Which is worse: Tyrannosaurus Rex? or Satan?

Omar Johnson watched my brother Bryan’s video “From Missionary to Almost-Atheist to Present Day” and posted this great comment:

I found Bryan’s (anti?) testimony both engaging and moving. I also have rejected my fundamentalist upbringing, but I will give the Ken Hams of the world this:

“Inerrant” Bible Christian apologetics only needs to deal with 6,000 years of creation, not 14 billion.

They get to postulate while “fallen” now, the world/universe was once perfect.

The Evolution 2.0 model makes sense to me, even as it also makes me wonder what was behind this information-embedding Creator, who or what encoded the meta-programming that resulted in a God capable of jump-starting and micro-managing evolution with barely a Sistine Chapel finger extension? Off track.

What I wanted to point out is that 14 billion years of the universe evolving, whether jump-started and cleverly managed by unfolding layers of information or not, is a pretty amoral place.

Now we have to somehow come to grips with insanely surreal amounts of dying and death, of individuals, species, whole ecosystems, possibly on other worlds as well as our own.

Way before Eve, and the Fall, the great Novelist was killing off his darlings left and right. I think scientists have at least tentatively identified over ten hominid precursors to Homo Sapiens.

Fundamentalist Christianity posits Original Sin, and looks forward to the Second Coming, Redemption, etc. That’s all that’s on their plate.

It’s nuts, but it’s internally consistent.

MY REPLY:

Omar, you just

nailed the REAL reason many Christians don’t accept evolution.

It’s NOT fossils or genes or Chimpanzees or molecules-to-man. It’s that they can’t stomach the idea that an all-powerful, all-perfect creator would make a world so savage.

Which is the exact same reason most atheists don’t believe in God!It’s not fossils or genes or Chimpanzees or molecules to man for them either.

It’s the cruel world we watch on the Discovery Channel.

I say: Neither side has taken the Genesis story seriously enough!

In Genesis, an evil, vile, crafty, jealous serpent is prowling around from the word go. And God doesn’t even explicitly warn our fair couple!

Picture a sexual predator on the loose… and all the daycare director tells the kids is ‘don’t talk to strangers.’

If you stop and think about it, why should anyone be more horrified about sharks and bacteria and Tyrannosaurus Rex than we are about… Satan?

I don’t think most Christians have stopped and thought about this at all.

Conflict is baked into the universe from the very beginning. This is a naked fact. Not only in the real world, but in Genesis too.

So whether you think Genesis is literal history, allegory, epic saga or something in between, the writer doesn’t flinch from the fact that the deck is stacked against our innocent couple from the word go.

“Naive 18 year old kid heads to Las Vegas with his grandmother’s inheritance money and hands every dollar of it over to the casino.” A setup. 

It’s high time for Christians to put on their big-boy pants and face this.

But what is even more interesting is the Sermon on the Mount, which is THE Anti-Darwinian Manifesto. There is nothing about Jesus’ moral teaching that conforms to the usual survival of the fittest. It defies all of it. Turns the entire order on its head. A massive right-angle turn in the history of humanity.

People in the 21st century forget that in Jesus’ day, the whole world was “survival of the fittest.” Everybody accepted that as completely normal. Including tyrants conquering countries and beating their slaves and torturing anybody who disagreed… and kings trucking down the road in their chariots every spring to burn down the next village, rape the women and steal all the loot.

Modern people are so accustomed to the Jesus ethic that even Charles Darwin was horrified at the implications of his theory 150 years ago.

But what Jesus really was showing us is that what got us HERE won’t get us THERE. Because “human evolution” post-Jesus (=equality, affordable health care for as many as possible, human rights, agape love etc.) means something entirely, utterly different from what was ever meant by “Darwinian evolution.”

Evolution 1.0 is Neo-Darwinism. Evolution 2.0 is the ingenuity of cells. But Evolution 3.0 started 2000 years ago and it continues right up to the present day.

We yearn to eradicate natural selection… death… entirely. Obviously a work in progress.

The lion never did lie down with the lamb… nor do the scriptures say it did. What you should really ask yourself is: WHY do so many of us dream of a world where someday that will happen? Where did we even get that idea?

75 Responses

  1. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    The answer to your last question at the top of this thread is rather clear. We got the idea from Is. 11:1-9; 65:17-25 and decided to believe that the prophecy will eventually come true.

    You wrote about something “entirely, utterly different” near the end of your post. What Darwin had in mind was some kind of progress from simple to complex—for example, from unimpressive cyanobacteria to impressive Homo sapiens, what might be described as upward progress. What we actually observe in real time seems to be more in the opposite direction, unless we are talking about intelligently designed technology. Documented human history reflects a persistent human nature that never has been generally glorious or humane, let alone loving or altruistic. Our race is obviously still under a curse, and no immediate prospect for its removal appears on our horizon.

    On your question in the thread title, others may disagree, but I say Satan is much worse than Tyrannosaurus rex ever was, a creature that we would not even need to fear in view of Luke 12:4. Compare any ferocious, man-eating animal with the descriptions of Satan found in Acts 26:17-18 and Rev. 12:9 and in the book of Job.

    Between your first and last questions, you discussed the issues of “the cruel world” and “a world so savage” and “the REAL reason many Christians don’t accept evolution.” I agree with you that atheists do not take Genesis seriously enough, but this may be too obvious to mention. Do Christians take Genesis seriously enough? My answer is not based on any survey results, but I suppose some Christians do and some do not. You stated, “In Genesis, an evil, vile, crafty, jealous serpent is prowling around from the word go. And God doesn’t even explicitly warn our fair couple!” I don’t think you can defend this with any specific verses in Genesis, even if it is taken seriously.

    I think you presented your personal speculation as facts about Genesis. From the word go, God pronounced his finished creation “very good” (Gen. 1:31). We are not told when the subsequent Fall of Adam took place or when God pronounced the curses listed in chapter 3. It had to be before the birth of Seth, but this happened when Adam had already lived 130 years (Gen. 5:3). Neither are we told that God failed to warn Adam and Eve about Satan. Genesis does not mention such a warning, I admit, but it certainly does not follow that there could not have been any. By the same token, Genesis has nothing to say about Mars, but this is no good reason to conclude that this other planet could not have been created by God too. We can speculate about plenty of details not mentioned in the terse account we have in Genesis, but it is inappropriate to pass off our speculation as the word of God.

    The speculation of scientists writing a history of our origins based on a study of physical evidence interpreted under their no-miracle presupposition should not be accepted as the word of God either. Like any conclusion drawn by a scientist, such a history is necessarily tentative, subject to revision at any time as more is learned. This certainly applies also to speculation about precursors to Adam or “killing off … darlings left and right.” Christians should not consider such speculation more authoritative than Genesis simply because we do not grant the no-miracle presupposition, but not even skeptics should hold it in particularly high regard, if some of the available evidence is relevant but not taken into account just because it fails to mesh with an established narrative.

  2. OMAR JOHNSON says:

    I’m tickled to see my original comment the impetus for one of your blog posts. Kudos for highlighting the similarity between “young earth” Christians and atheist evolutionists–no one can “stomach the idea that an all-powerful, all-perfect creator would make a world so savage” (as the universe we know). The same moral (and aesthetic) revulsion apparently props up two vastly dissimilar world views.

    Your conclusion–really a rhetorical question–reminds me of C.S. Lewis-style thinking. He once wrote: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” His character, Puddleglum, lays out another version of this case:

    “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. . . . Then all I can say is that . . . the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game . . . . But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

    Hmmm. I’m sure not all would agree that a man who feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body is actually a woman. We may be all inescapably Trans–seeking transformation, tentatively transitioning–but I’m not sure any of it has much to do with ontology.

    In my atheistic, materialist view, The Sermon on the Mount is miraculous. Maybe it’s the only kind of miracle that’s possible. It’s not exactly ex nihilo, it’s not something out of nothing, but it is a new kind of thing out of the most unlikely antecedents. From zero sum dog eat dog Nature, to a vision of “celestial” agape.

    You wrote, “[W]hat Jesus really was showing us is that what got us HERE won’t get us THERE,” which (if Jesus is God and not just a random man of lowly birth) removes what is genuinely miraculous for me. It’s more like a gratuitously over-plotted novel, where the Novelist knows the ending from the start, but has a 14 billion and one plot reversals and red herrings to write His way through first.

    • Omar,

      Thanks for your comments. Very thoughtful.

      The reason I don’t accept materialism… well actually just one of many, but probably the most rigorously defensible, is electrical engineering and mathematics and information.

      Even information cannot be reduced to purely material quantities, it always has meaning which is an abstraction.

      Electrical Engineering is, from one point of view, a supremely reductionist enterprise.

      But in totality it completely defies reductionism because you can’t even understand a thermostat without acknowledging that it is a purposeful device whose operation cannot be understood apart from something which is external from it – the goal of the person who sets the temperature.

      The question “Does the number 7 exist?” should be enough to make you not a materialist – if you really think hard about it.

      I pound on materialism hard in my book Evolution 2.0 and it crumbles. It doesn’t withstand the weight of everything we know about the information age we now live in. The very 1s and 0s that make your cell phone work defy materialistic explanations of the universe.

      As for miracles – I’ve witnessed quite a few, up close and in-person. http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles is a good start.

      I salute you in your quest. And I think you’re asking good questions.

      • OMAR JOHNSON says:

        First, you’ll tell me if I’m growing tiresome, right? My parents were missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Ecuador. The native American population had existed for millennia (I’m guessing) counting “One, two, many” for some things, and “One hand, two hands, more” for other things. Anyway, I don’t think I’m a Realist in the same way as you with regard to the number 7. Now that we have it (and all the rest of historical human discovery/invention), my guess is that we won’t be able to re-conceptualize reality in a way that ignores the number seven, even though a comparable breadth and depth of knowledge might possibly have arisen without it.

