Seven days that divide the world: book review

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“Do you believe in the bible or science? Creation or evolution?”  

This has been the framework i have operated from for the majority of my Christian life: that one had to choose between one or the other.  And there are, surely, voices on both sides of the debate that would say the framework was sound and absolutely right.  And yet that particular “box checking” has never sat entirely well with me.

Enter, John C Lennox – Professor of mathematics at Oxford as well as Fellow in Mathematics and the philosophy of science + pastoral advisor at Green Temple college, Oxford – who has written a book that pushed over a number of cardboard walls in my mind and at least posed the question that maybe – just maybe – the choice is not quite as simple as all that.  If, for no other reason than this, i am grateful for this book.

In his opening chapter of the book, “But does it move? A lesson from history” Dr. Lennox brings us back to the 16th century when Copernicus and Galileo (scientists who themselves operated from a Christian worldview) who challenged both the science and the biblical understanding of their day by suggesting that the earth was not, in fact, the centre of the universe, and proposed a heliocentric universe.  Their ideas were condemned both by science and by the church in their day. And yet … without a moment’s thought there is no one today who would even blink at saying that both science and the church were wrong at that time in saying that the earth was fixed and the universe revolved around it.  One would look foolish today to argue against such things, for we can now clearly see the truth of the matter.

And, in so doing, Dr. Lennox creates a compellingly reasonable doubt – or at the very least, the necessity of humility –  when suggesting that neither Dawkins nor the hardcore “six 24-hour-day creation” guys have it completely right.

I think Lennox rightly points out, right from the start of his book, that as evangelical Christians we are all really Creationists.  That term has been recently dominated by the six 24-hour day guys; but from the neo-atheist side, we are all Creationists – and so we are.  We would all say – unequivocally and without reservation – that we believe that God (through Jesus) made the heavens and the earth and all that exists within them.

And it is only the how of creation that we disagree over.

But in the same way that i might disagree theologically with an Arminian or an Egalitarian, i may struggle with the “six 24-hour day” position, but i would not for a moment question the reality of conversion, the love of Jesus, or the commitment to the authority of Scripture of anyone who held those positions.

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Dr. Lennox outlines his own position in the bulk of the book which – as best as i can understand it – is that God is the author of the “Big Bang” from which He created the universe (much as science has maintained) and that God then specially created mankind upon the earth He designed for us to be abel to live on (as the Scriptures testify).  In summary, you could say he purports an old earth (4.6 billion years old) but with a literal Adam and Eve. Or even, as he says early on in his introduction,

We think that, since God is the author of both His Word the Bible and of the universe, that there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation  of the biblical data and correct interpretation of the scientific data.”

After this, he goes on, in appendices, to interact with both the “Cosmic temple” view of Genesis 1 and 2 as well as the “theistic evolution” view, which i think he deals with quite adequately in this short book while still doing justice to them.

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The sum of it all is this: If you are convinced that the science of geology, biology and cosmology are correct, and that religion is nuts, i recommend this book to you unreservedly.  If you are convinced that the bible is plain about how God made the earth and that science is “pagan” and only out to disprove God, i would recommend this book to you unreservedly.  And, all you other lot in between, i recommend it to you as well.

The point is this: whether you accept or agree with Dr. Lennox’s conclusions or not, reading this book will surely be time well spent.  One of the chief benefits of which, being shown that we can hold a deep love and trust in the authority of the Scriptures and the truth of God’s creation, w/o having to ignore or somehow demonize scientific research.

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21 thoughts on “Seven days that divide the world: book review

  1. God is responsible for all the things we don’t understand. When we understand a new thing and it turns out god isn’t responsible (at least not directly), religious people get pissed off. God gets a little smaller every day as our understanding gets bigger. We’ve never once explained or understood a single thing and it turned out yep, god did it. He is only ever involved in the things that don’t make sense yet. Odd, isn’t it?

    • Agnophilo –
      hey, first of all thanks for visiting and interacting with the post. Always happy to have other voices in the conversation. I’m not sure, but it seems like you might be responding to more of a “God in the gaps” kind of worldview, which is not what Lennox or i am presenting here. That ideology tries to say that every time we don’t understand something, *that* is what God has done, and everything else we know or can explain, He didn’t do that stuff. I find that ideology – personally – both biblically and logically misleading and fallacious. Lennox – and a good deal of those who believe in intelligent design (ID) and the biblical account of creation – see God as the ultimate Author of the explained *and* the unexplained. Take the beginning of the universe for instance: in the 60’s and the discovery of the “big bang”, science began to accept and agree with what the bible already had said for millennium, viz. that the universe did indeed have a beginning. In fact, when the “big bang” was discovered, there were some hostile naturalists who opposed such an idea for the very reason that they felt it “gave too much ground” to those who held to the bible’s view of a beginning. There are countless other examples of course, but the bottom line is: there are absolutely things about God’s creation i don’t understand, yes. But science, in my view, is about the discovery of how God designed the universe. Ergo, all that we know and *can* explain shows design and intelligence far beyond what you would scientifically expect from random chance.

      • I can’t think of any sort of thing in nature that needs an intelligent designer to be explained, not to mention that the intelligent designer itself would have to be complex and come from somewhere so it is useless at answering the question of the origins of complexity. Also to characterize nature as “random chance” is misleading, it is random that a bear finds itself in the arctic instead of the forest, but how this effects their DNA is not random at all. It isn’t random that a polar bear is white and a grizzly is brown.

        As for the god of the gaps, what things that we understand well do you attribute to god?

      • Thanks for your reply. I have to say, i honestly find it hard to accept that you truly think there is nothing in nature that needs an intelligent designer. It sounds like the same kind of blind, head-in-the-sand statements that strict Naturalists accuse creationists of. When you see a car or an interesting building or computer program you *assume* a designer b/c it clearly must have one. Why then, when looking at something vastly more complex like the human eye, the brain, or even the universe as a whole does the inquiry stop. you would sound foolish to look at the eiffel tower or the museum of modern art and say, “that has no designer; no intelligence was needed for that to come into being.” The logical disconnect when it comes to describing life and the universe is incredibly difficult to reconcile in my mind.
        And where does one find the rule book that says that a designer would have to be complex and have to come from somewhere? doesn’t the designer get to make those rules?

        I’ll take one thing we understand well that i attribute to God: the beginning of the universe. The “big bang” marks the beginning of the universe and before that time everything in our universe did not exist. From that we see the 10 constants – a numerological crap shoot of unimaginable chance if you exclude the idea of a designer stacking the deck; if even one of those is off by a degree our whole universe can’t even exist, and that’s not even taking life into the equation.
        Here’s the main point where i land: science in itself is about repeatable experiments whereby we can gain information and form conclusions. When one moves to the realm of metaphysics, it immediately moves beyond the scope of what science can answer, and yet many Naturalists keep trying to use the same tool to explain *everything*! Beyond that, logical integrity demands choosing the conclusion that makes the best sense of the all the datum we *do* have. I believe a Creator God/Designer makes the most sense of that datum; much more than Naturalism.

        I dunno how helpful that is but it’s a start.

      • “Thanks for your reply.”

        Likewise.

        “I have to say, i honestly find it hard to accept that you truly think there is nothing in nature that needs an intelligent designer. It sounds like the same kind of blind, head-in-the-sand statements that strict Naturalists accuse creationists of.”

        It isn’t, I will explain my reasoning in this response.

        “When you see a car or an interesting building or computer program you *assume* a designer b/c it clearly must have one.”

        I don’t assume these things are designed, I know by direct experience that they are. I’ve studied computer programming and talked to computer programmers. That computer programs come from computer programmers, cars come from car companies etc is in no way an assumption. They are obvious and irrefutable facts that can easily be demonstrated countless ways. That universes come from gods or one big god however is not in any way comparable. I have no experience with gods creating things and cannot confirm that the universe came from a god or that a god exists. I can visit a car factory if I doubt the origin of cars, I cannot visit a universe factory. The watchmaker analogy (which is the classic form of the argument you are using) is simply a non-sequiter, it’s akin to saying apples must taste good because oranges are good for you. It’s bad logic.

        “Why then, when looking at something vastly more complex like the human eye, the brain, or even the universe as a whole does the inquiry stop.”

        Inquiry doesn’t stop, I just don’t make the same assumptions as you do. There could be a god, and if there were one I would want to know. But genuine inquiry requires us not leaping to a conclusion before we have the facts to support it. I cannot claim to know that this or that thing requires intelligence because a) there are logical contradictions in that statement since the intelligence would itself require an intelligence, and b) because we don’t even know what “intelligence” means. We don’t know how our own minds comprehend, perceive or act creatively and are in even less of a position to make claims about some hypothetical, invisible mind that supposedly exists. Add to that that we know how so many things in nature arise and it never turns out a god was responsible. As I said, what thing that we understand about nature do you attribute to god? When we didn’t understand lightning we assumed there must be a god of lightning and thunder. Even in the bible lightning and thunder are attributed to jehovah. Now we know otherwise. The only thing in nature that really seems “designed” or has complexity similar to that of technology is living things, and we know that they are constantly re-designed by blind but creative forces like natural selection. But to see a flower and invoke a god to explain it when the god is an even bigger mystery than the flower, then that is like seeing a computer chip on a beach and saying “this chip is so complex it must have been designed by a super-computer!”. Obviously there is a problem with that logic and it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. Everything in nature shows a pattern of things starting out simple and then getting increasingly complex. From cosmology to the fossil record to the development of the various elements and so on. That, if it is true, naturalistic explanations (whether or not they were set in motion by a deity) have the potential to account for the ultimate origins of complexity, whereas invoking a supreme intelligence seems to be going in the wrong direction from complex to even more complex.

