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Genesis: Literal Or Metaphorical?


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#141 wombatty

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 07:03 AM

God's command to man to 'subdue' the earth and its creatures is a command to bring the creation under his control and to rule it wisely and exercise responsible stewardship of it. This cannot be done without an understanding and manipulation of nature. The accumulation of this understanding and exercise of manipulation is science.

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To clarify my point here: The reason this is relevant is that, for science to work, not only does the universe have to be reliably predictable, our brains/minds must be ‘matched’ to this reality – i.e. they have to be compatible. God’s ‘dominion mandate’ to humanity requires that man have the capacity to collect, assimilate, understand & synthesize data from nature. In short, the ‘dominion mandate’ entails that man’s mind is capable of properly comprehending nature and applying that knowledge.

In regard to this point, I recommend checking out Peter Harrison’s book The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science. He shows how, up until the protestant reformation, the Aristotelian notion that natural objects (plants, animals, planets, etc.) exemplified abstract principals, moral and otherwise, was the reigning paradigm. The objects themselves were ‘thought about’ as opposed to investigated (per Aristotle’s rational approach to science). Since it was the principal that the object signified that was important, there was little motivation to examine the object itself – it was completely secondary. In this way, much erroneous information about the natural world was propagated.

In the church, this Aristotelian notion had infected the reading of scripture; as such historical persons and accounts in the bible were taken to signify some abstract theological principal as opposed to an actual historical account. That changed with the rise of the protestant reformation, with its insistence on a literal reading of scripture. This insistence on ‘letting the text speak for itself’ instead of reading something else into it spilled over into the world of science. People actually decided to investigate nature and ‘see what it had to say for itself’ instead of attempting to assign abstract principals to it. This marked the transition from Aristotle’s purely rational approach to science to an empirical one.
These same people, having adopted a literal reading of the bible (including Genesis) saw it has their responsibility – partially exemplified in the ‘dominion mandate’ – to do whatever they could in their power to restore what was lost at the Fall. Harrison elaborates on this theme is his second book, The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science.

#142 Sisyfos

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 07:22 AM

To clarify my point here: The reason this is relevant is that, for science to work, not only does the universe have to be reliably predictable, our brains/minds must be ‘matched’ to this reality – i.e. they have to be compatible. God’s ‘dominion mandate’ to humanity requires that man have the capacity to collect, assimilate, understand & synthesize data from nature. In short, the ‘dominion mandate’ entails that man’s mind is capable of properly comprehending nature and applying that knowledge.

Ummm, No. You assume that our brains/minds are not part of reality. Hence you feel the need for them to be matched.
If however the assumption is that they are part of reality there is no need for "matching". What is perceived is perceived and validated through peer review. Simple example: Peer 1: -See that fox in the forest. Peer 2: That is not a fox. It's a dog. Peer 1: ok.

In regard to this point, I recommend checking out Peter Harrison’s book The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science. He shows how, up until the protestant reformation, the Aristotelian notion that natural objects (plants, animals, planets, etc.) exemplified abstract principals, moral and otherwise, was the reigning paradigm. The objects themselves were ‘thought about’ as opposed to investigated (per Aristotle’s rational approach to science). Since it was the principal that the object signified that was important, there was little motivation to examine the object itself – it was completely secondary. In this way, much erroneous information about the natural world was propagated.

In the church, this Aristotelian notion had infected the reading of scripture; as such historical persons and accounts in the bible were taken to signify some abstract theological principal as opposed to an actual historical account. That changed with the rise of the protestant reformation, with its insistence on a literal reading of scripture. This insistence on ‘letting the text speak for itself’ instead of reading something else into it spilled over into the world of science. People actually decided to investigate nature and ‘see what it had to say for itself’ instead of attempting to assign abstract principals to it. This marked the transition from Aristotle’s purely rational approach to science to an empirical one.
These same people, having adopted a literal reading of the bible (including Genesis) saw it has their responsibility – partially exemplified in the ‘dominion mandate’ – to do whatever they could in their power to restore what was lost at the Fall. Harrison elaborates on this theme is his second book, The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science.

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Again, it is not strange that science and christianity share history since back to about medieval times the church had a monopoly of knowledge. It is when science breaks free from the church's hold it prospers following the gutenberg invention.

#143 wombatty

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 08:47 AM

Ummm, No. You assume that our brains/minds are not part of reality. Hence you feel the need for them to be matched. If however the assumption is that they are part of reality there is no need for "matching".

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No, I’m assuming no such thing. Under the materialist conception, our universe – and ultimately the human mind – are the result of random accidents. In such a universe, there is no rationale for assuming that two random things (or one random thing within another) must be ‘matched’ in any respect. In fact, there is every reason to believe that there would be no such ‘matching’.