        My parents–fundamentalist, Evangelical–were astounded by some of what they witnessed in the tribe, most of which they attributed to demonic intervention, or even possession. Whatever, from a Western perspective it was miraculous juju. Shamans seemed able to make people sick or kill at a distance, and sometimes to heal, as well. They appeared to be remarkably good at predicting when a herd of wild peccaries would race through the village. Hunters from the comfort of hammocks in their thatched roof houses on stilts would leisurely shoot one or two with curare-tipped darts. Later, after the thunderous, squealing, teeth-gnashing herd departed, the villagers would walk the muddy peccary highway through the jungle and find the deceased ones, their hearts first slowed and then stopped by the curare. Occasionally their would be ownership disputes. If the Bible story pertains, maybe the yage masters actually issued commands while tripping which the pigs obeyed. A bit of one-upsmanship? The pigs didn’t run away and drown, but pretty much come to the dinner table, a feast for the tribe.

        Anyway, I don’t dispute your contention that materialism as explanation feels pretty thin. It’s just that I find your Christianity-centric focus kind of ironic, given that you are supposedly waging the good fight against reductionistic thinking. Existence–material and/or otherwise–is likely as not much weirder than we will ever be able to guess at, much less demonstrate satisfactorily.

        Whenever I find myself angry again at a God I no longer believe in, I remember this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon with its zinger playfulness (https://i.pinimg.com/564x/57/c7/ec/57c7ec7f711092fe2bbc40d27df95405–calvin-and-hobbes-comic-strips.jpg). Play hard, Calvin. Dream big and bad. And I’ll do the same to the best of my ability.

        • Your beliefs, given what your experiences seem to be, don’t make sense.

          I know about witchcraft. I personally have only a small amount of personal experience with it. Your parents, and numerous people I know, have lots of experience with it.

          I’m not sure how you are a materialist, given those kinds of experiences.

          Your last comment, “Existence–material and/or otherwise–is likely as not much weirder than we will ever be able to guess at, much less demonstrate satisfactorily.”

          It seems like agnostic would be a much more straightforward label than atheist, given just the above statement.

          I also don’t see what’s ironic about a Christian waging a war against reductionist thinking. That comment seems strange. Frankly I think even an honest engineer has to reject reductionist thinking, because reductionism only explains half of the technological world. It’s utterly incapable of explaining the other half.

          So far what you have said does not add up. Except perhaps if I factor in one thing:

          When Bryan my brother was in the throes of his anger and his near-atheism, a friend of mine (Jewish guy, not a Christian at all) made a very astute comment. He said, “If you get food poisoning from a Chinese restaurant, then you have to vomit up ALL the bad egg roll before you’re ready to eat a single new thing.”

          • OMAR JOHNSON says:

            You’re right, I’m not a very good materialist. And agnostic is a better term in many ways for where I’m at. I think I’m fairly clear about what I both sort of know and also probably can’t know in any meaningful way. The existence or non-existence of a Supreme Creator tops the list. Often, I phrase my position this way: I give God the benefit of the doubt by not believing in His (Its?) existence. This may, I suppose, relate to your friend’s bad egg roll analogy.

            What we know of existence/the universe is an argument of some kind for a supremely gifted creator. (Or maybe just for miracle itself, intelligently instigated and abetted or not.) It’s just that none of it seems to me particularly good. That’s per my internal goodness meter. Obviously, as art, as invention, what is, all that we perceive, etc., is off the charts good–it’s Jackson Pollack flinging paint all around, every drip a Monet masterpiece replacing a Michelangelo which was already covering up a perfectly splendid Georgia O’Keefe. As a moral enterprise, however, it utterly fails. Genghis Khan looks good in comparison. Hitler may have tried to eradicate Jews, but he didn’t flood the whole world, angry about what He Himself had spawned, and give Himself a mulligan. (If I’m taking the Christian religious tradition too literally here, you’ll have to explain to me how to read it.)

            I don’t know if you are one of those Christians who try to short-circuit ethical appeals from non-believers. “You can’t question God’s goodness, because without God no one wouldn’t know the first thing about what is good.” That’s ridiculous reasoning, but not worth a logical blitzkrieg in opposition. Just as one doesn’t need to believe in gravity to fall, the moral deliberations and cognition of believer and unbeliever alike are similarly underpinned, whether by nothing in particular or by some divinely imbued ethical compass.

            I guess I would say that I prefer a materialist universe bootstrapped out of nothing. On both moral and aesthetic grounds. If we puny humans pluck some good out of nothing, that’s to our credit. Only ephemerally, no doubt, as emergent blips of matter are most often instantly annihilated by simultaneous blips of anti-matter. And, yet, to belabor my analogy, against all odds, matter exists. Maybe goodness is like that, too. I believe in my dad’s translation of the Bible into Secoya, when you “love” someone you “cry” for them. I’ve read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis many times. So much erudition for a feeling that simply came about over time, evolving by accidents both happy and unhappy. Our reality is an accretion of such stuff.

            A God-created universe, on the other hand, feels so much worse than any of its myriad parts. It’s like a huge monarchy wedding that boils down to an excuse for fish-pout selfie with a disposable minion background of thousands.

            As for what I found ironic: it’s not that a Christian would wage war against reductionist thinking, that part is fine with me; it’s that a Christian would jump to the conclusion that whatever is non-material about existence/the universe must necessarily be best explained by Christianity. It’s like every kid in the world being born into the one true religion, his parents and village leaders somehow against improbable odds guardians of supreme, inviolate truth.

            • “Good” is a moral judgment on your part. Certainly not a technical judgment.

              We don’t know how to make matter.

              We don’t know how to make energy.

              We don’t know how to make cells.

              We don’t know how to make any machine or program that can self-evolve the way biology does. Not even close – not on purpose nor by accident. If anyone pulled this off, they’d win a Nobel Prize and be a billionaire in a matter of days.

              We don’t know how to establish anything like laws of physics or universal constants or trigger things like Big Bangs.

              We can’t even make artificial limbs without making them look like plastic mannequin parts.

              We can make glass eyes but they can’t see.

              Technically speaking, the universe is beyond astounding. It’s so impressive that after 500 years of modern science we’re still only scratching the surface. We can’t even see the end from here.

              There’s LOTS of evidence for a creator, it’s just a vastly different scale and kind and strangeness, as compared to anything that humans create.

              For all these reasons I think people who say “there’s no evidence for a creator” are walking skin-bags of contradiction. When Paul says “all are without excuse,” I’m on board. Everybody knows there is a great power and intelligence behind the universe. Everybody.

              What you are expressing is some sort of moral outrage. I might guess that it’s about 3 things:

              1) Evangelical calvinistic predestination-ist Christian theology – the kind that supposes everyone whom missionaries like your parents didn’t successfully reach are now thrashing desperately in eternal pain in a remorseless, God-glorifying torment of hell and everlasting judgment. (“It’s like a huge monarchy wedding that boils down to an excuse for fish-pout selfie with a disposable minion background of thousands.”)

              2) Death, pain, suffering, birth defects, Darwinian competition, fear, danger, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, famines and floods.

              3) Humans as moral agents committing atrocities worse than nature ever committed in #2.

              The easiest way for a modern person to sidestep this is to just be a materialist. Materialism gets rid of God and then #1, 2 and 3 doesn’t have to be squared with God. #1 is just so much superstition and #2 and #3 are blind pitiless indifference.

              That’s a relief, I guess.

              But it still doesn’t relieve us from our self-knowledge. And it doesn’t explain where we got this acute awareness that the universe “ought to be” some different way than what it is. And it only makes the prospects of achieving that even less hopeful than they were before.

              As for why I see Christianity as being true given all you said, I have quite a few reasons.

              But I stopped believing in calvinistic predestination-ist Christian theology a long time ago, and we can get to that.

              I think we should unpack the above before it makes any sense to go further.

              • OMAR JOHNSON says:

                Folks have been busy commenting during the holidays. The thread has–dare I say it?–evolved since I last took a look. Or maybe it’s just metastasized. You said we needed to unpack things . . .

                You’re right, “good” is a moral judgment on my part. But I want to distinguish “good” as an aesthetic judgment from its moral counterpart. The universe/existence is obviously amazingly “good” as Creatorly invention, as sheer artistic surplusage. I don’t think that necessarily means it’s “good” in any moral sense. In fact, I would say it’s a completely amoral undertaking. I would also say that the known observable “facts” of the matter (and energy) support my contention.

                Basically, for me, a full proof demonstration that there is a Creator behind evolution and not something ex nihilo would be an argument against Christianity, not one tipping the scales in its favor. Young Earth Christianity, by way of contrast, in my opinion, is slightly more defensible on moral grounds. It’s a quick crucible producing Heaven’s elect, not a drawn-out “just because” exercise in expansion and contraction, connection and separation, life and death. You have to ditch science to get there, and there’s also stupid stuff like the Fall, the Flood, the arbitrariness of our Savior situated in time and space so that large swaths of humanity are always in eclipse, and even God’s Trump-like insistence on His own glorification–male, am I right? (See: Ephesians 1:4-6, Isaiah 43:6-7, Isaiah 49:3, Jeremiah 13:11, Psalm 106:7-8, Romans 9:17, Exodus 14:4, 18, Ezekiel 20:l4, 2 Samuel 7:23, l Samuel 12:20, 22, 2 Kings 19:34, Ezekiel 36:22-23, John 7:l8, John 14:13, John 12:27-28, Isaiah 43:25, l Peter 4:11, Romans 9:22-23, Romans 11:36, etc. Full disclosure: while at one point, I was handy with a Bible, lately I mostly Google.) But over all, even with the stupid stuff, morally, anyway, it’s more palatable than your fourteen billion years of guided evolution.