        “you would sound foolish to look at the eiffel tower or the museum of modern art and say, “that has no designer; no intelligence was needed for that to come into being.”

        Yes, I would. But that is not a valid comparison.

        “The logical disconnect when it comes to describing life and the universe is incredibly difficult to reconcile in my mind.”

        Maybe it’s because I’m such a huge science nerd but whenever I wonder about something I look it up and 9 times out of ten there’s an answer waiting for me. And 9 out of 10 of the times there isn’t one the question is one we just recently learned how to ask, so we’ll probably have the answer in a few years or decades.We actually know in pretty stunning detail how the eye evolved. We occasionally find fossilized brains and we can compare the brains of different species with different biological relationships and piece together loosely which parts of the brain evolved and in what order. And in those instances where we don’t know where something came form or how it got to it’s present state… we simply don’t know. The logic of religions and paranormal belief is
        “we don’t know this thing, therefore we do”. We don’t know how the universe began therefore god made it. An atheist is not someone who rejects the possibility that there might be a god, an atheist is just someone who says “we don’t know, therefore we don’t know”.

        “And where does one find the rule book that says that a designer would have to be complex and have to come from somewhere? doesn’t the designer get to make those rules?”

        That is nonsense.

        “I’ll take one thing we understand well that i attribute to God: the beginning of the universe. The “big bang” marks the beginning of the universe and before that time everything in our universe did not exist.”

        Technically the big bang theory describes everything after the supposed beginning, the expansion and cooling of the universe, the formation of various types of matter and so on – not the actual beginning itself, if there was one.

        “From that we see the 10 constants – a numerological crap shoot of unimaginable chance if you exclude the idea of a designer stacking the deck; if even one of those is off by a degree our whole universe can’t even exist, and that’s not even taking life into the equation.”

        Actually it is taking life into the equation, since if the properties of the universe were different the universe would exist but would simply be different, the argument made by some physicists being that this would make life as we know it impossible. The reason this doesn’t matter is that the universe as we know it is actually very inhospitable to life and it can, as far as we know, only exist in an astronomically tiny portion of it. Ironically people see this too as proof of intelligent design, they say that the cosmos is designed for life, then cite the fact that almost no planetary configuration seems to support life as proof that the earth must have been “fine-tuned”. Without life the universe doesn’t need to be any particular way, and for most of the history of the universe human life would’ve been impossible. Furthermore if there were a different universe it might simply contain different life. To say that we need a certain environment to exist so life itself needs a particular environment ignores the fact that even on earth life exists in a diverse number of environments and the environment of every organism will actually kill some other organism. So it is like a fish saying to another fish “of course there couldn’t be life on dry land you fool, there would be no water to breathe!”

        “Here’s the main point where i land: science in itself is about repeatable experiments whereby we can gain information and form conclusions. When one moves to the realm of metaphysics, it immediately moves beyond the scope of what science can answer, and yet many Naturalists keep trying to use the same tool to explain *everything*!”

        I think you are misrepresenting the notion of a “theory of everything”, which is, as far as I know, a shorthand for everything in physics.

        “Beyond that, logical integrity demands choosing the conclusion that makes the best sense of the all the datum we *do* have. I believe a Creator God/Designer makes the most sense of that datum; much more than Naturalism.”

        Ideas must do more than make sense, that bob killed steve might make perfect sense, but we don’t throw bob in jail unless we can bring some evidence to bear on the matter. If you believe something but can’t prove it then that’s fine, but it’s just a personal belief and could be wrong.

        “I dunno how helpful that is but it’s a start.”

        Likewise.

      • Thanks as always for your intelligent and thorough reply. My first impulse is to ask you to read Lennox’s book and then respond to the ideas he presents. I think he presents a cogent and logical case for his arguments, even if you do end up disagreeing with him.
        But i do want to offer a few responses as well to what you wrote:
        1. “I have no experience with gods creating things and cannot confirm that the universe came from a god or that a god exists. I can visit a car factory if I doubt the origin of cars, I cannot visit a universe factory.” This is one place i feel – as i stated before – that you are seeking to use a hammer to saw off a log. The scientific method is not remotely equipped to answer the questions of metaphysics, let alone to come up with a repeatable experiment to prove the existence of God.

        2.”The only thing in nature that really seems “designed” or has complexity similar to that of technology is living things, and we know that they are constantly re-designed by blind but creative forces like natural selection” You do realize that invoking the “natural selection” causation is dangerous don;t you? Nature, in and of itself, doesn’t “select” anything or cause one thing to happen over something else. to suggest that it does also end up proving too much, b/c in order for anything to decide or make selections of any kind presumes an intelligence able to do such things.

        3. “Everything in nature shows a pattern of things starting out simple and then getting increasingly complex. From cosmology to the fossil record to the development of the various elements and so on. That, if it is true, naturalistic explanations (whether or not they were set in motion by a deity) have the potential to account for the ultimate origins of complexity, whereas invoking a supreme intelligence seems to be going in the wrong direction from complex to even more complex.” If the Deity has begun everything from nothing and set in motion the naturalistic laws that we now observe, it is not moving from the complex to the even more complex – the Deity is outside of that equation; it is still beginning at zero with organic material and then increasing in complexity. The only place i see things beginning complex and then staying that way is with the creation of human beings.

        4. “An atheist is not someone who rejects the possibility that there might be a god, an atheist is just someone who says “we don’t know, therefore we don’t know”.” I think you may mean Agnostic, b/c an atheist, by definition, doesn;t even question whether there is a god or not (or at least he’s not supposed to ;) )

        5. “Furthermore if there were a different universe it might simply contain different life. To say that we need a certain environment to exist so life itself needs a particular environment ignores the fact that even on earth life exists in a diverse number of environments and the environment of every organism will actually kill some other organism. So it is like a fish saying to another fish “of course there couldn’t be life on dry land you fool, there would be no water to breathe!”” Are you arguing here for the multiverse position? Hats off if you are – you guys have more faith than we creationists do even!

        6. “I think you are misrepresenting the notion of a “theory of everything”, which is, as far as I know, a shorthand for everything in physics.” No, what i mean is really everything, from human origins to the meaning of life to why we feel love here and anger there (or why we feel any emotions at all) etc, etc etc. Everything. Science does not have the answers for many of these things and it looks silly – at least in my view – when it tries to explain them.

        7. The last thing i’ll say is that many of your responses can be answered by the simple fact that – if there is a Designer/ a God/ a Creator (as i believe there is) He didn;t just start the whole show running at one point in history 11 billion years ago and then sit back and watch. If we were just left with the “clues” that both Naturalists and Creationists have to look at, it really could be anyone’s guess. But i believe that this same God/Designer/Creator is also intimately involved with His creation. And when you add the “evidence” of a God entering into human history and saying (and writing down for us) “hey, i made all this!” then you have more to go on than just “what makes sense. You have a truth claim to add to the evidence; a “confession” by the perpetrator saying he is “to blame.” When you add a confession of the murderer to what seems to be a murder case – yes, it could still be not true, but it provides more than a reasonable doubt that he is in fact guilty, doesn;t it?

      • “Thanks as always for your intelligent and thorough reply.”

        You’re welcome, and likewise : )

        “My first impulse is to ask you to read Lennox’s book and then respond to the ideas he presents.”

        I do not own it. I just searched my local library’s catalog and they don’t have a copy either.

        “I think he presents a cogent and logical case for his arguments, even if you do end up disagreeing with him.
        But i do want to offer a few responses as well to what you wrote: 1. This is one place i feel – as i stated before – that you are seeking to use a hammer to saw off a log. The scientific method is not remotely equipped to answer the questions of metaphysics, let alone to come up with a repeatable experiment to prove the existence of God.”

        I didn’t say anything about the scientific method, I simply said you cannot compare things like cars that we have daily experience with and firsthand knowledge of and whose origins we can verify to gods that supposedly exist and supposedly created things in the past which we cannot confirm. A conclusion based on experience is not comparable to a conclusion based on inference, evangelists who use these “a painting needs a painter” type arguments are using tangled logic and conflating one type of evidence with another.

        “You do realize that invoking the “natural selection” causation is dangerous don;t you? Nature, in and of itself, doesn’t “select” anything or cause one thing to happen over something else. to suggest that it does also end up proving too much, b/c in order for anything to decide or make selections of any kind presumes an intelligence able to do such things.”

        That just shows you don’t know anything about natural selection. First of all “selection” is a metaphor, a way to explain the process by analogy to artificial selection aka domestic breeding. If we want a dog breed to be taller we select the taller ones and breed them into the next generation and don’t breed the shorter ones, and the average height goes up. If we repeat the process we can make freakishly tall dogs. We can manipulate every aspect of their physiology this way. In nature the same sort of thing happens on it’s own but not because someone is consciously “selecting” but because in a given environment not every trait is equally useful, so for instance if the taller animals are more visible and tend to get picked off by predators more, the average height will decrease over time. And in this way species continually get modified, which is well observed in nature and in lab experiments. It is not random that a polar bear has white fur or that a grizzly has brown fur, they are much more effective predators if they don’t stand out of their environment. Natural selection is like a soup strainer that trillions of trillions of variations are dumped into and only the useful ones stick around by merit of being useful (ie increasing the rate of survival or reproduction).

        “If the Deity has begun everything from nothing and set in motion the naturalistic laws that we now observe, it is not moving from the complex to the even more complex – the Deity is outside of that equation; it is still beginning at zero with organic material and then increasing in complexity. The only place i see things beginning complex and then staying that way is with the creation of human beings.”