What is perceived is perceived and validated through peer review. Simple example: Peer 1: -See that fox in the forest. Peer 2: That is not a fox. It's a dog. Peer 1: ok.

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And ClimateGate shows us how well that system has served us.

Again, it is not strange that science and christianity share history since back to about medieval times the church had a monopoly of knowledge. It is when science breaks free from the church's hold it prospers following the gutenberg invention.

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First, you still have to answer the question of why it wasn’t until Christianity became the dominant cultural influence that the modern scientific enterprise took off. Second, science flourished and prospered while within the ‘hold’ of the church. You need to make the case that the church’s influence at some point changed from a positive one to a negative one. When did this happen? Why did this happen? How did it happen? What change was it exactly within the church that caused this shift? Cases commonly cited to support this thesis (e.g. Galileo) in fact, do not support it.

#144 wombatty

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 05:04 PM

This argument is basically at the heart of evolution v.s. creation isn't it?

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It is a central point of contention.

Since the second law of thermodynamics implies that order cannot be achieved spontaneously I understand why this is such a problem.

The argument seems to go something like this:
The reasoning mind is more ordered than the unreasoning mind. Order cannot come from chaos. Things does not spontaneously become more ordered or organised.

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That's the gist of it. My point is summed up best by Darwin himself and C.S. Lewis, whose words I will quote again.

Darwin:

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

~Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; repr., Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.


C.S. Lewis:

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.

~C.S. Lewis, The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984.

In short, an effect cannot be greater than its cause; if all of the universe, including us, originated in chaos, you can have no cause for trusting your own mind (or anyone else's).

But this is not a true deduction from the second law of thermodynamics. It is stated for an ISOLATED system. And truly there are no isolated systems with the exception of the universe.  Some systems come close though.

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Some would disagree:

...there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics.  Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated [closed] systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems ... there is somehow associated with the field of far-from equilibrium phenomena the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems.  It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.

~Dr. John Ross, Harvard scientist (evolutionist), Chemical and Engineering News, vol. 58, July 7, 1980, p. 40


I will make an example. Take a seed for a pine tree that is dislodged in the soil waiting for spring. This system is at this point nearly isolated and at equilibrium. There is not much change within the system. Now as spring comes along the temperature rises, the suns rays heating the seed introducing new energy into the system and removing the equilibrium, at first the energy that is deposited in the seed is in a very ordered fashion which in turn alters the equilibrium. The seed starts to change into a more phisically ordered state but where the energy is distributed more evenly. It becomes a tree, which is an organised structure developed spontaneously with the influence only of sunlight (external energy) and abundance of the necessary building blocks.

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You list the influence of sunlight and an 'abundance of the necessary building blocks' as sufficient to grow a tree from a seed. However, you are missing an absolutely crucial element here: the seed has within itself organized machinery specifically tailored for the purpose of capturing and channeling to specific ends the energy supplied the solar and chemical energy within its environment. . Without this pre-existing mechanism, the energy would have caused the breakdown and decay of the seed. The same is true of all life; photosynthetic and metabolic mechanisms are necessary to turn raw energy into useful work and those mechanisms have to be there from the start.

If all that were necessary were an outside source of energy and an 'abundance of the necessary building blocks', you could set an open can of sardines out in the sun and soon you would have fish flopping out of the can. After all, there are plenty of the necessary building blocks right there in those dead fish.

So does this violate the second law of T? No, for this system the sun must be included and the energy of the sun is highly organised. So what happens is that the local order created here on earth is still less ordered than the loss of order at the sun.

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Agreed, it doesn’t violate the second law. But that is due less to the energy of the sun than it is because there is a mechanism sufficient to make productive use of the energy. It’s the same reason why someone building a birdhouse doesn’t violate the second law; there is an ‘mechanism’ (man) sufficient to overcome the tendency towards disorder in a pile of wood.

Second, I am not sure about this "rationality" of man, isn't this a gross overrepresentation? To me we are not very rational at all. I agree that we are aware, reasoning and self-prolific, but if there was pure reason, would it not be consensual?  The ideal rationality is absolute, we would all be equally reasoning, coming to the same conclusion given the same facts, but this is not the case. We are therefore no more rational than any animal, since we obey the same mental processes.

If you now want to introduce the soul of man as an trancendent aphysical factor, you still do not account for the dissimilarities of men, how could rationality differ?