                Where does my (or any) moral sense come from? A good question, if unresolvable. I would say, higgledy-piggledy, the result of more or less random moments of human culture on top of slightly less random species survival adaptations. Which means, obviously, morality isn’t about absolutes. But it just as easily could be something a Creator has bestowed on us, in some absolute way, either out of beneficence or perversity. If morality (including conscience, I suppose) is Creator-created, as it were, then I appreciate the freedom to question creation and to find it wanting. I would even say that this is the high point of God’s generativity, and not a believer’s slavish devotion to seeing might as right.

                I don’t know if I’ve properly addressed the “some sort of moral outrage” issue you raised. I don’t particularly think that having moral feelings invalidates either my position or my reasoning in support of that position.

                • You are correct that the universe itself is, strictly speaking, amoral.

                  Historically and ostensibly, your moral sense, and even your critiques of the Old Testament “Biblegod” as the atheists like to say, is based on Jesus. Morality is ultimately about love and you know that. No one in any religion or culture defined GOD=LOVE before Jesus like John did.

                  The question that you need to ponder is whether morality is rooted in some underlying deeper principle of being, or if it is merely our frail emotional reactions to the hard realities of natural selection.

                  If I were you I wouldn’t be too hasty to opt for the latter choice. It’s a murderous ideology that killed hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century. It will do so again if we don’t reign it in.

                  • OMAR JOHNSON says:

                    I, too, like Thomas Jefferson, appreciate the contribution of Jesus to modern morality. I recently read a book entitled Spirit of the Rain Forest: A Yanomamö Shaman’s Story. I believe it is somewhat controversial, in that a killer witch-doctor comes to Christ and takes to task the grotesque moral neutrality of anthropologists who over the the last century refused to help the tribe change, and on occasion even spurred them to return to their “male honor” culture and its endless revenge killings, boys and babies impaled with spears, young girls stolen and impaled otherwise. My parents were missionaries. I’m pretty comfortable with the “slave morality” (Nietzsche’s term) they espoused. If, however, this GOD = LOVE thing, wasn’t human invention, why did Yanomamö tribes people have to wait over 2000 years to hear about it? Why did the millennia of civilization before Jesus not get to know about this significant life-improving equation? It looks like a human invention, the result of arbitrary history, and an obvious improvement on what it superseded only in retrospect.

                    Moreover, it’s not without its own collateral damage. With the Yanomamö so busy killing each other, their population was at best stable–the rain forest in all its grandeur was never at risk of disappearing. I appreciate where you are coming from regarding genocide by atheists, but even with the Holocaust, and Soviet and Chinese purges, the modern age still kills with much more rarity than any previous age. Moreover, I would say it wasn’t the atheism that compelled the killing. Christianity was warlike during the Crusades and during Western Civilization colonial expansion around the planet; Islam, a younger religion, still hasn’t mellowed. It maybe that any emergent world view feels entitled to its own moment of blood-soaked “manifest destiny.” Not exonerating, just speculating. My larger point is that, for the most part, we modern humans have agreed to live with each other, and to practice empathy, charity, etc. Jesus morality is winning the day, becoming ubiquitous, and the planet is destined to lose. Soon, it will be us and our pets, and the cockroaches, and the cockroaches, hardy as they may be, don’t stand a chance. It’s hard to retreat from a GOD = LOVE mentality, but it’s turning out to be a planetary dead end. Christians with Trump are giving it a shot, I guess, envisioning their “city on a hill” surrounded by an oil spill moat and guarded by sniper towers.

                    • You seem to be confusing JESUS with Trump along with the chronic problems of evangelical Christian American consumers. HUGE difference.

                      Start by untangling Jesus and The Donald – then go from there.

                    • OMAR JOHNSON says:

                      It’s true I tossed in a little dig at Trump Evangelicals as a parting shot. But that has nothing to do with my two main points regarding the GOD = LOVE breakthrough you tout so highly. First, it seems unfair (to me, anyway) that humans everywhere and in every era didn’t/don’t have the same access to it. Second, it’s a planetary dead end in that we love and care so much for each other (humans putting up with humans) that all mega fauna is endangered. As human invention, GOD = LOVE is inspired. As the answer to everything, not so much. (Your inattention makes me think you’re ready to move on. Don’t blame you.)

                    • Omar,

                      First an observation.

                      You seem angry. Angry to the point of saying a lot of things that don’t entirely make sense. For example:

                      GOD = LOVE
                      therefore
                      Love people to the point of destroying nature
                      therefore
                      Christianity teaches us to destroy the planet.

                      Really? How is destroying the planet an act of love for anyone?

                      Like I say, it just seems like your feelings about whatever has transpired in your life is getting smeared all over these other questions. It doesn’t seem like you’re thinking very clearly. And I’m not insulting you for that, I’m just pointing it out.

                      Now may not be the time for you to try to dissect questions of this kind, for all I know. I can think of some similar times in my life when other ways of sorting out the world were more helpful.

                      If in fact you are angry, then you need to process and sort through that.

                      On to the subject at hand.

                      You’re not taking evolution itself seriously enough. An evolutionary process is ostensibly how the world got to be the way that it is.

                      You cannot understand the Old Testament, and by extension the NT, if you don’t take evolution seriously. Remember, we live in an almost unbelievably cushy Starbucks world where most humans have never even seen a meat packing facility and kids don’t know where food comes from.

                      The OT makes a lot more sense if you understand that the whole Biblical narrative is a story of man progressing morally from animal instincts to what we call “humane.” From law of the jungle to law of equality love and freedom. Which is what the NT is about.

                      This progression is no small accomplishment. Despite the fact that a lot of smug secular elites sneer at it.

                      YES – Of course it’s “unfair” that some people have better lives, live in better cultures, are born into better times. OF COURSE IT IS UNFAIR.

                      The question is: Where did you get the idea of “fairness” in the first place? Why is it even a word in your vocabulary? Why do you act as though it is a real thing with meaning and import, instead of some arbitrary abstract construct?

                      And do you think that it is possible to write the idea of fairness in the sky and get everyone to accept it overnight?

                      Do you think that’s remotely possible?

                      Or does the human race have to evolve into accepting and acting out that belief?

                      And if God made the world to work that way (which evidently is the case) then by what OTHER set of rules do you judge God as not having the right to build it this way?

                      And… can’t help but wonder, are you still assuming that the unfortunate guy in Phoenicia who lived in 500BC and never heard about Jesus is still burning in hell to this day because nobody ever told him?

                    • OMAR JOHNSON says:

                      I am angry about all sorts of things. Most involve Trump and his white Evangelical abettors. My incoherence on the page has little to do with anger management . . . unfortunately.

                      I don’t mind some unfairness, let’s say a fair amount of unfairness. If there is an “unfortunate guy in Phoenicia who lived in 500 BC and never heard about Jesus [and] is still burning in hell to this day because nobody ever told him,” that would be a supreme example of unfair unfairness, especially as his torment goes on unabated for eternity. The God of that religion I have no use for. If, on the other hand, we’re all evolving, taking part in a grand unfolding–

                      You furnish your parts toward eternity,
                      Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.

                      –then I embrace it. Whitman, as you know, was bi or gay. I would like it if his poems proved prophetic as well as euphoric.

                      Maybe I was obtuse about my second point. (Re-watched The Shawshank Redemption recently.) You pretty much snorted at the idea that it might be “possible to write the idea of fairness in the sky and get everyone to accept it overnight.” But here’s the thing–to a great degree, it’s done. GOD = (if anything) LOVE (and not special favors or judgment). We take “I am my brother’s keeper” seriously. In great degree, even among “American First” Trumpers, we want “rising tides” to raise all boats. We don’t want anyone (or thing) abandoned–I’m thinking of pro-lifers and their commitment to the unborn, I guess. But we’re up to nearly eight billion humans on the planet, and during our lifetime Aslan will probably go effectively extinct, as will most other mega fauna. I’ve read the planet can maybe sustainably support maybe three billion humans in a middle class lifestyle. How does GOD = LOVE get us there? I don’t think it can. Existence may not be exactly zero-sum, but it’s hard to imagine Gaia surviving humans treated each other as they would Jesus for even a couple of more generations.

                      This is why I think the Sermon on the Mount is the work of man, and not God. It’s gorgeous, so inspired, and yet like everything else earthly doomed from the start, perhaps eventually to prove useful as fodder for the “next great thing,” whatever that may turn out to be.

                    • I say we’ve barely begun to take the sermon on the mount seriously, and we can barely imagine what the world would be like if we did.

  3. Serge Grenier says:

    Long before Jesus were Horus, Attis, Mithra, Krishna, Dionysus and many others we never heard of. So christians didn’t invent anything. The ideas were all there long before them, not calculated in thousands of years, but in hundreds of thousands of years.

    Also, the univers was not created billions years ago, it is being created now, as we speak. And whoever is in charge of creating it has no morals at all. It is beyond good or bad. Leading a good life is completely up to us, with no need for a justification outside of us.

    I am a good person not because I fear God but because I decided so.

  4. Larry Iles says:

    ““Inerrant” Bible Christian apologetics only needs to deal with 6,000 years of creation, not 14 billion.
    They get to postulate while “fallen” now, the world/universe was once perfect.”…

    And that is where I think the error begins. The assumption that “once upon a time everything (including man) was perfect”.

    Not true, and it never was.

    Being created “In the Image of God” is not the same as being created “Perfect”. We are not a lateral replica of God, we are DEcended from within his thoughts. Less than, not equal to. The temptation that caused man to become “fallen” from his created estate is the same one that caused his tempter (Lucifer) to fall.
    “You will be like Gods”…
    Lucifer’s fall from his created estate was envy, and he used his own weakness against the Human manifestation of his own creators image.

