used the laws of physics (or what he created them to be) to do the things in Genesis, but it is quite clear that it was written to be an account of things that actually happened. This is clear from the style and content of the ancient hebrew – and I’m not aware of any biblical scholar today who would argue that without the influence of evolution one would come to any other conclusion.

            A reasonable theological explanation of why Genesis should be considered historically literal is here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v16/i1/genesis.asp

            You like quoting people so let me have a go:

            3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
            4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

            It is interesting that in Matt 19:3-6 Jesus quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as actual things that historically occured. He later on talks about Noah and so on – which begs the question – if you don’t accept the Genesis account as literal (take for instance a garden of eden with a man and a woman in it), at what point should we trust the Bible’s account of history? Did Cain and Abel exist? What about Noah? What about Moses? What about Jesus?!

            There is a good list of the things in the OT that Jesus quoted as being true in Point II.3 here.

          2. Also by denying the truthfulness of the Genesis account without realising it you undermine the foundations of the rest of Christianity. Let me give you a few examples:

            1. If sin came about as a result of the fall and in heaven the curse of Adam is undone and things are returned to their state before the fall in the garden of Eden, if evolution is true this means a return to pain, death, and suffering as these are required for the process of evolution to occur
            2. Is pain, death, and suffering a good thing? As I said above if you are a theistic evolutionist you believe that it is the way that God used to create mankind, if you believe what the account in Genesis plainly says it is clear that God considers these to be bad things that he is going to do away with (exactly the opposite of it being something he would use to create things)
            3. Jesus talked of Genesis and the whole of the OT as a historical account, could he be wrong?
            4. Jesus (and Paul) talk of Adam as the first man (Romans 5:12) – that sin entered the world through this first man – apart from wondering why we would want to or need to add to the bibles account one might wonder who this ‘first man’ was if you believe in evolution, was there a point at which an animal became a man? If so was there a specific man and woman that this happened to at the same time (as required by Genesis)?
            5. How old is the world? – or perhaps where do we start believing the account in Genesis? We can add up the ages of the genealogies in the OT and come to a date of about 6000BC (give or take), now either at some point the Genesis account is made up (there were actually thousands of generations we missed out), or evolution is wrong, or the Gensis account is false

            There are more good examples in:
            God and evolution: do they mix?
            10 dangers of theistic evolution (I think ’10 problems with…’ would have been more appropriate)
            Biblical problems for theistic evolution

            Perhaps it is more accurate for me to say that anyone just using the Bible alone to understand the world would ever come to the conclusion that humanity came about through millions of years of death and suffering as we changed from an earlier form of life to the one we are today – they would believe that the world was created in six days (God resting on the last), and that we were made from the earth in God’s image unlike all the other animals. One can only come to a different conclusion if you start off with the things said outside of the Bible and try to work the Bible into your existing view of the world. It is quite clear that there is no hint in the Bible of anyone believing anything other than this.

            Jesus Christ referred to the Creation of Adam and Eve as a real historical event, by quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in his teaching about divorce (Matthew 19:3–6; Mark 10:2–9), and by referring to Noah as a real historical person and the Flood as a real historical event, in His teaching about the ‘coming of the Son of man’ (Matthew 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27).

            With respect to the commentators you quote – yes I accept that people thought that we could change the plain meaning of Genesis to be quite different – but you do realise of course that Origen and Augustine were heavily influenced by the greek philosophies of Philo who included a lot of ‘Greek wisdom’? Also remember that the Greeks thought that the world had always been existence…

            1. Also by denying the truthfulness of the Genesis account without realising it you undermine the foundations of the rest of Christianity. Let me give you a few examples:

              Woah. To claim a piece of literature should not be interpreted literalistically, is not to deny its truthfulness. Also, my comments are in reference to Genesis 1. Once you get to Adam and to genealogies you are in a piece of literature which looks more like what we would understand as history.

              Most of your comments seem to be around Adam being the first man, and if this can be reconciled with evolution. I do not see them as being contradictory, although I cannot reconcile them. I can say I’m not too sure it is a helpful exercise to offer speculation on exactly how to reconcile the latest theories of the speciation [how evolution leads to a reproductively seperate species] of homo sapiens with Adam and Eve. From what I am aware, a couple of years ago, the question of how speciation happens was still very much one of the big areas of debate in biological evolution. I don’t know what recent development there have been in this area (anyone else?) but I suspect at the moment if I offered speculation on how they could be reconciled I would have to change it as the latest theories change.

              1. To claim a piece of literature should not be interpreted literalistically, is not to deny its truthfulness.
                That depends on what you mean by literature. There are many types of literature in the Bible, the question is what type is the Genesis account. Based upon the hebrew we know that it is a literal historic account (as with say 1 and 2 Kings).

                So when you get to Adam and Eve it becomes history, but before it isn’t? Come on – lets be honest here. How did you come to that conclusion? You came to it because you realise there is a big conflict if you plainly read the Genesis account, and so you look elsewhere for a way of reinterpreting it. Increasingly fancy arguments might seem to allow you to hold these mutually exclusive ideas together at once but sooner or later the house of cards falls down – you can hold this problem off by not dealing with the conflicts and problems it creates (which seems to be what you’re doing).

                Speciation is still an area of debate – I agree – but you could make a simple statement like “I believe at a particular point [presumably ~6000BC if you believe the genealogies] there were two humans, one male (Adam), one female (Eve), and they were the first humans, made in Gods image, with a soul [or whatever language you might use], etc..” Are you willing to do that?

                Adam and Eve had things like language but presumably these proto-huamns would not have done (as animals other than humans do not today), not to mention you then have to come up with fancy explanations about whether the garden of eden existed, why we wear clothes (they were given by God), deal with how Genesis says that bloodshed and death are a consequence of the fall (which according to your account must have occured after homo-sapien evolved) compared to evolution saying it was happening for millions of years beforehand, and so on. Lots and lots of problems. Easy to wave hands, impossible to explain.

                1. So when you get to Adam and Eve it becomes history, but before it isn’t? Come on – lets be honest here. How did you come to that conclusion?

                  “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created…” – Genesis 2:4

                  Would suggest to me that what we are about to read is more like a historical record, and so what is before is something else. Your friends at AiG are quite happy to admit that

                  Chapter 1 may be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective.

