The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

The importance of humility regarding “the creation-evolution circus”

C. Michael Patton at the Parchment & Pen blog (Credo House Ministries) writes Where I Stand on the Creation Evolution Circus. Patton is a young-Earth creationist, but holds to that position loosely, and doesn’t like the tone of many YEC advocates, as well as that of the other end of the spectrum, many theistic evolutionists. Here are some excerpts [with emphasis added]:

The problem that I have with this issue is not so much my criticism of positions that I don’t hold, but the dogmatism that adherents of each position is characterized by. Rarely do I find a balanced, respectful, humble adherent in these areas. The closest I find is in the Intelligent Design and Old Earth Creation proponents. They are much easier to listen to. Almost always, every other position finds itself in the company of those who use heavy handed tactics to demean and discredit their “opposition.”

Answers in Genesis position seems pretty clear: If you don’t accept a young earth, you have compromised the faith and biblical truth.

Biologos’ position (from what I continue to read is getting pretty clear as well): If you don’t accept evolution, you are no better than flat-earthers.

Each side illegitimizes the opposition (often due to nothing more than frustration) by attacking the legitimacy of the position by unfair associations. At this point, they become radical (almost cult-like) and lose the audience (who is already skeptical to begin with).

——————————

I take a position that the earth is young and that evolution did not happen. I could give you the reasons why, but I don’t really care enough to do so. Please don’t misunderstand. It is not that I don’t care enough about you, but that I don’t care enough about the subject. Yes, I am facinated by it. I find it important and interesting. But in the end, when I say “I take a postion that the earth is young etc.” don’t think it is black and white in my mind. I am not sure. If God were to send a prophet and supernatually inform me during breakfast tomorrow that he did indeed use evolution and that the earth was six billion years old, I would pause for about two seconds and then say, “Awesome. Can you pass me the syrup?” I don’t really have that big of a dog in this hunt. Frankly, I don’t think you should either.

It is simply not that big a deal.

“But, but, but, we are fighting the New Atheists. Dawkins and Hitchings and the like are all using evolution to prove that God does not exist. We have to stand strong against evolution.”

We don’t know as much as we like to think we know about this. The issues are simply not accessible. The Bible is not that clear on it (only two chapters devoted to the creation of all things?). Does your faith really hinge on how one interprets the first chapters of Genesis? Really?

——————————

In my defense of Christianity, I will just stick to the resurrection of Christ and the fact that something cannot come from nothing. The fact that something cannot come from nothing gets me to God. The resurrection of Christ gets me to the Christian God. A simple two step process that does not require a PhD to get there.

The evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is accessible and, in my opinion, impossible to rationally dismiss. I have never met an atheist who believes in the resurrection of Christ. This is the central issue of Christianity. Convince them that Christ rose from the grave and their atheism will necessarily disappear. I promise.

And even if evolution happened, this does not account for the elephant that has always been in the room: where did it all come from? I have never met a naturalistic evolutionist who believed in personal transcendent First Cause for everything. This is the issue of God’s existence, not how he did it.

Father, may I be filled with humility as I hold fast to your Word and write on this potentially divisive issue of origins. May my convictions be in submission to what you have revealed in your Word and in your creation, and may my love for those who differ with me be more important to me than that I win any arguments. Grant us as believers a stronger measure of the unity that we already have in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Grace and Peace

October 31, 2010 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Creation in the Bible, Origins, Theistic evolution, Young-Earth creationism | , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Now this individual will get attacked for being “oh look at me, I’m so modest whereas everyone else is dogmatic to their cause and cult-like”… lol you just can’t win!

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    Comment by Keith J. | July 19, 2011

  2. “The evidence for the historicity of the resurrection.” Ridiculous. Show me one single proof for the resurrection (or proof for a miracle, or god), and I’ll convert immediately. There is none. Jesus probably didn’t even exist. Maybe he did, but certainly not like bible tells. The truth is: Jesus isn’t mentioned a single time in any town chronicle or in the record of any Roman or Greek historian in the first 100 years AD. Same with events like the population census, because of which Maria and Joseph allegedly had to go to Bethlehem. Not the slightest shred of evidence for this census in the records. It didn’t happen. Try to prove me wrong. But please, please don’t make a fool out of yourself by saying things like “the bible is true because the bible says so”, or by taking bible basher websites as reliable sources.