    In many ways, the single most “God-like” trait we are created with is the power of choice. It was the power to make choices that both the Human and Angelic creation had in common, and it is because of that power that Lucifer and those who chose with him fell, and we followed after them. It is that same power of choice (and envy) that drives the Atheist to desire that he/she must be the only god of his/her self existent universe.

    Adam was only given knowledge of “Good”. The desire to know more is what God warned him against because he wasn’t equipped to deal with evil. That power only belongs to the real God. It is because we are DEcended from Adam that we continue with that struggle, because we still are not God.

    Believers today are just as guilty of making wrong choices, believing what they want, misinterpreting both scripture and science to simplify their own equation. Dumbing it down to make it easier to digest does a disservice to ourselves and the God we claim to believe in.

    …”Now we have to somehow come to grips with insanely surreal amounts of dying and death, of individuals, species, whole ecosystems, possibly on other worlds as well as our own.

    Way before Eve, and the Fall, the great Novelist was killing off his darlings left and right. I think scientists have at least tentatively identified over ten hominid precursors to Homo Sapiens.

    Fundamentalist Christianity posits Original Sin, and looks forward to the Second Coming, Redemption, etc. That’s all that’s on their plate.”…

    That is some good stuff, but it tends to miss an important point. All of that death and dying was among created things that were presumably “temporal” in their existence on every level.

    We are not purely Temporal. Unlike all of the physical life that came before us and the purely “animal” kingdom that lives around us, we were created for more than “here and now”. Our temporal existence is where we begin, but not where we are destined to exist.

    We have a redeemer (Evolution 3.0), and that is what distinguishes us from the rest of temporal creation. That is the other part of “from within Gods Image” that sets us apart.

    • Larry, I agree. Good comment.

      And it seems almost everyone (Christians and atheists alike) has a very unhelpful notion of what the Garden of Eden was. (And by the way I don’t think it particularly matters whether you think this story is real or metaphorical, the wider implications are the same either way.)

      The only thing in the entire story that represents perfection of some sort is the tree of life.

      And one of the main points of the story is that the tree of life was within reach, but man simply wasn’t interested in it. He was interested in “being like God” through the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

      And every time we develop a new kind of knowledge or technology, the story repeats all over again.

  5. Halldor Magnusson says:

    Just because scripture doesn’t mention a warning doesn’t mean a warning wasn’t given. Even if no warning was given, the request was made and they just needed to choose to trust God or not. This doesn’t compare to the god of the Galapagos who is wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical; certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.

  6. Tom Godfrey says:

    Serge, I have a couple of questions for you.

    1. If Adolph Hitler decided that he was a good person, should we agree with him and conclude that he must be just as good as you are and for essentially the same reason? If I misunderstood your point, please clarify. From my own perspective, not even fearing God makes one a good person (Luke 18:19; James 2:19). In fact, the only way I know to be considered good by the only Judge whose judgment matters eternally is to have perfect righteousness graciously imputed to us through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-31).

    2. Can you document the chronology claimed in your comment? I am interested in this, but not because of doubts about whether Christians invented something. I have no idea what Christian claim about an invention you had in mind, but it doesn’t matter. I really would like to know what you think was invented hundreds of thousands of years ago and how those inventions were dated.

    The universe was not created billions of years ago, so we agree on this much, but I do not agree that it is being created now. This is one point where Perry might agree with you, but as I see it, based on Genesis, God created the finished universe and life on earth in six days, after which he pronounced it very good, but since the Fall, it has been in bondage to decay (Rom. 8:21) and gradually deteriorating. I suppose one might call it the second law in action, and this is hardly a process of creation. The only exceptions I know about involve intelligent designers.

    • Serge Grenier says:

      Tom, what I meant is that we don’t need a God to justify our decision to be a good or a bad person. Some people believe there is a God, some people don’t. Some people are good, some people are bad. So the possibilities are :

      1. Believe and be good
      2. Believe and be bad
      3. Don’t believe and be good
      4. Don’t believe and be bad

      If we consider the last two thousand years of history, there is nothing that would lead us to consider there is any relation whatsoever between being good and believing in God.

      Also, the creation of matter has been going on FOR billions of years, not billions of years AGO. Creation is an ongoing process.

      That is my sincere opinion.

  7. Tom Godfrey says:

    Serge,

    Thanks for clarifying your original comment. If I understand you correctly, we agree that one does not need justification from God or anyone else to decide how good or bad he is or should be in his own opinion. Since I see good/bad as a continuum, not a dichotomy, I think the possibilities are actually limitless, not just the four extremes you listed. On your point about a relation between belief in God and one’s place on the continuum, this obviously has to be a matter of opinion, but I think the only opinions that really matter are God’s, the subject’s opinion, and that of whoever else can reward or punish the subject down here on earth. Those opinions could vary widely.

    Unfortunately, you left me wondering what your answer to my first question is. I wanted you to imagine that Adolph Hitler decided that he was a good person. This should not be too far-fetched, because he may well have thought that the murder of millions of innocent people was actually a benevolent service to mankind in general. You did not tell me whether we should agree with him and conclude that he must be just as good as you are, because after all, just like you, he saw himself as good in his own eyes (in my hypothetical scenario). Please try again to answer this question too.

    On my second question, your clarification looks like essentially a restatement of your original claim, except that this time, you had nothing to say about hundreds of thousands of years. You evidently continue to ignore the second law (the natural tendency toward disorder), but maybe you just don’t want to think about it. My question may be more interesting anyway, at least to me. What was invented so long ago and how do you document the dates in question that you have accepted as accurate? Of course, I would still also like to know whether Perry agrees with you or whether he prefers the biblical idea that God finished his great work of creation before the Fall of Adam.

  8. Serge Grenier says:

    We have some common ground : we both believe in God. But we don’t believe in the same God. The one you believe in seems to be a local God, with personal feelings and who keep tabs on each individual human. The one I believe in is a universal God with countless billions of worlds to take care of providing the exact same attention to grains of sand, blades of grass, insects, plants, animals, humans, mountains, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.

    God takes care of the atoms of a person like Hitler with the same unconditional love as he takes care of the atoms of anybody else.

    Now, I may decide to be a good person, but whether I succeed or not is not my decision. Whether Hitler thought he was a good or a bad person, we don’t know. But we all agree that he did not succeed in being a good person. But this is a matter we humans have to take care of for ourselves. God, the one I believe in anyway, doesn’t give a shit.

    Also concerning Hitler, in my neighborhood, there are people who are just as bad as Hitler, only on a smaller scale. As far as I am concerned, the scale is irrelevant. Being bad on a small scale is not any better than being bad on a larger scale.

    To answer your second question, I’ll use a metaphor : temperatures. Temperatures range from absolute zero to billions of degrees. We human beings live much closer to the lower end of the spectrum. In the hundreds of degrees is the area of maximum complexity. Next level up, in the thousands of degrees, is the lower astral portion. At that level, there is no more income tax, but there is still plenty of complexity in the form of wants, desires, remorse, etc. Next level up, in the tens of thousands of degrees, live the angels. Already much simpler. Neither income tax, nor bad feelings. Still moving up, we reach the hundreds of thousands of degrees. This is where the archetypes live. A few orders of magnitude less complexity there. We go on like this until we reach the billions of degrees where God lives and where there is no complexity left. Only pure love without any duality, any condition, nothing. We are all one! Pure and simple.

    This is what I mean when I say that God is above and beyond good or bad, because these are thoughts that pertain to much lower levels of reality than the one where he belongs.

    Finally, I think that at the Planck level, matter (really energy) is being created at a rate counted in attoseconds. If God stopped creating the universe, everything would disappear within 4 to 10 attoseconds. Not only would life disappear, but also the planets, stars, galaxies, light, everything. God creates all of that in real time, non stop, 24/7. One moment of inattention and it all fades away instantly.

    When you look close enough, you realize that there is no such thing as matter, only energy. Hence, materialism doesn’t have a case in my opinion. So, everything is energy, energy is a form of consciousness, and that consciousness is God. All of it. You don’t have God on one side and Creation of the other. The Creation and God are one and the same consciousness.

    Does it make more sense now?

  9. Tom Godfrey says:

    Serge,

    Thanks for trying to clarify your position further. I now have a better understanding of your worldview, but you raised even more questions about it without answering the ones I originally asked. That’s okay, of course. You probably assume that those questions of mine didn’t matter anyway, so you want to move on to something of more interest to you. No problem. I respect your sincerity.

    To answer your closing question for me frankly, no. What you wrote makes even less sense. Where did you get those ideas? Did you make them up yourself? I wonder how you could possibly know whether they are true or not. Can you test them in some kind of experiment? Can you give me a good reason to accept them as true by faith? If so, by faith in whom or what?

    You said there is no such thing as matter. Einstein’s most famous equation indicates that matter and energy are related, but as I see it, they must still be both real and different from each other, or else the equation would be meaningless. Everything is not energy, and everything is not matter either. There is a huge difference between an atomic bomb and the energy that is released when it is detonated. I maintain that everything is not either matter or energy. What about logic, for instance? Do you claim that even logic is energy?

    Just in case you might be curious, let me explain why I asked those two original questions. This may tempt you to comment on the underlying issues after all.

    1. You said earlier, “I am a good person not because I fear God but because I decided so.” I saw two possible claims there but was not sure which one you meant. Are you a good person because you decided to please God according to the moral standard he established? Or are you a good person because you decided that whatever suits you right now is good enough, regardless of what God thinks? There might be alternative ideas behind your statement, but I thought my question about Hitler might lead to a good discussion of morality and how a moral standard should be established. If everyone, Hitler included, sets his own standard, and no supreme authority is generally recognized, I think we get a sort of moral relativism or anarchy that leaves God out of the picture, which I suggest is a bad idea.