                  So the question is what type of literature we would consider creation from God’s perspective to be. I think the completely different perspective makes it reasonable to consider it a different type of literature to what we then find in Genesis 2.

                  you can hold this problem off by not dealing with the conflicts and problems it creates (which seems to be what you’re doing).

                  No. I am trying to avoid unnecessary speculations which can lead to conflicts and problems if they are considered more than speculative.

                  but you could make a simple statement like “I believe at a particular point [presumably ~6000BC if you believe the genealogies] there were two humans, one male (Adam), one female (Eve), and they were the first humans, made in Gods image, with a soul [or whatever language you might use], etc..” Are you willing to do that?

                  I believe that all men are children of one male (Adam), all of whom bear God’s image.

                  [I do not believe you can add together genealogies as it is not uncommon for son/father to mean descendant/ancestor. eg. Jesus, son of David. Jews: “Abraham is our father”.]

                  1. [Gen 2:4] Would suggest to me that what we are about to read is more like a historical record, and so what is before is something else. Your friends at AiG are quite happy to admit that.
                    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

                    This uses the same language as Genesis 2 and so logically one should consider it to be history as well. The specific use of the hebrew language also shows that it should be interpreted as a historically accurate actual account as well. AiG (who are generally just a good basic resource for these things, although there are others) have done ‘>a good summation

                    If we apply the normal principles of biblical exegesis (ignoring pressure to make the text conform to the evolutionary prejudices of our age), it is overwhelmingly obvious that Genesis was meant to be taken in a straightforward, obvious sense as an authentic, literal, historical record of what actually happened.

                    If Genesis 2 is a historical record as you say then you must believe in:

                    1. Man was formed from dust with God breathing life into the dust (verse 6)
                    2. There was an actual garden of Eden (verse 8)
                    3. There was a tree of ‘the knowledge of good and evil’ and a tree of ‘life’ (which presumably had some kind of special effect on you if you ate of them) (verse 9)
                    4. Adam the first man named all the animals [presumably each kind of animal? otherwise it might take awhile] (verse 20)
                    5. God took a rib of Adams and created Eve from it (verse 22)

                    Am I right in saying you believe these things actually occured (we’ll leave out for now all the contradictions with God saying that creation was good when there had been millions of years of death and suffering if you are a theistic evolutionist)?

                    No. I am trying to avoid unnecessary speculations which can lead to conflicts and problems if they are considered more than speculative.
                    So basically although I have shown there to be lots and lots of problems with the approach you are taking you refuse to comment because if you do your speculations might lead to conflicts and problems? Perhaps the reason why you would find conflicts and problems is because on the most basic levels it simply wouldn’t work – regardless of how speciation (to take one example) might work. Refusing to deal with the problems seems to me to be quite a good sign that your position is quite weak.

                    do not believe you can add together genealogies as it is not uncommon for son/father to mean descendant/ancestor. eg. Jesus, son of David. Jews: “Abraham is our father”
                    That depends on the context in the genealogy. Clearly there are a few rare special cases where someone is showing that they are related to a particular important person in Jewish history (e.g. Abraham), but I would challenge you to come up with more than say 10 (aww why not make it 5) of these examples. There are LOTS of genealogies in the OT but I think you will struggle to find even a few of the special cases you refer to.

                    Even if we assume that there are the gaps in the geneological record (which I would expect there are although not quite of the type you refer to – I’m not sure the age of everyone is exactly specified) unless you think the record covers say 6,000 years then then several thousands of generations are just skipped over then you still end up with the problem of an age of the earth (and humanity) that is in the thousands to ten thousand year period of time – totally different from the time periods required by evolution.

                    I believe that all men are children of one male (Adam), all of whom bear God’s image.
                    I’ll come back to this later on…

                    1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

                      This uses the same language as Genesis 2

                      ????

                      Please explain. In what sense does that use the same language as Genesis 2?

                      2:4 starts “This is the account”. 1:1 has no similar construct. I should comment that I am not a Hebrew scholar, but from what I understand of what AiG are saying they are claiming the “This is the account (toledoth)” statements throughout Genesis should be assocciated with the preceding text. Therefore 2:4 is a claim that 1:1-2:3 is an account. Which is why they claim 1:1-2:3 can be considered historical.

                      If you accept this I think you need to explain why every Bible translation I can find groups these statements with the following text. Also it leaves you with the whole of Joseph hanging off the end of Genesis after the last toledoth. Joseph I think is a far better candidate to be considered historical than Gen 1:1-2:3.

                      I think the “may very well” shows that they do recognise there is a degree of speculation in this claim: “they may very well be subscripts or closing signatures, i.e. colophons, rather than superscripts or headings.”

                      To save time, and avoid a lack of focus, I think it is best to sort out how to read Genesis 1:1-2:3 before moving onto Genesis 2:4-onwards, so I’m not going to reply to the rest now.

                    2. I am saying that the same language is used in Genesis 1 as in Genesis 2 because:

                      • Declarative statements are used to specify what God did – e.g. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (1:3) and “And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees …” (1:9).
                      • The use of ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ statements in the linguistic structure of the passages
                      • Similar linguistic mixture of statements of what God did, what he said, and what occured
                      • The use of the waw-consecutive to express consecutive action in both – “express actions, events, or states, which are to be regarded as the temporal or logical sequence of actions, events, or states mentioned immediately before.” (see Understanding the Hebrew of Genesis 1)
                      • The use of the conjugation-verb-subject-object ordering (used in Hebrew narrative sentences) in both – as opposed to say (for comparison) the subject-verb-object used in poetry (see Is Genesis poetry or historic narrative?)

                      Whether the toledoth statements are colphons (referring to the preceding text) or heading/superscripts (referring to the later text) seems to be a matter of some academic debate at the moment – so I wouldn’t go gung-ho with AiG on that one. You state that you think that “Joseph I think is a far better candidate to be considered historical than Gen 1:1-2:3” – the issue here is more what the text in the scriptures actually says, not what you would consider to be more historical.