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This is where the Fall comes in; yes, man is rational but he is also deeply flawed due to the Fall. Being a creature, man’s capacity is necessarily limited, and much more so since the Fall. Rationality is absolute, our own 'rational faculties' are not; flawed/limited rationality is still rationality. This is similar to the evolutionary argument from bad design. It doesn't work, because 'bad design' is still design. Do you suppose that recent Toyota models were not designed because serious flaws have been found in their brakes and accelerators?

Men do not often agree on morality (or anything else) due to the effects of sin and rebellion. Romans 1:18-32:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to S@xual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.



#145 wombatty

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 05:12 PM

The ideal rationality is absolute, we would all be equally reasoning, coming to the same conclusion given the same facts, but this is not the case. We are therefore no more rational than any animal, since we obey the same mental processes.

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This echoes Darwin's thought above; though it seems he was more acutely aware of the logical consequences of it than you are. I for one have no doubt whatsoever that you are more rational than a turtle. I have been wrong before, though... :lol:

#146 larrywj2

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 03:11 AM

Maybe it is only relevant that we know God created all that we see, and He tried to establish a system in which we worked and rested (work 6 days rest on the sabbath). . .


Allegory is used in the Bible. Some stories are difficult to decide if they are or not. Agreed. But, this does not allow us to apply allegory to any verse we choose. We do not base 6 days work and one day rest on a story that implies it is a good idea. We base it on the statement of fact that God made the universe in 6 days and rested and His order to follow this design.

The 6 days in question are also surrounded by context which allows them only to be considered as literal days.

I've heard this before, and I like it as well as detest it. All are within God's power and present in creation, but I still think there is a distinction. Categories of how the universe functions and how God does His will here and in Heaven. Take the examples of the known four fundamental forces; each different but together create a whole. In the same way I view the natural and supernatural forces; separate but all under God's power.


You are implying an unture distinction. All is created by God. Natural is a term which implies not made by man. Therefore man-made vs. natural is a valid comparison. Therefore natural must be that which is not made by man; everything else. Therefore, everything not made by man is natural. Understanding has no bearing on something being natural. If it exists without being a product of man then it is natural. Of course we could throw in extra-terrrestrial life or ant hills to confuse the matter but the end result will still be; God made = natural. Therefore there is no supernatural because nothing is beyond what God made.

Not without evidence, precisely the exact opposite. And it is not just evolution, geology just doesn't show a global flood, and everything that I know goes against the possibility of Noah's story as portrayed by YECs.


Then can you direct me to the evidence of some part of the Earth which has never been covered by water and is higher than all points of the Earth which have been covered by water?

You may be right about this. At a minimum He clearly wasn't part of the main clergy, if at all. Do you know if "rabbi" was used for people outside of the clergy?


It appears, from what I found, to be a term used in Hebrew for teacher, not necessarily clergy. I may be wrong. It is a bit difficult to pinpoint because the clergy is where learning occured. There were not schools separate from the church. Maybe there is a Hebrew scholar in the mix that can assist us. For the discussion at hand, I think it only relavent that the discilpes would have called Him Rabbi in either case. They regarded Him as teacher and a Jew. So it would have been an appropriate title regardless of any use beyond the clergy.

The disciples did not consider Him a Christian. He was (is) Israeli. they believed themselves Jews their entire lives.

But the Sadducees were known for having a literal interpretation, and they completely rejected Christ as well as the rabbinic sects that held more metaphorical interpretations.


True. But the Sadducees were the equivalent of "Flat Earthers", too literal. I recognize there are fables in the Bible, they did not.

Unless it was never meant to be read literally. Meaning that while the ancient Hebrews read it literally, they didn't understand what God was saying. A good example of this is when Jesus was talking about eating the flesh and blood of the messiah. . .
In the same way it may be that Genesis 1 isn't literal, and through science we can understand that. If you want to say that it's a stretch, I can see why, just thought I'd throw it out there.

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If Genesis 1 is not literal, then explain the exacting language which allows 6, 24 hour days, and the other referneces in the Bible which rely on the 6 days being literal.

#147 Otto13

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:40 AM

Then can you direct me to the evidence of some part of the Earth which has never been covered by water and is higher than all points of the Earth which have been covered by water?

Noah's flood as depicted in Genesis and as interpreted by those who must take Genesis literally requires the entire earth to be covered by water at the same time just a few thousand years ago. There is no evidence of that. The evidence is clearly otherwise.

#148 larrywj2

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:10 AM

Noah's flood as depicted in Genesis and as interpreted by those who must take Genesis literally requires the entire earth to be covered by water at the same time just a few thousand years ago.  There is no evidence of that.  The evidence is clearly otherwise.

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Only true if the elongated time lines supporting ToE are accurate. They have been shown otherwise many times over. Have you some data that suggests the Earth MUST be more than 10,000 years old?