    2. You also said, “… [C]hristians didn’t invent anything. The ideas were all there long before them, not calculated in thousands of years, but in hundreds of thousands of years.” This made me wonder what ideas or inventions you had in mind and what documentation you had found for these claims of yours about history. I don’t think of Christians as the inventors of Christian ideas. I think at least the important ideas are supposed to be the ones pertaining to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Well, who did the entrusting? “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2). Note the tense. It does not say he has been making the universe. The work of creating the universe was finished after only six days of work (Gen. 2:1-2), and ever since then, we have been experiencing the second law in action.

    • Hieronymus Illinensis says:

      Tom Godfrey (12/20, 1:37 pm), in response to Serge’s “I am a good person not because I fear God but because I decided so,” you offered two possible meanings: ” Are you a good person because you decided to please God according to the moral standard he established? Or are you a good person because you decided that whatever suits you right now is good enough, regardless of what God thinks?” I don’t think either of these are quite what Serge meant. As I read him, he seems to mean, “I choose to be a good person by living according to a certain set of ethical principles [which, I infer, roughly include nonmalevolence, compassion, and respect for the autonomy of other beings of any kind]; they are *not* the same as whatever suits me right now but require effort and self-denial of me; I decide to live according to them not because they were laid down by some god figure whom I either love or fear, but because they are self-evidently good.” Serge, am I near the mark?

      • Tom Godfrey says:

        Hieronymus Illinensis,

        Serge may have dropped out this conversation, but thanks for suggesting an alternative to my two guesses. I did not assume that they exhausted the possibilities. Your guess may well be better than mine. I was hoping he would clarify what he meant.

        If he had given me your answer, I would still have more questions. For example, is anything really “self-evidently good”? Even if we all say the answer is yes, but we cannot agree on what is good, should the correct answer really be yes? I suspect that some weirdos in this world have some really weird ideas about what is good and may not necessarily include what you listed in square brackets.

        Rom. 2:1-16 suggests to me that people do have an innate conscience or moral compass, which can, unfortunately, be seared (1Tim. 4:2). Serge based his claim to be good on a decision that he made, one that I assume he made privately, in his own heart. We have been taught that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), so I suppose Serge is good enough in his own eyes yet possibly deceived to some extent in the eyes of the only Judge whose judgment matters in the end. What would you say to Serge if he endorses your guess?

        • Serge Grenier says:

          I have witnessed this conversation going on for a long time. A part of me is interested in bringing a different vision to the table, another part thinks it is a waste of time since the main actors are so stuck in their own belief system that they can’t even begin to understand anything outside of it.

          As far as good vs bad is concerned. This is a human concept, and an obsolete one at that. Nietzsche wrote « Beyond Good and Evil » and said the the God who was the « arbitrator » between the two was dead. And I agree with that.

          God loves each and everyone of us, regardless of what we do, think, or whatever. It is pure unconditional love. The purpose of life is not to learn by heart every word in the Bible and then the winner is the one with the best memory.

          Ultimately, we are the only person who can really judge whether we are behaving good or bad. Societies can put tribunals to judge each other according to some rule of law. Fine. But some people who have been very bad can pay their way out of anything, and some people who have been very good are being unfairly convicted all the time.

          As far as I’m concerned, I’m rather on the anarchist side who don’t have much faith in authority and state controlled violence.

          Also, I don’t believe at all that « The heart is deceitful above all things ». This goes against all the spiritual teachings of every master I ever heard of. And I have worked as the database manager of a spiritual bookstore for more than 30 years, so I have had access to many authors.

          The soul communicates with our mind through our body, by the means of our emotions. There are neurons in the heart. And they are ALWAYS at least 1/40 of a second ahead of our brain’s neurons. You should read Gregg Bradden about this subject.

          When I die, I will go back to the same place where I was before I was born, which happens to be the same place where I am now, since there is only one place and time : Consciousness.

          And Consciousness is all there is. And Consciousness is God.

          And this is my main argument against the God of the Bible which is separate from it’s Creation. This is impossible. « Seule la conscience existe » Only Consciousness exists. So the only possibility for a God that would be separate from Consciousness would be : « non existence ».

          Voilà!

          • Tom Godfrey says:

            Serge,

            Thanks for resuming our conversation. Je vous comprends, mais nous ne sommes pas d’accord. (I understand you, but we do not agree.) We may benefit from our exchange of views by having someone else point out something important that we ignored or overlooked, possibly leading to an appreciated change of mind.

            We agree that morality (“good vs bad”) is a human concept, but I maintain that it is certainly not obsolete, partly because of the tribunals you described and partly because of people like you who are simply deciding for themselves whether they are good or bad in our time. By the same token, I do not agree with your claim, “Ultimately, we are the only person who can really judge whether we are behaving good or bad.” Maybe you did not mean this to be literally true, because you went on to mention the tribunals.

            You also said, “God loves each and everyone of us, regardless of what we do, think, or whatever. It is pure unconditional love. The purpose of life is not to learn by heart every word in the Bible and then the winner is the one with the best memory.” I agree with this much, all written with present tense verbs, which seems to reflect a belief that God is not dead, but in the paragraph right before this quote, you seemed to agree with Nietzsche that God is dead. You left me confused. Do you believe God is dead or not? Can you explain? This seems important, because if God exists and judges us, we should care about his judgment. A parent can have unconditional love for a child and yet judge behavior to be good or bad and discipline the child accordingly for his own good. As an adult, a grown child has an option to reject or even hate the parent regardless.

            On the deceitfulness of the heart, it may be extremely difficult for either one of us to prove what we have come to believe. I obviously accept the Bible as my authority, while you reject it and prefer the guidance of the authors of many books in a spiritual store.

            When you say, “… there is only one place and time : Consciousness,” you must have some mystical meaning in mind that went right over my head. I don’t understand consciousness to be either a place or a time. I recognize a multitude of different places and different times. I have the same kind of problem with your claims, “And Consciousness is all there is. And Consciousness is God.” Can you explain why the Bible or your comment, for example, has to be either God or Consciousness and not something else entirely that actually exists?

            • Serge Grenier says:

              We respectfully agree to disagree, and can have an interesting conversation nevertheless.

              Is God dead or not? It depends which God you are talking about. The Christians had the marketing genious to call their God God. It gets very confusing when we want to have a conversation about deity. So I’ll use a different name to talk about 4 Gods : Holy Trinity (christians), Allah (muslims), Yahvé (jews) and Source (new age).

              The three Gods created by the descendants of Abraham have a lot in common. Mainly they all created the universe at some point in the recent past, and now they all look at it from the outside judging whether individual human beings are saints or sinners depending on how well they obey the laws written in their respective Holy Book.

              Source, on the other hand, is creating the universe in the present from the inside and does not provide any « written operation manual for the living ». Source is not judgemental. It creates with the same care the Tyranosaurus Rex and the Birds of paradise.

              My sources

              For example, « matter = energy = consciousness » is an old hippie mantra.

              This is where I get that ultimately, everything is some form of consciousness.

              « Time is an illusion » is an old buddhist saying.

              And it is confirmed by science which demonstrates that when you reach the speed of light, time stops and you have simultaneous access to all points in time and all points in space.

              Think of a 35mm film. When the projector is rolling and showing one frame at a time, looking at the screen you get the illusion of movement. But in reality each and every frame is already there in the roll of film.

              It is similar for us : in everyday life, we are looking at the screen and are caught in the illusion of time. But when we medidate and look away from the screen, we can reach a higher form of consciousness, beyond time and space.

              This is one thing that is missing from all three monotheistic religion : transcendance.

              The capacity for the individual believer to connect with the divine without the intermediary of a church or of a book or of a ritual.

              When I said « Ultimately we’re the sole judge of ourselves ». I meant it literally. One person may have been considered a saint by his neighbors but had a mind obsessed with bad thoughts, envy, jealousy, and no one knew. Another person may be considered a bad person by the others, but tried his best all his life, simply he was plagued with bad luck and no one cared. I mean nobody really knows what goes on inside other people’s heads and hearts. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from judging one another. But as far as God is concerned, it is quite irrelevant in my opinion.

              And as I said, I have absolutely no faith whatsoever in tribunals. Many of the congress people who make the laws are under investigation as we speak. If you look at Net neutrality, Citizens United, etc, you are entitled to a lot of scepticism regarding the value of human laws. Many judges are also under investigation about their sexual behavior and their ties to organized crime. The whole law gimmick is so corrupted, it has nothing to do with good or bad, it only cares about money and power.

              And don’t get me started about the present and past of the Vatican.

              So, in my opinion, since we as individuals cannot count on society’s institutions nor on religious institutions to show us the true path, we have to count on our own selves to lead a good life. Nobody else but our own selves.

  10. Ken Koskinen says:

    Perry since you seem to have some respect for science; you should realize there’s evidence for the previous existence of T-Rex and nothing for Satan. The contradictory mythical creation stories in Genesis cannot be taken seriously. The Earth was NOT created at the same time as the heavens (Gen. 1:1). Billions of stars preexisted our planet by many billions of years and it’s clear all of them were not created at the same time (Gen. 1:16). Land plants weren’t the first form of life on Earth (Gen. 1: 10-11). Birds were NOT created at the same time as sea life (Gen. 1:20-21). All creatures that creep do NOT eat green herbs for food (Gen. 1:29-30).

    The serpent is a talking beast of the field and not a spirit being like Satan and his demons are later depicted. The serpent told Eve the truth as he told her they wouldn’t die on the day they ate the forbidden fruit as god had said. The couple ate the fruit and they didn’t die but their eyes were opened just like the serpent said. It was god who lied to Adam (Gen 1:16-17). Take notes Perry as you have claimed that your god doesn’t lie.