        This is the response I always get when I bring logic to bear upon the idea of god – logic arbitrarily doesn’t count when talking about god. Again, by your standards you can use logic to support the idea of god, but you can’t use it to argue against the proposition. This blind spot (which I knew well from my christian days) is more to do with psychology than logic or theology.

        “I think you may mean Agnostic, b/c an atheist, by definition, doesn;t even question whether there is a god or not (or at least he’s not supposed to ;) )”

        Atheists can do whatever they like. And almost all atheists (including myself and pretty much every famous atheist I have ever heard of) are agnostic atheists. Agnosticism is the position that you cannot know whether or not there is a god. Atheism is either the dogmatic belief that there is not a god (very few atheists do this) or simply the default position that the existence of a god has not been substantiated. I am, in other words, an atheist with regards to yahweh the same way you are an a-unicornist. You probably don’t claim to know there are no unicorns anywhere in the universe, since that would be illogical, nor do you want there to not be unicorns or “deny” the existence of unicorns, you simply have not been given sufficient evidence of their existence. You are open to their existence, but unconvinced. This is the position of most atheists.

        “Are you arguing here for the multiverse position? Hats off if you are – you guys have more faith than we creationists do even!”

        No, you are simply putting words in my mouth. I was talking about the possibility that the universe we inhabit now could have had different properties, a topic you brought up.

        “No, what i mean is really everything, from human origins to the meaning of life to why we feel love here and anger there (or why we feel any emotions at all) etc, etc etc. Everything.”

        Yeah and I’m saying that that isn’t what physicists mean by “theory of everything”.

        “Science does not have the answers for many of these things and it looks silly – at least in my view – when it tries to explain them.”

        Yes, unlike christianity which says good thing happen to bad people because of talking animals and magical trees. Yes, neurology, psychology, biology, sociology are very silly and childish by comparison.

        “7. The last thing i’ll say is that many of your responses can be answered by the simple fact that – if there is a Designer/ a God/ a Creator (as i believe there is) He didn;t just start the whole show running at one point in history 11 billion years ago and then sit back and watch. If we were just left with the “clues” that both Naturalists and Creationists have to look at, it really could be anyone’s guess. But i believe that this same God/Designer/Creator is also intimately involved with His creation.”

        I see no evidence of that whatsoever. I think there is a vast difference between seeing the hand of god and arbitrarily attributing to a particular god whatever you want. People brought up to believe zeus is responsible for lightning will attribute lightning to zeus. People raised to believe sudden unexplained healing is caused be jehovah and getting things you want after asking for them means god gave them to you will attribute these things to their deity. But I see no way to separate these from the plethora of other superstitions in the world. I see no more evidence for prayer being the cause of good fortune than rabbit’s feet or four leaf clovers or someone’s lucky pair of underwear, and all of the above seem to be based on the same post hoc logical fallacy. I don’t just look at one religion, I look at them all. And I cannot take the miracle story or the revelation or the prophecies that supposedly came true from one religion and claim them as proof of the claims of that religion and ignore them in a hundred other religions. If it’s hogwash in one religion it’s hogwash in all of them.

        “And when you add the “evidence” of a God entering into human history and saying (and writing down for us) “hey, i made all this!” then you have more to go on than just “what makes sense.”

        Do you know how many gods have supposedly revealed themselves to humans? I think the figure is around ten thousand or so. And that’s just the ones with names and significant followings, there are some cultures that believe in household deities, ancestor worship, types of pantheism etc. Even with in the christian tradition there are many different versions of scripture that are not considered part of the official canon, many of them are even referenced by texts that are canonical.

        “You have a truth claim to add to the evidence; a “confession” by the perpetrator saying he is “to blame.” When you add a confession of the murderer to what seems to be a murder case – yes, it could still be not true, but it provides more than a reasonable doubt that he is in fact guilty, doesn;t it?”

        It’s actually more like someone killed steve and bob said his invisible friend ralph did it. We do not have a “confession” from god, we have men claiming things about god. That is all we ever have. In the age of instantaneous global telecommunication one wonders why god would be limited to so crude a method of communication as word of mouth.

      • “I do not own it. I just searched my local library’s catalog and they don’t have a copy either.”

        Well, i guess there is *no* other way you could find this book then huh? If you must, you could even watch a lecture or two online: just YouTube John C Lennox.

        “A conclusion based on experience is not comparable to a conclusion based on inference”

        I would want you to take a closer look at that statement. The type of data we are comparing is different, yes, but that doesn;t mean conclusions based on experience are necessarily more accurate than those based on inference. The theory of Darwinian Evolution, for instance, contains both observable evidence as well as inferences drawn from that evidence. Going deeper, i would go so far as to say that worldview/presuppositions can (and do) heavily influence both observable evidence as well as conclusions drawn by inference.

        I get that “selection” is meant to be a metaphor; absolutely i do. My point was that it is often spoken of, in an unqualified manner as you have laid out here, that ignores that reality. You say re: the breeding of dogs, “We can manipulate every aspect of their physiology this way” and i would say yes to a certain degree. But, at the end of the day, it’s still a dog. Long/short hair, aggressive/passive, tall/short etc. – all dogs. Which adds another unanswerable element of vast speciation from a single cell. Then you say, “Natural selection is like a soup strainer that trillions of trillions of variations are dumped into and only the useful ones stick around by merit of being useful (ie increasing the rate of survival or reproduction).” The problem with that argument is that many species, including human beings, retain *many* traits that have no discernible purpose in aiding flourishing or out-performing other species. I think you can easily fill in that blank w/o me listing those for you.

        You write, “This is the response I always get when I bring logic to bear upon the idea of god – logic arbitrarily doesn’t count when talking about god. Again, by your standards you can use logic to support the idea of god, but you can’t use it to argue against the proposition.”

        I nowhere said “logic arbitrarily doesn’t count when talking about God”. I simply stated that you were inserting Him into an equation where He didn’t belong/fit yet. Things moving from simple to complex can still logically proceed quite nicely, even if God was the One who made the simple stuff. your argument seems like you’re saying “cars must start as parts and then be assembled into cars, therefore no one could have made those car parts!” See – the maker of the parts isn’t even necessary or included in the point. So, i wasn’t using logic to prove or disprove God; just refuting your logic.

        You said , “This blind spot (which I knew well from my christian days)” I’d love to hear more about your pre-atheistic days. What caused you to make that switch?

        “Atheists can do whatever they like. And almost all atheists (including myself and pretty much every famous atheist I have ever heard of) are agnostic atheists … you simply have not been given sufficient evidence of their existence. You are open to their existence, but unconvinced. This is the position of most atheists.”

        I almost didn’t respond b/c of this comment “Atheists can do whatever they like”??? Seriously? I ‘m happy to read and answer back in reasoned intelligent ways, but that is not in either of those categories. Merriam-Webster concise dictionary states it this way, “Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial.” You cannot – even atheists who can “do whatever they like” – be both agnostic and atheist. You are one or the other. If you are open to the idea of God but His existence is simply unsubstantiated then you are agnostic: by definition. If you think the idea of god is on the level of leprechauns and unicorns you are not agnostic, you are atheist: from the Greek “a” (not/no/none/without) “theos” (God). That’s just what the word means.

        “Yes, unlike christianity which says good thing happen to bad people because of talking animals and magical trees. Yes, neurology, psychology, biology, sociology are very silly and childish by comparison.”

        Unfair. christianity doesn’t have the corner on “bad things happen to good people” – they DO. And good things happen to bad people as well. You are now wading into definitions of “good” and “bad” which i’m happy to get into another time but that is not the subject we are discussing. Of course neurology psychology, biology, and sociology are not silly things and i didn’t mean that by what i wrote – i apologize. What i mean is that when science tries to explain why i love my wife, or am brought to tears by music, it can absolutely “describe” in scientific detail what is happening chemically and physiologically as those things are happening, but – in the end – that doesn’t really explain them; at least not in a satisfying way. It’s like finishing a monumental meal that was top 10 in your lifetime, and having someone say, “well, the ingredients of the meal were this and this, and you grew up liking this, and the temp in the room was this, and your taste buds this ….” All of that may be absolutely true and yet it even sounds silly to the one who just simply loved the meal.

        “I don’t just look at one religion, I look at them all. And I cannot take the miracle story or the revelation or the prophecies that supposedly came true from one religion and claim them as proof of the claims of that religion and ignore them in a hundred other religions. If it’s hogwash in one religion it’s hogwash in all of them.”

        That’s just bollocks and you know it. If you truly had a pre-atheist past you know that Christianity is *not* like any other religion and lumping them all together is just muddying the waters for you and the people you talk about religion with. In fact, it is just a reductionistic ruse used by many atheists to dismiss religious claims altogether without doing the work of actually looking at them. I know of one author who critiqued Dawkins for a number of his biblical mis-cues and mis-representations in an address he gave, and he was told that “theology is not a real science and so who cares is he got some things wrong!” Hardly seems like fair reasoning.

        “Do you know how many gods have supposedly revealed themselves to humans? I think the figure is around ten thousand or so. And that’s just the ones with names and significant followings, there are some cultures that believe in household deities, ancestor worship, types of pantheism etc. Even with in the christian tradition there are many different versions of scripture that are not considered part of the official canon, many of them are even referenced by texts that are canonical.”

        There you go, lumping everyone together again. And why bother attacking a canon of Scripture you don;t believe in anymore anyways? I’m happy to talk how we got our canon and textual criticism all day, but, again, that is not what we are discussing. The point is – and all other religions would agree even – that none other make the claim that God entered into human history as a God/man for the purpose if redeeming His creation back to Himself. Sure you have lots of dudes showing up all through history saying all kinds of bollocks, but none of them are gracious, and none do the work of salvation *for* the ones they are revealing themselves to. Christianity is absolutely unique among all other faiths/religions and, truly, many of your statements make me wonder about the nature of the Christianity you are rejecting even. Sounds often like we’re talking about different things. Just saying.