I'll also take a momonet to mention, this particular thread is regarding the issue of Gensis and as a larger topic, the Bible being literal or not. Therefore, the question is not whether science supports the conclusion. The question is, what the Bible says. Does it indicate that the flood was 4000 years ago and actual or not? Please continue this line of reasoning in this thread. I value your input as a theistic evolutionist on this matter.

I don't mind the question you pose at all and offer to continue with you on another, appropriate thread. Let me know when you start it.

#149 Scanman

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:17 AM

Noah's flood as depicted in Genesis and as interpreted by those who must take Genesis literally requires the entire earth to be covered by water at the same time just a few thousand years ago.  There is no evidence of that.  The evidence is clearly otherwise.

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A literal interpretation of the flood account would require that only the 'whole' world as they knew it, be flooded. This would have basically been comprised of a massive 'local' flood.

Peace

#150 wombatty

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 07:19 PM

A literal interpretation of the flood account would require that only the 'whole' world as they knew it, be flooded. This would have basically been comprised of a massive 'local' flood.

Peace

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ummm....no. Genesis 7:17-23:

For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

Let's see:

1) All the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered to a depth of more than 20 feet;

2) Every living thing that moved on the earth perished...Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.

3) Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out...

The language of this account could not be more universal/inclusive. If God did flood the entire earth and destroy all air-breathing life, and he wanted to communicate that fact to us, how else could He have been more clear?

#151 jason78

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 08:07 PM

3)  Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out...

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What about fish, penguins, seals, dolphins and whales?

And what about other people that had boats? Noah can't have been the only one.

#152 Scanman

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:45 PM

ummm....no. Genesis 7:17-23:
Let's see:

1) All the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered to a depth of more than 20 feet;

2)  Every living thing that moved on the earth perished...Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.

3)  Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out...

The language of this account could not be more universal/inclusive. If God did flood the entire earth and destroy all air-breathing life, and he wanted to communicate that fact to us, how else could He have been more clear?

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Whe writer of the Genesis account had no concept of the size and scope of the world, only of the world they knew...horizon to horizon. (Beyond this point...there be dragons- old map saying)

The Hebrew 'eretz' should be translated 'land' not 'earth'(as in our modern day concept of a spherical world)

It was a massive local flood that wiped out the world as they knew it.

There is no physical evidence for a global flood in recent geological history, especially history that would have included mankind.

Peace

#153 Ron

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 05:23 AM

What about fish, penguins, seals, dolphins and whales?

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Okay, I’ll reiterate the statement you questioned, and you figure out what is wrong with your question:

“Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out..”



And what about other people that had boats?  Noah can't have been the only one.

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Preparedness is key to survival. Although you question has merit, according to scripture, everyone but Noah was ill-prepared to weather the deluge. And, having tested the scriptures over and over, I have found them to be a far better resource than man’s attempts at rationality.

#154 jason78

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:28 PM

Okay, I’ll reiterate the statement you questioned, and you figure out what is wrong with your question:

“Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out..”

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So did Noah have to take those animals with him in the ark?

Preparedness is key to survival. Although you question has merit, according to scripture, everyone but Noah was ill-prepared to weather the deluge. And, having tested the scriptures over and over, I have found them to be a far better resource than man’s attempts at rationality.

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Oh I agree, you've got to be prepared if you're going to build a boat big enough to hold all the different species in existence to repopulate the Earth after a mass extinction event like the flood. But surely a fishing boat with a small crew would be equally well equipped to weather out the flood.

#155 Bex

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:49 PM

Oh I agree, you've got to be prepared if you're going to build a boat big enough to hold all the different species in existence to repopulate the Earth after a mass extinction event like the flood.  But surely a fishing boat with a small crew would be equally well equipped to weather out the flood.


This flood was both heavy unrelenting downpour for 40 days and nights, plus the fountains of the great deep were broken up. The ark was instructed to be built not just to hold the animals, but built with specific dimensions/strength to withstand what was to come. I think it took 100 years to finish the building of the ark. No ordinary flood and no ordinary boat/s involved here. The ark had only one window. Basically it was completely sealed in, immense, solid and built according to God's instructions, not man's.

The waters rose 15 cubits upward and covered the mountains. Not only that, but the waters prevailed for 150 days and then decreased continually until the 10th month when the tops of the mountains were seen. No mere fishing boat with people totally unprepeared would have withstood any of this, including the length of time it took for the recession of the flood waters. Consider not only the exposure in a boat not built to withstand a deluge of this kind, but lack of preparation/supplies needed to survive as the flood waters gradually receded.