                      I would go on to say the following about Genesis 1 and 2:

                      • The default ‘mode’ of literary understanding is historical narrative – Not all of the bible is a literal historical narrative of course – some parts are poetry, some prophecy, some parables, etc. Generally one assumes that the text is historical narrative unless there is evidence to the contrary. Few (well at least few Christians) would wonder if when Matthew talks about Jesus’ death on the cross he is being poetic and did not actually believe it occured. As such it is important that unless there is a good literary/theological reason to think otherwise that the text is interpretted as historical narrative. If anyone wishes to show a text not to be historical narrative the oneness is on them to show why it should not be read in this manner.
                        Here is a quote I got from somewhere (but have failed to note where, oops!):
                        “Compared to the hymns in the Bible, the creation account is not a hymn; compared to the parables in the Bible, the creation account is not a parable; compared to the poetry in the Bible, the creation account is not a poem; compared to cultic liturgy, the creation account is not a cultic liturgy. Compared to various kinds of literary forms, the creation account is not a metaphor, a story, a parable, poetry, or the like.”
                      • Lack of parallelism – There are literary parallels between Gen 1 and 2, that is not what I am referring to here – what I am referring to is the parallel structure that occurs in poetic text. Genesis 1 (and 2) lack this parallelism. In a sense this is the extension of the last point, but it is important because people often claim that Gen 1 is literary and so sweep its obvious meaning under the carpet.
                      • The language used strongly supports it being a narrative historical account – compare with when David personifies the sun for instance “[The sun] is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber”. The language constructs used for metaphor are not used here.
                      • Genesis was not considered by the Hebrews to be poetic – they considered it to be a factual account – actual history to be believed, not as a metaphor or myth.
                      • Jesus refers to the Genesis narrative – and when he does so he refers to it as literal truth, not as a metaphor or myth
                      • New Testament writers (e.g. Paul and Peter) along with Old Testament writers refer to Gen 1 and 2 as literal truth.
                      • If you do not take them as historic narrative the rest of the Bible starts to fall to pieces – take a look at Exodus 20:11 for instance, the reason there is a sabbath day and a six day week is because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. There are of course lots and lots of examples of things like this (many I have mentionned in other comments).
                      • Biblical authors are clear that mankind came into existence at the same time as creation (ok, I’ll let them off a few days I think that is reasonable in language, but several hundred million years, or billions of years isn’t really the same). Take a look at what Jesus says in Mark 10:6 “”, and Isaiah in (surprisingly) Isaiah 40:21 “”.
                      • There is no reason to consider Genesis to be non literal unless you ‘taint’ your reading of the scriptures by outside authorities – this stands in clear opposition to your statement that considering Genesis to be literally historically true is a ‘[un]sound biblical exegisis’; a statement you have not justified.

                      Here is an excellent quote to think about:

                      ‘Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.’. Professor James Barr, Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford

                      Some things for you to ponder:

                      • Some have taken the stance that a scientific theory, by its very nature and the breadth of its acceptance, has priority over scripture – would you do the same?
                      • You have not explained why you consider Gen 2 to be a historical account but not Gen 1 – can you please clearly explain what from the text alone has led you to this non plain/obvious conclusion?

                      Apologies for the delay – it takes me some time to get my head around these things, and I am also arguing with someone else who is telling me that that there is no evidence for evolution, and that it doesn’t work.

                      Now I really must go and install Ubuntu / watch 24 :0)

                    3. No reply to above comment….I’m hoping that means can now move onto Genesis 2:4-onwards. First step: genealogies and can they be used for chronology.

                      That depends on the context in the genealogy. Clearly there are a few rare special cases where someone is showing that they are related to a particular important person in Jewish history (e.g. Abraham), but I would challenge you to come up with more than say 10 (aww why not make it 5) of these examples. There are LOTS of genealogies in the OT but I think you will struggle to find even a few of the special cases you refer to.

                      5 examples….Bring it on! (Note these aren’t special cases referring directly to an important persons like David/Abraham)

                      1. Mt 1:8 (Jehoram the father of Uzziah) vs. 2 Chronicles 21:4-26:23 (Jehoram has son Ahaziah (22:1), has son Joash (22:11), has son Amaziah (24:27), has son Uzziah (26))
                      2. Ezra 7:3 (Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth) vs. 1 Chronicles 6:7 (Meraioth the father of Amariah)
                      3. Luke 3:36 (Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad) vs. Genesis 10:24 (Arphaxad was the father of Shelah)
                      4. Luke 3:36 (Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad) vs. Genesis 11:12 (Arphaxad father of Shelah)
                      5. Mt 1:11 (Josiah the father of Jeconiah(=Jehoiachin)) vs. 2 Chronicles 36:1-9 (slightly more obscure. Josiah is the father of Jehoiakim (v4), who is the father of Jehoiachin (v8)

                      Will that do?

                    4. Thanks for that I’m just going through each of those myself – I am afraid this will take me a little while (partly because I’m at work, and partly because I’m quite slow at these things!). Especially as I just spent about an hour making notes and things in a window that I seem to have closed without saving *expletives deleted*.

                      If we assume that you are correct (which appears to be the case) that sometimes generations are skipped in the genealogies this leads me to wonder about a few things – which I hope you can comment on.

                      Where generations are ‘skipped’ is the genealogy complete elsewhere? That is to say does Matthew skips over Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah because he knows that his readers will be aware of (or can refer to) the account in 2 Chronicles? If this is the case then there are no ‘gaps’ at all (as required if you are to fit lots of generations into the genealogies to get the time periods needed for evolution).

                      Possibly the dates the books were released may be a clue (although it is not inconclusive) – if this were the case one might expect the full genealogical account to be in the earlier books with the skipped version in the later ones. In the examples you give:
                      1. The more complete account occurs earlier (2 Chron versus Matt)
                      2. Ezra is more complete. Based on some random web searches (all my books are back home), Ezra and 1 Chron appear to be dated at very similar times – (and according to this document) were written by the same author (Ezra) and so this test probably is not relevant.
                      3/4. There seems to be a lot of discussion going on about Cainan and Shelah – so I’m going to put that to one side until I get home.
                      5. The more complete account occurs earlier (2 Chron versus Matt)

                      Lets assume for the moment that you are right. If there are missing generations in the genealogical line then we can assume our estimate of ~6000 years is too low. If we assume that your Adam and Eve were the first homosapiens (rather than earlier homo’s) then the most favourable date for your argument is that homo sapiens came about ~150,000 years ago. That means you need about 144,000 (amusing coincidence!) years worth of unreported geneologies, 24 times the amount covered at present, or 3,600 generations (using my probably wildly inaccurate assumption of 30 years a generation). Do you think this is reasonable?