    The order of events in the second creation account contradicts the first story. Primarily Adam is created before the animals unlike the first tale where multiple humans were created after the appearance of animals. Both creation stories are fine if read on their own but when the two are compared the contradictions are clear. It’s probable an editor included the two differing accounts on the same scroll. Israel and Judah had split and there was enough time for differing creation accounts to arise. Whatever the case was, the stories are not the same.

    Writings like these are as expected from early mythical writers/editors. They were pre-scientific poets who were given to mythical understandings of the world. Perry you are trying mix science with myths and it doesn’t & can’t work.

  11. Tom Godfrey says:

    Ken,

    You are trying again to make a point that I tried to refute on another one of these threads.
    https://evo2.org/dawkins-obsolete/#comment-42282
    Search for some really crazy to find your opening comment, dated October 14, 2017, at 12:54 pm, which began our exchange of views. Notice your shorter final paragraph in particular.

    To refresh your memory, here (in square brackets) is the opening paragraph of my first response to your comment two days later.

    [Yes, we should eliminate the false “gods depicted in the Bible” as the creators of the universe and of life on earth. We evidently agree on this much, but I am surprised that you believe Genesis has “two contradictory creation accounts.” Did you borrow this idea from a skeptic without checking to see whether it withstands critical scrutiny?
    http://www.icr.org/article/two-creation-accounts
    In our day, Google has made checking such claims extremely easy, so you can save yourself some embarrassment if you go to the trouble to check first. If you believe a proposed resolution of a difficulty is problematic, then you could move the discussion forward, either by explaining your answer to it or by pointing us to an existing answer from someone else. Otherwise, we are only arguing in circles, with neither side paying attention to the latest rebuttal from the other side. That’s a waste of time.]

    Three days later, you responded by saying, “The ICR article by Jason Lisle is bogus. The two creation myths in Genesis can stand on their own but when the two are compared the contradictions in the order of events are clearly evident.” To that, I responded as follows (next paragraph only, also in square brackets):

    [When you said, “The ICR article by Jason Lisle is bogus,” you left me wondering why. What “clearly evident” contradictions in the order of events are you talking about? I assume Dr. Lisle failed to mention any of them in his article. Otherwise, to move the discussion forward, you need to explain why his resolution is problematic. Sorry, but I can’t just take your word for it that there are contradictions in Genesis 1 and 2. I didn’t find any. If you did, please point them out, and let’s discuss them.]

    Our conversation soon ended without your accepting my invitation to move discussion of your contradiction issue forward. Are you now prepared to do this over here? I see that you have just specified exactly one of the alleged contradictions that you had in mind. Dr. Lisle clearly tried to cover it. If you stand by your claim, please explain why you found his resolution unacceptable and list whatever other alleged contradictions still bother you. If you simply forgot that your issue has been resolved, this would be a nice place to repudiate your claim. Doing this could help you stop repeating it and embarrassing yourself. Thanks.

    • Ken Koskinen says:

      My comment is addressed to Perry. Tom, you HAVE to deal with each and every point I raised. Until then … no reply … talk to some else in the meantime. I will completely ignore you until you do.

      • Ken,

        I don’t respond to much of what you post because you won’t give the text so much as an ounce of generosity. For example, you assume that Genesis 1:1 is saying the heavens and the earth were created simultaneously. You might be the only person I’ve ever met (with a possible exception being Tom Godfrey) who thinks that. It only groups them together in the beginning.

        And the text doesn’t actually claim that land plants were the first created life on earth. They’re only the first life forms to be described in the account.

        Etc.

        Your hermeneutic is so roughshod, and your axe to grind against the Bible is so great, that engaging with you is not worth the time.

  12. Tom Godfrey says:

    Ken, I didn’t ask you to reply, but thanks for replying. I did challenge you to defend a claim that you just repeated for Perry. Your reply suggests that you probably are not prepared to move our old discussion forward, but you found an excuse for dodging. That’s okay, but I think you should be embarrassed enough to do something about this, even if you never say another word to me.

  13. Ken Koskinen says:

    Perry, of course you don’t have to engage me and I understand that since there are some people like young Earth-ers whom I also don’t care to waste my time with. I think they’re right at least about the text in Genesis; as it does indicate a fairly recent creation. They’re dead wrong about taking it as history. Perry you also claim the Genesis creation accounts is history; therefore I think you should be able to deal with reasonable criticism.

    The text of Genesis 1:1 means exactly what it says; that in the beginning god created the heavens & earth. This is exactly what pre-scientific people incorrectly believed and expressed in their myths. The earth is even depicted as being created before the Sun and other stars; yet solar evolution shows that planets form around stars within the surrounding dust & debris. It’s an accretion process that takes thousands of years.

    You complained about my supposed rough sod hermeneutic while I merely stated the text. It doesn’t include any mention of any other life being created before land plants despite the hallucinations of some biblical believers. Land plants are claimed to have been created even before the Sun, Moon & stars and life needs sunshine. This doesn’t allow for any physical life prior to the plants mentioned in the text. Further, we know stars are still forming today even if we don’t yet totally understand the process; but we don’t know of any gods creating them. The text also says god gave green herbs as food for everything that creeps on the earth yet many animals are flesh eaters and don’t eat green herbs. Your god overlooked that fact and it also proves these myths aren’t history.

  14. Jeff Dixon says:

    You claim that “It’s NOT fossils or genes or Chimpanzees or molecules-to-man. It’s that they can’t stomach the idea that an all-powerful, all-perfect creator would make a world so savage.” That is amusing. The reason Christians reject evolution is that is destroys the idea that we are descended from Adam and Eve. Without Adam and Eve, there is no fall of man and therefore, no original sin. Which means the reason that Jesus was needed as a sacrifice to atone for that sin becomes moot. Evolution does not show there is no god, but it does show that Christianity is based on a fable.

    • Your statement contains the assumption that the sin problem with humanity is genetic.

      If it’s not genetic, then evolution does not create a problem for the Judeo-Christian story.

      • Jeff Dixon says:

        I can only work with what the fable presents. Adding extra to try and rationalize your belief system is silly.

        The bible clearly says Jesus is the last Adam and came to redeem Adam’s fall.

        “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
        And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45)
        Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
        But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
        For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12, 15, 17–19)”.

        • You’re assuming death here is physical. Read Romans 5 very very carefully, that’s not what it’s referring to.

          • Jeff Dixon says:

            It makes no difference if it a physical death or a spiritual death. It says death came through Adam and Jesus is the way to eternal life. Therefore, if Adam did not exist, there was no death that all mankind inherited. Therefore, Jesus cannot fix a non-existent problem. You argument seems to be that Jesus is fixing a problem that the bible does not describe. You have nothing to support that view. Now, if you are saying the bible is wrong about Adam and Eve, we completely agree. But since you obviously do not agree with me, what exactly is your argument? Please be specific.

  15. Tom Godfrey says:

    Jeff,

    Thanks for bringing up the issue of original sin. I assume that you agree with Perry that all life on earth is genetically descended from a single common ancestor, but you disagree with him on the fable issue. That is, you think that evolution shows that Christianity is based on a fable. I think he agrees with me that Christianity is not based on a fable. You probably already know that the Bible repudiates your fable idea in 2Peter 1:16, which claims, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Notice that the apostles did not base their claims on a tentative, speculative history of events in the distant past developed through scientific study and interpretation of currently available physical evidence.

    Perry can speak for himself, but I guess that he and many other Christian evolutionists believe that Adam and Eve were descended from earlier hominins who died the same as any animal does, that God gave them a spiritual nature directly, making it possible for them to sin while their forebears without a spiritual nature could not sin, that this spiritual nature is never a matter of genetics, and that the death mentioned in Rom. 5:12-21 and Gen. 2:17 (quoted in 1Cor. 15:45) refers to spiritual death (not physical or bodily death, which they believe actually reigned long before there was any sin). If I got any of this wrong, I hope Perry or someone else here will set me straight. I think he would argue that belief in molecule-to-man evolution poses no threat at all to any basic doctrine of Christianity.

    In my own view, many people probably come to faith in Jesus Christ as their savior either with no interest in evolution or else while still retaining a belief in it picked up from their upbringing, peer pressure, or indoctrination as a student. I believe that a person can be a genuine, born-again child of God while believing what Perry believes but will have to live with a sort of cognitive dissonance as long as the logical contradictions remain unresolved. This may be easy enough to do. Problems can simply be ignored or somehow put out of mind.

    People like Perry may feel that Rom. 5:12-21 makes perfect sense from their perspective, but when challenged to explain Matt. 19:4-6, they need rather strange interpretations to shoehorn what Jesus said there about the institution of marriage into their way of thinking. The problem is that they believe the male/female distinction came millions of years after “the beginning” of life on earth and yet long before the late arrival of the Adam and Eve who were the focus of the passages in Genesis that Jesus quoted. It may be natural to assume that Jesus referred to the same beginning mentioned in Gen. 1:1, but that won’t work for them. They need to interpret the first mention of “beginning” as really two separate beginnings about 9.3 billion years apart, while the New Testament “beginning” has to refer to a third one about 4.5 billion years after the second one, so three beginnings altogether, and not even one of them close to another. Strange, right?

    Besides this, they must maintain a clear distinction between the death of the animal parents of Adam and Eve and the death of every human being genetically descended from the first spiritually human beings. This idea can be a problem too, given that the “living soul” or “living being” mentioned in connection with the creation of Adam (Gen. 2:7) and the “living creatures” mentioned in connection with the creation of animals (Gen. 1:20-21,24,30; 2:19) are all called nephesh in Hebrew, as though it is not simply the image of God that makes them capable of living and dying. Eccl. 3:18-21 only reinforces this widely understood concept. If there was death, in this common sense of the word, long before Adam and Eve sinned, then it can hardly be the penalty for sin. Instead, according to evolutionists, it has to be part of God’s plan for the evolution of mankind, right? What does this rationalization do to Rom. 5:12-21? I think this explains why a Christian evolutionist has to insist on a distinction between human and animal death, however strange or problematic the idea may be. Otherwise, one turns a basic Christian doctrine into a fable.