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 07:41 PM

Allegory is used in the Bible. Some stories are difficult to decide if they are or not.  Agreed.  But, this does not allow us to apply allegory to any verse we choose.  We do not base 6 days work and one day rest on a story that implies it is a good idea.  We base it on the statement of fact that God made the universe in 6 days and rested and His order to follow this design.


Genesis doesn't just imply it is a good idea, but it clearly shows us to do that, whether God did it literally or not.

The 6 days in question are also surrounded by context which allows them only to be considered as literal days.


Yes, I agree... but that doesn't say that the story as a whole is allegory or not. I believe the days are 24 hour days (to establish the 7 day week), but I see the work as a whole to be non-literal.

You are implying an unture distinction.  All is created by God.  Natural is a term which implies not made by man.  Therefore man-made vs. natural is a valid comparison.  Therefore natural must be that which is not made by man; everything else.  Therefore, everything not made by man is natural.  Understanding has no bearing on something being natural.  If it exists without being a product of man then it is natural.  Of course we could throw in extra-terrrestrial life or ant hills to confuse the matter but the end result will still be; God made = natural.  Therefore there is no supernatural because nothing is beyond what God made.


I think your definition of "natural" is skewed pertaining to the discussion. Let me give you an example; the virgin birth of Jesus. This simply defies everything we know about the natural order of nature. You need two gametes (sperm and egg) to form a human zygote that will grow and be viable. However, there is one exception, "parthenogenesis"; Yet, with those that use the XY chromosome system (like humans), the offspring will always be female. So unless you want to propose that Jesus was a woman, it is impossible, in a natural sense, to have Jesus being born from a virgin women. Therefore, I say that it was supernatural that Jesus was born from a virgin. Still within the power of God, yet supernatural nonetheless.

Then can you direct me to the evidence of some part of the Earth which has never been covered by water and is higher than all points of the Earth which have been covered by water?


I'm not sure there is any place on Earth that meets the criteria, but it doesn't support a recent, world wide flood. It could have been underwater due to other local floods, or rain, or it could have been underwater than pushed up out of the water from plate tectonics to form mountains and hills etc. The question is simply not a good criteria to determine if there was a world wide flood around 4,000 years ago.

I'm thinking about starting a new thread on Noah's flood with what I see as problems for biblical literalists. I'm guessing many of it will be redundant from past discussions, but hopefully some good dialogue will be yielded.

It appears, from what I found, to be a term used in Hebrew for teacher, not necessarily clergy.  I may be wrong.  It is a bit difficult to pinpoint because the clergy is where learning occured.  There were not schools separate from the church.  Maybe there is a Hebrew scholar in the mix that can assist us.  For the discussion at hand, I think it only relavent that the discilpes would have called Him Rabbi in either case.  They regarded Him as teacher and a Jew.  So it would have been an appropriate title regardless of any use beyond the clergy.


I would say without a truly informed opinion from someone chiming in, I'll concede the point that rabbi would have been used whether Jesus was part of the clergy or not.

The disciples did not consider Him a Christian.  He was (is) Israeli.  they believed themselves Jews their entire lives.


Agree completely.

True.  But the Sadducees were the equivalent of "Flat Earthers", too literal.  I recognize there are fables in the Bible, they did not.


I wouldn't necessarily say 'fables', but non-literal words/phrases/parables etc, which Jesus used regularly.

If Genesis 1 is not literal, then explain the exacting language which allows 6, 24 hour days, and the other referneces in the Bible which rely on the 6 days being literal.

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Again, I see the days as 24 hours, but the entire story as myth*, and ultimately non-literal.

* I use the term "myth" as the academic appropriate word for any religious text/teachings involving origins. Not as a derogatory term with the connotations seen in today's society.

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 01:46 AM

I disagree. One of the most important foundations of science is the principal of causality; without it, there is no science. Since the universe clearly 'obeys' the this principal, and does so reliably and predictably, it must be logically ordered. For something to be predictable, it must have an internal, logical consistency.


I agree that the universe is ordered, and obeys that order, but I don't see it as necessary to conduct science. Science is a method to understand the universe. If the universe was not ordered we could still do science, it might be completely useless or worse, but we could still do it - assuming that we could still do experiments under a non-ordered universe.

God's command to man to 'subdue' the earth and its creatures is a command to bring the creation under his control and to rule it wisely and exercise responsible stewardship of it. This cannot be done without an understanding and manipulation of nature. The accumulation of this understanding and exercise of manipulation is science.


I can see it as a good motivation to do science when you put it that way. Since you devoted a whole post to this I'll respond in full to that post.