                      I should come back to this when I get home as I have much to do! I’m also working on replying to your other post but it is going to take me quite awhile to write up my response.

                    5. Where generations are ‘skipped’ is the genealogy complete elsewhere?

                      This is harder to show, as is the question of if they are incomplete to what extent are they incomplete. It is always hard to work out what we don’t know! But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a go.

                      Basic arguements we can go with are:

                      1) High priests. These were descendants of Aaron, so can look at the priestly genealogies and then check if scripture mentions any other high priests.

                      2) Archeology. Can use non-biblical historical evidence to try to date various events. (eg. when Egyptian, Babylonian, etc. rulers were in power). If you assume that each generation is fairly consitent in age you can work out how many generations you would expect and therefore guess how many might be missed.

                      I’ve heard estimates that the later genealogies (ie. post-exodus, covering dates we can confirm with archeology) a minimum of being 10% complete. I haven’t seen the working which comes to this conclusion.

                      That means you need about 144,000 (amusing coincidence!) years worth of unreported geneologies, 24 times the amount covered at present, or 3,600 generations (using my probably wildly inaccurate assumption of 30 years a generation). Do you think this is reasonable?

                      Yes. If I am right, then the Genesis genealogies aren’t intended to be used in chronology. So using whatever other knowledge I have (scientific, archeological, etc.) to date things seems perfectly reasonable.

                      It is interesting to think about it the other way round. I there were 3,600 generations do you think Genesis would feature 3,600 verses of “X the father of Y”?

                    6. I’ve heard estimates that the later genealogies (ie. post-exodus, covering dates we can confirm with archeology) a minimum of being 10% complete. I haven’t seen the working which comes to this conclusion.
                      That doesn’t deal with the main point of what I was saying. While some later genealogies may be incomplete that can be accounted for by the earlier genealogies being complete – i.e. there not being any gaps. For your idea to work you would have to demonstrate that there are gaps, and not just that, but that it is reasonable to assume incredibly large gaps.

                      Yes. If I am right, then the Genesis genealogies aren’t intended to be used in chronology.
                      I do not believe the original intent of those who recorded the genealogies was that they would later be used to calculate the age of the earth (although they may have had some interest in their use for dating). That does not mean that they can’t be used in this way though. It is unlikely that the writers of the OT and NT intended that their prose would be used to understand hebrew and greek thousands of years later, but they are – also the bible is used (to some degree) as a historical source for determining which Kings were around at particular points in history etc…

                      So using whatever other knowledge I have (scientific, archeological, etc.) to date things seems perfectly reasonable.
                      Err no :0)

                      As I have said you would need there to be 24 times the number of existing genealogies to be ‘dark’ / unmentionned. There is no evidence that this is the case. You haven’t show that there are any missing at all – but even if there were as you point out some (when you talk about using archaeology / history to check the dates of the generations against) you would need an incredibly large amount of missing geneaologies. This is a good example of trying to come up with a rather obtuse complex argument compared to the plain meaning of the text to work in something.

                      It is interesting to think about it the other way round. I there were 3,600 generations do you think Genesis would feature 3,600 verses of “X the father of Y”?
                      If there were 150,000 years of God’s people existing, and God spoke to humans reasonably regularly (i.e. on the scale of hundreds or thousands of years) I would expect there to be a lot more ‘bible text’ in general.

                      The Jews clearly thought of genealogies as very important (for whatever reasons) and kept very good accounts of “X was the father of Y” (despite your unproven accusations to the contrary – this is generally accepted theologically and academically). I’m not sure I would enjoy reading 3,600 accounts of who was the father of who – but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be recorded or that the Jews would not find it interesting.

                      To accept evolution and christianity at the same time you need to believe six impossible things before breakfast. Although Creationism was not something that pw201 held to I believe he experienced the same general issue (as I have now with Christianity) where you have to come up with increasingly non plain, obtuse, convoluted, and ‘clever’ interpretations to keep everything working together – it is overwhelmingly more likely to say that Christianity is incompatible with these things.

                    7. That doesn’t deal with the main point of what I was saying. While some later genealogies may be incomplete that can be accounted for by the earlier genealogies being complete – i.e. there not being any gaps. For your idea to work you would have to demonstrate that there are gaps, and not just that, but that it is reasonable to assume incredibly large gaps.

                      My first suggestion was meant to deal with that.

                      The genealogy in Ezra 7 is a list of Aaron’s descendants who were the high priests. If you search Kings, Samuel, and Chronicles you will find a number of other high priests in between (referred to as “the priest”). Jehoiada, Uriah, Eli, Abiathar for example. Does this not demonstrate the genealogy of high priests is incomplete?

                      Anyway, I don’t have to demonstrate that there are gaps. I just have to demonstrate that there is no reason to think they are complete and that reading them as we would a modern day genealogy is anchronistic.

                      You might find this article helpful. I haven’t read all of it, but I think it will give a more thorough explaination of what I am saying.

                      The root of our disagreement seems to be over how scripture should be understood and used. (I’ll come to more of that later. But your earlier comment in another response which says that you think by default, if we don’t know what sort of literature a text is, we should read it as a modern, literal, historical narritive I think is wrong.)

                      where you have to come up with increasingly non plain, obtuse, convoluted, and ‘clever’ interpretations to keep everything working together – it is overwhelmingly more likely to say that Christianity is incompatible with these things.

                      That sounds to me like saying that when things are hard to understand you should give up. Just imagine if people had that view towards quantum theory, or anything else.

                    8. (oops: editted because I accidentally left a random bible quote at the top!)
                      The genealogy in Ezra 7 is a list of Aaron’s descendants who were the high priests. If you search Kings, Samuel, and Chronicles you will find a number of other high priests in between (referred to as “the priest”). Jehoiada, Uriah, Eli, Abiathar for example. Does this not demonstrate the genealogy of high priests is incomplete?
                      You will have to reference these examples for me to comment.

                      Anyway, I don’t have to demonstrate that there are gaps. I just have to demonstrate that there is no reason to think they are complete and that reading them as we would a modern day genealogy is anchronistic.
                      It is not about a reading them as if they were written today, as understanding the amount of wiggle room that was considered normal in their historical accounts versus ours (which is much smaller). I will go on to explain this in a moment.