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    Comment by hurr@wegwerfemail.de | July 23, 2013

  3. By the way, the false claim that something can’t come from nothing is already refuted by quantum mechanics. Subatomic particles create itself out of nothing all the time. The mystery of the origin of the universe is probably also quite close to being solved nowadays. During the past two decades, cosmologists proved that the total sum of energy in the universe is zero, meaning it could spring into existence without supernatural impulse. Lawrence Krauss made a great contribution to explaining this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

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    Comment by hurr@wegwerfemail.de | July 23, 2013

  4. hurr — I’ll try to address your second comment (#3) first, as answering it might help with your first set of objections.

    I have no problem with quantum mechanics. Particles are created, and particles are annihilated. It is a big step to go from a positron being created in a vacuum to a universe being created in a vacuum, but if you want to believe that is what happened, I guess that is your choice.

    Positing a multiverse in which baby universes pop into existence through the laws of quantum mechanics only puts the basic question back one step. Why is there a multiverse (if such a thing exists)? Or where did the laws come from that allow particles (or universes) to pop into existence?

    If one wants to explain the existence of the cosmos (everything there is) through cosmology, one has to not only explain how the universe/mulitverse came to be, but how the laws that allow all of this to exist came to be. You cannot say “quantum mechanics explains how the universe came to be” and think you have solved the problem. You must come up with an explanation of where the laws themselves came from.

    We have only three options:
    1. The universe/multiverse has existed forever. It exists as a brute fact.
    2. The universe/multiverse came into being from nothing. By “nothing” I do not just mean no matter, energy, time, and space; but no laws as well.
    3. The universe/multiverse was created by something outside of itself. To me as a Christian, this something is God.

    For number 2, you would have to have something like the laws of quantum mechanics and gravitation pop into existence all by themselves, with no underlying laws to cause them to begin. I don’t think that is defensible.

    Everything we know about the universe is that it had a beginning. That implies that number 1 isn’t true. Even if there is such a thing as a multiverse, and even if we could somehow verify that the multiverse exists, we would not have verified that #1 is true. There is still the problem of where did the laws come from that allow the multiverse to function?

    ———————————————————-

    It is late and I am working very long hours. I’ll continue, but I cannot promise that it will be soon. As a starter, consider the fact that we do have a very significant first-century set of documents that mention Jesus and events such as the census, and these are contained in the New Testament. I cannot “prove” to anyone that the Bible is the Word of God, but it can be demonstrated that it is historically accurate in many details, so it would be rather foolish for one to dismiss other details just because they are not verified by non-biblical sources.

    Your claim that Jesus probably did not even exist is very much a minority claim, even among non-Christian historians. Those who make that claim usually have some agenda other than presenting accurate history.

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    Comment by geochristian | July 24, 2013

  5. The documents that prove that Jesus is real “are contained in the New Testament”. This is the height of cringeworthyness. I said you surely wouldn’t embarrass yourself by saying something so insanely stupid like “the bible is true because the bible says so.” Nonetheless, that is exactly what you do. Uff.

    Academics has indeed done tons of profound research over the course of centuries and demonstrated precisely how the concept of the Christian god evolved from ancient polytheism, provided ample documentation for how and for what reasons the bible had been put together, and what it’s historical value is. It is zero. No bible story has ever proved to have any basis in reality. On the contrary. For example, it was proven by a huge program of archeological research and excavation that the Exodus has never happened. Jesus is not a historical figure. The bible is pure fiction, for the most part a collection of the myths and superstitions of a particularly barbaric and illiterate middle eastern tribe from the stone age.
    If you want proof for all of this, I’d recommend
    Karen Armstrong – A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
    http://www.amazon.com/History-God-000-Year-Judaism-Christianity/dp/0345384563/
    Robert G. Ingersoll – Some Mistakes of Moses
    http://www.amazon.com/Some-Mistakes-of-Moses-ebook/dp/B003D9AMY4
    Burton L. Mack – Who Wrote the New Testament?
    http://www.amazon.com/Who-Wrote-New-Testament-Christian/dp/0060655186
    Richard Elliott Friedman – The Bible with Sources Revealed
    http://www.amazon.com/Sources-Revealed-Richard-Elliott-Friedman/dp/006073065X/

    Also, you are clearly not a physicist, not a cosmologist and haven’t even bothered to watch the video I linked to. Prof. Krauss is not a string theorist, not an adherer of multiverse theories, and explains how everything, including the laws of physics, could come from nothing. Please be aware of the fact that with this god of the gaps theology or argument from ignorance attitude, you come across exactly like ancient Northmen who reasoned: “I don’t understand how lightnings are created, therefore, it must be Thor swinging his hammer.”

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    Comment by hurr@wegwerfemail.de | July 24, 2013

  6. Great, just delete all comments that debunk your belief system. Way to go.

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    Comment by hurr | July 29, 2013

  7. Hurr — As I said, “I’ll continue, but I cannot promise that it will be soon.” I have been quite busy, with next to no time for the blog.