I don't deny Greece and Rome had a hand in laying the foundations of science, but that contribution was limited by the paradigm of Greek science. Before 'modern' science took off, Aristotle was the authority. Much of the 'science' of that period was measured as to its adherence to Aristotilean principles. The problem was that Aristotle's approach to investigating nature was that he didn't so much investigate, but rather contemplated it from afar; he took a rational one as opposed to an empirical one. Thus, he saw animals as imperfect expressions of an abstract, perfect 'form'; a horse was an expression of the 'Horse Form', and example of 'horseness'. Certain things were regarded as perfect expressions of some abstract principal. For instance, a circle was regarded as the 'perfect shape'.


I see the most hindering part of Greek thought to science coming from this 'contemplation, not evidence/experiments' mind set. But Greece wasn't without all experimentation. They calculated the distance from the Earth to the Sun, the circumference of the Earth, and only rejected the heliocentric model because they could not see any parallax in the stars. They kept incredibly good records of the sky; they knew about the precession of Earth's axis every 26,000 years.

This led directly to difficulties in astronomy. Since circles were perfect, and planets appeared to move in a circle, it was reasoned that they must move in perfect circles. When calculations based on this principle didn't pan out, epicycles upon epicycles were added to the Ptolemy's system to reconcile it with observations. It wasn't until Copernicus was willing to consider elliptical orbits that things fell into place. Likewise Aristotilean science dictated that heavy objects fall at a faster rate that lighter ones. This was 'consensus science' until the time of Galileo when it was proven false. Aristotle's and his followers apparently never bothered to actually test ideas through observations, the very essence of 'doing science'. It wasn't Aristotle's purely rational approach to science was jettisoned in favor of an empirical one that 'modern science' was launched.


Um, Copernicus didn't come up with elliptical orbits, that was Kepler. Copernicus' model actually had more epicycles than Ptolemy's. Not to mention the Catholic Church, as well as Luther (from the protestant reformation), at the time frowned upon Copernicus' writings as heretical, and against scripture.

I'm not saying that the Greeks were doing modern science; they were not. I'm saying that the Greeks laid the foundation, which the Romans continued, which the Islamic empire continued until the European Renaissance, and eventually the scientific revolution.

Then why didn't it happen before Christianity became the dominant cultural influence in Europe?


I could ask you why didn't it happen soon after Christianity became the dominant cultural influence in Europe? Why spend nearly a thousand years in the dark and middle ages? The Church had real authority starting around the 5th and 6th century. Why was it that Islam, and not Christianity, became the forefront in science and technology? Many historians contend that the Renaissance was able to happen when it did because of what was left of the Greek and Roman civilizations, not because of Christianity creating a foundation for modern scientific principles.

I think you misunderstand Christianity's influence on science. It wasn't just that it provided (for whatever reason) a cultural environment amenable to science; it provided the philosophical foundation and justification for it. A house cannot be removed from its foundation without serious consequences.


That foundation ultimately comes from the Greeks, not Christianity. I have seen very little that would indicate that Christianity was instrumental to modern science, and in many cases the exact opposite.

The current paradigm of strict naturalism crosses the same line; why should this philosophical framework be preferred over another? Science always entails philosophy, it's just a matter of whose philosophy.


I really don't see that line being crossed by science. Science depends on methodological naturalism, not philosophical naturalism. As to why methodological naturalism is preferred over others, it quite simply just works the best in explaining how the natural world works. You don't have to be an atheist to do well in science today, there are many scientists (about 40-50%) that self identify themselves as religious, most of them are Christian.

Although I do see that some people, like Myers and Dawkins, who would love to see religion purged from not only science, but the world. If you are referring to these, and other like minded individuals, I am with you. I truly believe that religion should be of the individual; it is everyone's innate right to choose what religion they want to believe if any at all (provided they don't harm anyone). For all the amoral things people have done in the name of religion, I still see it as a net positive force in the world.

Actually, radioactive decay rates have been shown to vary with respect to the earth's distance from the sun, chemical environment and otherwise.. These variations are nowhere near the magnitude required to reconcile conventional dating with YEC, but decay rates aren't as inviolable as some would have you believe.


First, thank you for being honest. The most fascinating, and most detrimental to conventional thinking, IMHO, is that decay rates seem to change as distance to the Sun changes. As seen with the first and second links, but I didn't see any numbers, so it is hard to say how influential such variables are. With the third paper I actually learned about electron capturing! B) Unfortunately, they were only able to make a 1.5% range, which seems very consistent with contemporary measurements. It is like saying the age of this rock isn't 65 million years, but rather 64 or 66 million years. While I don't know a lot about radiometric dating, I do know that they don't get one specific date, but a range, and 1.5% seems very consistent with that.