        “We do not have a “confession” from god, we have men claiming things about god. That is all we ever have. In the age of instantaneous global telecommunication one wonders why god would be limited to so crude a method of communication as word of mouth.”

        We absolutely do have a confession with all the historical validity of any other ancient document with manuscripts that put other docs (Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare plays, etc) to shame. You can claim you don;t believe the confession but it is willful blindness to claim there is no confession; *all* history books i am aware of include – at least – a man named Jesus from Jerusalem who had a following and claimed to be God and was killed by Rome. Where you go from there depends on the book, but we do have eyewitness accounts along with much compelling evidence that this same Jesus also rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

      • “Well, i guess there is *no* other way you could find this book then huh?”

        Most people would not go to the bother of trying to get a book they weren’t particularly interested in and read it on the request of a stranger, let alone buy it with their hard earned money. No need to be pushy.

        “If you must, you could even watch a lecture or two online: just YouTube John C Lennox.”

        Maybe I will.

        “I would want you to take a closer look at that statement. The type of data we are comparing is different, yes, but that doesn;t mean conclusions based on experience are necessarily more accurate than those based on inference. The theory of Darwinian Evolution, for instance, contains both observable evidence as well as inferences drawn from that evidence. Going deeper, i would go so far as to say that worldview/presuppositions can (and do) heavily influence both observable evidence as well as conclusions drawn by inference.”

        In science the prediction (which has the potential to falsify the hypothesis) always comes before the evidence, not after it. Scientists predict future discoveries and observations using their models, they do not sit around once a discovery has been made, and then try to fit it into their model. The scientific method is observation, hypothesis, prediction, experiment, peer review – not, as many people seem to think, observation, hypothesis, more observation, rationalization, then write a book about it.

        “I get that “selection” is meant to be a metaphor; absolutely i do. My point was that it is often spoken of, in an unqualified manner as you have laid out here, that ignores that reality.”

        You act as if it is dishonest to not elaborate on every syllable of a statement to the extreme. If I tried to explain every phrase and term and concept in every sentence of every response we would be here a very long time.

        “You say re: the breeding of dogs, “We can manipulate every aspect of their physiology this way” and i would say yes to a certain degree.”

        What degree?

        “But, at the end of the day, it’s still a dog. Long/short hair, aggressive/passive, tall/short etc. – all dogs.”

        And a cat and a dog are still mammals. And mammals and reptiles are still quadrupeds, and quadrupeds and fish are still animals, and animals and plants are still eukaryotes. There is no absolute definition of any species and all species fit within parental groups that widen and widen until you get one group called “life” that encapsulates all of them. What would we have to do to dogs to make them, in your opinion, not be dogs anymore?

        “Which adds another unanswerable element of vast speciation from a single cell. Then you say, “Natural selection is like a soup strainer that trillions of trillions of variations are dumped into and only the useful ones stick around by merit of being useful (ie increasing the rate of survival or reproduction).” The problem with that argument is that many species, including human beings, retain *many* traits that have no discernible purpose in aiding flourishing or out-performing other species. I think you can easily fill in that blank w/o me listing those for you.”

        There are several reasons for this – in humans a common reason is that we are simply not subject to as many environmental selective pressures since we are domesticated and often do not live or die based on our physiology, every hospital and dentist and handicap parking space is a check against natural selection in humans. Another reason is that vestigial traits are often useful in some diminished way – you probably know about vestigial traits once thought useless that we now know serve some biological function. A third reason for them is that natural selection acts upon useful and harmful traits and does nothing to useful ones. Of the various differences in the contours of peoples’ feet for instance, some will make it harder to walk, some will make it easier, and most will be irrelevant. Most genetic variations are simply benign family traits. And yet a fourth reason for this (I am a huge science nerd if you didn’t notice) is that depending on the genetic origin of the trait sometimes changing it would change other parts of the species as well, in ways that would be harmful. Darwin noted in origin of species for instance that some breeds of cat when they are born with blue eyes are invariably born deaf and with I think it was short tails as well. He didn’t understand why, but we now know that it’s because genes work in combination and changing a gene in one place may change it somewhere else too. So some traits are a package deal.

        “I nowhere said “logic arbitrarily doesn’t count when talking about God”. I simply stated that you were inserting Him into an equation where He didn’t belong/fit yet. Things moving from simple to complex can still logically proceed quite nicely, even if God was the One who made the simple stuff.”

        That is absurd. Any being that can think is by definition complex.

        “your argument seems like you’re saying “cars must start as parts and then be assembled into cars, therefore no one could have made those car parts!” See – the maker of the parts isn’t even necessary or included in the point. So, i wasn’t using logic to prove or disprove God; just refuting your logic.”

        We were talking about the ultimate origins of complexity, not a car company.

        “You said , “This blind spot (which I knew well from my christian days)” I’d love to hear more about your pre-atheistic days. What caused you to make that switch?”

        I got old enough to think about it and problems piled up. What got me questioning at first was the concept of hell. I wondered one day if I were god who would I send to hell. I immediately thought of hitler, the most stereotypically evil person I could think of. But then I realized I wouldn’t send him to hell because a) even hitler would eventually suffer more than all the people he’d hurt, and b) why bring back dead people just to torture them? The worst thing we do to prisoners in the US (legally) is kill them. We don’t torture them or rape them or humiliate them, no matter what their crimes were. This troubled me, because on one hand I was told god was infinitely better than me, more wise, merciful, kind, etc – but if hell was real then I was more merciful than he was. How could I be better than god? This lead me down a path that ended with losing faith in religion, but believing (I later realized simply because of indoctrination) that the god of the bible had to be real but that we’d corrupted his message. Eventually I realized that that wasn’t necessarily the case either.

        “I almost didn’t respond b/c of this comment “Atheists can do whatever they like”??? Seriously? I ‘m happy to read and answer back in reasoned intelligent ways, but that is not in either of those categories. Merriam-Webster concise dictionary states it this way, “Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial.”

        Actually that is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary. And you will note if you go back to the web page a long list of comments on the article of people astonished at how inaccurate that and other descriptions are. It is also not useful to use dictionaries to define deep philosophical concepts, as they generally have superficial definitions.

        Atheism is either a belief that gods do not exist, or non-belief in gods depending what you mean by the term. Agnosticism (in the sense that I use it) is a belief that the existence or non-existence of gods is unknowable. You can believe that it is knowable or unknowable and be an atheist.

        “You cannot – even atheists who can “do whatever they
        like” – be both agnostic and atheist.”

        And yet here I am. : )

        “You are one or the other. If you are open to the idea of God but His existence is simply unsubstantiated then you are agnostic: by definition.”

        Agnostic can be used (and often is) to mean uncertain or indifferent, but that is not the more accurate meaning of the term.

        “If you think the idea of god is on the level of leprechauns and unicorns you are not agnostic, you are atheist: from the Greek “a” (not/no/none/without) “theos” (God). That’s just what the word means.”

        Actually I am agnostic about leprechauns and unicorns too. : P

        “Unfair. christianity doesn’t have the corner on “bad things happen to good people” – they DO.”

        What?

        “And good things happen to bad people as well.”

        What is your point?

        “You are now wading into definitions of “good” and “bad” which i’m happy to get into another time but that is not the subject we are discussing.”

        I wasn’t remotely trying to get into that. The definition is irrelevant, as I don’t think anyone would disagree that by some definition or standard, good and bad things occur.

        “Of course neurology psychology, biology, and sociology are not silly things and i didn’t mean that by what i wrote – i apologize.”

        Thank you for that.

        “What i mean is that when science tries to explain why i love my wife, or am brought to tears by music, it can absolutely “describe” in scientific detail what is happening chemically and physiologically as those things are happening, but – in the end – that doesn’t really explain them; at least not in a satisfying way. It’s like finishing a monumental meal that was top 10 in your lifetime, and having someone say, “well, the ingredients of the meal were this and this, and you grew up liking this, and the temp in the room was this, and your taste buds this ….” All of that may be absolutely true and yet it even sounds silly to the one who just simply loved the meal.”

        Consciousness is a mystery, we do not understand how it works. This is due to the fact that brains tend to turn to mush the second you take them apart and our imaging technology is still very poor. But treat it as a mystery without pretending the bible somehow has the answer you demand from science. No religion offers a mechanical explanation for consciousness, they just claim their god is somehow responsible for it. But that doesn’t explain anything. It is annoying how science, which has explained so much and explains so much more every day is treated with contempt by evangelicals who ignore the vast wealth of knowledge it has given us and focus only on the things it has yet to explain. It is especially unfair when you remember that science, unlike religions, has to actually demonstrate that something is true, not simply claim that it is.

        “That’s just bollocks and you know it. If you truly had a pre-atheist past you know that Christianity is *not* like any other religion”

        It actually bears striking similarity to earlier religions, not the least of which is judaism.

        “and lumping them all together is just muddying the waters for you and the people you talk about religion with. In fact, it is just a reductionistic ruse used by many atheists to dismiss religious claims altogether without doing the work of actually looking at them. I know of one author who critiqued Dawkins for a number of his biblical mis-cues and mis-representations in an address he gave, and he was told that “theology is not a real science and so who cares is he got some things wrong!” Hardly seems like fair reasoning.”

        I have no idea what supposed errors you are talking about and have not read the above mentioned conversation and therefore cannot really comment on them.

        “There you go, lumping everyone together again.”

        I didn’t lump anyone together (then or before). And before all I said was that if more than one religion has a miracle story I cannot honestly embrace one as evidence and ignore the others. Your pretense that christianity is the only religion with elements like prophecies or miracle accounts is just a red herring.