                      While it is true that the terms used for father encompass a potentially wider meaning – generally speaking in the earliest example of the genealogy these refer to the actual children / fathers. So it is rare for them to refer to anything other than the normal relationship – where you find the language used in this way it is in later texts, usually in the new testament where the reader would already be aware of the full genealogy

                      Ross says “While modern genealogies are generally intended to be complete, most Biblical genealogies are telescoped”, yes later genealogies are telescoped – but not the earlier ones (at least the amjority of them, I haven’t checked each one personally). What Ross does is show telescoping in a later text of an earlier genealogy then uses that example of telescoping and goes back and applies it to the earlier genealogies!

                      The root of our disagreement seems to be over how scripture should be understood and used. (I’ll come to more of that later. But your earlier comment in another response which says that you think by default, if we don’t know what sort of literature a text is, we should read it as a modern, literal, historical narritive I think is wrong.)
                      No I didn’t say we should read it as a ‘modern literal historical narrative’, that is just plain misrepresenting what I have said. What I said is we should read it as a historical literal narrative. There is a big difference, let me give you an example:

                      Matthew (ch 9), Mark (ch 5), and Luke (ch 8) deal with the account of Jairus’ daughter. Before Jesus gets up to follow Jairus in Matt we read “”My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”, in Mark “”My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”, and in Luke “for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.”. By modern standards these accounts are inconsistent but we know that they are not inconsistent with the way that these things were written at the time. What effect does this have on the meaning of the passage? Very little – the ‘wiggle room’ does not compramise the fact that Jairus came to Jesus because his daughter was either dead or about to die, and that Jesus later raised the dead child back to life. The variations in the different gospel accounts is extremely minor – but the key point is true in all of them.

                    9. You will have to reference these examples for me to comment.

                      There’s list of them in the article I posted. There is a better example in there though. Read the section “A Detailed Example: The Mosaic Geneologies”.

                      Basic arguement is:

                      Jacob+co. (inc. Levi + Kohath) go to Egypt (Genesis 46:8-11).
                      Moses+co. leave Egypt 430 years later (Exodus 12:40-41).
                      Moses was 80 at the time (Exodus 7:7).

                      In all the genealogies of Moses he is listed as son of Amram, son of Kohath. (eg. Exodus 6:16-20).
                      This also lists Kohath as living 133 years.
                      And Amram living 137 years.

                      If we assume that Kohath went to Egypt at birth, and only bore Amram at death and similarly Amram only bore Moses at death that only gives us 133+137+80=350 years. I don’t think your earlier complete genealogies idea works here. I think you have to conclude that there is are people who are not getting mentioned, not in later genelogies, but in the first few books of the Bible.

                    10. Thanks for the time you’re putting into this, it is appreciated.

                      I have spent a lot of time looking at the text and reading the ‘solutions’ different people have suggested.

                      This appears to be a major controversy that I was not aware of – some argue that where Egypt is mentionned it should be translated Canaan, some that there are in fact two different Amrams, some that there was only a 210 year time period involved (they link this in with the first point and some other things to show that the 430 years may not actually refer to what it appears to with the common translation). I’m not sure what I think of all of these arguments – there are scholars and people all over the world arguing about this – although I do note that the view that there must be ‘missing generations’ is quite the minority one – I found almost nothing on it at all.

                      I could spend hours copying and simplifying the best counter argument to what you have said so far (something that has been consuming far too much of my time so far :0) but it might be more fruitful for you to read it directly yourself and comment on where you think it is incorrect: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/jftill/egypt/howlong.html . This link is good because it shows from both biblical and extra-biblical sources (Philo and Josephus) that it was considered by its writer and contemporaries to be a complete genealogical account.

                      Of course the most likely reason (as many have shown on the net) that there is a conflict between the 430 years and 4 generations is because the bible contradicts itself.

                      It would be nice if you would deal with the questions I posed to you in earlier comments – I’ve pointed out a LOT of flaws in not taking these passages literally, and I’ve spent a lot of time going down this little shoot that you wanted to discuss. A good start would be:

                      Explain how Jesus could be so wrong: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” Mark 10:6. Surely he meant to say after millions of years?

                      I note that you haven’t responded to my explanation as to why Genesis 1 should be interpretted as a literal historical narrative above, does this mean you concede the point?

                      Let me just quote a few more unanswered points:
                      1. If sin came about as a result of the fall and in heaven the curse of Adam is undone and things are returned to their state before the fall in the garden of Eden, if evolution is true this means a return to pain, death, and suffering as these are required for the process of evolution to occur
                      2. Is pain, death, and suffering a good thing? As I said above if you are a theistic evolutionist you believe that it is the way that God used to create mankind, if you believe what the account in Genesis plainly says it is clear that God considers these to be bad things that he is going to do away with (exactly the opposite of it being something he would use to create things)
                      3. Jesus talked of Genesis and the whole of the OT as a historical account, could he be wrong?
                      4. Jesus (and Paul) talk of Adam as the first man (Romans 5:12) – that sin entered the world through this first man – apart from wondering why we would want to or need to add to the bibles account one might wonder who this ‘first man’ was if you believe in evolution, was there a point at which an animal became a man? If so was there a specific man and woman that this happened to at the same time (as required by Genesis)?
                      5. How old is the world? – or perhaps where do we start believing the account in Genesis? We can add up the ages of the genealogies in the OT and come to a date of about 6000BC (give or take), now either at some point the Genesis account is made up (there were actually thousands of generations we missed out), or evolution is wrong, or the Gensis account is false

                    11. Eeep – I pasted too early :0)

                      To clarify, as I understand it your answer to 4 is that there was a single man and woman (as Paul and Jesus refer to) – presumably the first homosapien’s (~150,000 years ago); am I correct in this assessment.
                      With point 6 it is of course in part being discussed in this thread.

                    12. It would be nice if you would deal with the questions I posed to you in earlier comments

                      Ok. Briefly as don’t have much time:

                      Explain how Jesus could be so wrong: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” Mark 10:6. Surely he meant to say after millions of years?

                      Surely he would say after 5 days if he was trying to indicate chronology.