The last paper strikes me as the most unnerving. I just skimmed it, but I did read/skim both what little was left on the other articles before and after it. The article before states that we determined the age of the Sun through meteorites. I know this is simply not true, it is done by the amount of hydrogen and helium in the Sun; as the Sun is powered by fusion of H to He. The paper after it concludes that dinosaurs were circular reasoned into extinction 65 million years ago. And to show this provided an example where they dated some tracts to the cretaceous period, but then reanalyzed the tracts and came up with early tertiary. This type of embellishment is similar to the 1.5% range of nuclear decay rates discussed in the third paper. Early tertiary is right after the K-T boundary, it is the difference between 66 million years and 64 million years. Such ranges are not detrimental to main-stream science; and finding remote, isolated, dinosaur tracts (I know the paper also said those tracts turned out to be mammalian) after the K-T boundary (which they have found, fyi) do not destroy the millions/billions years framework, nor does it destroy the theory of evolution via common decent.

I don't mean to dilute the original paper you wanted me to read, but just skimming on what little bit I do know about the previous and subsequent papers are not reassuring. As to the paper in question, if those results are genuine, they are free to do the experiment over and over, and if they and other creation scientists get the same results they are free to publish their results in a peer reviewed paper accepted by the scientific community. I'm not saying that they will get acceptance, or the paper will go through, but if it is all true, maybe some scientist on the other side will conduct the same experiment and find the same answer. And if that happens, I would think the flood gates would open up, and people would be more open such ideas.

I'm fairly sure that igneous (volcanic) rock is subject to leaching by hydrothermal fluids even after solidification. I'll have to look it up to be sure. In any case, it's on such basis that 'anomalous' dates are discarded. I'll see if I can dig up some examples.


I don't really know enough to push the idea, but I don't have a problem with igneous rocks being leached by hydrothermal fluids after formation as far as I know.

Well, this is the heart of the debate - regarding RATE anyway. It wasn't just anomalies they found, the discovered systematic differences. For instance, dates given by alpha decay always gave older dates that those given by beta decay. Likewise, the longer the half-life of a mineral, the older the radiometric age. Humpreys' helium data was not only dead-on his prediction, but would be exactly what would be found if accelerated decay had happened: billions of years worth of decay and nearly all of the decay product (helium) still there. But that's all for another thread.

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I didn't realize that RATE found systematic differences. Although I wonder if those differences are that of 1.5%, or on the factor of millions of folds higher than standard decay rates.

#158 Sisyfos

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 02:24 AM

This echoes Darwin's thought above; though it seems he was more acutely aware of the logical consequences of it than you are. I for one have no doubt whatsoever that you are more rational than a turtle. I have been wrong before, though... B)

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I have no such doubts, I know I am not. At least not in the big picture sense...
Without an ultimate purpose rationality is empty.
Whatever I decide to do is a figment of my faulty perception of the reality and my skewed wishes and assumptions, further the processes are hilariously arbitrary or chaotic (in this sense:Mathematically, chaos means deterministic behaviour that is very sensitive to its initial conditions.[12] In other words, infinitesimal perturbations of initial conditions for a chaotic dynamic system lead to large variations in behaviour.). When applied to the brain it makes up for the illusion of will.

Check out absurdism and Camus work to learn more about my position in this...

#159 Ron

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 05:05 AM

So did Noah have to take those animals with him in the ark?

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Okay, since you obviously didn’t understand, or are refusing to do anything but rationalize the irreconcilable, I’ll reiterate the statement you questioned, and you figure out what is wrong with your question:

“Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out..”

Oh I agree, you've got to be prepared if you're going to build a boat big enough to hold all the different species in existence to repopulate the Earth after a mass extinction event like the flood.  But surely a fishing boat with a small crew would be equally well equipped to weather out the flood.

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As I said; preparedness is the key to survival. And although your question had merit; according to scripture, everyone but Noah was ill-prepared to weather the deluge. And, having tested the scriptures over and over, I have found them to be a far better resource than man’s attempts at rationality.

Surly you understood my post, did you not? Also, have you not observed boats swamped in deluges? Remember, preparedness is the key to survival!

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 08:09 AM

But you seem to believe in an 'anonymous Adam' a real person who first sinned. I don't see how his being anonymous changes this.


My concept of original sin is not of that made by a person, which is the standard protestant beliefs of original sin, but the Catholic idea, in which we have been endowed with a mind capable of understanding right and wrong. I believed this happened not through an anonymous person, but through evolution. Albeit there must have been a first anonymous person who sinned first, but it is all irrelevant. This does not mean that we should blame evolution for our 'fallen state', nor does it give us the power to forgo the law. Either way, both models (mine and yours) states that humanity has fallen short the glory of God.