        “And why bother attacking a canon of Scripture you don;t believe in anymore anyways?”

        What? That doesn’t make any sense. Why disagree with something I disagree with?

        “I’m happy to talk how we got our canon and textual criticism all day, but, again, that is not what we are discussing. The point is – and all other religions would agree even – that none other make the claim that God entered into human history as a God/man for the purpose if redeeming His creation back to Himself.”

        What does that matter? My point was about the forms of evidence in various religions, not the particular claims of those religions. A religion having unique or original claims no more makes that religion true than a hollywood movie having an original plot makes it a documentary.

        That being said the story of prometheus (the greek god who sacrificed himself to save humanity) originated 800 years before the birth of christ in the culture that spawned christianity.

        “Sure you have lots of dudes showing up all through history saying all kinds of bollocks, but none of them are gracious, and none do the work of salvation *for* the ones they are revealing themselves to.”

        I am not cynical enough to believe that all who believe they are communicating with god are con men/women.

        “Christianity is absolutely unique among all other faiths/religions”

        Yeah, and we’re all like snowflakes.

        “and, truly, many of your statements make me wonder about the nature of the Christianity you are rejecting even. Sounds often like we’re talking about different things. Just saying.”

        I’m sure we are.

        “We absolutely do have a confession with all the historical validity of any other ancient document with manuscripts that put other docs (Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare plays, etc) to shame.”

        We do not take fantastic claims in ancient texts at face value, we reject them as myth or metaphor. You compare the bible to fictional works loosely based on history in which, in the illiad for instance, to quote wikipedia:

        “In the literary Trojan War of the Iliad, the Olympic gods, goddesses, and demigods fight and play great roles in human warfare.”

        If we had enough copies of the illiad would that justify the illustration?

        “You can claim you don;t believe the confession but it is willful blindness to claim there is no confession;”

        Actually I simply made the point that the “confession” was from men claiming to speak for god, not from god.

        “*all* history books i am aware of include – at least – a man named Jesus from Jerusalem who had a following and claimed to be God and was killed by Rome. Where you go from there depends on the book, but we do have eyewitness accounts along with much compelling evidence that this same Jesus also rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.”

        The historians who recorded these events had not been born when they supposedly took place, and recorded them only as legends. Most historians would probably say there was most likely a man named jesus, but that is hardly the issue. The claims about his divinity are the issue. I remember christians used to make the argument you are making and use the example of alexander the great, they would say there are more text that refer to the events of jesus’ life than there are of alexander the great, and if we treated jesus as fairly as we do alexander we wouldn’t doubt the claims made about him. The first time I heard this argument it made sense to me, so I googled alexander the great to see if it was true and discovered that in his day he was widely said to be the son of god, immaculately conceived, born of a virgin and was said to have fulfilled prophecies, some of them from the bible. It was then that I began to realize that these sort of claims were not at all uncommon in biblical times, and that when we hold jesus up to the standard of alexander the great, or homer’s illiad, we become atheists.

      • Most people would not go to the bother of trying to get a book they weren’t particularly interested in and read it on the request of a stranger, let alone buy it with their hard earned money. No need to be pushy.

        Granted. do check out the YouTube if you are so inclined.

        In science the prediction (which has the potential to falsify the hypothesis) always comes before the evidence, not after it. Scientists predict future discoveries and observations using their models, they do not sit around once a discovery has been made, and then try to fit it into their model.

        How would that work with origins i wonder? how could one make a hypothesis about their existence before they had sound evidence that they existed? Surely you would agree that in the case of origins and cosmology, we must have something to which we are referring (people, stars, universe, etc) and then we seek to prove a hypothesis through experimentation to prove or invalidate that hypothesis.

        And a cat and a dog are still mammals. And mammals and reptiles are still quadrupeds, and quadrupeds and fish are still animals, and animals and plants are still eukaryotes.

        Yes … but a dog is still not a cat, even if we can group species into larger categories.

        “I nowhere said “logic arbitrarily doesn’t count when talking about God”. I simply stated that you were inserting Him into an equation where He didn’t belong/fit yet. Things moving from simple to complex can still logically proceed quite nicely, even if God was the One who made the simple stuff.”

        That is absurd. Any being that can think is by definition complex.

        I’m not saying the Being is *not* complex, i’m saying the matter He created is not complex. Matter can still move from simple to complex just as you stated. I don;t know why you insist on making God a part of the equation when it comes to matter moving from simple to complex?

        What got me questioning at first was the concept of hell. I wondered one day if I were god who would I send to hell … This troubled me, because on one hand I was told god was infinitely better than me, more wise, merciful, kind, etc – but if hell was real then I was more merciful than he was. How could I be better than god? This lead me down a path that ended with losing faith in religion

        I wish someone would have told you back then that God’s attributes are not like hats that He takes on and off. Moreover, the Justice of God is one of the ways in which He expresses His love. What kind of a good judge would not punish a rapist or child molester or murderer for their crimes; if he just said, “It’s ok – just don’t do that anymore” he would be an unjust judge. Hell is the proper response of a holy God to the rebellious, cosmic treason of the humanity He created. Beyond that, God *is* also merciful in thatHe sends His own Son to earth to die in our place and suffer the wrath we deserve. Isn;t that the very definition of mercy?

        Actually that is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary.

        Merriam-Webster Online: Dictionary and Thesaurus
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/‎
        Semantics aside, even in this post-modern age we can;t just use language however we wish. words still have meaning, even if we choose to ignore, change that meaning for ourselves.

        Your pretense that christianity is the only religion with elements like prophecies or miracle accounts is just a red herring.

        That has nowhere been my pre tense; most religions have things like prophesies and miracle accounts. I laid out in pretty specific detail what was unique and singular to Christianity in my last response.

        A religion having unique or original claims no more makes that religion true than a hollywood movie having an original plot makes it a documentary.

        No, but i was not making a truth claim from that statement. I was simply responding to your claim that all religions were basically the same thing just coming out different in the wash. The unique claims of Christianity do not prove or deny its truthfulness, they simply distinguish it from all other religions, thereby silencing any such notions that all religions are pretty much the same.

        We do not take fantastic claims in ancient texts at face value, we reject them as myth or metaphor. You compare the bible to fictional works loosely based on history in which, in the illiad for instance, to quote wikipedia:

        “In the literary Trojan War of the Iliad, the Olympic gods, goddesses, and demigods fight and play great roles in human warfare.”

        If we had enough copies of the illiad would that justify the illustration?

        What is unique about the bible though is that it claims to be history and reads like history, not myth. No one thinks Hamlet was a real prince in Denmark, and the stories do not claim to be history, but fantasy. This is what what eventually convinced C S Lewis to look closer at the bible, was that, though he assumed it was myth as well – he was after all a scholar in Medieval lit – that the bible didm;t read like myth at all. Beyond this, the bible claims to be historical narrative not a retelling of mythological tales.

        The historians who recorded these events had not been born when they supposedly took place, and recorded them only as legends.

        The bible is full of eyewitness accounts, particularly of Christ in the New Testament. Then you have guys like Luke who go around after the death of Christ and interview those eye witnesses to verify the accounts for Theophilus.

        I googled alexander the great to see if it was true and discovered that in his day he was widely said to be the son of god, immaculately conceived, born of a virgin and was said to have fulfilled prophecies, some of them from the bible. It was then that I began to realize that these sort of claims were not at all uncommon in biblical times, and that when we hold jesus up to the standard of alexander the great, or homer’s illiad, we become atheists.

        I wonder why there are so many different religions and legends with such similar accounts and ideas? One answer is, surely, that they were just all copying each other. But another is that they are all copying one original true story. This was JRR Tolkien’s account: that the story of the bible is the one true myth on which all the others are based.

      • “How would that work with origins i wonder? how could one make a hypothesis about their existence before they had sound evidence that they existed? Surely you would agree that in the case of origins and cosmology, we must have something to which we are referring (people, stars, universe, etc) and then we seek to prove a hypothesis through experimentation to prove or invalidate that hypothesis.”

        Unless we have artifacts from the past with which to test our hypotheses we cannot confirm that past events happened a certain way. We can verify historical events via texts and forensics, we can verify life history with fossils, geological history with rocks from different eras etc, but when it comes to existence we could figure out how to make a big bang and prove that you can make a big bang that way and that it has to be artificial or that it can only occur naturally etc, and all that would prove is that it could’ve happened that way, not that it did. But as our science advances we may find ways to detect some sort of remnant from the origin of the universe, the same way we can now detect cosmic background radiation and many invisible forms of energy – such things could be predicted and thus lend credence to a theory. Cosmic background radiation was predicted using big bang models and the temperature of the radiation was also predicted before it could be measured.

        “Yes … but a dog is still not a cat, even if we can group species into larger categories.”

        Why would a dog be a cat? Evolution is in many ways similar to the development of different languages, and mutations to slang terms randomly popping up. Languages spontaneously change in little ways but we can all understand each other because we are constantly communicating indirectly with each other, so our various dialects are always similar enough that we can understand each other well enough. But in isolation two populations will develop different slang and eventually their two dialects will become so different they can no longer understand each other without a translator. Similarly members of a species can breed with each other because they are constantly exchanging DNA with each other and are all indirectly fairly closely related, so they never get too different. But in isolation there is nothing to keep two populations the same and they similarly drift apart, becoming more dissimilar until they are no longer genetically compatible. We know this is the case because speciation, ring species etc are observed in nature. And we can likewise confirm that this has happened in the past by, in the case of languages having a common origin we can a) compare the similarities in modern languages which use similar alphabets and have an occasional word in common or similar sounding words with similar meanings, and b) by finding texts from different eras which show primitive versions of each language that are more similar to each other than the modern languages are to each other. The same is true of evolution, we can confirm that two species or groups of species have a common ancestry by a) comparing their traits and DNA the same way we confirm person x is the parent/cousin/whatever of person y by comparing their DNA, and b) by finding intermediate forms in the fossil record that have the characteristics of more than one group and come from around just before the time the two distinct groups emerged in the fossil record.