    From my own perspective, there is no need for any strange interpretation of what God has clearly told us to uphold the legitimacy of our faith. The real problem here, as I see it, is that people have been tricked into believing that the earth and the universe are billions of year old and that mankind descended from an ape-like animal and, ultimately, from a primitive, single-celled organism. I suppose there are many scientists who are convinced that the case for this view is incontrovertible, and it would be easy to agree, if only one can ignore or somehow set aside all of the reasons for doubting that the dogma is correct.

    While some Christians have little interest in this controversy, others, like me, find more reasons to reject what can be regarded as a compromise or syncretistic Christianity. To see what I mean, here is a lecture by Dr. Kurt Wise, a paleontologist, in which he covers several reasons. The whole lecture lasts about an hour, but he covers your issue beginning at about 52:01. I hope you and Perry find it interesting food for thought.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhjfajPdotA

    • Jeff Dixon says:

      Saying the book in question repudiates the fable idea is nonsense. The issue is whether the bible is accurate or not. Quoting a verse from the bible saying that this is not a fable proves nothing.

      The bible does not have eye witness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels are anonymous. The names of the Disciples as the authors of the Gospels came hundreds of years later from church elders.

      There are old Earth creationists who are Christians. It is a bizarre combination, as you need Adam and Eve as the first two people to make Original Sin as a universal problem.

      There is overwhelming evidence for evolution. You should look at the evidence for a fused chromosome in human DNA, which shows we descended from other primates. http://www.evolutionpages.com/chromosome_2.htm

  16. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry, can you tell us who the first human was, if not Adam? How do you know he was the first prophet? If he was indeed, how does this help you make your case?

    • There is no precise definition of who the first human was, as genetically humans come through a bottleneck of a few thousand people. The Biologos website explains this quite adequately.

      When Can kills Abel and he’s afraid of getting killed – and then goes and builds a city – that’s an indication of the fact that lot of other people were around at the time (which modern anthropology amply supports.)

      Adam is the first prophet because he is the first person in the Bible that God spoke to.

      • Jeff Dixon says:

        http://www.dictionary.com/browse/prophet

        Only hearing the voice of god is an odd definition of a prophet.

        You seem to be making up a new religion based on what you what it to be.

        • Adam conversed with God, walked with God, received direct commandments from God, and transmitted what God said to other people. That fits any reasonable definition of prophet.

          If you search Google for the exact phrase “Adam was a prophet” this phrase appears on 88,900 pages. Adam is rather widely regarded as a prophet.

          https://www.google.com/search?q=%22adam+was+a+prophet%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

          • Jeff Dixon says:

            Name one bible verse where Adam transmitted what god said to others. I followed your link. The first page goes to Muslims, Mormons and Baha’i links. Hardly a mainstream Christian issue.

            • How did Eve find out she wasn’t supposed to eat the fruit?

              • Jeff Dixon says:

                All we know from the fable is this:

                [3:1] Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
                [3:2] The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
                [3:3] but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die. ‘”

                It says God says. Not that she heard it from Adam. If God can tell Adam, why could he not have also told Eve? Rather sexist of you.

                Once again you are adding to the verses information that the verses do not contain.

                So, one verse that says Adam transmitted what God said to others?

                • If you think the only thing Adam ever said is what scripture reports that he said, then he is a rather abnormal human being.

                  I assume that he talked to his wife and children and others about what God told him.

                  Come to your own conclusions.

                  • Jeff Dixon says:

                    I have come to my own conclusions. Thank you for allowing me to do what is already allowed by law and social convention. I do not assume Adam said anything as I believe he is an imaginary construct. What I am asking is what is your basis for assuming Adam said anything specific other than what the bible says? Is not the bible supposedly reporting the important parts of history? I have two kids. You could make up any number of things I supposedly said to them. However, until you have evidence of any of that, it is just conjuncture.

                  • Jeff Dixon says:

                    People make up stories all the time.

  17. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Thanks for answering. By your logic, Eve would be the second prophet (Gen. 3:4,13,16), Cain would be the third prophet (Gen. 4:6-7), and Abel would not be a prophet at all, right? You may have a rather private definition of prophet. Does anyone else share it? And isn’t it possible that some human who lived long before Adam was actually the first prophet? Maybe it’s just that he was not mentioned in the Bible. Well, the prophet issue may be beside the point that you wanted to make, but you just threw it in as a distraction. You left me guessing. If you want to forget the prophet issue, no problem here.

    We agree on “the fact that a lot of people were around at the time” (when Cain built a city). This much is not controversial, but jumping to the conclusion that Adam was not the first man is another story. How long after Adam and Eve were created was the city built? We are not told, but I think Gen. 4:25 and 5:3 show that it could have been up to about 130 years later, assuming that Seth was born fairly soon after Abel was murdered. To those 130 years, one might add an unspecified amount of time that elapsed between verses 4:16 and 4:17, since the report of the birth of Seth (4:25) may well be a flashback to an earlier time (before the end of the history of Cain’s line). If Adam and Eve were the first humans, how large could the population of the earth have been by the time Cain built Enoch City? Is it unreasonable to suppose that it was large enough by then to populate a city of unspecified size?

    I like the clarity of your answer to my first question. You really do not know and cannot know who the first man was, if you are an evolutionist of any stripe. In fact, you cannot point to the first bat, the first giraffe, the first chimpanzee, or the first of any other species either. One species is supposed to morph into another so gradually that at no point in the long lineage of mankind could one ever say, in theory, “This offspring was a human being, but his parents were not.” There should not be any such thing as a first man from your perspective, but then what do you do with 1 Cor. 15:45-47, where Adam is naturally identified as the first man? In your view, who was the first sinner?

    Jeff said, “It makes no difference if it [is] a physical death or a spiritual death,” but I suspect that this distinction is critical to any Christian evolutionist. There are good reasons to doubt that death reigned for millions of years before Adam, but they can be ignored or rejected, of course, if the goal is to harmonize evolution and common descent with basic Christian doctrines. What could be easier?

    For example, one could argue that the death called the wages of sin in Rom. 6:23 is only spiritual death, not bodily or physical death. This may allow you to consider a long (and ongoing) reign of death to be a wonderful aspect of God’s creation, which eventually allowed the alleged evolution of man. One basic Christian doctrine is that Jesus Christ paid the penalty we owe when he died on the cross (Rom. 4:25), and then he gained victory over death when he rose from the dead, a victory that we hope to share through faith in him (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Frankly, it seems to me that removing physical death from consideration in these passages ruins the doctrine of salvation. Can you explain the problem away in light of 1 Cor. 15:26 and Heb. 9:16-28?

    • Tom,

      The extensive evidence we have for people living 50,000+ years ago is what you regard as “virtual history” so there is no possibility of us ever coming to agreement on this, so I’m not going to pursue this conversation any further.

    • Jeff Dixon says:

      Tom, you seem to be a YEC, is that correct? You posted ” There are good reasons to doubt that death reigned for millions of years before Adam” Could you name a few of those reasons? Do you accept the story of Noah as factual? ( Please say yes)

    • Jeff Dixon says:

      You posted to Perry “We agree on “the fact that a lot of people were around at the time” (when Cain built a city). This much is not controversial, but jumping to the conclusion that Adam was not the first man is another story.”

      But it is controversial. There are only three people after Cain murdered Abel. Who would want to marry Cain (or was around to marry him) or live in his city are other issues that strain the imagination. Cain is supposed to be a wanderer, so God is not very good at prophecy since Cain had founded a city and lives there.

      So, there are no women besides Eve after Cain kills Abel. Cain gets married and has children and they have children. Then Eve gives birth to Seth who is a replacement for Abel, according to Eve. We have no idea where Cain got a wife as according to the bible, Seth is the first child after Abel is killed, yet Cain was already married before Seth was born.

      Nothing in the story is remotely possible. It simply reads as a fable.

  18. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Thanks for substituting a more reasonable and widely acceptable definition of prophet. Your original reason for calling Adam a prophet left out the key part that says, “transmitted what God said to other people,” so you should understand why Jeff also challenged your definition. My goal was not to disprove your claim that Adam was a prophet. I just wanted you to defend it, if it really is relevant to our discussion here. You have not yet explained how it is relevant, so I stand by my original guess that you brought it up merely as a quick distraction. No problem. Let’s move on.

    If our topic is “extensive evidence we have for people living 50,000+ years ago,” then your excuse for deciding not to discuss this with me is completely understandable, but I thought we were discussing whether evolution shows “that Christianity is based on a fable” as Jeff has claimed. This has drifted into a related discussion of biblical exegesis under the assumption that Adam was a human being in real human history. If this is indeed still our proper topic, then dropping out because of an indirect, off-topic connection to virtual history looks like a cop-out to me, but I understand that you are a busy man, and this may be just a face-saving way for you to give other matters higher priority. No problem. It is your call, of course.

    Jeff and I evidently already agree on the proper exegesis of the passages cited, so if you quit, no one is left here to challenge our position on this aspect of our topic.

    • You think everything before 7200 years ago is virtual history. Thus we have no common ground to further discuss anything and continued conversation is a waste of time.