I simply mean that I take the bible as accurate, reliable history. This will have scientific ramifications just as any other historical account might. If a volcano eruption happened in recorded history and rocks from that eruption date at 2.5 billion years old, we know the dating method went awry somewhere. Likewise, if a global flood really did happen, it would leave geological evidence consistent with such an event.


A fine distinction indeed, but one that is there, no matter how quiescent the line is. Be careful not to cross it, I'm not sure I see which side is where.

It's too bad creationists aren't extended the same grace. Often, problems in creation theories are routinely characterized as fatal flaws that render them useless while problems of the same or greater magnitude in evolutionary science are regarded as 'research opportunities.


I've thought about this a lot, and although I do think that some negative connotations towards research opportunities shouldn't be dismissed, I'll agree that a more neutral tone yielding a conversation about the flaws and merits of creation science should be explored. The whole debate is largely unscientific from what I've seen. Bringing back creation science into science during the EvC debate with a mind set of mutual discovery might provide promising results, and would probably do good to tear down the mental barriers society has placed before the two models.

Well, I certainly wouldn't say a creationist never lied, but we have a ways to go to catch up to the liars and frauds that litter the landscape of evolutionism.


I'm only aware of two frauds in the history of evolution, Piltdown man and that crazy story about some farmer decapitating animals and re-attaching them and calling it a transitional species. The latter was exposed as a hoax almost immediately by evolutionists, and Piltdown man only ever got accepted as evidence due to a lack of real evidence so scientists were unsure what a transitional species of modern humans would look like and because of the rivalry between countries to find the transitional species that fit their hypothesis. And after a while Piltdown man was exposed as a fraud by evolutionists when our technology was better and we were able to get a more modern analysis of the skull, which turned out to be a human skull with some chimp bones thrown in there chemically treated to give the impression of age. I'm not aware of any other fraud, and please don't bring up Nebraska man, it is a straw-man.

It might not be part of evolutionary science proper, but it is a question that must be answered by the evolutionist. A horse that doesn't make it out of the starting gate isn't going to make the finish line.


Perhaps it can all fit neatly in with naturalistic history, but the theory of evolution doesn't need to explain how the horse got out of the starting gate, only how it traveled down its lane and crossed the finish line. While you may feel that it is necessary that an evolutionist can answer the question, it has no bearing on the validity of biological evolution. It is parallel to ask the origins of gravitation via the theory of gravity, there is simply no answer, yet no one denies gravity. While knowing the origins of these phenomena may give us insights into the workings of the phenomena, it doesn't validate or invalidate the theory pertaining to the phenomena itself.

Regarding your suggestions about DNA, RNA, cells and the rest. Yes, there are many suggestions and speculations, but that's all they are. Stephen Meyer's new book Signature in the Cell details all of this thoroughly.


These aren't just mere speculations, think of them as research opportunities B)

No doubt there are advantages to S@xual reproduction over asexual, the question is how and why did it happen? Evolutionists concede that S@xual reproduction is much more costly than asexual reproduction and are puzzled as to what motivated the transition. Asexual production works just fine and would outcompete the more costly S@xual mode. Here are two creationist articles on the subject: The origin of gender and S@xual reproduction and Evolutionary theories on gender and S@xual reproduction


I'm afraid I don't have any nifty papers for you. From what I know the beginnings of S@xual reproduction started on the cellular level, most likely as an accident of two cell membranes fusing, then eventually dividing. But due to the advantageous nature, once S@xual reproduction started, it boomed. Species that undergo S@xual reproduction proliferate faster than asexual reproduction (know idea why), and as a whole are much more adaptable. I have no reserves that once S@xual reproduction was introduced to a population, it stayed and out competed the asexual reproduction. I've heard that cells under certain conditions will naturally favor diploid over haploid, and vise versa under other conditions. So species able to fuse membranes creating a diploid versus haploid cell, and latter divide via meiosis, would be better able to survive than a species that couldn't.

Pyroclastic flows follow the same aerodymic/fluid dynamic laws. Creationists are the only ones looking to point out the obvious similarities between the two formations. The name simply means that it's a canyon 1/40 as big as Grand Canyon. I'm sure creationists aren't the only source of information on Mt. Saint Helens and the eruption, it should be easy to verify.

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I have no doubt the structure in question is ruffly 1/40 the size of the Grand Canyon, I just don't think that it shows that the Grand Canyon was carved out of a massive flood. If only that Mt. Saint Helens was not a flood but a volcanic eruption.




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