    Your comment (#5 on July 24th) was in my spam/moderation queue due to the presence of multiple links. Your arguments are rather weak, and I’ll get to them when I can.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | July 31, 2013

  8. Hurr (#5):

    If you look at what I wrote, you will see that I did not say anything like “the bible is true because the bible says so.” What I did say is that one cannot ignore the New Testament as a historical document just because it is religious in nature.

    You stated earlier that Jesus is not mentioned in any non-Christian writings of the first century, and this is simply not true. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus referred to Jesus, as well as to John the Baptist, in his book Antiquities of the Jews, written in the 90s. Most scholars agree that most of what we have in this book dates back to Josephus.

    Roman writers of the mid-first century didn’t mention Jesus just like CNN doesn’t report on the average peasant who gets unjustly murdered in some obscure place in Africa. That doesn’t mean that the peasant didn’t exist; just that CNN never hears about the crime, or doesn’t consider it newsworthy. The earliest Roman reference to Jesus is in Tacitus’s Annals, written in the early second century. He wrote about the burning of Rome in A.D. 64, which Nero blamed on followers of a man named Jesus, who had been executed by Pontius Pilate. We have to assume that Tacitus wasn’t making up history at this point; he was commenting on the events of A.D. 64 as the Romans saw them.

    For you to entirely reject the New Testament just because it is a religious document (which seems to be what you are doing) is like saying we can only authentically learn about William Shakespeare by reading 16th century Italian documents, as British documents (including the writings of Shakespeare) are obviously biased at best and fraudulent at worst.

    Your denial of the historical existence of Jesus Christ is way out there on the fringe of scholarship. A vast majority of non-Christian historians agree that Jesus really existed. They may differ on the degree to which the Gospels accurately depict his life (I obviously side with the scholars who believe that the Gospels give an accurate portrayal of Jesus’ life and teachings), but the claim that he didn’t exist is usually based on some agenda other than a search for historical truth.

    Regarding the three books you provided links for, I am familiar with Karen Armstrong, and with the types of arguments given in the other books. Armstrong does not, as far as I know, ever claim that Jesus did not exist.

    The other books—one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament—look like they simply rehash old hypotheses that have been refuted. The Documentary Hypothesis—the idea that the books of Moses were constructed from various sources (e.g. J, E, D, P) by post-exhilic priests doesn’t have a single actual ancient manuscript that supports it. Not one. For example, there is no fragment of a scroll containing a “J” version of part of the Pentateuch.

    The same goes for the ideas in the New Testament book by Mack. Just like for the JEDP hypothesis, there is not a single scrap of a manuscript that contains “Q.” On the other hand, most scholars (even skeptical) agree that the apostle Paul wrote Romans and Galatians in the 50s A.D., which means that these letters give an authentic witness to what very early Christians believed. This gives very little time for the the early Christians to have developed a comprehensive story about Jesus if he didn’t exist.

    I’d like to suggest some books for you:

    The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Blomberg

    Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels by Evans

    Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Bauckham

    You have been listening to someone’s propaganda. I encourage you to open your mind.

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    Comment by geochristian | August 2, 2013

  9. The Documentary Hypothesis is supported by the vast majority of religious study professors and biblical scholars today. It can basically be treated as a fact. For example, the fact that the whole Book of Deuteronomy is a forgery is widely accepted. Denial of that fact is an insignificant fringe theory. I didn’t deny that a Jew existed, who was a teacher, had followers and got crucified. But that is everything we do and can know about the person on which the Christian Jesus myth is possibly based on. Later historians didn’t confirm the myths about Jesus in any way, they only stated what Christians [b]believed[/b].

    It looks like you get your information from US American apologists, who claim that the Christian faith is based on evidence and reason. It is not. The only sources for belief in the truth of Christianity are blind faith, personal “revelation”, authority and tradition. Every sophisticated and honest Christian theologian knows that a correct interpretation of the bible is completely metaphorical. Every sophisticated and honest Christian theologian knows that once you accept evidence, reason, logic and rationality as the only sources for knowledge, Christianity has already lost the debate. Most Christian churches realized that more than 300 years ago. It’s just the relatively young Christian branches of Evangelicalism and modern apologetics that deny this, branched off of Christianity about 200 years ago and since then desperately try to explain away all evidence. It’s a lost battle.

    What Evangelicals are preaching today, literal interpretation of the bible and so on, is exactly the nonsense that sophisticated theologians, bishops, cardinals, the pope, sophisticated and moderate branches of Christianity like Catholicism and the majority of Christians on the planet have dissociated themselves from about 300 years ago. US American apologists and Evangelicalism don’t only get it wrong on science and history, they also get it wrong on the bible, Christianity and the Christian faith.