      • Tom Godfrey says:

        Perry,

        Your latest excuse for dropping out is even more baffling than the last one. You think “… we have no common ground to further discuss anything”? Only three days ago I told Jeff that you and I agree that the Bible should be respected as an authority. Is this not true after all? If at least this much is true, does it not qualify as common ground for further discussion of the proper exegesis of Bible passages related to salvation? Can’t we set aside chronological questions to do this? You really do not need any reason at all to drop out of any discussion, but if you give one anyway, don’t you want it to make sense?

        Do you have a reason for not discussing the exegetical issues with Jeff either? The question of whether Adam was a prophet still looks to me like a red herring, so your efforts to defend your position on that issue while avoiding discussion of the main issue that he raised still looks like a dodge or a distraction. Do you agree with him that Christianity is based on a fable or not? Can you defend your own position with confidence?

        By the way, it seems odd to me to say that I “think everything before 7200 years ago is virtual history.” I think we agree that nothing in the history of the universe happened before it was created. In my view, “everything before 7200 years ago” was nothing at all — nothing in our universe existed at that time if there even was such a time. If anyone proposes a chronology of events with dates earlier than the date that we accept as the actual date of creation, then we should agree not to classify it as real history, right? Either we are wrong about our creation date, or else dates are exaggerated, events are imagined that never actually took place, or both. It could go either way. What am I leaving out? I see a possibility for common ground here.

        • Your view of scripture makes God a liar via science and nature. God is not a liar. Science is a valid tool for determining history. Millions of fossils over millions of APPARENT years that never happened? It is not possible for us to agree and I absolutely refuse to even entertain it. I am done engaging with you, period.

  19. Tom Godfrey says:

    Jeff,

    You wrote, “Saying the book in question repudiates the fable idea is nonsense.” If you said this just to make the point that the Bible is not proved to be true simply because it contains internal claims that it is true, then your point is well taken, but you may have missed what I wanted you to notice. We have at least two distinct ways to gain knowledge of the distant past. One is through the recorded testimony of a witness deemed credible. Another is through a study of physical evidence interpreted under the no-miracle presupposition that is commonly applied to any scientific study, sometimes called methodological materialism.

    The latter approach may be considered scientific, but history is not like the subject of most scientific studies. Scientists are normally interested in nature and the laws of nature as they are currently observed. Nevertheless, with either history or normal topics for scientific research, any scientific conclusion is considered tentative and subject to adjustment or rejection as more is learned. If testimony changes, it may mean that the witness got confused, has only a vague memory of what happened, or is lying and cannot keep his story straight.

    I wanted you to notice 2Peter 1:16 because it highlights a difference in our approaches to learning about our origins. You and Perry evidently prefer a scientific approach, while I prefer the more normal approach to learning about history. Perry and I agree that the Bible should be respected as an authority. In cases of apparent conflict, you evidently prefer to reject the Bible as nonsense, while he evidently prefers to accept a tentative scientific conclusion as the higher authority, reinterpreting what the Bible says as necessary to harmonize.

    You are convinced that the Bible “does not have eye witness accounts of Jesus,” but you should realize that this is nothing more than a controversial interpretation of evidence considered. All kinds of nonsense can be believed, if only problems with a preferred idea are ignored, rejected, dismissed, disregarded, or somehow set aside, and this is no exception. One good thing about a discussion like this is that we get to expose our ideas to critical scrutiny and have people who disagree with us point out what we may have swept under the rug, so to speak. To get to the point, have you considered articles like these, and if so, do you have a credible refutation to present here?
    http://www.kevinpendergrass.com/new-testament-textually-authenticated-document-antiquity/
    https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

    Yes, with problematic considerations safely “under the rug” and out of sight, I suppose the evidence for evolution must indeed seem overwhelming, as you claimed, and maybe even incontrovertible. You picked an excellent example of your evidence for critical scrutiny. I read the undated article you offered and wondered about the dates on three of the works cited (1980, 1991, and 1992). Do you have anything more recent? I found these two dated 2014 and 2013, but you may not like them, because they do not fit the narrative you have adopted. They do at least demonstrate that scientific conclusions may sometimes need to be rejected or adjusted as more is learned.
    https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/dna-similarities/chromosome-tales-and-importance-biblical-worldview/
    https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/dna-similarities/alleged-human-chromosome-2-fusion-site-encodes-an-active-dna-binding-domain-inside-a-complex-and-hig/
    That second article on the “fused chromosome” hypothesis might be too technical to suit you, but here is another less technical article on the general idea that humans are closely related to chimpanzees.
    http://www.icr.org/article/humans-close-chickens-they-are-chimps

    You could have easily found those articles for yourself, of course, but can you consider them too, and if so, can you refute them?

    • Jeff Dixon says:

      Tom, you have presented much here. It is easier to discuss one idea at a time. Let us discuss whether the bible is reliable or not. I fully accept that most historians consider the bible to be reliable textually. However, there is a difference between whether a text has remained consistent over time and whether it is factually accurate in what it describes. There seems to be a common idea among Christians that if the text has not changed, they can accept the story as accurate.

      I could write a book about the 911 bombing, with references to the people, places and events involved and also include information on an alien abduction happening on that same day in New York, and the book could became a best seller. Then a thousand years later after millions of copies of the book had been made, would someone be rational in believing the alien abduction part of the story? They could point to all sorts of corroborating information about the 911 bombing and point out how accurately I had portrayed the events around the bombing and try to build an argument that we should also accept the alien abduction stories. The answer is, of course, no.

      I would assert the bible is the same situation. We have believers who kept making copies of the stories and probably kept most of it accurately. But that does not let us know if the original story is true.

      So, when the bible says Adam and Eve existed and that Jesus is the last Adam, yet the scientific evidence is that there never was an Adam, then I have a hard time accepting that Jesus died for the idea of original sin or was the last Adam. When the bible says the world was flooded for a year and all life but 8 people and either 2 or 7 members of all species were crammed on a boat for a year and then repopulated the earth, when all the scientific evidence says this not only did not happen but is impossible for it to occur, I have a hard time accepting the bible. Now, I know that Christian apologists continually try to make their case. I have read many of their arguments. I have found nothing compelling to make me accept that the supernatural exists.

  20. Tom Godfrey says:

    Serge,

    Yes, it is nice to discuss a topic of mutual interest with someone willing to do this rationally in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

    On your comments “about 4 Gods,” I have a somewhat different perspective. There may be people who deny any real existence and think that everything is purely imaginary. Maybe people who “brain in a vat” thought experiments seriously (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_in_a_vat) belong in the same category. For probably everybody else who cares to think about things like this, there is a reality, an observable universe, the existence of which begs for an explanation.

    One possibility taken seriously is that the universe is eternal and has no outside source. If the universe is supposed to have a beginning, then I think it follows that it has an ultimate Source that is somehow distinct from the universe itself, but this Source may go by various names, such as the ones you listed. I think even atheists may fall into this same category, even if they are extremely reluctant to admit it. I think their Creator of the universe could be called Time/Chance/Evolution. Do the different names really refer to different Gods? I like to think that all those different names actually refer to just one God, even though different people describe this one supernatural Being differently.

    When I lived in Guatemala, some people called me Don Tomás, which is not quite the name my parents gave me, but they were still referring to me. People who know me may not agree on the best way to describe me, but they still undoubtedly all refer to the same person, me, regardless of the name used. I think it works the same way with Allah, Dieu, God, Gott, Guð, or whatever other name is preferred. Our challenge is to discover the true attributes of the Creator of the universe and of life on earth. Personally, I consider the Bible to be a credible source of accurate information about God. Do you have another source to suggest that seems more credible in comparison, and if so, please explain.

    I take issue with your description of the God I want to serve. In my view, he created the universe, all right, but not in the recent past. His work of creation finished in six days has to be the least recent of all events in the entire history of the universe. If we say even this event happened in “the recent past,” the term recent past becomes meaningless. Besides this, God does not look at his creation just from the outside. He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12). God is respected as the final Judge, all right, but in his book, we are all sinners (Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:23), and we are incapable of saving ourselves by our own good works or through great care in observing written laws (Is. 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9). A sinner, however, can be considered a saint in God’s eyes by having the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed by faith in his name (Rom. 3:24-30).

    What you say about “Source” closely resembles what I think atheists say about Time/Chance/Evolution, which is supposed to be still at work creating, as we speak, never having rested since the beginning. This view is supposed to be scientific, but I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for the implied violations of the first and second laws of thermodynamics without a creative Designer. I would argue that the God of the Bible “creates with the same care the Tyranosaurus Rex and the Birds of paradise.”

    Thanks for explaining the source of the “matter = energy = consciousness” concept, but frankly, I still find the idea just as incredible as I did before. I have no idea why anyone would take it seriously.

    Whoever believes that time is an illusion may also believe that the observable universe is an illusion. If I could talk with such a person, I would want to know whether anything is considered real, and if so, how one is supposed to distinguish between what is real from what is merely an illusion. I follow your 35mm film analogy, but I think you are trying to convince me that what really happens in real history is like the film. It might be this way from God’s perspective, but not from ours in the here and now. I think it follows that we need to deal with time as a reality in our current existence.

    You admitted that people judge one another, so it still makes no sense to me to say, “Ultimately, we’re the sole judge of ourselves.” Maybe what you really meant was, ultimately, only a person knows what he is actually thinking. Other people can only guess. I would add that God also knows what each person is thinking and does not have to guess.

    You said, “… we have to count on our own selves to lead a good life,” and I agree, but maybe for a different reason that has nothing to do with the unreliability of various institutions “to show us the true path.” I am not sure that any single person is necessarily any more reliable than the best institution in this regard, but regardless of which moral standard any mentally competent individual chooses to respect, he will be responsible before God for his own behavior (Rom. 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10).

    In a short comment you wrote, “There are some people who accept the supernatural, yet don’t believe in the Bible,” and I agree with this claim too. Can we also agree with the teaching in Prov. 16:25? “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.”

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