        Now to go back to your question, using my analogy your criticism is akin to saying that english cannot be a germanic language because we haven’t seen modern german turn into english, or visa versa (which should not happen for any reason), and alternately, that no matter how much english changes it’s still english (which is based on an arbitrary definition).

        “I’m not saying the Being is *not* complex, i’m saying the matter He created is not complex.”

        Actually you did say that god need not be complex.

        “Matter can still move from simple to complex just as you stated. I don;t know why you insist on making God a part of the equation when it comes to matter moving from simple to complex?”

        I am an atheist, I don’t make god part of the equation. I was replying to your argument that he must necessarily be part of the equation in order to account for complexity in nature.

        “I wish someone would have told you back then that God’s attributes are not like hats that He takes on and off. Moreover, the Justice of God is one of the ways in which He expresses His love. What kind of a good judge would not punish a rapist or child molester or murderer for their crimes; if he just said, “It’s ok – just don’t do that anymore” he would be an unjust judge.”

        That is a strawman. I didn’t say anything about not punishing criminals or giving anyone a free pass. I had real, specific and meaningful problems with the concept of hell. You, like every christian I have ever spoken to about them, did not address any of them and just proceeded to repeat a sermon to me that I’ve heard many times before about how infinite torment is an expression of love (uh huh) and how it would be somehow unjust to not inflict infinitely more pain on someone than they inflicted on others (the definition of injustice).

        “Hell is the proper response of a holy God to the rebellious, cosmic treason of the humanity He created.”

        So I deserve to be tormented for all time for being mistaken about my origins? If god appeared before you and told you to say set me on fire, would you do it? I deserve infinitely worse, right?

        “Beyond that, God *is* also merciful in thatHe sends His own Son to earth to die in our place and suffer the wrath we deserve. Isn;t that the very definition of mercy?”

        That is the very definition of crazy. You asked what would we think of a judge who let a rapist go free, but what would we think of a judge who had him tortured slowly for month after month, having his fingers sliced off and grafted back on so they could be torn off again when they’ve healed? Or what would we think of a judge who told a rapist that he’d let him go if he murdered his son (who had done nothing wrong)? You would think these ideas absurd and obscene if you heard them anywhere but the bible.

        “Merriam-Webster Online: Dictionary and Thesaurus
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/‎

        And the page you got the definition from, the section that says “atheism noun (Concise Encyclopedia)”

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism?show=0&t=1383094668

        “Semantics aside, even in this post-modern age we can;t just use language however we wish. words still have meaning, even if we choose to ignore, change that meaning for ourselves.”

        Words are just placeholders for concepts, the idea is the thing. And words often have multiple definitions.

        “That has nowhere been my pre tense; most religions have things like prophesies and miracle accounts.”

        Then why, when I said as much, did you launch into an attack against the idea?

        “I laid out in pretty specific detail what was unique and singular to Christianity in my last response.”

        I can think of nothing unique and singular to christianity. Not to mention christianity is an offshoot of judaism and is therefore in a sense no more unique than other derivatives like mormonism or islam. And judaism mirrors sources like the egyptian book of the dead, the code of hammurabi (eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, the golden rule etc), the epic of gilgamesh (flood story) etc.

        “No, but i was not making a truth claim from that statement. I was simply responding to your claim that all religions were basically the same thing just coming out different in the wash. The unique claims of Christianity do not prove or deny its truthfulness, they simply distinguish it from all other religions, thereby silencing any such notions that all religions are pretty much the same.”

        I didn’t say all religions are the same, I said that I cannot in honesty take one form of evidence as proving one religion while dismissing it for all other religions. I cannot embrace one miracle account or supposed eye witness testimony without embracing them all. The mormon church has actual signatures on paper from the age of newspapers and modern journalism swearing up, down and sideways that they saw the angel mormoni and the golden tablets. If I am to be consistent I cannot ignore that while embracing the gospel accounts as proof. Ignoring for the moment that they are in the opinion of modern scholars, derivative works.

        “What is unique about the bible though is that it claims to be history and reads like history, not myth.”

        I’m sorry, but a story with talking snakes and magic trees only “reads like history” if you were raised to believe it is a literal history.

        “No one thinks Hamlet was a real prince in Denmark, and the stories do not claim to be history, but fantasy. This is what what eventually convinced C S Lewis to look closer at the bible, was that, though he assumed it was myth as well – he was after all a scholar in Medieval lit – that the bible didm;t read like myth at all. Beyond this, the bible claims to be historical narrative not a retelling of mythological tales.”

        Most ancient history is laced with mythology.

        “The bible is full of eyewitness accounts, particularly of Christ in the New Testament.”

        A text saying “and people saw this” is not the equivalent of an independent source verifying something. Harry potter is full of “eyewitness accounts” by that standard. And as sam harris points out, there are literally millions of convinced believers to attest to the miracles of sathya sai baba. As harris put it “you can see his miracles on youtube – prepare to be underwhelmed”.

        “Then you have guys like Luke who go around after the death of Christ and interview those eye witnesses to verify the accounts for Theophilus.”

        I would look into that but I’m in a hurry at the moment (just got a phone call and have to go)

        “I wonder why there are so many different religions and legends with such similar accounts and ideas? One answer is, surely, that they were just all copying each other. But another is that they are all copying one original true story. This was JRR Tolkien’s account: that the story of the bible is the one true myth on which all the others are based.”

        The bible is not the oldest version of these stories though. And you could take it further and say monotheism is just a modified version of polytheism, which is a modified version of sun worship which is modified from ???

  2. I think what the once-atheist CS Lewis says in his talk on Christianity and Apologetics found in the book God in the Dock is quite instructive for this topic. “Science is in continual change … we must be very cautious of snatching at any scientific theory which, for the moment, seems to be in our favour. … If we try to base our apologetic on some recent development in science, we shall usually find that just as we have put the finishing touches to our argument science has changed its mind and quietly withdrawn the theory we have been using as our foundation stone.”

    Before going on to explain why I think what Lewis has to say is instructive, I have to say that I can understand how one could come to the conclusion that “six 24-hour-day creation” guys do not have it completely right when the author only relies on philosophers (who may not be able to qualify to make scientific or theological statements about the topic) who are not even well-known among biblical creationists, let alone from an old source (1999), and not engaging with any reputable recent biblical creationists.

    Now back to using science (I am talking about the kind based on non-biblical and naturalistic assumptions, of which most Christians don’t know the Big Bang is founded on) as the basis of our apologetics (notwithstanding the interpretive grid, as is clear Lennox does). When the Jews were translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek for the Septuagint around the 2nd century BC, they used the modern scientific model at the time (which was Greek) to translate the word firmament as the Greek word that denoted the hard clear sphere on which the starts were “pinned”. Not knowing any better, the King James Bible translators just anglicized the Latin word from the Vulgate, firmament. So when the old Greek view of the heavens was abandoned, the church was discredited. Expanse is a better translation. Then, at the time of Copernicus and later Galileo, the church had again adopted the current scientific model of the solar system, the Ptolemaic geocentric model, when the Bible does not explicitly teach a view of cosmology one way or another, other than to describe things phenomenologically. Arguments presented against Copernicus were scientific and not biblical. Again, when the unwieldy Ptolemaic model was finally abandoned for the simpler heliocentric model, the church lost its credibility for sticking with the longest scientific theory in existence. What will then become of the Christian apologetic that is wedded to the Big Bang model when it is also found to be unwieldy and abandoned for some other theory, or when its only true prediction, the cosmic microwave background radiation, is not found to be background, as certain lines of evidence point to it not fitting known physics?

    Lennox is in the same line as pretty much every other re-interpreter of Genesis, who is reading into the text because of what (naturalistic) “science” says, instead of allowing the genre and context of the text to lead the interpretation. It is not clear to me why he doesn’t follow the same hermeneutic with Adam and Eve, the Fall, of which (naturalistic) “science” says are silly ideas, let alone the virginal conception, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, since we know virgins don’t conceive, and dead bodies do not rise from the dead after 3 days. Creation itself is a miraculous (supernatural) event, just as all these other one-time events, that cannot be repeated. These are historical questions. The only way to know for certain what happened in history is for a reliable eyewitness to reveal it to us.

    Finally, it science has been redefined for self-serving purposes to mean the search for natural explanations, which just amounts to the philosophical endeavor of naturalism. It no longer holds the traditional sense of observing and giving explanations for how the natural world works through the use of our senses. After all, almost all the fathers of modern science held to the presuppositions required to perform empirical science in the first place, namely a lawgiver that gives laws for nature to follow, an orderly Creator who sustains his creation, and is truthful. I find it amusing that those who, using an analogy, believe the laws of nature describe how a flashlight work also have faith that those same laws explain how the flashlight came into existence.