                      1. If sin came about as a result of the fall and in heaven the curse of Adam is undone and things are returned to their state before the fall in the garden of Eden, if evolution is true this means a return to pain, death, and suffering as these are required for the process of evolution to occur

                      They aren’t returned to exactly the same as before the fall. People won’t be married or given in marriage; it is described as a city, rather than garden; there will be a distinct lack of serpents.

                      2. Is pain, death, and suffering a good thing? As I said above if you are a theistic evolutionist you believe that it is the way that God used to create mankind, if you believe what the account in Genesis plainly says it is clear that God considers these to be bad things that he is going to do away with (exactly the opposite of it being something he would use to create things)

                      I’d look at was Adam mortal in Eden (re: needing to eat from the tree of Life to live forever. Is immortality therefore a default state). I’d look at what death means (seperation from God, phsyical death, etc.) I’d query about pain + suffering in animals vs. humans.

                      3. Jesus talked of Genesis and the whole of the OT as a historical account, could he be wrong?

                      Not too sure what you mean. Psalms, proverbs historical accounts?

                    13. Surely he would say after 5 days if he was trying to indicate chronology.
                      Nope. The meaning of what he was saying is quite clear. He said “at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female'” which cannot be the case if evolution is true.

                      Jesus could have said “five days after creation God made them male and female” but there is no reason to see why he would have done this. The Jews of the day did not believe in millions of years and so there would be no reason to explicitly use the time period. He said at the beginning of creation, it’s quite clear what that meant. If I were to see say to someone “At the beginning of the working day I made coffee”, what am I saying? There are two possible understandings – one that I made it at 9 o’clock on the dot, the other that I made it extremely closely to 9 o’clock – the language is quite clear – I could not mean that I made coffee at the end of the day.

                      Either Jesus did not know the real truth about how God had created things (whereas as an elightened modern person you know better), or he was lieing to the Jews. No, it cannot be either of these.

                      Paul and Peter also referred to the Genesis account as literal truth – in fact all the biblical writers did, and there is good evidence (which I believe I shown above) that the extra biblical sources of the day viewed them in this way as well. Millions of years contradicts the account of the writers of the Bible, and is an idea brought in from outside of the Bible to work evolution in. It is not in any sense biblical.

                      They aren’t returned to exactly the same as before the fall. People won’t be married or given in marriage; it is described as a city, rather than garden; there will be a distinct lack of serpents.
                      God has created plants, animals, man and woman (so by your accounts this is about 148,000BC) and he says that creation is good. By your account there were millions of years of death and pain before this point:


                      You might say that God will put an end to death in heaven (or on the ‘new earth’) but if it was ‘good’ then why would he?

                      God has promised to “restore everything” to the state that it was in before the fall (i.e. for you that means death and pain, albeit only between animals (of course this is contradictory to what it says elsewhere in the bible about how animals will not be fighting one another then).

                      The bible clearly says something quite different to your account. Death, pain, suffering, disease, and so on are not ‘good’ and death is the enemy of the God of the bible – before the fall there was no death at all, afterwards the introduction of sin led to death, and when the effects of the curse are ended death will defeated and finally there will be no more death.

                      Here are a few major reasons why your account is clearly very distored:

                      1. Before the fall man AND the animals only ate plants, not each other (Genesis 1:29-30)
                      2. Death is considered in the bible to be the enemy, not something ‘good’ (c.f. Gen 1:31) that God uses to bring about his creation
                      3. The first death was when God killed an animal to making clothing for Adam and Eve, there is no biblical reason to believe that death occured before hand – all the clues in the text say the exact opposite, one can only bring in the idea of death if you bring it in because of a belief in an outside source (in this case evolution)
                    14. I’d look at was Adam mortal in Eden (re: needing to eat from the tree of Life to live forever. Is immortality therefore a default state).
                      I think you can show just from Genesis that man was immortal – but I’ve just found something that Paul said that shows that man was immortal before the fall:

                      “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

                      As Paul says – sin came into the world because of one man (Adam), we know that this occured at the fall, death comes from sin, therefore before the fall there was no death – and man would have been immortal.

                      Quite what the consequence would have been had man eaten from the tree of life before the fall I am unsure about – I have often thought about the meaning/purpose of these two trees, and I think they raise a lot of questions that I haven’t immediately got answers for (like is it right for God to punish adam and eve for disobeying him/being evil when they didn’t know good or evil [as they hadn’t yet eaten from the tree]).

                      I’d query about pain + suffering in animals vs. humans.
                      Any biblical reason to do this? We can look for more and more definitive ways of defining the plain meaning of pain, suffering, and death if you like… this is just what I mean, to fit in evolution you have to come up with more and more obtuse meanings and interpretations.

                      “Jesus talked of Genesis and the whole of the OT as a historical account, could he be wrong?”
                      Not too sure what you mean. Psalms, proverbs historical accounts?

                      Err yeah :0) I don’t know why I said that – that is clearly a stupid thing to say :0) What I should have said was that Jesus (along with Paul, Peter, and many others as I have repeatedly shown) refers to Genesis as being a historical account :0)

                    15. Romans 5:12

                      Read the whole passage.

                      Death through Adam is being contrasted to life through Christ. But those who have life through Christ still physically die.

                    16. If you do read the whole passage you see that it talks about Jesus’ death in terms of his actual physical death (v6 and 7) so we can be sure that when it talks about ‘death’ it is referring to physical death. I don’t disagree that it is also referring to the spiritual aspect of life / death through Christ but this is in addition to when it talks about physical death.

                      Just look at how Jesus had to die but in his new nature lives forever – life /after death/ is eternal because of what Christ has done. Unless of course you think that people will still die in heaven… of course we know this isn’t the case as (as I have said a bajillion times now) God will restore these things to how they were before the fall (no death).

                      I think it is interesting that physical death seems to go hand in hand with spiritual death. Adam sinned and suffered spiritual death as well as physical death, just after Jesus cried out asking why his father had forsaken him (spiritual death) he actually died (physically). There seems to be an implicit link in the bible between the physical and the spritual in terms of death – this must be why the spreading of blood (a physical manifestation of the death of an animal) is somehow linked in to spiritual death/life. This raises all sorts of interesting questions about Enoch of course :0)

                    17. I think we are almost agreeing about death. If I understand correctly you agree that when death is talked about it is referring to a spiritual death going hand and hand with a physical death.