    If you wanna know whats wrong with apologetical argumentation and don’t have weeks to study, Steve Shives has a cool Youtube channel where he goes through a lot of popular modern US American apologetics literature and shows why their arguments are thoroughly faulty, wrong and full of fallacies. For example:



    Like

    Comment by hurr | August 8, 2013

  10. hurr,

    The documentary hypothesis is not as entrenched among biblical scholars as it was a few decades ago, so it cannot “be treated as a fact,” even among non-Christian scholars. Some of the original presuppositions that led to the DH have been thoroughly refuted, such as the premise that a man such as Moses would have been illiterate, or that monotheistic religions evolve from polytheistic religions. Certainly other 2nd millennium B.C. cultures were capable of producing law documents such as Deuteronomy; it is rather silly to say that the Hebrews could not have done the same. On top of all of this is the continuing problem that there is not a single ancient document that supports the documentary hypothesis. Not one! The DH continues in academia more through inertia than concrete evidence.

    If the “Deuteronomy is a forgery” hypothesis were true, one would expect the authors to emphasize that Jerusalem was the proper place to worship YHWH. The book of Deuteronomy, on the other hand, does not mention Jerusalem a single time.

    What you originally said about Jesus was “Jesus probably didn’t even exist. Maybe he did, but certainly not like bible tells.” Now you are saying “I didn’t deny that a Jew existed, who was a teacher, had followers and got crucified.” Perhaps you are making a little progress.

    A basic problem with your argument is your irrational rejection of the entire New Testament as mythology. Parts of the NT were certainly written within 15-20 years after the crucifixion (and resurrection!) of Jesus, and there is good evidence that most of it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This gives very little time for the development and spread of a consistent “Jesus myth.” I am not here arguing for the truth of the resurrection (though I do believe that Jesus rose from the dead) but for the general historical reliability of the NT.

    Take the book of Acts for example. The author (probably Luke) knew the geography and politics of the Eastern Mediterranean well. When we can confirm names and places, the book of Acts gets the details correct. The author of the book claims to be a participant in the events in parts (the “we” sections), and could get first-hand accounts from the participants in the other parts. The book ends with Paul in prison in Rome, probably in about A.D. 62. This provides very strong evidence that the book was penned in that year; if it had been written later it would certainly have included an account of Paul’s martyrdom under Nero (~64-67).
    This dates the gospel of Luke in 62 or earlier. Again, this provides little time for the development of mythological aspects to Jesus’ life and teaching.

    Christian faith (whatever flavor: Evangelical, Catholic, etc.) is not “based on reason” in that one cannot go from first principles to the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and so forth. There is a combination of reason, tradition, and revelation. However, just because Christianity is not “based on reason” does not mean that it is unreasonable or that it contradicts reason. The reasons I am a Christian are complex, just as the reasons you are an atheist are complex. But the Christian worldview is one that is consistent with the world as it really is. The universe had a beginning. It follows laws and is understandable. There are things that are morally right and wrong.

    You made a couple statements that are quite simply wrong:

    “Every sophisticated and honest Christian theologian knows that a correct interpretation of the bible is completely metaphorical.” This is nonsense; I have never met a Christian who takes a completely metaphorical approach to the Bible. There may be some out there, but I have never come across them. I have met people who come pretty close to the other extreme—the hyperliteralists—but I am not one of them.

    “Every sophisticated and honest Christian theologian knows that once you accept evidence, reason, logic and rationality as the only sources for knowledge, Christianity has already lost the debate.” Again, this is nonsense. There are those who have tried to escape from reason in order to insulate Christianity from external threats, but there are certainly many, many others (again, from all flavors of Christianity, not just fundamentalism) who highly value reason as part of the complete Christian package. Most Christians do not exercise “blind faith.” Some Christians do, but then, so do some atheists.

    I watched the Steve Shives video on The Case for Christ. There was nothing new here. Shives doesn’t like Strobel’s style. I don’t really like Strobel’s style either, but Strobel was writing for a broad, popular audience, and many do like the style.

    Some of Strobel’s chapters are stronger than others. Not every argument given by Strobel and those whom he interviews is an airtight argument for the existence of God, the historical reliability of the Bible, or the resurrection of Christ. But then, many arguments given by atheists fall short of “proof” as well.

    Overall, I think Strobel is far more rational and reliable than atheists like Richard Dawkins.

    I expect to continue to be very busy for a few weeks, so if a comment gets stuck in my moderation queue, I might not get to it for quite a while.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | August 8, 2013


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