    • I am grateful for your reading and interaction with the content of this post – thank you for your reasoned and thorough response.
      The first thing i would be interested to ask in reply is whether or not you have read Lennox’ book? I only ask b/c there are a few points where it seems you do not represent Lennox’s views or arguments as i see them, and so i simply wonder if we just read it differently?
      Next, my understanding of the church’s acceptance of the geocentric universe was not so much “adopting” of the current scientific view, but that the church believed that what science said (based on Aristotle’s teaching from the 4th C BC) was in line with what the bible taught about the universe, viz. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.” 1 Sam. 2:8 So the church may well have appealed to science but they also appealed to the authority of Scripture in order to silence Copernicus and Galileo. They were wrong, of course, but the church *and* science of the day were *both* wrong. Ergo, for modern science – most often, yes, operating from a Naturalistic worldview – to see that universe had a beginning and call it the “Big Bang” could simply be another way of admitting – albeit unwillingly – that the biblical account of God speaking something into existence from nothing is correct. I think we call that a “win”. And, perhaps – as Lewis said – when science learns even more, they may come to see even more of what we as creationists already believe and know from Scripture.
      Finally, one conclusion which i note in the review – and i think needs to be said again – is that, as bible believing Christians, we are *all* creationists, in that we all agree that God is the Ultimate Source and Creator of all that is, even if we disagree on *how* He did that.

      Love to interact more as time and life allow.

      • I have not in fact read Lennox’s book. I had read a review of it a while ago. I would find it hard pressed to read a book that did not fairly represent another side. I would at least be interested in finding out what primary sources Lennox used in his history lesson, because there’s a lot of revisitionist history out there about Galileo, even hero-worship for the wrong cause.
        I was not trying to represent Lennox’s views or arguments, but trying to correct his fallacious application of as history lesson to today’s controversy over the Bible’s teaching of when creation occurred/how long it took.

        Let me take some time to elaborate further, so as to try to make clear I’m not misrepresenting what Lennox was trying to do. That the Ptolemaic model of the solar system was the entrenched scientific establishment at the time of Galileo (and Copernicus before him), can be seen from the wide acceptance of Ptolemy’s Almagest tome during all of the middle ages and even use of apparent scientific disproof of the heliocentric model involving parallax. Aristotle’s philosophy laid the groundwork for the system of cycles and epicycles, which had great explanatory and predictive power at that time. The scripture you present is a beautiful example of elucidating what I was trying to get at. All the examples of scripture the church used to fit the then current scientific understanding into the Bible all involved poetic passages. If those passages, like the one in 1 Sam. 2:8 is analyzed in context, it is clear that it is not referring to the physical earth being on physical pillars, but using metaphor to talk about the leaders of the earth. It is clear then that the wrong hermeneutic was being used, or should have at least been used tentatively, and could then be legitimately reinterpreted.

        I see the exact same procedure of interpretation being used by certain long-age advocates today, namely using poetic passages about creation (which heavily use figures of speech, metaphor, etc.) to interpret historical narrative account of creation. This is the exact opposite method of interpretation required by a historical-grammatical method of interpretation. I am sure Lennox uses the historical-grammatical hermeneutic to interpret other historical events in the Bible, it even sounds like he does for Adam and Eve to some extent. But oddly enough, he does not apply it to the history recorded in Genesis 1-11.

        I would say that the interpretation of red shifts of galaxies showing expansion would lead to the conclusion of a beginning, along with some other things—this I would call a “win”, since this is operational science—but to then throw in the assumptions of antisupernaturalism and homogeneity (which a certain interpretation of the data would show is unsupportable) and make up a historical model to explain the expansion and extrapolate through history backwards, now called the Big Bang, is a “lose”. (After all, there are also other possible models to explain the expansion of the universe.) This is because this is in direct contradiction to the timing and order of events laid out by a historical-grammatical interpretation of the historical record of creation, which non-Christians can readily see as well. It means abandoning the historical-grammatical when it comes to Genesis and performing mental gymnastics to the text to make it fit the naturalistic history of the universe. This then sets up the natural slide for the church and Christians abandoning the historical-grammatical interpretation of other historical miraculous events recorded in the Bible. I think it still boils down to an issue of authority, is scripture going to be used ministerially (stand under) or magisterially (stand over) “science” (cf, Luther).

        While Lewis is otherwise a great philosopher, his statement “when science learns even more,” creates the logical fallacy of reification, attributing human attributes to something abstract or inanimate. Science cannot learn, because “science” does not have a mind, only scientists learn. But to agree with his point, I’ll quote the agnostic and evolutionist Robert Jastrow from his book God and the Astronomers, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” Interestingly, although Jastrow follows the historical development of the Big Bang and its conclusion that there must be a beginning with which modern (naturalistic) scientists begrudgingly came into agreement with the Bible on this one issue, he is still not a follower of Christ. I also find it interesting that as far as I know all the scientists at the forefront of the Big Bang model are avowed atheists or agnostics.

        I would like to see Christians say that they are more than creationists. After all, we are then just in the same boat as Jews, Muslims, and Deists. I would hope to say that it is the fact that we have the revelation from the Creator (which includes the time frame, order, how), which distinguishes us from these other supernaturalists. The only current concrete way we know Christ as the Ultimate Source and Creator of all that is, is from the Bible (we know about Christ historically from the Bible, cf Heb. 1:1-2).

        I would also like to say that the honest thing anyone could do is to admit their starting assumptions (presuppositions)/bias.
        Some great interaction and I wish to give another cosmological argument that doesn’t even depend on the Big Bang, and can be argued should have been scientifically accepted before the Big Bang.

      • Thank you again for your considered interaction. A few comments:
        1. Judging Lenox’s arguments from a book review (mine or anyone else’s) is likely not the best way to go as – surely – even the reviewer has presuppositions of their own. I think Christians should absolutely read authors with whom they disagree (Dawkins, Hawking, etc.) so as to understand their argumentation in order to more cogently interact with them. As Tim Keller once quoted, in any debate, you should be able to state your opponent’s argument in such a way that they would say, “Yes, that is an accurate presentation of my view” before you begin to critique it, and i think he’s right. The reviews of Lennox’s book – the ones i have read thus far anyways(AiG, etc.) – do not meet that criteria i feel.

        2. Lennox does not change his hermeneutic for Gen. 1-11. The point of difference – as i’m sure you’re aware – is what genre of literature one classifies Gen. 1 – 2:3. When Moses writes “These are the generations …” in 2:4 – as with many other historical passages in Genesis – he seems to be clearly beginning a historical account. Lennox argues that Gen. 1 – 2:3 are demonstrably outside of that historical style and, thus, must be interpreted differently. This would also account for some of your later points about Genesis teaching us explicitly how God created the earth. I think, even if you say Gen. 1-2:3 *is* historical narrative, you should agree that it does not explicitly answer the questions of how, aside from the teaching that things are created by God’s spoken Word.

        3. I agree: we are surely to be more that creationists. I think Lennox’s point (and mine) is that we are not less than that.

      • 1. I think you mistook what I was trying to get at in my first post. I was using your book review to bring up what I think we should learn from history, and how I view that history being applied now with some Christians who support the Big Bang cosmogony, instead of critiquing Lennoxs book per se. I would agree with having to first read his book to offer a critique (and to read those with whom you disagree), but at the same time, I must reiterate, that unless you can show me how he has genuinely engaged with the biblical creationist view (ie, show me a citation other than one from those who are not well-known supporters of the biblical creationist view and from quite a while ago), then I would think its not worthwhile to pursue reading Lennoxs book. As far as I can tell, the exact Tim Keller quote you present is exactly what should apply to Lennox. From those whose view Lennox is trying to critique, they say he has not presented their view accurately, and the other things quoted as Lennox writing about the young earth position would lead me to suggest this is correct (I dont know if you are referring to http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v5/n1/review-john-lennox). 2. I agree that its an issue of genre of literature with which to classify Gen 1:1-2:3. This can be determined without reference to these are the generations, such as by the verb tenses used as well as what is indicative of Hebrew biblical historical narrative, the use of waw consecutive, and which can also be used to show that Gen 1:2 is parenthetical and the narrative continues from Gen 1:1 to 1:3, so inserting a gap there is unwarranted. (See The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3: What Means This Text?, theres also Kaiser, Ive read Waltkes article on the genre, but noticed near the end the driving force is again naturalistic science.) By Dr Steven W Boyd. As for interpreting Moses use of the toledoth (generations/account of), one must determine whether the these belongs to the events preceding or the events that follow. Which is the correct interpretation is controversial, but it can be argued that it could be referring to the previous events, such as by taking the very beginning of Exodus as the footer to the previous account of Joseph in Genesis. About the how of God created, there is the obvious, using his spoken word (Psalm 33:6), but although it may not go into great detail, there is some more level of how. I think I was at the time of writing thinking of the creation of man and woman, where the how is described, but thats chapter 2 (a close-up on Day 6). But then theres the how of land creation, by the parting of the waters, therefore the earth starts out covered in water (v. 2, 2 Peter 3:5), not as a molten blob like in the Standard (Big Bang) Cosmogony. 3. The comment about saying we are not less than creationists is like saying that we think Jesus was a great prophet or a great moral teacher. The issue is deeper than that, because Muslims too say Jesus was a great prophet, or most people of numerous religions or non-religions would agree that Jesus teachings on morality stand out. I would argue its not even about interpretation, because Im sure most evangelicals would agree to the historical-grammatical method of interpretation, but rather letting scriptures authority drive our interpretation (exegesis, not eisegisis). What I was trying to draw out is that the analogy from history better fits those who back up the Big Bang (current standardly entrenched viewpoint) with scripture, just like those who backed up the cosmological model back from ~AD 200 to ~AD 1700 tried to back it up with scripture as well.