                      So then we get onto are animals different to humans. I’d say throughout the Bible you can see humans have a special position (being in God’s image), part of this being them having a spiritual side, an ability to relate to God, which animals don’t. So I’d query whether the death being talked about, going hand in hand with spiritual death, is talking about animals.

                      As I’ve said, the relationship with God is what is being restored. Clearly things won’t be just how they were before the fall. The prime example being marriage, happens before the Fall, but Jesus teaches won’t happen at the resurrection (eg. Matt 22:29-30).

                      A few other comments. There appears to be some biblical suggestions of a fall of angels before the Fall (of mankind). God does not curse Eve by saying he will give her pain during child-birth, but that he will multiply it.

                      May I make a book recommendation. Get a copy of the New Bible Dictionary – IVP. That should give you a better idea of Christian (evangelical) thought on these topics than googling the internet. Most of what I’m saying can be found in there.

                    18. That should give you a better idea of Christian (evangelical) thought on these topics than googling the internet. Most of what I’m saying can be found in there.
                      I find this quite amusing in the way that it is patronising…

                      I spent 5 years of my life as an evangelical Christian, as a bible study leader, and I was asked several times to speak at different evangelical churches (I declined). So I am well aware of what evangelical thought on these issues is :0)

                      Googling is useful because it both you and others who are reading this discussion to see what arguments people are making.

                      Of those evangelicals who have a position on the creation / evolution debate the majority agree with my position :0) My position is certainly the historic orthodox position.

                      If you like we can trade quotes in which evangelical scholars hold to the historic orthodox view, and which hold to your view, it would not work out well for you :0)

                      Evangelical leaders appear to either come down quite hard in favour of the literal historic reading of Genesis, or have no real position on it – they are afraid to specifically state what they think Genesis does say as they are worried that when it is out in the open someone can show how whatever they have said does not actually work with the Bible or science (this seems to be why you are amazingly cautious not to come out and say how/what occured).

                    19. Googling is useful because it both you and others who are reading this discussion to see what arguments people are making.

                      Googling does have the major problem that the information you get has a lack of quality control.

                      Evangelical leaders appear to either come down quite hard in favour of the literal historic reading of Genesis, or have no real position on it

                      Ummmm. Yes they do have a real position. They do state what they think Genesis says. They don’t state anything on young-earth/old-earth (etc.) because they do not believe this is what the point of Genesis is. Yes, this can be unsatisfying, as we want all the answers about how/what, but it is a real position to say Genesis doesn’t answer these questions.

                      I notice you state that the majority who hold an opinion on creation/evolution agree with your position. May I suggest it is a bad idea to ignore those who “have no real position”, there are quite alot of us.

                    20. You misrepresent what I am saying again by saying that “if we don’t know what sort of literature a text is…” – I didn’t say that. What I said was that our default mode of reading should be to consider the text to be a historical narrative as that is clearly what the majority of the bible is. Most of the Old Testament is a historical account of what happened to the Jews (escape from Egypt, giving of the laws, and so on). Later on we come to prophetic and poetic texts which are clearly of a different type either because the author states so or because their linguistic structure (e.g. with poetry) is radically different from the way hebrew grammar is used when normally conveying things. I have expanded on this in great detail above.

                      In the genealogies we see two general types. The first (which Hugh Ross right ly points out has a different linguistic structure and so maybe is intentionally supposed to be read in a more literal sense [although I don’t think I personally find that all that persuasive]) is a straightforward account of who begat who. The second type is ‘telescoped’ as he says. In all the examples he gives (and you have given) we find that the earlier text gives a full genealogy while a later one has a shortened ‘telescoped’ version. This is not surprising – the reader would already be aware of the earlier full genealogy. The only new example that Ross really gives is of 1 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, but again 1 Samuel (1043-1011BC) is more complete and earlier than 1 Chronicles (450-425BC).

                      Without looking into it in incredible depth I suppose I would be willing ot accept that there may be a few cases where generations have been entirely left out of the account – this is possible I think, but clearly it is not the general pattern – and when you factor in that you need to fit an immense amount of missing generations in there (as in your version you only have about 4% of the genearations recorded at all) it becomes even more ridiculous.

                      That sounds to me like saying that when things are hard to understand you should give up. Just imagine if people had that view towards quantum theory, or anything else.
                      What I am saying is that we should use the normal methods of understanding the text to determine what it means outside of external sources. The meaning of the text is quite obvious (as it was the to OT and NT authors including Jesus as I demonstrated above) but to make it compatible with the far far far larger time periods required by evolution you need to use very warped methods of reading the text which is inconsistent. I would not be surprised if people come to the point where they question whether Mary really was a virgin when Jesus was born (surely it could just be figurative?) or that Jesus really died on the cross, etc… In fact I believe some members of the clergy have already gone as far as to suggest such things.

                      If there were any doubt about how these passages should be interpreted we need only to look to the other biblical authors and see how they viewed them. I have given many examples of how the evolutionary time scales conflict with what the biblical authors thought (again above), and you might argue that in some way the authors understanding was limited – well let is just see what Christ said: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” Mark 10:6. So what he obviously meant was that billions of years after the creation of the universe God made man and woman… errr… ah.. actually that is clearly contradictory hmm…

                      AiG are not always as clear and concise as they could be, but they deal with variations on the ‘gap theory’ here.

          3. In terms of quotes let me rustle up a few :0)… I’m not sure many would consider Augustine and Origen to be good sound people to quote (at least at StAG which I believe is where you go), so let me find some that they may well do:
            “The ‘Days’ of Creation Were Ordinary Days in Length. We must understand that these days were actual days, contrary to the opinion of the holy fathers. Whenever we observe that the opinions of the fathers disagree with Scripture, we reverently bear with them and acknowledge them to be our elders. Nevertheless, we do not depart from the authority of Scripture for their sake.”- Martin Luther, What Martin Luther Says

            5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” – 2 Peter 3:5-6

            “For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish to go.” – Martin Luther, What Martin Luther Says

            “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” – Psalm 11:3

            “If Adam may be held to be no more real a personage than Prometheus, and if the story of the fall is merely an instructive “type,” comparable to the profound Promethean myths, what value has Paul’s dialectic.” Thomas Huxley, “Science and the Hebrew Tradition Essays”

            24The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” – Acts 17:24-26, 30

            “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” – Mark 10:6

            “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a lifegiving spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 15:45

            “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

            “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Genesis 2:2

            I think this is my favourite quote:
            “How long did the work of Creation take? When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honour of being more learned than you are.” – Martin Luther, What Martin Luther Says

            You might find the presentations I did on Creationism (there should be notes with each slide although I can’t figure out how to show them in Open Office) when I was an evangelical Christian helpful. I covered the following:

            1. Creation and the Bible [Is Genesis relevant today?]
            2. Creation and the Bible [Was it really six days?]
            3. Creation and the Science [Friends or enemies?]
            4. Creation and the Bible [untitled]

            I’m really amazed at your statement about Genesis not being based on sound biblical exegesis!! I’ve never found an evangelical scholar who would come even remotely close to such a statement, in fact all the ones I have read about or asked directly (sadly only of the Spring Harvest leader calibre [e.g. your own Cambridge Julian Hardyman]) say the exact opposite!!!

            1. at least at StAG which I believe is where you go

              Nope, no longer, but I’ve got a fairly good idea of what is taught there. Most of my previous comment was a rehash of things written by two Cambridge professors (heading up molecular immunology and geophysics departments) who also used to be at StAG, written with the support and encouragement of one of the clergy who used to be at StAG and who is now principal of the Cornhill Training Course (theological course popular with evangelical churches, includes two terms studying Calvin’s institutes). The last time I checked this was on StAG’s recommended reading list.

              What has been preached on Genesis is freely accessible on the StAG website. Read them.

              The point of the Augustine and Origen quotes are not because they should be considered authorative, but to demonstrate a figurative understanding of Genesis 1 is not a new post-Darwin thing.

              1. I have now read the articles on the StAG site – they circle around dealing with whether it was six days or not, no doubt because there are a lot of scientific types at the church who would have problems with them saying that it was six actual days (as the text clearly says).

                You were pointing out that the ‘creation movement’ was a new thing, which is not true – the people you quote such as Augustine go on in later works to say things like:
                ‘Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. … They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.’

                This isn’t really my point though – if you want to start quoting what people believe then I think Paul and Jesus would be good examples (as I have done in this thread).

                Besides it doesn’t really matter if Augustine or Origen did not think that Genesis should be read as literal history (affected as they were by greek thinking), it is clear that the only reason you would come to read them in a different way is if you were to hold some external authority as higher than what scripture itself says. As you say Augstine and Origen are not authoritive, scripture is.

                You also haven’t dealt with the things I wrote about – it’s very easy to say “ah, well, lets make it metaphorical” but no one deals with the myriad of problems they then have then created with the rest of the doctrines in the Bible.


          4. I can see that the creationist movement is a new thing – that would be because before that point no one had any reason to believe otherwise, and if you look everyone (at least in those Christianised nations e.g. England) thought that the world was created at about 6000BC (ish) in six days. It was clearly the advent of Darwin’s theory of evolution which contradicted that and caused the creation of a movement to counter what he said (you will also note that this is the time that the sway of the church fell away in England, and when people stopped believing Christianity).

            Ooops… so much to write – I wish LJ didn’t limit the amount you can put in a reply.

            1. Just interjecting to point out – belief the world was created in the preceding 10000 years was eccentric among british and american christians (at least of the book-writing classes), Evangelical or otherwise, long before Darwin, having been dealt its death blow over a century earlier by geology; so much so that most of the leading christian anti-evolutionists as late as William Jennings Bryan of Scopes `Monkey Trial’ fame took an ancient earth as much for granted as a non-geocentric cosmos.

              See here for an historical survey of christian appropriation of geological timescales. (Note that while the provenance of this essay is respectable, the author’s specialism is not religious history; his categorisation in a footnote of Milton and Whiston, for example, as `theologically orthodox’ is somewhat eccentric.)

              It’s clear you have been keen enough to read books on creationism and evolution from a number of perspectives. I’d recommend you also keep an eye out for Ronald Numbers’ “The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism” which is currently the definitive history of the origins of modern Young-Earth Creationism; a story of considerable interest from both sides of the fence. (Reasonably informative review here – though the review’s author is slightly inclined to co-opt the book for his own, Intelligent Design leaning, agenda.)

                1. Just a random non-LJer (hence the anonymous post, and the links that somehow didn’t work as previewed); not anyone you know.

                  (If you want to know where I’m coming from on the debate in question to put my contribution in context, my view is the Genesis 1 is a quasi-liturgical text, linking the renewal of the order of creation to the ritual week and especially the Sabbath; that its author did intend it to narrate what he thought was actually the case about the world he lived in and its beginning, sky-dome and all; and that biblical inerrancy is a theological dead-end which leads to apologetic distortion and occlusion of what the scriptures actually say.)

                  1. Hello new person! Your approach to Genesis sounds similar to that of someone I remember from uk.religion.christian. Is that how you found me? I’ve not ventured back there since I left the church.

                    Oddly, the links looked fine in the email that was sent to me to notify of your comment, too. It’s possible that LJ’s instituted munging of the links in response to comment spamming or somesuch, I suppose.

    2. I think I agree that for people who don’t go out and try stuff, science can be like a religion. However, I think that there are differences between the two when you consider the whole thing, rather than how individuals might treat it.

      Science sees reason rather than authority as paramount. That’s not to say that scientists are not people with cliques and elder statesmen, but in the end the testability of science means that if you can show the prevailing authority to be wrong, you win, eventually: there are enough scientists who want to be the one whose name goes down in history for some new understanding that any vested interests in the status quo cannot previal. Religion tends to involve appeals to authority (“we know this because the Bible/Koran/Pope says so”), and religious revolutions involve a charismatic (possibly in both senses of the word) figure establishing a new authority, but in the absence of testability, old timers can still claim they were right, so what occurs is a proliferation of the religion, with both the old (Catholic, say) and new (Protestant) existing alongside each other. Conversely, you don’t find many scientists out there who think that Newton knew better than Einstein.

      I also think it matters than, in principle, anyone could repeat the experiments which lend weight to a theory, even if few people do so. This is a sort of democritisation which you don’t tend to find in religions, where there are people who are or were special, and only they can/could do a special thing. (Interestingly, I think Protestantism in general and especially Evangelicalism is a kind of scientific thinking applied to the Bible rather than to Nature: possibly why it appealed to so many scientists at Cambridge).

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