        On Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 7:39 AM, outin2thedeep

      • Thanks for this clarification Dave – i see much more clearly where you were headed. I’d have to read Lennox’s book again, but, if i remember correctly, his book is not a critique of young-earth creationism (YEC) as much as it is a presentation of his own views on the subject of creation. The only real interaction in a critical sense that comes to mind are the appendices in which he critiques theistic evolution and cosmic temple interpretations of Gen. 1-2. Basically, he is not writing a book against/critiquing YEC at all, and yet – obviously – presenting a view that says the earth is 4.6 billion years old as opposed to 6,000 obviously has an implied critique. This, i think, gets Lennox off the hook – intentionally or not – from having to present the views of his opponents in detailed/accurate ways; he simply is presenting his own views and letting the implications speak where, and to what, they will.
        What is your view when i comes to the parallel, yet different, presentations of creation in Gen. 1 – 2? What genre do you classify them as? All the same? Differing? Sounds like you may see a wide-angle/close-up view of the two accounts? Love to see where you land and why. As to the question of how, i do see what you mean. As i am still exploring much of this, i would simply say at this point that i struggle with saying that the words “God said let there be … and it was” necessarily means immediately at that moment and cannot mean anything else. The same as if i’m telling someone about a family say at the beach, and i tell them that i said, “Let’s make a sandcastle” and then i tell them “and we did!” Saying those words in no way *has* to mean that we started that instant, or that it didn’t take all day to build it, or what tools we used to make the sandcastle. It simply makes the true statement that i said “Let’s make a sandcastle” and that we did it. That is more what i mean when i comes to the “how” of creation. Of *course* God said “Let there be …” and there was that thing. But there is nothing in the text – i feel – that *requires* an instantaneous creation. It may well be instantaneous … but it doesn;t *have* to be either in order to still see God as the Author if all that is.
        I see what you meant with point #3. By saying we are all not less than creationists (and remember i agreed that we are also much more than this too) i am simply saying that both YECs and OECs both believe God made everything that is from nothing; simply stating the common ground we share that i think is sometimes lost or even denied.

        Appreciate your interaction very much with this. Learning a lot from our back-and-forth and also appreciate your patience and graciousness in our discussions – i pray you feel the same from me.
        God’s peace.

      • So I got the audiobook, and made a whole lot of notes of it as I listened along, but alas they’re all gone. Which may be a good thing, as I’d be writing another book here.

        I’ll confine myself to only a few remarks about the book.

        1. Now, more than before, do I take issue with the misrepresentation or perhaps more the ignorance of the young-earth view. Most especially is his only comment about two young-earth creationists, who are philosophers, as saying that the science would support more an old earth view. Lennox stated they are prominent young-earth creationists, but that could hardly be said to be accurate. The issue I have is that I do not believe it’s honest for him to be let off the hook if he is not well-informed about the long-time historical view of the church on the age of the earth, and which he readily admits has been the orthodox view (as in widely held by all). Lennox is a man of great influence, so to not be informed of what has been the prevailing view throughout church history is a big disservice to all the people, including yourself who may be looking to him as a sort of authority figure on the subject.

        2. There was the chapter in the book when he goes thru the early church leaders (fathers), and had stated at the beginning of the chapter that he would show that there were those who interpreted the beginning of Genesis as having an ancient beginning. I kept listening one church father after another waiting for this statement to verified, but not one of the church fathers that he dealt with argued for an ancient age of the earth. The closest was Irenaeus, if I remember correctly, who said one day was as a thousand years, but I had to listen to his quote and what Lennox said about it 5 times or more because I couldn’t see how Lennox’s interpretation of his quote fit. Iranaeus was speaking about how God didn’t lie that Adam would die on the same day because a day is as a thousand years. But the only interpretation to his quote that I can come up with is that Adam died before he turned 1000 years old. Even if it were to be granted as to how Lennox interpreted the quote blankly, that would only move back the date of creation 6000 years to 10,000 BC, not the billions he requires. And Irenaeus would have been the closest. But then there’s another quote by Iranaeus that shows he believed not 6000 years of history had yet elapsed, so we know Lennox’s interpretation is wrong. All the others also interpreted the days of creation to be allegorical to eras of 1000 years into the future from the date of creation, not backwards. Sadly, I have seen this regurgitated many times before by old-earthers, and it seems Lennox does the same without closely looking at the quotes themselves, or more of what the fathers wrote, including Augustine, who was misled by a bad Latin translation of Gen 2.4 to believe creation was instantaneous.

        3. Another area where Lennox’s defense of an old earth gets him into trouble is the need to address the issue of death, suffering, pain, and disease of animals before the introduction of sin into the world by Adam. It’s well documented that certain animals, like mammals and birds can feel pain, and in the fossil record, which according to Lennox would date before Adam and not mostly a result of the Fall, we find mammals and birds, who have died unpleasant deaths, like asphyxiation, predation, and wound marks that would have caused pain, and signs of disease, such as in the bones with tumors or cancer. I would consider these signs to call into question God character as he pronounced all his creation very good at the end of Day 6, if these things had all been occurring and being experienced by soulish creatures (described as living creatures in the Bible, just as Adam is in Gen 2:7), like certain mammals and birds.

        Lennox’s appendices are generally pretty good, including the rebuttal to Walton’s esoteric interpretation from his book “The Lost World of Genesis One”.

        You ask about my view of Gen 1 and 2, and they are both historical genre as prescribed by the Hebrew grammar with the use of waw consecutive to move along a narration in time. They are a wide angle view in Gen 1:1-2:4a of the seven days, and then the rest of Gen 2 is a close-up on Day 6, and not another (separate) account of creation. Jesus’ view is that these are two complementary historical records when he uses a verse from each of ch. 1 and ch. 2 in Matthew 19:4, so apparently he didn’t see any contradiction in the accounts. Going along with what Jesus says in Matt 19:4, he says that he created male and female in 1:27, and that for this reason they should leave father and mother and become one flesh in 2:24. So here we see that ch. 2 is about what happened on Day 6. Careful reading of ch. 2 will bear this out, such as the focus on the Garden of Eden, what types of plants and animals are mentioned, and the use of verb form, which is one of the rare instances that I believe the NIV actually gets it right in translation. (In other words, we don’t have to go to the NT/Jesus to know how to interpret Gen 1-2, but we do get confirmation.) The other closest presentation of how Gen 1-2 is written would be Num 7:1-88. The definition of day in its first appearance in Gen 1:5 would then serve as a basis for understanding what goes on in subsequent days (numbered: cardinal for first, ordinal for remaining, bounded by evening and morning). Following Hebrew grammar, just by looking at the use of the preterite finite verb form excludes that the passages are poetic and are narratives. Furthermore, the finite verb form that carries along the narrative is no different than what is found in the remainder of the book of Genesis, so all of Genesis as a whole would have to be considered historical narrative (incl. the use of “this is the account of…” that we discussed earlier). Many try to search for an exception to the number + day or evening/morning + day formulas for literal (ordinary) definition of day (can’t remember if Lennox dealt with the definition of day set out in Gen 1), but they all fail to be borne out by the text as allowing for an indefinite period of time. Likewise when God says he created and it was so, I don’t see how you ignore the means of his creating being instantaneous by His spoken word (like the trees sprouting) and saying you don’t know how–it’s like asking how Jesus turned water into wine, when it’s a miracle, and usually miracles are instantaneous.

      • Dave – what an unexpected find in my comment box from a post I wrote a while back. Glad you had a chance to hear the whole thing and interact with it.

        1. As to your first point, I agree – I don’t think it is fair to present a position in a way that the one who holds it would not recognize. I don’t think he is trying to intentionally misrepresent YECs. My view, as before, is that he is not trying to refute YEC but to present his case for OEC. Still, if you’re going to bring up YEC you should present it in a form recognizable to YECs using voices that they would say represent them.
        2. I think it is problematic for OECs or YECs or ECs to try and “claim” the early church fathers for their “team” the main reason being b/c we are trying to apply modern concepts and terminology to their words that they did not know about at that time. If anything, from Iraneus to Augustine to Origen and Justin Matyr I would say that – while their understanding of the text does seem to lean towards a YEC view – they also seemed to not be literalists either when it came to the Genesis account, ergo, claiming that they were absolutely YEC, or OEC, or whatever, is anachronistic at best. I don’t think they were trying to answer those questions. If nothing else, they agree – like all of us – that the text clearly says God is the Author and Creator of all things (cf. Col. 1:16). And also, you may be right about Augustine’s translation of Genesis or not, but it is an argument from silence as we don’t know that his view would necessarily have changed with a different translation.
        3. As to the subject of death before the fall, we have already had much conversation over another post. Like you, I am most convinced by what the text of Scripture says, not by what the fossil record says. That being said, I do not – myself – see the text requiring nothing dying before the fall as being a necessity of creation still being good. If, for instance, we were to say that literally nothing died before the fall then the vegetarian diet (at least) that Genesis speaks of would also not be right (literally speaking) for plants would have to die to be eaten. Also, my reading of the expulsion from the garden and blocking from the tree of life leads me to believe even more strongly that mankind was not created immortal but with the ability to die before sin entered the world. Just a different understanding of the texts is all I see there. I see your view as equally valid and possible.

        Your view of Gen. 1 and 2 also seems very good and biblically based. My only challenge at present would be to say that each book of the bible does not have to/and quite often does not have just one genre of literature in it. So all of Genesis does not have to be poetry or historical narrative or apocalyptic, etc. Many books (Genesis included) have a number of different genres mixed throughout; one can get into great difficulty (as I’m learning in my hermeneutics courses) if one misses the genre and tries to interpret a text as a different type of genre. That doesn’t mean that Gen. 1 and 2 are not straight history even, but it does mean it is a false dichotomy to say that if Gen. 1 and 2 are not straight history then none of Genesis is.

        Anyways, I truly do appreciate your interaction with me on this Dave. I know and appreciate your deep love of God and His word and I pray you see the same in me. Are there some good resources that you would suggest I check out to get an accurate picture of what the YEC view truly believes (and does not believe)?

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